Chance, Providence, and Necessity. Lecture 5 of 8.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, August 30, 1915:
We have seen that necessity must be thought of in connection with the past, that the world contains as much necessity as it does past. For, as we tried to recognize, the past is reflected in the present. And there was another element involved: we hope to be so strengthened by our striving for clarity about just such concepts as we have been considering that we will be fit to take up the study of the truths of spiritual science. It is disastrous in many respects to have a great longing for what we might term deep spiritual-scientific truths if we shy away from strengthening our minds and thinking by taking in and thoroughly mastering concepts of a demanding nature. They are what disciplines our souls and spirits. And if we take pains to remain inwardly true in the process, no danger can ever threaten us from genuine spiritual-scientific concepts.
I have already mentioned, however, how often many people's longing for spiritual-scientific truths is found to outweigh their longing to work their way through to substantial concepts. Right at the beginning of our efforts in spiritual science there were some individuals who declared that they could not attend my lectures because they sank into a kind of sleep-state as a result of the concepts being discussed. A few especially mediumistic natures even carried things to the point of having to leave the lecture hall in Berlin. And one woman was actually found collapsed in sleep outside the hall, so powerful had been the lulling effect of the search for clear concepts!
The reproach was once made to Goethe that he created “pallid concepts” with his ideas about the metamorphosis of plants and animals and the primal phenomena of color. In his “Prophecies of Bakis,” which I have already had occasion to discuss, he inserted a passage referring to this avoidance of what people were calling “pallid concepts.” [ Note 01 ] As a matter of fact, this quatrain was also greatly misunderstood by those who tried to interpret these “Prophecies of Bakis.” Goethe said, “Pallid dost thou appear to me” — the concept, the idea — “and to the eye dead. How is it that you call forth holy life from founts of inner strength?” Goethe expressed with such accuracy the way people react who don't like to listen to clearly defined concepts, and therefore fall asleep, and who are always wanting to hear grand-sounding words about mysterious matters of the kind that give them something to dream about but never challenge them to think. They say, “Pallid dost thus appear to me, and to the eye dead”; they say it to those who want to speak occasionally on more sharply defined concepts. And they ask them, “How is it that you call forth holy life from founts of inner strength?” Goethe answers them, Passive would be your enjoyment if I could show you perfection.
Only the lack of it lifts you to levels beyond your own self.
In other words, the absence of those perfections that delight the eye or the senses in general proves elevating. Deadness overtakes those who do not attempt to take in and energetically work through what people often refer to as “pallid concepts.” It is therefore necessary, if we are to banish all traces of Baroque mysticism from the spiritual science we are pursuing, to devote ourselves occasionally to a concern with concepts of the utmost precision.
Thus far I have been talking about necessity. The question is now whether all the concepts that we tend, in ordinary life, to lump together with the concept of necessity really all deserve to be so linked. People say that what is necessary happens. But is this actually always the case? I would like to answer with a comparison that will clarify the matter. Let us suppose that we have a river with a gradually rising mountain chain beyond it, and we notice a stream or brook starting to run down from the heights. Let's imagine that something prevents our seeing beyond this point. We study the course of the stream or brook as it conforms to the contours of the mountain range and can state that according to what we are able to see from our vantage point it is a matter of necessity that this brook flows into this river. The mountain's formation conditions this, so that our sentence, “This brook flows into this river,” would unquestionably state a necessary fact. But now let us imagine that somebody decided to regulate the course of this brook, diverting it so that it flows in another direction. That person would have obviated the necessity, which would then not have developed. My comparison is crude, but it is a fact in life and in evolution that necessities don't always have to happen. We have to keep happenings and necessities apart. Two different concepts are involved here.
