Lecture by Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, October 2, 1916
In the lectures given here for some time it has been my task to draw attention to certain impulses, certain forces, which work in the souls of men and thence into all that these souls bring to expression in earthly life. I have pointed out how these impulses and forces developed at the dawn of modern spiritual life. Today, because I want to call your attention to a particular kind of modern spiritual striving, we will consider, once again, an important starting point for modern spiritual life, which we have already considered but which is one of the most important and essential of all. When we inquire into the forces that are at work in modern souls, we are compelled to recognize the importance and significance of this event in history. I refer to the whole destiny and development of the Order of the Knights Templar.
I should like, then, to put before you once more the picture of the Order of the Knights Templar in order to show how what proceeded from this Order worked on in broad streams which flow even into the feelings and perceptions of human beings of our own times.
We know that the Order of the Templars was founded in connection with the Crusades. It was, so to speak, an important accompanying phenomenon to that great event in history whereby the peoples of Europe sought in their own way to come nearer to the Mystery of Golgotha than they had previously been able to. The Order of the Templars was founded almost at the very beginning of the Crusades. Leaving on one side all that is known externally about the founding of the Order and the further course of its activity — you can easily read it in history books — we find that this Order of the Knights Templar, inwardly considered, expresses a specially deep approach to the Mystery of Golgotha on the part of modern humanity. First of all, a small number of souls who were faithful and devoted followers of Christianity gathered together at a place that lay near to the ancient Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem and established there a kind of spiritual order. As we have already said, we will not consider now the more external side of the event, but will look at it from a spiritual point of view and turn our attention to what gradually began to live in the souls of the Templars.
In their blood, as the representative of that which distinguishes earthly Man, in their I, but also in all their feeling and thinking, in their very being and existence, these souls were, in a sense, to forget their connection with sensible physical existence; they were to live solely in what streams from the Mystery of Golgotha, and fight for the continuance of the strongest impulses that are connected with the Mystery of Golgotha.
The blood of the Templars belonged to Christ Jesus — each one of them knew this — their blood belonged to nothing else on Earth than to Christ Jesus. Every moment of their life was to be filled with the perpetual consciousness of how in their own soul there dwelt, in the words of Paul, “Not I, but Christ in me!” And in bloody and severe combats, in devoted work such as the Crusades demanded, the Templars lived out in practice what they had spiritually resolved. Words are impotent to describe what lived in the souls of these men, who might never waver in their duty, who, even if a three-times-stronger power confronted them on the physical plane, might never flee, but must calmly await death, the death that they were ready to endure in order to establish more firmly in Earth existence the impulse which went forth from the Mystery of Golgotha. It was an intense life of the whole human being in union with the Mystery of Golgotha.
And now, when such an intense life is lived in the right rhythms, so that it can take its place in the whole stream of cosmic and earthly forces, then something of real significance develops out of such a life. I say advisedly "of real significance." For when such a consciousness as this is placed inwardly, mystically, and with a certain rhythm into all that goes on in the outside world, then Man can experience again and again how his own inner being is brought into connection with the divine and spiritual.
But something else, something that has still greater effect, is developed when this inner experience is brought together with the course of external history and placed into the service of the course of events. And it was intended that what lived consciously in the souls of the Knights Templar should be in harmony with what had to be done in the attempt to regain power over the sacred grave. A deeply mystical life developed in this way among those who belonged to this so-called Spiritual Order, an Order which on this very account could accomplish more for the world than other Spiritual Orders. For when in this way a life that is lived mystically is also in connection with the life going on in the surrounding world, then what is experienced mystically streams into the invisible and supersensible forces of the surrounding world of that human being. It becomes objective — it is not merely within his own soul, but works on further in the course of history. Through a mysticism of this kind, it comes about that an experience of the soul is not simply there for the single human being, but turns into objective forces which were formerly not there in the spiritual stream that carried and upholds humanity. These forces come to birth and are there. When a person performs his daily task with his hands or with implements, he places some external material thing into the world. With a mysticism such as was unfolded by the Knights Templar, something spiritual is added to the spiritual “effects” of the world. And inasmuch as this took place, humanity was actually brought a stage further in its evolution. Through this experience of the Templars, the Mystery of Golgotha was understood, and also experienced, at a higher stage than before. Something was now present in the world, in regard to this Mystery of Golgotha, which was formerly not there.
The souls of the Templars had however at the same time achieved something else. Through this intense inward penetration into the Mystery of Golgotha they had gained the power actually to attain Christian initiation by means of the historical event. Christian initiation may be attained in the manner described in our books, but in this case it was attained in the following way: their external deeds and the enthusiasm that lived in these deeds drew forth the souls of the Templars, so that these souls, apart from the body, outside the body, lived with the spiritual progress of humanity and penetrated in soul and spirit the secrets of the Mystery of Golgotha. Many and deep experiences were then undergone, and not for the individual soul alone but for all humanity.
