Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Receiving the grace of the Holy Spirit. Anthroposophy: the cure for our materialistic times

Building Stones for an Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha.
Lecture 5 of 17.
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, March 6, 1917:

I have told you of the three meetings which the soul must go through in its life between birth and death, and which even while still in that life, bring it into touch with the Spiritual worlds. Today let us return to this subject, which on the last occasion was touched on in a preparatory way, as an episode, so to speak. We shall now go into it more minutely.
We noted that man in the middle of the intermediary state between sleeping and waking, has, as a rule, his meeting with the world which is related to our spirit self. (I say as a rule, because I am alluding to the normal sleep, at night.) He then meets with the world in which we place the beings of that Hierarchy which we designate as that of the Angels. Thus every time we pass through sleep, we pass in a sense, through that world in which these beings dwell; through the world which is nearest to our own physical world, reckoning upwards. Through this meeting we refresh and strengthen our whole spiritual being. Because this is so, because in the state of sleep man is in relation with the spiritual world, no merely materialistic explanation of sleep, such as is put forward by external science, can ever be satisfactory. Much of what goes on in man can be explained by the changes that take place in the body between waking up and going to sleep; we may try to explain sleep itself by means of these same changes; yet any such explanation must always prove unsatisfactory, for the reason that in sleep the afore-mentioned meeting takes place, and man enters into relation with the spiritual world; that makes the whole difference. Thus it is just when we consider the state of sleep that we can see that man, unless he consciously seeks a relation to the spiritual world, only arrives at half-true concepts and ideas, which indeed, because they change into life-falsify it, and at last actually bring about great catastrophe. These half-true concepts are indeed in some respects even worse than those which are quite false ones, for those who form the partly-true concepts and ideas rely upon them; they are able to prove them, for, being partly true they can be proved. An attempt to disprove them would bring no further illumination, for these ideas are, after all, partly true! Such concepts really falsify life even more than do the entirely wrong ones, which we can immediately recognise as false. One of these half -true concepts which external science today is to some extent giving up, though it is in a great measure still believed, is the idea I have often alluded to before, that we sleep because we are tired. We may say that this concept is only half-true, and is the result of a half-true observation. People think that the day's life tires out the body and because we are tired we must sleep! I have often, in former lectures, called attention to the fact that this concept does not explain how it is that people of independent means, who do no work at all, often fall asleep when the most stirring things relating to the outer world, are being discussed. It cannot be proved that these persons are tired out and therefore in -need of sleep. It is absolutely incorrect. If we believe that we are compelled to sleep by fatigue, we are only half-observing. We only notice that this is so when we compare the observations made on the one side, with what can be observed on the other, when we come in contact with the other half of the truth. You will presently see what I mean.
Sleeping and waking in individual human life follow each other in rhythmic succession, yet man is a free being, and can consequently interfere with this rhythm (this he does more by reason of circumstance than from what may be called freewill; but the circumstances are the bases of free life). Another rhythm which we have often placed in the same order as sleeping and waking, is that of the seasons of the year; the alternation of summer and winter (leaving the intermediate seasons out of account), but the ordinary consciousness does not connect them aright. It will occur to no one to say that because the earth is hard at work during the summer, unfolding the forces leading to the growth of plants and to much else besides, that thereby it grows tired and needs the rest of winter. Everyone would consider such an idea absurd and would say that the setting in of winter has nothing whatever to do with the summer-work of the earth, but is caused by the changed position of the sun in relation to the Earth. In this case everything is supposed to be brought about from without; in sleeping and waking it all comes from fatigue, from within. Now the one is just as incorrect as the other, or rather the one is only partly true and so is the other — for the rhythm of sleeping and waking is just the same kind of rhythm as that of winter and summer. There is just as little truth in saying that we only sleep because we are tired, as in saying that winter comes because the earth has exhausted herself in summer. Both these statements rest on the independent working of a rhythm, brought about by certain circumstances. The rhythm between sleeping and waking comes about because the human soul has need of the continually recurring meeting with the spiritual world. If we were to say we want to sleep and consequently feel tired, if we were to say that we enter the state in which we have need of one part of the rhythm, that of sleep, and consequently feel tired, we should be speaking more correctly than when we say that because we are tired, we must sleep. This whole question will become still clearer to us, if we simply ask: ‘What then does the soul do when it sleeps?’ The non-spiritual science of today has not the requisite understanding and cannot reply properly to such a question. You see, while we are awake, we enjoy the external world and the enjoyment of this lasts our whole life through. We do not merely enjoy the outer world when we convey good food to our palate, which is the sense in which we generally speak of ‘enjoyment’ because it is here directly applicable, but the whole time we are awake we enjoy the outer world; all life is enjoyment. Although there is much that is unpleasant in the world, much that is apparently no enjoyment, this is only an illusion, of which we shall speak in the subsequent lectures in other connections. In our waking state we enjoy the external world; in sleep we enjoy ourselves. Just as when we with our souls are in the body and through the latter enjoy the external world, so when we with our souls are outside our body, for in the life between birth and death we are still connected with the body: even when outside it — we then enjoy our body. The condition of sleep, of normal sleep, consists essentially in our having a deeper experience of our body, so that we enjoy it. We enjoy our body from outside. The right interpretation of dreams, of the ordinary chaotic dreams, is that they are the reflection of the enjoyment of his body which a man has in dreamless sleep.
You see this explanation of sleep is approximately that of the need of sleep felt by the man of independent means, of which I have already spoken. We cannot easily believe that he is really tired; but we can very readily believe that he may be so fond of his body that he would rather enjoy that than what often comes to him from the external world. He really loves it so much and is so fond of enjoying it, that he may even prefer that to listening to a lecture, let us say, which he is perhaps ashamed not to attend. Or perhaps a better example would be to say he would rather enjoy his body than listen to a difficult piece of classical music which sends him to sleep at once, if he is compelled to listen to it — sleep is self-enjoyment.
Now, as in sleep, in normal sleep, we have the meeting with the spiritual world, our sleep does not therefore consist merely of self-enjoyment, it is also self-understanding, to a certain degree self-understanding, a sizing-up of oneself. In this respect our spiritual training is really needed, so that people may learn to realise that in normal sleep they actually plunge down into the spirit and emerge from it when they wake up; it is necessary that they should learn to feel reverence for this meeting with the spirit.
Now, in order that we may not fail to understand completely, I will return once more to the so-called enigma of fatigue; for the commonplace consciousness may very likely lay hold of this point. It may say: Well, but we do really feel tired, and when we are tired we feel sleepy. This is a point which demands that a really clear distinction should be made. Certainly we do get tired with the day's work and while we sleep we are able to get over our fatigue. This part of the question is true: we are able to drive away fatigue by going to sleep. Yet sleep is not a result of the fatigue, but consists in the enjoyment we feel in ourselves. In this self-enjoyment, man acquires the forces through which he is able to drive away fatigue, but it does not follow that all sleep can do so; for while it is true that all sleep is enjoyment of self, yet it is not true that all sleep drives away fatigue. For a man who sleeps unnecessarily, who goes to sleep at every opportunity without any need for it, may just as well bring about a sleep in which there is no fatigue to be driven away, in which there is nothing but the enjoyment of self. In this kind of sleep, a man will certainly strive the whole time to drive away fatigue, because he is accustomed to do so while asleep; but if there is no fatigue, as in the case of the well-to-do man who falls asleep at a concert, he will simply keep on sweeping out his body, as he would do if the fatigue were there. If there is no fatigue, he goes on sweeping out unnecessarily, with the consequence that he sets up all kinds of bad conditions in his body. That is why these well-to-do men who sleep so much are the most troubled with all those fine things known as neurasthenia, and the like.