Now let us return to several previous concerns. First, let us review the insight we arrived at yesterday: that the past affects the present, appearing in reflection in it. But let us recall still another occasion on which mention of mirror images was also in order. We have often made a point of describing what takes place in human perception during ordinary waking consciousness. Human beings are really always outside their bodies and their bodily functions with that part of them that is engaged in the cognitive process; they live inside the things under study, as I've often said. And the fact that a person comes to know something is due to the reflection in his body of this experience he has inside things. So we can say that we are outside our bodies with one part of our perception, and our experience within things is reflected in our bodies.
If we now imagine ourselves looking at the color blue, we experience the blue of a flower, of chicory for example, but we do so unconsciously except for the fact of its reflection in our eyes. Our eyes are a part of our reflecting apparatus. We see the experience that we have in the chicory by allowing it to be reflected in our eyes. And we experience tone similarly. The life we live in tone is experienced unconsciously, and only becomes conscious through being reflected by our hearing organism. Our entire perceptive organism is a reflecting apparatus.
This is what I tried to establish as philosophical fact at the last Congress of Philosophers at Bologna. [ Note 02 ]
Cognition is thus engendered by reflection from our organism, by a reflecting of what we experience. And as you mull over this concept of reflection, both the reflecting of the past in the present and the reflecting of our present experience through our perceptive organism, you will have to admit that what is thus added to a thing or to an event in the form of reflections is a matter of total indifference to them, something that in neither case has anything directly to do with them. As you observe a mirror image you can quite well imagine that everything in it is as it is whether or not it is under observation. Reflections are therefore elements added to what is reproduced in them. That is especially the case with cognition; whether we develop this or that particular insight is not of the least consequence to the mirror image.
Now imagine yourselves walking through a landscape. Do you believe that the landscape would be any the less beautiful or in any way less whatever it is if you were not passing through it and experiencing it as a series of reflections engendered by your organism? No, those are elements added to the landscape and matters of total indifference to it. But is it a matter of indifference to you? No, it is not. For by walking today through a landscape that is reflected in your inner being and experiencing what is thus reflected, you will have become to some extent a different person in your soul tomorrow. What you experienced — a matter of total indifference to the landscape — signifies for you the beginning of an inner richness that can keep on growing there.
But what does all this really mean? It means, with reference again to the landscape metaphor, that we can say, “This situation was thus and such up to this point.” The fact that you walked through the landscape is a further addition to it. The landscape is reflected in you, becoming a further experience in your soul. Now how did what is continuing to grow there come into being? It did so as the result of something quite new being added to what had previously occurred. Something was really engendered in your soul out of nothingness, for contrasted with what had previously occurred, the reflection is of course a nothingness, a real, absolute nothingness. In other words, you relate to something to which there was no necessity to relate. You are an addition to it. You are added to a necessary happening as a living element that relates to it in a way not conditioned by previous events, since you could have stayed away. In that case, all that you gained from the reflection would not have become a part of the situation.
As you ponder examples of this kind, you become acquainted with the concept of chance; the real concept of it is to be found there. And you also gather from such examples that beings, things endowed with being, have to come up against each other, really to collide, for chance to occur. But we see from this that such a thing as chance can occur in the universe. If that were impossible, the enrichment of soul described above could not take place.
In this sense chance is a thoroughly legitimate concept. It is a real occurrence in cosmic events, and it shows us that new aspects of relationship can be garnered in cosmic evolution as products of reflection. If it were impossible for one participant to be linked with others without bringing about reflection in the cosmic process, then the occurrence of everything comprised in the term chance would be wholly out of the question. If the meadow through which you pass were to act as the agent of your passage, pulling you there with strings, and no reflection were to come about in you as described because of the meadow's total indifference, but the meadow were instead actively to imprint its impression on you, then the outcome could be called law-abiding necessity. But though it is hard to imagine it, there could then be no such thing as a present! There would be no present! And what would come of that? Why, beings who have no desire for such a linking up cannot progress any further if they follow such a course. They have to go back again. That is indeed the law governing devils and ghosts; they have to go out again by the door through which they entered. Goethe's Faust depicts this; they can't introduce any new evolutionary waves, and must return to the place they came from. And it is due to the possibility that new evolutionary waves can be set in motion in the developmental process of the cosmos that freedom exists.
