Secrets of the Threshold. Lecture 8 of 8
Rudolf Steiner, Munich, August 31, 1913:
Rudolf Steiner, Munich, August 31, 1913:
We come now to the end of this cycle of lectures, during which thoughts about the so-called culture of the present day may well have occurred to you. We have had to direct our attention in some detail to the remarkable way the ahrimanic and luciferic forces penetrate this culture. A discerning person who has some understanding of the insights of spiritual science will look objectively at modern life and surely perceive all its confusion and chaos. For many years it has been my custom to point to this as little as possible and instead, by helping to open up the spiritual world, to use our time together in a more positive way. But it must be emphasized, now as always, that a good many misunderstandings have crept into our work, into our active efforts, through this self-imposed moderation — the word is indeed not chosen arrogantly; even so, we shall not deviate greatly from this custom of ours. And in consideration of this, two things are essential: first, a clear, objective understanding that evolution, the development of the post-Atlantean world, has led far and wide to the chaotic, complex, to some extent inferior, second-rate condition of modern civilization, but that for this there is a certain valid necessity. It is not enough merely to criticize; a clear, objective understanding is needed.
On the other hand, we have to oppose the chaos and confusion of modern intellectual life with clarity of vision, as long as we are supported by the perspectives revealed by spiritual science. Ever and again we have well-meaning, good-natured friends exclaiming that here or there something quite anthroposophical has appeared; then we have to recognize the deficiency of these so-called anthroposophical things. I have said I would not deviate from my custom, but now, at the end of this cycle, I would like to refer to at least one especially grotesque example of this tendency. There are those nowadays who like to blow themselves up into a professional stance without the least understanding of anything — and people who don't practice discrimination can very easily be carried away, given the chance, by high-sounding phrases. This must really disappear from our circles. We must acquire, each one for himself, the power of clear, objective discrimination. Then we would have a better idea than has been the case up to now of the relationship of second-rate movements and individuals to our own movement.
Tendencies of this kind come up in many different ways. I would like to mention just one of them, not to criticize or to lay before you a case of specific hostility toward our work but merely to characterize the problem. A publisher in Berlin ( 25 ) has brought out an edition of The Chymical Wedding and other writings of Christian Rosenkreutz. Many of our friends and others interested in occult movements will obviously snap up this new reprint of works that have never been easy to find. But now there is an Introduction to the Chymical Wedding that really outdoes everything imaginable in grotesque erudition — I won't give it a more exact name. Let me read you a few lines of this Introduction, on page 2, without going any further into the rest of the article.
“When we approach the occult sciences with precise critical methods” — with these words, many people will be misled — “one will soon be aware that from this point on, one can get in touch with the two poles mentioned above.” I shall not discuss what these poles are, for it is all merely ...; I will forego any description. “For this the newly formulated concept of Allomatics is especially valuable, as under its guidance one easily masters difficulties coming from both sides.” Allomatics is something that will impress many people. “Allomatics is the study, the science, and the philosophy of the Other (the word is derived from Greek allos, the other, in contrast to autos, self). Allomatics teaches the nothingness and nonexistence of the ego. Everything is and comes from the non-ego, from outside, from above, from below, in short, from the Other.”
All this erudition continues throughout the article, in order to prepare the reading public for The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz. I would call it — and I am not speaking from animosity but with objective logic — absolutely the same thing as originating a “Pearology” or “Pearomatics” in the place of xenology or allomatics. With exactly the same logic that this remarkable duffer derives the world from I and non-I, we could also derive the world from a pear and everything not a pear, that is, the Other of the pear. We could use the same words and concepts in order to explain the whole world as pear and non-pear. Nothing is missing from the world and its phenomena, according to this gentleman, if we explain it by means of Pearomatics, the doctrine of pear and non-pear, instead of the doctrine of Ego and the Other.
