Friday, May 31, 2019

A Salient Point

Rudolf Steiner:

"The same feelings that people still have in moonlight, the men of old had, but much more intensely, when on waking they first caught sight of the Sun. They did not talk merely of the sunlight; they said something like this: “Out of this heavenly being there streams into us a radiance which permeates us with warmth and light, making of each one of us a personality.”
This was still felt by Julian the Apostate, and he believed it could be preserved. That was his mistake, and also his great tragedy, for man no longer experienced his personality through the physical rays of the Sun. This knowledge of the personality was brought to man by a spiritual path. That which the Sun out there in space could no longer give him, the experience that could no longer come to him from outside, now had to rise up from his own inner depths. Christ Himself had to unite His cosmic destiny with humankind, so that in the continual fluctuation of the balance between Ahriman and Lucifer we should not fall away from our onward path.
We must take fully and deeply in earnest that Christ had descended from spiritual heights and has united His destiny with that of men. What does this mean? When before the Mystery of Golgotha men looked into the world of the senses, they saw at the same time a spiritual element there; this I made clear when speaking to you about the perception of the Sun. All this was lost to men. They had to receive something in place of it; they had to receive something of a spiritual nature, and at the same time gain from this spirituality an impression of reality in the sense-perceptible world. That is a salient point in the Mystery of Golgotha and its relation to human knowledge."

Whitewashing history: The Tulsa race massacre — a personal footnote

I find it astonishing that my grandmother was born in Tulsa in 1901 and lived there all her life; my mother was born in Tulsa in 1922 and lived there until 2018; my sister and my brothers and I grew up in Tulsa--I was born in 1947 and finally moved away from Tulsa at the age of thirty--AND I NEVER KNEW OF THE EXISTENCE OF THIS EVENT until I was in my thirties!

Necessity as Past Subjectivity

Chance, Providence, and Necessity. Lecture 4 of 8.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, August 29, 1915:

If you look at works such as that of Fritz Mauthner, to whom I have repeatedly referred, you will see what consequences necessarily result from taking the prevailing modern outlook seriously. Mauthner arrives at all sorts of very strange conclusions. One example is the way he links the concept “supply” with that of a “supply of words,” for he is a philologist. He divides the word “supply” into two categories of “illusory” and “useful” concepts. The real purpose of his philosophical dictionary is to demonstrate that most philosophical concepts belong in the useless category. Those who give a thorough reading to his comments on a concept or word in his Dictionary of Philosophy always end up with the admittedly subjective feeling of whirling around like a Chinaman trying to grab his own pigtail. You have the feeling as you finish one of his articles that you have been trying all the way through it to get hold of your pigtail, which a Chinaman wears hanging down behind him. But at the end there it is, still behind you; no amount of twirling results in catching up with it. There are, I must say, some very, very upsetting things for healthy minds to endure as they read an article such as the one on “Christianity.” But that is true of almost all the articles Mauthner has written.
Now he takes great pains to eliminate all illusory concepts, admitting some of them into his dictionary for the sole purpose of denouncing them. I'll read a few very characteristic sentences from his introduction by way of illustration:
What is an illusory concept? This dictionary will denounce as illusory many concepts held in general esteem. I am not at a loss, you see, for examples. Nevertheless, it is not an easy matter to describe in general terms what distinguishes a useful from an illusory concept, a true one from a false one, a living concept from a dead one.
These opposite characteristics already point to some sources of the difficulty. The mere appearance of usefulness cannot always be attributed to the same source, and it is not in every case a simple matter to determine a concept's falsity or deadness. It may be that the falsity was inherent, or else became attached to the concept as language underwent changes over a period of time and did not need to wait for a scientifically and critically advanced generation to discover it. A concept could also have been dead to begin with, or death can have overtaken it unnoticed in popular usage after a shorter or longer life. The boundaries cannot be sharply drawn because all these concepts are relative. The concepts absolute and phlogiston were false from the start; exact scrutiny could all along have discovered that they contradicted the facts of experience.
Now wouldn't you agree that this is quite nice? Humanity took many millennia, not just centuries, to replac phlogiston with another concept, and Lavoisier's replacement of phlogiston with evidence of the true nature of combustion was considered a most significant deed. But Mauthner finds it possible to comment that “the concept was false from the start because exact scrutiny could have discovered all along that it contradicted the facts of experience.”
It really sounds as though if Fritz Mauthner had been born early enough, he would have seen to it that people didn't have to suffer for so long a time from the false concept phlogiston. He goes on to say, “The concept witch only became a false one when the concept devil fell by the wayside, and the godless female could therefore no longer enter into fleshly commerce with the illusory concept devil. The concept devil too lived a sufficiently lengthy span and died out only when human learning became convinced that neither the devil nor any of his works were observable in the sphere of reality.”
We could be tempted to repeat that

