Monday, October 30, 2017
The Mission of the Scandinavian Peoples
Cosmic Forces in Man. Lecture 3
Rudolf Steiner, Oslo, Norway, December 4, 1921:
The two previous lectures dealt with important questions relating to the nature and destiny of man. We heard that the human physical body and ether body are not connected merely with the external world perceived by the senses and that this bodily nature of man can only be understood aright when we also recognize its relation with the Zodiac. And we then tried to understand how the heaven of the fixed stars and the planetary spheres work upon what lies within the outer covering of man, shaping and imbuing it with life. In the last lecture we also heard how the inner, spiritual core of man's being is related to the world of the higher hierarchies. It was indicated that this connection with the world of the higher hierarchies becomes especially noticeable when we observe how in his physical life on Earth, man can achieve union with the spiritual world through morality, religious devotion, and love for his fellow men; in this way he enables his guardian angel so to order his descent at the end of his life between death and a new birth that he again acquires the full power of individuality and is able, as a free individual, to take hold of his human nature. We also heard that if a man has not established this relation to the spiritual world in some incarnation, his link with his nation, for example, is of a purely external kind, and that this, in its extreme form, leads to chauvinism.
Such studies show us that man's life can only be truly understood when the other side, too, is considered, that is to say, the life stretching between death and a new birth. As soon as we come to study the inner nature of man, this life between death and a new birth must be taken into consideration. For life here on the Earth is in truth a reflection of the life between death and a new birth. Life in matter is the bodily life, and what we have developed in the world of spirit-and-soul before birth expresses itself in this bodily life.
What we must acquire anew, what must be built up anew in the core of our being, is the element appertaining to the will, and in a certain respect also to the life of feeling. The faculty of thinking that is bound up with the head: this we bring with us from the spiritual world — to the extent to which thinking is unmixed with feeling. Our thinking faculty per se comes with us at birth into physical existence, and we have only to develop it during physical life or allow it to be developed by education. What we mainly acquire in the new incarnation through intercourse with the outer world are the qualities inherent in feeling and in will, which for this reason play an extremely important part in education.
In the sphere of education, if through our own shortcomings as teachers we are incapable of helping the child to think properly, we may leave undeveloped much that by virtue of his previous incarnations he could have brought to expression. If, however, we are unable to work on the child's life of feeling and of will through our natural authority and our example as teachers, then we fail to impart to him what he ought to receive in the physical world, and thus we do injury to his subsequent life after death. In the modern world this is a cause of deep pain to anyone who understands these things. In the world of education today people insist upon the importance of the child being made to use his brain, upon the cultivation of his intellect. True, much that the child brings with him through birth is brought out by these means. But it can only be of real use when earthly life too is presented to the child in the right way, that is to say, when we are able through example and authority to impart to him the intangible qualities belonging to feeling and to will. We injure the child's eternal life if we fail to cultivate in him the right kind of feeling and. will.
The faculty of thinking which we bring with us at birth comes to an end here, in the material world; it dies with us. Only what we cultivate through feeling and will — which is nevertheless unconsciously permeated with new thoughts — this and this only we take with us through the gate of death. In our present very difficult times, religion, education, indeed every domain of mental and spiritual life, must begin to take account of man's eternal nature, not merely of human egotism.
Religions of the present day speculate far too much upon human egotism. On the one side they encourage inertia by not spurring men on to acquire those things which are eternal by inner individual effort in the life of feeling and of will; and on the other side they enhance egotism by speaking only of eternal life after death, not of what was there before birth or conception and has come down with us into the physical world. I have said before that this life before birth is connected with selflessness in man, whereas human egotism comes into play whenever mention is made of the life after death. Life after death assumes an egotistic form in the religious concepts of today. The idea is put before man in such a way that his longings are satisfied. When the religions believe that they have helped the egotistic life of soul in man, they think they have done what is expected of them. But through a truly spiritual understanding of the world, mankind must be brought to realize how essential it is for the whole life of the human being to be viewed in the light of eternity, free from every trace of egotism and molded accordingly by those whose task it is to teach and educate.
