Thursday, August 11, 2011

Modern Ghosts; Sorat and 666

Three Streams in Human Evolution. Lecture 4 of 6

Rudolf Steiner, October 11, 1918:

You have come to know from the most diverse aspects that the evolution of modern man passed through a decisive moment in the fifteenth century, when the fifth post-Atlantean culture-epoch began. As we are well aware, this epoch received its special character from the entry of mankind into the development of the Consciousness Soul [Sometimes translated “Spiritual Soul”], whereas in the previous epoch, the Graeco-Roman, human evolution ran its course preeminently in the sphere of the Intellectual or Mind Soul. Now it is important that such a truth as this — that with the fifteenth century the age of the Consciousness Soul began — shall be taken not merely theoretically and in the abstract but with all possible earnestness in life, so that we have the will constantly to ask ourselves: What must be our attitude of soul, what must we do to this attitude of soul, in order to do full justice to the fact that we are living in the epoch of the development of the Consciousness Soul?
The main point is that through this epoch of the Consciousness Soul mankind receives the impulse to strive consciously for certain conceptions that were not striven for consciously in earlier epochs. We know that among the many more or less important things with a bearing on this circumstance, we find the most important event ever enacted in earthly life: the Event of Golgotha. For we have often emphasized that the Event of Golgotha entered human evolution in such a way that its significance could not at first be grasped by the human soul in full consciousness; fully conscious comprehension can come only little by little.
We have often emphasized that, by reason of forces well known to us, the inclination is always arising in man to lag behind in his evolution on the one hand, and on the other hand to overshoot his mark. Thus in cultural history we see numerous endeavors to retain the unconscious realization of the Event of Golgotha, while applying to it as little as possible the development of consciousness that mankind is going through. Quite recently, in the sphere of a religious community, we have witnessed a struggle between the endeavor to maintain as far as possible only the traditional and unconscious relation to the Mystery of Golgotha, while Roman Catholic modernism has tried — though certainly with inadequate means — to claim equal validity for its endeavor to press on to a more conscious understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha. Opposition to the spiritual-scientific approach to the Mystery of Golgotha represents simply the striving of those who wish to keep the Mystery of Golgotha as much as possible in the unconscious regions of man's soul.
If we wish to approach fruitfully the comprehension particularly necessary for the development of the Consciousness Soul, we must above all try to enlighten ourselves from the most varied aspects concerning man's own being — not by discussion but by getting our bearings from the facts. Let us therefore consider our epoch as much as possible in accordance with the facts; let us first pay attention to those facts which in the epoch of the Consciousness Soul are of special importance for its development.
In these times, in the epoch of the Consciousness Soul, the scientific age is spoken of with great pride, even with real arrogance. In a certain sense those who speak thus have right on their side, for most educated people today are living in the scientific stream of the age. For it does not matter whether we think as modern botanists do about plants, zoologists about animals, anthropologists about man; nor does it matter how much we learn from anthropology, botany, or zoology; what does matter is whether people form their thoughts about the world so that these are in line with scientific thinking. This line is followed today by most people who have any kind of schooling and are therefore not illiterate or nearly so. Thus the people whom we have to consider pursue a scientific kind of thinking, but that does not hinder many of them from diligently attending church to hear the sermon, or from being what is called religious, pious. Now just ask yourselves to what extent this religious piety is still working in the general life of men, even when they believe themselves to be pious or believe they should be. The religious feelings developed in any particular religious faith have extraordinarily little power to work into thoughts about the world. Everywhere today in external life, in the widest circles, thinking takes a scientific direction. Nowadays for most people religion is more or less a sideline. One can indeed say that this modern epoch of the Consciousness Soul is proud even to arrogance of its scientific achievements and of the scientific kind of thinking that goes with it. And it adopts an attitude of condescension towards earlier ages.