Not if he had them by the neck, I vow,
Would e'er these people scent the devil.
One can't help thinking of this on hearing such a statement. A lot depends today on the decisions people make about searching out viewpoints able to shed light and guide them.
Yesterday we discussed how a deepening of our soul nature must be accompanied by a profounder grasp of concepts such as necessity. It was pointed out how decisive an influence on destiny a sense of the necessity in everything in existence, and the submersion of the individual in that necessity, could have for a person like Faust. But Mauthner says, “Necessity — What is it? Just a way of looking at things.” He finds no reason to think of the element of necessity as existing objectively in things. In his opinion the stream of cosmic events bypasses human beings. People say that “the sun rose today, it rose yesterday and it rose the day before yesterday, so we assume that it will rise tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, and so on.” They form the concept of necessity from these external thoughts about the regular succession of events, saying that the sun necessarily rises. But this necessity of theirs is subjective, just a human concept.
And Mauthner makes the nice rejoinder to the philosopher Husserl, an exponent of the view that necessity is inherent in the nature of things, “If I only knew how necessity, a human way of regarding reality, could be made objective reality!” “If I only knew,” is Mauthner's reaction. Mauthner, you see, lacks any possibility of understanding how something subjective could turn into objective reality. He's a queer kind of eurythmist, this Mauthner; he can never dance his way from the subjective into the objective because he has totally lost the capacity to involve himself in the inner choreography that leads from the subjective into the objective. And the reason for that is that we are not in a position to look for essential being at the characteristic place where the subjective element actually passes over into the objective realm.
Let us seek out such a place and examine it from a spiritual standpoint. When the human soul raises a question, it seeks an answer to it, and proceeds subjectively to set in motion all those processes, those inner or external actions, that might serve to supply it. You know, of course, that the putting of questions and finding of answers is indeed a subjective process, so subjective that one person engages in it with finesse and another clumsily; all possible nuances exist. It is really an inner activity. But now let us assume the following: Let us picture a person on fire with a desire to know, filled to the brim with a longing for insight, who therefore raises a question in his soul. But he finds no answer to it. The situation thus far is subjective. But now let us imagine time passing and the person continuing to live. What has happened subjectively is that this person has experienced the question and the lack of an answer to it, and he goes on living. He can remember the question later on, and the fact that he has not found an answer. But it could turn out entirely differently: his question can have been totally forgotten. But that doesn't mean that the question and the lack of an answer are completely unreal within him; it just means that he hasn't found the answer.
Someone able to see into the situation may find that what began as a purely subjective element later makes its appearance in the person concerned in the uncertain way he behaves in life. A sensitive observer will be able to say that such a person has a curiously uncertain way of gesturing and glancing. These are very delicate matters when it comes to individual cases, but such situations do exist, and it can be discovered that many an uncertain look and gesture or the like that shows up in later years can be traced back to an unanswered question or complex of questions. The presence of this uncertainty in look and gesture is an objective, an entirely objective fact. An objective situation has actually been created and emerged from a subjective one. We can rediscover years later in the objective processes in us what we experienced at first subjectively.
If you follow up such leads, you will find that they open up a reliable route to answering questions that Mauthner in his incapacity cannot answer. That is why he says, “If I only knew how necessity, a human way of regarding reality, could be made objective reality!” The subjective can indeed become objective! This becomes clear to us particularly when we take fully into account what I pointed out yesterday: that memory is a distinct state of consciousness in addition to sleeping and waking. Remembering is still in its infancy; however, it will play a much larger role when humanity has advanced to the next planetary stage, and it will find expression in the recognition of earlier experiences. This recognition will bring these experiences before us in a form quite different from their previous appearance. Subjective experiences we may have had recur much later in a mild form in our individual lives. They will appear in the next incarnation in a much more significant form. What was once a subjective experience then resurfaces in our external aspect as a characteristic objective element. And if we ask what has become of much that we have forgotten, we would discover it if we were to concern ourselves really seriously with what spiritual science gives us; we would find it in our lives. What has sunk into our souls' depths and no longer remains in the subjective sphere lives and moves down below in our subconsciousness. The subjective invariably becomes objective.
You see that if we are really intent upon understanding life, we have to deal seriously and conscientiously with matters like these. We have to try very conscientiously indeed to develop our thinking, noting errors of thought where they occur, for they are intimately bound up with errors in the way our lives are lived. How often one comes upon people who are constantly saying that they are certainly not vain—but the very fact that they emphasize it at every opportunity is due to vanity. They are so frightfully vain that they have to keep saying how free from vanity they are. They simply haven't dwelt sufficiently and realistically enough on the cancelling out that occurs when a Cretan says that all Cretans are liars. If that were true and a Cretan states it, he would be doing so as a liar. So his statement that all Cretans are liars can't be true.
But all such matters have to be translated into living reality. We need to see to it that we make a habit of a certain discrimination in thinking. In this connection I want to call your attention to an error in thinking that crops up in Mauthner's case too, in one of his many characteristic observations. He has an article on necessity in his philosophical dictionary. He is at pains to show that necessity is merely a human idea and that there is no such element inherent in things. There is a very special reason why this article exemplifies the strange experiment of whirling around and trying unsuccessfully to catch hold of his own pigtail. For the only thing he achieves clarity on is that it is not necessary for necessity to inhere in things, that no such necessity exists. But necessity could indeed inhere in things without there being any necessity for its doing so. The fact that Mauthner sees that it isn't necessary for necessity to inhere in things doesn't prove that it doesn't so inhere. It could just be the case that no necessity exists for it to do so. That is what we must always bear in mind.
The question that concerns us, however, is where to look for necessity. We will make a closer study of this tomorrow; for today I just want to try to guide your thoughts in the right direction by citing examples.
Let's consider the following: The subjective content of our thoughts sinks down to become a content of our memory, but is lost sight of down below there and becomes objective. And now we look out into the surrounding world and seek the objective there. We certainly find objective elements in ourselves, in our individual lives, in the form of gestures, facial expressions, and the like. Remember that I spoke yesterday at the close of the lecture about how what begins as a subjective element is encountered later as objective fact. So we will need to ask whether what is thus externally encountered can perhaps be traced back to something that was once subjective. And we would accordingly find in the external world that everything to which we must ascribe necessity was rendered necessary by the fact that it has left the subjective realm and become objective.
Imagine yourselves transposed from earthly existence back to the ancient sun existence. We were involved there with those beings who reigned during the sun period. And we can picture these beings who went through inner, subjective soul experiences and were active during the period of that sun existence as similar to us in our present day thinking, feeling, and willing. What they went through on the sun at that time is now to be found externalized in the world around us; now it confronts us from outside as world-gesture, world-expressiveness, world-physiognomy. It has become objective. Crudely put, a being of the sun period may have sent out rays of will just as subjectively as we allow what we have thought or felt to sink down into our memory and become objective there. Exactly so did this will element, this raying out of the ancient sun beings, sink down and become memory, and we now find it confronting us. Just as we perceive in a person's glance as externalized, objective fact some earlier experience that he has had, we now perceive in the sun's radiating light a decision of will on the part of beings subjectively active on the ancient sun. We behold it. Indeed, if we should encounter an elderly person with a sour-tempered look around the mouth, we can certainly call it a fact objectively perceptible in the outer world, and if we follow it up, we may well be able to trace it back to bitter experiences of a subjective nature suffered in childhood. What was subjective has become objective.
Where mountains tower up today it is possible to trace back this feature of the earth, for example, in the great chain of the Alps. If we go back far enough, perhaps as far back as ancient Saturn, we come across subjective soul and spiritual events experienced during that period that are retained in present-day physical aspects of the earth. But things could have taken a somewhat different course at that period if the gods who had those experiences of soul and spirit had come to different decisions; in that case, of course, the Alps would not have come to be as they are today. But just picture the gods on Saturn deciding on some particular inner action and then going through the sun and moon periods. Then, as the moon developed into the earth, it was no longer possible for them to change their decisions. That is like the difference we experience in trying to learn in later life something we failed to learn before we reached our eighteenth year. We can catch up, but the fact of having to do so creates a situation that would not have existed had we undergone the learning at an earlier age.
You will see from this that although the gods were free to make this or that decision during the Saturn period, once having made it, they were no longer free during the moon evolution to effect a change in the east-west orientation of the Alps. They bound themselves by the terms of their earlier thinking, and the result could no longer be changed. What has been done cannot be undone if we want to stick by the truth. People can try subjectively to wipe out what they experienced subjectively, but what has developed as objective fact cannot be wiped out.
If, for example, I have been guilty of neglect in younger years in failing to educate someone whose education was my responsibility, that corresponded to my subjective state at the time. Twenty years later I can deny that I was neglectful, but that changes nothing in the objective situation that grew out of the subjective one. The individual who went uneducated became what he is as a result of what I neglected to do. The objective outcome of our subjectivity takes on a necessity that cannot be denied, and necessity enters the picture to the degree that the subjective is transformed into the objective.
If the concepts involved here are followed up with strict logic from this point of view, we come upon an intimate relationship between the past and everything that can be termed necessity. And the past resurfaces in everything we encounter in the present; it is present there. There is as much necessity in the present as there is past in it. Life congeals into the past, but the past becomes necessity in the process.
I'd like to put all this before you more pictorially. It is superstition to assume that what is recognized to be an interrelationship based on law in a series of events can be changed by a miracle. Why is this the case? The past that underlies these events determines what must happen in accordance with the laws of necessity. The gods would not be telling the truth if they were to interfere with the lawfulness governing such a relationship. They would be denying what they had previously established. And we can no more change the past inhering in situations as necessity than we can change what happened in the past by some statement about it. What we cannot change in a situation is the part the past played in it. The concept of necessity must coalesce with the concept of the past; that is tremendously important. The past inheres in every object and in every creature, constituting the necessity in them; necessity is present in them to an extent corresponding to their past. The necessity that inheres in things does so because it is the recurring past, and what has taken place cannot be dismissed. We can easily picture anything that has become necessity now, for it goes back to a previous event. It happened in the past and now confronts us in reflected form.
You can no more change that reflection than you can remove in the mirror a wart on your forehead that you see reflected there; you would have to remove it beforehand. It is equally impossible to make any change in what appears as present necessity, since what appears as necessity now really occurred some time ago. It is past, and now merely shows up in its subsequent reflection. Everything of the nature of necessity in us is of the past and is merely bringing about its reflection in us. Only if people bestir themselves to grasp that the events that took place in the ancient moon, sun, and Saturn periods are now reflected in us, and are merely reflections of those ancient events, will they come to understand necessity.
And now think back to our discovery that our conceptual world is of moon origin. On an earlier occasion I described how we are really looking back on a moon panorama when we observe our present-day environment. Here you have the link. It is simply not true that certain things that seem to be going on in us really happen in the present; they are just reflections in a mirror. The reality is that they took place in earlier stages of the earth's development. I have said in earlier lectures that our heads are actually hollow. And why are they hollow? Because what constitutes their content is of earlier origin, and now there is only a reflection there of earlier events in our heads. But if we are incapable of grasping this concept of mirror images, we will always be prone, as we confront the Maya, the illusion of reality around us, to make the mistake that children (and, if you'll excuse me, modern science too) make when they see objects in a mirror and run around behind it to find them. But the objects have vanished when they get there. What was necessity has gone, and the fact that the past is reflected is the reason why there is necessity in the present. The past cannot be changed.
I agree that much effort is involved in grasping these concepts. So we'll stop here for today, and see if we can manage to think them through by tomorrow. We will then go on to study chance and providence and their connection with necessity.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Less is Ma