Now, this has a significant bearing upon public life too, and it is of this that I want to speak today. For it is in the highest degree necessary that what we gain from an anthroposophical knowledge of higher worlds should be carried into actual life, that we should know how to bring it to expression in life. Abstract theories are really of little use. Life on the Earth is many-sided, full of variety. If, for example, we consider the life of the peoples, it is not only obvious that Indians differ from Americans or Englishmen, but Swedes are often said to differ from Norwegians although they live in such near proximity. We cannot let ourselves be guided entirely by general principles; concrete, individual conditions prevail everywhere and it is these that are important. It is just these individual conditions that we shall fail to recognize if we do not take our start from the spiritual. Modern man does not really know the world. He talks a great deal about the world but he does not know it, for he is unaware that the soul-and-spirit extends into physical existence and that, fundamentally, this physical existence is governed by the spiritual. This knowledge is not acquired by studying abstract, general principles. These abstract principles are often perfectly correct, but they do not carry us very far in the world as it actually is.
Certainly it is quite correct to say: ‘God rules the world.’ But in face of the manifold variety of the world it is purposeless to keep repeating: ‘God rules the world in India, God rules the world in England, God rules the world in Sweden, God rules the world in Norway.’ Certainly, God rules the world everywhere, but for the purposes of life in its immediate reality it is necessary to know how God rules the world in India, in England, in Sweden, in Norway. In spiritual study the individual conditions must be observed in every case. Of what use would it be, for example, to take a man into a Geld, show him a plant with yellow flowers and round petals and merely tell him: “That is a plant” — and then take him to a plant with thorns and pointed, tapering petals, repeating: “That is a plant.” It is the specific and individual properties of the plant that must be made clear to him. But in spiritual matters man has become so easygoing and slack that he is content with general principles. He only wants to hear: ‘God rules the world’ or ‘Man has a guardian angel’ and he feels no desire for detailed knowledge of how life is differentiated in the various regions of the Earth, or how its various manifestations have been influenced by the spiritual world.
This, then, will be the theme of the lecture.
It is precisely in these days of tumult, when people all over the world are so utterly at sea in public affairs, when congresses and conferences produce no result, and in spite of high-sounding programs, men disperse without having come to any real decision — it is precisely now that deeper questions should be raised concerning all that is revealing itself from the spiritual world in the different regions of the Earth.
Think of the peninsula which you, together with the Swedes, have as your earthly dwelling-place. There is something about it that presents a kind of riddle to those who do not live in Sweden or Norway, as well as to those who actually live here. There was certainly a great difference in the way in which since 1914, let us say, you thought about the tumultuous events going on in the world. These events have struck their blows in manifold ways but man today is largely unaware of their effects; he does not realize what deeper forces have been and are in operation. Looking down to Middle Europe, to the South of Europe, to Africa, even to regions of Asia, the events will have seemed to you to be the direct expression of violent, elemental passions, whereas up here you were merely experiencing the consequences and reverberations of those events. People up here in the North may well have been perplexed, for it really was as though men had suddenly become frenzied with desire to tear one another to pieces. Those who were only onlookers must certainly have been perplexed when they thought about these happenings more deeply.
But such things cannot be explained by studying only the one period — even a period fraught with happenings as momentous as those of recent years. True, someone may say that it seems to him as though he had lived through centuries in these few years, but in general there will only be a very gradual realization that this is actually so. Most people are living and thinking today exactly as they did in 1914. In countries like these in the North, this is in a way understandable. But that it is also the case in Middle Europe is terrible. The normal feeling would be one of having lived through events which would otherwise have come to pass only in the course of centuries. Everything was compressed into a few short years. Events like those of 1914-1915 embraced within a brief space of time as much as about ten years of the Thirty Years' War, and a measure of illumination can only be shed upon them when they are studied in a much wider historical perspective.