Then, as we know, the Order of the Knights Templar increased and spread, and in addition to the immensely powerful influence that it possessed spiritually — more in a supersensible manner than through external channels — it acquired great wealth. And I have already described how the time came for these external treasuries, which the Knights Templar amassed to greater and greater extent, to be converted into temporal power. I have told you how, through a kind of initiation with the evil principle of gold, Philippe le Bel was chosen to be the instrument who should oppose the Templars. That is to say, he wanted in the first place to possess their treasures. But Philippe le Bel knew more than most men in the world. Through what he had experienced he knew many of the secrets of the human soul. And so it came about that Philippe le Bel could be a fitting instrument in the service of Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic powers whose aim and object it was to render ineffective the Templar Movement in the form it had first of all taken.
Philippe le Bel was, as we have said, the instrument of other, spiritual, Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic powers. Under the inspiration of these powers Philippe le Bel knew what it would have meant if, into the spiritual streams which flow through the world just as truly as do the outwardly visible events, if into these streams had been allowed to flow what the Templars had gained as knowledge of the Mystery of Golgotha and as feelings and impulses of will connected with that Mystery. What had thus developed must therefore be torn away from the normally progressive divine-spiritual powers; it must be turned into other paths. To this end it had also to be brought about that something which could only live in the souls of the Templars should be torn out of the individuality of the Templars themselves. Just as that which the Templars had experienced in connection with the Mystery of Golgotha did not remain with them as individuals but was placed out into the general evolution of humanity, so now something else was also to be removed, as it were, from the individuality and embodied in the objective spiritual stream. And this could only be accomplished by means of a particularly cruel deed, by means of a terrible act of cruelty.
The Templars were committed for trial. Not only were they accused of external crimes, of which they were most certainly innocent — as can be proved on historical grounds, if one is but ready to see the truth — but they were accused above all of blaspheming Christianity, of blaspheming the Mystery of Golgotha itself, of worshipping idols, of introducing paganism into the Mystery of Golgotha, of not using the right formula in the act of consecration at the Transubstantiation, nay, even of desecrating the Cross. Of all sorts of other crimes also, even unnatural crimes, were the Templars accused. And hundreds and hundreds of them were subject to the cruel torture of the rack.
Those who committed them for trial knew what this torture on the rack meant. The ordinary day-consciousness of those who underwent this torture was suppressed, so that during the torture they forgot, in their surface consciousness, their connection with the Mystery of Golgotha. But they had become acquainted — and this is the case with everyone who truly sees into the spiritual world — they had become acquainted with all the trials and temptations which beset a person when he really approaches the good divine-spiritual powers. With all the enemies who work out of the lower spiritual kingdoms and who want to bring Man down and lead him into evil, who are able to work in the impulses and desires and passions, and especially in hatred and mocking and irony against the Good, with all these the Templars had become familiar. In many an hour that was for them a sacred hour of their life, they had gained those inner victories that Man can gain when with open eyes he passes through the worlds that lie beyond the threshold of the world of the senses; for these worlds must first be overcome before Man can enter with strengthened powers into the spiritual worlds where he rightly belongs.
During their torture, the vision of the Templars that could look out over these spiritual worlds to which they belonged became clouded and dim; their surface consciousness was dulled, and their inner gaze was directed entirely and only to what they had experienced as something to be overcome, was directed to the temptations over which they had gained victory after victory. And thus it came about that, during the moments while they were actually being tortured on the rack, they forgot their connection with the Mystery of Golgotha, forgot how with their soul they were living in the spiritual and eternal worlds. And the trials and temptations which they had resisted and overcome stood before them like a vision while they lay stretched on the rack, and they acknowledged the very thing that each one for himself had overcome; they confessed it to be a custom within the Order. They confessed themselves to be guilty of just that over which they had again and again won the victory. Every one of these Templars was obliged to seem to be the man in him over which he had inwardly gained the victory, over which he had to gain the victory before, with higher forces, he could attain to the highest and holiest of all. (I speak of all true Templars — abuses can of course be found everywhere.)
All this the opponents knew. They knew that, just as on the one hand the Mystery of Golgotha had been placed out into the evolution of humanity as an influence for good, so now, in the same way, because the ordinary consciousness had been dulled, therefore what lived in this evil consciousness was by this means placed outside, objectified, and embodied in the evolution of humanity. It had become a factor in history.
Two streams were thus allowed to flow on into modern history: what the Templars experienced in their holiest moments, what they had worked out and developed within the progressing spiritual stream of humanity, but also what had been wrested from them by Ahriman-Mephistopheles, fetched up out of their consciousness in order to make it objective, in order to form it objectively and make it effective in the further progress of the centuries.