Allomatics is presented as a work of great learning, with parallels to embryology in order to appear erudite. Its tone is that of many academic works that are taken seriously and are often honestly received by our friends — I say this again not with animosity but in fact in a spirit of brotherliness — as though they were important works and not merely the products of our inferior age. This points up a lack of discrimination between what has inner value and what is pure nonsense at a low level of literature. Since the author of this introduction is also one of the people who originated or repeated the foolish Jesuit tale, ( 26 ) it can be said quite objectively that we can estimate from this the kind of opposition springing up lately from all sides against our movement. It is important to achieve the right attitude to everything in occultism that, creeping out of so many corners of the world, is regarded by many as of equal significance to profound, scrupulous spiritual science. Another important thing to acquire, if you wish to profess honestly your allegiance to spiritual science, is the right sensitivity to these various gentlemen and their writings; this sensitivity will lead to ignoring them instead of kowtowing and hailing everything they bring out. One should actually suggest to them that instead of taking the time to produce such writing, they could make themselves more useful to humanity in other ways, for instance by taking up fretsaw work.
We really must look at such things with complete objectivity; we must get used to sizing up correctly and turning our backs on very many ingredients of modern culture. For this we need only the right kind of thinking and the sensitivity to such people and their work. One thing we have to be clear about: the phenomena of our time are perfectly comprehensible if we remember how the ahrimanic and luciferic forces have thrust themselves into human development.
Every impulse and tendency of human evolution changes from age to age; in the same way, as I have often pointed out, the ahrimanic and luciferic influences also change. Our epoch is to some degree a sort of reversed repetition of the Egyptian-Chaldean age, but as a reversed repetition the luciferic and ahrimanic forces generally play a different role today in the external culture. During the ancient Egyptian-Chaldean age the human soul, looking out on what was happening, could say: From one side the ahrimanic influence is coming; from another, the luciferic. In this ancient civilization the distinction, outwardly, could still be made. However, by the Greco-Roman age one can say that Lucifer and Ahriman confront the human soul directly and hold themselves in balance there. Anyone who enters deeply into the fundamental nature of the Greco-Roman civilization will be able to observe the state of balance between Lucifer and Ahriman. But in our time it has changed again. Lucifer and Ahriman now are in league together in a kind of partnership in the outer world. Before these forces reach the human soul, they are knotted together externally. In ancient times the skeins of influence from Ahriman and Lucifer were quite separate, but nowadays we have them tangled and knotted together within the development of our civilization. It is extremely difficult for a human being to unravel the entanglement and find a way out of it. Everywhere in our cultural happenings we find luciferic and ahrimanic threads interwoven in a higgledy-piggledy mixture, stirring up a great deal of violent political agitation and even playing into many of the abstract ideas and superficial proceedings in full swing now and in times to come; until we are clear about this, we will not be able to form a sound judgment of the conditions around us.
We need to be watchful of the chaotic entanglement of luciferic and ahrimanic threads. For no one today is more challenged to come to terms with these forces than he who is on the path of spiritual knowledge, he who is trying to arm his soul with clairvoyant capacities in order to discover something he cannot know with his ordinary consciousness: the real being of man. This must always be the true goal of spiritual science. From the descriptions already given, it is evident that as soon as a person approaches the higher worlds, he has to step across a threshold. As an Earth being who has made his soul clairvoyant, he must go back and forth across that threshold and know how to conduct himself rightly in the spiritual world on the far side, as well as on this side in the physical world. Both in lectures and now repeatedly in our Mystery Dramas, this important threshold experience has been referred to as the meeting with the Guardian of the Threshold.
A person can actually ascend into the spiritual worlds — this has often been said — and have quite a few experiences there without having a meeting with the Guardian, something that is partly terrifying but on the other hand highly significant, indeed of infinite importance for the sake of a clear, objective perception of those worlds. I have pointed to this and everything connected with it in my book The Threshold of the Spiritual World, at least as far as I could while treating the material in an aphoristic way. I have gone further in the course of these lectures, and now I should like to add only a few details to characterize the Guardian of the Threshold. Should I try to describe everything about the meeting with the Guardian, I would indeed have to hold another long cycle of lectures.