Anandamayi Ma

Ascension and Pentecost

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, May 7, 1923:

In the course of the evolution of mankind, the different world-religions have placed mighty pictures before humanity. If these pictures are to be fully understood a certain esoteric knowledge is required. In the course of years, such a knowledge, based on Anthroposophy, has been applied to the interpretation of all the four Gospels, in order that their deeper content and meaning may be brought to light.* This content is for the most part in the form of pictures, because pictures refuse to communicate themselves in the narrow, rationalistic way that is possible with concepts and ideas. People think that once a concept has been grasped they have got to the root of everything to which it is relevant. No such opinion is possible in the case of a picture, an imagination. A picture or an imagination works in a living way, like a living being itself. We may have come to know one aspect or another of a living person, but ever and again he will present new aspects to us. We shall not be satisfied, therefore, with definitions purporting to be comprehensive, but we shall endeavour to look for characteristics which contribute to the picture from different angles, giving us increasing knowledge of the person in question. [See lecture-courses by Rudolf Steiner on each of the four Gospels; also numbers of other published lectures.]
To-day I want to bring two familiar pictures before you, and to describe certain aspects of them.
The first picture is that of the disciples of Christ Jesus on the day of the Ascension. Gazing upwards, they see Christ vanishing in the clouds. The usual conception of this scene is that Christ went up into heaven and so departed from the earth, and that the disciples were then left, as it were, to their own resources. Likewise all earthly humanity, for whose sake Christ fulfilled the Mystery of Golgotha, was by the Ascension left to its own resources.
The thought may occur to you that in a certain respect this belies the reality of the Mystery of Golgotha. We ourselves know that through His deed on Golgotha Christ resolved to unite His own Being with the earth, that is to say, from the Mystery of Golgotha onwards to remain forever connected with earth-evolution. The mighty picture of the Ascension might thus seem to be at variance with what esoteric vision of the Mystery of Golgotha reveals concerning Christ's union with the earth and with mankind.
We will try to-day to overcome this seeming contradiction in the light of actual spiritual facts.
The second picture is that of the scene ten days after the Ascension, when tongues of fire descend upon the heads of the assembled disciples and they are moved “to speak with other tongues.” What this actually means is that henceforward the disciples were able to impart the secrets of the Deed on Golgotha to the heart of every human being, irrespective of religion or creed.
Keeping these two pictures before our minds, we shall try to give some indication of their meaning. Anything more than this is not possible.
We know from our study of Anthroposophy, that the evolution of mankind did not begin on the Earth, but that Earth-evolution proper was preceded by a “Moon” evolution, this by a “Sun” evolution, and this again by a “Saturn” evolution, as described in my book An Outline of Occult Science. During the period of the “Saturn” evolution, man developed in his descent from the Spiritual as far as the rudimentary basis of the physical body. In that epoch, however, the physical body was a body of warmth only; that is to say, warmth of varying degrees, forces of warmth, gathered together around the being of soul-and-spirit.
During the “Sun” evolution man acquired an aeriform body, during the “Moon” evolution a kind of fluid, watery body, and a solid, earthy body, in the real sense, only during “Earth” evolution proper.
Let us think, now, particularly of the Earth-evolution. It fulfils its course in seven successive epochs, of which the first three are recapitulations: the first, a recapitulation of the “Saturn” period, the second of the “Sun” period, the third (the Lemurian epoch) of the “Moon” period. Earth-evolution proper really begins with the fourth epoch, that of Atlantis. We are living now in the fifth epoch, which will be followed by the sixth and the seventh.
The mid-point of Earth-evolution falls in the middle of the Atlantean epoch, and so in our present age the Earth has already passed the mid-point of its development. From this you will realise that the Earth is already involved in a declining phase of evolution, and in our time this must always be taken into account. As I have often said, it conforms entirely with the findings even of modern materialistic geology.
In his book The Face of the Earth, Eduard Suess has stated that the soil beneath our feet to-day belongs to an earth that is already dying. During the Atlantean epoch the earth was, so to say, in the middle period of life; it teemed with inner life; it had upon it no such formations as the rocks and stones, which are gradually crumbling away. The mineral element was active in the earthly realm in the way in which it is active to-day in an animal organism, in a state of solution out of which deposits will not form unless the organism is diseased. If the animal organism is healthy it is only the bones that can be said to take their form as deposits. In the bones, however, there is still inner life. The bones are not in the condition of death, they are not, like our mountains and rocks, in process of crumbling into dust. The crumbling of the rocks is evidence that the earth is already involved in a death-process.
As already said, this is now known even to ordinary materialistic geology. Anthroposophy must add to this knowledge the fact that the earth has been involved in this process of decline ever since the middle of the Atlantean epoch. Moreover, in the earth must be included everything that belongs to it: the plants, the animals, and, above all, physical man. Physical man is part and parcel of the earth. In that the earth is involved in a process of decline, so too is the human physical body. Expressed differently, in more esoteric terms, this signifies that by the middle of the Atlantean epoch, everything that was first laid down in a germinal condition in the warmth-body of the “Saturn” evolution had reached completion. The human physical body actually reached completion by the middle of the Atlantean epoch, and since then the path of its evolution has been one of decline.
Evolution does not, of course, proceed with complete uniformity. One race or people enters a phase of evolution earlier or later than another, but, speaking generally, at the time when the Mystery of Golgotha was at hand, the evolution of the physical constitution of man had reached a stage when humanity all over the globe was facing the prospect of finding further incarnation impossible on the earth; in other words, of being unable henceforward to accompany the earth in its declining evolution.
In the Schools of Initiation it was known, and can of course also be known to-day, that at about the time of the Mystery of Golgotha the human physical body had reached a degree of decline where the men who were then in incarnation or who were to be incarnated in the near future, that is, up to about the fourth century A.D., were faced with the danger of leaving an earth that was growing more and more desolate and barren, and of finding no possibility in the future of descending from the world of spirit-and-soul and building a physical body out of materials provided by the physical earth. This danger existed, and the inevitable consequence would have been the failure of man to fulfil his allotted earthly mission. The Ahrimanic and Luciferic powers working in combination had succeeded to the extent that at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, earthly mankind was face to face with the possibility of dying out.
Mankind was rescued from this fate through that which was achieved by the Mystery of Golgotha, whereby the human physical body itself was imbued again with the necessary forces of life and freshness. Men were thereby enabled to continue their further evolution on earth, inasmuch as they could now come down from worlds of spirit-and-soul and find it possible to live in physical bodies. Such was the actual effect of the Mystery of Golgotha.