At this point a simple-minded person might easily put the question: Why do the divine-spiritual powers of providence allow such a thing to happen? Why do they not guide humanity through the course of history without Man's having to undergo such painful trials? Such a thought is “human, all-too-human.” It arises in the mind of one who can believe that the world would be better if it had been made not by Gods but by men. Many people may think this; they may think that, with their intellect, they can criticize the wisdom that works and weaves in the world. But such a way of thinking leads also to the very extreme of intellectual pride.
We human beings are called upon to penetrate into the secrets of existence, not to criticize the wisdom-filled guidance of the world. We must therefore also gain insight into the place and significance of the evil currents which are permitted by the wise guidance of the world. For if only the good were allowed, if good impulses alone worked in history, human beings would never be so guided in their historical evolution that they could develop freedom. Only through the fact that evil holds sway in the spiritual course of human history can humanity develop to freedom. And if the Gods were to turn away Man's gaze from evil, he would have to remain forever an automaton — he would never become free. Things are indeed so ordered in the progress of humanity that even that which causes the deepest sorrow is led at last to good. Pain is only a temporary thing — not that it is on that account any less great and deep. We must not deceive ourselves as to pain and fall a prey to some cheap mysticism that will not see the pain; we must be ready to partake in it, ready to sink ourselves in it, ready to pour it out over our own soul. But, at the same time, without criticizing the spiritual purpose and will of existence, we must also learn to understand how the most varied impulses of a positive and negative nature are introduced into the evolution of humanity in order that human beings may become not only good, but also free and possessors of their own impulses.
And so in the evolution and destiny of the Templars we see an impulse that is important for all the succeeding centuries of modern times. If it had been possible for the purpose of the Order to continue to be lived out with the intensity and strength with which it was at first lived out by the great Templars, succeeding humanity would not have been able to bear it. The speed of evolution had, as it were, to be checked; the stream had to be held back. But in this way it was made more inward. And so we see how, in the two streams we have indicated in modern history, deep inwardness of life developed alongside external materialism. For the Mephistophelian impulse, which Mephistopheles-Ahriman through his instrument Philippe le Bel dragged out by force, lived on. It lived on, together with many other things, in the materialistic thoughts and feelings of men and in all the materialistic impulses which appeared among mankind from the 15th to the 19th century. Hence it has come about that what we know as materialism has spread itself so widely over the soul and spirit of Man and over all his social life and has prepared the ground for the karma of our own time.
Had things not gone in this way, had the stream of materialism not been allowed to spread so far and wide, neither could, on the other hand, our connection with the spiritual world have become so deep and intimate. For indeed what the Templars had accomplished by entering in a living spiritual sense into the Mystery of Golgotha was not lost. It lived on. And the souls of the Templars — after their terrible experiences on the rack, fifty-four of them were put to death — the souls of the Templars who had under these circumstances passed through the portal of death were now able to send down from the spiritual world streams of spiritual life for those who lived in the succeeding centuries.
Fifty-four Templars were burned at the stake in 1312. Fifty-four souls went up into the spiritual worlds. And from that time on, supersensibly and invisibly, without its being outwardly perceptible to the facts of history, there began in European humanity a spiritual development that owed its origin to the fact that individual souls were continually being inspired from the spiritual world with what these fifty-four souls carried through the gate of death into the spiritual world.
Let me give you an example of this. It is one I have mentioned before, but I will now deal with it in more detail from another point of view.
Before the tragedy broke out in the Order of the Templars — a whole century before the year 1312 — Wolfram von Eschenbach composed his poem Parzifal. Working alone, or in a very small circle, Wolfram von Eschenbach produced this song about a soul who strives by means of inward purification to attain the life which the Knights Templar also held before them continually as their ultimate goal. In a wealth of picture and in wonderful imaginations, Wolfram von Eschenbach unrolls before our view the inner life of Parzifal, who was for him the representative of the Templar ideal.
Now let us inquire: Do we see any important external result of Parzifal — who was for him the representative of the Templar ideal — in the historical development of succeeding times? We do not. In the further history of European humanity it was, as we know, Richard Wagner who first presented Parzifal again, and then in quite another way. But the spiritual power, the spiritual impulse, that was able to flow into the soul of Wolfram von Eschenbach — at that time still from the Earth — became in succeeding centuries for many others an inspiration from the spiritual world. And one who is able to perceive the mysterious connections between the life on Earth and the spiritual life knows that the impulses which were carried into the spiritual world through the destiny of the Templars flowed also into the soul of Goethe. It was not to no purpose that Goethe began in the eighties a poem which he never finished. It is significant that he began it, and equally significant that even he was not strong enough to bring to actual expression the mighty thought of this poem. I refer to the poem The Mysteries, where the Brother Mark goes to the lonely castle of the Rosicrucians and enters the circle of the Twelve. Goethe grasped — in his own way, of course — the fundamental thought which is also contained in Parzifal, but he was not able to complete it; and we may see in that very fact an indication of how all of us are standing within the same spiritual development which Goethe experienced in its beginnings, and at which we must work and work and work that we may be able to give form to these beginnings and make further and further progress in the penetration of the spiritual world. Goethe devoted to the first beginnings of this spiritual development the best powers of his existence; he let them flow into his Faust, where he set out to portray Man's connection with the forces of the spirit, which include for him the Ahrimanic-Mephistophelian forces.