May I point out again that when a human being leaves his physical body in which he lives with the physical world around him, he enters the elemental world and lives in his etheric body, just as in the physical world he lives in the physical body. Then when he leaves the etheric body clairvoyantly, he lives in the astral body surrounded by the spiritual world. We have pointed out that on leaving the astral body the human being can then be within his true ego. Around him will be the supra-spiritual world. When he enters this world, he has finally attained what he has always possessed in the depths of his soul: his true ego. He reaches now the spiritual world in such a way that his true ego, his other self, is revealed, actually enveloped in the element of living thought-being.
All of us walking about on the physical plane have this other self within us, but our ordinary consciousness not only is not aware of it but cannot know that we will not perceive it until we ascend into the spiritual and supra-spiritual worlds. Our true ego is actually our constant companion within us, but when we meet it on the threshold of the spiritual world, it is there in a remarkable way, in fact one can say, decked out quite peculiarly. There on the threshold our true ego is able to clothe itself in all our weaknesses, all our failings, everything that induces us to cling with our whole being either to the physical sense world or at least to the elemental world. Thus we confront our own true ego on the threshold.
Abstract Theosophy can simply say: that is oneself, the other self, the true ego. But in the face of the actual reality we won't find much meaning in the phrase: it is oneself. Of course, we all move about in the spiritual world in the form of our other self, but there we are entirely another. When we dwell consciously in the physical world, our other self is actually very much another, a stranger to us, a being that is much more foreign to us than any other person on Earth. And this other self, this true ego, decks itself out in our weaknesses, in everything we should really forsake but don't wish to forsake, habits of the physical sense existence that we still hang on to when we wish to cross the threshold. And there on the threshold we actually meet a spirit being different from all other spiritual beings we could meet in the supersensible worlds. The other beings appear to us in coverings more appropriate to their nature than those of the Guardian of the Threshold. He arrays himself in everything that arouses in us not only anxiety and distress but also disgust and loathing. He clothes himself in our weaknesses, in things that bring us to admit: Our fear of separating from him makes us shudder, or it makes us blush, overcome with shame, to have to look at what we are, at what the Guardian has wrapped himself in. While indeed this is a meeting with oneself, it is more truly the meeting with another entity.
To get past the Guardian of the Threshold is not at all easy. Actually it is much easier to behold the spiritual world than it is to behold it rightly and truthfully. To catch a few impressions of the spiritual world, especially in our modern time, is not all that difficult. To enter that world, however, in such a way that we behold it in its full reality, we must be well prepared for the meeting with the Guardian, however long it delays in coming to us; then we will experience the spiritual world correctly. Most people, or at least very many of them, get as far as the Guardian. The important point is that we should come consciously to him. Every night we stand unconsciously before the Guardian. Certainly he is a great benefactor of mankind in not allowing himself to be seen, for very few human beings could endure it. To bring into consciousness what we experience every night unconsciously is to meet the Guardian of the Threshold. People usually get just to the edge of the boundary where, one can say, the Guardian stands. But at that moment something very peculiar happens to the soul: it perceives this moment in a twilight state between consciousness and unconsciousness and will not allow it to come to full consciousness. On that borderline the soul has the impulse to see itself as it really is, clinging to the physical world with all its weaknesses and faults, but this is unbearable. Before the event can become fully conscious, the soul — through its utter loathing — deadens, as it were, its awareness. Such moments of the soul's obliterating its consciousness are the best points of attack for the ahrimanic beings.
We come indeed to the Guardian of the Threshold by developing a sense of self that is especially strong and forceful. We have to strengthen our sense of self if we wish to rise into the spiritual world. But in the process of strengthening our sense of self, we also strengthen all the tendencies, habits, weaknesses, and prejudices that are held back and limited in the external world through our education, through custom, and through the outward culture. On the threshold, the luciferic impulses assert themselves strongly from within, and when the human soul tends to deaden its awareness, Lucifer immediately unites with Ahriman, with the result that the entrance to the spiritual world is barred.
