The World of the Senses and the World of the Spirit. Lecture 2 of 6
Rudolf Steiner, December 28, 1911:
Yesterday we were considering the successive moods of soul that have to be attained if human thinking — if what is ordinarily called knowledge — is to enter the realm of reality, and we came to a condition of soul that we named surrender. In other words, a thinking that has risen to the conditions of soul we described before — a thinking, that is, which has become possessed of wonder, and has then learned what we called reverent devotion to the world of reality and finally what we called knowing oneself to be in wisdom-filled harmony with the phenomena of the world — if such a thinking be not able then to rise still further and enter the region we have described as a condition of surrender, it cannot come to reality. Now this surrender is only to be attained by making the resolute endeavor again and again to face for ourselves the inadequacy of mere thought. We have to take pains to stimulate and strengthen within us a mood that may be expressed as follows. It must be as though we were constantly saying to ourselves: I ought not to expect that my thinking can give me knowledge of the truth, I ought rather solely to expect of my thinking that it shall educate me. It is of the utmost importance that we should develop in us this idea, namely, that our thinking educates us. If you will really take this point of view as a practical rule of life you will find that there are many occasions when you are led to quite different conclusions from those that seem at first sight to be inevitable.
I daresay there are not many of you who have made a thorough study of the philosopher Kant. It is not necessary. I only want here to refer to the fact that in Kant's most important and revolutionary work, “The Critique of Pure Reason,” you will always find proofs adduced both for and against a proposition in question. Take, for example, a statement such as the following. “The world once had a beginning in time.” You will find that Kant puts, perhaps on the other side of the same page, the statement: “The world has always existed, from all eternity.” And then he proceeds to adduce valid proofs for both statements, notwithstanding that the one obviously expresses the very opposite of the other. That is to say, Kant proves in the same manner that the world has had a beginning and that it has had no beginning. He calls this method of reasoning “Antinomy” and thinks it is itself an evidence that the human faculty of knowledge has boundaries, seeing that man is forced thereby to arrive at contradictory conclusions. And, of course he is right, so long as one expects by thinking to come to conformity with some objective reality. So long as we give ourselves up to the belief that by thinking or by the elaboration of concepts or, let us say, by the elaboration in thought of experiences we have in the world, we can come to reality, so long are we indeed in desperate case, if someone comes forward and shows us that a particular statement and its exact opposite can equally well be proved. For if this is so, how are we ever to arrive at Truth? If, however, we have learned that where the situation demands a decisive pronouncement, thinking can come to no conclusion about reality, if we have persistently educated ourselves instead to look upon thinking as a means to become wiser, as a means to take in hand our own self-education in wisdom, then it does not disturb us at all that at one time one thing can be proved and at another time its opposite can be proved. For we very soon make the following discovery. The fact that the elaboration of concepts does not, so to say, expose us in the least to the onset of reality is the very reason why we are able to work with perfect freedom within the sphere of concepts and ideas and to carry on our own self-education by this means. If we were perpetually being corrected by reality, then the elaboration of concepts would not afford us a means of educating ourselves in this manner in perfect freedom. I would like to ask you to give careful consideration to this fact. Let me repeat it. The elaboration of concepts affords us a means of effective and independent self-education, and it can only do so because we are never disturbed in the free elaboration of concepts by the interference of reality.
What do I mean when I say we are not disturbed? What sort of disturbance could reality make in the free elaboration of concepts? We can picture to ourselves a little what such a disturbance would be like if we contrast — purely hypothetically for the moment, though, as we shall see later, it does not need to remain entirely in the realm of hypothesis — our human thinking with divine thinking. For we can say, can we not, that it is impossible to conceive of divine thinking as having nothing to do with reality. When we try to picture the thinking of the Gods, we can only conceive of it — still speaking for the moment purely hypothetically — as intervening in reality, as influencing reality. And this leads inevitably to the following conclusion. When a human being makes a mistake in his thinking, then it is a mere logical mistake, it is nothing worse. And when, later on, he comes to see that he has made a mistake he can correct it; and he will at the same time have accomplished something for his self-education, he will have grown wiser. But now take the case of divine thinking. When divine thinking thinks correctly, then something happens; and when it thinks falsely, then something is destroyed, something is annihilated. So that if we had a divine thinking, then with every false concept we should call forth a destructive process, first of all in our astral body, then in our etheric body, and thence also in our physical body. If we had active divine thinking, if our thinking had something to do with reality, then a false concept would have the result that we should, as it were, stimulate inside us a drying up process in some part or other of our body, a hardening process. You will agree, it would be important to make as few mistakes as possible; for it might not be long before we had made so many mistakes that our body would have become quite dried up and would fall to pieces. We should, in fact, soon find it crumble away if we transformed into reality the mistakes in our thinking. We actually only maintain ourselves in real existence through the fact that our thinking does not work into reality, but that we are protected from the penetration of our thinking into reality. Thus we can make mistake after mistake in our thinking. If later we correct these mistakes we have thereby educated ourselves, we have grown wiser, and we have not at the same time committed devastation with our mistakes. As we strengthen ourselves more and more with the moral force of such a thought as this we learn to know the nature of the “surrender” of which I spoke and we come at last to a point where we do not at critical moments of life turn to thinking, in the hope to gain knowledge and understanding of external things.