Through connection with spiritual knowledge, one may conceive a condition in which a man will be conscious of the following: ‘I am living in a state of rhythm, in which I am alternately in the physical world and in the spiritual world. In the physical world I meet with the external physical nature; in the spiritual world I meet with the beings who inhabit that world.’
We shall be able fully to understand this matter if we enter somewhat more deeply into the whole nature of man, from a particular point of view. You know that it is customary to consider the external science known as biology as a unity, necessarily divided into the head, breast, and lower part with the members attached thereto. In the olden times when man still possessed an atavistic knowledge, he connected other ideas with this division of the human being. The great Greek philosopher, Plato, attributes wisdom to the head, courage to the breast; and the lower emotions of human nature to the lower part of the body. What pertains to the breast-part of man can be ennobled when wisdom is added to courage, becoming a wise courage, a wise activity; and that which is considered the lower part of man, which belongs to the lower parts of his body, if it be rayed through with wisdom, that Plato calls ‘clothed with the sun.’ Thus we see how the soul is divided and attributed to the different parts of the body. Today, we, who have Spiritual Science, which to Plato was not attainable in like manner, speak of these things in much fuller detail. In speaking of the four-fold division of man, we begin at the top by speaking of his ‘I,’ his ego. All that a man can call his own in the soul and spirit sense in his physical life between birth and death, works through the instrument of the physical body; and we can ask concerning each of the four principles of man: with which part of his body is each physically connected A real and sufficiently penetrating spiritual observation shows us that what we call the ego of man — strange as it may seem, for the truth is often very different from what the superficial consciousness supposes — strange as it may seem, the ego of man is between birth and death, physically connected with what we call the lower part of the body. For the ego, as I have often said, is really a baby as compared to the other parts of man's nature; the germ of the physical body was already laid down in the Old Saturn epoch, the germ of the etheric body during the Old Sun, and that of the astral body during the Old Moon; but the ego was only laid down in our own earth-period; it is the youngest member of man's being. It will only attain the stage at which our physical body now stands, in the far-distant era of Vulcan. The ego is attached to the lowest bodily part of man, and this part is really always asleep. It is not so organised that it can bring to consciousness what takes place within it; what takes place there is, even in the normal waking periods, ceaselessly asleep. We are just as little conscious of our ego as such, in its reality, in its true being, as we are of the processes of our digestion. The ego of which we are conscious is but a reflex conception, the image of which is reflected into our head. We never really see or realise our ego, whether in sleep, when in normal conditions we are quite without consciousness, or in our waking state; for the ego is then also asleep. The true ego does not itself enter our consciousness, nothing but t a the concept of the ego is reflected therein. On the other hand, between sleeping and waking, the ego really comes to itself; only a man in normal deep sleep knows nothing of it, being himself still unconscious in this his deep sleep during the earth-period. Thus the ego is in reality connected with the lowest bodily part of man; during the day, in the waking time, it is connected therewith from within; and during sleep from without.
If we now pass on to the second principle in man's nature, to what we call the astral body, we find that as regards the instrument through which it works, it is, from a certain point of view, connected with the breast-part of man. Of all that goes on in this astral body working through the breast-part, we can, in reality, only dream. As earth-man we can only know something of the ego when we are asleep, consciously we know nothing. Of all that the astral body works in us, we can only dream. This is really why we dream constantly of our feelings, of the sentiments that live within us. They actually live a sort of dream-life within us. The ego of man is actually outside the region which we human beings, with our ordinary sense-consciousness, can grasp; for it is continuously asleep. The astral body is also in a certain respect outside that region too, for it can only dream. With respect to both these we are, in reality, whether asleep or awake, within the spiritual world; we are really and truly within that world.
What we know as the Etheric body, is, however, as far as the body is concerned, connected with the head. Through the peculiar Organisation of the head, the etheric body is able to be constantly awake when in the human body, when connected with the physical head. We may therefore say: The ego is connected with the lowest parts of our body; and the astral body with our breast-part. The heart — as to the workings of which we have no full consciousness, nothing but a dream-consciousness — beats and pulsates under the influence of the astral body. When the head thinks, it does so under the influence of the etheric body. We can then further differentiate our physical body, for in its entirety, it is connected with the whole external world.
We now see a remarkable connection: the ego is connected with the lowest parts of the body, the astral body with the heart; the etheric body with the head, the physical body with the whole outer world, with the environment. The whole physical body is really during the waking condition in constant connection with the outer environment. Just as we, with our whole body are in relation to the outer environment, so is our etheric body to our head, the astral body to the heart and so on. This will show you how really mysterious are the connections in which man lives in the world. In reality things are generally just the opposite to what the superficial consciousness may lightly suppose.
The lowest parts of man's nature are at present the least perfected forms of his being; hence these parts of the body, as such, correspond to what we have called the baby — our ego. Innumerable secrets of human-life lie concealed in what I am here referring to, secrets without number. If you go thoroughly into this subject you will understand above all, that the whole man is formed out of spirit, but at different stages. The head of man is formed out of spirit, but is more fully moulded, it belongs to a later stage of formation than the breast, of which indeed one might say, that it is just as much a metamorphosis of the head, as, in the sense of Goethe's theory of the metamorphoses of plants, the leaf is a metamorphosis of the flower. If we consider the rhythm between sleeping and waking from this point of view, we may say that the ego actually dwells during the waking time in all the activities in the human body, in all the lowest activities, which finally culminate in the formation of the blood. The ego is present in all these activities during the waking hours. These activities are those which are in a sense at the lowest stage of spirituality; for of course, everything connected with the body is spiritual. Now it must be carefully noted that while during the waking hours the ego stands at the lowest stage of spirituality, during the hours of sleep it stands with respect to man, at the highest stage. For consider the following: When we look at the head which we as human beings have today, that head is, as regards its outer form, the strongest manifestation of the spirit. It is the most representative of the spirit, its greatest manifestation; here the spirit has entered most deeply into matter. For that very reason there is here less left behind in the spirit itself. So much work has been spent by man on his head, to make its outer form a manifestation of the spiritual, that but little is left behind in the spirit. Whereas the lower members of the human bodily nature as regards their outer formation are the least spiritualised, have least been worked upon in a spiritual sense, there is on that account more of— what pertains to them left behind in the spiritual. The head, as head, least corresponds to the spiritual, for the reason that it has more spirit within it; the lower part of the body corresponds the most, because it has the least spirit within it. But in this greater portion of spirit which does not dwell within the bodily nature, the ego dwells during the hours of sleep.
Just reflect on this wonderful equalising process: while, as regards his body, man possesses a lower nature into which the ego immerses itself during the waking hours, this lower nature is only lower because the spirit has worked less upon it., because it kept back more of the spirit in the spiritual region. Yet in what it thus kept back, dwells the ego during sleep. During sleep, the ego is even now already present in that which man will only develop at a later epoch, which he will only then be able to develop and unfold. This at the present day is merely indicated and but little developed as yet in the bodily nature of man. Hence when the ego becomes conscious of the conditions in which it finds itself during sleep, when it really becomes conscious of this, it will be able to say to itself: ‘During sleep I am within that which is my holiest human predisposition; and when I come forth from sleep, I pass over from this holiest part of me, into that which gives but a faint indication of it.'