Just think with what feelings, what narrow-minded, self-satisfied feelings, the thoroughly modern man looks back on his forebears when referring to their belief in ghosts. There is no need to object to the assertion that our ancestors had this belief! They certainly had it. Today we will take the statement — our ancestors believed in ghosts, but we are so clever that we no longer believe in them — and pay attention not so much to the idea it expresses as to the feeling it arouses in us — the feeling we have when we see how the present age passes judgment on our stupid ancestors who believed in ghosts and is sure that in this scientific age we have at last left all that behind. The statement that our forebears believed in ghosts is in itself a half-truth, and on that account extraordinarily dangerous; for half-truths are often more harmful than downright falsities, because a downright falsity can be easily detected, whereas half-truths haunt the world themselves like ghosts.
It is indeed true that if we go back to the time before and after the Mystery of Golgotha, or further back to the third post-Atlantean culture-epoch, we find that people for the most part believed in ghosts, in demons, as I mentioned recently in the case of the great Tertullian. This is indeed so. But there is a still earlier epoch when men also talked of ghosts, but not in the sense that ghosts were believed in during the epochs just described. In the second and in the first post-Atlantean culture-epochs they spoke of ghosts, but they were conscious that the ghosts were visualized by their own minds, and were pictures of the spiritual world existing behind them. Thus for a long period men had conceptions of ghosts, but with the knowledge that behind these ghosts, seen as pictures, there was a spiritual world. In their conceptual world, with its ghostlike visualizations, they formed an image of the spiritual world. But then men more or less forgot the spiritual world, or perhaps we might say it disappeared from their vision; there remained mere pictures which were looked upon as realities, and from this there arose the superstition about ghosts, which is the debased form of those earlier beliefs.
Thus it may be said that the men of old developed their consciousness in such a way that they brought to development just those forces that were bestowed upon consciousness, and they instinctively limited themselves to having in their conceptions nothing but ghosts. In ancient times they pictured the Gods as ghosts, and later took the ghosts to be realities. Not that the ghosts were false: what was false was the attitude of men towards them.
The fact that our forefathers conceived of ghosts, and that all such notions are superstition — this is taken for granted by modern man in his judgment on the people of former ages; he pats himself on the back and thinks he is very clever. He does not get as far as recognizing that through ghosts, in still older times, people formed their conception of the spiritual world; for today it is not the spiritual world that interests people but the world of nature. The ability of modern men to form conceptions about nature makes them feel infinitely superior to their forefathers. But the age of the Consciousness Soul asks of us something different from what our forefathers could do; we must be clear what it is that we actually have in our outlook on nature.
Now as strictly modern, self-satisfied men, enlightened, clever men, out of our consciousness we form conceptions about nature. But when we take this whole world of conceptions about nature and test it, test it without prejudice — well, then we find that we have the conceptions, certainly, but with these conceptions we are unable to lay hold of nature. There are, as people say, limits to our knowledge of nature. I have often cited a present-day philosopher, little known by his writings, who has said openly many things that others have not said, because they have not gone so deeply into the matter. I am speaking of Richard Wahle, who has written two big books and all manner of small ones. One of the larger books, published in the eighties, was called The Whole of Philosophy and Its End, and a few years ago he wrote The Mechanism of the Human Spirit.
This Richard Wahle might be called a spokesman of the men of today; in fact we could say that as Richard Wahle thinks, so do all those who find their way about in life through natural science. They think as he does, but he carries things to their logical conclusion, and so in him we have the strange and flagrant case of a Professor of Philosophy who wrote a large tome about the end of philosophy — a tome in which he sought to prove, out of the scientific method of thinking, that there ought to be no such thing as philosophy.
In his book The Mechanism of the Human Spirit, this Professor of Philosophy, this philosophical author, expresses himself about his fellow-philosophers in the most singular way. This is approximately what he says: Philosophers and philosophy resemble a restaurant in which formerly there used to be cooks and waiters preparing unappetizing food and handing it to their patrons; now the cooks and waiters stand about with absolutely nothing to do. Thus, this cook, or waiter, or philosopher, says that formerly philosophy was to be compared with a restaurant where indigestible foods were concocted and served by cooks and waiters — the colleagues of our professor — and that now things have come to such a pass that not even indigestible foods are cooked any longer by the philosopher-cooks, and the cooks and waiters just stand around. Naturally, since our author is a cook, waiter, or philosopher of this kind, he must appear to himself as standing quite uselessly around.