One who observes history concretely in its spiritual development can see quite clearly that into the soul of Goethe on Earth there followed from the spiritual world what the Templars — whose manner of death had been so cruel and so significant — had carried up into the spiritual worlds and, just because they had gone through the gate of death in this way, could pour down as inspiration into the souls of men. It flowed down, and if with more significance into Goethe's soul, it was not into his soul alone but into many others; and it continues to live, although but little noticed by human beings. The spiritual element in Faust itself still almost escapes notice in the outside world! It lives on, however, and is moving towards an ever richer life, and will have to become more and more fruitful if humanity is not to drift into decadence instead of evolving in an upward direction. But this lies in our own choice. In our age of time it is given into Man's own hands. The choice is set before him — and will be so more and more definitely — as to whether he will fall into decadence and continue to hold to materialism, or strive upwards into the spiritual worlds.
For we human beings, as we live on Earth, it is only in our physical body that we live a life connected with the Earth. The body that is woven of light and sound and life and is within this physical body — the so-called ether body — partakes not only in the life of Earth, but in the life of the cosmos. And when a human soul descends from the spiritual worlds to enter existence through birth, then, already before the event, forces are directed in the cosmos in a right way for the building up of the ether organism of the human being, even as the physical body of Man is built up from the physical forces and physical substances of Earth.
In the very simplest of Man's ideas lives pride and arrogance, and this is especially true in our materialistic age. In this materialistic age, parents actually believe that they place their children into existence all by themselves. And as materialism spreads, it will be more and more believed that it is the parents alone who bring the children to existence. Seen spiritually, it is different. Human beings here on Earth only provide the opportunity for something spiritual to come down to them. What a human being can do as a part consists solely in this: he can make ready the place by means of which an ether body that is being prepared from out of the far spaces of the cosmos may be able to sink down to Earth. This ether organism of the human being is just as much an organized entity as is the physical organism. The physical organism — we see how it has head, arms, hands, trunk, and all the parts that the anatomist and physiologist discover — for spiritual vision, this physical organism is shone through and glowed by the ether organism.
The physical organism breathes in air, and breathes out air. The ether organism breathes out light, and this light it gives to us. And when it breathes out light and confers the light upon us, we live by means of its light.
And it also breathes in light. As we breathe in and out air, so does our ether body breathe in and out. And when it breathes in light, it uses up the light, just as we use up air physically. (You may read of this in a passage in my Mystery Dramas where this secret of the ether world is unfolded dramatically.) The ether body breathes in light, uses up the light, and changes it into darkness, and can then receive into this darkness the sound of the worlds that lives in the Harmony of the Spheres, can receive into it the impulses of life. As we receive physical nourishment, so does the ether being that lives in us breathe light in and out. As we use up in us the oxygen of the air and make carbonic acid gas, so does the ether body use up the light, shooting it through with darkness, so that it appears in colors, so that the ether body shows itself to clairvoyant vision in waves of color. And while the ether body prepares the light for the darkness and thereby carries on an inner work of breathing, it lives, in that it receives this sound of the worlds and changes the sound of the worlds into the life of the worlds.
But what we receive in this way as our ether body comes down to us from the wide spaces of the cosmos, and it comes at certain times, from the far spaces of the cosmos. It is today not yet possible to show in all detail how the human ether body draws downwards on the paths of light when these paths are guided in a particular manner through the constellation of the stars at the time. For that to be possible, human beings will have to lift themselves to a higher stage of morality. For today, this mystery of the in-drawing of the human ether bodies on the paths of the light and on the paths of the sound of the Harmony of the Spheres would be misused by human beings in the most terrible way. For what is contained in this mystery would, if people of lower impulses wanted to acquire it, give parents unlimited power over the whole of their descendants. You will accordingly understand that this mystery of how the ether bodies come to the human beings who are incarnating — of how they come on the paths of light and on the paths of sound from out of the Harmony of the Spheres — will have to remain a mystery for a long time to come. Only under certain quite definite conditions can one learn anything of this mystery. For the failure to comply with the conditions would mean, as I have said, that parents could acquire a hitherto unheard-of power over their offspring, who might be completely deprived of all independence, of all personality, and of all individuality, and have the will of their parents thrust upon them. Wisely is this mystery hidden away for mankind in the unconscious and takes its course there in a good and healthy way, working through the will of the wise world-guidance.