That sounds strange, I know, and at first sight it seems as though it would be quite impossible. How can we refuse to have recourse to thinking? And yet, although it is impossible to take such a line absolutely, we can take it under certain conditions. Constituted as we are as human beings in the world, we cannot on every occasion suspend judgment on the things of the world. We have to judge and form opinions — we shall see in the course of these lectures why that is so — we have to act in life and cannot always wait to penetrate to the depths of reality. We must judge — but we should educate ourselves to exercise caution in accepting as finally true the judgments and opinions we form. We should, as it were, be continually looking over our own shoulder and reminding ourselves that where we are applying our keenest intellect, just there we are treading on very uncertain ground and are perpetually liable to make mistakes. That is a hard saying for cocksure people! They think they will never get anywhere at all if they are to doubt whether the opinion they form on some event is conclusive. Observe a little and you will see that very many people, when some statement is made, think it necessary at once to say: “But what I think is this” — or when they see something, to say: “I don't like that!” or “I like it!” This kind of attitude must be given up by anyone who does not rest content to go through life with easy self-assurance; it must be given up if we want to set the course of our inner life in the direction of reality. What we have to do is to cultivate an attitude of mind which may be characterized in the following words: “Obviously I have, of course, to live my life, and this means I must form judgments and conclusions. I will, therefore, employ my power of judgment in so far as the practice of life makes this necessary, but I will not use it for the recognition of truth. For that I will be for ever looking cautiously over my shoulder, I will always receive with some degree of doubt every judgment that I happen to make.”
But how are we then to arrive at any thought about truth, if not by forming judgments in the ordinary way? We have already indicated yesterday the right attitude of mind, when we said that we ought to let the things speak, let the things themselves tell their secrets. We have to learn to adopt a passive attitude to the things of the world, and let them speak out their own secrets. A great deal of error would be avoided if men would do this. We have a wonderful example in Goethe, who, when he wants to investigate truth, does not allow himself to judge but tries to let the things themselves utter their own secrets. Let us suppose we have two men, one who judges and the other who lets the things tell their own secrets. We will select a very clear and simple example. One man sees a wolf and describes it. He finds that there are other animals besides which look like this wolf, and he arrives in this manner at the general concept “wolf.” And now he can go on to form the following conclusion. He can say to himself: In reality there are many individual wolves; the general concept of “wolf” which I make in my mind, wolf as such, does not exist; only individual wolves exist in the world. Such a man will easily state it as his opinion that we have really only to do with individual wolf beings, and the general concept of wolf which one holds as an idea is not anything real. There you have a striking example of a man who merely judges and forms opinions. This is the kind of conclusion he develops. And how about the man, on the other hand, who lets reality speak for itself? How will he think of that invisible quality of wolf which is to be found in every single wolf and which characterizes all wolves alike? He will look at it in this way. He will say to himself: Let me consider a lamb and compare it with a wolf. I am not going to formulate any judgment on the matter, I am simply going to let the facts speak. And now, let us imagine this man has the opportunity to see with his own eyes how the wolf eats up the lamb. He sees the event take place before him. Then he would have to say to himself: “The substance which before was running about as lamb is now inside the wolf, it has been absorbed into the wolf.” It needs no more than the perception of this fact to see how real the wolf nature is! For if we were to rely on what we can follow with our external senses we might easily be led to the conclusion that if a wolf were deprived of all other food and were to eat nothing but lamb he must gradually — for the metabolism that goes on inside him will produce this result — he must gradually come to have in him nothing but lamb substance. As a matter of fact, however, he never becomes a lamb, he remains always a wolf. That shows quite unmistakably, if one judges the matter rightly, that the material part of the wolf has been quite erroneously assumed to constitute “wolf” as such. When we let ourselves be taught by the external world of facts, then it shows us that besides what we have before us as material substance in the wolf there is something else, something we cannot see and that yet is real in the highest degree. And this it is which brings it about that when the wolf eats nothing but lamb he does not become lamb but remains wolf. All of him that is merely perceptible to the senses has come from lambs.