If a person with a healthy inner life searches out the insights of spiritual science without dwelling in a state of morbid craving for spiritual experiences, nothing particularly harmful will happen at the boundary line. If he attends to everything that should be attended to in the form of rightful, genuine spiritual science, nothing more will happen than that Lucifer and Ahriman balance each other for the striving soul at the threshold and the soul simply does not enter the spiritual world. But when the person has a special craving to get in, a so-called “nibbling at the spiritual world” can take place. ( 27 ) Ahriman then, condensing what the soul has “nibbled,” pushes into the soul's consciousness what otherwise couldn't enter it. With this, the person experiences in condensed form what he has taken from the spiritual world, so that it looks exactly like the reproduction of physical impressions. In short, he will be the victim of hallucinations and illusions; he will believe he has approached a spiritual world, because he has come as far as the Guardian of the Threshold. However, he has not passed the Guardian but has been thrown back because of his nibbling at the spiritual world. Everything he took in has condensed to what could contain genuine pictures of that world but does not contain the most important element, the one that will guarantee the soul a clear perception of the truth and the value of what he sees.
In order to pass the Guardian of the Threshold in the right way, it is absolutely necessary to develop self-knowledge: truly genuine, unsparing self-knowledge. It is a neglect of one's duty to the progress of evolution if one refuses to rise into the spiritual worlds, should karma make it possible in this present incarnation. It would indeed be wrong to say to oneself “I shall not enter the spiritual worlds for fear of going astray.” We should strive as intensely as we can to enter them. On the other hand, we must clearly understand that we may not shrink from what the human being is most apt and most willing to shrink back from: genuine, truthful self-knowledge. Nothing is actually so difficult in life as plain, honest self-knowledge. What a lot of queer things one can find in this regard! One meets people who continually emphasize out of their ordinary consciousness that they're doing this or that with complete selflessness, that they desire simply nothing at all for themselves. In trying to understand such souls, we often find that they really believe it's so, and yet in their subconscious they are thoroughgoing egoists and want only what suits themselves. Oh, we can also find people who out of their upper consciousness, let's say, make speeches, lay down the law, publish things and in a few short pages put down words such as love and tolerance eighteen to twenty-five times, actually without having the very slightest trace of love or tolerance in their make-up. There is nothing we can be so easily deceived about as ourselves, if we fail to watch continually the practicing of honest, sterling self-knowledge. However it is difficult indeed to practice self-knowledge in a direct way. People have shut their eyes to it so completely that instead of acknowledging what they are at the present time, it has happened that they prefer to admit to being apes during the Moon epoch ( 28 ) — actually prefer that to acknowledging what they are today, so great can be our delusions in contrast to the moral obligation of genuine, honest self-knowledge.
A good exercise for someone striving in the spiritual sphere would be to say every so often something like this: “I will think back over the last three or four weeks — or better still, months — letting all the important happenings in which I was involved pass before my inner eye. I will deliberately disregard whatever injustice may have been done to me. I will omit all the excuses for my difficulties that I've expressed so frequently, such as, for instance: it was someone else's fault. I will not for a moment consider that any other person could have been to blame but I myself.” When we reflect on how constantly we are inclined to make others and not ourselves responsible for what we don't like, we will be able to judge how valuable such a review of our life can be, in which we knowingly eliminate thoughts of injustice done to us and in which we do not allow criticism or blame of another person to arise. If you undertake such an exercise, you will discover that you are gaining a totally new relationship to the spiritual world. Such an effort will bring about a great change in the disposition and mood of one's soul.
In seeking the path to clairvoyance, the extreme difficulty of entering the higher worlds without danger, as we have said repeatedly, shows how essential it is not to come apart, not to fall to pieces, when we have to “put our head into the anthill.” We need then an immensely strengthened consciousness of self, such as a person may not develop in the physical world if he is not to be a rank egoist. In higher worlds, however, if he wants to maintain himself, stay aware of himself, realize himself, he must enter those worlds with an intensified feeling of self. Then, on coming back to the sense world, he must also have the ability to do away with this consciousness of self, in order not to be a thoroughgoing egoist. Thus, two contrasting statements can be made: in the higher worlds of spiritualities, man needs a strengthened consciousness of self; but in contrast, despite the strong feeling of self that one must find in the spirit world, what one must find in the physical world is that the spirit must come to life in a particular way: in all that one can describe as love in the physical world, the capacity for love, for sympathy and compassion, for the sharing of joys and sorrows.