In all our cognitive experiences, except for a certain category of them, no pure reflection takes place; the reflection is imperfect insofar as all kinds of impulses are combined with it. Concepts formed on the basis of past cognitive experience are imperfect. Once we have arrived at a pure concept, we no longer need merely to recall it; we can always create it anew. Though it becomes habitual, it is a habit that has finished with the past, and new reflections are constantly being summoned up with it. The concepts we form are pure reflections, which come to us from the beyond as additions to the things perceived. Therefore, when we form an impulse into concepts, it can be an impulse to freedom. That is what I attempted to develop at greater length in my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. [ Note 03 ] That is exactly the thought developed there.
But the concept of chance necessarily includes the concept of freedom. We must accustom ourselves to entertaining sharply defined concepts, for these are of immense significance for life. I want to cite an instance that has often been discussed here, but it is especially illuminating in the present context. Let us assume that we are studying illness. We must invariably look at illness from the standpoint of the present, never from the standpoint of the past, i.e., of necessity. This means enlivening the standpoint of the present by giving help to the full extent possible. Only if the illness terminates in death may we bring in the concept of necessity, realizing that necessity was involved. Anything other than this is the living present. We must be rigorous in adopting the standpoint that necessity inheres in the past; life rules the present. This example shows us that if we try to illumine concepts with the help of more fruitful viewpoints, we will acquire a certain knack for dealing with them.
A good deal could certainly be said on the subject of chance, and that will be done as time goes on. But for now I wanted to define the concept of chance and to clarify the extent to which it is valid. The easiest way to regard events after learning a little bit about karma is to say that everything is caused by karmic necessity. If someone has an incarnation at this point in time, then his life after death, and then his next incarnation, he calls something experienced in this second incarnation the consequence of the former life. But it is not absolutely necessary to look at things from the standpoint of the present; the consequence could be looked for further on, in the third incarnation. Something can occur then that we might be expecting to happen in the karma of the present incarnation. But an occurrence in the present incarnation may well be just the start of a karmic sequence, a reality generated by something presently living as a result of the reflection process. And the essential point here is that something is turned into a reality by a living element as a result of a reflection that is itself unreal. That is the way chance develops into necessity; when chance becomes a thing of the past, it is transformed into necessity.
On an occasion of great suffering, Goethe made a most beautiful statement, called by him “the word of a wise man.” He was speaking about the growth process of humanity, and said, “The rational world is to be looked upon as a single immortal individual engaged in a continuous bringing forth of what is necessary.” That is, bringing forth something, and when it has been brought forth, it is interwoven into the past and becomes necessity, “thus making itself the master of the element of chance.” A glorious saying to meditate upon! We can learn something from it too: Goethe wrote this sentence while experiencing great suffering, suffering that focused his entire feeling, his whole soul life, on the growth process of the human race, and caused him to ask what the actual course of this growth was. And there was wrung from his soul the realization that the rational world, the human race, brings forth what is necessary, and thus makes itself master over chance, in other words, incorporates chance forever into necessity.
I want to digress here for a moment. An insight such as I have just cited makes valuable material for meditation; it contains so much that flows into us as we meditate upon it. We shouldn't rest content with a mere abstract grasping of such a sentence, which emerged from Goethe's soul in his extreme old age, in 1828, when he was in the throes of great suffering. A great deal of life is packed into such a saying. And the digression I would like to make is this: our insights are always to be looked upon as grace bestowed upon us. And it is just those individuals who garner knowledge from the spiritual world who are aware what a matter of grace such knowledge is when they have prepared themselves to receive it, when their being reaches out to receive what flows to them from the spiritual world. One can experience over and over again how suitably prepared one must be for the reception of spiritual knowledge, how one must be able to wait for it, for one is not at just any and every moment in a condition to receive a particular insight from the spiritual world.