It is difficult sometimes to draw a sharp line of demarcation between judging and letting ourselves be taught by reality. When, however, the difference has once been grasped and when judgment is only employed for the ends of practical life, while for an approach to reality the attitude is taken of allowing ourselves to be taught by the things of the world, then we gradually arrive at a mood of soul which can reveal to us the true meaning of “surrender.” Surrender is a state of mind which does not seek to investigate truth from out of itself, but which looks for truth to come from the revelation that flows out of the things, and can wait until it is ripe to receive the revelation. An inclination to judge or form opinions wants to be continually arriving at truth at every step; surrender, on the other hand, does not set out to force an entrance, as it were, into this or that truth; rather do we seek to educate ourselves and then quietly wait until we attain to that stage of maturity where the truth flows to us from the things of the world, coming to us in revelation and filling our whole being. To work with patience, knowing that patience will bring us further and further in wise self-education — that is the mood of surrender.
And now we must go on to consider the fruits of this surrender. What do we attain when we have gone forward with our thinking from wonder to reverence, thence to feeling oneself in wisdom-filled harmony with reality, and finally to the attitude of surrender — what do we attain? We come at last to this. As we go about the world and observe the plants in all their greenness and admire the changing colors of their blossoms, or as we contemplate the sky in its blueness and the stars with their golden brilliance — not forming judgments but letting the things themselves reveal to us what they are — then if we have really succeeded in learning this “surrender,” all things in the world of sense become changed for us, and something is revealed to us in the world of the senses for which we can find no other word than a word taken from our own soul life.
Let us suppose that a man who has developed this feeling, this attitude of surrender, in a rather high degree, looks out over the fresh bright green of a meadow. At first sight he cannot distinguish the colors of any individual plants; the whole presents a general appearance of fresh green. Such a man, if he has really brought the attitude of surrender to a high degree of development, will perforce feel within him at the sight of the meadow an inner sense of balance; he cannot help being moved to feel this mood of balance — a balance that is not dead but quick with life: we might compare it to a gentle and even flow of water. He cannot help but conjure up this picture before his soul. And it is the same with every taste, every smell, and every sense-perception; they inevitably call up in his soul a feeling of inner movement and activity. There is no color and no tone that does not speak to him; everything says something, and says it in such a way that he feels bound to give answer with inner movement and activity — not with judgment or opinion but with movement, active, living movement. In short, a time comes for such a man when the whole world of the senses flings off, as it were, its disguise and reveals itself to him as something he cannot describe with any other word than will. Everything in the world of the senses is will — strong and powerful currents of will. I want you to mark this particularly. The man who has attained in any high degree to surrender discovers everywhere in the world of the senses ruling will. Hence it is that a man who has developed in himself even a small measure of this quality of surrender feels pain if he suddenly sees a person coming towards him wearing some startling new fashion of color. He cannot help experiencing this inner movement and activity in response to what approaches him from outside; he is sensible of will in everything and he feels united with the whole world through this will. The world of the senses thus becomes, as it were, a sea of infinitely differentiated will. And this means that while otherwise we only feel it as spread out around us, this world of the senses begins to have for us a certain thickness or depth. We begin to look behind the surface of things, we begin to hear behind the surface of things — and what we see and hear is will, flowing will. For the interest of those who have read Schopenhauer I will here remark that Schopenhauer divined this ruling will in a one-sided way in the world of sound; he described music as differentiated workings of will. But the truth is that for the man who has learned surrender, everything in the world of the senses is Ruling Will.
And now when a man has learned to detect everywhere in the world of the senses this ruling will he can go further, he can penetrate to secrets that lie hidden behind the world of the senses and that are otherwise inaccessible to him.
