Today I would like to acquaint you with some things that can illustrate how essential it is not only to be willing to hear a somewhat different worldview expressed in customary terminology, but to learn to receive the words differently with one's feelings.
Let us begin with a specific case. When speaking about any ideology today, it is designated by an abstract name: materialism, idealism, spiritualism, and so forth, and people are quite sure that they can say which is correct, and which is incorrect. A materialist comes to a spiritualist, for example, and explains to him his way of thinking, how he sees man's thoughts and feelings as products of the brain. The spiritualist answers, “You think incorrectly. I can refute that logically!” Or, perhaps, “That is contradicted by the facts!” In short, the crux of the matter is that today, when people talk about issues concerning worldviews, one ideology is said to be right and the other one wrong. The spiritualist presumes that only he has the correct philosophy, and wishes to prove the materialist wrong and convince him that he would be better off if he became a spiritualist.
Spiritual science has nothing to do with such a way of proceeding. It does not wish to lead to a different logical insight from that of other worldviews. Spiritual science, if it really fulfills its task, must become action based on insight. In spiritual science, knowledge must turn into action, action in the whole cosmic world context. I will explain this by using a few definite examples. Today, when people look at the world naively but with a slight materialist tendency, when they direct their eyes and ears outward, hear sounds, notice colors, experience warmth and similar sensations, they perceive the external material world. Should they become scientists, or merely absorb through popular means what science wishes to represent, they will then form or simply accept certain concepts that have originated through the combination of all the color, sound, and warmth elements, and others, that are to be observed in the external world. Now, there are people who maintain that everything one sees is, in the first place, only an external phenomenon. Yet this idea is generally not gone into thoroughly enough. People see a rainbow, for example. As a result of their education, when they look at the rainbow, they are already convinced that the rainbow is only an apparition, that they cannot go to the place where the rainbow is, neatly put a foot on it and march along the rainbow bridge as if it were a solid object. People are sure that it cannot be done, that the rainbow is merely an apparition, a phenomenon that arises and then disappears again. They are convinced that they deal only with apparitions because they cannot come into contact with this aspect of the external world through their sense of touch and feeling. According to their view, as soon as something can be grasped or touched, it is no longer a phenomenon to the same degree, even though recent philosophy may in some instances claim that it is. In any case, the impressions of the sense of touch, for instance, are intuitively taken as something that guarantees a different external reality than the phenomenal realities of the rainbow.
This notwithstanding, all that our external senses perceive comprises merely a world of phenomena, modified perhaps in respect to the apparition of the rainbow, but a world of phenomena nevertheless. Regardless of how far we direct our gaze, how far we can hear, in whatever is seen, heard, or otherwise perceived, we deal only with phenomena. I have attempted to explain this in the introduction to the third volume of Goethe's scientific writings. [ Note 4 ] We deal with a tapestry of phenomena. Whoever makes an effort through experimentation or any combination of pure reasoning to find matter in the realm of appearances is pursuing a dead end. [ Translator's Note B ] There is no matter out there. One deals only with a world of phenomena.
This is precisely what the whole spirit of spiritual science reveals: In the external world, one deals only with a world of appearances. An exponent of a current world outlook will therefore conclude that it is wrong to look for matter at all in the realm of phenomena. Anthroposophy cannot agree with this attitude; it must put it differently by saying: Because of the whole configuration of man's mind, he comes to the point where he wants to seek for matter in the moving tapestry of phenomena, to seek out there for atoms, molecules, and so on, which are resting points in the phenomenon. Some picture these as tiny, miniature pellets, others imagine them to be points of energy and are proud of the fact; others, prouder still, think of them as mathematical fiction.
What is important, however, is not whether one thinks of them as small pellets, sources of energy, or mathematical fiction, but whether one thinks of the external world in atomistic terms. This is what is important. For a spiritual scientist, however, it is not merely wrong to think atomistically. The kind of concept determining rightness or wrongness may be sound logic, but it is abstract, and spiritual science has to do with realities. I urge you to take it very seriously when I say that spiritual science has to do with realities!
This is why certain concepts that have become merely logical categories for today's abstract worldview must be replaced by something real. This is why, in spiritual science, we not only say that one who seeks atoms or molecules in the external world thinks in the wrong way; we must consider this manner of thinking an unhealthy, sick thinking. We must replace the merely logical concept of wrongness with the realistic concept of sickness, of unhealthiness. We must point to a definite sickness of soul — regardless of how many people it has seized — which expresses itself in atomistic thinking. This condition is one of feeblemindedness. It is not merely logically wrong for us, it is an expression of feeblemindedness to think atomistically; in other words, it is feebleminded to seek in the external world something other than phenomena which, when it comes right down to it, are on a par with the phenomenon of the rainbow. It is relatively easy for people with other world outlooks to set things straight: they do it by refutation. To have been able to refute something is considered an accomplishment. Yet, in a spiritual-scientific sense, no final conclusion has been reached by refutation; it is important to refer to the healthy or unhealthy soul life, to actual processes expressed in man's whole physical, soul, and spiritual being. To think atomistically is to think unhealthily, not merely erroneously. An actual unhealthy process takes place in the human organism when we think atomistically. This is one thing we must become clear about regarding the phenomena of the external world and its character of appearance.