Our ether body travels quite a different path from our physical body. After we have passed through the gate of death we still carry, as you know, our ether body for a few days; then we have to give it back to the cosmos. In the spiritual, in the cosmos, our ether body remains only as a picture for our own further life between death and new birth. It is incorporated into the cosmos in the most varied manner — in one way in the case of people who die early through some accident or otherwise, and in a different way in the case of those who attain maturity. But when one looks across into the world that lies beyond the threshold, one knows that both — the early death as well as the later death — have great significance in the whole cosmic connections. For our ether body that we give up continues to work on spiritually.
Fundamentally speaking, seen from a deeper aspect, we all grow old. Physically, one dies earlier and another later; seen from a spiritual aspect, we all become old alike. If we die early, our physical body comes to an end early; but our ether body continues to live on for the cosmos, and just because we have died early, our ether body has other functions in the cosmos than if we had died only later. When we count up the years that we live in physical and in ether body as human beings — we have the deeds on Earth that we accomplish in the physical body, and we have what we accomplish in the ether body also after death, and the life that we live there not for ourselves but for others, for the world — when we add up all this in its years, then we find that everyone lives to about the same age.
But when an event takes place such as happened with the Templars, something different again comes about from when it is only a case of the individual lives. The life that we lead as an individual remains within our own person; but there is also the life that can be objectively separated from us — as in the case of the Templars. On the one hand, what they were able to do for the continuance and spread of the Mystery of Golgotha and, on the other hand, what happened through the working of Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic forces for the impulse of modern materialism, all this also continues to live on as fragments of the ether body. But it is incorporated into the whole process of history. So that some of the life Man lives in his ether body lives on further with the human individuality, while some of it is incorporated into the course of history — when it has been torn away from the human being in the manner described. And the ether body is the means or medium whereby what a person lives in his soul so objectively that it can go out of his soul — whereby this may have, as it were, something to hold on to for its further life — it is the ether body that provides for this.
What flowed into the etheric world from the spiritual impulses of the Templars lived on etherically, and through this continued etheric life many souls were prepared to receive the inspirations that I have described as coming out of the spiritual world from the souls of the Templars themselves. That is what has actually been taking place in modern times.
Into what flowed from the souls of the Templars, however, there began to enter more and more that which flows from the Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic impulses and is steeped in the Mephistophelian element, and which was inaugurated on the racks where the Templars were tortured, inasmuch as they were forced under torture to speak untruths about themselves. This fact — not alone, but as one of the spiritual grounds of modern materialism — has to be understood if one would acquire an inner understanding of modern materialistic evolution.
And so it came about that in modern times, while certain individuals were inspired with high spiritual truths, the general culture became more and more materialistic in character; and the eye of the soul grew dim for what now surrounds us spiritually and also for whither we go when we pass through the gate of death and whence we come when we pass through the gate of birth. More and more was the gaze of Man turned away from beholding the spiritual, and this was true in all the different spheres of life — the spiritual sphere, the sphere of religion, the sphere of social life. More and more was the gaze directed to the material world as it showed itself to his senses. And the result has been that, since the rise of modern times, mankind has fallen into a great many errors.
Again let me say I am not criticizing the fact, I am not passing judgment on it. Through the fact that errors found their way into human evolution, human beings have to experience these errors, and they will gradually come to see them — and, in overcoming them, get stronger forces than they could have had if the path to their goal had been implanted in them automatically. And now the time has come when this insight must be developed and human beings must see how, in all that is material, live impulses to error. Today Man is called upon again and again to make up his mind to see through the errors and overcome them.
It is not our intention to lay blame on anything that has happened in history; what we want to do is to look at history objectively. The events of modern times have brought it about that Man's thoughts and feelings run their course only in accordance with external physical reality, only in accordance with what Man experiences between birth and death. Even the religious life has gradually assumed a personal character, inasmuch as it aims merely at putting into Man's hand a means whereby he may find blessing in his own soul. The religious life of more modern times, that turns Man's gaze more and more away from the concrete spiritual world, is really permeated with the materialistic outlook. As has been said, we have no intention of casting aspersion on any event in history; the events of history must however be described in such a way that they may be rightly understood — that is, if the coming generation is not to fall into decadence but to take a turn and move upwards.
