Monday, October 31, 2011

The inner aspect of the first embodiment of the Earth

A lecture given by Rudolf Steiner 100 years ago today  — October 31, 1911:

If we wish to pursue the studies we carried on in our lectures last year, it will be necessary to acquire still other concepts and views than those that have so far been discussed. We know that what we have to say about the Gospels and other spiritual documents of humanity would not suffice if we did not presuppose the evolution of our whole cosmic system, which we describe as the embodiments of our planet itself, through the Saturn-existence, the Sun-existence, the Moon-existence, on to our present Earth-existence. Anyone who recollects how often we have had to start from these fundamental conceptions will know how necessary they are for all occult observations of human evolution. If you now turn to the accounts given, for instance, in my Occult Science about Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolution, to that of the Earth, you will admit that nothing but a sketch could be given (indeed even if it were much more amplified it would still be no more), nothing but a sketch from one side, from one point of view. For just as the Earth-existence comprises an infinite wealth of detail, it is quite obvious that the former embodiments are equally detailed, and that it would never be possible to give more than a merely rough charcoal drawing, just an outline, of these. It is, however, necessary for us to describe evolution from yet another side.
If it be asked, whence arise all the accounts given here, we know that they arise from the so-called entries in the Akashic Record. We know that what has once taken place in the course of the world's evolution is in a sense to be read as though registered in a delicate spiritual substance, the Akashic substance. There is a register there of everything that has taken place, by which we can discover how things once were. Now, it is natural that just as the ordinary vision, contemplating anything of our physical world, sees the details of objects in its vicinity more or less clearly, and that the further away they are the less clear do they appear, so we may also admit that those things that are near us in time, belonging to the Earth or the Moon evolutions, can be more minutely observed; while on the other hand those further removed from us in time take on more or less indistinct outlines — as for instance when we look back clairvoyantly into the Saturn or Sun existence.
Why do we do this at all, why do we set value on following up an age so far behind our own? It might well be objected: For what reason do students of Spiritual Science bring up such primeval subjects for discussion at the present day? We really do not need to trouble ourselves about these ancient matters, we have quite enough to do with what is going on now in the world!
It would be wrong to speak in this way. For what has once happened is fulfilling itself continuously even at the present day. What occurred in the time of Saturn did not only take place then — it goes on even today; only it is covered over and made invisible by what today surrounds man on the physical plane. And the ancient Saturn-existence which played its part so long ago, has been made utterly invisible to us; but it still somewhat concerns man even now, this old Saturn-existence. And in order that we may form a conception of how it concerns us today, let us place the following before our souls.
We know that the innermost core of our being meets us in what we call our ego. This ego, the innermost core of our being, is in reality for people of the present day an absolutely supersensible and imponderable entity. This can be seen in the fact that there are today teachings regarding the soul, so-called official psychologies, which no longer have the slightest inkling that such an ego is to be alluded to. I have often drawn your attention to the fact that in the German psychology of the nineteenth century the following expression has come into use: “Soul-teaching without soul.” In the celebrated School of Wundt, which is considered decisive not only in German countries but everywhere where psychology is discussed, it is mentioned with great respect. This school was well known for the “soul-teaching without soul,” although it did not coin the expression. This teaching insisted, without taking an independent soul-being into consideration, that all the qualities of the soul are gathered into a sort of focus — into the ego. It would be impossible to think of greater nonsense, yet the psychology of the present day is absolutely under the influence of this nonsense. This “soul-teaching without soul” is today famous throughout the world. Future writers on the history of civilization will have much to do to make it appear plausible to our successors that in the nineteenth century and well on into the twentieth it was possible that such a thought could have arisen as the greatest production of the psychological field. This is only mentioned to point out how vague is official psychology respecting what we designate as the central point of the human being.
If we could have a clear grasp of the ego and place it before us like the external physical body; if we could look for the environment upon which the ego depends in the same way as the physical body is dependent upon what is seen by the eyes and perceived by the senses — if we could look for the environment of the ego in the same way as we do for that of the physical realm, in the clouds, mountains, etc., or in the same way as the physical body does for its means of nourishment, we should come even today to an expression of the cosmos, to a cosmic tableau in which, as it were, our environment is imprinted invisibly and which is similar to the cosmic tableau of ancient Saturn. This means that a man who wishes to learn to know the ego in its own world must represent to himself a world such as ancient Saturn. This world is hidden; to man it is a supersensible world. At the present stage of his evolution man could not possibly bear the perception of it. It is veiled by the Guardian of the Threshold, Who conceals it from him. And it requires a certain grade of spiritual development to support such a vision. It is indeed a vision to which we must first become accustomed. And above all you must form a conception of what is necessary to be able to feel such a cosmic tableau as reality. You must think away everything that can be perceived by the senses, you must even think away your own inner world, in so far as this consists of the wonted working of the mind. Further, you must think away from everything that is in the world, all the concepts you have within you. Thus you must remove from the external world all that the senses can perceive, and from the inner world all the workings of the mind, all conceptions. And now, if you wish to form an idea of that soul-disposition which a man must have if he really holds the thought that everything is taken away and man alone remains, we cannot say otherwise than that he must learn to feel dread and fear of the infinite emptiness yawning around us. He must be able to feel, as it were, his environment tinged and saturated with that which inspires dread and fear wherever he turns, and at the same time he must be able to overcome this fear by inner firmness and certainty.
Without these two frames of mind — dread and fear of the infinite emptiness of existence, and the overcoming of this fear — it is impossible to have the faintest conception of the ancient Saturn-existence underlying our own world. Neither of these feelings is much cultivated by people in themselves. Hence, even in literature we find but few descriptions of this condition. It is naturally known to those who in course of time endeavor to seek the origin of things by means of clairvoyant forces. In external literature, however, whether written or printed, you will find but few indications of man having felt anything like the dread of the infinite emptiness or the overcoming of this. In order to obtain a sort of insight into this, I have tried to investigate some of the more modern literature where the consciousness of this dread of the immeasurable emptiness might be found. The philosophers are as a rule extremely clever and speak in clear concepts — they avoid speaking of the mighty, awe-inspiring impressions; it will not be easy to find anything of the sort in their writings. Now, I shall not speak of those in which I have found nothing. But I once found one small echo of these feelings, and this was in the diary of Karl Rosenkrantz, the writer on Hegel, in which he sometimes describes intimate feelings produced in him by engrossing himself in the Hegel philosophy. I came upon a remarkable passage, which is simply expressed and noted in his diary. It had become clear to Karl Rosenkrantz that this philosophy proceeds from pure being. This “pure being “of Hegel is much discussed in philosophical literature of the nineteenth century — but we must say that it was very little understood. We might almost say (though, of course, this can only be said in the most intimate circles) that the philosophy of the second half of the nineteenth century understood just as little of the “pure being “of Hegel as the ox understands of Sunday, when he has eaten grass all the week. This concept of the “pure being” of Hegel is one that has been sifted again and again (not existing but Absolute Being); it is a concept which indeed is not quite what I have described as the dreadful emptiness into which flows fear. But all space in Hegel's sense is tinged with the quality containing nothing that can be experienced by man; it is infinity filled with “being.” Karl Rosenkrantz once felt this to be as a dreadful shuddering recoil from a coldness, tinged with nothing but “being.”
In order to understand what underlies the world it does not suffice to speak of it in concepts, or to form concepts and ideas on it; it is far more necessary to call up an impression of the feeling aroused by the infinite emptiness of the ancient Saturn-existence. A feeling of horror accompanies the mere hint of it. If we wish to ascend clairvoyantly to the state of Saturn, we must prepare ourselves by acquiring a feeling, more or less known to everyone, that may be compared to the giddiness experienced on a mountain, when a man stands at the edge of an abyss and feels that he has no sure footing under him, that he cannot retain it in any place and wants to give way to forces over which he has no longer any control. But that is only the most elementary of these apprehensive feelings. For he loses not only the ground beneath him, but also what eyes can see, ears hear, and hands grasp; in fact all spatial environment. And he can do no other than lose every thought that may come to him, in a sort of condition of dimness or sleep; and then he can arrive at having no perception at all. He may be so deeply absorbed in this impression that he can do no other than come to the condition of dread, which often is like a giddiness not to be overcome.
Man of today has two possibilities. The first is that he may have understood the Gospels, or the Mystery of Golgotha. Anyone who has really understood these in their full depths — naturally not as modern theologians speak of them, but in such a way that he has drawn from them the deepest that can be expressed in them — will take something with him into that emptiness, which seems to expand from a given point and fills emptiness with something similar to courage. It is a feeling of courage, of protection through being united with that Being Who accomplished the sacrifice on Golgotha. The other way is to penetrate into the spiritual worlds without the Gospels through a genuine true Spiritual Science or Anthroposophy. This is also possible. (You know that we emphasize the fact that we do not start from the Gospels when we consider the Mystery of Golgotha, but that we should arrive at it even if there were no Gospels at all.) That would not have been possible before the Mystery of Golgotha took place; but it is the case today, because something entered the world through the Mystery of Golgotha which enables a man to understand the impressions of the spiritual world directly through his own impressions. This is what we call the ruling of the Holy Spirit in the world, the ruling of cosmic thought in the world. Whether we take one or the other of these with us, we cannot lose ourselves and we cannot, so to say, fall into the bottomless abyss when we stand before the dreadful emptiness. If we now approach this dreadful emptiness with the other preparations given us by the various methods — for instance, those in my book The Knowledge of Higher Worlds and other methods dependent on these — and enter a world born from that which can shake our minds, which can seize upon our conceptions, when we live into that world, when we place ourselves, so to say, in the Saturn-existence, then we learn to know beings — not in the least similar to those we perceive in the animal, plant, or mineral kingdoms, but  beings. This is a world where there are no clouds, no light, where it is quite devoid of sound, but we become acquainted with beings — indeed those beings called in our terminology Spirits of Will, or Thrones. We learn so to know them that it becomes a true objective reality for us — a surging sea of courage.