Those who enter clairvoyantly into the higher worlds know that what Maria says in The Soul's Awakening is true, ( 29 ) that really the ordinary sense-consciousness we have on the physical plane is a kind of sleep when compared to what we feel and experience in higher worlds; our entrance there is an awakening. That human beings living in the physical world are asleep in relation to the experience of higher worlds is absolutely true. It is only because they are always asleep that they are not aware of sleeping. What the clairvoyant soul crossing the threshold experiences in the spiritual world is an awakening into a strengthened feeling of self. In the physical world, on the other hand, there can be an awakening of the self through love, the kind of love characterized in one of our first lectures here as “the love for another person's disposition and qualities, for him and for his sake.” That kind of love is protected from the luciferic and ahrimanic influences and in the physical sense-world is actually under the sway of the good, progressive powers of the universe. The character of love is most clearly evident in the experiences of clairvoyant consciousness. The egoism we develop in the physical world, without being willing to acquire self-knowledge, shows up when it is carried into spiritual worlds. Nothing is so disturbing, nothing can be so bitter and disheartening, as to experience the result of our failure to develop love and compassion in the physical world. Ascending into the spiritual world, we are filled with anguish by the selfishness and lack of love we have achieved in the physical-sense world. When we cross the threshold, everything is revealed, not only the obvious but also the hidden egoism that rages in the depths of men's souls. Someone who with outward egoism frankly insists that he wants this or that for himself is perhaps much less egoistic than those who indulge in the dream that they are selfless, or those who assume a certain egoistic self-effacement out of theosophical abstractions in their upper consciousness. This is especially the case when the latter declaim their selflessness in all sorts of repetitions of the words “love” and “tolerance.” What a person carries up into higher worlds in the form of an unloving lack of compassion is transformed into hideous, often terrifying figures he meets on entering the spiritual worlds, figures that are extremely disturbing for the soul.
At this point comes one of the very significant moments that should be taken into account when we speak about the kinds of knowledge and experience we meet in higher worlds. As soon as a person comes into those worlds and finds himself in a region of loathsome things, it would then be best for him to face them boldly, with courage, while admitting to himself “Yes, I have indeed carried all this egoism up into the higher worlds; it would truly be best for me to face this egoism boldly and honestly.” But the human soul usually tends to shake off these repulsive things before becoming thoroughly conscious of them, and gives a kick, one can say, just as horses do, to get rid of these disagreeable forms. And then, at the very moment when we get rid of the results of our egoism, Lucifer and Ahriman have an easy game with the soul: in partnership, it is not at all difficult for them to lead the human soul into their special kingdom where they can produce all sorts of spiritual worlds, which the human being will take for the truly genuine one grounded in the cosmic order. We can say that developing truly genuine love and thoughtful, honest compassion are the right preparation for the soul that wants to find its way clairvoyantly into the spiritual worlds. When you reflect a little on how hard it is to acquire true compassion and the true capacity for love in this world of ours, you will not find these words completely unimportant.
We should be clear that these descriptions, characterizing our crossing the threshold into the spiritual world, will lead to a truly genuine knowledge of the being of man. It is only through such descriptions that we will discover what man really is, and discover too our relationship to the way the human being approaches the higher, spiritual worlds, this time between death and a new birth, in a somewhat different but still natural way.