In his two books, then, he has set himself, as he thinks, a final task: henceforth there should be no more philosophers, he is to be the last. This is the deeper meaning of his books. He is to be the last philosopher, for he has set himself this task ... now how is this to be explained? Richard Wahle as waiter or cook among other waiters and cooks who have formerly concocted indigestible food, and now have nothing whatever to do except with other cooks and waiters to concoct a poison which will be the end of them all — this is an extraordinarily interesting spectacle! When we accustom ourselves to studying symptomatically the development of history, we find this to be a symptom of the times which is worthy of our attention. For this philosopher is quick-witted and deeply imbued with the problems of scientific thinking.
Now I am quite convinced that the majority of you, on taking up these books, would very soon put them down again; for they are written in the learned language of modern philosophers and this language has a terminology unintelligible to those who are not versed in it — they first have to learn it. Nevertheless, whoever can cope with this language knows, or can know, that concealed in these books there is an immense amount of ingenuity of the kind that is possible today, and that in their painfully roundabout style there lies a kind of prophetic knowledge — though this should certainly be cultivated in a way quite different from his. However, we might perhaps say that this characteristic passion of his, to get to work on concocting the poison I spoke of for the other cooks and waiters, bears witness to the inner activity of this knowledge; otherwise, as an established Professor of Philosophy, he would never have said: Man has no more wisdom than an animal and is differentiated from the animal only by the fact that the animal lacks the mental capacity to seek after wisdom; man does indeed seek after wisdom and is therefore rational because he has a foreshadowing of something he is unable to acquire.
These words are symptomatic of important knowledge — knowledge of a more or less negative character, knowledge about present-day natural science. This natural science is meant to treat of nature; it is meant in a certain sense to bring home nature to modern consciousness in a conceptual way. If, however, we look around at these conceptions, which today are formed about nature in the most learned way, we find, curiously enough, that human consciousness is merely inventing ghosts; but whereas the people of old invented ghosts to represent the Gods, today they are invented to represent the facts of nature. For what modern men conceive as natural science is related to nature as a ghost is related to reality. It was indeed divined by Richard Wahle that the age of the Consciousness Soul had come to this conclusion: We are not after all so superior to our forefathers; they used the forces of consciousness and formed conceptions of ghosts; we too form conceptions of ghosts. The only difference is that they had more beautiful ghosts than those invented by scientific thinkers, which, to speak the truth, are a horrible weaving in abstract concepts. But they are ghosts, just as the ghosts pictured by our forefathers were ghosts. And these ghosts of natural science are related to reality, this ghostly natural science itself is related to reality, in the same way as the ghosts of old were related to divine reality.
Now it behooves this age of the Consciousness Soul to realize that this is so — that living in conceptions is really living with ghosts. In this age of the Consciousness Soul it is extraordinarily important for man to face this significant fact. The men of old did not live in the age of the Consciousness Soul; hence they had no need to be aware that they were forming conceptions of ghosts. Our natural scientists also form conceptions of ghosts, but in this age of the Consciousness Soul it is our task to know that we also are forming conceptions of ghosts — not conceptions of nature but only of ghosts of nature. And as our forefathers were preceded by their own remote forefathers, who took ghosts to be images of divine activity, images of supersensible intelligence and not real in themselves, so by virtue of this age of the Consciousness Soul we have once more to rise again to a recognition of the truth: to recognize that our scientific ghosts have not the reality ascribed to them by modern scientists, but are only pointers to a reality which is to be sought through them. If we are deceived by the ghostly nature of natural science, we can never come to any clear knowledge of man. With our ghostly conceptions we are still able to perceive nature, for nature appears before our eyes in her true form; as to man himself, in the age of the Consciousness Soul we have to experience him consciously. It will not do to apply merely ghostly conceptions to man, for then we turn ourselves into ghosts. This has indeed happened to a very large extent.
