Monday, April 30, 2012

"i am a little church" by e. e. cummings

i am a little church(no great cathedral)
far from the splendor and squalor of hurrying cities
—i do not worry if briefer days grow briefest,
i am not sorry when sun and rain make april

my life is the life of the reaper and the sower;
my prayers are prayers of earth's own clumsily striving
(finding and losing and laughing and crying)children
whose any sadness or joy is my grief or my gladness

around me surges a miracle of unceasing
birth and glory and death and resurrection:
over my sleeping self float flaming symbols
of hope,and i wake to a perfect patience of mountains

i am a little church(far from the frantic
world with its rapture and anguish)at peace with nature
—i do not worry if longer nights grow longest;
i am not sorry when silence becomes singing

winter by spring,i lift my diminutive spire to
merciful Him Whose only now is forever:
standing erect in the deathless truth of His presence
(welcoming humbly His light and proudly His darkness)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Anthroposophy: A New Path to Christ: The Spiritualization of the Will

Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, May 8, 1917:
Building Stones for an Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha. Lecture 10 of 10.

It might seem at first sight that in the centuries immediately following the Mystery of Golgotha mankind had not been touched by the light of spiritual illumination; that this was the normal condition of mankind and increasingly so up to the present day. This is not so, however. If we wish to see these things in perspective we must distinguish between the prevailing spirit of mankind and that which occurs here and there in the life of mankind and may play a decisive part in the different spheres of life. It would be most discouraging for many today to be told of the existence of a spiritual world, but that the doors to this world were closed to them. And there are many at the present time who have come to this depressing conclusion. The reason for this is not far to seek. Where there is a clear possibility of gaining insight into the spiritual world they refuse to commit themselves unreservedly. Nor have they the courage to pass an objective judgment on this issue. It may seem therefore — but in reality it is only apparently so — that today we are far removed from those early times when the spiritual world was revealed to the whole of mankind through atavistic clairvoyance, or from the later times when the few could find access to the spirit through initiation into the Mysteries. We must draw together certain strands which link early periods of human evolution with the present if we wish to arrive at a full understanding of the mystery of man's destiny and especially of those phenomena we have discussed in these lectures in connection with the nature of the Mysteries. I should like to select an example from recent times which is accessible to all and which will lend encouragement to those who are faced with the decision of choosing paths leading to the spiritual world. From the many examples at our disposal I would like to take an example which demonstrates at the same time how these phenomena are nonetheless misjudged from the materialistic point of view of the present day — and will also be misjudged in the immediate future.
No doubt you have all heard of Otto Ludwig (note 1), who was born in 1813, in the same year as Hebbel and Richard Wagner. Otto Ludwig was not only a poet — some may feel perhaps that he was not in the front rank of poets, but that does not concern us at the moment — but he was a man given to introspection, who sought self-knowledge and who succeeded in penetrating into the inner life which is veiled from the majority today. Otto Ludwig describes very beautifully what he experiences in the process of poetic composition or when he reads the poetry of others and surrenders to its appeal. He then realizes that he does not read or compose like other men, but that an extraordinary ferment is set up within him. And Otto Ludwig gives a beautiful description of this in a passage I will now read to you because it reveals a piece of self-knowledge of a typically modern man who, in the course of this self-revelation, speaks of things which our present materialistic age regards as the wildest fantasy. But Otto Ludwig was no visionary or idle dreamer. By nature he was perhaps introspective, but if we take into consideration the information we have about his life, we shall find that alongside this introspective tendency there was something eminently sane and balanced in his make-up. He describes his own creative experience and his response to the poetry of others in these words:
“I experience first of all a musical impression which is transformed into color (note 2). Then I see one or more figures in various postures executing formalized gestures, singly or facing each other, the whole resembling a copper engraving on parchment, colored paper — or, more precisely, like a marble statue or sculptural group on which the Sun falls through a veil of that color. I experience this color phenomenon after reading poetry which has stirred me deeply. If I put myself in the mood which Goethe's poetry evokes I see a deep golden yellow passing over into golden brown. When I read Schiller I experience a brilliant crimson; with Shakespeare every scene is a particular nuance of the particular color I associate with the whole drama. Strangely enough the image or the group evoked is not usually a representation of the denouement, sometimes it is only a characteristic figure in some moving posture which is immediately joined by a succession of other figures. At first I know nothing of the plot or content of the drama, but ever fresh miming figures, seemingly three-dimensional, are rapidly added, now from the beginning, now from the end of the initial dramatic situation until I experience the whole drama complete with all its scenes. The whole passes before me in rapid succession; meanwhile I remain passive and a kind of physical anxiety grips me. I can then reproduce at will the content of the individual scenes as they unfold; but I find it impossible to condense the narrative content into a brief account. Next the gestures are accompanied by speech. I write down what I can recall, but once the mood forsakes me, what I have noted down becomes a dead letter. Then I proceed to fill in the gaps in the dialogue, but for this purpose I must cast a critical eye over what I have written.”
Here then we have the remarkable case of a man who experiences crimson-red on reading Schiller, or golden yellow passing over into golden brown on reading the dramas or poems of Goethe, who experiences a color sensation with every drama of Shakespeare; who, when he composes or reads a poem sees figures like those of a copper engraving printed on a parchment-colored background, or three-dimensional miming figures on which the Sun falls through a veil which diffuses the light that evokes the total mood.
We must understand this experience in the correct way. It is not yet a clairvoyant perception, but it is a step toward spiritual vision. In order to have a right understanding of this mood from the standpoint of Spiritual Science we must realize that Otto Ludwig was no stranger to spiritual vision. For if he were to advance further along this path he would not only experience these visions but, just as physical objects are visible to the physical eye, spiritual beings would be visible to his spiritual eye and he would know them as an inner experience. Just as we see scattered light when we gently rub our eyes in the dark, light that seemingly radiates from the eye and fills the room, so from his inner life Ludwig radiates impressions of color and tone. As he rightly says, he experiences them first as musical impressions. He does not exploit them in order to gain spiritual insight; but we perceive that he is mature enough spiritually to embark on the path leading to the spiritual world.
It is no longer possible to deny that there exist people who are aware that “spiritual vision” is a reality, the vision that the neophytes learned to develop in the Mysteries in the way described in earlier lectures. For the real purpose of these ceremonies was primarily to call attention to the eye of the soul, to awaken man to the fact of its existence. That the phenomena which I have just described to you are not rightly understood today is evident from the observations of Gustav Freytag (note 3). When speaking of Otto Ludwig, he says:
“The work of this writer, and indeed his whole makeup, was akin to that of an epic poet of the time when, in the early dawn of nations, the poetic figures were visioned by the poet as living Imaginations imbued with color and sound.”
This statement is perfectly correct, but has nothing to do with poetic composition. For the experiences of Otto Ludwig were not only shared by poets in ancient times, but by all men, and were shared in later times by those who had been initiated into the Mysteries irrespective of whether they were poets or not. These experiences have therefore no connection with poetic invention. Behind the barrier which the materialist of today has erected in his own soul there is to be found that which Otto Ludwig describes. It is found not only in the poet, but in every man today. The fact that he was a poet has nothing to do with the phenomenon of poetic vision, but is something that accompanies it. One may be a far greater poet than Otto Ludwig and that which one is able to describe may remain entirely in the subconscious. It is present in the substratum of the subconscious, but need not manifest itself. For poetry, indeed art as a whole today, is something other than the conscious fashioning of clairvoyant impressions.
I quote the case of Otto Ludwig as an example of a man — and men of his type are by no means rare today — who stands on the threshold of the spiritual world. If one practices the exercises given in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, that which already exists in the soul is raised into consciousness, so that one learns to use it or to apply it consciously. It is important to bear this in mind. The problem is not so much that it is difficult to reach the hidden depths of the soul, but that people today lack the courage to embark upon a spiritual training; and that for the most part those who would willingly do so from a heartfelt need to know and to understand, nonetheless feel constrained to admit this need — albeit somewhat shamefacedly — in their own intimate circle, but conceal it when they later find themselves in the company of contemporary intellectuals. What we should characterize today as the right path, perhaps because we live in the Michael Age since 1879, need not of necessity be regarded as the only right path. Looking back over the recent past it is possible that many may have attained a high degree of clairvoyance, genuine clairvoyance; there is no need for us therefore either to recognize fully or to accept this clairvoyance unreservedly, nor to regard it as something dangerous and to be rejected.
There are certainly many factors which for some time have undermined our courage to accept the validity of clairvoyance, and for this reason the assessment of Swedenborg (who has often been mentioned in your circle) has been so strange. He could act as a stimulus to many, in that people might see in him an individuality who had lifted to some extent the veils that concealed the spiritual world. Swedenborg had developed a high degree of Imaginative cognition, which is a necessity for all who would penetrate to the spiritual world. It was indispensable to him; it was simply a kind of transition to higher stages of knowledge. And it was especially his clairvoyant sense for Imaginative cognition that he had developed. But precisely because this Imaginative cognition was stirring and pulsating in him, he was able to make observations about the relations between the spiritual world and the phenomenal world, observations which are highly significant for those who seek to clarify their ideas about clairvoyance by studying the development of particular personalities. I should like to take Swedenborg as an example in order to illustrate how he came to self-understanding, how he thought and felt in order to keep his inner life attuned to the spiritual world. He was not motivated by egoism in his search for the spirit. He was already fifty-five years old when the doors of the spiritual world were opened to him (note 4). He was therefore a man of ripe experience; he had received a sound scientific training and had long been active in this field. The most important scientific works of Swedenborg have just been published in many volumes by the Stockholm Academy of Sciences and they contain material that may well determine the course of science for many years to come. But people today have learned the trick of recognizing a man such as Swedenborg (who was the leading scientist of his day) only in so far as they agree with him; otherwise they label him a fool. And they perform this trick with consummate skill. They attach no importance to the fact that from the age of fifty-five Swedenborg bears witness to the reality of the spiritual world — a man whose scientific achievement not only compares favorably with that of others — in itself no mean feat — but who, as a scientist, stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries.
Swedenborg was particularly interested in the question of the interaction of soul and body. After his spiritual enlightenment he wrote a superb treatise on this subject. The content was approximately as follows: In considering the interrelation of body and soul there are three possibilities. First, the body is the decisive factor; sense-impressions are mediated by the body and react upon the soul. The soul therefore is to some extent dependent upon the body. The second possibility is that the body is dependent upon the soul which is the source of the spiritual impulses. The soul fashions the body and makes use of the body during its lifetime. In this case one must speak not of a physical influence, but of a psychic influence. The third possibility is as follows: body and soul are contiguous, but do not interact; a higher power brings about a harmony or agreement between them just as two clocks which are independent of each other agree when they show the time. When therefore an external impression is made upon the senses, a thought process is set up within the soul, but both are unrelated; a corresponding impression is made upon the soul from within by a higher power, just as an impression is made upon the soul through the senses from without. Swedenborg points out that the first and third possibilities are impossible for those who are able to see into the spiritual world, that it is evident to the spiritually enlightened that the soul by virtue of its inner forces is related to a spiritual Sun in the same way as the (physical) body is related to the physical Sun. And he also shows that everything of a physical nature is dependent upon soul and spirit. He throws fresh light upon what we called the Sun mystery (when speaking of the Mysteries), that mystery of which Julian the Apostate had a dim recollection when he spoke of the Sun as a spiritual being. It was this which was the cause of his hostility to Christianity, because the Christianity of his day sought to deny Christ's relation to the Sun. Through Imaginative cognition Swedenborg restored the Sun mystery as far as was possible for his time.