What at first can only be pictured in thought becomes, through clairvoyance, objective reality. Think of yourself as immersed in this sea — but now immersed as a spiritual being, feeling one with the Christ-Being, carried by the Christ-Being, swimming — though not in a sea of water but in a sea filling infinite space, a sea (there is no other description for it) of flowing courage, flowing energy. This is not simply a uniform and undifferentiated sea, but we meet here with all the possibilities and diversities of what we call a feeling of courage. We become acquainted with beings who, to be sure, consist of courage, but although they consist of courage alone, we meet them as really concrete beings. Naturally it may appear strange to say that we meet beings just as real as man who is made of flesh, and yet they are not of flesh but consist of courage. Yet such is the case. Of such a nature are the Spirits of Will. To begin with, we shall only designate as Saturn-existence what the Spirits of Will, consisting of courage, represent — and nothing else. This, in the first place is “Saturn.” It is a world of which we cannot say that it is spherical, hexagonal, or square. None of these definitions of space applies to it, for there is no possibility of any end being discoverable. If we revert to the simile of swimming, we may say it is not a sea in which one would come to any surface, but on all sides and in all directions are to be found Spirits of Courage or Will.
In later lectures I shall describe how we do not at once come to this: for the present I will keep to the same order as formerly: Saturn — Sun — Moon; though it is much better to keep to the reverse direction, from Earth to Saturn. I am now describing the other way 'round, but it is of no importance.
When we have lifted ourselves to this vision, something meets us of which it is extremely difficult to form an idea, except for one who has taken the trouble slowly and gradually to attain to such conceptions. For something ceases, which is more intimately connected with our ordinary human ideas than anything else: space ceases! It no longer has any meaning to say we swim “up or “down,” “forward or backward,” “right or left” — these have no longer any meaning. In this respect it is everywhere the same. But the important thing is when we reach these first ages of the Saturn-existence time, too, ceases; there is no longer “earlier “or “later.” It is naturally very difficult for man to imagine this today, because his ideas themselves flow in time. On Saturn no thought is before or after another. This again can only be described by a feeling that time ceases. This feeling is certainly not pleasant. Imagine that your concepts are benumbed, that everything that you can remember, everything which you undertake, is benumbed into a rigid rod, so that you feel yourself held in your conceptions and are no longer able to move: then you will no longer be able to say that what you formerly experienced you experienced “formerly”; you are fastened to it; it is there, but it is benumbed: time ceases to be of significance, it is absolutely no longer there. On this account it is rather foolish for anyone to say: “You describe the Saturn-existence, the Sun-existence, etc.: now tell us what was before Saturn.” “Before” has no longer any meaning because time ceases to exist; we must also cease all definitions of time. In the old Saturn-existence, speaking very comparatively, the world is really boarded up, inasmuch as thought must stand absolutely still. It is the same with clairvoyance: ordinary thoughts must be left behind, they do not extend so far. By way of a comparison and expressing it in image, we must say that our brain is frozen. And when we realize this condition of rigidity, we shall have a comparative conception of the consciousness no longer enclosed in time.
Now, when we have got as far as this we become aware of a remarkable alteration in the whole picture. It can now be observed that out of this rigidity, this timeless character of the infinite sea of courage with its beings whom we call the Spirits of Will, come the beings of other Hierarchies, as though striking into it and playing into it. We can only notice that other beings here play into it when we become aware of the cessation of time. We notice an indefinite experience of which we cannot say that we ourselves experience it, but that it is there. We can only say that it is within the whole infinite sea of courage. We observe something passing through this like a flashing-up, like a becoming lighter, but not a real illumination, more like a glimmer. This glimmer does not give the impression of a glimmering light, but as we must understand these things in various ways and we desire to make this comprehensible, we must imagine the following: Suppose a man says something to you and you think: “How clever he is!” and as he talks on further, this feeling increases and the thought comes: “He is really wise, he must have had endless experience, to say such wise things.” ... Besides this feeling, the person makes an impression upon you like a breath of enchantment. Imagine this breath of enchantment enormously enhanced — and within it clouds, which do not flash up but glimmer; if you take this altogether you will have a conception of how beings consisting entirely of Wisdom interact with the hierarchy of the Spirits of Will. Their Wisdom is not Wisdom alone, but streams which are actively radiant. In short, you then obtain clairvoyantly the conception of what the Cherubim are. The Cherubim play into it.
Now imagine yourself surrounded by nothing but what I have described. I have already said, and have laid certain stress upon it, that we cannot say of it: “We have it around us,” we can only say: “It is there.” We must think ourselves into this. And concerning the conception that something is there flashing up, I said it was not a flash but a glimmering. It is not as though something arose and vanished again; everything is simultaneous. Now, however, the feeling comes that there is some connection between these Spirits of Will and the Cherubim. The feeling comes to us that they have established a relationship to one another; we become conscious of this. And indeed we become conscious that the Spirits of Will or Thrones sacrifice their own being to the Cherubim. That is the last conception to which we can attain when we approach Saturn in retrospect: that of the sacrificing Spirits of Will offering their sacrifice to the Cherubim. There the world is ‘boarded up’.
And inasmuch as we can experience the sacrifice that the Spirits of Will make to the Cherubim, something looses itself from our being. This we can express by saying: through the sacrifice made by the Spirits of Will to the Cherubim, time is born. But “time” here is not the abstract time of which we usually speak, but independent being. We can now first speak of something that begins. Time begins with the birth of time-beings--whose nature is pure time. Beings are born consisting only of time. These are the Spirits of Personality, known to us as Archai in the hierarchy of spiritual beings. In the Saturn-existence they are nothing but time. We have also described them as Time-Spirits, as Spirits who rule time. But there they are born as spirits, they are really beings consisting of nothing but time.
To take part in this sacrifice of the Spirits of Will to the Cherubim and in the birth of time is something of extraordinary importance. For it is only now, when time is born, that something else appears — something that makes it possible for us to speak of the Saturn condition as having anything in the least similar to our environment. What we call the element of warmth in Saturn is, as it were, the sacrificial smoke of the Thrones giving birth to time. Hence I have always said, in describing the Saturn-condition, that it was one of warmth. Of all the elements we have around us now, the only one we can speak of as being on ancient Saturn is warmth. And this warmth arises as sacrificial heat offered by the Spirits of Will to the Cherubim. This should give us an indication of how we should really look upon fire. Wherever we see fire, wherever we feel warmth, we should not think in so materialistic a fashion as is natural and usual to the man of today. But wherever we see and feel warmth appear we should feel that what is at the spiritual foundation of our life is present, though it is still invisible, namely the sacrifice of the Spirits of Will to the Cherubim. The world only acquires its truth when we know that behind every development of heat there is sacrifice.
In Occult Science, in order not to shock people outside unduly, I have begun by describing the more external condition of ancient Saturn. They are quite shocked enough by this, and people who can only think in accordance with modern science look upon the book as pure nonsense. Just think what it would mean if we were to say “Ancient Saturn has in its innermost being — in its very foundation — this fact: that the beings belonging to the Spirits of Will offered sacrifice to the Cherubim, that in the smoke of their sacrifice time came to birth as the sacrifice they brought to the Cherubim, and that from this have proceeded the Archai, the Time-Spirits, and that external heat is nothing but a maya as compared with the sacrifice of the Spirits of Will!” But so it is. Externally heat is really only a maya. And if we wish to speak truly we must say that wherever there is heat we have in reality sacrifice, sacrifice of the Thrones to the Cherubim.
And now an excellent “imagination” is the following: In Knowledge of Higher Worlds and elsewhere it is frequently said that the second stage of Rosicrucian initiation is the forming of imagination. The Anthroposophist must build up these imaginations from the right conceptions of the world. Thus we can think of what we have discussed today as transformed into an “imagination”: we can imagine the Thrones, the Spirits of Will, kneeling in absolute devotion before the Cherubim, but so that their devotion does not proceed from a feeling of littleness but from a consciousness that they have something to offer. Imagine the Thrones, with this desire of sacrifice founded upon their strength and courage, as kneeling before the Cherubim and sending up their sacrifice to them. ... And they send up this sacrifice as foaming heat, so that the sacrificial smoke ascends to the winged Cherubim. So might we picture it. And proceeding from this sacrifice (just as though a word of ours spoken into the air became time — in this case it is time-beings) and emerging from this whole proceeding: the Spirits of Time — Archai. This sending forth of the Archai gives a grand and powerful picture. And this picture placed before our souls is extremely impressive for certain imaginations, which can then lead us further and further into the realm of occult knowledge.
This is precisely what we have to attain; we must be able to transform the ideas we receive into imaginations, into pictures. Even if the pictures are clumsily formed, even if they are anthropomorphic, even if the beings appear as winged angels, etc., that does not signify. The rest will be given to us later; and what they ought not to have will fall away. When we yield ourselves to these pictures we penetrate into imaginative perception.
If you take what I have just endeavored to describe you will see that the soul will soon have recourse to all kinds of pictures unconnected with intellectual ideas. These latter owe their existence to a much later period, so that we should not at first take such things intellectually. And you must comprehend what is meant when some minds describe things differently from the intellectualists; the intellectualist will never be able to understand such minds. I will give a hint to anyone who wishes for instruction on this point: take out of the public library a book — which is quite a good one — the so-called “Old Schwegler,” formerly much used by students for examinations, but now no longer applicable since the “soul” is dethroned; although this book has been mutilated by way of improvement, it is not quite spoilt. You can take old Schwegler's History of Philosophy and you will have quite a good book. If you read there about the philosophy of Hegel you will find everything splendidly described. But now read the short chapter on Jacob Boehme, and try to obtain a correct idea of how helpless a man is who writes an intellectual philosophy when confronted with a spirit such as Jacob Boehme! Paracelsus — thank goodness — he left out entirely; for concerning him he would have written completely unjustifiable things. But just read what he says about Jacob Boehme. Here Schwegler comes to a spirit to whom there objectively appeared — not the Saturn picture — but the recapitulation of the Saturn picture taking place in the Earth period; this he can only do in words and concepts that cannot be approached by the intellect. To the intellectual man all comprehension here ceases. It is not as though these things were impossible of comprehension, but they cannot be understood if the standpoint of the dry philosophic intellect is insisted upon.
You see, precisely the most important thing for us is that we lift ourselves to what the ordinary intellect is unable to grasp. Even though the ordinary intellect produces something as excellent as The History of Philosophy by Schwegler (for I have expressly called this a good book), it is still an example by which we must see how a splendid intellect is completely at a standstill before a spirit such as Jacob Boehme.
Thus today we have endeavored in our consideration of ancient Saturn to penetrate more inwardly, so to say, into this old planetary embodiment of our Earth. We shall presently do the same with the Sun- and the Moon-existence. And in doing so we shall see that there too we come to ideas which perhaps may not appear less impressive than the glimpse afforded us when we look back to the old Saturn condition, and to the Thrones sacrificing to the Cherubim and resulting in the creation of the Beings of Time. For time is a result of sacrifice, and first arises as living time, as a creation of sacrifice. Then we shall see how all these things are transformed on the Sun, and other glorious events of the cosmic existence will confront us when we pass from Saturn to the Sun, and then to the Moon-existence.