If we would understand aright the nature of the next step we must ask ourselves the question: How is it we gain any knowledge at all of the sense world? The answer is simple: By means of our senses. By means of the ear we acquire knowledge of the world of sound, by means of the eye knowledge of the world of color and form, and so on. We know the sense world through the medium of our sense organs. A man who confronts this world of the senses in an ordinary everyday manner receives impressions of it and then forms his judgments. The man who has learned surrender receives impressions in the first place through his senses; and then he feels how there streams across to him from the objects active, ruling will; he feels as if he were swimming, together with the objects, in a sea of ruling will. And when a man has come to this point and feels the presence and sway of will in the objects before him, then his own evolution drives him on of itself to the next higher stage. For then, having experienced all the previous stages leading up to surrender — the stages we have called feeling oneself in harmony with the wisdom of the world, and before that reverence, and before that wonder — then, through the penetration of these conditions into the last-gained condition of surrender, he learns how to grow together with the objects with his etheric body also, which stands behind the physical body. He grows together with the objects with his physical body, that is with his sense organs, in the active ruling will. When we see, hear, smell, etc., then as men of surrender we feel the ruling will streaming into us through our eyes and ears, we feel ourselves in true correspondence with the objects. But behind the physical eye is the etheric body of the eye, and behind the physical ear is the etheric body of the ear. We are filled through and through with our etheric body. And just as the physical body grows together with the objects of the sense world when man penetrates to the ruling active will, so too can the etheric body.
And when this takes place man finds that he has an altogether new way of beholding the world. The world has undergone a still greater change for him than was the case when he penetrated through sense appearance to the ruling will. When our etheric body grows together with the objects of the world, then we have the impression that we cannot let these objects remain as they are in our ideas and in our conceptions and thoughts. They change for us as soon as we come into relation with them.
Suppose a man who has already experienced the mood of surrender in his soul is looking at a green leaf, full of sap. He turns the eye of his soul upon the object before him, and at once he finds he cannot leave it as it is, this juicy green leaf; the moment he beholds it he feels that it grows out beyond itself, he feels how it has in it the possibility to become something quite different. You know that a green leaf, as it grows gradually higher and higher up in the plant, turns at last into the colored flower-leaf or petal. The whole plant is really no more than a transformed leaf. You may learn this from Goethe's researches into nature. So when the student beholds the leaf he sees that it is not yet finished, that it is trying to grow out beyond itself; he sees, in short, more than the green leaf gives him. The green leaf stimulates him to feel within him something of a budding and sprouting life. Thus he grows together — quite literally — with the green leaf, feeling in himself, too, a budding and a sprouting of life.
But now suppose he is looking at the dry and withered bark of a tree. If he is to grow together with that he cannot do otherwise than be overcome with a feeling of death. In the withered bark he sees — not more, but less than is there in reality. If anyone looks at the bark from the point of view of external appearance alone he can admire it, it can give him pleasure; in any case he does not see in the dead bark something that shrivels him, piercing him, as it were, in the soul and filling it with thoughts of death.
There is nothing in the whole world that does not, when the etheric body grows together with it, give rise to feelings either of growing, sprouting, becoming, or of decaying and passing away. Everything shows itself in one or other aspect. Suppose, for example, a man who has attained to surrender and has then progressed a further step turns his attention to the human larynx. He will have a strange impression. The larynx will appear to him to be an organ that is quite in the beginning of its evolution and has a great future before it. From what the larynx itself tells, he will feel that it is like a seed, not at all like a fruit or like a withered object, but like a seed. He knows quite clearly from what the larynx itself brings to expression that a time must come in human evolution when the larynx will be completely transformed, when it will be of such a nature that whereas now man only utters the word, he will one day give birth to man. The larynx is the future organ of birth, the future organ of procreation. Now man brings forth the word by means of the larynx, but the larynx is the seed that will in future times develop to bring forth the whole human being — that is, when man is spiritualized. The larynx expresses this quite directly when one lets it tell what it is. Other organs of the human body show us that they have long ago passed their zenith, and we see that they will in future times be no longer present in the human organism.
Such a vision is compelled to behold everywhere on the one hand a growing, a coming into being, and on the other hand a dying away. It sees both as processes going on into the future. Budding, sprouting life — death and decay; those are the two things that we find intermingled with one another all around us when we attain to this union of our etheric body with the world of reality. In connection with this power of vision man has to undergo, when he is a little further on, a very hard test. For with each single being that he meets and that makes itself known to him he will always find that while some parts of the being arouse in him the feeling of budding and sprouting life, other contents or parts give him the feeling of death. Everything that we see behind the world of the senses makes itself known to us as proceeding from one or other of these two fundamental forces. In occultism what we behold in this way is called the world of coming into existence and of passing away. And so, when we confront the world of the senses we are looking into the world of arising and passing away, and what lies behind is Ruling Wisdom.