We must also become clear about our inner life. Many people seek the spirit inwardly. To begin with, the spiritual cannot be found in the inner realm of man. Truly objective evaluation of every abstract form of mysticism bears this out. What today is sometimes — nay, often — called mysticism consists in brooding over one's inner self, attempting to seek self-knowledge by introverted brooding. What is discovered by practicing such one-sided mysticism? One certainly finds interesting things. When we look into the human being and find all those inwardly pleasant experiences arising which we call mystical — what are they really? They are just the very things that point us toward material existence. We do not discover matter in the external world where the sense phenomena are found; we come upon matter in our inner being. This brings us to the point where we can characterize these things correctly. Regarded from the most comprehensive point of view, it is the body's metabolism that seethes and boils there within the human interior and which flames up into consciousness as one-sided mysticism, mistaken by many to be the spirit that can be found in the inner self. It is not the spirit, it is the flame of metabolism within man. We find matter not in the external world, we find it in ourselves. We find it precisely through one-sided mysticism. That is why a great many people who do not want to be materialists deceive themselves. They excuse their not wanting to be materialists by saying, “Out there is base matter; I shall rise above it and turn to my inner being, for there I will find the spirit.”
Actually, spirit is neither without nor within. Outside are the interweaving phenomena; within ourselves is matter, constantly seething and boiling substance. This metabolic processing of matter kindles the flames that leap into consciousness and form the mystic impressions. Mysticism is the inwardly perceived corporeal matter of the metabolism. That is something that cannot be logically refuted, but must be traced back to actual processes when man yields in a one-sided way to the metabolism.
Just as the belief that it is possible to find traces of matter in the external world indicates feeblemindedness — that is, a real illness of the spirit, soul, and bodily being of man — so does one-sided preoccupation with mysticism indicate a corporeal indisposition. It points toward something that sounds somewhat insulting if put bluntly. Yet we must use an expression that is, as it were, spoken from yonder side of the Guardian of the Threshold and means “childishness.” In the same way that one incurs feeblemindedness through atomistic thinking concerning the outer world, one becomes childish when yielding to a mysticism that wants to feel the spirit in the seething of the inner metabolism.
Childishness, of course, has a good side, too. When we observe the child we see a lot of spirit in it, and geniality in many instances consists in man's preserving the childlike spirit all the way into advanced age. When we look at the world from the other side of the threshold we can see that it is the spirit which, for instance, forms the child's brain, that spirit which accompanies us from the spiritual world when we enter the physical world through conception or birth. This spirit is most active in the child. Later, it is lost. Therefore, the word "childishness" is not meant as an insult in this instance, it merely denotes that spirit which forms the brain out of a more or less chaotic mass. Later on, however, if this spirit, which actually shapes the child's brain, does not pour itself sufficiently into logicality, into experience, into what life presents; if, instead, it acts in a one-sided manner and excludes the individual physical experiences; if it goes on working in the way it did during the first seven years, then instead of becoming intellectually mature one becomes childish. Childishness is frequently found to be a characteristic of a great many mystics, particularly arrogant ones. They wish to weave and live in that spirit which is really what should be active in the child's organism. They have retained this spirit, however, and, greatly impressed by their own accomplishment, they gaze at it in wonder in their consciousness, believing, in their one-sided, abstract mysticism, that they are perceiving a higher spirituality, when it is only the matter of their own metabolism.
Again, we do not need merely to refute the one-sided mystic if we are really well grounded in an anthroposophically oriented spiritual science. We must show that it is the sign of an ailing constitution of the spirit, soul, and body when man broods one-sidedly within his inner being, thereby attempting to find the spirit.
I have drawn these two examples, familiar to you from anthroposophical literature, in order to point out to you how serious from a certain viewpoint matters can become when, leaving the ordinary spiritual life of today, one immerses oneself in anthroposophical spiritual life. There, one no longer deals with something as insignificant as “right” or “wrong.” It now becomes a question of “healthy” or “sick” conditions in the organic functions. Thus, on a higher level, something that goes in one direction must be considered healthy, while something going in another direction must be considered sick. I would like you to understand from these implications how spiritual science is an active knowledge; how it cannot stand still on the level of the nature of ordinary knowledge but becomes something real. The process of knowledge, insofar as it expresses itself in spiritual science, is something that actually takes place in the human organism.