The theory of evolution, Goethe's theory of evolution, is not wrong; it takes the right direction because it wishes to grasp man in his reality. The materialistic theory of evolution, with its Darwinian coloring, talks of man's descent from the animals. The truth, however, is this — there is something in us which originates in the animals, or at least has a common origin with the animals, yet this is not what we are as human beings; it is the ghost that natural science takes for man. Science turns man also into a ghost because it knows him only as a ghostly phenomenon, and then it asks: Whence comes this ghost? When we reach the point of recognizing that it is not man but only his ghost that can be dealt with in the manner of modern science, then in this sphere we shall reach the truth. You will surely be ready to admit that you would never have come here had you sent only Homunculus, the ghost, which is the conception of yourselves forced upon you by natural science. And if only the Homunculi who represent you in your consciousness were here, I should not be able to speak to them! You carry real human beings here with you, but not in your consciousness. The age of the Consciousness Soul, however, has to raise into consciousness the real man. From Homunculus he must rise to man. If this were not to come about, man would get to the point of experiencing the polaric opposite of his ghostly being. The men of old did conceive of themselves as ghosts, it is true, but they could also receive the reality because atavistic forces were still active in them, whereas into the men of today there can enter only what comes through the Consciousness Soul; and when in the Consciousness Soul man has only the ghost of himself, moral spiritual impulses cannot get through. And when you perceive the accompanying phenomena of a ghostly natural science, then you find that this modern age, with its ghostly natural science, will never allow that impulses for moral action come down from the spiritual world. The moral impulses with which men work today are of primeval origin, springing from times when atavistic forces were still strong; for people today, when impulses for action arise, will not ask the spirit, they will only ask nature: What is the nature of man? What kind of driving forces are there in human nature?
It is terrible how in these days men are willing only to question nature — and of nature they can know only its ghost. Hence the reality becomes oppressively active in the unconscious, demanding entrance into consciousness, for we live in the epoch of the Consciousness Soul.
Thus I have made clear to you something important in the situation we are facing today. I have led you to see how it is that men form ghostly conceptions of nature, while scientific experimenters are found on all sides. ... Then a man in his reality appears before them, and the scientists study him. But the ghostly concepts of natural science are inadequate for this; hence the scientists are observers not of man, but only of his ghost — psycho-analysts. Psycho-analysis is the unmistakable child of a ghostly natural science; thus I always speak of psycho-analysis as working with inadequate means.
At this point we may ask: How has this situation come about? It has come about through the pattern of events which has taken shape in earthly evolution, causing a quite definite relation between the primeval evolution of man and the two side-streams, the Ahrimanic and the Luciferic. I have shown you the normal evolution from diverse aspects, and then the two side-streams — the Luciferic flowing into earthly life in the Lemurian period, the Ahrimanic in the Atlantean. Thus they are within human evolution, these three streams, and all that happens in the evolution of mankind is under their influence.
As a consequence of all that goes with these streams, human evolution as a whole came to an important crossroads in a certain definite year. During this year the three streams flowed together into a critical conjunction which was concealed only by a confusion in outer conditions, so that only the confusion was seen but not what was actually happening. This critical point occurred about 666 years after the Mystery of Golgotha. At that time — 666 years after the birth of Christ — something was due to happen and could have happened, but did not happen. The reason why it did not happen you will now hear.