Behind Will is Wisdom! I say expressly ruling wisdom, for the wisdom man brings into his ideas is as a rule not active at all, but a wisdom that is merely thought. The wisdom man acquires when he looks behind the active will is united with the objects; and in the kingdom of objective things wherever wisdom rules it does really rule, and the effects of its working find actual expression. When it, so to speak, withdraws from reality, then begins the dying process; where it flows into reality, there you find a coming into existence, there you find budding, sprouting life. We can mark off these worlds in the following way (see diagram). We look at the sense world and we see it first as A, and then we look at B which is behind the sense world — the world of ruling wisdom. From out of this world is taken the substance of our own etheric body: what we behold outside us as ruling wisdom — that we behold, too, in our etheric body. And in our physical body we behold not merely what sense appearance shows, but also ruling will, for everywhere in the sense world we see ruling will.
Yes, the strange thing is that if we have attained to surrender, then when we meet another man and look at him, his color, whether it be inclined to red or yellow or green, does not seem to us merely red or yellow or green, but we grow together for example with the rosy-cheekedness of his countenance. We feel the ruling will there, and all that lives and weaves in him as it were shoots across to us through the medium of the color in his cheeks. People who are naturally inclined to observe and note rosy cheeks will say that a rosy-cheeked person is alone healthy. We approach our fellow-man in such a way as to see in him the ruling will. And we may now say, turning to our diagram, that our physical body, which we will denote by this circle here, is taken from the world A, the world of ruling will. Our etheric body, on the other hand, which I will denote with this second circle, is taken from the world of ruling wisdom, the world B. Here you have, then, the connection between the world of ruling wisdom that is spread around us and our own etheric body — and the world of ruling will that is spread around us and our own physical body. Now in ordinary life man does not know of these connections, the power to do so is taken from him. The connections are there all the time, but they are, as it were, withheld from man; he can have no influence upon them. How is this?
As a matter of fact there are opportunities in life where our thoughts and whatever we develop in the way of judgments and opinions are not so harmless for our own reality as they are in everyday existence. In the ordinary everyday waking condition, good gods have seen to it that our thoughts have not too bad an influence on our own reality; they have withheld from us the power our thoughts might otherwise exercise upon our physical body and etheric body; and it would really go very badly with us in the world if it were not so. If thoughts — let me emphasize once more — were to signify in the world of man what the thoughts of the gods do in reality signify, then man would evoke inside him with every error in thought a slight death process, and little by little he would be quite dried up. And as for an untruth! If with every lie he told man had to burn up the corresponding bit of his brain — as would have to happen if man had power to work into the world of reality — then we should soon see how long his brain lasted! Good gods have withheld from our soul the power over our etheric body and physical body. But that cannot be so all the time. For were we never to exercise any influence from our soul upon our physical and etheric body then we should quickly come to an end of the forces that are in these bodies; we should have a very short life. For in our soul, as we shall see in the course of these lectures, are contained the forces that must flow ever and again into the physical and etheric body, the forces we need in our etheric body. This inflow of forces takes place at night when we are asleep. In the night there flow to us from the universe, coming to us by way of our ego and astral body, the currents that we need to dispel fatigue. There you have in actual fact the living connection between the worlds of will and of wisdom and the physical and etheric bodies of man. For into these worlds vanish during sleep the astral body and ego. They enter into these worlds and build there centers of attraction for substances which have then to flow out of the world of wisdom into the etheric body and out of the world of will into the physical body. This must go on in the night. For if man were present in his consciousness, this instreaming could not happen rightly. If ordinary man were conscious during sleep, if he were present with all his errors and vices, with all the bad things he has done in the world, then this would create a strange apparatus of attraction in those other worlds for the forces that are to stream in. Then tremendous disturbances would be set up in the physical and etheric bodies by the forces man's ego and astral body would send into them out of the world of ruling wisdom and the world of ruling will.