"Abide in me, and I in you"

"The world passes away, and the lust thereof; but they who do the will of God abide forever."
1 John 2:17


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

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

Namaste: The Madonna Mystery

Emil Bock:  "One can be brought by these pictures [in the gospel of Luke] to a spiritual recognition of the secret of Mary, to the discovery of a mystery of the Madonna in every individual human soul. Let us take as an example the meeting of Mary and Elizabeth. This picture becomes one through which all human meetings can be hallowed. Everyone has a soul in which, as in a mother's womb, the spiritual ego rests and germinates--the true human being of every individual, which has not yet been able to break forth. What higher thing could be wrought in one person by another than that the spirutal embryo of one should arouse the spiritual embryo in another's soul, so that it leaps in joy, so that in that person, as in Elizabeth, the hope of future evolving awakens. Just such a picture as that of the two mothers can bring to our awareness how often people touch only the surface in their meeting instead of awakening and animating the center of life itself. Every meeting may be an awakening, an awakening of the secret of Mary in the soul."

Source: Studies in the Gospels, Volume 2, page 99

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Basic Issues of the Social Question

By Rudolf Steiner.  Preface to the fourth German edition.

The challenges which contemporary society presents will be misunderstood by those who approach them with utopian ideas. It is of course possible to believe that any one of diverse theories, arrived at through personal observation and conviction, will result in making men happy. Such a belief can acquire overwhelming persuasive power. Nevertheless, as far as the social question of the times is concerned, it becomes irrelevant as soon as the attempt is made to assert it.
The following example, although seeming to carry this proposition to an extreme, is nevertheless valid. Let us assume that someone is in possession of a perfect, theoretical ‘solution’ to the social question. In spite of this, in attempting to offer it to the public he becomes the victim of an unpractical belief. We no longer live in an age in which public life can be influenced in this way. People's minds are simply not disposed to accept the ideas of another as far as this subject is concerned. They will not say: here is someone who knows how society should be structured, so we will act according to his opinions.
People are not interested in social ideas which are presented to them in this way. This book, which has already reached a fairly large audience, takes this phenomenon into consideration. Those who accuse it of having a utopian character have completely misunderstood my intentions. It is interesting to note that such criticism has come principally from people who themselves indulge almost exclusively in utopian thinking and are inclined to attribute their own mental habits to others.
Truly practical people know from experience that even the most convincing utopian ideas lead absolutely nowhere. In spite of this, many of them seem to feel obliged to propound just such ideas, especially in the field of economics. They should realize that they are wasting their breath, that their fellow men will not be able to apply such propositions.
The above should be treated as a fact of life inasmuch as it indicates an important characteristic of contemporary public life, namely, that our present notions concerning economics, for example, have little relation to reality. How can we then hope to cope with the chaotic condition of society if we approach it with a thought process which has no relation to reality?
This question can hardly meet with favour as it requires the admission that our thinking is indeed remote from reality. Nevertheless, without such an admission we will not get to the bottom of the social question. Only when we understand that this divorce of thought from reality is a condition of the utmost seriousness for contemporary civilization, can we become clear in our own minds as to what society really needs.
The whole question revolves around the shape of contemporary spiritual life. Modern man has developed a spiritual life which is to a very large extent dependent upon political institutions and economic forces. While still a child he is given over to a state educational system, and his upbringing must correspond to the economic circumstances of his environment.
It is easy to believe that this situation results in the individual becoming well adjusted to contemporary life, that the state is best qualified to organize the educational system — and therewith the foundation of public cultural affairs — for the benefit of the community. It is also easy to believe that the individual who is educated according to the economic conditions of his environment and who is then placed according to these conditions becomes the best possible member of human society.
This book must assume the unpopular task of showing that the chaotic condition of our public life derives from the dependence of spiritual life on the political state and economic interests. It must also show that the liberation of spiritual life and culture from this dependence constitutes an important element of the burning social question.
This involves attacking certain wide-spread errors. For example, the political state's assumption of responsibility for education has long been considered to be beneficial for human progress. For people with socialistic ideas it is inconceivable that society should do anything but shape the individual according to its standards and for its service.
It is not easy to accept a very important fact of historical development, namely, that what was proper during an earlier period can be erroneous for a later period. For a new era in human relations to emerge, it was necessary that the circles which controlled education and culture be relieved of this function and that it be transferred to the political state. However, to persist in this arrangement is a grave social error.
The first part of this book attempts to indicate this. Human culture has matured toward freedom within the framework of the state, but it cannot exercise this freedom without complete autonomy of action. The nature which spiritual life has assumed requires that it constitute a fully autonomous member of the social organism. The administration of education, from which all culture develops, must be turned over to the educators. Economic and political considerations should be entirely excluded from this administration. Each teacher should arrange his or her time so that he can also be an administrator in his field. He should be just as much at home attending to administrative matters as he is in the classroom. No one should make decisions who is not directly engaged in the educational process. No parliament or congress, nor any individual who was perhaps once an educator, is to have anything to say. What is experienced in the teaching process would then flow naturally into the administration. By its very nature such a system would engender competence and objectivity.
Of course one could object that such a self-governing spiritual life would also not attain to perfection. But we cannot expect perfection; we can only strive toward the best possible situation. The capabilities which the child develops can best be transmitted to the community if his education is the exclusive responsibility of those whose judgement rests on a spiritual foundation. To what extent a child should be taught one thing or another can only be correctly determined within a free cultural community. How such determinations are to be made binding is also a matter for this community. The state and the economy would be able to absorb vigour from such a community, which is not attainable when the organization of cultural institutions is based on political and economic standards.
Even the schools which directly serve the state and the economy should be administered by the educators: law schools, trade-schools, agriculture and industrial colleges, all should be administered by the representatives of a free spiritual life. This book will necessarily arouse many prejudices, especially if the consequences of its thesis are considered. What is the source of these prejudices? We recognize their antisocial nature when we perceive that they originate in the unconscious belief that teachers are impractical people who cannot be trusted to assume practical responsibilities on their own. It is assumed that all organization must be carried out by those who are engaged in practical matters, and educators should act according to the terms of reference determined for them.
This assumption ignores the fact that it is just when teachers are not permitted to determine their own functions that they tend to become impractical and remote from reality. As long as the so-called experts determine the terms of reference according to which they must function, they will never be in a position to turn out practical individuals who are equipped for life by their education. The current anti-social state of affairs is the result of individuals entering society who lack social sensitivity because of their education. Socially sensitive individuals can only develop within an educational system which is conducted and administered by other socially sensitive individuals. No progress will be made towards solving the social question if we do not treat the question of education and spirit as an essential part of it. An anti-social situation is not merely the result of economic structures, it is also caused by the anti-social behaviour of the individuals who are active in these structures. It is anti-social to allow youth to be educated by people who themselves have become strangers to reality because the conduct and content of their work has been dictated to them from without.
The state establishes law-schools and requires that the law they teach be in accordance with the state's own view of jurisprudence. If these schools were established as free cultural institutions, they would derive the substance of their jurisprudence from this very culture. The state would then become the recipient of what this free spiritual life has to offer. It would be enriched by the living ideas which can only arise within such a spiritual environment. Within a spiritual life of this nature society would encounter the men and women who could grow into it on their own terms. Worldliness does not originate in educational institutions organized by so-called ‘experts’, in which impractical people teach, but only in educators who understand life and the world according to their own viewpoints. Particulars of how a free culture should organize itself are outlined in this book.
The utopian-minded will approach the book with all kinds of doubts. Anxious artists and other spiritual workers will question whether talent would be better off in a free culture than in one which is provided for by the state and economic interests, as is the case today. Such doubters should bear in mind that this book is not meant to be the least bit utopian. No hard and fast theories are found in it which say that things must be this way or that. On the contrary, its intention is to stimulate the formation of communities which, as a result of their common experience, will be able to bring about what is socially desirable. If we consider life from experience instead of theoretical preconceptions, we will agree that creative individuals would have better prospects of seeing their work fairly judged if a free cultural community existed which could act according to its own values.