From the vantage-point of your Northern peninsula you will be able to realize that it is only since the beginning of the present epoch that things have been happening south of you in which your participation has been different from that of the peoples who live in the South of Europe, in Western Asia, or in Middle Europe. There has really been an utter contrast between the South and the North of Europe in this respect.
I want you to think of the fourth century A.D., or rather of the period which reaches its climax in that century. In the South, on the Greek peninsula and especially on the Italian peninsula — also in the life of Middle Europe which was in contact with Italy — you see the spread of Christianity. But something else as well is to be perceived. Christianity makes its way from the East into the pagan world of Europe, expressing itself in many different forms. When we consider the early centuries, the first, second, and even the third centuries, we find the old, inherited wisdom being brought to bear upon Christianity. Efforts are made to understand Christianity through the Gnosis, as it is called, to interpret Christianity in the light of the highest form of wisdom. A change comes about in this respect, but not until the fourth century, just at the time when Christianity begins to spread more toward the regions of Middle Europe. The Gnostic conceptions, the wisdom-filled conceptions of Christianity now disappear. A writer like Origen who wants to introduce something of the old Gnostic wisdom into Christianity is branded as a heretic: Julian, the so-called Apostate, who wants to unite the old pagan wisdom with Christianity, is ostracized. And finally Christianity is externalized by the deed of Constantine into the political form of a Church. In the fourth century, that which in Christianity had once been quite different, those secrets which were felt to need the illumination of the highest wisdom if they were to become intelligible — all this begins to take on a more superficial character. Men are called upon to lay hold of Christianity in a more elementary way, with a kind of abstract feeling. Christianity makes its way from the South towards the North. It is of course true that from the fourth to the fifteenth centuries the Christian life which develops in the South, and especially in Middle Europe, is rich in qualities of soul, but the spiritual, in its living essence, has receded. The Gnosis is regarded as an undesirable element in Christianity. There you have one or two cursory flashlights upon happenings among the peoples of Europe more toward the South.
Christianity spreads out, finds its way into the Greek world, the Roman world, into the life of Middle Europe, and there in a certain sense it is stripped of spirituality. Think now of your Northern world in the third and fourth centuries, that is to say in the same early centuries of the post-Christian era. External history gives no true account of the conditions then prevailing. This period must be studied with the help of Anthroposophy. In connection with the European Folk-Souls this was done here some years ago (1910), but today we will think more of the external character of the peoples.
At the time when in the South the Spirit withdrew more and more toward the East — that is to say, shortly after the period I have described — the old Athenian schools of philosophy were closed and the last philosophers of Athens were obliged to make their way to the East, where they attached themselves to the mysterious academy of Gondi Shapur, from which at that time a remarkable spiritual life was spreading via Africa and Southern Europe toward the rest of Europe, deeply influencing the spiritual life of later times. Yet it can truly be said that there, in the South, men looked back to a lofty spirituality they had once possessed. The mighty Event of Golgotha had taken place. In the first centuries it had still been found necessary to understand the Mystery of Golgotha with the help of this sublime spirituality. This spirituality had been gradually swept aside; the human element had more and more taken the place of what may be called the working of the Divine in the life of man.
The Gnosis still helped man to realize the existence of the Divine-Spiritual within him. This Divine-Spiritual reality was more and more put aside and the human element brought to the fore. In this respect much was contributed by those peoples who took part in the migrations. In their migrations toward the South, in their conquests of the Southern regions, the Germanic peoples of Middle Europe, who brought with them souls more naturally bound to the physical, contributed to this repression of the spiritual. For they did not understand the old spirituality and brought a more fundamentally human influence to the South. And so the lofty primeval wisdom which had once been alive in men receded from the spiritual culture of the West. And at the same time when this repression of the spiritual was taking place — in the third and fourth centuries A.D.— we find that up here in the North, teachings about the Gods were being spread among men.