In the year 666 there could have come — visibly for ordinary people, particularly for men of the West — an important being who would not have entered the physical plane, but would have made himself very clearly perceptible to mankind even in an external way, so that they would have become his victims. Had this being appeared in the form he intended, we should not be writing 1918 today but 1918 minus 666, or 1252; for this being would have inspired men in such a way that they would have regulated their chronology accordingly. Had he been able to appear according to plan, this being would have brought about something very strange. Now the matter is like this: 333 years earlier, or 333 years after Christ, we have exactly the middle of the fourth post-Atlantean epoch; the middle, that is, of the Graeco-Latin epoch. Now you can do this sum: it begins with 747 B.C. and ends with 1413; this makes 2,160 years, as it should. Take half 2,160 years and you get 1,080 years, so that 1,080 years since 747 B.C. had gone past by the middle of the post-Atlantean epoch. Take away 747 and you have 333, so that the year 333 of our era was the middle of the Graeco-Roman epoch. It was not before the Mystery of Golgotha, this mid-point, but after. It signifies the highest possible reality but not an external reality, because in external reality the two other streams flow in. If, however, evolution had proceeded in a straight line, without the side-streams flowing in, then 333 would have been the true center and it would have been the zenith of the epoch of the Intellectual or Mind Soul. The Intellectual or Mind Soul would then have reached its highest degree of external development:
Diagram 1

But it did not come about like that, because in a certain sense the serpent was already at work, having planned to apply in 666 — 333 years later — a quite definite procedure to human evolution. The intention of this being, the Sorat, the Beast — who had fully developed the Consciousness Soul, whereas man had reached only the age of the Intellectual or Mind Soul — was to bestow prematurely on men all the soul-spiritual achievements unobtainable through the Intellectual or Mind Soul, and within reach only of the Consciousness Soul. In effect, the culture-epoch of the Consciousness Soul was to come prematurely to man. According to world conditions, 666 was the most favourable point of time for this; the Sorat would then have been able to exercise such influence upon the Earth that he could have said: “I am now teaching men everything they will ever be able to gain through the Consciousness Soul. Little by little I am pouring into man now, in the epoch of the Intellectual or Mind Soul, all that the other gods, whom I oppose, wish to give him only in the next culture-epoch.” An unjustified mingling of the Intellectual or Mind Soul with the Consciousness Soul was the object in view.
It would hardly have been possible to bring the content of the Consciousness Soul into the Intellectual or Mind Soul in the case of every man, for naturally men were at various stages of evolution; but in the case of a great number the attempt might have met with success, in the following way. When this being had reached his aim, a number of geniuses would have arisen, particularly among educated people in the West. For geniuses they would have been — just think of the middle of the epoch which began in 1413; when you add half a culture-epoch — 1,080 years — to 1413, you get 2493. The knowledge that in the normal way men will have in 2493 would have sprouted up in 666, not indeed in men as they then were by nature, but through prophetic imagination inspired with the forces of genius, and would have revealed itself to unsuspecting Western peoples.
Remarkable phenomena were planned. If you consider the scientific ideals of today and hear people describing the wonderful progress made in recent decades ... just think what sort of picture these people could form of humanity in 2493, when in 1918 they are already so clever! People would not have built machines and so on, would not have made experiments, would not have gone the slow way ... with the forces of genius they would have foreseen everything and would also have created much. This year 666 was intended to deluge humanity with a knowledge and a culture which the primal gods had intended for men only during the third millennium. It cannot be conceived — need not be conceived — into what situation the so-called civilized world would have come if it had been deluged with this wisdom in the year 666! With their lack of self-discipline people would have come utterly to grief. For go to your history books and see what they say about man's unbalanced mood of soul in 666, and you will get some idea of how people would then have behaved if in this way genius had come among them. They have indeed brought things to a wonderful pass in what they have developed up to the year 1914 ... whatever would have become of them had they been deluged with all this wisdom of the Beast? It was nevertheless planned by certain higher spirits, particularly by a being of Ahrimanic nature who was to lead these spirits, that this being should appear, even if not on the physical plane — but he was to appear.