This fact must be stated in just such situations as ours, for it is only too easy for misconception to be piled upon misconception concerning the conditions under which supersensible insights flourish and can be fruitfully disseminated. Numbers of individuals come to me asking questions out of the blue about this or that, and often requesting information about matters that, at the time of questioning, are remote from my concern. They demand that I give them the most exact information. People are commonly convinced that a person who speaks out of a connection with the spiritual world knows about everything it contains and is always in a position to give out any information desired. And if he can't answer a question immediately, the comment is often made that the questioner is probably not supposed to be given the information, or something of the sort.
What we are dealing with here is too crude a conception of the relationship that exists between the spiritual world and the human soul. We should realize that “readiness for truth” is especially required for a direct reception of truths from the spiritual world. Misconceptions about these things must gradually be eliminated. Of course, people at some remove from the realm of truth in the life of the spirit feel a need to ask all sorts of questions, and answers can be given them from the investigator's store of memory, based on past research. But uninvestigated truths should not be requested out of the blue from spiritual researchers. Instead, it should be realized that the investigator feels requests for information about still unresearched matters to be like knife- cuts in his body, to use a physical analogy.
Definite laws govern everything that can lift human beings into the spiritual world. We need to familiarize ourselves with these laws to lessen misunderstandings about the flowing of spiritual truths into the physical world. Only by freeing ourselves from every trace of egoism — and this includes the desire for information on just any subject — will we create healthy conditions for the sort of movement this should and must be. Certain spiritual truths simply must be incorporated into the world today. But they should not encounter the kind of aspirations brought in from the world we formerly lived in or be pursued according to our erstwhile habits. The spiritual movement should not be undermined by them. In most cases, spiritual movements have been undermined by people's failure to adapt their habitual ways to spiritual truths, instead of bringing their accustomed habits to the reception of those truths. And so it could come about that a society was founded in the eighteenth century based upon what Jacob Boehme introduced into the spiritual life of Europe. [ Note 04 ] It is now correctly reported that this society had a number of members, but only one — the founder of the society — survived. I certainly hope that more than one will do so in our case! But that was what happened in one attempt to establish a society. It is said, too, that a tremendous number of those who became members turned later on into really peculiar human beings. I don't want to go into all the further details reported about the adherents of that eighteenth century society at this point.
When we familiarize ourselves with the spiritual world, as we do in the process of absorbing spiritual science, we develop an ever growing sense of what it is to participate in it. And we prepare ourselves to make the right kind of understanding ascent into higher worlds by taking in, in the form of sharply defined concepts, the world we live in. Those who are unwilling to think as penetratingly about chance and necessity as we have been attempting to do here will not find it easy to rise to a conception of providence. For you see, we can learn a great deal from the spiritual beings who surround us.
The mental niveau of our time is that of mindlessness. I've tried to give you an idea of it by citing some of Fritz Mauthner's comments. I want to add one of the most curious remarks he has made so that you will see what an honest man is capable of, a man who not only says of the prevailing science of the day that it is the only science in existence and that we have overcome the ignorance of our stupid ancestors, but who honestly accepts the prevailing outlook and then goes on to draw some remarkable conclusions about a certain matter.
I once described Mauthner as “out-Kanting Kant.” He did not just write a Critique of Pure Reason, but a Critique of Language. He really got going on words. He invented a definition for the way a word moves from one category to another. I am deliberately citing an incorrect example from his Dictionary of Philosophy, but it is one that he himself held to be correct. The earlier periods of Latin civilization had a word for truth: veritas. Now Mauthner says that the word veritas was introduced into more recent German use, was simply taken over, to become the German word Wahrheit. He terms words in this category “borrowings” (literally “loan translations”). And he traces words thus borrowed through civilization after civilization with tremendous acuity and conscientiousness, tracking down their wanderings and transformations. He does an incredible amount of rummaging around in words. Nowhere does he share Faust's longing to behold “germs and productive powers”; he simply rummages around in words with utmost zeal.