Through Spiritual Science such things as these must find their way into our feelings and inner sentiments, and live in them. Life itself will then become spiritualised by a magical breath of holiness. We shall then have a definite and positive idea of what is called the Grace of the Spirit, of the Holy Ghost. For we shall connect the realisation of this collective existence which runs its course in the rhythm between sleeping and waking, with the idea: ‘I am allowed to take part in the spiritual world, I am allowed to dwell in it.’ When we have once realised and felt this idea, this conception: ‘I am allowed to be within the spiritual world; grace is given me whereby I am permeated with the spiritual world, which is inaccessible to my ordinary earth-consciousness,’ — when we have thoroughly filled ourselves with that thought, we shall have also learnt to look up to the Spirit which reveals itself just as clearly, I might say, between the lines of life, as the outer world of nature reveals itself to our external eyes and ears. But the age of materialism has led man far from the consciousness of being rayed into and permeated in his whole collective existence by the Grace of the Spirit. It is of immense importance that this consciousness should be re-acquired: for the depths of our souls are more affected than we suppose by the general materialism prevalent in this age of ours. Yet the human soul is now as a rule too weak to be able to realise in itself those conceptions which could lift it out of and above materialism. One such conception is that of the holiness of sleep, which if once understood, we should then ascribe all those thoughts and conceptions in our waking life which do not connect us with matter, to that inward working of the spirit which follows upon sleep. We should not then look upon our waking state, which unites us with matter, as the only important thing to man, which would be like considering the winter as the important time for the earth; we should contemplate the whole. As regards the earth we contemplate it as a whole when we take the winter in connection with the summer; and as regards man, we contemplate him as a whole when we take the day, i.e., man in relation to matter — in connection with sleep, i.e., his relation to the spirit.
Now a superficial observation might lead one to say: ‘As man in his waking state is bound up with matter, he can know nothing of the spirit; yet he does know something of the spirit, even while awake.’ Now, man has a memory; and this memory does not only work in his consciousness, it also works subconsciously. If we had no memory, sleep could not help us at all. I want you to fix this fact very firmly in your minds, for it is very important. No matter how much we slept, if we had no memory it would not help us. For if we had no memory we should of necessity be led to believe that there was naught else but material existence. It is only because we preserve in our subconscious memory what we experience during sleep — although we may know nothing of it in our outer consciousness — only because we have a subconscious recollection of what we then go through, that we are not entirely given over to a materialistic mode of thinking. If man does not think merely materialistic thoughts, if he has any sort of spiritual ideas during the day, he owes it to the fact that his memory acts. For man, as he now is, as earth-man, — only comes into touch with the spirit during sleep.
The point is that if, on the other hand, we were now able to develop as strong a consciousness of what happens to us during sleep as, under certain circumstances, men of bye-gone times could do, we should never think of doubting the existence of the spirit. We should then be able to remember not only subconsciously, but in full consciousness, what we encounter during our sleep. If a man were to experience in full consciousness what he passes through in sleep, it would be just as absurd for him to deny the existence of spirit as it would be for a waking man to deny the fact that there were tables and chairs. The crucial point now is that mankind should once more become capable of properly appreciating the meeting with the spirit in sleep. This can only be done by making the pictures of the days experiences sufficiently vivid; it can only be done by entering deeply into Spiritual Science. In this study we occupy ourselves strongly with ideas drawn from the spiritual world. We compel our head — the etheric body of our head — to picture things which are in nowise connected with outer matter, but only have reality in the world of the spirit. This requires more application than it does to picture the things which are real in the world of matter. Indeed that is the true reason why many people do not go in for Spiritual Science. They find all kinds of reasons against it. They say it is not logical. If they were driven to prove in what it is illogical, they would be embarrassed: for it could never be proved that Spiritual Science is illogical. The real reason they turn away from Spiritual Science comes from something very different! In a scientific refutation it is perhaps allowable not to be quite polite, and we may, therefore, say that the non-recognition of Spiritual Science comes solely from laziness of soul. However industrious certain learned people may be as regards all the concepts relating to outer matter, yet when it comes to the force necessary for understanding the things of the spirit, they are idle and lazy; and it is because they will not arouse in themselves this necessary force, that they refuse to recognise Spiritual Science. For it requires more effort for thinking the ideas of Spiritual Science, than it does for thinking the ordinary thoughts connected with the things of sense. The latter really come of themselves; but the ideas not connected with material things, must be thought; one must wrestle with them and make a big effort. It is this shrinking from the necessary effort which is at the bottom of the non-acceptance of Spiritual Science; and this is what we have to realise. When however, the effort really is made to accept such concepts and ideas as are not connected with the material, and to think them out, such activity is aroused in the soul that it is gradually able to develop the consciousness of what goes on between falling asleep and waking, to realise that a meeting with the Spirit takes place then. It will certainly be necessary to unlearn certain ideas. Just think how little some of the leaders of spiritual life are capable of developing such ideas. What I am about to relate is of less frequent occurrence now, but those who are the present leaders were in many cases, in the days of their youth, so deeply immersed in the life of their day, that they drank themselves into the state called in German ‘Bettschwere.’ They drank so much that the necessary gravitation was established. Well, in such cases a man's ideas as well as his feelings as to what goes on in sleep, are certainly not adapted to elucidate the whole significance of sleep. A man may be extremely learned as regards everything connected with matter, but he is naturally not then able to gain an insight into what happens to him between his falling asleep and awaking.
When people make the necessary effort to think out to their conclusion ideas not connected with material things, they will be able to develop understanding of what I have called the first meeting, the meeting with the Spirit during sleep. Unless the world is to fall into a state of decadence, this understanding must before very long illuminate life, and fill it with sunshine. For if men do not take up these ideas, on what are their concepts to be based? They will only be able to form them by observing external conditions, by studying the external world. Ideas formed in this way alone, leave the inner part of the human being, his soul-part, in a state of inertia; that part of man which must under other circumstances be strongly exercised in spiritual concepts and ideas is left inert, unused: it dies. What is the result of this? The result is that man becomes blind, spiritually blind in his whole relation to the world. If he develops no ideas or concepts except such as he forms under the influence of outer impressions, he becomes spiritually blind; and spiritual blindness does indeed prevail to a great extent, in this materialistic age. In science this is only injurious up to a point, but in practical life this blindness to the real world is extremely harmful. You see, the further we descend into matter, the more things correct themselves in this materialistic age. For if a man builds a bridge, he is forced by circumstances to learn the proper rules of construction, otherwise when the first wagon crosses it, that bridge will collapse. It is easier to apply wrong conceptions in trying to cure anyone, for it can never be proved what a man dies of, or what makes him well. It does not at all follow that the ideas put into practice are necessarily the right ones. If one wishes to work in the realm of the spiritual, it is a much more serious matter; and it is, therefore, particularly serious that things are in a bad way in what are generally known as the practical sciences, Political or National Economy and the like. In this materialistic age people have become accustomed to be guided by the impressions and ideas formed in the outer world and to apply these to their doctrines of national or political economy, and in this way their ideas have become blind. Almost all that has hitherto been developed along these lines is but a blind idea. It must, therefore, follow as a natural consequence, that people with these blind notions are led along in leading strings by events, they yield themselves blindly to the course of events. If in this state they then intervene in them, well, what can we expect?
