Sunday, March 10, 2019
Human History, the Present, and the Future in the Light of Spiritual Science
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, February 1, 1912:
[Nota bene: This translation sucks. —Larry]
It is a prominent trait of the human being to want to orient himself in human development to get a certain view of the position of his own personality within the present life. The human being has often to put questions to himself how the past was from which everything developed that surrounds us in the present, which life guilt we have incurred and which life work we have accepted, what according to the course of human development may originate from his desires and longings, from his hopes and ideals for the future. It is certainly healthy to put these questions. Since the human being differs thereby from the other earthly beings in that he recognizes the position that he has got within the development not only as such from its conditions and from its causes, but that he can also influence it from the consciousness of his task. We realize this way that for the purposes of modern time the consideration of the human development accepts a form that starts from the mentioned viewpoints.
We realize, for example, that at the beginning of the modern cultural direction Lessing writes his Education of the Human Race as the ripest document of his mental development. He tries to show there that a certain continuous plan exists in the development of humanity. One can distinguish an old period in which humanity had to follow moral impulses and commandments which were given from without, while the continuous education by the spiritual-divine forces intends that humanity gets around more and more to grasping the good as an own impulse of its being to do the good from the mere concept — doing the good for the sake of the good.
We also realize how Lessing comes from such a consideration to the necessity to accept repeated lives on Earth for the human soul because for him the human development is advancing. So that for him the question had to arise: if a human soul lives in a former period and takes up certain impulses during it, how does it comply with the sense of human development if this soul had died for the development forever when it dies? Only thereby he could connect a sense with the development while he said to himself, the soul returns repeatedly to the life on Earth and in these lives, the soul is educated by the leading powers to the summit of development. This is Lessing's basic idea when he was stimulated to his Education of the Human Race. Then we see again how from a profound insight of nature and human being Lessing's successor, Herder, tries to show humanity as a whole in his Ideas on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind and to show how in certain times other factors have worked on the human being than in later times, so that Herder also realizes a sensible plan in the development of humanity. Actually, the deeper human consideration of the following times has never again left the ideas that Lessing, Herder, and others stimulated. But the trait of the nineteenth century which was only directed to the outer appearance also seized history, so that that what one has thought and reflected about the continuous plan of human development stayed more in the background with those who directed their attention upon the spiritual, while the official science of history was not courageous enough to investigate the real effective forces and factors in the human development.
Of course, spiritual science tries again to recognize the concrete, actual sense of human history. However, there one has to say that in various fields prejudices tower up repeatedly, which are not due, indeed, to the present research results, but to the present thoughts about these research results. This happens in particular if one wants to investigate the big laws of human history and that which should arise as a force for the present and as hope and as ideals for the future. One likes very much to regard the nature of the human being as something that could have experienced no inner development in a certain respect, but that it has been, actually, always in such a way as it is today.
At most, one admits that the present human being has experienced a development of his animal nature. One traces them back either really up to those prehistoric men whom we have dug out of prehistoric graves or other places of finding, who show less perfect figures than the civilized humans of today — who show such only with the outer physical form. One can trace back the descent of the human being hypothetically even further and can believe to have something in any animal form from which the human being could have developed. The fact that a sensible consideration of the usual history already shows that the human soul life has changed since millennia very much, one wants to pay little attention to it in the present, and one hardly admits that three, four, five millennia before our calendar the whole spiritual condition was quite different from that in the present. One has to mention one fact only at first that should just strike those who academically consider the development of the human soul whose basic significance one does not properly appreciate.
Today one speaks of the fact that the human being has to think logically, that he has to connect his concepts, his mental pictures, logically with each other, nay that he can only judge in a logical way. With it one proves that one has the view that the formation of mental pictures is subjected to inner logical laws, and that one can reach truth as it were only by logic. But now one also knows from the historical development that the Greek philosopher Aristotle founded this logic as science only few centuries before our calendar.
One may say: if one really knows the spiritual development of humanity, one has also to realize that the human being became aware of the logical laws, actually, only after the time when the Greek philosopher Aristotle had brought these laws into a certain form. Would it not be a matter of course and appropriate that one thinks about such a fact and asks himself, how does it happen that the thinking about logical laws has come into the human development only in a certain age? — If one thought appropriately about this fact, one would come to the result, which absolutely corresponds to truth, that human beings have developed their consciousness relatively late in such a way that they could realize the logical laws in their souls. So logic originated only in a certain time because before the whole constitution of the human soul was in such a way that it could not become aware of the logical laws. Humanity has developed only gradually to logical thinking, has developed towards the Greek-Roman age.