He made attempts like the following: Let us imagine some people or other with its characteristic views. Mauthner cares only about the words derived from these views, for, to him, thinking consists of words. Now, he says, there are the words, but they can be traced back to another people. The second group, where we now come upon the words, borrowed them from the first group and transformed them. And he actually perpetrates the following: (I must cite the example, as it is really too nice for words to show you the way adherents of the present outlook must think to be faithful to it. It is vitally important not to pass lightly over things of this sort.) Mauthner traces various borrowings, looking for the various transformations that have come about in words. Among them the following:
Kaffee (“coffee”), borrowed from another language and still a foreign word in the sense that in German at least the way it is written and spoken is not homogeneous. “Potato” is an English loan from some Red Indian language; in the German Kartoffel there is either a borrowing or a bastardization based upon a shift in meaning; whereas in Erd-apfel (“earth-apple”) and Grum- or Bodebirn (“ground-pear”) we are dealing with cases of transliteration or of description.The Romans adopted the Greek custom of crowning victors of a race, or on the occasion of a feast, with a wreath, and wreaths of flowers were also used elsewhere for these purposes. But it was only at the time of the Renaissance that the term “crown” was re-introduced in noun and verb form; there were poets' crowns and crowned poets, with the word “crown” signifying “wreath” as in Latin. The plant species used was native to Greece, and was imported, in historical times at least, both as a plant and as a word. The German Lorbeer(“laurel”) (the shrub, not the berry; “baccalaureus” became in turn the symbol of an academic title, the baccalauriat; in French, bachelier; its meaning twisted again to become the English “bachelor”) became the “vegetable of fame” of Speidel's jesting. And crowned poets from Petrarch to Tennyson were called “poets laureate.” The cheap laurel needed no replacement. The myrtle-wreath, which, as a result of faulty observation, or of a still more mistaken popular etymology, was regarded somewhere in the Orient as the symbol of sexual life and later became a chastity symbol, was more easily acquired in Germany as a weed than as a blossom; German brides therefore wear wreaths or crowns of the genuine leaves and false blossoms. Palms are replaced at Easter by pussy-willows as the only seasonal green plant available. And because palms, which in the Orient are the obvious plants for decorative purposes, have lent their name as a prefix to such terms as Palm Sunday and Palm Week in characterizations of the festival season, the green willow branches substituted for them have been designated “palm branches” and “palm catkins.”
As you see, Mauthner traces borrowed terms and words like these in their transmutations from one national region to another. And then he adds, “In the case of verbs too there is no end to the carry-over from Christianity to western peoples of such actual borrowings. The migration of the real facts of the Christian ritual and of Christian thinking may be studied in this book (cf. the article on Christianity).”
If we open the book to that article we come upon a remarkable sentence; “I want to state and demonstrate one thing only in regard to the development of Christianity as the creation of the Germanic and Germanic-Roman peoples, and to the way it still dominates western civilization, for the time being, in western usage, vocabulary and concerns. That is, that Christianity as a whole represents the most prodigious borrowing, or chain of borrowings, that it is possible to find in a scrutiny of history.”
What, then, is Christianity, according to Mauthner? A collection of borrowings! There were words at the time Christianity began. And if we want to find Christianity in Europe today, we'll have to make a search for borrowed words! What Mauthner is claiming is that Christianity is nothing but a collection of such borrowings. The whole civilization of Europe would have to have developed quite differently if certain words had just not happened to get borrowed! But the important thing to note here is that this finding is the logical consequence of current scientific assumptions. It is a consequence logically and honestly reached, and those who fail to draw it are simply less honest than Mauthner. Those who have adopted today's scientific outlook can only agree that all of Christianity means nothing more to them than a collection of borrowed words.