One possibility formed as a result of not taking up Spiritual Science is these blind ideas. Another possibility is that instead of being stimulated to form ideas by outer circumstances people may let themselves be stimulated from within; that is to say, that nothing but what lives in the emotions and passions is, in a sense, allowed to arise in the soul in this way a man certainly does not acquire blind ideas, but rather what we might call intoxicated ideas. People of the present day who are acknowledged materialists constantly swing backwards and forwards between blind ideas and intoxicated ideas. Blind ideas, in which they allow themselves to be blindfolded to what is going on, so that when they intervene they do so in the clumsiest way possible! Intoxicated ideas, in which they only give way to their emotions and passions, and confront the world in such a way that they do not really understand things, but either love or hate everything; and judge everything according to their love or hatred, their sympathy or antipathy. For it is only when, on the one hand, a man makes efforts in his soul to acquire spiritual ideas, and on the other develops his feelings for the great concerns of the world, that he can attain to clear-sighted ideas and conceptions. When we lift ourselves up to the thoughts given us in Spiritual Science of the great connections concerning which the materialistic view of the world merely laughs: of the ages of Saturn, Sun and Moon and of our connection with the Universe, when we fructify our moral feelings with the great goals of humanity, we can then rise above all the emotions displayed in sympathy or antipathy for anything in the world around us. And these emotions can be overcome in no other way.
It is undoubtedly necessary, that through Spiritual Science, a great deal that lives in our age, should be purified. For man, after all, does not allow himself to be entirely cut off from the spiritual world. He does not really allow himself to be cut off at all, he only allows himself to be apparently cut off. I have already called your attention to the way this is apparently done. When man, on the one hand swears only by the material and the impressions of the external world, the forces which are intended for the spirit still remain within him, but he then directs them to a false region and gives himself up to all kinds of illusions. That is why it is chiefly the most practical and materialistic people who are subject to the strongest illusions and give way to them. We see people going through life denying the existence of spirit and laughing heartily if they are told of anyone having had spiritual experiences. ‘He sees ghosts!’ they exclaim. Having said that, they consider they have broken the back of the matter. They themselves certainly do not see ghosts, in their sense of the word. But they only believe they see no ghosts; in reality they are incessantly seeing ghosts, they see them the whole time. One can put a man who is thus rooted in his materialistic view of the world to the test, and it will be evident that as regards what the next day may bring forth, he gives way to the worst illusions. This giving way to illusions, is nothing but a substitute for the spiritual, which he denies. If he denies the spiritual, he must then necessarily fall into illusion. As has been said, it is not easy to prove the illusions, existing in the many different departments of life, but they are everywhere prevalent, really everywhere. People are really fond of giving way to illusion. For instance, the following is a very frequent experience. Some one may say: ‘If I invest my money in this or that undertaking, it may be used for the brewing of beer. I refuse to use my money in that way, I will take no part in that.’ So he takes his money to the bank. The bank, without his knowledge, invests the money in a brewery. It makes no difference at all to the objective fact, but he is under the illusion that his money is not used for such base purposes as beer!
Of course, it may be objected that this is far-fetched, but it is not, it is really a thing that rules all life. People do not take the trouble today to become really acquainted with life, to be able to see through it. This, however, is of great significance. It is immensely important that we should learn to know what we ourselves are in the midst of. This is not easy today, because life has become complicated; nevertheless, what I have drawn attention to, is true. For, you know, under certain circumstances one might easily conceive an absurd situation. I will give you an example. There was once an incendiary, (this is a true story,) who ran out of a house which he had set on fire, having so arranged things that he allowed himself time to do so. He was caught and brought before the magistrates. On being questioned, he answered that he considered he had done a good piece of work, that he was not the one to be blamed, but the workmen, who had left a lighted candle in the house when they left it in the evening. If the candle had burnt out at night, it would have set the house on fire. He, therefore, set it on fire himself, before it was quite dark. In either case the house would have been on fire; he only set it on fire so that the fire might be speedily extinguished: for if a house is on fire in the daytime it may be saved, but at night it is a more complicated matter, and the whole house would then have been burnt to the ground. He was then asked why he did not put the candle out; to which he replied ‘I am a teacher of humanity; if I had blown out the candle, the workers, who were the ones to blame in the matter, would have gone on being careless, whereas now they can see for themselves what happens when they forget to blow out their lights.’
We may laugh at such an example as this, for we do not observe that we are continually doing the like. People are constantly acting in the same way as the man who did not put out the lighted candle, but set fire to the house. Only we do not notice this when we are disturbed by our emotions and passions, which cause an intoxication of ideas, and when the whole thing relates to the spiritual world. If we accustom the soul to that elasticity and flexibility, which is necessary for the forming of spiritual ideas, we shall so mould our thought that it will really find its way into life and be properly adapted to it. If we do not do this, our thought will never be fit to deal with life; it will not even be affected by it, except on the surface. That is why-to turn now to the deeper side of the question — the materialistic age really leads one away from an connection with the spiritual world. Just as we undermine our bodily health if we do not get our proper sleep, so do we undermine our soul-life if we do not spend our waking-time in the right way. If we only give way to outer impressions and live without being conscious of our connection with the spiritual world, we are not awake in the right way. Just as a man may by reason of certain conditions sleep restlessly, turning and twisting about, and thus undermine his physical health, so does a man undermine his spiritual health if he only yields to the external impressions of the world, if he is only subject to physical matter. This will prevent his experiencing in the right way that first meeting with the spiritual world, of which I have spoken. In this way he loses all possibility of rightly connecting himself with the spiritual world, during his physical existence. The connection with that world in which we spend our time when not in incarnation, into which we ourselves pass when we go through the Gates of Death, is thereby cut off.
Man must once again learn to understand that we are not here merely to build in the physical universe during our physical existence; he must learn to understand that we, during the whole of our existences are bound up with the whole world. Those who have already passed through the Gates of Death want to work with us on the physical world. This co-operation of theirs appears to be only a physical working with us, but everything physical is only an outer expression of the spirit. The age of materialism has estranged man from the world of the dead; Spiritual Science must re-establish the friendship between them. The time must once more come, when we shall cease to make the work of the dead for the spiritualisation of the physical world impossible, by estranging ourselves from them. For the dead cannot take part with hands in the events of the physical, they cannot accomplish physical work in that direct way. It would be foolish to believe that. The dead can work in a spiritual way. But to do so they need to have instruments placed at their disposal; they require the spiritual matter that lives here in the physical world. We are not merely human beings, we are also instruments, instruments for the spirits who have passed through the Gates of Death. As long as we are incarnated in physical bodies we use the pen or the hammer or the axe; when we are no longer incarnated in physical bodies the instruments we use are the human souls themselves. This rests upon the peculiar way in which the dead perceive, which I will just touch upon once more — I referred to this subject once before here.