However, the present human being has — if he does not want to get involved with the deeper results of spiritual research — only one possibility to gain a mental picture of that which is, actually, a consciousness that is not filled with logic laws. If the human being wants to form a mental picture of a pre-logical consciousness by the outer materialistic observation of nature, it can happen only in such a way that he turns to the instincts of the animals.
What can he learn from these instincts of the animals? I have repeatedly drawn your attention to the fact that it would be quite impossible to speak of the animal instincts in such a way as if in the life and activity of the animal realm logic, inner reasonableness, did not exist. Everything that happens in the life of the animal realm makes us aware of this reasonableness. We see that insects live under certain conditions that make it to them impossible to get to know the circumstances under which their descendants have to develop in the first time of their existence. Although the full-grown insect lives in quite different conditions than the caterpillar needs them, still, we realize that the insect lays its eggs with big wisdom where then the hatching caterpillar finds the proper conditions. There we see that reason really works in it. Everywhere we see reason and logic in the realm of animals prevailing with which we cannot speak of the fact that they have something of it in their consciousness. If we see the miraculous dens of the beavers and other performances of the animals, if we look at the whole instinctive life of the animals and see, for example, that animals feel treacherous weather, earthquakes, volcano eruptions, and other elementary events partly long ahead and behave according to them — but this is only a metaphor, because it happens by the reason prevailing in the animals that they “foresee” such things — we have to say, the instinctive life of the animals shows that the animals are enmeshed in a kind of logic and reason, that everywhere objective reasonableness and objective laws interweave the environment.
Thus, the human being can get an idea how that what happens by him can still happen in another way. It need not happen only because the human being if he wants to do this or that says to himself, this is my goal, it has to look that way, and the tools have to look that way. But something similar can develop without doing these conscious considerations out of other forms of consciousness, out of subconscious forms in the world coherence as human conscious reasonableness develops in the human being. Spiritual science now points to the fact that our kind of reasonableness has developed only gradually, that by no means the human being was an animal being with only animal instincts before, but a being which had a form of consciousness different from the present logical consciousness but also different from the animal instinct. If you look at what I have already said here about the possibility to develop slumbering forces of the human soul and about a kind of clairvoyant consciousness, then we can turn our view to the possibility to educate ourselves to forms of consciousness different from today's only logical consciousness that sets itself only reasonable goals.
I have drawn your attention to the fact that by meditation and concentration someone who wants to become a spiritual researcher and wants to behold deeper into the undergrounds of the soul has to attain another consciousness, so that spiritual research aims at another kind of consciousness that is developed educationally from the present form. Such a clairvoyant consciousness can perceive in the spiritual world independently from the body and its senses. It becomes also apparent that in former times humanity had a form of consciousness different from the present logical, intellectual one. Our present consciousness has only developed since the Greek-Roman age. The human being had to be educated for it at first. We have now exceeded the Greek-Roman period, and today spiritual-scientific research shows that the form of our consciousness can be further developed to higher forms. The hypothetical idea may arise from it at first that that consciousness which Aristotle brought as it were in laws has developed again from other forms of consciousness, so that we would discover other forms of consciousness, of the soul life, going back in human history.
Those who believe to stand on the firm ground of science but stand only on their own prejudices cannot yet search such different forms of the soul life. Since they cannot imagine that at the starting point of humanity, with the primeval human beings a consciousness existed different from the instinctive consciousness like that of the present animals. But if we trace back the development of humanity not only up to a point where the human being would have been an animal and would have developed animal forms only, but if we trace back him to that point where he existed only as a wholly spiritual being, then one can no longer look for such forms of consciousness which are similar only to the animal instinct. Then we come to such forms of consciousness that correspond to an old human form that we have to imagine more and more as a spiritual-mental one, the further we go back. So that we have to imagine human development in such a way that also the soul life was involved more and more in the material. Thus, we have to ascend in the development of humanity to forms of consciousness that correspond to a more spiritual inwardness.