Here I must say a few words about something I pointed out in the last chapter of The Threshold of the Spiritual World. From earlier descriptions in Theosophy and Occult Science we know that when we step through the portal of death and lay aside our physical body, we still have the etheric body for a short time, perhaps only a few days; then we put this aside as well. Now we can say that after putting aside the etheric body, we are at first within the astral body; in the astral body the soul goes on a sort of further journeying. The etheric body is laid aside; its destiny depends on the world which it now enters, the elemental world. You remember that we discussed how the force of transformation holds sway in this elemental world. Everything is in continual change. The etheric body, separated now from the human soul, is delivered up to the elemental world and there goes through its destined transformations. In the following years, for some a shorter time, for others longer, we live within the astral body in what from the standpoint of clairvoyant consciousness can be called the elemental world. However, in the period immediately after death we find that the soul has a quite definite impulse. In the physical world we are not apt to look continually at our own liver, spleen, or stomach — for this would be impossible. We simply cannot see inside the body. People on the physical plane are not in the habit of turning their eyes inward into the body; they look instead at the world around them. But just the opposite is the case after we have passed through the portal of death and live in the world that is called the Soul World in my Theosophy. There the characteristic tendency of the soul is to direct its particular attention to the destinies of its own etheric body. The soul's outer world, its environment, consists of the transformations our etheric body passes through during the whole kamaloka time. We observe how the elemental world takes our etheric body into itself. If one has been “a decent sort” here on the physical plane, one will see how the “decentness” gets on well with the laws of the elemental world. If one has been “a bad sort,” one will see how poorly the etheric body (for it has had its share in being “a bad sort”) gets on with the laws of this world; it is everywhere rejected. Even though our etheric body has been laid aside, we direct our whole attention to it. By looking at the ever-changing fate of our etheric body, we are made aware of what we once were: this is our kamaloka experience.
People should not criticize anthroposophy for saying all this. Aristotle and others taught quite differently: for example, that this looking back on one's own destiny after death would last a whole eternity; a man might live to be eighty or ninety years old and then would have to look eternally at what he had done to his own etheric body. Anthroposophy teaches the truth, that this looking back on the etheric body and on the destinies we have brought about in it by what we have been, lasts one or two or three decades. And this is our environment in the elemental world, an environment formed by beings similar to the human etheric body and by the transformations of these beings as well as by the transformations of the human etheric body itself. One can describe this pictorially and come to the same characterization that I have given in my book Theosophy as the passage of the soul through the soul world.
In order to describe the spiritual world in the right way, one cannot keep pedantically to the hard and fast concepts so useful in the physical world. We should be clear that our whole environment during the kamaloka time is dependent on our mood of soul, dependent in such a way that the elemental world we have just described gradually adapts itself to the soul world. In the elemental world more than anything else one sees a dispersing, little by little, of etheric substance, which as it evanesces can be described from stage to stage as has been done in my Theosophy.
The time comes, in this period between death and a new birth, when there takes place what the clairvoyant consciousness has to bring about somewhat less naturally, as we have discussed earlier. After laying aside his etheric body, the human being lives in his astral body, until the time comes when this astral body detaches itself from the true ego; it is in the ego that he will live from that point onward. This detaching of the astral body is quite unique; it is not like a snake slipping off its skin but rather a loosening on every side, a growing larger and larger until the astral body becomes one with the whole cosmic sphere. In doing this, it becomes ever thinner, while being absorbed by the whole surrounding world. At first one stands, in a sense, in the very center of one's own spiritual environment. On every side the astral body loosens itself and is absorbed in all directions, so that the environment we have about us after death, after this loosening, consists of the spiritual world and also of all that has been absorbed into it from our own astral body. We see this astral body of ours gradually go forth, becoming less and less distinct, of course, as it grows larger. We feel ourselves within the astral body — as has been described in many lectures — and nevertheless separate from it. These things are extremely difficult to describe. To picture it, just imagine a great swarm of gnats. From a distance it looks like a dark-colored ball, but when the gnats fly off in all directions, there's no longer anything to be seen. It is just the same with the astral body. While being absorbed by the whole cosmic sphere, it becomes less and less distinct. We watch it gradually drifting away until it is lost. What is lost is the astral body that is always with us when we pass through the gate of death; one can call it our past, what we once were. It was our link with the experiences we had in the physical world, living in our physical and etheric bodies. We see our own being, as it were, disappearing into the spiritual world, and this experience is very similar to the one created voluntarily by a human being seeking the discovery of his true ego in the spiritual world. The harrowing and significant impression that someone can have who is journeying on the path to a clairvoyant consciousness takes place naturally after death as just described. After death, however, a real forgetting takes place, all the sooner the less the soul proves to have been prepared and strengthened. Selfless, unegoistic souls, often criticized as weak in physical life, are precisely the strong ones after death; for a long time they will be able to watch the memories that had urged them on from physical existence toward the spiritual world. The so-called strong egoists are the puny souls after death; their astrality, dispersing gradually as a sphere, leaves them very quickly.