Somebody might object that Mauthner is only pointing out the fact that “coffee” entered our language as a borrowed word, but not how coffee itself was introduced into Europe. It is true that Mauthner didn't indicate that Christianity had to be introduced into Europe because it was a collection of borrowings. He made no assertion whatever on this score. This objection cannot be made without further ado; instead we have to say that those who think in the style of modern science are simply incapable of judging the matter. They are excluding themselves from any discussion of the issue; that is the point.
Small wonder, then, that a man who, in addition to all that I've had to say about him, is also really quite a clever fellow, says,
I don't go as far as James does (Psychology, p. 297) when he holds it impossible to improve memory. [ Note 05 ] It would not be impossible to render the organs that serve memory capable of greater achievement by exercising them, as has been shown to be possible in the case of the muscles. It is certainly true that educational psychology, which believes that it can strengthen memory in the young by senseless exercises, is based upon the old associative psychology, which sees in memory the mental picture of a force, just as it does in the case of imagining other such mental pictures which this force learns to play with. If memory is nothing more than activity in the same sense that the soul is nothing more than its experiences, then nothing remains to be strengthened. Iron will that does not permit itself to forget useful knowledge and exerts itself to remember when remembering is required is a facet of character, and an individual's memory is in this sense unalterable, as character is. But quite aside from all such considerations, the pointless drilling that goes on in schools is every bit as senseless as the training of the wrong muscles for some special use of the limbs would be. A person who has learned nothing in his younger years except to walk on his hands can make no use of this capability later unless he intends to become a circus performer.
In Mauthner's opinion, schoolchildren receive training that teaches them a wrong use of their brains, analogous to a person's learning only to walk on his hands, an equally useless ability. But although this is clear to Mauthner, he has absolutely no suggestions as to what should take the place of this schooling. (I have explained to you how, in this respect too, furthering what we are developing in eurythmy is important).
Walking on their hands, with their heads down, is the chief training being given our young people. Bible verses (in the elementary grades), memorizing all the tributaries of some foreign river (in the middle school), tables and professional data presented in reference books (at the university level) form the memory training defended on the basis of an assumed strengthening of memory! On the occasion of my state examinations in the history of jurisprudence, I was required to list the 13 prerogatives of a cardinal in their God-ordained order, not forgetting the prerogative of a pallium woven by a particular group of nuns in a particular convent.
Schools should limit themselves to training character, to training it for the function of finding the easiest and best means of access to useful concepts of the real world.
By now we might expect this gentleman to be suggesting what the substitute for the above should be. People of any intelligence can only agree that the way mental training has been carried on ought not to continue, so they expect to hear what he suggests instead. But the article ends right there! There is nothing more! He has been chasing his pigtail in vain, to use yesterday's metaphor. Almost every article in his dictionary creates the impression that he is unsuccessfully chasing the pigtail hanging down behind him.
If we work our way through the concepts necessity and chance and learn to recognize that the human world is to be regarded as an “immortal individual” continuously bringing necessity about and thus establishing dominion over chance, and then add to this the concept that must be acquired if we are to understand how the spiritual world streams into the human soul, we gradually work our way through to a concept of something elevated above necessity and chance, and that is providence. It is a concept attained by a gradual working up to it.
I have often called your attention to the fact that merely looking at the world conveys nothing as to the effect of activities going on in it. It would be good to cultivate the right feeling for what I've just been saying by concerning ourselves in depth with the genius of language that lives behind words, instead of doing as Mauthner does in his concern with speech. Mauthner's data could even assist such an effort on occasion, for the tremendous zeal with which he has ferreted things out can sometimes bring a person contemplating the activity of the genius of language to significant insights that he might not otherwise become aware of. The genius of language does indeed guide us to a plane elevated above necessity and chance. A great deal we participate in goes on around us as we are speaking, without our having a true knowledge of it because we are incapable of lifting it fully into our consciousness. This is the spiritual world, holding sway around us. And to take just a random example, when we speak, these spiritual worlds speak too. We should make the attempt to be aware of this.