I have often spoken of this, as for example in the lecture-course given in Carlsruhe under the title From Jesus to Christ. [Ten lectures, Oct. 5th — 14th, 1911. Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co.] The greatest hostility was aroused by these lectures because, out of a sense of esoteric duty, certain truths were presented which many people wish to keep concealed. Indeed it can be said that from a certain quarter the hostility to Anthroposophy started from these very lectures.
What I have described, however, is one aspect of the actual effect of the Mystery of Golgotha. This same fact can, of course, be expressed in many different ways. It was expressed differently in that lecture-course, but what I am now describing is the same fact, merely seen from another side. Through the Mystery of Golgotha, the forces promoting the growth and thriving of man's physical body were quickened anew, with the following result. — It was now made possible for man to receive, during his life of sleep, an impulse he would not otherwise have received. The whole evolution of man on earth takes its course, as we know, in the alternation of waking life and sleep-life. In sleep, the physical body and ether-body remain behind; from the time of falling asleep until that of waking, the ego and the astral body make themselves independent of them. During this state of independence in sleep the influence of the Christ-Force takes effect in the ego and the astral body in those men who through the requisite mood and content of their soul-life have made fitting preparation for this condition of sleep. Penetration of these higher bodies by the Christ-Force, therefore, takes place mainly during the state of sleep.
To turn now to the biblical event of the Ascension, we must realise that at that time the disciples had become clairvoyant to a degree at which they were able to behold what is, in truth, a deep secret of earthly evolution. These secrets remain unnoticed by man's everyday consciousness, which is incapable of knowing whether at one point or another in the evolution of humanity something of supreme importance is taking place. There are many such happenings, but the everyday consciousness is unaware of them. The picture of the Ascension actually signifies that at this moment Christ's disciples were able to witness spiritually an event of untold significance, enacted “behind the scenes” as it were of earthly evolution.
What they witnessed revealed to them, as in a picture, the prospect of what would have come about for men had the Mystery of Golgotha not taken place. They beheld as a concrete spiritual happening what would have then befallen, namely, that the physical bodies of men would have so deteriorated that the whole future of humanity would have been endangered. For the consequence of this physical deterioration would have been that the human etheric body would have obeyed the forces of attraction which properly belong to it. The etheric body is being drawn all the time towards the sun, not towards the earth. Our constitution as human beings is such that our physical body has earthly heaviness, gravity, but our etheric body, sun-levity. Had the human physical body become what it must have become if the Mystery of Golgotha had not taken place, the etheric bodies of men would have followed their own urge towards the sun and have left the physical body. The existence of mankind on earth would inevitably have come to an end.
Until the Mystery of Golgotha, Christ's dwelling-place was the sun. Therefore in that the etheric body of man strives towards the sun, it is striving towards the Christ. Now picture to yourselves the scene on the day of the Ascension. In spiritual vision the disciples see Christ Himself rising heavenwards. A vision is conjured before them of how the power, the impulse of Christ unites itself with the etheric nature of man, in its upward striving; of how at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha man was facing the danger of his etheric body being drawn out into the sun like a cloud, but how, in its sunward streaming, it was held together by Christ. This picture must be understood, for in truth it is a warning. Christ is akin to those forces in man which naturally strive towards the sun and away from the earth, and will always do so. But Christ remains in union with the earth. Thus the Christ Impulse holds man securely on the earth.
In this picture of the Ascension, something more is manifest to the disciples. Suppose that the Mystery of Golgotha had not taken place and that numbers of men had become clairvoyant to the degree to which the disciples became clairvoyant at this moment. These men would have seen the etheric bodies of certain human beings departing from the earth in the direction of the sun, and they would have come to this conclusion: ‘This is the path man's etheric body is taking. The etheric-earthly element in man is being drawn away into the sun.’ But now, by carrying to its fulfilment the Mystery of Golgotha, Christ has rescued for the earth this sunward-striving etheric body. And thereby is manifest the fact that Christ remains united with mankind on the earth. Thus something else became apparent here, namely that through the Mystery of Golgotha Christ brought to pass within earth-evolution a cosmic event. Christ came down from the heights of spirit, linked Himself with humanity in the man Jesus of Nazareth, fulfilled the Mystery of Golgotha, united His evolution with that of the earth. It was a cosmic Deed accomplished for the whole of humanity.
Mark these words: The Deed on Golgotha was fulfilled for all mankind. The eye of clairvoyance can never fail to perceive how, since that Deed, the etheric forces in man, with their urge to escape from the earth, are united with Christ in order that He may keep them in the earth-evolution. This applies to the whole of mankind.
This leads us to another consideration. Suppose that only a handful of human beings had been able to acquire knowledge of these facts that relate to the Mystery of Golgotha, and that a large section of mankind — as is actually the case — had not recognised its significance. If this had come about, the earth would be peopled by a few true believers in Christ and by a large number who do not acknowledge the essential content and meaning of the Mystery of Golgotha. What, then, is to be said of the latter? How are these human beings who do not acknowledge the Mystery of Golgotha related to it? — or, better put, how is the Deed of Christ on Golgotha related to these human beings?
The Deed of Christ on Golgotha is an objective fact; its cosmic significance does not depend upon what men believe about it. An objective fact has, in itself, reality of being. If an oven is hot, it does not become cold because a number of people believe that it is cold. — The Mystery of Golgotha rescues mankind from the decay of the physical body, no matter what men believe or do not believe about it. The Mystery of Golgotha was enacted for the sake of all men, including those who do not believe in it. — That is the cardinal fact to be remembered.
We realise, then, that the Deed on Golgotha was enacted in order that by this means mankind on earth might be quickened to the degree necessary for its rejuvenation. That has come to pass. It has been made possible for men to find on the earth bodies in which they can and will for long ages of future time — be able to incarnate. It is, however, fundamentally as beings of spirit-and-soul that men will pass through existence in these now rejuvenated earthly bodies, and it is as beings of spirit-and-soul that they will be able to appear on the earth again and again.
Now the Christ Impulse, which must have significance for the spiritual nature of man as well as for his bodily nature, can impress itself upon a man's waking state, but it can make no impression on his sleeping state unless this Impulse has been received into his soul. The Mystery of Golgotha, therefore, would have produced its effect in the waking life of men who had no knowledge of it; but it would not, in such circumstances, have affected them in their life of sleep. The inevitable result would have been that while men would have gained the possibility of incarnating time and again on the earth, nevertheless, if they had acquired no knowledge of the Mystery of Golgotha, the condition of their sleep would have been such that the connection of their spirit-and-soul nature with Christ must have been lost.