The ‘social question’ is not something which has suddenly appeared at this stage of human evolution and which can be resolved by a few individuals or by some parliamentary body, and stay resolved. It is an integral part of modern civilization which has come to stay, and as such will have to be resolved anew for each moment in the world's historical development. Humanity has now entered into a phase in which social institutions constantly produce anti-social tendencies. These tendencies must be overcome each time. Just as a satiated organism experiences hunger again after a period of time, so the social organism passes from order to disorder. A food which permanently stills hunger does not exist; neither does a universal social panacea. Nevertheless, men can enter into communities in which they would be able to continuously direct their activities in a social direction. One such community is the self-governing spiritual branch of the social organism.

Observation of the contemporary world indicates that the spiritual life requires free self-administration, while the economy requires associative work. The modern economic process consists of the production, circulation and consumption of commodities. Human needs are satisfied by means of this process and human beings are directly involved in it, each having his own part-interest, each participating to the extent he is able. What each individual really needs can only be known by himself, what he should contribute he can determine through his insight into the situation as a whole. It was not always so, and it is not yet the case the world over; but it is essentially true as far as the civilized inhabitants of the earth are concerned.
Economic activity has expanded in the course of human evolution. Town economies developed from closed household economies and in turn grew into national economies. Today we stand before a global economy. Undoubtedly the new contains much of the old, just as the old showed indications of what was to come. Nevertheless, human destiny is conditioned by the fact that this process, in most fields of economic endeavour, has already been accomplished. Any attempt to organize economic forces into an abstract world community is erroneous. In the course of evolution private economic enterprise has, to a large extent, become state economic enterprise. But the political states are not merely the products of economic forces, and the attempt to transform them into economic communities is the cause of the social chaos of modern times. Economic life is striving to structure itself according to its own nature, independent of political institutionalization and mentality. It can only do this if associations, comprised of consumers, distributors and producers, are established according to purely economic criteria. Actual conditions would determine the scope of these associations. If they are too small they would be too costly; if they are too large they would become economically unmanageable. Practical necessity would indicate how inter-associational relations should develop. There is no need to fear that individual mobility would be inhibited due to the existence of associations. He who requires mobility would experience flexibility in passing from one association to another, as long as economic interest and not political organization determines the move. It is possible to foresee processes within such associations which are comparable to currency in circulation.
* * * *
Professionalism and objectivity could cause a general harmony of interests to prevail in the associations. Not laws, but men using their immediate insights and interests, would regulate the production, circulation, and consumption of goods. They would acquire the necessary insights through their participation in the associations; goods could circulate at their appropriate values due to the fact that the various interests represented would be compensated by means of contracts. This type of economic cooperation is quite different from that practised by the labor unions which, although operational in the economic field, are established according to political instead of economic principles. Basically parliamentary bodies, they do not function according to economic principles of reciprocal output. In these associations there would be no ‘wage earners’ using their collective strength to demand the highest possible wages from management, but artisans who, together with management and consumer representatives, determine reciprocal outputs by means of price regulation — something which cannot be accomplished by sessions of parliamentary bodies. This is important! For who would do the work if countless man-hours were spent in negotiations about it? But with person to person, association- to association agreements, work would go on as usual. Of course it is necessary that all agreements reflect the workers' insights and the consumers' interests. This is not the description of a utopia. I am not saying how things should be arranged, but indicating how people will arrange things for themselves once they activate the type of associative communities which correspond to their own insights and interests.
Human nature would see to it that men and women unite in such economic communities, were they not prevented from doing so by state intervention, for nature determines needs. A free spiritual life would also contribute, for it begets social insights. Anyone who is in a position to consider all this from experience will have to admit that these economic associations could come into being at any moment, and that there is nothing utopian about them. All that stands in their way is modern man's obsession with the external organization of economic life. Free association is the exact opposite of this external organizing for the purpose of production. When men associate, the planning of the whole originates in the reasoning of the individual. What is the point of those who own no property associating with those who do! It may seem preferable to ‘justly’ regulate production and consumption externally. Such external planning sacrifices the free, creative initiative of the individual, thereby depriving the economy of what such initiative alone can give it. If, in spite of all prejudice, an attempt were made today to establish such associations, the reciprocal output between owners and non-owners would necessarily occur. The instincts which govern the consideration of such things nowadays do not originate in economic experience, but in sentiments which have developed from class and other interests. They were able to develop because purely economic thought has not kept pace with the complexities of modern economics. An unfree spiritual life has prevented this. The individuals who labor in industry are caught in a routine, and the formative economic forces are invisible to them. They labor without having an insight into the wholeness of human life. In the associations each individual would learn what he should know through contact with another. Through the participants' insight and experience in relation to their respective activities and their resulting ability to exercise collective judgment, knowledge of what is economically possible would arise. In a free spiritual life the only active forces are those inherent in it; in the same sense, the only economic values active in an associatively structured economic system would be those which evolve through the associations themselves. The individual's role would emerge from cooperation with his associates. He could thereby exert just as much economic influence as corresponds to his output. How the non-productive elements would be integrated into economic life will be explained in the course of the book. Only an economic system which is self-structured can protect the weak against the strong.
We have seen that the social organism can arrange itself into two autonomous members able to support each other only because each is self-governing according to its inherent nature. Between them a third element must function: the political state. Here is where each individual who is of age can make his influence and judgment felt. In free spiritual life each person works according to his particular abilities; in the economic sphere each takes his place according to his associative relationship. In the context of the political rights-state the purely human element comes into its own, insofar as it is independent of the abilities by means of which the individual is active in spiritual life, and independent of the value accrued to the goods he produces in the associative economic sphere.
I have attempted to show in this book how hours and conditions of labor are matters to be dealt with by the political rights-state. All are equal in this area due to the fact that only matters are to be treated in it about which all men are equally competent to form an opinion. Human rights and obligations are to be determined within this member of the social organism.
The unity of the whole social organism will originate in the independent development of its three members. The book will show how the effectiveness of capital, means of production, and land use can be determined through the cooperation of the three members. Those who wish to ‘solve’ the social question by means of some economic scheme will find this book impractical. However, those who have practical experience and would stimulate men and women to cooperative ventures through which they can best recognize and dedicate themselves to the social tasks of the day will perhaps not deny that the author is in fact advocating something which is in accordance with the practical facts of life.
This book was first published in 1919. As a supplement I published various articles in the magazine “Dreigliederung des Sozialen Organismus”, which subsequently appeared as a separate volume with the title “In Ausführung der Dreigliederung des Sozialen Organismus”. [Note 1] In both of these publications much more emphasis is placed on the means which should be employed than on the ends or ‘objectives’ of the social movement. If we think realistically we know that particular ends appear in diverse forms. Only when we think in abstractions does everything appear to us in clearly defined outlines. The abstract thinker will often reproach the practical realist for lack of distinctness, for not being sufficiently ‘clear’ in his presentations. Often those who consider themselves to be experts are in reality just such abstractionists. They do not realize that life can assume the most varied forms. It is a flowing element, and if we wish to move with it we must adapt our thoughts and feelings to this flowing characteristic. Social tasks can be grasped with this type of thinking. The ideas presented in this book have been drawn from an observation of life; an understanding of them can be derived from the same source.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