I have placed these facts before you in order to show what Swedenborg experienced inwardly in the course of developing his spiritual knowledge. His reflections upon the question I have just touched upon were embodied in a kind of philosophical treatise — the kind of treatise written by one who has insight into the spiritual world, not the kind of treatise written by the academic philosopher who is devoid of spiritual vision. At the conclusion of his treatise Swedenborg speaks of what he calls a “vision”. And by this vision he does not imply something he has conjured up, but something he has actually perceived with the eye of the spirit. Swedenborg is not afraid to speak of his spiritual visions. Furthermore he recounts what a particular angel said to him because he is certain of the fact. He no more doubts it than another doubts what a fellow human being has told him. He said: “I was once ‘in the spirit’; three Schoolmen appeared to me, disciples of Aristotle, advocates of his doctrine that attributes a physical influence to all that streams into the soul from without. They appeared on the one side. On the other side appeared three disciples of Descartes who spoke of spiritual influences upon the soul, albeit somewhat inadequately. And behind them appeared three disciples of Leibnitz who spoke of the pre-established harmony, i.e. of the independence of body and soul, of dissimilar monads existing and moving together in a state of absolute harmony pre-established by God. And I perceived nine figures who surrounded me. And the leaders of each group of the three figures were Leibnitz, Descartes, and Aristotle, suffused in light”. Swedenborg spoke of this vision as one speaks of an event in everyday life. Then, he said, from out of the abyss there rose up a spirit with a torch in his right hand and as he swung the torch in front of the figures they immediately began to dispute among themselves. The Aristotelians defended, from their standpoint, the primacy of physical influences, the Cartesians defended spiritual impulses, and likewise the Leibnitzians defended, with the support of Leibnitz himself, the idea of preestablished harmony. Such visions may describe even the smallest details. Swedenborg tells us that Leibnitz appeared dressed in a kind of toga and the lappets were held by his disciple Wolf. Such details always accompany these visions, in which such peculiarities are very characteristic. These figures, then, began to dispute among themselves. They all had a good case — and any and every case can be defended. Thereupon, after prolonged conflict, the spirit appeared a second time. He carried the torch in his left hand and lit up their heads from behind. Then the battle of words was really joined. They said: “We cannot distinguish which is our body and which is our soul.” And so they agreed to cast three slips of paper into a box. On the one slip was written “physical influence”, on the second, “spiritual influence” and on the third, “pre-established harmony”. Then they drew lots and drew out “spiritual influence” and said: “Let us agree to recognize spiritual influence.” At that moment an angel descended from the upper world and said: “It is not fortuitous that you drew out the slip of paper labeled ‘spiritual influence’; that choice had already been anticipated by the powers who in their wisdom guide the world because it accords with the truth.”
This is the vision described by Swedenborg. It is open to anyone to regard this vision as of no importance, perhaps even as naive. The salient question however is not whether it is naive or not, but that he experienced it. And that which at first sight seems perhaps extremely naive has profound implications. For that which in the phenomenal world appears to be arbitrary, the vagary of chance, is something totally different when seen symbolically from the spiritual angle. It is difficult to come to an understanding of chance, because chance is only a shadow-image of higher necessities. Swedenborg wishes to indicate something of special importance, namely that it is not he who wills it, but “it” is willed in him. This vision arises because “it” is willed in him. And this is an accurate description of the way in which he arrived at his truths, an accurate description of the spirit in which the treatise was written. How did the Cartesians react? They sought to demonstrate the idea of spiritual influence on purely human and rational grounds. It is possible to arrive at the spirit in this way, but that seldom happens. The Aristotelians were no better than the Cartesians; they defended the idea of the spiritual influence, again on human grounds. The Leibnitzians were certainly no better than the other two, for they defended the idea of “pre-established harmony”. Swedenborg rejected these paths to the spirit; he did everything possible to prepare himself to receive the truth. And this waiting upon truth, not the determination of truth, this passive acceptance of truth, was his aim and was symbolized by the drawing of the slips of paper from the box. This is of vital importance.
We do not appreciate these things at their true worth when we approach them intellectually. We only appreciate them in the right way when they are presented symbolically, even though intelligent people may regard the symbol as naive. Our response to symbols is different from our response to abstract ideas. The symbol prepares our soul to receive the truth from the spiritual world. That is the essential. And if we give serious attention to these things we shall gradually understand and develop ideas and concepts which are necessary for mankind today, ideas which they must acquire by effort and which appear to be inaccessible today simply because people are antipathetic toward them — and for no other reason — an antipathy that springs from materialism.
The whole purpose of our investigations was to study the course of human evolution, first of all up to a decisive turning-point — and this turning-point was the Mystery of Golgotha. Then evolution continues and takes on a new course. These two courses are radically different from each other. I have already described in what respects they differed from each other. In order fully to understand this difference let us recall once again the following: in ancient times it was always possible for man without special training of his psychic life (in the Mysteries this was connected with external ceremonies and cult acts) to be convinced of the reality of the spiritual world through the performance of these rites and ceremonies and thereby of his own immortality, because this certainty of immortality was still latent in his corporeal nature. After the Mystery of Golgotha it was no longer possible for the physical body to “distill” out of itself the conviction of immortality; it could no longer “press” out of itself, so to speak, the perception of immortality. This had been prepared in the centuries before the Mystery of Golgotha. It is most interesting to see how Aristotle, this giant among philosophers, made every effort a few centuries before the Mystery of Golgotha to grasp the idea of the immortality of the soul; but the idea of immortality he arrived at was a most remarkable conception. Man, in Aristotle's opinion, is only a complete man when he possesses a physical body. And Franz Brentano, one of the best Aristotelians of recent time, says in his study of Aristotle that man is no longer a complete man if some member is lacking; how can he be a complete man when he lacks the whole body? Therefore, to Aristotle, when the soul passes through the gates of death it is of less significance than it was when in the body here on Earth. This shows that he had lost the capacity still to perceive the soul, while on the other hand the original capacity to accept the immortality of the soul still persisted. Now, strange to relate, Aristotle was the leading philosopher throughout the Middle Ages. All that can be known, said the Schoolmen, is known to Aristotle, and as philosophers we have no choice but to rely upon him and follow in his footsteps. They had no intention of developing spiritual powers or capacities beyond the limits set by Aristotelianism. And this is very significant, for it explains clearly why Julian the Apostate rejected the Christianity that was practiced by the Church during the age of Constantine. One must really see these things from a higher perspective. Apart from Franz Brentano, one of the leading Aristotelians of our time, I was personally acquainted with Vincenz Knauer, a Benedictine monk, whose relationship to Aristotle as a Roman Catholic was identical with that of the Schoolmen. In speaking of Aristotle he sought to discover at the same time what could be known of the immortality of the soul by purely human knowledge. And Knauer gave the following interesting summary of his opinion:
“The soul, that is, in this connection, the departed spirit — i.e. the soul of man that has passed through the gates of death — finds itself, according to Aristotle, not in a more perfect state, but in a highly imperfect state, inappropriate to its destiny. The image of the soul is by no means that which is often employed, namely, the image of a butterfly which after shedding its chrysalis takes wing. Rather does the soul resemble a butterfly whose wings have been torn off by a cruel hand and now crawls helplessly in the dust in the form of a miserable worm.”
It is very significant that those who are well versed in Aristotle admit that human knowledge could arrive at no other conclusion. And a certain effort therefore is demanded of us to resist the consequences of this attitude of mind. The materialism of the present time is unwittingly influenced by the Conciliar decree of 869 which abolished the spirit and declared that man consisted of body and soul only.
Modern materialism goes even further; it proposes to abolish the soul as well. That of course is the logical sequel. We need therefore both courage and determination in order to find our way back again to the spirit in the right way. Now, Julian the Apostate, who had been initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries, was aware that a specific spiritual training could lead to the realization that the soul is immortal. This Sun mystery was known to him. And he now became aware of something that filled him with alarm. He was unable to grasp the fact that what he feared so much was a necessity. When he looked back to ancient times he realized that directly or indirectly through the Mysteries man was guided by cosmic powers, beings, and forces. He realized that this may happen on the physical plane, that it is ordained from spiritual spheres because men have insight into these spiritual spheres. In Constantinism he saw a form of Christianity emerge which modeled Christian society and the organization of Christianity on the original principles of the Roman empire. He saw that Christianity had infiltrated into that which the Roman empire had intended for the external social order only. And he saw that the divine-spiritual had been harnessed to the Imperium Romanum. And this appalled him; he was unable to bring himself to admit that this was a necessity for a brief period. He realized that there was wide disparity between the mighty impulses of human evolution and what happened historically. I have often called attention to the need to bear in mind the golden age of the rise of Christianity before the era of Constantine. For at that time powerful spiritual impulses were at work which had been obscured solely because man's independent search for knowledge which he owed to the Christ Impulse had been harnessed to the Conciliar decrees.
If we look back to Origen and to Clement of Alexandria we find men who were open-minded, men still imbued with the Greek spirit: yet they were also conscious of the significance of what had been accomplished through the Mystery of Golgotha. Their conception of this Mystery and of the crucified Christ is considered to be pure heresy in the eyes of all denominations today. In reality the great Church Fathers of the pre-Constantine age who are recognized by the Church are the worst heretics of all. Though they were aware of the significance of the Mystery of Golgotha for the evolution of the Earth, they gave no indication of wishing to suppress the path to the Mystery of Golgotha, the gate to the Mysteries, or the path of the old clairvoyance, which had been the aim of the Christianity of Constantine. In Clement of Alexandria especially we see that his works are shot through with great mysteries, mysteries which are so veiled that it is even difficult for contemporary man to make head or tail of them. Clement speaks of the Logos, for example, of the wisdom that streams through and permeates the Universe. He pictures the Logos as music of the spheres fraught with meaning, and the visible world as the expression of the music of the spheres, just as the visible vibration of the strings of a musical instrument is the expression of the sound waves. Thus, in the eyes of Clement, the human form is made in the image of the Logos; that is, to Clement the Logos is a reality and he sees the human form as a fusion of tones from the music of the spheres. Man, he says, is made in the image of the Logos. And in many of Clement's utterances we find traces of that supernal wisdom that dwelt in him, a wisdom illuminated by the Christ Impulse. If you compare these utterances of Clement of Alexandria with the prevailing attitude today then the claim to recognize a man such as Clement of Alexandria without understanding him will appear as more than passing strange.
When it is said that the aim of Spiritual Science is to follow in the main stream of Christianity, to be a new flowering of Christianity to meet the needs of our time, then the cry is raised: The ancient Gnosis is being revived! And at the mention of Gnosis many professing Christians today begin to cross themselves as if faced by the devil incarnate. Gnosis for today is Spiritual Science; but the more developed gnosis of the present time is different from the gnosis known to Clement of Alexandria. What were the views of Clement of Alexandria who lived in the latter half of the second century? Faith, he says, is our starting-point — the orthodox Christian of today is satisfied with faith alone and asks no more. Faith, according to Clement, is already knowledge, but concise knowledge of what is needed; gnosis however confirms and reinforces what we believe, is founded on faith through the teaching of Our Lord and so leads to a faith that is scientifically acceptable and irrefutable. In these words Clement of Alexandria expresses for his time what we must realize today. Christianity therefore demands that gnosis, the Spiritual Science of today, must actively participate in the development of Christianity. But the modern philistine protests: “We must distinguish between science (which he would limit to sense experience) and faith. Faith must have no part in science.” Clement of Alexandria however says: To faith is added gnosis, to gnosis love, and to love the “Kingdom”. This is one of the most profound utterances of the human spirit because it bears witness to an intimate union with the life of the spirit. First we are nourished in faith; but to faith is added gnosis, that is, knowledge or understanding. Out of this living knowledge, i.e. when we penetrate deeply into things, there is first born genuine love through which our Divine inheritance operates. Mankind can only be the vehicle of the influx of the Divine as it was in the “beginning” if to faith is added gnosis, to gnosis love, and to love the “Kingdom”. We must look upon these utterances as bearing witness to the deep spirituality of Clement.