And now the time has come when everything one can remember disappears. It returns, but in an altered manner. Everything lost is brought back to us again. In the way it gathers together, it shows — as a consequence of what has departed — what it should become: A befitting new life must be constructed according to karma on the foundation of the old Earth life. Thus there thrusts in from infinity toward a central point what must return to our consciousness from oblivion and be given back to us; with this we can become carpenters of a new life shaped by karma. In this sense an experiencing of nothing but oneself within the true ego, which is a kind of forgetting, takes place at the middle point between death and a new birth.
Today most human souls are still so little prepared for this forgetting that they experience it in a sort of spiritual soul-sleep. Those who are ready for it, however, experience just at this moment of forgetting, which is the transition from the preceding Earth life to the preparation of the coming one, what is called the Cosmic Midnight in The Soul's Awakening. The scene of the Cosmic Midnight, in which one can enter deeply into the necessities of existence, is indeed connected with the most profound mysteries of human existence. We can say that the mystery of the human being, his true nature in which he lives between death and a new birth, is something the ordinary consciousness can never discover, although it discloses itself to the clairvoyant soul. We have described here, from the standpoint of the clairvoyant consciousness, the experience of having one's astrality absorbed by the spiritual world; it has also been described exactly, step by step, as the actual spiritland in my Theosophy and Occult Science. What comes naturally to the soul after death can be brought about voluntarily for the clairvoyant consciousness; this has been described in Theosophy. The same terms are used here as in Theosophy and Occult Science.
We have tried in both this lecture cycle and in the drama cycle to characterize the nature of the cosmos and the entity of man, who has a share in the cosmos. After such a discussion, it may perhaps be permissible to add for any person setting out on the path here described that he will need to continue it to some extent on his own. On trying to penetrate ever more deeply into The Soul's Awakening, you will notice that so many answers to the mysteries of life are dawning on you that you realize, the dramas are there to unveil and reveal the mysteries.
I can point out an example to you. Try to experience further in meditation what is shown in The Soul's Awakening and what I have said here about Ahriman as the Lord of Death in the world. Beginning with Scene Three this appears clearly, but it was already hinted at in Scene One with the words Strader says to the Business Manager: “And yet will come what has to come about.” The Manager hears in these few words something like a gentle whisper from the spiritual world; it gives rise to the beginning of his spiritual discipleship. There it is more or less hinted at, but gradually, from Scene Three onward, we see more and more clearly how the moods and forces preparing the death of Strader are coming closer. We shall not understand why Theodora appears and tells Strader what she will do for him in the spiritland, unless we get the feeling — though a somewhat vague one, as it has to be at this point — that something important can be expected. In the same scene, we shall not perceive rightly what Benedictus means when he describes his clairvoyance as being impaired unless we can feel how the forces of Strader's approaching death are influencing this clairvoyance. In Scene Eleven, a simple, straightforward but very significant scene, we shall not get the right impression of the dialogue between Benedictus and Strader unless we connect Strader's visionary picture with his presentiment that everything he is using to strengthen his soul will turn its destructive power at some time on himself; unless, too, we connect this with the repetition of Benedictus's speech about his spirit vision being impaired, so that we have a premonition of what is looming ahead. The mood of the approaching death of Strader is diffused over the whole development of even the other persons in this play from Scene Three onward. When you bring this together with what has been said about Ahriman as the Lord of Death, you will enter more and more deeply into knowledge that leads to the mysteries of the spirit, especially by considering also how Ahriman takes a hand in the mood of the drama, which is dominated by Strader's death impulse.