Suppose you have before you a small vessel containing salt; you can see that. The salt looks like a white substance, like white powder. The fact that you see the salt as a white powder depends on your eyes. Your spirit cannot see the salt as a white powder; but if you put a little salt on your tongue and taste the peculiar salt taste, it is possible then for the spirit to become aware of it. Every spirit is able to perceive the taste of the salt in you. Everything that takes place in man through the external world, can be perceived by every spirit, including the human souls which have passed through the Gates of Death. Just as within us the world of sense extends to our tasting, smelling, seeing and hearing, so does the world of the dead reach down into what we hear, see and taste, etc. The experiences we have in the physical world are shared in by the dead, for these experiences do not only belong to our world but to theirs. They belong to their world when we spiritualise what we experience in the outer world with spiritual ideas. Unless we do this, if we merely experience the laws of matter, that to the dead is something which they cannot comprehend, it remains dark. To the dead a soul devoid of spirit seems dark. For this reason the dead have become estranged from our earth-life during the age of materialism. This estrangement must be got rid of. An inner common life of the so-called dead with the so-called living must take place; but that can only be when people develop in their souls those forces which are really spiritual, that is, when they develop such ideas, concepts, and images as deal with spiritual matters. When a man in his thinking makes an effort to reach the spirit, he will gradually reach it in reality. It signifies that a bridge is thrown across between the physical and the spiritual world. That alone can lead men across from the age of materialism to that age in which they will face the realities, neither blindfolded nor intoxicated, but with vision and poise. Having learnt to see through the spirit, they will attain vision and poise, and through the feelings and sentiments aroused in them by the great concerns of the world, they will attain the right balance between sympathy and antipathy, with respect to what our immediate surroundings demand of us.
We shall continue the considerations of these subjects in our next lecture, and go still more deeply from this aspect, into the ideas to be gained from the spiritual world.

Source: http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA/GA0175/19170306p01.html

The Anthroposophical Fire: The Crucial Importance of Spiritual Science and Soulwork

Rudolf Steiner, London, May 1, 1913:

The theme we are to consider today leads at once into a sphere which belongs to all humanity, apart from distinctions.
We are to speak, in the first place, of that realm of man's aspiration which in its true, original form can be described in no human language but only in the language of thought — I refer to the realm of occult science.
Through his human faculties man strives for occult knowledge and may also acquire it, but occult knowledge has a greater significance for the world than it has merely within the human soul. In the world around us we can distinguish different substances and materials through which its various phenomena and manifestations are given expression. In the Primal Principle, the essential nature of which can hardly be expressed in words of human language, all creatures, all things of the Earth, and all worlds are rooted. But the individual differentiations of this Primal Principle come to expression in the physical world in the substances of earth, of water, of air, of fire, of ether, and so forth.
One of the finest, most highly attenuated substances within the reach of human faculties is called Akasha. The manifestations of beings and of phenomena in the Akasha are the most delicate and ethereal of any that are accessible to man. What a man acquires in the way of occult knowledge lives not only in his soul but is inscribed into the Akasha-substance of the world. When we make a thought of occult science come alive in our souls, it is at once inscribed into the Akasha-substance and this is of significance for the general evolution of the world. For no being in the whole world other than man is able to make in the Akasha-substance the inscriptions that can be called by the name of Occult Science.
It is important to bear in mind one characteristic feature of the Akasha-substance, namely that in the spiritual world between death and a new birth, man lives in this substance, just as here on the Earth he lives in the atmosphere.
If a seer, using the means at his disposal, were to come into contact with human souls living between death and rebirth he would be able to observe the following.
In the present cycle of evolution — formerly it was different — a man who here on the Earth is never able to kindle to life within him thoughts and ideas belonging to Spiritual Science cannot be seen, even when he is actually present, by a soul living between death and a new birth. But when a man living on the Earth causes a thought or an idea from the domain of Spiritual Science to quicken within him so that it can be inscribed into the Akasha-substance, he becomes visible to the souls who are living between death and rebirth. Profoundly shattering impressions may come to a seer who has prepared himself patiently for clairvoyant vision when he enters into relation with souls who have passed through the gate of death. I will give you an actual example.
A seer found a man who had passed through the gate of death, leaving behind him his wife and children whom he dearly loved. This man and his family were kindly, good-hearted people but had no inclination whatever for spiritual knowledge; they had not outgrown the religious traditions through which certain souls today still feel connected with the spiritual world.
Some little time after he had passed through the gate of death, this man said to himself: ‘I have left behind on the Earth my wife and children; they were the very sunshine of my life, but my spiritual sight cannot reach them. I have nothing but the remembrance of the time I spent together with them on the Earth.’
An entirely different picture can be seen if a soul still on the Earth forms strongly spiritual thoughts and ideas. In this case, when another soul, living between death and a new birth, looks down upon one he has left behind, he can follow his soul-life at the present time because it is inscribing itself into the Akasha-substance.
This is an indication of how anthroposophical teaching will bridge the gulf between the so-called living and the so-called dead; and already now we can see how human beings who have some understanding of the spiritual may be a blessing to the so-called dead by reading to them in thought the truths of Spiritual Science. If, either reading aloud or to ourselves, we follow in thought the ideas and concepts of Spiritual Science, at the same time feeling that one or more who have passed through death are there in front of us while we read, then this reading becomes very real to them, because such thoughts are inscribed into the Akasha-substance. Such reading may be of the greatest service not only to those on the other side of death who while they were on Earth concerned themselves with Spiritual Science but also to those who during their earthly life would have nothing to do with it.
The question may be asked: As the dead are living in the spiritual world, do they need such reading of Spiritual Science by those on the Earth? There are many who believe that it is only necessary to have passed through the gate of death in order to experience everything that can be attained only by dint of great effort on the Earth, through Spiritual Science. Such people also believe that after death a man will be able to acquire all occult knowledge, because he will then be in the spiritual world. This, however, is not the case.
Just as here on the Earth there live beings other than man, who perceive everything that man is able to perceive by means of his senses but — as in the case of the animals — are unable to form ideas or concepts of it, so it is with souls living in the supersensible worlds. Although these souls see the beings and facts of the higher spiritual worlds, they can form no concepts or ideas of them if men here on the Earth do not inscribe such concepts and ideas into the Akasha Chronicle.
This mission of human life upon Earth is by no means without purpose; on the contrary, it has very deep meaning and purpose. If human souls had never lived on the Earth the spiritual worlds would still be in existence, but there would be no occult knowledge of these spiritual worlds. In the course of world-evolution the Earth has reached a point at which spiritual knowledge can be developed by spiritual beings organized and constituted as men are on the Earth. What has been inscribed into the Akasha-substance through Spiritual Science would never have been there if this science had not existed on the Earth.
If a man tries to put the life of his soul on the Earth to the test, he will discover in the first place that during our present age he has applied his faculties for the acquisition of knowledge to aims other than the attainment of spiritual knowledge. These faculties have been used for the acquisition of data of knowledge produced by means of the senses and through the intellect that is bound to the brain. Thus human knowledge is of two kinds: the one pertains only to experience acquired by means of the senses, which needs the organ of the intellect in order to transform it into knowledge; the other kind is Spiritual Science. The knowledge that belongs only to the sense-world forms the one stream; the other consists of what humans inscribe through Spiritual Science into the Akasha Chronicle. For Spiritual Science develops ideas and concepts which are then inscribed forever in the Akasha Chronicle.
All science, all knowledge pertaining to experiences acquired through the senses, to technical things, to the commercial and industrial life of mankind, when inscribed in the Akasha-substance has this effect: the Akasha-substance discards it, thrusts it away, and the medley of ideas and concepts is obliterated. If these facts are perceived with the eyes of a seer, a conflict may be observed in the Akasha-substance between the impressions made by the occult knowledge acquired by man — impressions which are eternal — and those made by thoughts based upon the senses, which are only transitory. This conflict arises from the fact that when man first began to inhabit the Earth as man (that is to say, in the ancient epoch of Lemuria), he was already then destined by sublime spiritual beings to acquire Spiritual Science.