In those days human beings who were inspired in an instinctive way were held in high esteem. These were times which had long since passed away for the Southern people. Up here in the North it still happened that here and there a man or a woman living in isolation would be sought out and listened to, when in a mysterious way, through faculties arising from their particular bodily constitution, they gave revelations concerning the spiritual worlds. These faculties were a natural gift in certain individuals who worked in this way among their fellows. And when the people were listening attentively to these isolated seers, they realized, when they went into the hut of one of these ‘God-intoxicated,’ ‘God-revealing’ men or women, that it was not really the physical man or woman to whom they were listening, but that it was the Divine-Spiritual itself which had descended and was inspiring such individuals in order that they might give forth the teaching of the Gods to their fellow men.
It is very striking for the anthroposophical student of European history to find that the men of the North were still so constituted as to be able to receive divine teachings, to feel that the Gods — the beings of the higher hierarchies — were still living realities among them; whereas in the South, during the same period, the spirit is becoming weaker and weaker and the human element which man brings to expression in his life on the physical Earth comes to the fore and supersedes the Divine. So it was in the decisive fourth century, when the men of the South were becoming more and more eager for human doctrine.
These individual revelations, springing as they did from obscure depths of spiritual life, must be taken in all seriousness. It is verily as if in those times the Gods moved as teachers among the still childlike peoples of the North. This condition which was still present in a particular form in the North during the first centuries of the Christian era had long since vanished in the South. But it is a remarkable and significant fact in the destiny of the peoples that the men of the North became for the men of the South the bearers of what had been learnt from the Gods — not from men.
This must be taken earnestly. The people who belonged, in the main, to the population of the West of your peninsula, whose descendants are the Norwegians of today, journeyed toward the West, toward the Southwest, and as a result of their wanderings, their sea-voyages and conquests, their influence reached right down to Sicily and North Africa. The sons of the Gods went to the sons of the World, bringing them what they had learned from their Gods.
It is an interesting chapter of history to study the migrations of the Northern peoples toward the Southwest and to see how — in continual metamorphosis, of course — the teachings of the Northern Gods spread toward the Southwest, deeply influencing the British Isles, France, Spain, Italy, Sicily, and North Africa. Moreover, the effect of this influence is perceptible even today. The Roman-Latin form of life which makes its way from the South toward the North is permeated with the Northern influence. Whatever consciousness of the Divine has remained in the stream of civilization from the South is here influenced by the Northern teachings of the Gods. But it takes on a peculiar character which is not fully noticeable until we look toward the Eastern side of this Northern peninsula — toward Sweden.
We need remind ourselves only of one fact: how the peoples of Eastern Europe turned to the Vareger, and how in the East of the Northern peninsula the trend is more toward the East. It is a really remarkable picture. The form of life that later on tends more toward the civilization of Norway streams towards the Southwest, and the life that later on tends toward the civilization of Sweden streams toward the Southeast. Everywhere, of course, there are the teachings of the Northern Gods, but they are presented in different ways.
The peoples who later on became the Norwegians carry the element of activity, of strength, of enthusiasm, toward the Southwest. In this way the languishing Latin culture is stimulated and imbued with life. The influence of the Northern Gods in these migrations is such that it is a stimulus to activity in the whole life of the peoples. This is apparent everywhere, and it is a most fascinating study.
But we also see what is happening in the East of this peninsula.— It is of course influenced by geographical conditions, but these geographical conditions are also reflected in the character of the people, for the human being does not grow out of the Earth but is born on the Earth, he comes down from the world of soul-and-spirit, and there is a real difference between being born as a Norwegian or as a Swede. We shall not get anywhere by simply saying that the geographical conditions are such and such, but we must question further as to why one soul has the urge to become a Norwegian, and another a Swede. But now think of the remarkable character — and this applies even at the present day — of the Eastern Scandinavian, the Swedish impulses which make their way toward the East.
These impulses stream toward the East, but as they advance they are everywhere deflected. They do not become really active. They cannot maintain their stand against what is brought over from the East, first by other Asiatic peoples and later by the Mongols and Tartars, nor against the early, more characteristically Eastern form of Christianity. This stream flows toward the Southeast but meets with obstacles everywhere and takes on a more passive character. The impulse as a whole is deeply influenced by the North. But what streams from the West of the Northern peninsula toward the South brings activity everywhere; whereas the influence that makes its way toward the East is seized by the inactive, the more reflective, element of the East, and its own activity is in a way blunted.