We see the stream of materialism flow on and, side by side with it, the parallel hidden stream; and then at the end of the 18th century we come to a tremendous event, an event the influence of which was felt throughout the whole of the 19th century and right on into the present time. At the end of the 18th century, we see the French Revolution spreading its currents far and wide over European civilization. Many things took their course in the French Revolution as the historians have described them. But in addition to the understanding one has already of the French Revolution, in addition to the impulse one has recognized as proceeding from it and working on in European history, we must also understand the spiritual effects of materialistic Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic impulses. The French Revolution strove for a very high ideal. (As I said before, we are not concerned with finding fault but with understanding the events of history.) The French Revolution strove for a very high ideal; and it strove for it in a time upon which still fell the shadow of the event I have described today, the event which left Mephistopheles-Ahriman mighty to send forth into European life the impulse of materialism. And we may say of the best of those who were responsible for the French Revolution that they believed in the physical plane alone. It may be that in their consciousness they thought they believed in something else. What people profess with words is however of little account; the important thing is to have a live consciousness in one's soul of what is really working in the world; and those who were responsible for the French Revolution were conscious only of the physical plane.
They strove, it is true, for a high ideal, but they knew nothing of the trinity in Man: the body that works by means of the etheric principle in the human being, the soul that works through the astral principle, and the spirit that works in Man to begin with through the I. At the end of the 18th century, Man was already regarded in the way that he is regarded — to his lasting harm and loss — by modern materialistic physiology and biology. That is to say, even if in a religious way men had some notion of a spiritual life and perhaps also talked about it, their gaze was really only actually directed upon what is lived out here in the physical world between birth and death — what is lived out here, that one can understand. (Even that of course is not yet entirely understood; nevertheless one can understand it when one directs one's attention solely to the external physical body.) What lives in the entire human being: that can only be understood when it is known that with the external physical body are united an etheric principle, an astral principle, and an I-principle. For even while we stand here in the physical world, there is living in us something that is of soul and spirit and that belongs to the spiritual world. Body, soul, and spirit are we here. And when we have gone through the gates of death, we shall again be threefold beings, only with another spiritual body. So that anyone who observes and studies Man living out his life as physical Man between birth and death is not studying the whole human being, and is bound to fall into error in regard to the whole human being.
The events that happen in the world must not be looked upon as erroneous in themselves. What makes itself manifest in the world is indeed truth; but the way in which Man regards it and turns it into deed and action often causes confusion. And confusion arose in the minds of men at the end of the 18th century, because everything was applied to the body, and ideals which only have meaning when Man is seen as a trinity were aspired to as the ideals for a purely physical “monon.” And so it came about that lofty and beautiful ideals were on everyone's lips in a time when men were not capable of understanding them, but only confused and falsified them, because they tried to comprehend them all together, believing as they did in the physical body alone. As a matter of fact, of the threefold ideal — Fraternity, Freedom, Equality — Fraternity is the only one that holds good for the physical body of Man. Freedom only has meaning when it is referred to the human soul, and Equality when it is referred to the spirit as it lives in Man, in the I. Only when it is known that Man consists of body, soul, and spirit, and when the three ideals of the end of the 18th century are referred: Brotherhood, to the body; Freedom, to the soul; and Equality, to the I — only then is one speaking in a sense and meaning that is in accord with the inner meaning of the spiritual world.
Brotherhood we can develop, inasmuch as we are physical human beings bearing physical bodies of the Earth; and when we accept Brotherhood into our social order, then for the social order on the physical plane Brotherhood is a right and true thing. Freedom Man can acquire only in his soul, inasmuch as it is with the soul that he incarnates on Earth. And Freedom only prevails on Earth, is only possible on Earth, when it has reference to the souls of men who live on the Earth in their social orderings, to the end that they acquire the faculty of holding the balance between the lower and the higher forces. When we are able, as human beings, to hold the balance between the lower and the higher forces in the human soul, then we develop the forces that can live here between birth and death, and the forces too that we shall need when we pass through the gate of death. So that alongside of the social order a soul order is necessary on Earth, wherein the souls of men may take their places individually and be able to develop the forces of freedom, which they can carry with them through the gates of death, but which they will only carry with them if, already here in this life, they prepare themselves for the life after death. That a true intercourse between souls shall be established on Earth, that souls shall be able to develop the forces of freedom, that all human events, great and small, and all attempts to give form to human activity and creation shall have as their aim Man holding the balance in his soul in regard to what lives and works spiritually — this must come to be an ideal. Man becomes free when he is in a position to acquire these forces of the soul in the external physical world, as he can acquire them, for example, when he is able to follow the beautiful forms that live in an art that really has its sources and beginning in the spirit. Man becomes free when there is an intercourse and communion between soul and soul of such a nature that the one soul is able to follow the other with an ever-growing understanding and with an ever-growing love.
If it is a question of the bodies of men with which we are concerned, then Brotherhood comes into consideration; if it is a question of the soul, then we must look to forging those delicate and subtle links that arise between soul and soul, and that must find their way right into the structure of our life on Earth and must always work in the direction of engendering interest — deep interest in one soul for the other. For in this way alone can souls become free, and it is only souls that can become free.