This had to be prevented. However many people there are who believe that nothing of this kind that can be given to mankind should be withheld, it had to be prevented, because it did not belong to human evolution in the spiritual sense. It could be prevented by the establishing of balance. Now, consider: 333 was the mid-point of the fourth post-Atlantean epoch; 333 years after that brings us to 666, when the Ahrimanic powers in all their strength would have brought to a climax the whole pride of materialism, but through the forces of genius. A state of balance could be maintained only by the appearance 333 years earlier — that is, at the beginning of our era — of that Being who threw into the balance His own substance, and prevented that being of whom I have spoken from appearing 333 years after 333. There you have one side of the scales — from 333 to 666 is 333 years. Here you have the other side bringing about equilibrium — from 333 back to the Mystery of Golgotha. Thus a state of balance was brought about. Thereby something has been enacted behind the scenes of external profane history. Something that could have happened was prevented by an actual event — which, however, as I have lately explained, can be grasped only with supersensible forces, because for earthly evolution the whole proceeding was of supersensible significance.
What, then, was meant to happen from 666 on, if the Mystery of Golgotha had not occurred and the Beast of that time had been able to intervene in the evolution of mankind; what could have happened? You will be able to form some idea of what might have happened if you think over what I have just been describing. Men were hurrying on towards the fifteenth century; if the Beast had gone on stirring up mischief among men from 666 until the fifteenth century, he would by then have gained complete control of what was approaching. What was approaching was the grasping of the world through a ghost-like natural science — and with that the unleashing of human instincts. Because the Consciousness Soul was to grasp man as a mere ghost, the real man lagged behind; he did not understand himself. And in the age of the Consciousness Soul man can become man only by becoming conscious of what he is; otherwise he remains an animal, lags behind in his human evolution.
But the aim of the being who hoped to intervene in 666 was to make himself God. He said: “Men will come who no longer direct their gaze to the Spirit — the Spirit will not interest them. I shall see to it (and this he actually brought about) that in the year 869 a Council will be held in Constantinople at which the Spirit will be abolished. Men will no longer be interested in the Spirit; they will turn their attention to nature and form ghostlike concepts of nature. Then I shall do something that men will not notice, because they will not recognize themselves as real men, only as ghosts. I shall get complete control of the Consciousness Soul. I shall lead men astray about their own nature; I shall let them go on grasping only the ghost of themselves and I shall pour all the wisdom of the Consciousness Soul into their Intellectual or Mind Soul. Then I have them — then I shall have caught them.”
What would that signify? If man is to evolve at all normally, with no further intervention from this being, he will have to progress to Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, Spirit-Man; and of this possibility he would have been absolutely deprived. He would have remained at the stage of the Consciousness Soul; he would have been able to receive what the Earth could give him but never to go on to the Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan evolutions. If he succeeds in acquiring the content of the Consciousness Soul in the proper epoch through his primal forces, then, because of the evolution he will have gone through in the normal way, the predisposition will be in him to rise to Spirit-Self and so on. But that was to be prevented. He was to receive the Consciousness Soul with its content into the Intellectual or Mind Soul as an inoculation. Then he would have remained at the stage of the Consciousness Soul, and he would have been an automaton in face of the knowledge that from the sixth epoch onwards would have been poured into him. But then it would have been all over with him: he would have developed no further. He would have drawn this knowledge into his Consciousness Soul, would have placed it all with the utmost egoism at the service of the Consciousness Soul.
That was the intention of the being who wanted to appear in 666 — to cut off the possibility of all future earthly evolution. After the evolutions of Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth had run their course, evolution was to be finished; man would have gone no further along the path on which those Beings of the higher Hierarchies wished to accompany him who from the beginning have taken his normal human evolution in hand.
This could be prevented only by this balance, this state of equilibrium, flowing into the world-evolution of man; by the fact that Christ intervened, through the Mystery of Golgotha, at the point in time which lay as far behind the middle of the fourth post-Atlantean epoch as the point of time when the Beast wished to intervene lay ahead.