As the Northern Gods send their impulses toward the West they unfold, paramountly, their nature of will. As they send their impulse toward the East, they unfold their life of reflection, their contemplative nature.
External wars and conflicts are ultimately only the material images of what takes place in the way I have just indicated. Those who are abstract theorists, who view the whole world from the standpoint of some theory — and the empiricists of today are fundamentally the greatest theorists of all, for they never get down to realities, they think about things instead of trying to know them from inside — these theorists will bring forward all sorts of characteristics displayed by the Norwegians and the Swedes. The inhabitants of these countries themselves often emphasize the existence of outward divergencies simply because people today will not penetrate to the depths of human nature in order to acquire a real knowledge of life. But life must be observed in the way indicated in the two lectures I have given here. External life must be viewed not only from the standpoint of life between birth and death but also from the standpoint of life between death and a new birth; we must be mindful not only of those things which satisfy the egotism of the human being who merely wants to be happy after death and because he still has physical life before him does not trouble about the life before birth. We must study how we can apply in this earthly life what we have brought with us through birth from worlds of soul-and-spirit.
Then we begin to see that there are connections in the life of men and in the life of the peoples which are only revealed when we perceive what man is and has become through many earthly lives, when we have knowledge of the periods he spends between death and a new birth.
A most remarkable connection is then revealed, helping us to understand what comes to pass on Earth. In the external national character of the Norwegian of the present day there are traits which have been inherited from those men who once migrated toward the Southwest and, by their revelations of the Gods, poured life and activity into the Roman-Latin form of civilization. At that time something developed in the great plan of the world which gave the Norwegians their special character, their particular task. And those who are born in Norway today will understand their destiny and task in the world as a whole only if they look back with spiritual understanding to the times when Norway was able to develop in a particular way, when the Northern people went forth on their migrations, their raids, and their campaigns of conquest toward the Southwest, to fulfill a task on Earth. The task sprang out of the character of the people who inhabit these countries. Their character, it is true, was different in those times, but something remains as a heritage in the present-day Norwegian and endows him with certain faculties which are important from the point of view of man's eternal life, of man's immortality.
From the Eastern part of this peninsula, where the Swedish character has developed, the old teachings of the Gods were carried toward the East, to men whose own religious doctrines had been preserved in a certain mystical, Oriental form. What was more a revelation from Nature met with little response in the East; those who wandered toward the East, therefore, were destined to lead a more contemplative life.
But this again has left a heritage which has set its stamp upon the character of the people. And if we are to understand the western and the Eastern parts of the Scandinavian peninsula we must look back to what these peoples have experienced through the centuries, realizing what they have become today as a result of these experiences. We have every reason at the present time to think about these things. It is, after all, quite easy to realize in an elementary way that spiritual forces must be working in the world, in the whole international course of events, in the whole racial life of man, and that the missions of each particular people must be understood in the light of spiritual knowledge.
Now when the power of supersensible cognition is brought to bear upon this connection between the tasks of the modern Norwegians and Swedes and the course of their historical evolution, remarkable things come to light. Norwegians have a definite gift — nor does this gift depend upon actual birth into a Norwegian milieu. What develops in the life of Norway can be seen even in the physical world; it can be described by anthropologists, historians, or even journalists. Their statements will be more or less correct but will give no true account of the forces at work in the depths of the human soul. For man has a mission not only here on Earth; he has a mission also in the spiritual worlds after death. And this mission in the spiritual worlds after death takes shape here, on the Earth.
What we experience in the period immediately following death is a consequence of our Earth evolution. What we experience on the Earth immediately after birth — this again is a consequence of our life in the world of soul-and-spirit, and it is of the highest importance to study the mission of the Norwegian people not only on the Earth but in the period after death, with the means at the disposal of spiritual investigation.