Now, not only the facts of spiritual research but also the outer facts show that we get to another kind of soul-life the farther we go back, even to prehistorical times explorable in historical ways as it were. We do no longer find such mental pictures as we develop them today, by which we reflect the outside world if we go back beyond the Greek-Roman age. Not without good reason the Western historical philosophers have always begun their histories of philosophy with Thales five to six centuries before the Christian calendar because they recognized that one can generally only speak of a reasonable, logical reflection of the world. Only our present has managed to break this. Today where one measures everything with the same yardstick, one also wants to begin the history of philosophy far in the Oriental thinking, not paying attention to the fact that the soul conditions of experiencing the things was quite different within the pre-Greek cultures than it has become later from the Greek culture on. It needs the superficiality of the “profound” beholders of the East, for example, of Deußen, to lead the history of philosophy beyond Thales. This can happen only if one has no notion of the development of the human soul, and that the Oriental spiritual life has contents different from that which begins from the Greek-Roman age on for the inner life of human history. If we examine what faces us in ancient times we have to say, the human being felt pressured more or less into thinking vividly about the world, not in the intellectual forms in which we live today, but in thought structures facing us as myths. That faces us as Imaginations which the human being takes up in his soul to get any explanation of the world. Images are contained in the myths. The strange appears that we find images on the bottom of all cultures very soon if we go back to the pre-Greek times, and the farther we go back, the more a kind of Imaginative worldview faces us.
Someone attains a kind of Imaginative knowledge as the first level of clairvoyant knowledge who makes his soul an instrument of spiritual research by that self-education which I have characterized in my book How Does One Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds? Someone who opens himself to this Imaginative knowledge which presents itself again in a kind of images in his soul, says to himself, if I compare this Imaginative knowledge to the miraculous imaginations of the Greek and pre-Greek myths, something faces me that, on the one side, is the same or similar, but, on the other side, is totally different.
If the modern spiritual researcher rises to Imagination, he keeps his logical thinking in his Imaginations that reflect the spiritual processes that are behind the sensory phenomena; he keeps it and aims almost at logical thinking.
That means that he brings all connections of reason, the whole character of the present consciousness, into it and an Imaginative knowledge would not be right which could not give some indication in what way the images are connected, in what way everything forms a whole within the Imaginative world. Just in this respect I had a rather strange experience quite recently. In my book Occult Science: An Outline you find the attempt to show not only the human development on Earth Imaginatively, but also the former embodiments of our Earth in other, preceding, heavenly bodies. You find everything that was shown in this respect represented in such a way that it corresponds to the logical consciousness and the facts of sensory life. Now, a theologian who had read this book said to me once, what I have read there is absolutely logical and rational, so that one could deign to remember that the author got around to writing this book completely out of the today's cultural life only by logical conclusions. — This made me wonder and I said to myself, then the whole representation has not come about maybe by clairvoyance but by mere logic. — He said this, although he had to admit that he could not find by his own logic what is given in this book as knowledge. One meets this fact often today that such representations are put up by mere logic, even if the results are pieced together from trains of thought to make them comprehensible. However, everything that you read in the Occult Science is not found by logical conclusions. It is hard to find these matters by logic. However, after they have been found, they are interwoven with logic. They are found of course also not without logic, but not at all in the way of logical conclusion; everything does absolutely correspond to Imaginative knowledge.
I have given this as an example of what one can aim at by self-education of the present consciousness as a kind of Imaginative knowledge that can lead us to the underlying foundations of the things. If we compare such a knowledge to myths and legends, we have found that it is important to recognize these clairvoyant experiences that the human beings had in the undergrounds of natural existence. However, it was necessary that they were cleverer than the human beings of the logical epoch were, to be able to express what they investigated by such tremendous images. Since compared with some myths of nature or creation is that which our modern science is often only bungle and dilettantism, because an Egyptian or Babylonian myth about the work of good and evil outranks the modern monistic interpretation of the world. One feels in the thoughts of those human beings that they lived together with the forces of nature that the modern human being visualizes laboriously in mental pictures. However, one realizes that neither mind nor usual imagination but Imagination formed the myths, as they appear great and full of sap evenly in a certain respect with all peoples on Earth — only not that Imagination about which we talk spiritual-scientifically, but an Imagination that was still free of the intellectual element. It was an original clairvoyant, not yet completed, Imagination, no mere imagination. It did not resemble something animal even if it was dark and dreamlike, but it was not yet impregnated with logical thinking. Thus, we see the peoples intimately connected with that what prevails in the depths of the beings and expressing the immediate cooperation with the everlasting existence without applying logic in the great tremendous pictures of the myths. That is not academic in the modern sense, but it was the science of ancient times.