Equality applied to the external physical world is nonsense; for equality would be uniformity. Everything in the world is undergoing change; everything in the world is compelled to be in number; everything in the world is obliged to come to expression in multiplicity and variety. To this very end is the physical world there, that the spiritual may go through a multitude of forms. But in all the multiple and manifold life of Man, one thing remains alike, because it is still in its beginning. The rest of our human nature we have carried in us since the Saturn time, the Sun time, and the Moon time; the I we have for the first time in this life of Earth. The I is only in its beginning. During the whole of our life between birth and death we come no further in the spiritual than to say to ourselves “I,” and to take cognizance of this I. We can only behold the I, either when through initiation we are outside the body here between birth and death, or when we have passed through the gate of death and it is given us to look back in memory on our Earth body and behold the I spiritually. But through this I all possible variety comes to expression here on Earth. And our life on Earth must be so constructed as to give possibility for all the variety that can enter Earth life in human individuality to come to expression. One human being manifests one individuality, a second another, and a third a different one again. All these individualities in their several workings are focused in a point, the point of the I. There we are alike, and through this focus-point where we are alike can pass all that we communicate to one another as spirits. The fact that we all have this I-point where we are alike gives the possibility for the development of mankind of a community life. That which is different in all of us passes through what is alike. Consequently, it is not the establishment of what is contributed by the single human individual to the whole stream of cosmic spiritual evolution that is achieved in spiritual equality; rather it is so that because what has placed us each into a different kind of life passes through our I, through the spiritual in us, it becomes something that can be shared by all, it flows on as a common good in the stream of cosmic evolution. Equality belongs properly to the spirit.
No human generation will understand how the three ideals of Fraternity, Liberty, and Equality can come to realization in the life of mankind unless they understand that Man carries in him this threefoldness of body, soul, and spirit. That people were unable in the 18th century and have continued to be unable throughout the 19th century to understand this was a result of the strength of the Ahrimanic-Mephistophelian stream which entered modern evolution in the way I have described. The 18th century mixed up Equality, Freedom, and Brotherhood, and applied all three to external physical life. In the way it has been understood in the 19th century, it can only mean social chaos. And mankind will have to drift further and further into this chaos, if they do not receive spiritual science and spiritual life, which will lead to an understanding of Man as a trinity and to a reconstruction of Earth life for threefold Man.
Man had to go through materialism. His forces would have been too weak for the times to follow if he had not gone through materialism. For strange and amazing is the evolution of mankind. Let us look back for a moment to an event of the Lemurian epoch. We find there a certain moment in evolution — it lies thousands and thousands of years back — when the mankind of the Earth was quite different from what it is now. You will know from the descriptions I have given in Occult Science of human evolution on the Earth that the various impulses entered into Man only gradually. There was a moment in evolution when what we today call magnetic and electric forces established themselves within Man. For magnetic and electric forces live in us in a mysterious manner. Before this time, Man lived on Earth without the magnetic and electric forces that have developed ever since, spiritually, between the workings of the nerves and the blood. They were incorporated into Man at that time. The forces of magnetism we will leave out of consideration, and a portion of the forces of electricity. But the forces which I will distinguish as the electrical forces in galvanism, voltaism, etc. — forces that have taken deep hold in the culture and civilization of our time — these forces found entry in that far-off time into the human organism and united themselves with human life; and this very fact made it possible for them to remain for a long time unknown to human consciousness.
Man carried them within him, and for that very reason they remained unknown to him externally. The forces of magnetism and the other electrical forces we learned to know earlier. Galvanism, the electricity of contact, which has a much deeper determining influence on the karma of our age than is generally realized, was, as you know, only discovered at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries, by Galvani and Volta. People give far too little thought to such facts as these. Just consider for a moment! This Galvani was dealing with the leg of a frog. “By chance,” as we say, he fastened it to the window, and it came in contact with iron, and twitched. That was the beginning of all the discoveries that rule the Earth today by means of the electric current. And it happened such a little while ago! People do not generally stop to think how it is that mankind did not come to this knowledge earlier. Suddenly this thought emerges in a human being, in a perfectly miraculous way; he stumbles on it — as it were, perforce. In this materialistic age of ours, we naturally never stop to think about such a thing.
And this is the reason why we can understand absolutely nothing at all of the real becoming of the Earth. The truth of the matter is as follows:
After mankind had passed the moment in the Lemurian time when it implanted into it, or received implanted into it, the forces that go through the wire today in electricity and work in an invisible manner in Man himself, after this time had passed, electricity lived inside the human being. Now, evolution does not proceed in the simple, straightforward way in which people are inclined to picture it. They imagine that time goes ever forward on and on into the infinite. That is an altogether abstract conception. The truth is that time moves and turns in such a way that evolution is constantly reversed and runs back. It is not only in space that we find movements in curves as in a lemniscate, but also in time.