The "Social Question" and the Flow of Life

Rudolf Steiner:  "If we think realistically we know that particular ends appear in diverse forms. Only when we think in abstractions does everything appear to us in clearly defined outlines. The abstract thinker will often reproach the practical realist for lack of distinctness, for not being sufficiently ‘clear’ in his presentations. Often those who consider themselves to be experts are in reality just such abstractionists. They do not realize that life can assume the most varied forms. It is a flowing element, and if we wish to move with it we must adapt our thoughts and feelings to this flowing characteristic."


Toward Social Renewal

Rudolf Steiner:
"The ‘social question’ is not something which has suddenly appeared at this stage of human evolution and which can be resolved by a few individuals or by some parliamentary body, and stay resolved. It is an integral part of modern civilization which has come to stay, and as such will have to be resolved anew for each moment in the world's historical development. Humanity has now entered into a phase in which social institutions constantly produce anti-social tendencies. These tendencies must be overcome each time. Just as a satiated organism experiences hunger again after a period of time, so the social organism passes from order to disorder. A food which permanently stills hunger does not exist; neither does a universal social panacea. Nevertheless, men can enter into communities in which they would be able to continuously direct their activities in a social direction. One such community is the self-governing spiritual branch of the social organism.
Observation of the contemporary world indicates that the spiritual life requires free self-administration, while the economy requires associative work. The modern economic process consists of the production, circulation and consumption of commodities. Human needs are satisfied by means of this process and human beings are directly involved in it, each having his own part-interest, each participating to the extent he is able. What each individual really needs can only be known by himself, what he should contribute he can determine through his insight into the situation as a whole. It was not always so, and it is not yet the case the world over; but it is essentially true as far as the civilized inhabitants of the earth are concerned.
Economic activity has expanded in the course of human evolution. Town economies developed from closed household economies and in turn grew into national economies. Today we stand before a global economy. Undoubtedly the new contains much of the old, just as the old showed indications of what was to come. Nevertheless, human destiny is conditioned by the fact that this process, in most fields of economic endeavour, has already been accomplished. Any attempt to organize economic forces into an abstract world community is erroneous. In the course of evolution private economic enterprise has, to a large extent, become state economic enterprise. But the political states are not merely the products of economic forces, and the attempt to transform them into economic communities is the cause of the social chaos of modern times. Economic life is striving to structure itself according to its own nature, independent of political institutionalization and mentality. It can only do this if associations, comprised of consumers, distributors, and producers, are established according to purely economic criteria. Actual conditions would determine the scope of these associations. If they are too small they would be too costly; if they are too large they would become economically unmanageable. Practical necessity would indicate how inter-associational relations should develop. There is no need to fear that individual mobility would be inhibited due to the existence of associations. He who requires mobility would experience flexibility in passing from one association to another, as long as economic interest and not political organization determines the move. It is possible to foresee processes within such associations which are comparable to currency in circulation."

Friday, October 28, 2011

God is love

Rudolf Steiner, December 17, 1912:

"Besides love there are two other powers in the world. How do they compare with love? The one is strength, might; the second is wisdom. In regard to strength or might we can speak of degrees: weaker, stronger, or absolute might -- omnipotence. The same applies to wisdom, for there are stages on the path to omniscience. It will not do to speak in the same way of degrees of love. What is universal love, love for all beings? In the case of love we cannot speak of enhancement as we can speak of enhancement of knowledge into omniscience or of might into omnipotence, by virtue of which we attain greater perfection of our own being. Love for a few or for many beings has nothing to do with our own perfecting. Love for everything that lives cannot be compared with omnipotence; the concept of magnitude, or of enhancement, cannot rightly be applied to love. Can the attribute of omnipotence be ascribed to the Divine Being who lives and weaves through the world? Contentions born of feeling must here be silent: were God omnipotent, he would be responsible for everything that happens and there could be no human freedom. If man can be free, then certainly there can be no Divine omnipotence.

Is the Godhead omniscient? As man's highest goal is likeness to God, our striving must be in the direction of omniscience. Is omniscience, then, the supreme treasure? If it is, a vast chasm must forever yawn between man and God. At every moment man would have to be aware of this chasm if God possessed the supreme treasure of omniscience for himself and withheld it from man. The all-encompassing attribute of the Godhead is not omnipotence, neither is it omniscience, but it is love -- the attribute in respect of which no enhancement is possible. God is uttermost love, unalloyed love, is born as it were out of love, is the very substance and essence of love. God is pure love, not supreme wisdom, not supreme might. God has retained love for himself but has shared wisdom and might with Lucifer and Ahriman. He has shared wisdom with Lucifer and might with Ahriman, in order that man may become free, in order that under the influence of wisdom he may make progress."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Anthroposophy: The Tree of Life's New Sap

Rudolf Steiner, from a lecture given on January 5, 1920:

"To demand that we become again like people of past millennia is like expecting adults to play like children. No, to satisfy the deepest needs of our soul, we can neither go back to the civilizations of thousands of years ago nor can we call for Ex Oriente Lux without falling into decadence. As Western people we must not call for the light to come to us from the Orient. The light that is there now has undergone many metamorphoses, and we must not fall prey to the illusion that this spirituality we can find in the Orient nowadays can influence our civilization in a beneficial way.

Indeed, it was the worst kind of decadence when a theosophical movement appeared in response to the religious and cultural needs of Western civilization--of the machine age, which has developed a mechanistic worldview that cannot satisfy us--and then turned to the region that can offer us only the decadent remnants of the ancient Oriental cultural-spiritual life. The attempt to incorporate Indian culture now into Western theosophy reveals the extent of the contemporary spiritual barrenness. Our civilization lacks creative forces in its own cultural-spiritual life. It could achieve success only in technology but proves itself unable to find its own way into the realm the soul needs if it is to understand our true soul-spiritual essence.

This, by the way, is an all too prevalent trend today. Many who are dissatisfied with modern Christianity try to find out what it was like in earlier times. They want to know what the first Christians did and want to imitate them. These people want to return to the way things were then, as though we had made no progress since then and as though we did not need a new understanding of Christianity. Indeed, we see everywhere the signs of barrenness and lack of creativity. That is not what spiritual science wants; it does not want to borrow anything from ancient cultures or from their modern successors."