In a similar manner we must define the element that lives in the realm of will. When we talk of the realm of will in our age — an age permeated by that large decline we have often discussed — when we speak of what develops into human will impulses and try to define their character, then we say: Man is good or evil. Again, we are dealing with ethical categories — good and evil — which are just as necessary, of course, as logical categories. Yet, from what arises out of the impulses of spiritual science, it is not merely a question of what is meant when one action of man is designated as good and another as evil. When one calls a human action good, even in a karmic connection, it is a question of balancing in some way or other the good with the evil. We refer to something that pertains to an ethical judgment of man.
Whenever we rise into the realm of the spiritual scientific, it is much more a question of recognizing that what is at work there is a certain manner of thinking, feeling, and willing for human beings which leads upward to a fruitful development, to progress in evolution. On the one hand we have abstract goodness. It is of outstanding moral value, but even that is ethically abstract. When it is a matter of spiritual-scientific impulses, however, man must not only do good, or only do the good which lets him appear as an ethically good person. He can do, think, or feel only that which advances the world in its development in the external sense world; or he can do something that is not merely evil, leading to an ethical condemnation, but has a destructive effect on the world forces. This was already meant to be indicated in the Portal of Initiation, [ Note 5 ] where Strader and Capesius are speaking and the following is pointed out: Everything that is done here in the sense world and is subject to ethical judgments of good and evil turns into phenomena behind the curtains of existence, having either a progressive, constructive effect or a destructive one, leading to decline. Just try to experience this entire scene that is permeated with thunder and lightning, where things are happening in a most realistic manner in the soul world while Capesius and Strader are discussing one or the other matter. Try to re-experience this scene and you will see how what we experience as the ethical sphere here on the physical plane is in reality very different there.
All this is to show you how serious world aspects become in that instance when, upon leaving today's customary way of judging by logical or outward human categories only, one ascends to the realities that confront us when we view the world from the spiritual scientific standpoint. Things become serious, yet they must be mentioned today because the world now demands a new kind of spiritual life. Things are happening in the world today that everyone sees but that nobody wishes to comprehend in their actual significance because one cannot take the step from external abstraction to reality. I want to give you a few other examples.
You find today that you live in a world where, among much else, there exist, for example in the social field, a great many party organizations — liberal, conservative, and many other parties. Human beings are unaware of the actual nature of these parties. When they have to vote, they decide on one or the other party. They do not give much thought to what it really is that exists as party policy, pulsating through all of public life. They are incapable of taking these things seriously. There are quite a number of people who, in the nicest superficial manner, repeat all sorts of Orientalisms about the external world as maya, but when it really comes to doing something in this external world they do not stick to what they repeat so abstractly. Otherwise, they would ask: “Maya? Then these parties must be maya too. Then what is the reality to which this maya points?”
If this matter is pursued in a spiritual-scientific way in more detail — and tomorrow we shall go deeper into this topic — one finds that these parties exist in the external world by having programs and principles, that is, they pursue abstract ideas. Everything that lives in the external physical world, however, is always the replica, the reflection, of what is present as a reality in a much more intense form in the spiritual world. Here is the physical world (see drawing, red), but everything in it points toward the spiritual, and only above, in the spiritual world, can the actual reality of these physical things be found (red). Down here, for instance, you find the parties (orange). On the Earth, they oppose each other, seeking to gather a great number of people under the umbrella of an abstract program. Then what are these parties a reflection of? What is up there in the spiritual world if these parties down here are maya? No abstractions exist in the spiritual world above, only beings. Yet, political parties are rooted in abstraction. Above, one cannot profess adherence to a party program; there one can only be a follower of this or that being or hierarchy. There one cannot just subscribe to a program on the basis of the intellect; that cannot happen there. One must belong with one's whole being to another entity. What is abstract down here is being above: that is, the abstract below is only the shadow of beingness above. If you consider the two main categories of parties, the liberal and conservative, you know that each has its own program. When you look above to see what each is a reflection of, then you discover that ahrimanic being is projected here (see drawing, lower part) into the conservative views, luciferic being in the liberal thoughts. Down here, one follows a liberal or conservative program; up there, one is a follower of an ahrimanic or a luciferic being of some hierarchy.