In this sense, we come to the rise of our present intellectual human attitude in the Greek-Roman culture. We see another kind of soul life preceding it which — because it was not yet logical, because it was still dreamlike but at the same time was more intimately connected with the spiritual basic facts of any working — could now vividly express this working. Hence, one can maybe find no other word that characterizes the being of the immediately preceding culture of the Egyptians or Chaldeans than with the term "culture of revelation." Against it, we can characterize the Greek-Roman culture in such a way that it experiences a kind of gradual dusk of the old culture of revelation. Indeed, in the older time of the Greeks, the revelations still arose vividly from the things, but then, in particular with Socrates, the intellectual culture dawned, and those things gradually disappeared which originated from the old culture of revelation, so that the human being made the contents of his soul life that which presents itself to him by his senses.
Before, the human being had looked at things so that he saw the rushing spring, he saw what happened in wood and meadow. Everywhere he turned his glance to the things, but from every plant something emerged that spoke spiritually to him like a revelation. He formed this then in the images, for example, of the nymphs et cetera. What worked in the depths of the things, what was shown to the old dreamlike clairvoyant consciousness, disappeared gradually and a full, wholehearted recognition of what the human being perceived with his senses replaced it. The culture of perception appeared where the human being positioned himself with that which he is and what he perceived in the world. He grew fond of it because of his whole physical organization in such a way that Hellenism was penetrated by the saying which is delivered to us by a great Greek who says there: Better to be a beggar on Earth than a king in the realm of shades.
In the old culture of revelation, one could not have spoken this way. This was only possible when the world had advanced up to the culture of perception, to that which the senses see and what the intellect develops on the basis of the senses as an intellectual view, because one knew that behind the sensory world a spiritual world exists. One could speak only that way after this spiritual world had disappeared which is behind the sensory world.
One also felt this dawning of a quite new age. In the Greek-Roman epoch one felt the impulse that prompted the human being to produce an intellectual culture from himself.
Once, one felt secure in a being of revelation to which one felt spiritually related. But now one felt that one entered into a new element where one was on his own. For one who observes the finer nuances of historical development this trait becomes especially clear. It becomes even clearer if we think that, indeed, such a life in a culture of revelation showed to the human being that he was secure as a spiritual being within the spiritual world, which he perceived clairvoyantly, but that at the same time he was less aware of his ego. Only a people of the culture of perception could completely shift for its own personality. Hence, in the Greek-Roman age with the possibility of processing the perception internally with this intellectual element, the reflection of the human being about his ego arises at the same time, which at first one experienced only in the mind as a concept, as an idea, as something invisible within the usual reality. Hence, one less appreciated the ego in the ancient times. Someone who investigates the ancient cultures deeper always recognizes that the old myths and legends speak of gods, and if the human being did his work, he was aware that a god worked with this activity, another god with that activity, and motivates him. — The human being felt penetrated with spirit, but not yet with an ego. The human being attains the ego-consciousness only by the intellectual culture.
Even in language development, we can prove that something gradually appeared that did not exist in the cultures of revelation where the human being considered himself as a vessel of the gods. The Greek had to experience the big tragedy at first that his view darkens and he had to say to himself, this is the tragic. I prefer to be a beggar on earth than a king in the other world that is uncertain to me. — However, it has become uncertain only in the Greek-Roman age. Because still in this strange age the old mysteries played a role, one could think about this transition of the soul still mythically while a quite new consciousness came into being.
What would the human being have said who already thought quite intellectually at that time if he had turned his glance to this important point of human history where the soul was torn out from the old culture of revelation to be educated to the ego-consciousness? He would have said to himself, in ancient times the human being was in the body in such a way that he beheld the spiritual-mental everywhere. — He did not behold an ego in this spiritual-mental, but he beheld the spiritual beings outranking him and would have said to himself, they live in my actions; they live in my perception, in my life, everywhere. — Now the human being turned his glance to the world, and asked himself in this time of transition, “who I am?” The answer to this question fulfilled him with shudder, so that he had to say to himself, I do no longer receive the answer that gods are penetrating me, but I feel penetrated with an isolated ego.