Source: Social Issues: Meditative Thinking and the Threefold Social Order, pp. 28-29

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Michael And The Dragon In Us

Rudolf Steiner:  "The content of the human heart and soul can be this: The power of the Dragon is working within me, trying to drag me down. I do not see it--I feel it as something that would drag me down below myself. But in the spirit I see the luminous Angel whose cosmic task has always been the vanquishing of the Dragon. I concentrate my heart-soul forces upon this glowing figure, I let its light stream into my heart and soul, and thus my illumined and warmed soul force will bear within it the strength of Michael. And out of a free resolution I shall be able, through my alliance with Michael, to conquer the Dragon's might in my own lower nature."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Understanding Karma. The Goal of Yoga : Spirit-Radiance : Manas. Focus lecture for tomorrow's meeting of the Rudolf Steiner Study Circle

Ex Deo Nascimur       In Christo Morimur       Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, June 4, 1924:
When we consider how karma works, we always have to bear in mind that the human Ego, which is the essential being, the inmost being, of man, has as it were three instruments through which it is able to live and express itself in the world. These are the physical body, the etheric body and the astral body. Man really carries the physical, etheric and astral bodies with him through the world, but he himself is not in any one of these bodies. In the truest sense he is the Ego; and it is the Ego which both suffers and creates karma.
Now the point is to gain an understanding of the relationship between man as the Ego-being and these three instrumental forms — if I may call them so — the physical, etheric, and astral bodies. This will give us the foundation for an understanding of the essence of karma. We shall gain a fruitful point of view for the study of the physical, the etheric, and the astral in man in relation to karma, if we consider the following.
The physical as we behold it in the mineral kingdom, the etheric as we find it working in the plant kingdom, and the astral as we find it working in the animal kingdom — all these are to be found in the environment of man here on Earth. In the Cosmos surrounding the Earth we have that Universe into which, if I may so describe it, the Earth extends on all sides. Man can feel a certain relationship between what takes place on the Earth and what takes place in the cosmic environment. But when we come to Spiritual Science we have to ask: Is this relationship really so commonplace as the present-day scientific conception of the world imagines? This modern scientific conception of the world examines the physical qualities of everything on the Earth, living and lifeless. It also investigates the stars, the Sun, the Moon, etc.; and it discovers — indeed it is particularly proud of the discovery — that these heavenly bodies are fundamentally of the same nature as the Earth.
Such a conception can only result from a form of knowledge which at no point comes to a real grasp of man himself — a knowledge which takes hold only of what is external to man. The moment, however, we really take hold of man as he stands within the Universe, we become able to discover the relationships between the several instrumental members of man's nature — the physical body, the etheric body, and the astral body — and the corresponding entities, the corresponding realities of being, in the Cosmos.
In regard to the etheric body of man, we find spread out in the Cosmos the universal Ether. The etheric body of man has a definite human shape, definite forms of movement within it, and so on. These, it is true, are different in the cosmic Ether. Nevertheless the cosmic Ether is fundamentally of like nature with what we find in the human etheric body. In the same way we can speak of a similarity between what is found in the human astral body and a certain astral principle that works through all things and all beings out in the far-spread Universe.
Here we come to something of extraordinary importance, something which in its true nature is quite foreign to the human being of today. Let us take our start from this. (A drawing is made on the blackboard). We have, first, the Earth; and on the Earth we have Man, with his etheric body. Then in the Earth's environment we have the cosmic Ether — the cosmic Ether which is of the same nature as the etheric in man. In man we also have the astral body. In the cosmic environment too there is Astrality. Where are we to find this cosmic Astrality? Where is it? It is indeed to be found, but we must first discover — what it is in the Cosmos that betrays the presence of cosmic Astrality; what it is that reveals it. Somewhere or other is the Astrality. Is this Astrality in the Cosmos quite invisible and imperceptible, or is it, after all, in some way perceptible to us?
In itself, of course, the Ether too is imperceptible for our physical senses. If I may put it so, when you are looking at a small fragment of Ether, you see nothing with your physical senses, you simply see through it. The Ether is like an empty nothingness to you. But when you regard the etheric environment as a totality, you behold the blue sky, of which we also say that it is not really there but that you are gazing into empty space. Now the reason why you see the blue of the sky is that you are actually perceiving the end of the Ether. Thus you behold the Ether as the blue of the heavens. The perception of the blue sky is really and truly a perception of the Ether. We may therefore say: In that we perceive the blue of the sky we are perceiving the universal Ether that surrounds us.
At first contact, we see through the Ether. It allows us to do so; and yet, it makes itself perceptible in the blue heavens. Hence the existence for human perception of the blue of the sky is expressed in that we say: The Ether itself, though imperceptible, yet rises to the level of perceptibility by reason of the great majesty with which it stands there in the Universe, revealing its presence, making itself known in the blue of the vast expanse.
Physical science theorizes materialistically about the blue of the sky; and for physical science it is indeed very difficult to reach any intelligent conclusion on this point, for the simple reason that it is bound to admit that where we see the blue of the sky there is nothing physical. Nevertheless men spin out the most elaborate theories to explain how the rays of light are reflected and refracted in a peculiar way so as to call forth this blue of the sky. In reality, it is here that the supersensible world begins already to hold sway. In the Cosmos the Supersensible does indeed become visible to us. We have only to discover where and how it becomes visible. The Ether becomes perceptible to us through the blue of the sky.
But now, somewhere there is also present the astral element of the Cosmos. In the blue sky the Ether peers through, as it were, into the realms of sense. Where then does the Astrality in the Cosmos peer through into the realms of perceptibility? The answer, my dear friends, is this.
Every star that we see glittering in the heavens is in reality a gate of entry for the Astral. Wherever the stars are twinkling and glittering in towards us, there glitters and shines the Astral. Look at the starry heavens in their manifold variety; in one part the stars are gathered into heaps and clusters, or in another they are scattered far apart. In all this wonderful configuration of radiant light, the invisible and super-sensible astral body of the Cosmos makes itself visible to us.
For this reason we must not consider the world of stars unspiritually. To look up to the world of stars and speak of worlds of burning gases is just as though — forgive the apparent absurdity of the comparison, but it is precisely true — it is just as though someone who loves you were gently stroking you, holding the fingers a little apart, and you were then to say that it feels like so many little ribbons being drawn across your cheek. It is no more untrue that little ribbons are laid across your cheek when someone strokes you, than that there exist up there in the heavens those material entities of which modern physics tells. It is the astral body of the Universe which is perpetually wielding its influences — like the gently stroking fingers — on the etheric organism of the Cosmos. The etheric Cosmos is organized for very long duration; it is for this reason that a star has its quality of fixity, representing a perpetual influence on the cosmic Ether by the astral Universe. It lasts far longer than the stroking of your cheek. But in the Cosmos things do last longer, for there we are dealing with gigantic measures. Thus in the starry heavens that we perceive, we actually behold an expression of the soul-life of the cosmic astral world.
In this way an immense, unfathomable life, yet, at the same time, a soul-life, a real and actual life of the soul, is brought into the Cosmos. Think how dead the Cosmos appears to us when we look into the far spaces and see nothing but burning gaseous bodies. Think how living it all becomes when we know that the stars are an expression of the love with which the astral Cosmos works upon the etheric Cosmos — for this is to express it with perfect truth. Think then of those mysterious processes when certain stars suddenly light up at certain times — processes which have only been explained to us by means of physical hypotheses that do not lead to any real understanding. Stars that were not there before, light up for a time, and disappear again. Thus in the Cosmos too there is a “stroking” of shorter duration. For it is true indeed that in epochs when divine beings desire to work in an especial way from the astral world into the etheric, we behold new stars light up and fade away again.
We ourselves in our own astral body have feelings of delight and comfort in the most varied ways. In like manner in the Cosmos, through the cosmic astral body, we have the varied configuration of the starry heavens. No wonder that an ancient science, instinctively clairvoyant, describes this third member of our human organism as the “astral” or “starry” body, seeing that it is of like nature with that which reveals itself to us in the stars.
It is only the Ego that we do not find revealed in the cosmic environment. Why is this? We shall find the reason if we consider how this human Ego manifests here on the Earth, in a world that is in reality threefold: physical, etheric, and astral. The Ego of man, as it appears within the Universe, is ever and again a repetition of former lives on Earth; and again and again it finds itself in the life between death and a new birth. But when we observe the Ego in its life between death and a new birth, we perceive that the Etheric which we have here in the cosmic environment of the Earth has no significance for the human Ego. The etheric body is laid aside soon after death. It is only the astral world, that shines in towards us through the stars, that has significance for the Ego in the life between death and a new birth. And in that world which glistens in towards us through the stars, in that world there live the beings of the higher hierarchies with whom man forms his karma between death and a new birth.