Here you see the difference in the relation to the Mystery of Golgotha of those men who have, so to speak, no desire to know anything about it. Christ performed His Deed for their bodies, in order that earthly life should be made possible for them, just as He performed it for utterly unbelieving non-Christian peoples. But to take effect in man's spirit-and-soul nature, the Christ Impulse must also be able to penetrate into the human soul during the state of sleep. And this is only possible if a man consciously acknowledges the import of the Mystery of Golgotha. The spiritual effect of the Mystery of Golgotha, therefore, can proceed only from a true recognition of its content.
Thus there are two things that mankind must realise: on the one hand that Christ holds back the ether-body in its perpetual urge towards the sun; and on the other, that man's spirit-and-soul nature, his ego and astral body, can receive the Christ Impulse only in the time between falling asleep and waking — and this is only possible when knowledge of this Impulse has been acquired in waking life.
To sum up: the urge of the etheric bodies of men to draw towards the sun is perceived by the disciples in clairvoyant vision. But they also perceive how Christ unites Himself with this urge, restrains it, holds it fast. The mighty scene of the Ascension is that of the rescue of the physical-etheric nature of man by Christ.
The disciples withdraw in deep contemplation. For in their awakened souls is the knowledge that through the Mystery of Golgotha complete provision was made for the physical-etheric nature of mankind as a whole. But what happens, they wonder, to the being of spirit-and-soul? Whence does man acquire the power to receive the Christ Impulse into his nature of spirit-and-soul, into his ego and astral body? The answer is found in the Whitsun festival.
Through the Mystery of Golgotha the Christ Impulse has taken effect on the earth as a reality which is within the comprehension of spiritual cognition alone. No materialistic knowledge, no materialistic science can understand the Mystery of Golgotha. Hence the soul must acquire the power of spiritual cognition, of spiritual perception, of spiritual feeling, in order to be able to understand how, on Golgotha, the Christ Impulse was united with the impulses of the earth.
Christ Jesus fulfilled His Deed on Golgotha to the end that this union might take effect, fulfilled it in such a way that ten days after the event of the Ascension He sent man the possibility of imbuing also his inner nature of spirit-and-soul, his ego and astral body, with the Christ Impulse. The permeation of the human spirit-and-soul with the power to understand the Mystery of Golgotha is the sending of the Holy Spirit. This is the picture of the Whitsun festival, the festival of Pentecost. Christ fulfilled His Deed for all mankind. But to each human individual, in order that he may be able to understand this Deed, Christ sent the Spirit, in order that the individual being of spirit-and-soul may have access to the effects of the Deed that was accomplished for all men in common. Through the Spirit man must learn to experience the Christ Mystery inwardly, in spirit and in soul.
Thus these two pictures stand side by side in the history of the evolution of humanity. That of the Ascension tells us: The Deed on Golgotha was fulfilled for the physical body and the etheric body in the universal human sense. That of Whitsun tells us: The single human being must make this Deed bear fruit in himself by receiving the Holy Spirit. Thereby the Christ Impulse becomes individual in each human being.
And now something else can be added to the picture of the Ascension. Spiritual visions such as came to the disciples on the day of the Ascension always have a bearing upon what man actually experiences in one or another state of consciousness. After death, as you know, the etheric body leaves the human being. He lays aside the physical body at death, retains the etheric body for a few days, and then the etheric body dissolves, is actually united with the sun. This dissolution after death betokens union with the sun-nature streaming through the space in which the earth, too is included. Since the Mystery of Golgotha, man beholds, together with this departing etheric body, the Christ Who has rescued it for earthly existence through the ages of time to come. So that since the Mystery of Golgotha there stands before the soul of every human being who passes through death the Ascension picture which the disciples were able to behold that day in a particular condition of their soul-life.
But for one who makes the Whitsun Mystery, too, part of his being, who allows the Holy Spirit to draw near to him — for such a one this picture after death becomes the source of the greatest consolation he can possibly experience: for now he beholds the Mystery of Golgotha in all its truth and reality. This picture of the Ascension tells him: You can with confidence entrust all your following incarnations to earth-evolution, for through the Mystery of Golgotha Christ has become the Saviour of earth-evolution. — For one who does not penetrate with his ego and astral body — that is to say, does not penetrate with knowledge and with feeling — to the essence of the Mystery of Golgotha, for him this picture is a reproach until such time as he too learns to understand it. After death, the picture is as it were an admonition: Endeavour to acquire for the next earthly life such forces as will enable you to understand the Mystery of Golgotha! — That this picture of the Ascension should, to begin with, be an admonition, is only natural; for in subsequent earthly lives men can endeavour to apply the forces they have been admonished to acquire, and gain understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha.
You can now perceive the difference between those who with their inmost forces of faith, knowledge and feeling put their trust in the Mystery of Golgotha, and those who do not. The Mystery of Golgotha was fulfilled for mankind as a whole, in respect of the physical body and etheric body only. The sending of the Holy Spirit, the Whitsun mystery, signifies that the soul and spirit of man can partake of the fruits of the Deed on Golgotha only if he finds wings to bear him to actual understanding of the essence and meaning of that Deed.
But because this essence and meaning can be fully grasped by spiritual knowledge alone, not by material knowledge, it follows that the truth of the Whitsun festival can be grasped only when men realise that the sending of the Holy Spirit is the challenge to humanity more and more to achieve Spirit-knowledge, through which alone the Mystery of Golgotha can be understood.
That it must be understood — this is the challenge of the Whitsun Mystery. That it came to pass for all mankind — this is the revelation given in the Ascension.
And so it can truly be said that Anthroposophy enables us to understand the relation of the Whitsun Mystery to the Ascension revelation. We can feel Anthroposophy to be like a herald bringing illumination to these festivals of Spring, and to its many facets we have added yet another, essentially belonging to it.
This should convey to you the mood-of-soul in which the true feeling for the festivals of the Ascension and of Whitsun can arise. The pictures which such festivals bring before the soul are like living beings: we can approach nearer and nearer to their reality, learn to know them more and more intimately. When once again the year is filled with spiritual understanding of the festival seasons, it will be imbued with cosmic reality, and within earthly existence men will experience cosmic existence.
Whitsun is pre-eminently a festival of flowers. If a man has a true feeling for this Festival he will go out among the buds and blossoms opening under the influence of the sun, under the etheric and astral influences — and he will perceive in the flower-decked earth the earthly image of what flows together in the picture of Christ's Ascension, and the descent of the tongues of fire upon the heads of the disciples which followed later. The heart of man as it opens may be symbolised by the flower opening itself to the sun; and what pours down from the sun, giving the flower the fertilising power it needs, may be symbolised by the tongues of fire descending: upon the heads of the disciples. Anthroposophy can work upon human hearts with the power that streams from an understanding of the festival times and from true contemplation of each festival season; it can help to evoke the mood-of-soul that conforms truly with these days of the Spring festivals.