Therefore have good gods made provision that we cannot be present when the right forces must stream into our physical and etheric body by night. For the good gods have dulled the consciousness of man during sleep, that he may not be able to spoil what he undoubtedly would spoil by his thoughts were he conscious. It is on this account that we have to undergo great pain when we are on the path of knowledge and are making the ascent into the higher worlds; if we are in real earnest it must necessarily bring us great pain. You will find in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment a description of how the life of man by night, the sleeping life, is, so to speak, made use of, to help man to rise from the world of external reality into higher worlds. When man begins from out of the world of Imagination to light up his sleep consciousness, when he begins to lighten it with knowledge and experiences, then it is important for him to make sure that he himself gets out of the way and so shuts out of his consciousness all that might cause disturbance to his physical and etheric bodies. It is an absolute necessity, in making the ascent into higher worlds to get to know oneself thoroughly and exactly. When we really know ourselves we cease as a rule to love ourselves. Self-love comes to an end when we begin to have self-knowledge; and this self-love — which is always present in a man who has not attained to self-knowledge, for it is an illusion to imagine we do not love ourselves; we love ourselves more than anything else in the world — this self-love must have been overcome if we are to be able to shut ourselves out of our consciousness. We must, in actual fact, come to the point where we say to ourselves: As I am now, I must eliminate myself. We have already gone a long way in this direction in that we have attained to self-surrender. But we must now not love ourselves at all. We must have the possibility at every moment to feel: I must put myself right on one side; for if I do not shut out completely all those things in me that otherwise I quite like to feel in me, errors, trivialities, prejudices sympathies, antipathies — if I do not put these right away then my ascent into higher worlds cannot be made aright.
Because of these errors, disturbing forces will mix with the inflowing stream from higher worlds that has to enter into me to make clairvoyance possible. And these forces will stream into my physical and etheric bodies, and as many as are the errors, etc., so many will be the disturbing processes set up. As long as we are not conscious in sleep, as long as we are not capable of rising into the world of clairvoyance, so long do good gods protect us and not let these currents from the world of will and the world of wisdom flow into our physical and etheric bodies. But when we carry up our consciousness into the world of clairvoyance, then no gods are protecting us — for the protection they give consists in the very fact that they take away our consciousness — then we must ourselves lay aside all prejudice, all sympathy, all antipathy, etc. All these things we must put right away from us; for if we have anything left of self-love, or of desires that cling to the personal in us, or if we are still capable of making any judgment on personal grounds, then all such things can work harm to our health — namely, to our physical body and etheric body — when we follow the path of development into higher worlds.
It is exceedingly important that we should be clear about these things. And it is easy to perceive the significance of the fact that in ordinary day life man is deprived of all influence upon his physical and etheric body; his thoughts, in the manner in which he grasps them when he is within these bodies have nothing whatever to do with reality, they are quite ineffective and consequently unable to form any judgment about what is real. By night they would be able to do so. Every false thought would work destructively on the physical and etheric bodies. If we were conscious in the night we should see before us what I have just been describing to you. The world of the senses would appear to us as a sea of ruling will, and behind it would appear the wisdom — the wisdom that builds the world, beating through this will, as it were lashing it up and down into great waves, and with every beat of the waves evoking continually processes of coming into existence and of passing away, processes of birth and of death. That is the true world, into which we have ultimately to look, the world of ruling will and the world of ruling wisdom, and the latter is also the world of perpetual births and perpetual deaths. That is the world that is our world, and it is of immense importance for us to recognize it. For if we once recognize it we begin to discover in very truth a means for attaining to a greater and greater height of surrender; because we feel ourselves interwoven in perpetual births and perpetual deaths, and we know that with every deed we do we connect ourselves in some way with a coming into existence or with a passing away. And “good” will begin to be for us not merely something of which we say: That is good, I like it, it fills me with sympathy. No, we begin to know that the good is something that is creative in the World-All, something that always and everywhere belongs to the world that is arising and coming into being. And of the “bad” we begin to feel how it shows itself everywhere as an outpouring of a process of death and decay.
And here we shall have made an important transition to a new world-conception, where one will not be able to think of evil in any other way than as the destroying angel of death, who goes striding through the world, nor of good in any other way than as the creator of continual cosmic births, in great and small. And it is for Spiritual Science to awaken in man a sense of how through this spiritual world-conception he can deepen his whole outlook on life, as he begins to feel that the world of good and the world of bad are not merely as they appear to us in external maya, where we stand before them with our power of judgment and find only that the one is pleasing to us and the other displeasing; no, the world of good is the creative world, and the bad is the destroying angel who goes through the world with his scythe. And with every bad thing we do we become a helper of the destroying angel, we ourselves take his scythe and share in the processes of death and decay.
The ideas that we receive from a spiritual foundation have a strengthening influence upon our whole outlook on life. This strength is what men should now be receiving that they may carry it into the evolution of the future; for indeed they will need it. Hitherto good gods have taken care of man, but now the time has come in our fifth Post-Atlantean epoch when destiny, and good and evil, will more and more be given over into his own hands. Therefore it is necessary to know what good and evil mean, and to recognize them in the world — the one as a creative and the other as a death-dealing principle.
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