It can happen, however, that the moment you pass across the threshold it becomes necessary really to understand all this clearly, and neither be fooled by words nor succumb to illusions. It is quite easy to assume that one belongs to a certain good being. Just because you call a being good, however, does not make it so. Anyone can say, for instance, “I acknowledge Jesus, the Christ,” but in the spiritual world, one cannot follow a program. The whole manner in which the concepts and images of this Jesus, of Christ, fill such a person's soul indicates that it is merely the name of Jesus, the Christ, that he has in mind. Actually he is a follower of either Lucifer or Ahriman, but calls whichever it is by the name of Jesus or Christ.
I ask you: How many people today know that party opinions are shadows of realities in the spiritual world? Some do know and act according to their knowledge. I can point to some who know. The Jesuits, for instance, they know. Do not think that the Jesuits believe that when they write something [ Note 6 ] against anthroposophy in their journals, for instance, they have hit upon something special and logically irrefutable. Refutations are not what counts there. The Jesuits know very well how their refutations could be countered. They are not concerned with a rational fighting for or against something, but with being followers of a certain spiritual being which I do not wish to name today, but which they call Jesus, their Leader, to whom they belong. Whoever this being may be, they call it Jesus. I do not wish to go into the facts more closely, but they call themselves soldiers and him their Leader. They do not fight to refute, they fight to recruit adherents for the companies, the army, of Jesus — that is, the being they call Jesus. And they know very well that as soon as one looks across the threshold, abstract categories, logical approval or disapproval no longer matter, only the hosts following one or the other being. Down on Earth it is a matter of mere figures of speech. This is what mankind today is hardly willing to understand, namely, that if we wish to escape from the decline of our age it can no longer be a question of abstractions or merely of what one may think, but that we must deal with realities. We shall begin to ascend to realities when we stop talking about right or wrong and begin speaking about healthy or sick. We begin to rise to realities when we cease talking about programs of parties or worldviews, and instead speak about following real beings whom we encounter as soon as we become aware of what exists on yonder side of the threshold. It must be our concern today actually to take that serious step that leads from abstraction to reality, from merely logical knowledge to knowledge as deed. This alone can lead us out of the chaos now gripping the world.
The world situation, about which we shall speak tomorrow and the day after, can be judged in a sound way only by someone who examines it with the means that spiritual science is prepared to give him. Otherwise one will be unable to see in the right light the significant, existing contrasts between East and West. All that outwardly manifests itself in visible realities — what else is it but the inherently absurd expression of what lives as thoughts in people's heads? How, then, do these thoughts manifest themselves to us?
To answer this question and to conclude today's presentation, I would like again to call our attention to an obvious example. More than once, I have pointed out how Catholic clerical factions, especially here in Switzerland, are now resorting to a web of lies in order to destroy spiritual science. Those of you who have been here have witnessed a number of examples of what the Catholic Jesuits come up with in the attempt to destroy anthroposophy. Consider the attacks made by Jesuit seminarists with weapons that are certainly not nice. I need not characterize this; those who have not informed themselves can easily do so.
For Switzerland and Central Europe, where these things happen, are all part of the world. So, too, is America. I recently received a magazine published in America in which anthroposophically oriented spiritual science is characterized, while, at the same time, the Jesuits in Europe denounced spiritual science as a threat to the Catholic Church and to Christianity. You know by now that Reverend Kully [ Note 7 ] stated that there are three evils in the world. One is Judaism, the other Freemasonry, but the third — worse than all of them, even worse than Bolshevism — is what is taught here in Dornach. This originates from the Catholic side, and is how anthroposophy is characterized.
What about America? I want to read you a small paragraph from an American publication written at the same time Catholic journals over here printed their view of anthroposophy:
Just as the Catholic hierarchy has always insisted that the Roman church is the only one with any authority,
so it is self-evident that the church which Steiner's glib tongue alludes to can be none other than the Roman Catholic church. This assumption is reinforced, and indeed any doubt about the matter ceases, when one reads Steiner's other occult books. They all point to the same thing, namely, his writings are purely misleading; the sheepskin of a superficial occultism covering the wolf of Jesuitism.
The American article concludes with several more nice sentences:
Steiner claims to be an initiate. That may be; but whether he is of the White Lodge or belongs to the Brothers of Shadow is something one can only decide when it is realized that he stood on the side of men of “blood and iron” ... and that a number of his students here (in America) were interned as German spies.
Tomorrow we shall continue with this subject.
Translator's Notes:A. In the German educational system, the grade of 1 is equivalent to an A; 4 is a D and 5 would indicate a failing grade.B. The “dead end” alluded to here is the translation of the German expression “Holzweg,” literally, “wooden path.” Like all such expressions in a language, it springs from real experience. The “Holzweg” is a rough timber road, or a system of such roads, proceeding into the forest and used by woodcutters. It leads nowhere and may dead-end suddenly. Hence, it would be easy to get lost on it.