Ex Unum Pluribus

Rudolf Steiner:  "As we pass through death, we grow out of the way of seeing things that, in the physical world, forces us to look upon objects, and we grow into an outlook experienced as our being increasingly harbored by other spiritual beings, coming closer and closer to them. While we live in our physical bodies here, our thoughts, our feelings, our impulses of will are restricted to ourselves alone. But when we pass through death, these flow out into the world, into the other spiritual beings who then live in us. We reproduce ourselves; our consciousness expands. From a single unit we become a multiplicity, a oneness in the many, and the multiplicity reveals itself as it absorbs our oneness."

September 6, 1915

Necessity and Chance in Historical Events

Chance, Providence, and Necessity. Lecture 3 of 8.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, August 28, 1915:

I want, as I've said, to use these days to lay the foundation we will need to bring the right light to bear on the concepts chance, necessity, and providence. But today that will require me to introduce certain preparatory concepts, abstract counterparts, as it were, of the beautiful concrete images we have been considering. And to do the job as thoroughly as we must, a lecture will have to be added on Monday. That will give us today, tomorrow (after the eurythmy performance), and Monday at seven. The performance tomorrow will be at three o'clock, and a further lecture will follow immediately.
For contemporary consciousness as it has come into being and gradually evolved up to the present under the influence of materialistic thought the concepts necessity and chance are indistinguishable. What I am saying is that many a person whose consciousness and mentality have been affected by a materialistic outlook can no longer tell necessity and chance apart.
Now there are a number of facts in relation to which even minds muddled by materialism can still accept the concept of necessity, in a somewhat narrow sense at least. Even individuals limited by materialism still agree that the sun will rise tomorrow out of a certain necessity. In their view, the probability that the sun will rise tomorrow is great enough to be tantamount to necessity. Facts of this kind occurring in the relatively great expanse of nature and natural happenings on our planet are allowed by such people to pass as valid cases of Necessity. Conversely, their concepts of necessity narrow when they are confronted with what may be called historical events. And an outstanding example is Fritz Mauthner, whose name has often been mentioned here; he is the author of Critique of Language, written for the purpose of out-Kanting Kant, as well as of a Philosophical Dictionary. n article on history appears in the latter. It is extremely interesting to see how he tries there to figure out what history is. He says, “When the sun rises, I am confronted with a fact.” To take an example, we have been able today, the 28th of August 1915, to witness the fact that the sun has risen. That is a fact. And now he concludes that we can ascribe this rising of the sun to a law, to necessity, only because it happened yesterday and the day before yesterday, and so on, as long as people have been observing the sun. It was not just a case of a single fact, but of a whole sequence of identical or similar facts in outer nature that brought about this recognition of necessity.
But when it comes to history, says Mauthner, Caesar, for example, was here only once, so we can't speak of necessity in his case. It would be possible to speak of necessity in his existence only if such a fact were to be repeated. But historical facts are not repeated, so we can't talk of necessity in relation to them. In other words, all of history has to be looked upon as chance. And Mauthner, as I've said, is an honest man, a really honest man. Unlike other less honest individuals, he is a man who draws the conclusions of his assumptions. So he says of historical “necessity,” for example, “That Napoleon outdid himself and marched to Russia or that I smoked one cigar more than usual in the past hour are two facts that really happened, both necessary, both — as we rightly expect in the case of the most grandiose as well as the most absurdly insignificant historical facts — not without consequences.” To his honest feeling, something that may be termed historical fact, like Napoleon's campaign against Russia (though it could equally well be some other happening) and the reported fact that he smoked an extra cigar, are both necessary facts if we apply the term “necessity” to historical facts at all.
You will be amazed at my citing this particular sentence from Mauthner's article on history. I cite it because we have here an honest man straightforwardly admitting something that his less honest fellows with a modern scientific background refuse to admit. He is admitting that the fact that Caesar lived cannot be distinguished from the fact of Mauthner himself having smoked an extra cigar by calling upon the means available to us and considered valid by contemporary science. No difference can be ascertained by the methods modern science recognizes! Now he takes a positive stand, declaring his refusal to recognize a valid difference, to be so foolish as to represent history as science, when, according to the hypotheses of present-day science, history cannot qualify as a science.
He is really honest; he says with some justification, for example, that Wundt set up a systematic arrangement of the sciences. History was, of course, listed among them. But no more objective reason for Wundt's doing this can really be discovered than that it had become customary, or, in other words, it happens to be a fact that universities set up history faculties. If a regular faculty were provided to teach the art of riding, asserts Mauthner — and from his standpoint rightly — professors like Wundt would include the art of riding in their system of the sciences, not from any necessity recognized by current scientific insight, but for quite other reasons.
We really have to say that the present has parted ways to a very considerable extent with what we encounter in Goethe's Faust: this can be quite shattering if we take it seriously enough. There is much, very much in Faust that points to the profoundest riddles in the human soul. We simply don't take things sufficiently seriously these days. What does Faust say right at the beginning, after he has spoken of how little philosophy, jurisprudence, medicine, and theology were able to give him as a student, after expressing himself about these four fields of learning? What science and life in general have given him as nourishment for his soul has brought him to the following conviction:
No dog would endure such a curst existence!