Again, the last meeting of Benedictus and Strader, a meeting intended to be of real significance toward the end of the drama, as well as the final monologue of Benedictus, cannot be understood unless we bear in mind both the rightful and the unlawful interference of Ahriman in the world of the human soul and in the Word of cosmic realms. These things were not intended merely to pass through your minds, but in order for you to immerse yourselves more and more deeply in them.
It is an objective fact rather than criticism to point out how clearly it can be shown that the published writings and lecture-cycles of the last three or four years have really not been read as they could have been read in order to grasp what was implied or even what was stated quite obviously. This is not meant as a reproof — far from it. No, it is said because almost every year at the close of the Munich lecture course, through everything having to do with it, thoughts stand before the soul that sound an alert concerning the presence of our Anthroposophical Movement in the modern world. One has to consider what should be the rightful place of the Movement within the chaotic happenings of our present so-called culture. Clear, awakened thinking about this rightful place of the movement will not be reached unless we keep one thing in mind: that our present-day life will most certainly stagnate and become sclerotic unless it receives refreshment and healing from the flowing springs of serious, genuine occultism. On the other hand, just such a series of lectures that makes us aware perhaps of the need to turn to spiritual science could also stress something important to everyone of us: the feeling of responsibility.
In the deepest layers of our souls is imprinted everything connected with our feeling of responsibility, as are our efforts to understand how this movement of ours can make itself felt, the movement that is so urgently needed today, even with all its faults and darker sides. There, too, in those deepest layers we perceive in various ways the kind of movement ours should be and what, quite understandably, it only can be at present. This can hardly be expressed in words, and the one who bears it rooted deeply in his heart will preferably not put it into words. For sometimes this responsibility weighs so heavily on one's soul that it seems thoroughly disheartening. Disheartening, because occultists are turning up on every side today and so little of the necessary feeling of responsibility is at hand.
Certainly for the healing and development of humanity we would welcome the blossoming of anthroposophical wisdom as the finest and greatest thing that could happen now and in the near future; at the same time, we would also like to welcome, as the best and often the most satisfying addition to it, the feeling of responsibility streaming into and awakening every individual who is taken hold of by spiritual science. Still more highly should one value the emergence of a feeling of responsibility.
In truth, we would consider our movement especially fortunate if we could see it flowing out into the world with this feeling of responsibility as a lovely echo on all sides. Many of those who are sensitive to the meaning of responsibility would be able to bear things more easily if they could observe an abundance of such echoes. Still, there are many things that one can only hope for and await in the future; one must have faith while waiting, and have confidence that the human soul through its own integrity will grasp what is right and trustworthy, and that what ought to happen will really happen. As we now separate after this course of lectures, we can clearly feel all this. Actually, one would so much like to leave in each soul something that could awaken it and radiate as warm enthusiasm for our movement but also as a feeling of responsibility for it.
The most splendid sign and seal on our spiritual scientific striving would be for us all to be able to feel how strongly linked together we are — even when we are far apart — in a true spirit community of souls having a similar warm enthusiasm for our movement, a similar love and devotion to it, and at the same time with a feeling of responsibility for it.
And now let these be my parting words to you as we go our separate ways after the time we have spent here together: May the reality and truth of the spiritual life grow ever stronger through our heart's participation in it, so that we are still together, even when we are separated in space. Let us be united by the reality of the warm enthusiasm alive in us, radiating from an openhearted, devoted participation in the truth. And let us combine with it a genuine, upright awareness of responsibility, or at least an effort to attain it, for all that is sacred to us and so urgently needed for the world. Such a feeling brings us immediately together in the spirit. Whether our destiny brings us together in space, whether our destiny scatters us apart to our various tasks and occupations in life, our hearts will certainly be united by our enthusiasm and our feeling of responsibility. Joined together in this way, we are entitled to hopeful trust and confidence in the future of our movement, for it will then make its way into our culture, into the spiritual development of humanity, as it must do. It will find its way and find its home, so that we discern our anthroposophy like a gentle sounding from the spiritual world that brings warmth to our hearts.
What ought to happen will happen — and it must happen. Let us try to be so equal to this spiritual community of ours that insofar as it lies in us, what ought to happen, what must happen, shall happen through us.
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