A human being would have said this to himself who was penetrated with the intellectual consciousness. However, someone who would still have brought over something from former times, who would have imagined from the point of view of the ancient consciousness, would have said: The river god Cephissus and a nymph had a son, called Narcissus. This appears in the human soul as a picture. Narcissus saw himself in a spring on Mount Helicon. One had forecast to him that he must die when he sees himself. That means, the human ego loses its connection with the divine when it realizes its connection with the divine. There Narcissus sees himself and is condemned with it to death. The transition of the old culture of revelation is described to that of perception, only in another way.
Somebody who would have imagined the transition to the new consciousness still in the way of the old consciousness would have said to himself, if the human being once looked at the environment, he beheld spiritual-divine forces everywhere, indeed, with his old Imaginative view. This old Imaginative consciousness gradually disappeared, and what last remained, actually, were the worst forces of the spiritual: spiritual beings that worked outdoors. The human being who imagined the new in the old kind became aware of them as Gorgons. There the new human being, Perseus, rises, mutilates the Gorgons, the Medusa, that means that consciousness which existed like the last rest, shown as Medusa's head with poisonous snakes in place of hair. Then it is shown how from the mutilated Medusa two beings originate: Chrysaor and Pegasus.
I am no friend of the allegorical-symbolic interpretation of myths. I mean it — also not in the sense of an allegorical-symbolic interpretation — in such a way that someone who has experienced the rise of the new to which humanity should develop with the old consciousness has still clairvoyantly beheld the birth of Chrysaor and Pegasus by Medusa. What did he behold? Chrysaor is the image that the human being received as an replacement for the lost old clairvoyance. Pegasus is the personification of imagination. Since the imagination is caused because the old Imagination disappeared, and the human beings do no longer have the power to enter the new epoch with a force of the old consciousness. They replace the old Imagination which beheld the spiritual reality by something that does not go into the spiritual reality but into the everlasting working of the human soul and that wants to show the new constitution of the human soul. Pegasus is nothing but the ego-culture. This develops further. Hence, we hear how that which has led to the ego-culture, Chrysaor, marries Kallirrhoe. Geryoneus originated, the modern intellectual culture of which the Greek felt that it led the human being from the old clairvoyant culture, but that it had to do this, because he would never have been able to attain the self-consciousness otherwise. Again the figure of Chrysaor has something tragic in itself, it characterizes what the intellectual culture experiences. Someone who felt this the deepest, the poet Robert Hamerling (1830–1889), said about this intellectual culture, we see the conscious intellectual culture developing in the course of the human evolution from the ancient unconscious mythical culture. However, this culture leads like every development to its death. If the mere intellectual culture advanced in its way only — Hamerling and everybody who is able to assess the peculiar intellectual culture — recognizes that it would dry out, would extinguish any liveliness and energy.
While spiritual science draws attention to the fact that the intellectual culture must not remain an intellectual culture, it shows that humanity had to get necessarily to the intellectual culture to develop the ego-consciousness, but that it can get again to something that can be more than an intellectual culture. What does the intellectual culture give to the human being? It gives a picture of the world. What does the human being care about today in particular? Take the highest ideal which people have in mind: that our concepts do not at all deviate from the outer reality. They call everything impossible that does not comply immediately with the sensory-material reality. However, for spiritual research the intellectual culture is not only something that can depict reality but something that can educate the soul, that elevates the forces of the soul. The humanity of the future will thereby get again to an Imaginative culture by which it is connected with the spiritual backgrounds of things.
Thus the intellectual culture is the necessary element to form the human ego in the course of human history. We see that the old clairvoyance had to be blunted by the intellectual culture, so that the ego flashes and can settle in those incarnations which the soul had in the Greek-Roman culture, and which it has and will still have for some time. Then we realize how in the future a new Imaginative culture is kindled with which humanity again is taken up into the spirit and into the spiritual life. Thus the present is connected with the past, and the present teaches us what has to develop for the future. The consciousness of this transformation of consciousness faces us greatly at a place of human history. However, I would like before to draw your attention still to the fact that with the old culture of revelation also a certain epoch of humanity was reached. The culture of revelation is completely penetrated with an old Imaginative life. If we went back even farther we would meet an old culture which points everywhere in the Near East not to the culture which is described in history as the Persian one, but to a much older one from which the Persian culture originated. This older culture for their part followed again the ancient Indian culture. That is why we find the ancient Persian and the ancient Indian cultures as the precursors of the culture of revelation.