During the Lemurian epoch, Man was at the crossing point of the lemniscate movement, and that was the time when he implanted into himself the principle of electrical force. He traversed the returning path in the Atlantean time and, in respect of certain forces, in the Post-Atlantean time, and arrived about the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century exactly at the point in the evolution of the worlds at which he was in the old Lemurian time when he implanted into himself from the cosmos the principle of electricity. There you have the explanation of how it came about that Galvani discovered electricity at that particular time. Man always goes back again in later times to what he experienced earlier. Life takes its course in cycles, in rhythms. At the middle of the materialistic age which had been developing ever since the 14th–15th century, mankind was standing at that point in the world through which he had passed long ago in the Lemurian epoch. And mankind as a whole in that moment remembered the entry of electricity into the human being, and thereupon as a result of this memory impregnated his whole civilization with electricity. The soul and spirit in Man found again what it had once experienced long ago.
Truths like this must be clearly envisaged again, for it is only with truths like this that we shall escape decadence in the future.
Under the influence of the inspirations of which I have been speaking to you today, certain minds came upon such truths. For the fact that people went on such paths was the result of the fact that many and different currents work in human evolution. If, for example, what the Templars wanted to attain had been the sole influence working in history, quite a different evolution would have resulted for Man. Through the fact that the other stream too — the Mephistophelian — has been intermixed with it (the Mephistophelian stream was of course also there from the beginning, but it was given new life by the destiny of the Templars), Man has been brought, in our time, into materialism just in the way that it has actually happened. These Mephistophelian-Ahrimanic forces are needed in the evolution of mankind. And, as I have said, certain great minds were led by the inspiration that comes from the Rosicrucian Temples and has its source in the spiritual world to recognize this principle of which I am here speaking.
Do not imagine that a great poet, a really great poet who creates out of the spiritual world, puts together his words in the superficial way that people often imagine they are at liberty to take them! No, a poet like Goethe, for instance, knows what is contained and implied in the Word; he knows that in the Word we have something that lets spirit resound through the person speaking. “Person,” did I say? Here we must remind ourselves that “persona” is a word that comes from the Latin for the mask that the actor carries and through which his voice sounds. “Personare” means to sound through. All this is closely connected with the evolution of the Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and Divine was the Word.” The Word was not in Man; nevertheless human personality is closely connected with it.
The whole evolution, as we have said, is carried forward inasmuch as not merely good forces are working, but others also. And a man like Goethe uttered in his Faust — even though in part unconsciously, nevertheless under inspiration — notable and great truths. When the Lord is conversing with Mephistopheles in the Prologue in Heaven, he says at last to Mephistopheles that He has no objection to his work and influence. He recognizes him and allows him his place in the evolution of the worlds. It is owing to him that there are such things as enticements and influences that must needs create what is evil. But then the Lord turns and directs his word to the true and genuine Sons of the Gods who bring forward normal evolution, and with whose working the working of the other stream is united. And what does He say to these true Sons of the Gods?
But ye, the genuine Sons of Heaven, rejoice!
In the full living beauty still rejoice!
May that which works and lives, the ever-growing,
In bonds of love enfold you, mercy-fraught,
And seeming's changeful forms, around you flowing,
Do ye arrest, in ever-during thought!
The Lord gives to His Sons the direct command to set in the world's places enduring thoughts! Such an enduring thought was placed into the world when the principle of electricity was implanted into Man, and Man was led back again to the enduring thought when he discovered the principle of electricity and implanted it into his materialistic civilization. Of immeasurable depth is the thought expressed in these lines:
May that which works and lives, the ever-growing,
In bonds of love enfold you, mercy-fraught,
And seeming's changeful forms, around you flowing,
Do ye arrest, in ever-during thought!
And it means a deep experience for the soul to feel that mystery of the “enduring thoughts.” For then we feel how in the world here and there the Eternal stands at rest in the form of an enduring thought, and we who belong to the world of movement are passing through what is being placed into seeming's changeful forms as enduring thoughts, as the beauty that weaves and works everlastingly reveals itself in order that we may comprehend it when the right moment comes.
And may a right moment also come for mankind in the near future, even as it is predestined to come if mankind is not to fall into decadence. May Man understand that he has to pass through the next point, which reverses materialism into its opposite, the point where the great thought of the spiritual world can ray into mankind. Preparation is now being made for this in those whose karma has allowed them to come to Spiritual Science. And it will be the continually recurring task of Spiritual Science to turn its work in this direction. For to the materialistic age that has found the enduring thought which in its newest form Ahriman-Mephistopheles has placed into modern evolution, to this materialistic age must be added what can be experienced in passing through a spiritual enduring thought. Spiritual Science must see to it that mankind does not omit to grasp this spiritual thought. Therefore also must we not grow weary in warning Man again and again, lest the moment of time for the comprehension of Spiritual Science slip by and be lost.