Difficult as it may seem, we must make the true form of Christian life once again accessible to mankind today. It is important to see certain things for what they are today and we shall then know where to look for the real cause of our present tribulations. The effect of these calamities is such that, as a rule, no attempt is made to discover what really lies behind them. When, for example, an Alpine village is buried beneath an avalanche, everyone sees the avalanche crash down; but if we want to discover the cause of the avalanche we must look for it perhaps in an ice-crystal where the snow-slip began. It is easy enough to observe the destruction of the village by the avalanche, but it is not so easy to provide tangible evidence that the disaster was caused by an ice-crystal. And so it is with the great events of history! It is evident that mankind is now caught up in a terrible catastrophe; this is the conflagration that has overwhelmed us. We have to look for the sparks — and they are many — which first set the conflagration alight. But we do not pursue our enquiries far enough in order to ascertain where the conflagration first began. Today we are afraid to see things for what they are.
Let us assume that we wish to form an opinion about a certain field of science. Usually we rely upon the opinion of the specialist in that particular field. Why is his opinion accepted as authoritative? Simply because he is an expert in this field. Generally speaking it is the specialist or university professor who determines what is accepted as scientific today. Let us take a concrete case. I am well aware that it does not make for popularity to call a spade a spade, but that is no matter. But unless an increasing number of people are prepared to get to the root of things today we shall not overcome our present tribulations. Let us assume that a leading authority says the following: people are always talking about man in terms of body and soul. This idea of the dualism of body and soul is fundamentally unsatisfactory. That we still speak of body and soul today is due to the fact that we are dependent on a language that is already outmoded, which we have inherited from an earlier epoch when people were far more stupid than today. These people were so foolish as to believe that the body and soul were separate entities. When we speak of these matters today we are compelled to make use of these terms; we are victims of a language which belongs to the past. And our authority continues: we have to accept body and soul as separate entities, but this is quite unjustified. Anyone speaking from the present standpoint and wholly uninfluenced by the views of ancient times would perhaps say: let us assume here is a flower and here is a man. I see his form and complexion, his external aspect, just as I see that of the flower. The rest must be inferred. — Now someone might come along and object: that is true, but the man in question also sees the flower in his soul. But that is pure illusion. What I really receive from the perception of a flower or a stone is a sense-impression and the same is true of the man in question. The idea that an inner image persists in the soul is pure illusion. The only things we know are external relationships.
You will say that you can make nothing of this argument! And a good thing too, because it is a farrago of nonsense, it is the acme of stupidity. This crass stupidity is supported by all kinds of careful laboratory investigations into the human brain and sundry clinical findings and so on. In short the man is a fool. He is in a position to provide good clinical results because laboratories are at his disposal; but the conclusions which he draws from these findings are pure nonsense. Men of this type are a commonplace today. To say these things does not make for popularity. The cycle of lectures which has appeared in book form by the man I am referring to — strangely enough his name is Verworn [original note 1], I take this to be pure coincidence — is called “The Mechanism of the Spiritual Life”. It would be about as sensible to write about the “ligneousness of iron” as about “the mechanism of spiritual life”.
Now, if this is typical of the intellectual acumen of our most enlightened minds it is not in the least surprising that if those disciplines which are far from being accurate at least in relation to external facts — and in this respect Verworn is capable of accurate observation because he describes what he sees, but unfortunately muddies everything with his own foolish ideas — that if those disciplines which are unsupported by external evidence such as political science, for example, are exposed to the scientific mode of thinking, then the greatest nonsense results. Political science should be supported by thoughts that are rooted in reality, but lacks these thoughts for reasons I have indicated in my last lecture. And people are forcibly reminded of this fact.
I referred earlier in this lecture to Kjellén, one of the leading Swedish thinkers. His book The State as Organism is ingenious; toward the end of the book he puts forward a remarkable idea, but neither he, nor others today, can make anything of it. He quotes a certain Fustel de Coulanges (note 5), author of La Cité antique, who showed that when we analyze pre-Christian political and social institutions we find that they are entirely founded on religious rites and observances; the entire State has a social and spiritual foundation. Thus people are willy-nilly brought face to face with the facts, for I pointed out in my last lecture that the social order stemmed from the Mysteries and had a spiritual origin. In studying the body politic or political science people are faced with these questions but are at a loss to understand them. They can make nothing of what even history reports when they can no longer rely upon documents.
And still less can they make anything of the other idea which I indicated as a new path to the Christ. This idea which we find especially in the Mysteries and in Plato's writings, that remarkable echo of the Mystery teachings, must arise once again. The central figure of Plato's dialogues is Socrates surrounded by his disciples. In the debate between Socrates and his disciples, Plato unfolds his teachings. In his writings Plato was in communion with Socrates after the latter's death. Now, this is something more than a literary device. It is the continuation, the echo, of what was practiced in the Mysteries where the neophytes were gradually prepared for communion with the souls of the dead who continue to direct the sensible world from the spiritual world. Plato's philosophy is developed out of his communion with Socrates, after the death of Socrates. This idea must be revived again and I have already indicated what form it must take. We must get beyond the dry bones of history, beyond the mere recording of external events. We must be able to commune with the dead, to let the thoughts of the dead arise in us once again. It is in this sense that we must be able to take seriously the idea of resurrection. It is through personal inner experience that Christ reveals Himself to mankind. It is by following this path that the truth of the Christ can be demonstrated. But this path demands of us that we develop the will in our thinking. If we can develop only such thoughts as are suited to the observation of the external world, we cannot arrive at those thoughts which are really in touch with the dead. We must acquire the capacity to draw thoughts from the well of our inmost being. Our will must be prepared to unite with reality, and then the will which is thus spiritualized by its incorporation in our thinking will encounter spiritual beings, just as the hand encounters a physical object in the external world. And the first spiritual beings we encounter will, as a rule, be the dead with whom we are in some way karmically connected. You must not expect to find guidance in these abstruse matters from a set of written instructions which can be carried about in one's waistcoat pocket. Things are not as simple as that. One encounters well-intentioned people who ask: How do I distinguish between dream and reality, between phantasy and reality? In the individual case one should not attempt to distinguish between them in accordance with a fixed rule. The whole soul must be gradually attuned so that it can pass judgment in the individual case, just as in the external world we seek to pass judgment irrespective of the individual case. We must develop a wider perspective in order to form a judgment about the particular case. The dream may be a close approximation to reality, but it is not possible in the individual case to state categorically: this is the right and proper way to distinguish a mere dream from reality. Indeed what I am saying at the moment may not apply in specific cases, because other points of view must be taken into consideration. It is important to develop in ourselves the power to discriminate in spiritual matters.
Let us take the familiar case of a person who is dreaming or who imagines he is dreaming. Now, it is not easy to distinguish between dream and reality. People who study dreams today follow in the footsteps of Herr Verworn. He says that one can undertake an interesting experiment. He quotes the following example. Someone taps with a pin on the window of a house where the occupant is asleep. He is dreaming at the time, wakes up and says he had heard rifle-fire. The dream, according to Verworn, exaggerates. The tappings of the pin on the window-pane have become rifle-shots. Verworn explains this in the following way: we assume that in waking consciousness the brain is fully active. In dream consciousness the brain activity is diminished; only the peripheral consciousness is active. Normally the brain plays no part; its activity is diminished. That is why the dream is so bizarre and why, therefore, the tappings of the pin turn into rifle-fire. Now, the public is highly credulous. They are first told in the relevant passage in Verworn's book that the dream exaggerates and then, later on, they are told (not precisely in the words I have used) that the brain is less active and therefore the dream appears bizarre. The reader has meanwhile already forgotten what was told in the first place. He is unable to relate the two statements and simply says: the State has appointed an expert in these matters and so we must accept his word. Now, as you know, belief in authority is taboo today. He who does not hold these views about the dream may nonetheless feel that the following way of thinking might well be the right approach. Let us assume you are dreaming of a friend who is dead. You dream, or believe you are dreaming, that you are sharing some situation in common with him — and then you wake up. Your first thought on awakening is of course: but he died some time ago! But in the dream it never occurred to you that he was dead. Now, you can find many ingenious explanations of this dream if you refer to Verworn's book The Mechanism of the Spirit. But if this is a dream, and a dream is only a memory of everyday life, you will have difficulty in understanding why the foremost thought in your mind, namely the death of your friend, plays no part in the dream when you have just experienced a situation which you know for certain you could not have shared with him when alive. You are then justified in saying: I have now experienced with X something I could not have experienced in life, something that I have not only not experienced, but which would have been impossible in our normal relationship. Assuming that the soul of X, the real soul, which has passed through the gates of death, is behind this dream-picture: is it not self-evident that you do not share his death experience? There is no reason why X's soul should appear to be dead, since it still lives on. If you take these two factors into consideration — perhaps in conjunction with other factors — you will conclude: my dream-picture veils a real meeting with the soul of X. The thought of death never occurs to me because the dream is not a memory of everyday life: in the dream I receive an authentic visitation from the deceased (i.e. X). I now experience the visitation in the form of a dream-picture, a situation which could not have arisen under the normal circumstances of everyday life. Furthermore the thought of death never occurs to me because the soul of the deceased persists. And then you have every reason for saying: when I experience this apparent dream I inhabit a realm where physical memory does not operate — and what I am about to say is most important — for it is characteristic of our physical life that our physical memory remains unimpaired. This memory does not exist to the same extent, nor is it of the same nature in the world of spirit which we enter at death. The memory which we need for the world of the spirit we must first develop in ourselves. The physical memory is tied to the physical body. Therefore anyone who is familiar with the supersensible realm knows that the physical memory cannot enter there. It is not surprising that we have no memory of the deceased; but we are aware that we are in communion with the living soul of X.
Those who are acquainted with this fact maintain that what we call memory in the physical life is something totally different in the spiritual life. Anyone who has succumbed to the impact of Dante's great work the “Divine Comedy” will never doubt, if he has spiritual discernment, that Dante experienced spiritual visions, that he had insight into the world of the spirit. He who comprehends the language of those who were familiar with the world of the spirit will find convincing proof of this in Dante's introduction to the “Divine Comedy”. Dante was well versed in spiritual knowledge; he was no dilettante in matters of the spirit; he was, so to speak, an expert in this field. He was aware that normal memory does not operate in the realm where we are in communion with the dead. He often speaks of the dead, of how the dead dwell in the “Light”. In the “Divine Comedy” you will find these beautiful lines on the theme of memory:
“O Light supreme, by mortal thought unscanned,
Grant that Thy former aspect may return,
Once more a little of Thyself re-lend.