If we survey these cultures, we find the language that had arisen from the spiritual, but from the not yet conscious spiritual that is not penetrated with reason and logic. As even today the child learns speaking before it learns thinking, humanity learnt speaking before thinking. From the deep undergrounds of Imaginative consciousness, not from animal instincts, a language developed from a clairvoyant consciousness that was still a higher one than the revelation consciousness of the ancient Egyptian culture. Beyond the ancient Indian culture the element of language developed. Language is a pre-conscious creation of the human mind. This points back to even older times in which language gradually developed from a still subconscious spiritual activity.
Then we see that ancient Indian culture maturing, which we admire just because we can call it a culture of unity in the best sense of the word. This is not the culture of the Vedas, which are an echo of the real ancient Indian culture only and originated not much longer before our Christian calendar than we live today after its beginning. One may characterize this ancient Indian culture while one says, the ancient Indian did not yet generally feel the difference of the material and the spiritual when he looked at nature. He did not yet see the spiritual separated from the material, he did not see at all the colors and the forms as we do today, but for him the spiritual bordered directly on the material. He saw the spirit as real as he saw the outer material colors: a culture of unity. He still saw the spiritual just as the material.
Hence, he felt the supreme spirit everywhere in the things that one later called Brahman, the world soul that one felt prevailing everywhere. However, this culture, which faces us in primeval times as a starting point of human history, did not enable the human being to be active in the material, to develop his forces in the material really. Hence, in the north in the area of the later Persian empire another culture spread out which was completely penetrated by the attitude that the human being belongs, indeed, to the spiritual world, but has to work on the material here on Earth.
The ancient Persian people were a diligent working people compared to the ancient Indian people. They wanted to combine with the spiritual forces to impress the spirit in the material configuration of the earth by man's own power and work. Hence the Persian felt united with his god of light and said, he penetrates me, because the human being lost the connection with the divine only in the time of the culture of perception, in the Greek-Roman epoch. The spirit of light, Ahura Mazdao, lived in the ancient Persian. Against it, he considered that which he had to overcome as the resisting matter, as interspersed with the forces of opposition, Ahriman, the dark spirit. Thus before the revelation culture there is the Persian culture, which we can call the culture of Mithra enthusiasm. We can imagine Ahura Mazdao who is symbolized by the Sun in the following way: while later the human being still felt spirit-filled, and even later ego-filled, an enthusiasm in the spirit existed in these ancient Persian times, really an existence in God and a working of God by the human being. The ancient Ahura Mazdao culture was an enthusiastic culture preceding the culture of revelation.
One can observe such a thing just by spiritual science wonderfully as the poet especially feels, for example, when Robert Hamerling imagines something similar at the end of his writing The Atomism of the Will. He does not yet recognize spiritual-scientifically, but with elementary intuitions, that humanity has developed from an elementary connection with the spiritual forces of nature, that humanity formed language and myths on this elementary level. However, the intellectual culture is destined to lead the human being to a point where he completely realizes his ego, his central spiritual-mental essence.
Another culture pointed to that magnificently. At that time, one pointed to it when one knew prophetically: a time will come when that will live consciously in the human being — but it develops only in his innermost core — which lives and weaves in the world as the highest spiritual-divine. This time must be expected, it will come. Then something enters in the human being that penetrates his core spiritually. The spiritual forces approach as it were to prepare this impetus of the human ego. However, we are not yet allowed to speak of that now which still exists in the human being in such a way as if the highest divine-spiritual already penetrates him. The divine is still unpronounceable. The ancient Hebrew culture felt that way; it felt the ego-culture, the intellectual culture, approaching, while it said to itself, the God who lives in the human soul can be characterized only with an unpronounceable name. — Hence, their view of the unpronounceable name of Jahveh. Jahveh or Jehovah is even a substitute with the unpronounceable name of the divine, because what was composed with these letters, indeed, is not to be vocalized, is not to be pronounced, because as soon as one pronounces it, it becomes something different from that which develops only in the future as the spiritual being of the human being. The human being had to descend to the sensory-material world in the course of development, whereas he rises to the spiritual again in future times.