Indeed, when we follow this Ego in its successive evolutions through lives between birth and death and between death and a new birth, we cannot remain within the world of space at all. For two successive earthly lives cannot be within the same space. They cannot be within that Universe which is dependent on spatial co-existence. Here therefore we go right out of space and enter into time. This is actually so. We go out of space and come into the pure flow of time when we contemplate the Ego in its successive lives on Earth.
Now consider this, my dear friends. In space, time is still present, of course, but within this world of space we have no means of experiencing time in itself. We always have to experience time through space and spatial processes. For example, if you wish to experience time, you look at the clock, or, if you will, at the course of the Sun. What do you see? You see the various positions of the hands of the clock or of the Sun. You see something that is spatial. Through the fact that the positions of the hands or of the Sun are changed, through the fact that spatial things are present to you as changing, you gain some idea of time. But of time itself there is really nothing in this spatial perception. There are only varied spatial configurations, varied positions of the hands of the clock, varied positions of the Sun. You only experience time itself when you come into the sphere of the soul's experience. There you do really experience time, but there you also go out of space. There, time is a reality, but within the earthly world of space, time is no reality. What, then, must happen to us, if we would go out of the space in which we live between birth and death and enter into the spacelessness in which we live between death and a new birth? What must we do? The answer is this: We must die!
We must take these words in their exact and deep meaning. On Earth we experience time only through space — through points in space, through the positions of spatial things. On Earth we do not experience time in its reality at all. Once you grasp this, you will say: “Really to enter into time we must go out of space, we must put away all things spatial.” You can also express it in other words, for it is really nothing else than — to die. It means, in very deed and truth: to die.
Let us now turn our eyes to this cosmic world that encircles the Earth — this cosmic world to which we are akin both through our etheric body and also through our astral body — and let us look at the spiritual in this cosmic world. There have indeed been nations and human societies who have had regard only to the spiritual that is to be found within our earthly world of space. Such peoples were unable to have any thoughts about repeated lives on Earth. Thoughts about repeated lives on Earth were possessed only by those human beings and groups that were able to conceive time in its pure essence, time in its spaceless character. But if we consider this earthly world together with its cosmic environment, or, to put it briefly, all that we speak of as the Cosmos, the Universe; and if we behold the spiritual manifest in it, we are then apprehending something of which it can be said that it had to be present in order that we might enter into our existence as earthly human beings; it had to be there.
Unfathomable depths are really contained in this simple conception — that all that to which I have just referred had to exist in order that we as earthly human beings might enter this earthly life. Infinite depths are revealed when we really grasp the spiritual aspect of all that is thus put before us. If we conceive this Spiritual in its completeness as a self-contained whole, if we consider it in its own purity and essence, then we have a conception of what was called “God” by those peoples who limited their outlook to the world of space alone.
These peoples — at any rate in their wisdom-teachings — had come to feel: The Cosmos is woven through and through by a divine element that is at work in it, and we can distinguish from this divine element in the Cosmos that which is present, on the Earth in our immediate environment as the physical world. We can also distinguish that which, in this cosmic, divine-spiritual world reveals itself as the Etheric, namely that which gazes down upon us in the blue of the sky. We can distinguish as the Astral in this divine world that which gazes down upon us in the configuration of the starry heavens.
If we enter as fully as possible into the situation as we stand here, within the Universe, as human beings on this Earth, we shall say to ourselves: “We as human beings have a physical body: where, then, is the Physical in the Universe?” Here I am returning to something which I have already pointed out. The physical science of today expects to find everything which is on the Earth existing also in the Universe. But the physical organization itself is not to be found in the Universe at all. Man has in the first place his physical organization: then in addition he has the etheric and the astral. The Universe on the other hand begins with the Etheric. Out there in the Cosmos the Physical is nowhere to be found. The Physical exists only on the Earth, and it is but empty fancy and imagination to speak of anything physical in the far Universe. In the Universe there is the Etheric and the Astral.
There is also a third element within the Universe which we have yet to speak about in this present lecture, for the Cosmos too is threefold. But the threefoldness of the Cosmos, apart from the Earth, is different from the threefoldness of the Cosmos in which we include the Earth.
Let these feelings enter into our earthly consciousness: the perceiving of the Physical in our immediate earthly dwelling-place; the feeling of the Etheric, which is both on the Earth and in the Universe; the beholding of the Astral, glistening down to the Earth from the stars, and most intensely of all from the Sun-star. Then, when we consider all these things and place before our souls the majesty of this world-conception, we can well understand how in ancient times, when with the old instinctive clairvoyance men did not think so abstractly but were still able to feel the majesty of a great conception, they were led to realize: “A thought so majestic as this cannot be conceived perpetually in all its fullness. We must take hold of it at one special time, allowing it to work on the soul in its full, unfathomable glory. It will then work on in the inner depths of our human being, without being spoilt and corrupted by our surface consciousness.” — If we consider by what means the old instinctive clairvoyance gave expression to such a feeling, then out of all that combined to give truth to this thought in mankind in olden time there remains to us today the institution of the Christmas Festival.
On Christmas Night, man, as he stands here upon the Earth with his physical, his etheric, and his astral bodies, feels himself to be related to the threefold Cosmos, which appears to him in its Etheric nature, shining so majestically, and with the magic wonder of the night in the blue of the heavens; while face to face with him is the Astral of the Universe, in the stars that glitter in towards the Earth. As he realizes how the holiness of this cosmic environment is related to that which is on the Earth itself, he feels that he himself with his own Ego has been transplanted from the Cosmos into this world of Space. And now he may gaze upon the Christmas Mystery — the new-born Child, the Representative of Humanity on Earth, who, inasmuch as he is entering into childhood, is born into this world of Space. In the fullness and majesty of this Christmas thought, as he gazes on the Child that is born on Christmas Night, he exclaims: “Ex Deo Nascimur — I am born out of the Divine, the Divine that weaves and surges through the world of Space.”
When a man has felt this, when he has permeated himself through and through with it, then he may also recall what Anthroposophy has revealed to us about the meaning of the Earth. The Child on whom we are gazing is the outer sheath of That which is now born into Space. But whence is He born, that He might be brought to birth in the world of Space? According to what we have explained today, it can only be from Time. From out of Time the Child is born.
If we then follow out the life of this Child and His permeation by the Spirit of the Christ-Being, we come to realize that this Being, this Christ-Being, comes from the Sun. Then we shall look up to the Sun, and say to ourselves: “As I look up to the Sun, I must behold in the sunshine Time, which in the world of Space is hidden. Within the Sun is Time, and from out of the Time that weaves and works within the Sun, Christ came forth, came out into Space, on to the Earth.”
What have we then in Christ on Earth? In Christ on Earth we have That which coming from beyond Space, from outside of Space, unites with the Earth.
I want you to realize how our conception of the Universe changes, in comparison with the ordinary present-day conception when we really enter into all that has come before our souls this evening. There in the Universe we have the Sun, with all that there appears to us to be immediately connected with it — all that is contained in the blue of the heavens, in the world of the stars. At another point in the Universe we have the Earth with humanity. When we look up from the Earth to the Sun, we are at the same time looking into the flow of Time.
Now from this there follows something of great significance. Man only looks up to the Sun in the right way (even if it be but in his mind) when, as he gazes upwards, he forgets Space and considers Time alone. For in truth, the Sun does not only radiate light, it radiates Space itself, and when we are looking into the Sun we are looking out of Space into the world of Time. The Sun is the unique star that it is because when we gaze into the Sun we are looking out of Space. And from that world, outside of Space, Christ came to men. At the time when Christianity was founded by Christ on Earth, man had been all too long restricted to the mere Ex Deo Nascimur, he had become altogether bound up in it, he had become a Space-being pure and simple. The reason why it is so hard for us to understand the traditions of primeval epochs when we go back to them with the consciousness of present-day civilization is that they always had in mind Space, and not the world of Time. They regarded the world of Time only as an appendage of the world of Space.