But through what we call the Luciferic influence, through the encroachment of Luciferic beings, man diverted his power of thought and other powers of soul which he would otherwise have used for the acquisition of occult knowledge only, to the study of things belonging exclusively to the physical world.
There are many who say that whereas ordinary science is accessible to everybody, spiritual or occult science can be made intelligible only to those who are able to see into the spiritual worlds. This is a fundamental error, for in the depths of his own soul every man is capable, even before he becomes a seer, of recognizing the truths of Spiritual Science. Admittedly, occult truths can be discovered only by the seer, but when they have been discovered, and expressed in the normal language of human reason, they can be intelligible to every human soul who has the will to remove the obstacles to such understanding that exist within himself.
As a result of the Luciferic impulses it became possible at a later period in the evolution of the Earth for another being, whom we call Ahriman, to acquire influence over the souls of men. And only when the possibility of understanding Spiritual Science is held back through Ahrimanic influence in the soul does that understanding remain unattainable. If the being we call Ahriman did not work in every human soul, if our souls were free from his influence, then an idea or thought belonging to Spiritual Science would need only to be spoken and the soul, through its subconscious relationship to this truth, would feel: This idea, this statement of Spiritual Science, is true. In every human soul there is a life which the everyday consciousness understands and can account for, and a subconscious soul-life which lies submerged as if in the depths of an ocean and only from time to time is brought to light. In the depths of the soul there lies, for example, the fear that is present in every human being — the fear of the spiritual. This fear is the outcome of Ahriman's influence and would not exist if Ahriman had not gained power over the souls of men. The reason why a man is usually unconscious of such fear is that it works in the deepest foundations of his soul and plays no part in what he can account for with his everyday consciousness.
Sometimes this fear knocks at the door of a man's ordinary consciousness without any knowledge on his part of what is inwardly disquieting him; and then he looks for something that will act as an opiate, that will deaden this feeling of fear. He finds this opiate in materialistic thoughts, theories, and ideas. Materialistic theories are not devised on a logical basis, although it may be believed that this is the case; they are devised as the result of a dread of the spiritual, which is the consequence of Ahriman's influence upon the soul. Hence the preparatory condition for actual understanding of spiritual truths is much less a knowledge of physical science than an education of the soul in the virtue of moral courage, spiritual courage. Therefore we may say that occult science must be explored by the seer, but it can be understood by every human soul if this soul will only liberate within itself all the moral courage at its command and so frustrate the obstacles proceeding from Ahriman.
Should anyone wish to understand occult truths through the original moral forces of his soul he may make the following attempt: he may allow Spiritual Science to work upon his soul without saying to himself ‘I agree with this’ or ‘I do not agree with it’. He may assimilate the ideas and concepts given by the seer and allow them to work upon his soul; and if he has absorbed the occult knowledge with inner enthusiasm and not as the result of mere curiosity, he will have an experience that may be compared with a feeling of soaring without physical ground under his feet, with a feeling as if he were hovering in the air.
This attempt will have a completely different effect according to whether it is carried out by a person with religious, reverential inclinations toward spiritual life, or by someone accustomed to materialistic thinking. One who has no actual occult knowledge but whose inclinations and feelings with regard to the spiritual world have nevertheless a religious quality may feel somewhat insecure as the result of this attempt, but very much less so than a materialist who has no feeling of attraction to the spiritual world. The latter will experience a strong feeling of fear, of insecurity. The materialist may convince himself through this experience that the effect of occult ideas and concepts upon him is that they give rise to dread and terror. And then he may say to himself: ‘This proves to me not only that I am full of fear of this realm, but that fear is one of my intrinsic tendencies.’
If, for example, Ernst Haeckel or Herbert Spencer had made this attempt they would have convinced themselves not only that occult knowledge is not contradictory or impossible of belief but that in the inmost depths of their souls they were full of fear; and they would soon have forgotten all doubt and disbelief in what they had been wont to consider fantastic spiritual teachings and would have admitted to themselves that to overcome this fear was of very great significance. Having made this confession they would soon have abandoned their opposition to the spiritual teachings. They would have said to themselves: ‘I must endeavor to strengthen moral courage within myself.’ Then, perhaps, they would have taken their own self-training in hand and if they had succeeded in overcoming this fear would have said: ‘Now that we have become stronger souls we no longer have any doubts as to the truth of spiritual science.’ This experience, arising from the strengthening of moral courage within the soul, is a victory over Ahriman, whose influence can be perceived in the science of Ernst Haeckel and the philosophy of Herbert Spencer. It is Ahriman who has inspired souls to take a materialistic direction. If only a small portion of mankind, as a result of genuine knowledge, will work in the way above indicated to strengthen their moral courage, these materialistic theories will gradually disappear from the world.
Occult knowledge is necessary for the whole process of evolution, as it is inscribed in the Akasha-substance. The importance of this can be evident from a brief outline of the evolution of humanity on the Earth.
Man's evolution on Earth advances in stages from one civilization-epoch to another; during these successive epochs the souls of men dwell, as individualities, in bodies belonging to the several civilizations. All the souls here this evening were incarnated in bodies that belonged to earlier periods of culture. Each individual soul advances in accordance with the karma it has built up for itself.
As well as this evolution of individual souls which depends upon their karma, we must recognize the evolution of mankind as a whole, which advances from epoch to epoch. A Grecian body, an Egyptian, Chaldean, ancient Persian, or ancient Indian body was, in the finer parts of its structure, quite different from one of the present age.
Distinction must be made between the inner progress of the ‘I’ and the astral body from incarnation to incarnation, and the outer progress and change in the physical and etheric bodies from one race to another, from one nation to another, from one epoch to another. This progress of the physical and the etheric bodies from one epoch to another would not be perceptible to those who study anatomy and physiology, but it happens, nevertheless, and can be recognized through occult science. The human physical body will be quite different when, in the normal course of evolution, our souls appear again on the Earth in future incarnations.
In the present epoch of human life a delicate organ is being developed in man. It is not perceptible to anatomists and physiologists, yet it exists as an anatomical structure. This rudimentary organ is situated in the brain, near the organ of speech.
The development of this organ in the convolutions of the brain is not the result of the karma of individual souls but of human evolution as a whole on the Earth; and in the future all men will possess it, no matter what the development of the souls incarnating in the bodies may be, and irrespective of the karma connected with these souls.
In a future incarnation this organ will be possessed by human beings who at the present time may be opposed to Anthroposophy as well as by those who are now in sympathy with it. This organ will in future time be the physical means, the physical instrument, for the application of certain powers of the soul; just as, for example, Broca's organ in the third convolution of the brain is the organ of the human faculty of speech.
When this new organ has developed it may either be used rightly by mankind, or it may not. Those people will be able to use it rightly who are now preparing the possibility of having in their next incarnation a true remembrance of the present one. For this physical organ will be the physical means for remembering an earlier incarnation — which in the case of by far the greater majority of people is possible now only through higher development, through initiation. But a faculty which in the present epoch it would be possible to acquire only through initiation will later on become the common property of mankind. Our modern knowledge was formerly the special knowledge possessed by the Atlantean initiates only; everyone can now possess it. In the same way, remembrance of former lives on Earth is possible at present only for initiates but in times to come it will be possible for every human soul.
The initiate is able to attain certain knowledge without the use of a physical organ, but this knowledge can become the common property of mankind only when a physical organ through which it can be acquired is developed in mankind as a whole in the course of evolution.