Make strong my tongue that in its words may burn
One single spark of all Thy glory's light
For future generations to discern.

For if my memory but glimpse the sight
Whereof these lines would now a little say,
Men may the better estimate Thy might.”
(Paradiso. Canto XXXIII) [original note 2]
Thus Dante was aware that it is impossible with normal memory to grasp that which could originate in the spiritual world. There are many today who ask: why should we aspire to the spiritual world when we have enough to contend with in the physical world; the ordinary man seeks a practical answer to the problems of this life! — But have these people any reason to believe that those who were initiated into the Mysteries in ancient times were any less concerned with the physical world? The initiates knew that the spiritual world permeates the physical world, that the dead are unquestionably active among us even though people deny it. And they knew that this denial merely creates confusion. He who denies that those who have passed through the gates of death exercise an influence on this world resembles the man who says: “Nonsense! I don't believe a word you say” — and then proceeds to behave as if he did believe it. It is not so easy, of course, to give direct proof of the havoc that is wrought when the influx of the spiritual world into the physical world is not taken into account, when people act on the assumption that this interaction can be ignored. Our epoch shows little inclination to bridge the gap that separates us from the kingdom where the dead and the higher beings dwell. In many respects our present epoch harbors a veritable antipathy toward the world of the spirit. And it is the duty of the spiritual scientist who is really honest and sincere to be aware of the forces that are hostile to the development of Anthroposophy. For there are deep underlying reasons for this hostility and they stem from the same sources which are responsible for all the forces which are today in active opposition to the true progress of mankind.

Original Notes:
Note 1.  In the German text there is a play upon the word. If pronounced with an open “0” and a rolled “R” it gives the word verworren, i.e. muddle-headed or confused.
Note 2.  Translation by Dorothy L. Sayers and Barbara Reynolds, Penguin Classics, 1962.

Note 1.  Otto Ludwig (1813–65). Best known for his realist novels Der Erbförster and Zwischen Himmel and Erde, genre painting with careful observation of detail. He coined the term “poetischer Realismus”. His “Shakespeare Studien” showed preoccupation with dramatic theory. During his process of poetic creation he experienced a spectrum of colours and forms, known as “synaesthesia”.
Note 2.  “Synaesthesia” had first been foreshadowed by E. P. A. Hoffman in Kreisleriana. The hearing of a word or sound evokes a sensation of colour varying in accordance with the quality of the sound (cf. Baudelaire's sonnet “Correspondances” — “les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se repondent” and Rimbaud's sonnet “Voyelles” in which a definite colour-value is ascribed to each of the five vowels). F. W. H. Myers described synaesthesia as follows: “When the hearing of an external sound carries with it, by some arbitrary association of ideas, the seeing of some form or colour.”
Note 3.  Freytag (1816–95). Author of realistic novels which extolled the virtues of the German middle class — Soll and Haben, Die Ahnen.
Note 4.  Swedenborg (1688–1772), engineer, scientist, philosopher and theologian. In his Arcana Caelestia he wrote: “... it has been granted me now for some years to be constantly and continuously in the company of spirits and angels, hearing them speak and speaking with them in turn. It has been given to me to hear and see the wonderful things which are in the other life ... I have been instructed there in regard to different kinds of spirits; the state of souls after death ... and especially concerning the doctrine of faith which is acknowledged in the universal Heaven.”
Note 5.  Fustel de Coulanges (1830–89). Originator of the scientific approach to history. His Cité antique showed that ancient institutions derived from religious beliefs common to primitive peoples. It was a study of the part played by religion in the political and social evolution of Greece and Rome.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

What the world needs now is Anthroposophy, the resurrection of thinking

Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, May 1, 1917:
Building Stones for an Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha. Lecture 9 of 10.