Wherefore, from Magic I seek assistance,
That many a secret perchance I reach
Through spirit-power and spirit-speech,
And thus the bitter task forego
Of saying things I do not know,—
That I may detect the inmost force
Which binds the world and guides its course;
Its germs, productive powers explore,
And rummage in empty words no more
(Bayard Taylor translation)
What is it Faust wants to know, then? “Germs and productive powers”! Here, the human heart too senses in its depths a questioning about chance and necessity in life.
Necessity! Let us picture a person like Faust confronting the question of necessity in the history of the human race. Such an individual asks, Why am I present at this point in evolution? What brought me here? What necessity, running its course through what we call history, introduced me into historical evolution at just this moment? Faust asks these questions out of the very depths of his soul. And he believes that they can be answered only if he understands “productive powers and germs,” understands, in other words, how outer experience contains a hidden clue to the way the thread of necessity runs through everything that happens.
Now let us imagine a personality like Faust's having, for some reason or other, to make an admission similar to Fritz Mauthner's. Mauthner is, of course, not sufficiently Faustian to sense the consequences Faust would experience if he had to admit one day that he could distinguish no difference between the fact that Caesar occupied his place in history and the fact of having smoked an extra cigar in the past hour. Just imagine transferring into the mind of Faust the reflection on the nature of historical evolution voiced by Mauthner from his particular standpoint. Faust would have had to say, I am as necessary in ongoing world evolution as smoking an extra cigar once was to Fritz Mauthner. Things are simply not given their due weight. If they were, we would realize how significant it is for human life that an individual who embraces the entire scientific conscience of the present admits the impossibility of distinguishing, with the means currently available to science, between the fact that Caesar lived and the fact that Mauthner smoked an extra cigar, in other words, admits that the necessity in the one case is indistinguishable from the necessity in the other.
When the time comes that people sense this with a truly Faustian intensity, they will be mature enough to understand how essential it is to grasp the element of necessity in historical facts, in the way we have tried to do with the aid of spiritual science in the case of many a historical fact. For spiritual science has shown us how the facts relative to the successive historical epochs have been injected, as it were, into the sphere of external reality by advancing spiritual evolution. And what we might state about the necessity of this or that happening at some particular time differs very sharply indeed from the fact of Fritz Mauthner smoking his extra cigar. We have stressed the connection between the Old and the New Testaments, between the time preceding and the time following the Mystery of Golgotha, and stressed too how the various cultures succeeded one another in the post-Atlantean epoch and how the various facts occurring during these cultural periods sprang from spiritual causes.
The angle from which we view things is tremendously important. We should be aware of the consequences of the assumptions presently held to have sole scientific validity.
Days like yesterday, which was Hegel's birthday, and today, which is Goethe's, should be festive occasions for realizing how necessary it is to recall the great will-impulses of earlier times, to recall Hegel's and Goethe's impulses of will, in order to perceive how deeply humanity has become implicated in materialism. There have always been superficial people. The difference between our time and Goethe's and Hegel's is not that there were no superficial people then, but rather that in those days the superficial people could not manage to get their outlook recognized as the only valid one. There was that slight difference in the situation.
Yesterday was Hegel's birthday; he was born in Stuttgart on August 27, 1770. Since it was impossible for him, living at that time, to penetrate into truly spiritual life as we do today with the aid of spiritual science, he sought in his way to lay hold on the spiritual element in ideas and concepts; he made these his spiritual foothold. When we look at the phenomena surrounding us, we seek the spiritual life, the truly living life of the spirit that underlies them, whereas Hegel, since he could go no further, sought the invisible idea, the fabric of ideas, first the fabric of ideas in pure logic, then that behind nature, and finally that underlying everything that happens as a spiritual element. And he approached history too in such a way that he really accomplished much of significance in his historical studies, even if in the abstract form of ideas rather than in the concrete form of the spiritual.
Now what does a person who honestly adopts Fritz Mauthner's standpoint do if, let us say, he sets about describing the evolution of art from Egyptian and Grecian times up to the present? He examines the documented findings, registers them, and then considers himself the more genuinely scientific the less ideas play into the proceedings and the more he keeps — objectively, as he thinks — to the purely external, factual evidence. Hegel based his attempt to write the history of art on a different approach. And he said something, among other things, that we are of course able to express more spiritually today: If we conceive, behind the outer development of art, the flowing, evolving world of the ideal, then and then only will the idea that has, so to speak, been hiding itself, try to issue forth in the material element, to reveal itself mysteriously in the material medium. In other words, the idea will not at first have wholly mastered matter, but expresses itself symbolically in it, a sphinx to be deciphered, as Hegel sees it. Then, in its further development, the idea gains a further mastery over matter, and harmony then exists between the mastering idea and its external, material expression. That is its classic form. When, finally, the idea has worked its way through the material and mastered it completely, the time will come when the overflowing fullness of the world of ideas will run over out of matter, so to speak; the ideal will be paramount.
At the merely symbolic level, the idea cannot as yet wholly take over the material. At the classic stage, it has reached the point of union with matter. When it has achieved romantic expression, it is as though the idea overflowed in its fullness. And now Hegel says that we should look in the surrounding world to see where these concepts are exemplified: the symbolic, sphinx-like form of art in Egypt, the classic form in Greece, the romantic form in modern times. Hegel thus bases his approach on the unity of the human spirit with the spirit of the world. The world spirit must allow us thoughts about the course of art's evolution. Then we must rediscover in the outer world what the world spirit first gave to us in thought form.
This, says Hegel, is the way external history too is “constructed.” He looks first for the progressive evolution of ideas, and then confirms it at hand of external events. That is what the Philistines, the superficial people, have never been able to grasp, and it is their reason for reproaching Hegel so bitterly. A person who is superficial despite his belonging to a spiritual scientific movement wants above all to know about his own incarnation, and there were of course people in Hegel's time too who were superficial in their own way. You can see from one of Hegel's remarks that there was one such. As you've seen, Hegel followed the principle of first lifting himself into the world of ideas and then rediscovering in the world around him what he had come to know in the ideal world.
Now the superficial critics had of course risen up in arms against this, and Hegel had to make the following comment: “In his many-sided naivete Herr Krug has challenged natural philosophy to perform the sleight of hand of deducing his pen only.” “Deducing” was the term used to denote a rediscovering in the outer world of everything that had first been discovered in the inner world. The person referred to in this remark was Wilhelm Traugott Krug, who was teaching at Leipzig at that time. Oddly enough, Krug was the predecessor of Mauthner in having written a philosophical dictionary, though he did not succeed in becoming a leading authority in his day. But he said, “If individuals like Hegel search for reality in ideas and then want to show, from the idea's necessity, how external reality coincides with it, then someone like Hegel had better come and demonstrate that he first encountered my pen as an idea.” Krug remarks that Hegel with his “idea” is not convincing in his assertions about the development of art from Egyptian to Greek to modern times, but if Hegel could “deduce” Krug's pen from his idea of it, that would impress him.
Hegel comments in the passage mentioned above, “It would have been possible to give him the hope of seeing this deed accomplished and his pen glorified if science had progressed so far and so cleared up everything of importance in heaven and on earth in the past and present as to leave nothing of greater importance in doubt” than Herr Krug's pen. But in today's world the mentality characteristic of superficial people is really dominant. And Fritz Mauthner would have to say honestly that there is no possibility of distinguishing between the necessity of Greek art coming into being at a certain time and the necessity involving Herr Krug's pen or his own extra cigar.
Now I have already called your attention to the prime importance of finding the proper angle from which to illuminate these lofty concepts of human life. We need to find the right angles from which to study necessity, chance, and providence.
I suggested that you picture Faust in such relation to the world that he would have to despair of the possibility of discovering any element of necessity. But now let's imagine just the opposite and picture Faust conceiving of himself in relation to a world where nothing but necessity exists, a world where he would have to regard every least thing he did as conditioned by necessity. Then he would indeed have to say that if there were no chance happenings, if everything had to be ruled by necessity, “no dog would endure such a curst existence,” and this not because of what he had been learning but because of the way the world had been arranged. And what would a person amount to if there were truth in Spinoza's dictum that everything we do and experience is every bit as necessitated as the path of a billiard ball which, struck by another, has no choice but to move in a way determined by the particular laws involved? If that were true, nobody could endure such a world order, and it would be even less bearable for natures aware of “productive powers and germs!”
Necessity and chance exist in the universe in such a way that they correspond to a certain human yearning. We feel that we couldn't get along without both of them. But they have to be properly understood, to be judged from the right angle. To do that in the case of the concept of chance naturally requires abandoning any prejudices or preconceptions we may have on the subject. We will have to examine the concept very closely so that we can replace the cliche that this or that “chanced” to happen — as we are often forced to say — with something more suitable. We will have to search out the fitting angle. And we will find it only if we go a bit further in the study we began yesterday.
You are familiar with the alternating states of sleeping and waking. But we recognize that waking consciousness too has its nuances, and that it is possible to distinguish between varying degrees of awakeness. But we can go further in a study of that state. It is basically true that from the moment we awaken until we fall asleep again, our waking consciousness takes in nothing but objects in the world around us, senses their action, and produces our own images, concepts, and ideas. Sleeping consciousness, which has remained at the level of plant consciousness, then lets us behold ourselves as described yesterday, and, since our consciousness in this state is plantlike, this is a pleasurable absorption in ourselves.
Now if we penetrate fully into the nature of human soul life, we come upon something that fits neither day nor night consciousness. I am referring to distinct memories of past experiences. Consider the fact that sleeping consciousness doesn't involve remembering anything. If you were to sleep continuously, you wouldn't need to remember previous experiences; there would be no such necessity, in any case. We do remember to some extent when we are dreaming, but in the plant consciousness of sleep we remember nothing of the past. It is certainly clear that memory plays no special part in sleep. In the case of ordinary day-waking consciousness we must say that we experience what is around us, but experiencing what we have gone through in the past represents a heightening of waking consciousness. In addition to experience of our present surroundings we experience the past, but now in its reflection in ourselves. So if I draw a horizontal line (see drawing) to represent the level of human consciousness, we may say that we look into ourselves in sleep.
I will write “Looking into ourselves” here; we can call it a subconscious looking. Day-waking consciousness can be set down as “Looking out consciously into the world.” Then a third kind of inner experiencing that doesn't coincide with looking into the world is the conscious “Looking into ourselves in memory.” So we have