The reincarnated souls must, however, be able to use this organ in the right way, and only those who in the present incarnation have inscribed occult thoughts and ideas in the Akasha-substance will be capable of this.
One often hears it asked: What is the use of believing in former lives when mankind in general can remember nothing about them? But from what is known of life, how much more surprising it would be if men in general were even now able to remember their former lives! If we ask ourselves what is necessary to enable us to remember anything, we shall have to reply: We can remember only that about which we have previously thought.
Everyday life can teach us that this is so. Suppose someone on getting up in the morning cannot find his cufflinks, no matter where he looks. Why is he not able to find them? Because while he was putting them away he was not thinking of what he was doing. Let him, however, try every evening while putting his cufflinks away to think quite consciously: I am putting my cufflinks away in this place. Then he will never be uncertain but will go straight to the place where he has put them; the thought brings the process back into his memory.
When we are living in a future incarnation we shall only be able to remember those that are past if we can grasp the true nature of the soul which continues from one incarnation to another. A man who does not study occult science in the present life can acquire no knowledge of the constitution and nature of the soul, and if he has no such knowledge, how should he, when he is again incarnated, remember that to which he never gave a thought in the earlier incarnation?
Through the study of Spiritual Science, which includes, among other things, the study of the intrinsic nature of the soul, we prepare in ourselves that which will enable us in a future incarnation to remember what happened in the present one. There are, however, many people nowadays who are not willing to devote themselves to the study of this knowledge. These human beings will be reborn, perhaps in their next incarnation, with the above-mentioned organ for the remembrance of former lives physically developed; but they have not prepared themselves in such a way as to be able to remember the past.
What, then, is the significance of Spiritual Science or Anthroposophy in the life of the present day, in addition to all that has been said? Through Anthroposophy we become able to use in the right way the organ that will be developed in human beings of the future, the organ for the remembering of former lives on Earth. In our present incarnation we must inscribe in the Akasha-substance the knowledge we acquire in order that in our next incarnation we may be able to use this organ — which is developing in man whether he wishes it or not. In the future there will be men who are able to use this organ for remembering past lives, and others who are not able. Certain illnesses will appear in the latter, owing to the presence in their physical bodies of an organ which they are unable to use. To have an organ and be unable to use it gives rise to nervous diseases in a very definite form, and those that will be caused in cases of this kind will be far worse than any yet known to man.
When we study the connection of facts in this way we begin to get an idea of the mission and purpose of Anthroposophy and of the importance of understanding life and mankind through this knowledge. But lest the impression made upon you by what has been said should lead to any misunderstanding, I will mention yet another fact which may mitigate anything that was painful in that impression. Although a genuine occultist realizes that Anthroposophy must enter into the spiritual life of our present time in order that the human being of the future may be able to use the organ for remembering past lives and remain physically in good health, nevertheless it cannot be said categorically that a man who in this epoch is not ready to accept Anthroposophy will suffer in his following incarnations in the sense referred to above. For a long time to come it will still be possible for a human being, even if he has neglected to use this organ in the present life, to put this right in the next, for there will be several more opportunities for him to regain health and acquire anthroposophical knowledge. The time will come, however, when this possibility will cease.
For this reason, even if we have not yet reached the crucial moment, we are nevertheless living in the epoch when Anthroposophy must be membered into the spiritual life of mankind. Anthroposophy is an essential development in the general progress of mankind and does not stem from the personal opinions of individuals.
And so especially in our own time the possibility will be given for the subjective development of the human soul, leading to personal vision of the spiritual worlds, to genuine occult development. It may be said that every individual who will apply the original forces within his soul, undisturbed by Ahrimanic influences, can understand everything that is revealed from the spiritual worlds; hence in a certain sense it is possible for every human being to unfold consciousness of the spiritual worlds by undergoing occult development. At the present time, three particular powers of the soul may well be developed in order to establish an occult link with the supersensible worlds.
The first of these powers is that of thinking. We live in relation with the world around us by forming thoughts about our surroundings. In ordinary, everyday life a man thinks thoughts which are caused through impressions made on the senses, or through the intellect that is bound up with the brain. In my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and its Attainment it is said that through meditation, concentration, and contemplation, through strengthening his life of soul, a man can make this power of thinking independent of external life. I want to call your attention here to how the power of thinking within the soul, which otherwise is developed only through thought about the external world, can be made essentially free and independent of everything belonging to the body. That is to say, through such development it becomes possible for the soul to think, to form thoughts within itself, without using the brain as an instrument. This is easy to understand if we consider the chief characteristic of ordinary, everyday thinking, which is dependent upon the impressions conveyed through the senses.
The chief characteristic of ordinary thinking is that each single act of thinking injures the nervous system, and above all, the brain; it destroys something in the brain. Every thought means that a minute process of destruction takes place in the cells of the brain. For this reason sleep is necessary for us, in order that this process of destruction may be made good; during sleep we restore what during the day was destroyed in our nervous system by thinking. What we are consciously aware of in an ordinary thought is in reality the process of destruction that is taking place in our nervous system.
We now endeavor to practice meditation by devoting ourselves to contemplation —for instance, of the saying: Wisdom lives in the Light. This idea cannot originate from sense-impressions, because according to the external senses it is not so.
In this example, by means of meditation we hold the thought back so far that it does not connect itself with the brain. If in this way we unfold an inner activity of thinking that is not connected with the brain, through the effects of such meditation upon the soul we shall feel that we are on the right path. As in meditative thinking no process of destruction is evoked in our nervous system, this kind of thinking never causes sleepiness, however long it may be continued, as ordinary thinking may easily do.
It is true that the opposite often occurs when someone is meditating, for people often complain that when they devote themselves to meditation they at once fall asleep. But that is because the meditation is not yet as it should be. It is quite natural that in meditation we should, to begin with, use the kind of thinking to which we have always been accustomed; it is only gradually that we can accustom ourselves to give up thinking about external things. When this point is reached, meditative thinking will no longer make us sleepy, and we shall then know that we are on the right path.
When the inner power of thinking can thus be developed without using the thinking faculty of the body, then and only then shall we acquire knowledge of the inner life and recognize our real self, our higher ‘I’.
The path to true knowledge of the human self is to be found in the kind of meditation just described, which leads to the liberation of inner thought-power. Only through such knowledge do we realize that this human self is not confined within the limits of the physical body; on the contrary, we come to recognize that this self is connected with the phenomena of the world around us. Whereas in ordinary life we see the sun here, the moon there, the mountains, hills, plants, and animals, we now feel ourselves united with everything we see or hear; we are a part of it all, and for us there is now only one external world — our own body. In ordinary life we are here and the external world is around us, but after the development of the independent power of thinking, we are outside our body, one with all that we otherwise see; our body in which we live is now outside us; we look back upon it as the only world upon which we can now gaze.
In this way, by liberating the power of thinking, we can actually emerge from the physical body and contemplate it as something external. Even more can be done: for example, we can give a positive answer to the question: Why do we wake up every morning? During sleep our physical body lies in the bed and we are actually outside it, just as is the case during meditative thinking. On waking we return to our physical body, being drawn back to it by countless forces, as by a magnet. A man usually knows nothing of this. But if through meditation he has made himself free, he is consciously drawn back by the same force which, on waking from sleep, draws his soul back into his physical body without consciousness on his part.