You see what connections are concealed behind the maya of externally apparent facts. In the epoch of the Consciousness Soul the essential thing is for men to be enlightened about such matters — to become conscious of them. Just think — we are involved in what could be brought about only through the Beast being put in chains by Christ Jesus, as an Epistle expresses it. It is a most remarkable fact that in this Epistle of Barnabas [See Excluded Books of the New Testament (published by Eveleigh Nash and Grayson, London). The relevant passage occurs in Section 4 (p. 214) of The Epistle of Barnabas, translated by Bishop Lightfoot. In the Introduction to this collection of early Christian documents, J. Armitage Robinson, D.D., refers to four books (of which The Epistle of Barnabas is one) as being “so near to the possibility of being included in the Canon of the New Testament that they are actually found in one or other of two of our earliest manuscripts of the whole Greek Bible.” The text of The Epistle of Barnabas is included at the end of the Sinaitic Codex (fourth century).], looked upon as genuine in many early editions of the New Testament but judged as apocryphal by the Western Church, there is an indication of this most important fact of Christ holding the Beast in balance. Certain circles knew very well what needed to be withheld from Western man if an increasing knowledge of the Christ Mysteries was to be prevented from passing into the Consciousness Soul.
If you take what I have said today, you will not be surprised that the writer of the Apocalypse speaks of this rather heatedly. What I have said today from the temporal aspect you can easily connect with what I have said about the Beast of 666 from other aspects — these matters are always given light from various directions. You know we have to do this. The writer of the Apocalypse expresses himself with a certain vehemence in the passage where he speaks of the appearance of the Beast, and he uses approximately these words: The number of the Beast is 666, and it is the number of a man. Or, put better: It is the number of the man, the man who struggles against saying “Not I, but Christ in me.” These things must become ever more conscious for men, since men have now entered upon the epoch of the Consciousness Soul.
If you will only take the facts as they come before you today! Do not just criticize them pedantically; take them as a challenge to real activity — but consider how it would be if you were to speak of such things to the clever people of today in the way we have just been doing. Suppose you were to sit down with one of these very clever people, a shining light in some sphere or other, and you told him about a matter of this sort — imagine what sort of opinion he would form! But take in real earnest the picture you must make for yourselves, and you will have to say: We have certainly entered the age of human evolution in which one meets with the least understanding when speaking of the spiritual knowledge most suited to this particular age.
I might say that never have two parties in the world understood each other so little as do the spiritual and the non-spiritual today. Those who are spiritual can certainly understand the non-spiritual; that is not particularly difficult; but the non-spiritual defend themselves with all the weapons they have — especially with their tongues — against any understanding of the spiritual.
Now these facts should not astonish us, for other things too are out of harmony today, and our age is the age of great disharmonies, great discrepancies, with opposing sides coming into direct conflict. If nowadays some article on the matters that are lectured about here comes into the hands of a man who is numbered among the “clever” folk, he will say: “It is remarkable to find all this appearing in our time; it is quite out of keeping with the present day.” For he considers that his own outlook is the only one suited to the times; anything else he regards as out of place. Tomorrow and the day after we shall be discussing how all this, if it does not harmonize with the sense-world, is nevertheless in harmony with the supersensible.
There are other things, however, in these days which are out of harmony — you need only bring a serious study of life to bear on some of the descriptive accounts, reflective accounts, which tell you how in this twentieth century mankind has come such a wonderfully long way in humane feeling and understanding between peoples! From the beginning of the century you will find high-sounding articles — whole books — on these lines, written with unction and heavily sugared, so that a properly progressive man of today could take in this picture of his times as though he were tasting honey.
There are indeed such descriptions, innumerable descriptions, of how splendidly far mankind has progressed! Well — compare all this with the last four years, ask whether it is all sweet harmony.
All this springs from the fear men have at the entry into the Consciousness Soul. For if we are really to enter into the epoch of the Consciousness Soul, many truths about human evolution will have to emerge. In the most important matters today so much folly is shown just because men are full of fear; because everyone should be speaking with conscious awareness, and that is just what they do not want to do.

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