Then the Christian culture entered with necessity into that age which has produced the ego-culture. It regards the Christ impulse as that by which the human ego receives the impulse to settle in the spiritual in future again, as the human being has once descended from the spiritual. Someone who can realize why Plato, Socrates, and others were possible only in Greece, and why at that time the ego-consciousness emerged in a determining point, also understands why the Mystery of Golgotha had to take place just in the Greek-Roman culture as the main focus of the whole human development. Only someone who does not think about these connections and does not know what human consciousness means and how it changes can also not realize how the Christ impulse — characterized from another viewpoint in the previous talk — positions itself in the course of human development from the past through the present to the future. Just in the ancient Hebrew culture, the being of that appears which appears in the human ego. Now one can go into the details if one surveys history that way. Philosophers often stated that the Greeks said, any philosophy begins with marveling.
Yes, it has to begin with astonishment, as well as it has appeared in Greece. We can prove this if we look at history and at the present in the right light. There something of the old clairvoyant consciousness has remained that does no longer work in such a way as it worked once. This is the dream. The dream is the last, decadent heirloom of the old clairvoyance, because already the conditions of the ego-consciousness work on it. What does the dream lack? Pursue the visions, how they surge up and down: you will realize that one thing is absent. We would never accept the way they come and go in the awake consciousness. Why? Because the human being cannot be astonished in the dream, because astonishment appears only with the ego-consciousness in the culture of perception, and because something is contained in the dream that comes from times without ego-consciousness. The Greeks gave what appears as an ego-worldview with a miraculous characteristic saying, it begins with marveling. However, the dream still lacks another thing. While dreaming we can do the most unbelievable things, and conscience never torments us. Conscience belongs to the ego-consciousness. It appeared only when the ego-consciousness developed. One can prove this, while one compares, for example, the dramas of Aeschylus and Euripides. With Aeschylus there is never talk of conscience, but with Euripides conscience already plays a role. Conscience appears together with the ego-consciousness in human development, and the dream lacks conscience; it is only an heirloom of the old clairvoyant consciousness.
We realize, while human history changed into the present, how from the old clairvoyant consciousness — from which language and myths have arisen — the intellectual consciousness gradually develops, which is now at a climax of its development.
That is why spiritual science appears, anticipating the necessary forces for the future in our time. It has to point to the fact that humanity has not to die away as awfully as Robert Hamerling may show the killing of a mere intellectual culture, but that the intellectual culture opens a new way of familiarizing ourselves again with the spirit. Spiritual science knows what a poet and philosopher of modern time expresses so wonderfully at the end of his work where he pronounces his pain about the intellectual culture that has darkened the old elementary being together with the world undergrounds, but let the ego arise. There the poet says, “The divine kingdom, the golden age that is set in the legends at the world end to be aimed at, only means the withdrawal of any life into the spirit that can be also carried out individually.” Thus, a work of Robert Hamerling closes in hope for the future that any life develops back to the spirit as any human life arises from the spirit. Past, present, and future move together, so that the ego-consciousness is in the middle, in the present, which he did not have before. However, he will keep this ego-consciousness as an heirloom and take it with him into spiritual heights, so that we can speak again of a spiritual age of humanity. No oppressive future ideal arises if we understand human history spiritual-scientifically. How are we put in life that often is so full of suffering and pains, how can we relate to the world goals in our ideas? We can answer this big human question in such a way in particular from spiritual science with certainty which gives us vitality and confidence for all human future at the same time, as the poet about whom I have just spoken answers it anticipating and with imagination.
In 1856 he inserted nice words in his Venus in Exile that touch the past, present, and future of humanity, which, indeed, he did not yet speak out of the consciousness of spiritual science. But that what the human soul expected and is renewed later in another form faces us in the old myths and legends so wonderfully. What spiritual science can say reasonably, the poetic mind expressed it in an anticipating way:
Why did I throw myself in the abyss of earthly being,
Threatened by grief and death's fury,
Why do I float in the sea of colored appearance,
Why do I swim through waves of pain to the goal?
I do not know it. One thing is only certain to me:
In my deepest inside the voice sounds
That consents joyfully to the lot of life
And shoulders this earthly destiny.