We also learn through meditation how the human being comes down from the higher worlds in which he lived between death and a new birth, and how he unites with the forces and substances provided by parents, grandparents, and so forth. In short, we learn to know the forces that draw human beings back from their life between death and a new birth to new incarnations.
As a fruit of such meditation one may look back over a great part of the life spent in the spiritual world between death and a new birth, before conception took place. But through this kind of meditation one can, as a rule, look back only to a certain point that lies before the present incarnation; it would not be possible to look further back into earlier incarnations themselves. To do this at the present time, as the organ referred to above has not yet developed in the human brain, another kind of meditation is necessary. This other kind can become effective only if feeling is brought into the meditation. All meditation as now described is also be permeated with feeling.
We will now consider the subject-matter which, in the process of meditation itself, must be permeated by feeling. If, for instance, we take: ‘Wisdom radiates in the Light’, and we feel inspired through the radiation of wisdom, if we feel uplifted, if we feel inwardly aglow, if we can live in and meditate upon the content of these words with inner zeal, then we have in our souls something more than meditation in thoughts. The power of feeling we then activate in the soul is the power we otherwise use in speech. Speech comes into being when thoughts are permeated with inner feeling. This is the origin of speech, and Broca's organ in the brain comes into existence in this way: the thoughts of the inner life that are permeated with feeling become active in the brain, and build the organ that is the physical instrument of speech.
When our meditation is really permeated by such feelings we hold back in our souls the force that in everyday life we employ in speaking. Speech may be said to be the embodiment of the inner soul-force which gives expression to these thoughts If now, instead of allowing the soul-force to be applied in speaking, we develop meditation from these thoughts that are permeated with feeling, if we continue this meditation to further and further stages, we gradually gain the power — now actually without the physical organ but through initiation — to look back into earlier lives on Earth and also to investigate the period between earthly lives, the period which always lies between death and a new birth.
Through cultivating the withholding of speech within the soul — or, as the occultist says, withholding the ‘word’ within the soul —we can eventually look back to the primeval beginning of our Earth, back to what the Bible calls the creative act of the Elohim. We can look back to the time when repeated Earth-lives actually began for human beings. For the occult development we attain through withholding the word, or withholding speech, enables us to look into the successive epochs, in so far as these are connected with our Earth, with the spiritual life of our planet. We become able to behold the beings of the higher hierarchies, in so far as they are connected with the spiritual life of the Rarth.
But these two clairvoyant faculties, which are developed in meditation through thoughts and through thoughts permeated with feeling, cannot lead us to experiences lying before the epoch of the present Earth, experiences connected with earlier planetary incarnations of our Earth. This requires the development of the third meditative power, of which we will now speak briefly.
We can further permeate the content of our meditation with impulses of will in such a way that if we meditate, for instance, on ‘The Wisdom of the World radiates in the Light’, we may now really feel the impulse of our will united with that activity; we can feel our own being united with the radiating power of the light, and let this light shine and vibrate through the world. We must feel the impulse of our will to be united with this meditation.
When our meditation is filled with impulses of the will, we are holding back a force which otherwise would pass into the pulsation of the blood. It is easy to realize that the inner life of the ‘I’ can pass over into the pulsation of the blood when we remember that we grow pale when we are afraid and blush when we are ashamed; these are the signs that the soul-force is passing over into the pulsing of the blood. If the same force which influences the blood is activated in such a way that it does not descend into the physical but remains in the soul only, this is the beginning of the third form of meditation, which we can influence through impulses of will.
He who achieves these three forms of occult development feels, when he liberates the power of thought, as though he had an organ at the root of the nose — these organs are described as ‘lotus-flowers,’ by means of which he can become aware of his ‘I’ or Self that extends far into space.
A man who by meditation has cultivated thoughts permeated with feeling becomes gradually conscious, through this developed force which would otherwise have become speech, of the so-called sixteen-petalled lotus-flower in the region of the larynx. By means of this lotus-flower he can comprehend what is connected with temporal things, from the beginning of the Earth's existence until its end. By means of this organ he also learns to recognize the occult significance of the Mystery of Golgotha, of which we shall speak in the next lecture.
Through the soul-force which in normal everyday life would extend to the blood and its pulsation but is held back, an organ develops in the region of the heart. By means of this organ the nature of the earlier incarnations of the earth — known in occultism as the Saturn-, Sun-, and Moon-evolutions — may be understood. Reference is made to this organ in my book Occult Science — an Outline.
As you will now realize, occult development is achieved by means of faculties and possibilities that are actually present in the life of the human soul.
The first occult power that has been mentioned stems from a higher development of the power of thinking, the power that is otherwise applied only for thoughts connected with the external world.
The second power is only a higher development of the force which in everyday life is applied by every human being through the body, in speech, in the development of the organ for the word.
The third power is a higher cultivation of the force that exists in the human soul to cause the blood to pulsate faster or slower, to direct a greater or smaller amount of blood to one or another organ of the body; to direct it more to the center when we grow pale, more to the surface when we blush, to direct it more or less strongly to the brain, and so on.
When a man cultivates these forces that are present within him, but in ordinary life are used for his outer, bodily existence only, occult development begins. The findings of occult investigation can be understood today by every human being who is willing to clear away obstacles to comprehension. What can be learnt as the result of occult development is occult science, and in the present cycle of man's existence occult science must flow into the human soul in order that it may learn to know its own being — which is independent of the body. The forms of all the substances in the external world, such as earth, water, air, etc., pass away; the forms of the Akasha-substance endure. Through its inner life, our soul must feel itself connected with the Akasha-substance, and in future time it will have the wish to remember what it is experiencing in the present epoch. The possibility of acquiring ideas and concepts that can lead to this remembrance results from the study of occult science, which means that the knowledge gained through occult development must be spread abroad and accepted.
I have therefore tried in this first lecture to bring home to you that in addition to the impulses underlying the development of humanity, the spreading of anthroposophical occult knowledge and the pointing of the way to occult development are vitally necessary. It is not by means of words based upon ordinary human considerations that I have tried to elucidate the mission of Spiritual Science, but through the study of facts which are the findings of occult research. Whoever will allow these facts to work upon his soul will realize that anyone who understands their full significance cannot possibly deny the need to spread the knowledge of Spiritual Science at the present time. There is certainly no need to become fanatical in order to recognize the necessity of anthroposophical development; what is needed is to understand the facts that lie at the foundation of man's occult life. Truth to tell, it can only be ignorance of these facts that still keeps mankind away from anthroposophical life.
Among the spiritual movements of our time, Anthroposophy as it is here understood will be the least fanatical, and the one that proceeds most decisively from objective considerations. It is necessary to affirm repeatedly that all kindred theories and teachings must finally unite in anthroposophical circles in deeply-rooted, living feeling.
There is an objective spiritual life, the reflection of which in the world of maya is the life by which we are surrounded. Occult development is a step from semblance toward reality. And because genuine understanding of these facts can lead to nothing else than the impulse to take the necessary steps, the future destiny of Anthroposophy or Spiritual Science will be secure, because more and more souls will have the wish to recognize the objective truth regarding the World-Spirit.
The anthroposophical fire that can be kindled in us is only an outcome of the Cosmic Fire which streams forth spiritually from the beginning to the end of existence.
It is this that I wanted to say to you in this first lecture concerning the mission of the Anthroposophical Movement in the spiritual life of the present day.

Source: http://wn.rsarchive.org/Lectures/GA/GA0152/19130501p01.html