Because of their physical and racial character, because of the special constitution of their brains and the rest of their bodily make-up, it can — I repeat, it can — fall to the lot of those souls who pass through the gate of death from the soil of the western part of the Scandinavian peninsula to give a very definite stimulus to other souls after death. They can give to other souls after death something that only the Norwegian characteristics are able to impart. In this epoch especially, the Norwegian character is so constituted that subconsciously and inwardly it understands certain secrets of Nature.
I am not now referring to your external, intellectual knowledge but to the kind of knowledge which you develop in your spiritual body, without using the physical senses, between the time of falling asleep and waking, when you are outside your bodies. When during sleep you experience the spirit in the plant world, in stone and rock, in the rustling trees and the roaring of the waves, you become aware of the reality of forces living in the plants, hidden in the rocks, operating in the waves of the sea as they break in upon the shores, in the sparsely flowering rock-plants. A great picture arises in your souls during sleep, in the form of an intimate knowledge of Nature of which the intellect and the life of the senses are unconscious. And when, as I described in the last lecture, you develop a real connection with the angel-being, then you can bear into the spiritual world this unconscious Nature-wisdom, this concrete knowledge of spirituality in the plants, the stones, and the other phenomena. of Nature.
Those who in the true and real way have lived a Norwegian life become the stimulators and teachers of their fellow souls after death in regard to the secrets of Nature here on the Earth. For in the spiritual world, souls must be taught about the secrets of the Earth, just as here, on the Earth, they must be taught about the secrets of the spiritual world.
In the Eastern portion of this peninsula, where the heritage from olden times is as I have described it, a different mission is carried through the gate of death. What the souls there carry through death into the spiritual world is not so much what is experienced during sleep but during waking consciousness in connection with the external world, in contemplation and study of the sense-world and in a kind of understanding — permeated with feeling — of the external world.
But this, after all, is something which, fundamentally speaking, has significance only for the earthly life. Yet while man is developing just this element in earthly life, something very significant develops in the subconscious region of the soul. I have pointed out to you that even in waking life a certain part of our being sleeps and dreams. The life of feeling is really only another form of dream life. In our feelings we dream and in the operations of our will we are asleep. What we know of our will is only the illumination thrown upon it by our thinking. But the kind of will that is kindled in the Swedish soul is less capable of penetrating the secrets of Nature during sleep. What enters the Swedish soul more unconsciously in the life of will and of feeling during contemplation of the outer world and in the operations of intellect and reason — that is what is carried through death. So the mission of the souls belonging to the eastern part of the Scandinavian peninsula who pass through death is to impart to other souls an element pertaining more to the will — exactly the opposite of what they were able to impart to their physical fellow beings during the times of their old historical connection with them.
Let me put it like this: A special gift in connection with the element of will developed in the eastern part of the Scandinavian peninsula as a primary and then as an inherited quality of the character of the people. The people of Europe have lived a long time without asking in this concrete way what they really have to do after death, for they have contented themselves with the egotistical answer: We shall be happy. But if the world is to be prevented from falling into complete decadence, this egotistical answer will not suffice. It will only be possible for men to lead a true and proper life when they are willing to accept the selfless answer, when they not only ask about the happiness in store for them after death but when they also ask: What am I called upon to do, in view of my particular situation in earthly life? Only when people are willing to frame the question in this way will they put their situation in life to proper use and so prepare truly for their mission. And then the preparation will no longer be difficult.
The two lectures — indeed the three — which I have given you here are all connected in this respect. In view of this special mission, it is essential that the spirituality in the anthroposophical attitude to the world should be understood here in Norway. For when you consider that it is a specific task to create out of the subconscious life a natural science for the next world — however paradoxical this may seem, it is indeed so — then you must deliberately and consciously prepare your life of feeling in such a way that your souls, while you sleep every night, are not unreceptive to the knowledge of Nature which should be infused into them during sleep. But the bodies of today are not always a help in this process of preparation. The souls of the Northern peoples are, through ancient heritage, fundamentally fitted for the spiritual world. Here, above all, the bodies must be influenced by a spiritual form of culture.