“Conscious looking into ourselves” = memory

“Consciousness looking into the world around us” = day-waking consciousness
“Subconsciousness looking into ourselves” = sleep

The fact is, then, that we have not just two sharply different states of consciousness, but three of them. Remembering is actually a deepened and more concentrated form of waking consciousness. The important thing about remembering is more than just being aware of something; we recapitulate awareness of it. Remembering makes sense only if we are aware of something all over again. Think a moment: if I encounter one of you whom I have seen before, but merely see him without recognizing him, memory isn't really involved. Memory, then, is recognition. And spiritual science teaches us too that whereas our ordinary day-waking consciousness, our consciousness of the world outside us, has reached the very peak of perfection, our remembering is actually only just beginning its evolution; it must go on and on developing. Metaphorically speaking, memory is still a very sleepy attribute of human consciousness. When it has undergone further evolution, another element of experience will be added to our present capacity, namely, the inner experiencing of past incarnations. That experiencing rests upon a heightening of our ability to remember, for no matter what else is involved, we are dealing here with recognition, and it must first travel the path of interiorization. Memory is a soul force just beginning its development.
Now let us ask, “What is the nature of this soul-force, this capacity to remember? What really happens in the remembering process?” Another question must be answered first, and that is, “How do we arrive, at this point in time, at correct concepts?”
You get an idea of what a correct concept is if you are not satisfied with a meager picturing of it; in most cases people have their own opinion of things rather than genuine concepts. Most individuals think they know what a circle is. If someone asks, Well, what is it? they answer, Something like this, and draw a circle. That may be a representation of a circle, but that is not what matters. A person who only knows that this drawing approximates a circle and remains satisfied with that has no concept of what a circle is. Only someone who knows enough to say that a circle is a curved line every point of which is equidistant from the center has a correct concept of a circle. An endless number of points is of course involved, but the circle is inwardly present in conceptual form. That is what Hegel was pointing out: that we must get down to the concept underlying external facts, and then recognize what we are dealing with in outer reality on the basis of our familiarity with the concept.
Let us explore what the difference is between the “half-asleep” status of the mere mental images with which most people are satisfied and the active possession of a concept. A concept is always in a process of inner growth, of inner activity. To have nothing more than the mental image of a table is not to have a concept of it. We have the concept “table” if we can say that it is a supported surface upon which other objects can be supported. Concepts are a form of inner liveliness and activity that can be translated into outer reality.
Nowadays one is tempted to resort to some lively movement to explain matters of this sort to one's contemporaries. One really has an impulse to jump about for the sake of demonstrating how a true concept differs from the sleepy holding onto a mental image. One is strongly prompted to go chasing after concepts as a means of bringing people slightly into motion and enlivening the dreadfully lazy modern holding of mental images that now prevails; one wants to devote one's energies to clarifying the distinction between entertaining ordinary mental images and working one's way into the real heart of a matter. And why is one thus prompted? Because we know from spiritual science that the moment something reaches the level of the concept, the etheric body has to carry out this movement; it is involved in this movement. So we really must not shy away from rousing the etheric body if we intend to construct concepts.
What, then, is memory? What is remembering? If I have learned that a circle is a curved line every point of which is equidistant from the center, and am now to recall this concept, I must again carry out this movement in my etheric body. From the aspect of the etheric body, something becomes a memory when carrying out the movement in question has become habitual there. Memory is habit in the etheric body; we remember a thing when our etheric body has become used to carrying out the corresponding movement. We remember nothing except what the etheric body has taken on in the form of habits. Our etheric bodies must take it upon themselves, under the stimulus of re-approaching an object, being repeatedly brought into motion by us and thus given the opportunity of remembering, to repeat the motion they carried out in first approaching that object. And the more often the experience is repeated, the firmer and more ingrained does the habit become, so that memory gradually strengthens.
Now if we are really thinking instead of merely forming mental images, our etheric bodies take on all sorts of habits. But these etheric bodies are what the physical body is based on. You will notice that a person who wants to clarify a concept often tries to make illustrative gestures, even as he is talking about it. Of course we all have our own individual gestures anyway. Differences between people are seen in their characteristic gestures, that is, if we conceive the term “gesture” broadly enough. A person with a feeling for gesture learns a good deal about others from observing their gestures and seeing, for example, how they set their feet down as they walk. And the way we think when remembering something is thus really a habit of the etheric body. This etheric body is a lifelong trainer of the physical body — or perhaps I had better say that it tries to train the latter, but not entirely successfully. We can say, then, that the physical body, for example, the hand, is here:
When we think, we constantly try to send into the etheric body what then becomes habit there. But the physical body presents a barrier. Our etheric bodies can't manage to get everything into the physical body, and they therefore save up the forces thus prevented from entering the physical body. They are saved up and carried through the entire period of life between death and rebirth. The way we think and the way we imprint our memories upon the etheric body then comes to the fore in our next incarnation as our instinctive play of gesture. And when we see a person exhibiting habitual gestures from childhood on, we can attribute them to the fact that in his previous incarnation his thinking imprinted certain quite distinct mannerisms on his etheric body. If, in other words, I study a person's inborn gestures, they can become clues to the way he managed his thinking in past incarnations. But just think what this means! It means that thoughts so impress themselves upon us that they resurface as the next incarnation's gestures. We get an insight here into the way the thinking element evolves into external manifestation: what began as the inwardness of thought becomes the outwardness of gesture.
Modern science, in its ignorance of what distinguishes necessity from chance, looks upon history as happenstance. In a list of words dating back to 1482, which Mauthner refers to, we read the words, “geschicht oder geschehcn ding, historia res gesta.” “Res gesta” is what history used to be called. All that is left of this today is the abstract remnant “regeste.” When notes are taken on some happening, they are called the “register.” Why is this? The word is based on the same root as “gesture.” The genius of speech responsible for the creation of these words was still aware that we have to see something brought over from the past in historical events. If what we observe in individual gesture is to be understood as the residue of past lives on earth, born with the individual into an incarnation, surely it is not complete nonsense to assume something like gestures in what we encounter in the facts of history. A series of facts surfaces in the way we walk, and these are the gestures of our thinking in past incarnations.
Where, then, must we look for the facts underlying history? That is the question now confronting us. In the case of individual lives we have to look for the thoughts underlying gesture. If we regard historical events as gestures, where must we look for the thoughts behind them? We will take up the study of this matter tomorrow.