Let us try to make a small beginning with it. We have associated necessity with the past and chance with the immediate present. For if everything were necessity, it would also be of the past, and nothing new could ever come into being. That would mean that there could be no life. So if we involve ourselves and our own lives in the world's evolution, we would be confronted by necessity or the reflected past, and in our current life by what is called chance. These two interact. We have two streams: our present life, which we think of as simply chance, and the reflected past or necessity flowing along underneath it. What is considered real from the ordinary physical standpoint can only be related to the past, to necessity, if reality is taken to mean conformity with what already exists. The real has to belong to the past, to the necessary, while what is in the living process of coming into being always has to be freshly produced. Our life is lived in this, and we have to develop living concepts that flow out of necessity to deal with that life. Here, we cannot be onlookers at something corresponding to the concept; we can only live in it. When our own lives confront the stream of evolution, we can therefore preserve the past in the developing stream of life by now transforming the reflected picture into a present element. And we can make it into an ongoing present.
We can make a human virtue of transforming into ongoing life the past that has become rigid necessity, carrying reflections further, keeping them alive and evolving in ourselves. And what name do we give the virtue that carries the past into further life stages? Loyalty! Loyalty is the virtue related to the past, just as love is the virtue related to the present, to immediate living.
But speaking of these matters brings us to what I want to say about the genius of language that we need to become aware of. Wahrheit, the German word for truth, has no connection whatsoever with the Latin veritas; it suggests the past and necessity and ordinary truth, for it is related to the German bewahren (“to preserve”), to bewähren (“to hold good”), to währen, (“to last”), with all that is carried over into the present from the past. And there is a still stronger suggestion of the same meaning in the English language, which translates both the German wahr (“true”) and the German treu (“loyal”) as “true.” And if we want to describe someone telling the truth and being believed, the old German saying auf Treu und Glauben (“on trust,” “in good faith”) is still in use, with treu rather than wahr. Here we see the genius of language at work, and its work is wiser than what human beings do.
And when we ascend from the concept of loyalty to that of love, and then to what I have described in the past as grace, a state of being we have to wait for, we come to the concept of providence; we enter the world where providence holds sway.
If Fritz Mauthner were to concern himself with providence, he would of course search out the source from which it is borrowed and trace the connection of the German Vorsehung (“providence”) to sehen (“to see”) and vorhersehen (“to foresee”), and so on. But a person concerned with reality searches for the world indicated when the union of chance and necessity plays the dominant role rather than either one alone. And the world referred to is that in which there is no such thing as the past in our sense.
I have often told you that when we look into the spiritual world and see the past, it is as though the past had remained standing; it is still there. Time becomes space. The past ceases to be simply the past. Then the concept of necessity also ceases to have any meaning. There is no longer a past, a present, and a future, but rather a state of duration. Lucifer remained behind during the moon evolution in exactly the same way that someone on a walk with another person may stay behind, either out of laziness or because his feet are sore, while his companion keeps on walking. Lucifer has as little directly to do with our earth existence as a person who stays behind has to do with places eventually reached by his companion. He stayed behind during the moon evolution, and there he still remains. In the spiritual world we cannot speak of past things, but only of a state of duration. Lucifer has remained as he was on the moon. All our concepts of necessity and chance change when we look into the spiritual world; providence holds sway there.
I wanted at least to particularize the realms in which what we call necessity, chance and providence are to be sought. This has been a beginning only, and we will return to these matters after spending some time on others. For we must devote ourselves occasionally to studies of a kind that more “mystically” oriented natures may consider unnecessary in a movement like ours. I must regard them as very necessary, however, because I believe that it is also essential for every genuine mystic to occupy himself with thinking.