And now a great question arises which can be illuminated by comparing the mission of the peoples of Middle Europe with that of the peoples of the North.
The state of the people of Middle Europe, if they will not accept the spiritual, was not badly described by a man who gave no thought at all to the possibility of a spiritual regeneration of humanity. Oswald Spengler has written his book on the decline of the West, that brilliant but thoroughly pessimistic book — although he has repudiated the pessimism in a subsequent pamphlet. Of course, it is pessimism to speak of the decline of the West. But Spengler is actually speaking of the decline of culture, of something that is of the soul. Without spiritual regeneration the people of Middle Europe will suffer injury to their souls. But in this corner of Northern Europe human beings cannot be injured only in the life of soul; when they are injured in the soul, their very bodily nature is injured at the same time. In a way this is fortunate, for if the people of Middle Europe do not accept spirituality, they become barbarian, they degenerate in soul. The Northern people can only die out in the bodily sense, for everything depends here upon the particular constitution of the body.
The influence of a new stream of spiritual culture is profoundly necessary. For Middle Europe will degenerate, will become barbarian, will go to its decline if it does not allow itself to be influenced by the spirit. The Northerner will die out, will suffer physical death if he does not allow himself to be influenced by the spirit.
And so what is developed here, during physical life, is connected with the mission of Northern souls after death. They cannot fulfill their mission if they allow their bodies — which are so well-adapted for spirituality — to degenerate.
These earnest words must be uttered today, for the evolution of our epoch demands that men shall speak together of such matters. And it is for this reason that I wanted to speak to you from the general, human standpoint, to say to you what a man says to his fellow beings on this Earth if he has the destiny of Earth evolution deeply at heart. For those human beings who do not prepare themselves selflessly for an eternal life will not be leading their earthly life between birth and death aright.
That is the thought I should like to leave with you. Those who feel themselves Anthroposophists should realize that they are a tiny handful of people in the world, who must apply all their energy to shaking a lazy humanity out of its lethargy and helping it onward. Those who hate Anthroposophy today — this may be said among ourselves — hate it because their love of comfort and ease prevents them from being willing to grapple with the great tasks of humanity. They are afraid of what they must overcome if they are to transform their easygoing thoughts and feelings, and experience something much more profound. For this reason we see many a storm of opposition arising against what is taking place in Anthroposophy and developing out of it. You too will have to accustom yourselves to violent attacks being made against Anthroposophy or Spiritual Science by reactionaries of every kind, by all who love to saunter along their old beaten tracks. Those however who let this opposition deter them from developing their powers are not firmly rooted in the real task of Anthroposophy. When people see how Anthroposophy is being attacked today from all sides, they may become timid and say: Would it not be better to go forward more quietly so that the opposition may be less violent? Or again they may ask, if they find praise being meted out to them by men who in a decadent age hold leading positions: What have I done wrong? This is a matter of great importance from the anthroposophical point of view. Attacks and abuse are usually explicable for the reasons given above. But if praise were to come from the same quarters, it would be a bad augury for the anthroposophical world! It is just because the opponents of Anthroposophy today do attack it, that we can be reassured — but only, of course, in the sense that we must apply all the more energy in order to introduce Anthroposophy into the world, not out of personal idiosyncrasies but out of a deep realization of the needs and tasks of the world.
On this note, then, we will conclude. Let me express to you my heartfelt thanks for your active and energetic cooperation. I assure you that I mean it seriously when I say that separation in space is no separation to those who know the reality of the spiritual bond between souls. In taking my leave, I remain together with you, I do not really go away from you. I believe you can always realize this, if you wish it to be so. You may be quite sure that there are already numbers of people who feel this bond and who look with love in their hearts toward this region in the Northwest with its special task — the importance of which is so well known to Anthroposophy.
I take leave of you with this love in my heart for those who feel that they truly belong to us, to our Anthroposophical Movement. May our next meeting, too, be full of the inner strength that is necessary and right among Anthroposophists.