Friday, July 20, 2012

An Appeal to the Youth Movement: overcoming vanity; point and circle: the inner dynamic of the morphology of the human being; plunging into reality; devotion to little things; dancing for joy in experiencing truth

Rudolf Steiner:
This is a matter that should receive serious consideration from those of the present-day Youth — and you yourselves are of course among the number — who are devoting their lives to some great and noble calling. There is in our time great need that young men and women should rise up among us and exercise a regenerating influence upon mankind; and what I am now going to say is not said out of misunderstanding of the Youth Movement of our day, nor from lack of understanding, but out of a true understanding of it. It is a necessity, this Youth Movement, it is something of quite extraordinary significance; for those older people who can understand it, the modern Youth Movement is interesting in the highest degree. Not a word shall be uttered here against it. Nor shall we attempt to deny that there is only too often a deplorable lack of readiness on the part of the older generation to understand this Youth Movement, and that a great many plans have suffered shipwreck just because the Movement has not been taken seriously enough, just because people have not troubled themselves to look into it sufficiently. But the Youth Movement does need to beware of one thing when it sets out to undertake specific practical tasks; and it is incumbent on those of us who have had experience in the matter to call attention to it, for it makes one seriously apprehensive for the whole future of the Movement. I mean a certain vanity that shows itself there on every hand.

This vanity is not so much due to a lack of education and culture, but is rather the consequence of an inevitable situation. For the will to action necessitates of course a strong development of inner capabilities, and then it follows all too easily that under the influence of Ahriman vanity begins to spring up in the soul. I have had opportunity in my life to make careful and intimate observation of persons who were full of promise — persons too of the most various ages of life — in whom one could see again and again how with the dawn of the Age that has followed the Kali Yuga, vanity began to grow and thrive in their souls. It is not, therefore, only among the Youth that the vanity shows itself. What concerns us at the moment however is the special form of it that manifests in the Youth and that has in point of fact hindered them from developing the right and essential character that lies inherent in present-day Youth, waiting to be developed. Hence the phenomenon with which we are so familiar, this endless talk of “missions”, of great tasks, with all too little inclination to set to work upon the details, to take pains about the small things that require to be done in carrying out these tasks.

These will emphatically be needed in the future for what has been described in simple words as devotion to detail.

Devotion to detail and to little things is something which the Youth of our time need to develop. They are far too apt to revel in abstractions; and this revelling in abstractions is the very thing that can then lure them with irresistible force into the snare of vanity. I do beg you to bethink yourselves of the difficulties that beset your path on this account. Make it a matter of esoteric striving to master this tendency to vanity; for it does indeed constitute a real hindrance to any work you undertake.

Suppose you want to be able to speak to some fellow human being from out of an intuitive power of vision.... What you have to do is to see through what lies on the surface, see right through it to the real state of affairs. If therefore you want to come to the point of being able to say something to him out of intuitive vision, what do you need for that? You need to tell yourself with courage and with energy — not just saying it at some particular moment, but carrying it continually in your consciousness, so that it determines the very quality and content of your consciousness: — “I can do it.” If, without vanity, in a spirit of self-sacrifice, and in earnest endeavor to overcome all the things that hinder, you repeat these words, not only feeling them, but saying them to yourself over and over again, then you will begin to discover how far you are able to go in this direction. Do not expect to find the development of the faculty you seek by spinning out all manner of theories and thoughts. No, what you need to do is to maintain all the time this courageous consciousness, which develops quite simply of itself when once you have begun to fetch up from the depths of your soul what lies hidden there, buried (metaphorically speaking) beneath an accumulation of dust and rubbish.

Generally speaking, people are not able to achieve anything of this kind in the realm of pedagogy. They could do so if only they would set themselves seriously to bring to life within them a certain truth. Let me explain to you how this can be done.

Try to accustom yourselves to live your way every evening into the consciousness: In me is God. In me is God — or the Spirit of God, or what other expression you prefer to use. (But please do not think I mean just persuading yourself of this truth theoretically — which is what the meditations of the majority of people amount to!) Then, in the morning let the knowledge: I am in God shine out over the whole day. And now consider! When you bring to life within you these two ideas, which are then no longer mere thoughts, but have become something felt and perceived inwardly — yes, have even become impulses of will within you — what is it you are doing?

First, you have this picture before you: In me is God [see Figure, left]

Figure 3

and on the following morning, you have this picture before you: I am in God [see Figure, right]. They are one and the same, the upper and the lower figure. And now you must understand: Here you have a circle (yellow); here you have a point (blue). It doesn't look like that in the evening, but in the morning the truth of it comes to light. And in the morning you have to think: Here is a circle (blue); here is a point (yellow). Yes, you have to understand that a circle is a point, and a point a circle. You have to acquire a deep, inner understanding of this fact.

But now, this is really the only way to come to a true understanding of the human being!... In the human being it becomes actual reality; the I-point of the head becomes in the limb-man the circle — naturally, with modifications. Adopting this line of approach — trying, that is, to understand man inwardly — you will learn to understand the whole of man. You must, first of all, be quite clear in your mind that these two figures, these two conceptions, are one and the same, are not at all different from one another. They only look different from outside. There is a yellow circle; here it is too! There is a blue point; here it is too! Why do they look different? Because that drawing is a diagram of the head, and this a diagram of the body. When the point claims a place for itself in the body, it becomes the spinal cord. It makes its way in here

Figure 5
Figure 5

and then the part it plays in the head organization is continued in the spinal cord. There you have the inner dynamic of the morphology of man. Taking it as your starting point, you will be able, by meditation, to build up a true anatomy, a true physiology. And then you will acquire the inner intuition that can perceive in how far the upper and lower jaws are limbs; for you will begin to see in the head a complete organism in itself, sitting up there on the top of the human being, an organism whose limbs are dwarfed and have — in the process of deformation — turned into jaws. And you will come to a clear perception of how teeth and toes are in polarity to one another. For you have only to look at the attachments of the jawbones, and you can see it all there before you — the stunted toes, the stunted hands and feet.

But, my dear friends, meditation that employs such pictures as I have been giving can never take its course in the kind of mood that would allow us to feel: Now I am going to settle down to a blissful time of meditation; it will be like sinking into a snug, warm nest! No, the feeling must be continually present in us that we are taking the plunge into reality — that we are grasping hold of reality.

Devotion to little things — yes, to the very smallest of all! We must not omit to cultivate this interest in very little things. The tip of the ear, the paring of a fingernail, a single human hair — should be every bit as interesting to us as Saturn, Sun, and Moon. For really and truly in one human hair everything else is comprised; a person who becomes bald loses a whole cosmos! What we see externally — we can verily create it inwardly, if only we achieve that overcoming which is essential to a life of meditation. But we shall never achieve it so long as any vestige of vanity is allowed to remain — and vestiges of vanity lurk in every corner and crevice of the soul. Therefore is it so urgent ... that you should cultivate, with the utmost humility, this devotion in the matter of little things. And when you have made a beginning in this way in your own sphere, you can afterwards go on to awaken in other circles of the Youth Movement this same devotion to little things....

That is what you need — enthusiasm in the experience of truth. This enthusiasm is an absolute sine qua non: you cannot get on without it.... Why, you should be leading lives of joy — deep inner joy in the truth! There is nothing in the world more delightful, nothing more fascinating, than the experience of truth. There you have an esotericism that is far more genuine, far more significant, than the esotericism that goes about with a long face. Before everything else — and long before you begin to talk about having a “mission” — there must be this living inner experience of truth.

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