In the course of our studies I have spoken of the events in the early development of Western civilization. My aim was to ascertain from these enquiries into the past what is of importance for the present, and with this object in view I propose to pursue the matter in further detail. Our present epoch, as we can see from a cursory glance, is an epoch when only thoughts derived from the Mystery teachings concerning human evolution can exercise effective influence. Now, in order to grasp the full implication of this claim we must not only have a clear understanding of many things, but we must also look closely into the needs and shortcomings of contemporary thinking, feeling, and willing. We shall then begin to feel that our present epoch has need of new impulses, new thoughts and ideas, and especially of those impulses and thoughts which spring from the depths of the spiritual life and which must become the subject of spiritual-scientific study.
At the present time there is much that fills us with sadness. We must not allow ourselves to be depressed by this mood of sadness, rather should it be something that can prepare us and teach us to work and strive in our present circumstances. I recently came across a publication which I felt would give me the greatest pleasure. The author is one of the few who are receptive to the ideas of Spiritual Science, and the more is the pity that he was unable to introduce into his writings the fruits of anthroposophical endeavor. The book to which I am referring is The State as Organism by Rudolf Kjellén (note 1), the Swedish political economist. After reading the book, I must confess that I was left with a feeling of disappointment because I realized that here was a person who, as I said, was receptive to the ideas of Spiritual Science, but whose thoughts were still far removed from the thoughts we stand in need of today, thoughts which must be clearly formulated and become concrete reality, especially today, so that they may enter into the evolution of our time. In his book Kjellén undertook to study the State and its organization, but at no time does one feel that he possessed the ideas or the intellectual grasp which could offer the slightest chance of solving his problem. It is a melancholy experience to be disillusioned time and again — but let us not be discouraged, let us rather brace ourselves to meet the challenge of our time.
Before I say a few words on these matters I should like to call your attention once again to those ancient Mysteries which, as you can well imagine from the statements I recently made about the iconoclasm of the (Christian) Church, are known to history today only in a mangled version. It is all the more necessary therefore for our present age that Spiritual Science should bring an understanding of these Mysteries. I mentioned in my last lecture the unprecedented fury with which Christianity in the first centuries destroyed the ancient works of art and how much that was of priceless value was swept away. One cannot take an impartial view of Christianity unless one is prepared to see this destructive side with complete objectivity. And bear in mind at the same time that the various books which deal with this subject present a particular point of view. Everyone today who has received a minimum of education has a picture of the spiritual development of antiquity, of the spiritual evolution that preceded Christianity. But how different this picture would be if Archbishop Theophilus (note 2) of Alexandria had not burnt in the year 391 seven hundred thousand scrolls which contained vitally important records of Roman, Egyptian, Indian, and Greek literature and their cultural life. Just imagine how different would be the picture of antiquity if these seven hundred thousand scrolls had not been burnt. And from this you will realize how much reliance can be placed on the history of the past which has documentary support — or rather how little reliance!
Let us now follow up the train of thought which I touched on in my lecture yesterday. I pointed out that the forms of Christian worship were in many respects borrowed from the symbols and ceremonies of the ancient pagan Mystery cults, that the forms of these Mystery cults and symbols had been totally eradicated by Christianity in order to conceal their origin. Christianity had made a clean sweep of the pagan forms of worship so that people had no means of knowing what had existed prior to their time and would simply have to accept what the Church offered. Such is the fate of human evolution. We must be prepared to recognize without giving way to pessimism that the course of human evolution is not one of uninterrupted progress.
I also showed in the course of my lecture yesterday that the rites and rituals of the Roman Church owed much to the Eleusinian Mysteries which had been interrupted in their development because Julian had been unable to carry out his intentions; his plan had failed to materialize. But the rites and sacraments of later years owed still more to the Mithras Mysteries. But the spirit of the Mithras Mysteries, that which justified their existence, the source from which they derived their spiritual content, can no longer be investigated. The Church has been careful to remove all traces of it and to close the door to enquiry. Knowledge of this can only be recovered if we strive to come to an understanding of these things through Spiritual Science. Today I propose to touch upon only one aspect of the Mithras Mysteries (note 3). I could of course speak at greater length about the Mithras Mysteries if I had more time at my disposal, but in order to understand them we must first gradually become conversant with their details.
In order to grasp the true spirit of the Mithras Mysteries, whose influence spread far into the west of Europe during the first post-Christian centuries, we must be aware that they were based upon a central core of belief (which was right for the world of antiquity and perfectly justified up to the time of the Mystery of Golgotha), that the community or the individual communities — for example, the folk-communities or other groups within the folk-communities — consisted not only of the individual units or members, but that, if they were to have any reality, communities must be imbued with a community spirit which has a supersensible origin. A community was determined not only by the counting of heads, but for the people of antiquity it represented the external form, the incarnation, if I may use the word in this connection, of a genuinely existing communal spirit. The aim of those who were received into these Mysteries was to participate in this spirit, to share the thoughts of this group-soul; not to insulate themselves from the community by obstinately pursuing their own egoistic thoughts, feelings, and volitional impulses, but to live in such a way that they were receptive to the thoughts of the group-soul. In the Mithras Mysteries in particular the priests maintained that this union with the group-soul cannot be achieved if one looks upon a larger community simply as an external manifestation, for thereby that which lies in the community spirit is in the main obscured. The dead, they claimed, are part of our immediate environment and the more we can commune with those who have long been dead the better we shall order our present life. Therefore the longer these souls had been discarnate, the more beneficial they found it to commune with these souls. And in order to be able to commune with the spirit of the ancestor of a tribe, folk-community, or family they found it best to make contact with the ancestral soul. It was assumed that this soul develops further after passing through the gates of death and therefore has a deeper insight into the future destiny of the Earth than those who are living on this Earth in their present physical bodies. Thus the whole purpose of these Mysteries was to establish those dramatic representations which would put the neophyte into touch with the souls of those who had long passed through the gates of death.
Those who were admitted to these Mysteries had to undergo a first stage of initiation which was usually characterized by a term borrowed from the bird-species; they were called “Ravens”. A “Raven” was a first-degree initiate. Through the particular Mystery rites, through the potent use of symbols and especially through dramatic performances he became aware not only of the sensible world around him or of what one learns through contact with one's fellow-men, but also of the thoughts of the dead. He acquired a certain capacity which enabled him to recall memories of the dead and the ability to develop it further. The “Raven” was under the solemn obligation to be conscious in the moment, to be alert and responsive to the world around, to be aware of the needs of his fellow-men and to familiarize himself with the phenomena of nature. He who spends his life in day-dreaming, who has no feeling for the indwelling spirit of man and nature was considered to be unsuitable material for reception into the Mysteries. For only the ability to see life around him clearly and in its true perspective fitted him for the task which he had to fulfil in the Mysteries. His task was to participate as far as possible in the changing circumstances of the world in order to widen the range of his experience, to share in the joys and sorrows of contemporary events. He who was unresponsive or indifferent to contemporary events was an unsuitable candidate for initiation. For the first task of the aspirant was to “reproduce,” to re-enact, in the Mysteries the experiences gained through participation in the life of the world. In this way these experiences served as a channel of communication with the dead with whom the initiates sought to make contact. Now you might ask: Would not a high initiate have been more suitable for this purpose? By no means, for the first-degree initiates were eminently suited to act as intermediaries because they still possessed all the feelings, shared all the sympathies and antipathies, which fitted them for life in the external world, while the higher initiates had more or less purged themselves of those emotions. Therefore these first-degree initiates were specially suited to experience contemporary life in terms of the ordinary man and to incorporate it into the Mysteries. It was therefore the special task of the “Ravens” to mediate between the external world and those long dead. This tradition has survived in legend. As I have often stated, legends as a rule have deep implications. The Kyffhäuser legend tells how Friedrich Barbarossa, who had long been dead, is instructed by Ravens, or how Charles the Great in the “Salzburg Untersberg” is surrounded by Ravens that brought him news of the outside world. These are echoes of the ancient pagan Mysteries and especially of the Mithras Mysteries.
When the aspirant was ready for the second degree of initiation he became an adept, or “occultist” as we should say today. He was then able not only to incorporate into the Mysteries his experience of the sensible world, but also to receive clairvoyantly the communications from the dead, the impulses which the supersensible world (this world of concrete reality which the dead inhabit) had to impart to the external world. And only when he was fully integrated into the spiritual life which originates in the supersensible and is related to the external, sensible world was he considered to be adequately prepared for the third degree, and he was now given the opportunity to give practical expression to the impulses he had received in the Mysteries. He was now singled out to become a “warrior”, one who mediates to the sensible world that which must be revealed from the supersensible world.
But was it not a gross injustice, you may ask, to withhold vital information from the people and to initiate only a select few? You will only understand the reason for this if you accept what I stated at the outset, namely, that the people were dependent upon a group-soul and were content for these select few to act on behalf of the whole community. They did not look upon themselves as separate individuals but as members of a group. It was only possible therefore to pursue this policy of selection at a time when the existence of a group-soul, when the selfless identification with the group, was a living reality.
And when as a “warrior” the initiate had championed for a time the cause of the supersensible, he was considered fitted to establish smaller groups within the framework of the larger group, smaller communities within larger groups as the need arose. If in those ancient times anyone had taken into his head to found an association on his own initiative, he would have been ignored. Nothing would have come of it. In order to establish a union or association the initiate must become a “lion”, as it was termed in the Mithras Mysteries, for that was the fourth degree of initiation. He must first have reinforced his spiritual life through association with those impulses which existed not only among the living, but which united the living with the dead. From the fourth degree the initiate rose to a higher degree of initiation which permitted him through certain measures to take over the leadership of an already existing group, a folk-community in which the dead also participated. The eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries before the Mystery of Golgotha are totally different from those of today. It would never have occurred to anyone to claim the right to choose arbitrarily the leader of their community; such a leader had to be an initiate of the fifth degree. Then, at the next higher degree, the initiate attained to those insights which the Sun Mystery (of which he had recently received intimations) implanted in the human soul. Finally he attained the seventh degree of initiation. I do not propose to enter into the details of these later degrees of initiation, for I simply wished to characterize the progressive development of the initiate who owed to his contact with the spiritual world his capacity to take an active part in community life.
Now, you know that the group-soul nature has gradually declined in accordance with the necessary law of human evolution. It was at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha that man first developed ego-consciousness. This had been prepared for centuries, but the crisis, the critical moment, in this development had been reached at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha. One could no longer assume that the individual had the power to carry the whole community with him, to transfer his feelings and impulses to the entire community in a spirit of altruism.
It would be foolish to imagine that the course of history could have been other than it has been. But sometimes a thought such as the following may prove fruitful: what would have happened if, at the time when the message of Christianity first made its impact on human evolution, the pagan traditions had not been eradicated root and branch, but if historically a certain knowledge (which would be transparent even to those who relied on documents) had been transmitted to posterity? But Christianity was opposed to such a possibility. We will discuss later the reason for this attitude; today I wish simply to register the fact that Christianity was opposed to the transmission of this knowledge. Thus Christianity was confronted by a totally different kind of humanity which was not so much attached to the group-souls as that of former times, a humanity in which the approach to the individual had to be totally different from that of ancient times when the individual was virtually ignored and when men looked to the group-soul for guidance and acted out of the group-soul. Through the fact that Christianity suppressed all documentary evidence of the early centuries the people were kept in ignorance; Christianity in fact consciously fostered ignorance of the epoch when it had first developed. This Christianity borrowed those aspects of the pagan teaching which served its purpose and incorporated them in its traditions and dogmas and especially in its cults or religious ceremonies and then effaced all traces of the origin of these cults. The ancient cults have a deep symbolic meaning, but Christianity gave them a different interpretation. The performance of cult acts or ceremonies was still a familiar sight, but the source of the primeval wisdom from which they derived was concealed from the people.
Take for example the bishop's mitre of the eighth century. This mitre was embroidered with swastikas which were arranged in different patterns. The swastika, which was originally the Crux Gammata, dates back to the earliest Mysteries, to the ancient times when man was able to observe the activity of the “lotus flowers” in the human ctheric and astral organism, how that which was active in the lotus flower was one of the chief manifestations of the etheric and astral forces. The bishop wore the swastika as a symbol of his authority, but its significance was lost and it had become a dead symbol. All traces of its origin had been eradicated. What history tells us of the origin of such symbols is only dry bones. Only through Spiritual Science can we rediscover the living spiritual element in these things.
I said earlier that people were consciously kept in ignorance, but the time has now come to dispel this ignorance. And over the years I think that I have said enough and in a variety of ways to show that it is essential at the present time to be alive and alert to these questions. For our epoch is an epoch in which the necessary period of darkness has run its course and when the light of spiritual life must dawn again. It is devoutly to be wished that as many as possible should feel in their hearts that this spiritual light is a necessity for our time and that the failures and endless sufferings of our time are connected with all these questions. We shall realize that superficial judgments are inadequate when we come to speak of the causes of our present situation. So long as we speak only from a superficial standpoint we shall be unable to develop thoughts or impulses which are sufficiently potent to dispel the ignorance which is the source of our attendant ills. It is indeed remarkable how mankind today — but this need not depress us, rather should it encourage us to observe and understand our present condition — is unwilling to face up to the situation because, for the most part, man is as yet unable to perceive what is really necessary for our evolution. It is heartbreaking to see what Nietzsche felt about the prevailing darkness and confusion of our age, a man who suffered deeply from, and was driven to the point of madness by, the chaos and confusion of the second half of the nineteenth century. We shall not come to terms with a personality such as Friedrich Nietzsche if we look upon him as someone whom one blindly follows, as so many have done. For he answered these blind followers in the original prelude to the “Gay Science”.
I am sufficient unto myself
I owe allegiance to none,
And I laugh at every master
Who cannot laugh at himself.
That is also the underlying mood of the whole of “Thus spake Zarathustra”. But this did not prevent Nietzsche from being surrounded by many who were merely hangers-on. They, in any case, have nothing positive to contribute to our present situation. But the other extremists — and between these two groups can be found every shade of opinion — are equally of no help, for they say that although Nietzsche had many creative ideas, he ultimately lost his reason and so can be safely ignored. Friedrich Nietzsche is a strange phenomenon; one need not be his willing slave, yet the fact remains that even in his period of mental sickness he was acutely sensitive to the darkness and chaos of the age.
Indeed the account of the distress which Nietzsche suffered in his time provides us with a good yardstick with which to measure the difficulties of our own time. I propose to read two passages from Nietzsche's posthumous writings: “The Will to Power; the Transvaluation of all Values,” (note 4) which was written at a time when his mind was unhinged, passages which could have been written today with a wholly different intent than Nietzsche's and could have been written to expose the deeper underlying cause of our present situation. Nietzsche wrote:
“What I am about to relate is the history of the next two centuries. I shall describe what is foreshadowed and from which there is no escape — the triumph of nihilism. This history can be written now, for necessity is already at work here. This future is already presaged by a hundred different omens; this destiny announces its presence everywhere; for the music of tomorrow all ears are pricked. The whole of European culture is slowly moving toward catastrophe in an agony of suspense which increases from decade to decade — restless, violent, precipitate like a river in spate hastening to its ocean bed, and which refuses to reflect and even dreads reflection.”
Judge then of your own reactions in the light of these words from the pen of a man of rare sensitivity at the end of the eighties of the nineteenth century and compare these words with another passage which I will now read to you and which vividly portrays the deep distress he felt and which everyone can experience himself.
“My friends, we had a hard time in our youth; we even suffered from youth as if it were a serious disease. This is owing to the age in which we are born — an age of great internal decay and disintegration which, with all its weakness and even with the best of its strength, is opposed to the spirit of youth. Disintegration, that is to say a sense of insecurity, is peculiar to our age; nothing stands on solid ground or on sound faith or belief. People live for the morrow, because the day after tomorrow is uncertain. Our path is slippery and dangerous and the ice that still bears us has become precariously thin: we all feel the mild and ominous breath of the thaw-wind. Within a short space of time the path we are treading will never be able to know the footsteps of man again.”
It is clear that these sentiments were born of a profound insight into the realities of the time. He who would understand the age in which we live, and especially the task that faces the individual, he who can look beyond the moment and the day will himself feel what is expressed in those passages and will perhaps say: Nietzsche's mental derangement prevented him from adopting a critical attitude to the ideas which arose in him. Nonetheless these ideas stemmed from an acute sensitivity to the immediate realities of the present age. Perhaps we shall one day draw a comparison between Nietzsche's response to his age and the customary pronouncements of “experts” which do not even touch the fringe of the causes which lie at the root of our present difficult times. We shall then change our attitude and see the necessity for Spiritual Science today. People are unwilling to listen to the teachings of Spiritual Science; but in saying this I have no wish to imply reproach. Far be it from me to attach blame to anyone. The people to whom I am referring are for the most part those for whom I feel great respect and who, in my opinion, would be the first to take to Spiritual Science. I simply wish to point out how difficult it is for the individual to be receptive to Spiritual Science if he is impervious to spiritual appeal, if he succumbs entirely to the Zeitgeist, to the superficial trends of the time. One must be fully aware of this.
At this juncture I can now revert to Kjellen's book The State as Organism. It is a curious book because the author strives with every fibre of his being to clarify the question: What is the State in reality? — and because he does not believe in the capacity of man's ideas and concepts to understand this question. It is true that the book contains many fine things which have been praised by contemporary critics, but the author has not the slightest idea of the deeper layers of understanding and knowledge which are necessary in order to rescue mankind from its present predicament. I have only time to refer to the central theme of his book. Kjellen raises the question: What is the relation of the individual to the State? And in attempting to answer this question he immediately came up against a difficulty. He wished to depict the State as a reality, as an integrated whole, in other words, as an organism primarily. Many have already described the State as an organism and are then always faced with the question: an organism consists of cells, what then are the cells of the State? Clearly the individual members of the State! — And on the whole Kjellen also shared this view: the State is an organism as the human or animal organism is an organism, and just as the human organism consists of individual cells, so too the State consists of individual cells, of human beings who are the cells of the State.
One can hardly imagine a more misguided or misleading analogy. If we follow up the analogy we shall never arrive at a clear understanding of man. Why is this? The cells of the human organism are juxtaposed, and this juxtaposition has a special significance. The whole structure of the human organism depends upon this juxtaposition. In the organism of the State the individual units or members are not contiguous like the individual cells in the human or animal organism. That is out of the question. In the totality of the State the human personality is something wholly different from the cells in the organism. And even if at a pinch we compare the State with an organism we must realize that we and the whole of political science are sorely mistaken if we overlook the fact that the individual is not a cell; only the productive element in man can sustain the State, while the organism is an aggregate of cells and it is they which determine its functioning. Therefore the present State, in which the group-soul is no longer the same as in ancient times, can only progress through the endeavor or initiative of the single individual. This cannot be compared with the function of the cells. As a rule it is immaterial what we choose to compare, but if we make a comparison between two objects they must be related objects. As a rule it is accepted that analogies are valid to some extent, but they should not be so far-fetched as Kjellén's analogy. There is no objection to his comparing the State with an organism; one could equally well compare it with a machine (there is no harm in that) or even with a penknife — doubtless points of similarity can be found here too — but, if the comparison is carried through, it must be consistent. But people are not sufficiently familiar with the principles of logic to be aware of this.
Now, Kjellén is perfectly entitled to compare the State with an organism if he so wishes. But if he wishes to make this comparison he must look for the right cells. But they cannot be found because the State has no cells! If we think about the matter concretely the analogy breaks down. I simply wish to point out that one can only carry this analogy through if one thinks in an abstract way like Kjellen. The moment one thinks realistically, one demurs, because the idea has no roots in reality. We find that the State has no cells. On the other hand we discover that the individual States can perhaps be compared to cells and that the sum total of States on Earth can be compared to an organism. A fruitful idea then occurs to us. But first we must answer the question: what kind of organism? Where can one find something comparable in the kingdom of nature where the cells fit into each other in the same way as the individual “State cells” fit into the entire organism of the Earth? Pursuing this idea we find that we can only compare the entire Earth organism with a plant organism, not with an animal organism and still less with a human organism. While natural science is only concerned with the inorganic, with the mineral kingdom, political science must be founded on a higher order of ideas, on the ideas of the plant kingdom. We must look to neither the animal nor the human kingdom and we must free ourselves from mineralized thinking, dead thought forms to which the scientists are so firmly attached. They cannot rise to the higher order of ideas embodied in the plant kingdom, but apply laws of the mineral kingdom to the State and call it political science.
In order to arrive at this fruitful conception mentioned above our whole thinking must be rooted in Spiritual Science. We shall then be able to satisfy ourselves that the whole being of man by virtue of his individuality is far superior to the State  he penetrates into the spiritual world where the State cannot enter. If therefore you compare the State with an organism and the individual member of the State with the cells, then, if you think realistically, you will arrive at the idea of an organism consisting of individual cells, but the cells would everywhere extend beyond the epidermis. You would have an organism with its cells which extend beyond the epidermis; the cells would develop independently of the organism and would be self-contained. You would therefore have to picture the organism as if “living bristles” which felt themselves to be individuals were everywhere projecting beyond the epidermis. Living thinking thus brings us into touch with reality, and shows us the impossible difficulties that must face us if we wish to grasp any idea that is to be fruitful. It is not surprising therefore that ideas which are not impregnated with Spiritual Science have not the capacity to sustain us in coping with our present situation. For how can one reduce to order the chaos in the world if one has no idea of its cause? No matter how many Wilsonian manifestos are issued by all kinds of international organizations or associations and the like, so long as they have no roots in reality they are so much empty talk. Hence the many proposals which are put forward today are a sheer waste of time.
Here is an example which demonstrates how imperative it is that our present age should be permeated with the impulses of Spiritual Science. It is the tragedy of our time that it is powerless to develop ideas which could reconcile and control the organic life of the State. Hence everything is in a state of chaos. But it must now be clear to you where the deeper causes of this chaos are to be sought. And it is not surprising therefore that books such as Kjellen's The State as Organism conclude in the most remarkable manner. We are now living in an age when everybody is wondering what is to be done so that men may once again live in harmony, when with every week they are increasingly determined to live in enmity and to slaughter each other. How are they to be brought together again? But the science which deals with the question of how men are once again to develop social relationships within the State concludes in Kjellen's case with these words: “This must be the conclusion of our enquiry into the State as organism. We have seen that for compelling reasons the State of today had made little progress in this direction and has not yet become fully aware that this is its function. Nonetheless we believe in a higher form of State which recognizes a more clearly defined rational purpose and which will make determined efforts to achieve this goal.”
That is the concluding passage in his book; but we do not know, we have no idea, what will come of it. Such are the findings of a painstaking and conscientious thinking that is so caught up in the stream of contemporary thought that it overlooks the essentials. One must face these problems squarely; for the impulse, the desire, to gain insight into these problems only arises when we face them squarely, when we know what are the driving forces in our present age.
Even without looking far beneath the surface we perceive today an urge toward a kind of “socialization”  I do not mean toward socialism, but towards “socialization” of the Earth organism. But socialization — because it must be conscious, and not proceed from the unconscious as in the last two thousand years — socialization, reorientation, or reorganization is only possible if we understand the nature of man, if we learn to know once again the being of man — for that was the object of the ancient Mysteries. Socialization applies to the physical plane. But it is impossible to establish a social order if one ignores the fact that on the physical plane are to be found not only physical men, but men endowed with soul and spirit. Nothing can be achieved if we think of man only in physical terms. You may socialize, you may order social life in accordance with contemporary ideas, and within twenty years everything will be in chaos again if you ignore the fact that man is not only the physical being known to natural science, but a being endowed with soul and spirit. For soul and spirit are active agents and exercise a powerful influence. We may ignore their existence in our ideas and representations, but we cannot abolish them. If the soul is to inhabit a physical body which participates in a social order appropriate to our time it must have freedom of thought and opinion. Socialization cannot be realized without freedom of thought. And socialization and freedom of thought cannot be realized unless the spirit is rooted in the spiritual world itself.
Freedom of thought as an attitude of mind or way of thinking, pneumatology, spiritual maturity, and spiritual science — as scientific foundation of all ordinances and directives — these are inseparably linked. We can only discover through spiritual science how these things are related to man and how they can he realized practically in the social order. Freedom of thought  that is, an attitude to one's neighbor that fully recognizes his right to freedom of thought  cannot be realized unless we accept the principle of reincarnation, for otherwise we look upon man as an abstraction. We shall never see him in the right light unless we look upon him as the result of repeated lives on Earth. The whole question of reincarnation must be examined in connection with the question of freedom of thought and opinion. The life of man will be impossible in the future unless the inner life of the individual can be rooted in the life of the spirit. I am not suggesting that he must become clairvoyant, though this will certainly occur in individual cases, but I maintain that he must be firmly rooted in the life of the spirit. I have often explained that this is perfectly possible without becoming clairvoyant. If we look around a little we shall find where the major hindrances lie and in what direction we must look for the source of these obstacles. It is not that people are unwilling to search for the truth — and as I have said, I do not wish to reprove or to criticize — but they erect psychic barriers and are the victims of their many inhibitions.
Often an isolated instance is so instructive that we are able to gain a real understanding of many contemporary phenomena from these symptoms. There is one symptom peculiar to our own time which is most remarkable. It is curious how people, who are normally so brave and courageous today, are terrified when they hear that the claims of spiritual knowledge are to be recognized. They are bewildered. I have often told you that I noticed that many who had attended one or two lectures were not seen again for some time. Meeting them in the street, I asked why they had never turned up again. “I dare not”, came the reply. “I am afraid you might convince me.” They find such a possibility dangerous and disturbing and are not prepared to expose themselves to the risk. I could cite many other examples of a similar kind from my own experience, but I prefer to give examples from the wider field of public life.
A short time ago I spoke here of Hermann Bahr (note 5), who recently gave a lecture here in Berlin entitled “The Ideas of 1914”. I pointed out how he attempted — you need only read his last novel Himmelfahrt — not only to move a little in the direction of Spiritual Science, but he even tried in his later years to arrive at an inner understanding of Goethe, that is, to follow the path which I would recommend to those who wish to provide themselves with a sound background for their introduction to Spiritual Science. There are very many today who would like to speak of the spirit once again, who would welcome any and every opportunity to revive knowledge of the spirit. I do not wish to lecture or criticize, least of all a person such as Hermann Bahr, for whom I feel great affection. Even if it is far from our intention to sermonize, we nonetheless have the strange feeling that an outlook such as that of Hermann Bahr has contributed to the corruption of thought and has infected human thinking with original sin.
In his Berlin lecture Hermann Bahr expressed many fine and admirable sentiments; but many astonishing things come to light. He began by saying that this war had taught us something completely new. It had taught us to integrate the individual once again into the community in the right way, to sacrifice our individualism, our egocentricity, for the benefit of the whole. This war has taught us, he said, to make a clean sweep of the past with its antiquated ideas and to fill our inner life with something completely new. And he proceeded to describe the inestimable benefits this war has brought us. I have no wish to criticize, quite the reverse. But after a lengthy disquisition on how the war has transformed us all, how we shall be completely changed through the war, it is strange to come upon the concluding passage: “Man always cherishes hope of a better future, but himself remains incorrigible. Even the war will leave us much as we are.” As I said before, I have no wish to criticize, but I cannot help being touched by these high hopes. These people are motivated by the best of intentions; they wish to find once again the path to the spiritual. And Bahr therefore emphasized that we had relied too much upon the individual; we had practiced the cult of individualism far too long. We must learn once again to surrender to the whole. Those who belong to a nation have learned to merge with the nation, to sacrifice their separativeness. And nations too, he believes, are only totalities of individual characteristics, parts of a greater whole which will later emerge. Thus Bahr sometimes betrays, and especially in this lecture, the paths he nonetheless follows in order to arrive at the spirit. Sometimes he gives only vague indications, but these indications are most revealing. Ring out the old, the past is dead, is his motto. The Aufklärung wished to found everything on a basis of reason; but all to no purpose; everything has ended in chaos. We must find something that brings us in touch with reality and saves us from chaos. And in this context Bahr once again makes astonishing revelations:
“Perhaps nations and individuals would then have learned what is most difficult for them to learn — to grant to others the right to individuality that each individual claims for himself, for, in the final analysis, the individuality of others is the precondition of one's own. If we were all alike there would be no distinguishing features. And they would have learned that just as each individual with his distinctive gifts in his own particular field is necessary to the nation, in order through his self-fulfilment to sustain the nation and thus at the same time to be self-sufficient and also to serve the nation, so too the universality of mankind, the common membership of all mankind that reaches to the Divine, grows out of nations and transcends nations.”
That is a hint  if not a broad hint, at least it is a clear hint. People are striving to find the way to God, but are unwilling to follow the path that is appropriate to our time. They are looking therefore for a different path which already exists, but it never occurs to them that this traditional path was indeed effective up to 1914 and now, in order to obviate its consequences, they want to return to it again!
The symptoms manifested here are, I think, deserving of quiet examination, for these are the views not of a single individual but of a vast number of people who feel and think in this way. A book by Max Scheler (note 6) recently appeared with the title Der Genius des Krieges and der deutsche Krieg. It is a good book and I can safely recommend it. Bahr too thinks highly of it. He is a man of taste and well informed and has every reason to commend it. But he also wishes to publicize the book and proposes to write a highly favorable review, a puff to boost Scheler. He wonders how best to proceed. To scandalize the public is not the right approach; some other way must be found to attract their attention. What was he to do? Now, Hermann Bahr is a very sincere and honest man and leaves no doubt as to what he would do in such a case. In his article on Scheler he begins by saying: Scheler has written many articles to show how we could escape from our present predicament. Scheler caught the public eye. But, says Bahr, people today do not approve of being told whom to read; it goes against the grain. And so Hermann Bahr characterizes Scheler in the following way: “People were curious about him and yet rather suspicious of him; we Germans want to know above all where we stand in relation to an author. We do not like indefinition.”
Let us have therefore a clear picture. This is not achieved by reading books and accepting their arguments; something more is needed. Bahr now gives a further hint: “Even the Catholics preferred to reserve judgment (on Scheler) lest they should be disappointed. His idiom displeased them. For every mental climate creates in the course of time its own native idiom which gives a particular flavor and meaning to words of common usage. In this way one recognizes who `belongs’, with the result that ultimately one pays less attention to what is said than to how it is said.”
Hermann Bahr decided to announce Scheler with a flourish of trumpets. Now, like Bahr himself, Scheler hints at those remarkable catholicizing endeavors — always tentatively at first: he never commits himself immediately. Now according to Bahr, Scheler does not speak like a genuine Catholic. But Catholics want to know where they stand in relation to Scheler, and especially Bahr himself, since he intends to puff Scheler in the Catholic periodical “Hochland”. After all, people must know that Scheler can be safely recommended to Catholics. They do not like to be left in the dark, they want to know the truth.
And this is the crux of the matter. People will know where they stand if they are told that it is perfectly safe for Catholics to read Scheler! The fact that he is exceptionally clever and witty is of no consequence; Catholics have no objection to that. Bahr, however, proposes to hold up Scheler as an outstanding personality in order to boost his importance, but at the same time he does not wish to offend people. First of all he bewails the fact that mankind has become empty and vapid, that man has lost all connection with the spirit; but he must find his way back to the spirit once again. I quote a few passages from Hermann Bahr on Scheler which touch upon this subject:
“Reason broke away from the Church and arrogantly assumed that of itself it could understand, determine, order, command, shape, and direct life.”
Hermann Bahr lacks the courage to say: reason must now seek contact with the spiritual world. He therefore says: reason must look to the Church once again.
“Reason broke away from the Church and arrogantly assumed that of itself it could understand, determine, order, command, shape, and direct life. It (reason) had scarcely begun to take the first steps in this direction than it took fright and lost confidence in itself. This self-awareness of reason, the consciousness of its boundaries, of the limitations of its own power when bereft of the divine afflatus, began with Kant. He recognized that reason of itself cannot achieve that which by its very nature it is constrained to will; it cannot achieve the goal it has set itself. He called a halt to reason at the very moment where it promised to be fruitful. Kant set boundaries to reason, but his disciples extended these boundaries and each went his own way. Ultimately godless reason had no other choice but to abdicate. It realized finally that it can know nothing. It searched for truth so long until it discovered that either truth was non-existent or that there was no truth to which man could attain.”
Enough has now been said in defence of the modern outlook and all those fine sentiments about the “boundaries of knowledge.”
“Since that time we have lived without truth, believing there is no truth. We continued to live however as if truth must nonetheless exist. In fact, in order to live we had to live by denying our reason. And so we preferred to abandon reason completely. We committed intellectual suicide. Soon man was regarded simply as a bundle of impulses. He was proud of his dehumanization. And the consequence was 1914.”
And so Hermann Bahr praises Scheler because of his Catholicizing bent. Then he proceeds to give a somewhat distorted picture of Goethe, for he had been at pains for some time to depict him as a dyed-in-the-wool Catholic. And he then goes on to say:
“The modern scientist denied his spiritual birthright. Science abandoned presuppositions. Reason no longer derived from the divine the ‘impulse’ which is imperative for its effectiveness. What other path was open to it? None, save the appeal to the instincts. The man without established values was suspended over an abyss. And the result was — 1914.”
“If we are to build afresh, it must be from totally new foundations. If we are to bring about a spiritual renewal we must make a complete break with the past. It would be presumptuous to aim at the immediate spiritual rehabilitation of Europe. We must first rehabilitate man and restore his lost innocence; he must become aware once again that he is a member of the spiritual world. Freedom, individuality, dignity, morality, science, and art have vanished from the world since faith, hope, and love are no more. And only faith, hope, and love can restore them. We have no other choice: either the end of the world or — omnia instaurare in Christo” (to renew all things in Christ).
But this “omnia instaurare in Christo” does not imply a search for the spirit, a move toward the investigation or exploration of the spirit, but the inclusion of the nations in the Catholic fold. How is it, Bahr asks, that men are able to think for themselves and yet are able to remain good Catholics? We must look to those who are suited to the present age. And Scheler fits the bill, for he is not such a fool as to speak for example of an evolution into the spiritual world, or to specify a particular spiritual teaching. He is not such a fool as to commit himself openly, as is the case with those who speak of the spirit and then suggest: the rest will he added unto you if you enter the Church, i.e. the Catholic Church — for that is implied both by Bahr and Scheler  which in their opinion is sufficiently all-embracing. In this way conflicting opinions can be reconciled under the umbrella of the Church. Nonetheless people today want to think for themselves, and Scheler adapts himself to their thoughts. Indeed, Bahr believes that Scheler in this respect is a master of giving people what they want:
“Scheler attracts attention because he does not gesticulate or raise his voice. Involuntarily people ask who can it be who appears to be so sure of his influence that he does not feel it necessary to raise his voice. It is a favourite device of seasoned orators to open on a quiet note and thus command the silent attention of the audience; the orator must also have the power to hold them spellbound. Scheler can do this in masterly fashion. He so captivates his listener that the listener is unaware whither he is being led and suddenly finds himself at a destination that was wholly unforeseen. Starting from unexpected propositions which the listener innocently accepts, Scheler forces him imperceptibly to conclusions which he would have actively resisted had he been in any way forewarned. In this respect Scheler's art of persuasion is unrivalled. He is a born educator; I know of no one who can lead us so easily but firmly to the truth.”
Indeed it is a special art to be able to take people by surprise in this way. First one makes statements that are unexceptionable; then the argument proceeds slowly and leads to a conclusion at which the audience would have demurred had they been aware of it from the start. How does one account for this, Bahr asks, and what must be done in order to act with the right intentions? In this review of Scheler Bahr gives his honest and candid opinion:
“The question now is whether the average German can grasp the magnitude of the moment and all that it portends. He is animated by the best of intentions, but still fondly imagines that belief is no longer possible for modern man since it has been scientifically refuted. He does not suspect that this `science or dogma of unbelief’ has itself long been refuted scientifically. He knows nothing of the quiet preparatory work in this direction of the outstanding German philosophers of our time — Lotze, Franz Brentano, Dilthey, Eucken, and Husserl.” (note 7).
I now beg you to give special attention to the following:
“The ordinary person still hears in the last faint echo of the Münchausen posthorn the latest aberration which, unbeknown to him, has already been refuted. Amidst this confusion a calm clear voice will soon be heard which gives no suspicion of the sentimental day-dreaming, romanticism, or mysticism which fills the ordinary person with unholy dread. And precisely because Scheler pleads the cause of a recovery of faith straightforwardly and unemotionally and in the customary jargon of the ’cultivated man of our time’, he is the man we need today.”
So now we know! Now we know why Bahr approves of Scheler. He (Scheler) cannot be accused of being a visionary or a mystic, for the average German is mortally afraid of them. And woe betide anyone who does not respect this fear, for if he were take it into his head to banish this fear or recognize the need to struggle against it, it would need more than a little courage to venture on such an undertaking.
Because I have great respect and affection for Hermann Bahr I would like to show that he is typical of those who find great difficulty in accepting a spiritual teaching of which our time stands in need. But there is promise of hope only if we overcome that terrible fear, if we have the courage to acknowledge that Spiritual Science is not an idle fancy, that the greatest clarity of thought is called for if we wish to make the right approach to Spiritual Science, for there is little evidence of clear thinking in the few examples which I have quoted to you today from Hermann Bahr and other contemporary writers. Spiritual courage is called for if we wish to develop ideas that are strong and effective. We need not go all the way with Nietzsche, nor need we wholly share the view he expresses in a passage which nonetheless may attract our attention; but when this sensitive spirit, stimulated perhaps by his illness, expresses his boldest and most courageous opinions we must nevertheless go along with him. The fear of being misunderstood must not deter us. It would be the greatest calamity that could befall us today if we were to be afraid of being misunderstood. We must sometimes perhaps pass judgments like the following judgment of Nietzsche, even though it may not be sound in every detail; that is not important. In his treatise “On the History of Christianity” he wrote:
“Christianity as a historical reality must not be confused with that one root which its name recalls: the other roots from which it has sprung are by far the more important. It is an unprecedented abuse of language to associate such manifestations of decay and such monstrosities as the ‘Christian Church’, ‘Christian belief,’ and ‘Christian life’ with that Holy Name. What did Christ deny?  Everything which today is called Christian!”
Although this is perhaps an extreme view, Nietzsche nevertheless touched upon something which has a certain truth; but he expressed it somewhat radically. It is true to the extent that one could say: What would Christ most vigorously condemn if He were to appear in our midst today? Most probably what the majority of people call “Christian” today, and much else besides, which I will discuss in our lecture on Tuesday next.

Note 1.  Rudolf Kjellen (1864–1922), Swedish historian, professor at Upsala. Belonged to the school of “geopolitics”, the doctrine of the interaction of geographical and political factors in the constitution and development of States.
Note 2.  Theophilus. Patriarch of Alexandria 385–412. He condemned Origen at the Synod of Alexandria 408. “He deprived the pagans of Alexandria of a temple ... and apparently destroyed other temples. A riot ensued and a number of Christians were slain. With Theophilus at their head the Christians retaliated by destroying the celebrated temple of Serapis on the ruins of which the patriarch erected a church.” (Quotation from the Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. XIV, 1913.)
Note 3.  Mithras Initiation. According to R. J. Vermaseren in Mithras, the Secret God (Chatto & Windus, 1963) he who had acquired sufficient knowledge “could gain successively the title of Raven (Corax), Bride (Nymphus), Soldier (Miles), Lion (Leo), Persian (Perses), Courier of the Sun (Heliodromus) and Father (Pater)”. This book is a classic in the study of Mithraism. There are figures in the text and illustrations.
Note 4.  Nietzsche. “The Will to Power and the Transvaluation of all Values.” According to P. Tillich “will” here means “the universal dynamics of all life processes and ‘power’ the affirmation of one's own individual existence. It is the power of the best.” The transvaluation of all values implies that since “God is dead”, i.e. that traditional and ethical values no longer stem from belief in a transcendent authority, man himself must re-create them. The “Übermensch” must be developed. He is the “superior” man physically, mentally, and spiritually, the man of self-discipline who has learned to command and obey, to accept responsibility, whose watchword is duty and honor. It is an aristocratic ideal. According to Nietzsche his antitype is mass man, the “herd man” who has succumbed to ideologies that promise happiness and well-being. He is timid, bored, conformist, opposed to tradition and culture. This “slave morality” is utilitarian and keeps only its own advantage in view and prepares the ochlocracy, the “nihilism” toward which we are moving (p. 13 in the English text).
Note 5.  Hermann Bahr (1863–1934). Austrian dramatist, novelist and essayist. In his later years he returned to the Church and represented the Catholic school of thought, cf. his novel Himmelfahrt.
Note 6.  Max Scheler (1874–1928). Professor of Philosophy at Cologne, 1920–21. His writings have a strong theistic flavor and he was a subtle advocate of Catholicism.
Note 7.  Lotze (1817–81), Dilthey (1833–1911), R. Eucken (1846–1929), Husserl (1859–1938) were philosophers of idealism. They were opposed to the mechanistic scientific philosophy of the age and pleaded the cause of ethical idealism.