Christ came to bring the element of Time again to men, and when the human heart, the human soul, the human spirit unite themselves with Christ, then man receives once more the stream of Time that flows from Eternity to Eternity. What else can we human beings do when we die, i.e. when we go out of the world of Space, than hold fast to Him who gives Time back to us again? At the Mystery of Golgotha man had become to so great an extent a being of Space that Time was lost to him. Christ brought Time back again to men.
If, then, in going forth from the world of Space, men would not die in their souls as well as in their bodies, they must die in Christ. We can still be human beings of Space, and say: Ex Deo Nascimur, and we can look to the Child who comes forth from Time into Space, that he may unite Christ with humanity. But since the Mystery of Golgotha we cannot conceive of death, the bound of our earthly life, without this thought: “We must die in Christ.” Otherwise we shall pay for our loss of Time with the loss of Christ Himself, and, banished from Him, remain held spellbound. We must fill ourselves with the Mystery of Golgotha. In addition to the Ex Deo Nascimur we must find the In Christo Morimur. We must bring forth the Easter thought in addition to the Christmas thought. Thus the Ex Deo Nascimur lets the Christmas thought appear before our souls, and in the In Christo Morimur the Easter thought.
We can now say: On the Earth man has his three bodies: the physical, the etheric, and the astral. The Etheric and Astral are also out there in the Cosmos, but the Physical is only to be found on the Earth. Out in the Cosmos there is no Physical. Thus we must say: On the Earth — physical, etheric, astral. In the Cosmos — no physical, but only the etheric and the astral.
Yet the Cosmos too is threefold, for what the Cosmos lacks at the lowest level, it adds above. In the Cosmos the Etheric is the lowest: on the Earth the Physical is the lowest. On Earth the Astral is the highest; in the Cosmos the highest is that of which man has today only the beginnings — that out of which his Spirit-Self will one day be woven. We may therefore say: In the Cosmos there is, as the third, the highest element, the Spirit-Selfhood [Manas].
Now we see the stars as expressions of something real. I compared their action to a gentle stroking. The Spirit-Selfhood that is behind them is indeed the Being that lovingly strokes — only in this case it is not a single Being but the whole world of the Hierarchies. I gaze upon a man and see his form; I look at his eyes and see them shining towards me; I hear his voice; it is the utterance of the human being. In the same way I gaze up into the far spaces of the world, I look upon the stars. They are the utterance of the Hierarchies — the living utterance of the Hierarchies, kindling astral feeling. I gaze into the blue depths of the firmament and perceive in it the outward revelation of the etheric body which is the lowest member of the whole world of the Hierarchies.
Now we may draw near to a still further realization. We look out into the far Cosmos which goes out beyond earthly reality, even as the Earth with its physical substance and forces goes down beneath cosmic reality. As in the Physical the Earth has a sub-cosmic element, so in Spirit-Selfhood the Cosmos has a super-earthly element.
Physical science speaks of a movement of the Sun; and it can do so, for within the spatial picture of the Cosmos which surrounds us we perceive by certain phenomena that the Sun is in movement. But that is only an image of the true Sun-movement — an image cast into Space. If we are speaking of the real Sun it is nonsense to say that the Sun moves in Space; for Space itself is being radiated out by the Sun. The Sun not only radiates light; the Sun creates Space itself. And the movement of the Sun is only a spatial movement within this created Space. Outside of Space it is a movement in Time, What seems apparent to us — namely, that the Sun is speeding on towards the constellation of Hercules — is only a spatial image of the Time-evolution of the Sun-Being.
To His intimate disciples Christ spoke these words: “Behold the life of the Earth; it is related to the life of the Cosmos. When you look out on the Earth and the surrounding Cosmos, it is the Father whose life permeates this Universe. The Father-God is the God of Space. But I make known to you that I have come to you from the Sun, from Time — Time that receives man only when he dies. I have brought you myself from out of Time. If you receive me, you receive Time, and you will not be held spellbound in Space. But you find the transition from the one trinity — Physical, Etheric, and Astral — to the other trinity, which leads from the Etheric and Astral to Spirit-Selfhood. Spirit-Selfhood is not to be found in the earthly world, just as the Earthly-Physical is not to be found in the Cosmos. But I bring you the message of it, for I am from the Sun.”
The Sun has indeed a threefold aspect. If one lives within the Sun and looks down from the Sun to the Earth, one beholds the Physical, Etheric, and Astral. One may also gaze on that which is within the Sun itself. Then one still sees the Physical so long as one remembers the Earth or gazes down towards the Earth. But if one looks away from the Earth one beholds on the other side the Spirit-Selfhood. Thus one swings backwards and forwards between the Physical and the nature of the Spirit-Self. Only the Etheric and Astral in between are permanent. As you look out into the great Universe, the Earthly vanishes away, and you have the Etheric, the Astral, and the Spirit-Selfhood. This is what you behold when you come into the Sun-Time between death and a new birth.
Let us now imagine first of all the inner mood of a man's soul to be such that he shuts himself up entirely within this Earth-existence. He can still feel the Divine, for out of the Divine he is born: Ex Deo Nascimur. Then let us imagine him no longer shutting himself up within the mere world of Space, but receiving the Christ who came from the world of Time into the world of Space, who brought Time itself into earthly Space. If a man does this, then in Death he will overcome Death. Ex Deo Nascimur. In Christo Morimur. But Christ Himself brings the message that when Space is overcome and one has learned to recognize the Sun as the creator of Space, when one feels oneself transplanted through Christ into the Sun, into the living Sun, then the earthly Physical vanishes and only the Etheric and the Astral are there. Now the Etheric comes to life, not as the blue of the sky, but as the lilac-red gleaming radiance of the Cosmos, and forth from the reddish light the stars no longer twinkle down upon us but gently touch us with their loving effluence.
If a man really enters into all this, he can have the experience of himself, standing here upon the Earth, the Physical put aside, but the Etheric still with him, streaming through and out of him in the lilac-reddish light. No longer now are the stars glimmering points of light; they are radiations of love like the caressing hand of a human being. As we feel all this — the divine within ourselves, the divine cosmic fire flaming forth from within us as the very being of man; ourselves within the Etheric world and experiencing the living expression of the Spirit in the Astral cosmic radiance — there bursts forth within us the inner awakening of the creative radiance of Spirit, which is man's high calling in the Universe.
When those to whom Christ revealed these things had let the revelation sink deep into their being, then the moment came when they experienced the working of this mighty concept, in the fiery tongues of Pentecost. At first they felt the falling away, the discarding of the earthly-Physical as death. But then the feeling came; This is not death, but in place of the Physical of the Earth, there now dawns upon us the Spirit-Selfhood of the Universe. “Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus.”
Thus may we regard the threefold nature of the one half of the year. We have the Christmas thought — Ex Deo Nascimur; the Easter thought — In Christo Morimur; and the Whitsun thought — Per Spiritum Sanctum Reviviscimus.
There remains the other half of the year. If we understand that too, there dawns on us the other aspect of our human life. If we understand the relationship of the physical to the soul of man and to the superphysical — which contains the true freedom of which man is to become a partaker on the Earth — then in the interconnection of the Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun festivals we understand the human freedom on Earth. As we understand man from out of these three thoughts — the Christmas thought, the Easter thought, and the Whitsun thought — and as we let this kindle in us the desire to understand the remaining portions of the year, there arises the other half of human life which I indicated when I said: “Gaze upon this human destiny; the Hierarchies appear behind it — the working and weaving of the Hierarchies.” It is wonderful to look truly into the destiny of a human being, for behind it stands the whole world of the Hierarchies.
It is indeed the language of the stars which sounds towards us from the thoughts of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide; from the Christmas thought, inasmuch as the Earth is a star within the Universe; from the Easter thought, inasmuch as the most radiant of stars, the Sun, gives us his gifts of grace; and from the Whitsun thought, inasmuch as that which lies hidden beyond the stars lights into the soul, and lights forth again from the soul in the fiery tongues of Pentecost.
Enter into all this, my dear friends! I have told you of the Father, the Bearer of the Christmas thought, who sends the Son that through him the Easter thought may be fulfilled; I have told you further how the Son brings the message of the Spirit, so that in the thought of Whitsun man's life on Earth may be completed in its threefold being. Meditate this through, ponder it well; then for all the descriptive foundations I have already given you for an understanding of karma, you will gain a right foundation of inner feeling.
Try to let the Christmas, Easter, and Whitsun thoughts, in the way I have expressed them to you today, work deeply and truly into your human feeling, and when we meet again after the journey which I must undertake this Whitsuntide for the Course on Agriculture — when we come together again, bring this feeling with you, my dear friends. For this feeling should live on in you as the warm and fiery thought of Pentecost. Then we shall be able to go further in our study of karma; your power of understanding will be fertilized by what the Whitsun thought contains.
Just as once upon a time at the first Whitsun Festival something shone forth from each one of the disciples, so the thought of Pentecost should now become alive again for our anthroposophical understanding. Something must light up and shine forth from our souls. Therefore it is as a Whitsun feeling, to prepare you for the further continuation of our thoughts on karma, which are related to the other half of the year, that I have given you what I have said today about the inner connections of Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide.