It Is a Necessity of Our Earnest Times to Find Again the Path Leading to the Spirit
Rudolf Steiner, The Hague, February 27, 1921:
The times in which we live are so earnest that at present it is not in any way appropriate to think of personal matters. Allow me, first of all, to express briefly my heartfelt thanks to your esteemed president for her kind words and then to pass on to what I believe I must tell you, for it is a long time since we saw one another in Holland.
The times in which we live and its conditions are much more earnest than most people of the present are consciously aware of.
Here we can speak of these conditions of our times from those standpoints which result from a long study of the spiritual science of Anthroposophy. We know that we live in an epoch whose characteristic peculiarity began to be evident in the 15th century. It was then that it slowly began to develop its peculiarities. Those who are initiated into the spiritual conditions of human evolution and can therefore have an insight into this course of development, know that the second half of the 19th century indicates a specially low point of human evolution in the modern and particularly in European culture. This low point may be characterised as the rise of a particular inthrust of egoism in all branches of civilised humanity, an egoism of a kind that was never there before. This wave of a special course of development then sent its ramifications into the 20th century, and now these ramifications undoubtedly continue to hold mankind under their spell.
In saying that a wave of egoism came over the whole modern civilisation, I do not speak trivially of what one generally defines as egoism, but I speak of egoism in a special sense, into which we shall penetrate a little in the course of this morning's considerations, and in a way that will be evident to those who are initiated in the true mysteries of more recent human evolution.
We already know the members constituting human nature. We know that the soul-members of human nature have been engaged for a long time in a special process of transformation, in a special course of development. We know that when we go back to very ancient times of human evolution we have to do with a particular forming of man's etheric body, during a very old time of development in India; a particular forming of the astral body then began, and a certain intermediate course of development took place during that epoch of European development which began about the year 747 in the south of Europe and which closed in the first thirty years of the 15th century. That time was the beginning of that epoch of human evolution in which we are still living. In the year 747 before the Mystery of Golgotha, began that phase of human evolution in which the so-called intellectual and understanding soul (Verstandes und Gemütsseele) unfolded. Everything that humanity still prizes to-day as Greek culture; developed through the fact that at that very time the intellectual or understanding soul was in an ascending line of development. However, while the wonderful Greek culture was unfolding, that which we call intellectual or understanding soul was in an ascending line of development. It had not yet reached its climax. For such points are always in a certain way times of probation for the evolution of humanity. For the sake of their development, the Greeks had to pass through what one might call the youthful freshness of the intellectual or understanding soul. The Greek culture, so much admired by posterity, came into being out of this youthful freshness of an intellect that was not yet permeated by egoism, out of this youthful freshness of the human understanding. Of the characteristics pertaining to the intellectual soul, the Latin and Roman culture then took over something that was in a descending line of development and decadent. Those who have a deeper comprehension for that which lived in Roman culture know: There the intellect already reaches its culmination; there the intellect rises to a high point. On that account the Romans developed such abstract ideas; on that account the Romans developed something that did not as yet exist in the whole ancient East, that did not even exist, in the sense known in Europe, in the Greek culture: The Romans developed the ideas of jurisprudence, the juridical concepts.
To-day we consider the world very superficially and we translate our thoughts on “Jus”, on jurisprudence, which, in reality are the outcome only of the Roman intellectual soul, into something which we assume to have already existed in the ancient East, for instance in Hammurabi, and so forth. But that is not the case. The Decalogue, the Ten Commandments as well as the contents of other documents of that time, were, after all, something quite different from that which constitutes our modern juridical concepts. These are something abstract, something that is no longer so close to the human soul. Everything that thus constitutes the development of the intellectual soul reached its climax during a period in the civilisation of Europe which has really been studied very little from an external historical standpoint, although it is extraordinarily important and significant for those who wish to study human evolution in the meaning of spiritual science.
That striking year to which we can draw attention as being specially significant for European development is the year 333 after the Mystery of Golgotha. The year 333 after the Mystery of Golgotha is the middle of the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. It is that point of time when a fluctuating knowledge of the universe lived in Europe simultaneously with a fluctuating knowledge of humanity. These had nothing of the penetrating character of the knowledge of the universe that the Greeks still possessed and no proper comprehension of man's inner world.
We find instead that man sways either towards the longing for an extensive knowledge of the universe, or towards the longing for self-knowledge, knowledge of his own self. The human soul of the European peoples indeed passed through a great deal during the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. Roman life was then entering into its decay; it bequeathed to European humanity nothing but its language; it left behind its more or less fundamental material of culture. The life of humanity thus entered the second half of the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, lasting up to the 15th century, when our present epoch began.
From the preceding epoch, in which most of us in some way passed through one or more earthly lives, we brought over — partly through physical heredity, but particularly through the fact that we ourselves formerly were those incarnated souls — into the fifth post-Atlantean epoch the inheritance of the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, and we took over this inheritance. This inheritance of the fourth post-Atlantean epoch lives in everything that constitutes our present civilisation.
We worked the intellect, the thinking, into our consciousness soul. That means a great deal. At the beginning of the fifth epoch, the consciousness soul enabling man to really permeate, really grasp his ego, first took hold of his thinking, his life of representations and his intellect. Humanity thus became intelligent and clever, but clever within the consciousness soul; within the evolution of humanity, this implies the finest possible elaboration of EGOISM.
We should not only rebuke this epoch of egoism, we should not only fall upon it with criticism, but in spite of the fact that it brings with it so many temptations and leads man into great soul-dangers and even into external danger, we should recognise this age of egoism as the one in which ego-consciousness comes to the fore with special incisiveness.
Man can thus take into himself a real feeling of freedom. This feeling of freedom is something that none of us possessed in our previous incarnations, in the earlier epochs of human evolution. We had to pass through egoism, that presents so many temptations, in order to reach that longing for freedom which is the prerogative of modern humanity. One of the most important things in Anthroposophy is the knowledge that we had to take in something in order to climb over an important stage in human evolution: the stage leading to the DEVELOPMENT OF FREEDOM. For this very reason we should be aware that this crossing over is connected, with many temptations, with many dangers of humanity, both soul-spiritually and bodily. A knowledge going in the direction of Anthroposophy must enable us to take in fully the feeling of freedom, but at the same time to ennoble it, to permeate it again with a spiritual knowledge of the universe, which — in spite of the now existing mature ego-feeling, mature ego-consciousness — induces mankind to solve tasks that are not only egoistic tasks, but tasks pertaining to the whole evolution of humanity, indeed to the evolution of the whole earth, to the evolution of the whole universe.
In this connection we are now facing a great turning point in the whole civilisation of more recent times. The time of probation has indeed come! Great tasks confront mankind. But the recognition of these tasks is extremely difficult and is rendered still more difficult through the fact that we have just passed through the age of the great egoism.
We say that we sleep from the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking up. That is right. We are then in a state of dulled consciousness. Most of you know sleep only in its negative aspect, that it dulls consciousness. Yet we do not judge the waking state in the same way. The time of being awake, the time from the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking up, was really quite different in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. To-day people believe that they are awake in the same way in which, for instance, the people living about the time of the Mystery of Golgotha were awake. That is not the case. Their whole soul-constitution was different. Man was then awake in a different way. He was much more strongly conscious of his body.
You see, modern man really knows very little indeed of his bodily processes. The Greeks, not the Greeks of a later time, but the Greeks of the pre-Socratic and pre-Platonic times, still knew a great deal of the processes of their own body. For example, the really cultured Greek looked up to the sun. From the sun he received the light. He received at the same time a feeling that he was drawing in something etheric, that the light was being led on into his inner being. And when he was thinking, he said: The light, the sun thinks within me. The Greek of pre-Socratic times still felt this in a living way. He did not think so abstractly about thinking as we do to-day. He thought: The sun thinks within me: it allows its light to be drawn in by me. The light that shines upon the things outside, that makes the things outside visible, is active within me, by reflecting itself, as it were, within its own being, so that thoughts spring up in me. For the Greek, the thoughts within him were the light of the sun. At the same time, they were for him that element which lived in the macrocosm thanks to the influence of divine-spiritual beings. At the same time, they were for him that which really raised him to the Divine, above his ordinary dignity as a human being. He felt himself lifted above the earthly, when he thus experienced the sun's light within him as thinking. And when a particularly cultured Greek ate, he indeed considered his food, in which he took in something that he did not receive directly from the sun, but that came from the earth, as a necessity of life, yet at the same time he felt himself changing into the food, that became he himself, as it passed through his mouth, his oesophagus and digestive organs. He felt that he was one with the food, in the same way in which he felt that he was one with the sunlight. While he was digesting, he felt the earth's gravity. He felt, as it were, similar to the serpent, that he did not as yet highly appreciate, but that he still observed rather timidly — the serpent that twists away from the earth and digests in a particularly visible way, after having swallowed its food. That is how the Greek experienced what went on in his body: whether he experienced what was thinking within him as the sun's bright light, or whether he experienced within himself what chained him to the earth; i.e. the taking in of food. Through the intimate way in which his understanding was connected with his body the Greek felt with particular energy that which also lived within him as physical human being. You may also deduce this from the following:
When we paint human beings to-day in the ordinary way, as numerous painters of the present generation have done year after year, decade after decade in painting portraits, we really lie. We look at people outwardly and believe that then we bring forth something of what we experience. It is not true at all that we can experience something in that way! We could experience it only if we were able to conjure up within us the whole way of identifying ourselves feelingly with the whole of Nature as human beings, as it was the case with the Greeks. First of all, we must learn this anew, along an entirely different path than that of the Greeks.
Since the middle of the 15th century, we have acquired in an abstract-theoretical way a soul-constitution that no longer allows us to really penetrate livingly into our body, but that lives instead in concepts that do not stand visibly before us, because we have conquered thinking for the egoity, for the ego. We should realise this. And we should realise that we must once more take in spirituality from an anthroposophical spiritual science, so that the ego may once more be filled with something, and so that that which really lives within us may once more — but now in a different way — enter our life: that which the Greeks experienced in an immediate, elemental way; but that could not continue.
When the Greek walked, he walked as if led by a necessity of Nature, like the lightning flashing through the clouds, or the rolling thunder! He knew nothing whatever of freedom, but he knew man! Indeed, he knew more about man than we think he did. For instance, he knew how to coin words clearly indicating that man still knew something of the connection between the soul-spiritual and the bodily-physical. The Greek words, or those derived from the Greek, indicate even to-day far more than those based on our therapeutic or pathological conceptions, that are no longer able to understand anything. Hypochondria for instance, means cartilaginosity of the abdomen. It is a name that the Greeks found through their full knowledge of the fact that in hypochondric people the activity of the soul-spiritual gives rise to cartilaginous formations in certain parts of the body. These names mean far more than modern men suppose, and more than can in any way be grasped through modern medicine, with its abstract way of thinking, even though it experiments, dissects, etc. We must first take up again everything that is real, that once more enables us to have an insight into the world! It is the task of a spiritual scientific deepening to reach once more real facts, realities.
You see, during the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, in which the human beings passed through what constitutes, as it were, a physical self-knowledge, an insight into the human body, during that time — one might say approximately, during the first third of that time, occurs the greatest event of the earth's evolution: the Mystery of Golgotha.
What is the condition of the time in which the Mystery of Golgotha occurred? — The further we go back, the more we find in ancient times — in the Greek epoch, the Egyptian-Chaldean, the Persian and the ancient Indian epoch — this immediate knowledge of the whole human being. Then, this knowledge of the whole human being disappears. The last remains of that knowledge may be found at the time when the Mystery of Golgotha appeared. Something of that instinctive, ancient knowledge of man still existed at that time. For instance, the personalities described in the Gospels as the Apostles, or the Disciples of the Lord, still possessed something of that old instinctive knowledge, which lived in their souls altogether instinctively, not clearly. Others too possessed such a knowledge. At that time it was to a great extent decadent, but at any rate it still existed. It was dying away, burning out, but enough remained of that ancient knowledge to enable a great number of men of that time to grasp the Mystery of Golgotha accordingly. This is particularly evident when the apostle Paul entered the evolution of the times, the apostle Paul who was initiated by divine powers and to whom the spiritual world became visible.
All this gave rise to conditions of time which still enabled man to understand the Mystery of Golgotha in a certain naive, instinctive way. Many people had already entered a later phase of development. Particularly the cultured Greeks and the cultured Romans had concepts that were already far too abstract in order [to] grasp the Mystery of Golgotha in a really living way. Yet certain people had preserved the last remains of an old clairvoyant knowledge, particularly clairvoyant traditions, and they were still able to grasp that a super-earthly power, the Christ, had connected Himself with an earthly man, Jesus of Nazareth.
The year 333 after the Mystery of Golgotha, was, as it were, the year in which last stragglers of those who were still able to have a real understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha could be found in Europe. But these stragglers could not understand it, for instance, through our anthroposophical spiritual science, for this did not, of course, exist at that time. They grasped it through an old knowledge that had remained from the Gnosis, and such like. A certain spiritual knowledge still existed. An ancient human inheritance lived in the human soul and this enabled man to grasp the Mystery of Golgotha.
What has remained of the Mystery of Golgotha? Intellectual traditions! — The Gnosis became theology, a mere logical way of grasping the divine. Theo-Logy: a mere logical way of grasping the divine, no longer a contemplation of the divine!
Since the year 333, the capacity of contemplating the Mystery of Golgotha in a direct way became more and more decadent, until the fateful time of the 9th century, when, in the year 869, the Eighth General Oecumenic Council at Constantinople gave out the dogma that man does not consist of body, soul and spirit, but that it is instead a Christian's duty to acknowledge that man consists only of body and soul, and that the soul possesses a few spiritual qualities. At that time, the trichotomy, as it was called, the only possible knowledge of the human being, according to which man consists of body, soul and spirit, was done away with dogmatically, and a dogma was enforced, according to which a Christian who truly believes must acknowledge that man only consists of body and soul.
Modern philosophers frequently state that their philosophy is based on an unprejudiced knowledge, and they speak on the one hand of the body, and on the other of the soul. They speak of the spirit in a very phraseological manner at the most, for they do not know the spirit. They would only know it, if they recognised the spiritual science of Anthroposophy. The “impartial philosophy” that is now being taught to such an extent — what is it, in reality? — It is the result of the dogma pronounced by the Eighth Oecumenic Council in the year 869.
We must see through this. We must be quite clear that when the modern civilisation arose, and even in the second half of the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, it was considered as dangerous to speak of the spirit and to draw attention to it. But at the present time it is necessary that we should draw mankind's attention to the spirit, — the spirit that has been declared to be the devil for a long, long time, within the civilisation of Europe! After the year 333, nothing but traditions remained of the old Christological knowledge — nothing but traditions!
Everything that constitutes art shows us even more clearly that it has remained tradition! Observe, for instance, Cimabue'spaintings; there you will see a world that took on a completely different aspect in Giotto's paintings. In Cimabue's paintings lived something that may also be seen in Dante, something that could no longer be experienced by the human beings of a later time! Later on, this living within a spiritual world, that may still be seen in Cimabue, ceased. Later on, it was a hypocrisy to paint a golden background, but for a Cimabue this was quite natural. And now observe a Russian icon; it is not in any way painted after a model, for it is something in which the old traditions are still alive, traditions that come from a clairvoyance still existing at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha and enabling man to understand the Mystery of Golgotha.
Then came the time in which the traditions were maintained by using external instruments of power. And then came the 19th century, in which the ordinary soul-activity that brought forth such significant results in natural science and technology, was also applied to theology. But what became of theology through this? Christ-Jesus, the incarnation of a Being that does not belong to the earthly became “the simple man of Nazareth,” looked upon indeed as the most perfect man, but not as the bearer of a super-earthly Being. Theology became naturalistic. The more our modern theologians look upon Jesus of Nazareth as a human being, the less they feel induced to pursue Christological ideas, and the happier they are! Even in theology they do not wish to rise beyond the description of the man, Jesus of Nazareth, they do not wish to rise to an understanding of Christ as a super-earthly Being that dwelt in the man, Jesus of Nazareth.
To-day, those who have an insight into world-events from a spiritual standpoint, must see many things differently from the way in which they are judged by people who only see them outwardly. Central Europe, that is now passing through such a tragic destiny, was able — among other things which cannot be discussed here — to accept Adolf Harnack as a great scientist; the very man who reached the point of saying that God the Son should not be included in the Gospels! They should be read, he says, in such a way as to find in them only the man, Jesus of Nazareth, and this man's teachings concerning God the Father. Harnack's theology was intended to do away with our feelings of reverence for the spirituality of Christ. The theology which Harnack established in Central Europe really signifies the negation of Christianity, the denial of Christianity; it signifies the setting up of a world-conception clearly stating that we do not wish to have anything to do with the spirituality of Christ. It is significant to observe what has thus swept over modern humanity, with the result that the most distorted views now exist concerning the most important ideas of human life.
To-day we know what sleep is, from the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking up. Yet we do not, as a rule, observe the other kind of sleep, in which we live from the moment of waking up to the moment of falling asleep, when we walk about in our everyday life, steeped in illusions and dreams in regard to its most important facts. Indeed, in these modern times, we do not only sleep when we lie in our bed at night (this is actually the better kind of sleep), but we are also asleep in the sphere of egoism, when we lock ourselves up in our inner being, unwilling to know our human body and, at the same time, unwilling to progress to a spiritual self-knowledge. We sleep another kind of sleep during the time from falling asleep to waking up.
In order to understand this, we must indeed observe the nature of sleep from the moment of falling asleep to that of waking up. What does then take place with the human being? Why does the modern intellect believe that as far as the human constitution is concerned sleep is the same for modern man as it was for the ancient Greeks? — The Greeks were not awake in the same way as we, and the Egyptians even less so, nor did they sleep as we do. This soul-constitution in particular should be studied for every epoch of time.
When, during sleep, the human soul, that is to say, the ego and the astral body, loosens itself from the physical and etheric bodies that remain lying on the bed — where does the soul, that is the ego and the astral body, really dwell while we are asleep?
Superficial explanations that a cloud may be seen hovering over the physical body (which is quite true, as far as an altogether external form of clairvoyance is concerned), do not suffice. This is not sufficient, for we must observe what takes place inwardly. We must observe what the soul really experiences from the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking up. In these modern times, the human soul then passes through experiences that are also lived through by the souls that are not as yet incarnated on the earth. Consider the following: Take a case that came to my notice just now, before I began my lecture: A daughter was born to an anthroposophist; one year ago, this little girl lived in the spiritual world as body and soul, and has since then made the endeavour to descend to the physical world. All those decades, that make us so much older than this little newly born girl, during all those years it lived in the spiritual world. And while we were asleep, we lived from the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking up, in the world in which the little girl dwelt before conception, or birth. That is the world in which we dwell, when we are asleep, and there, the souls that are not yet incarnated pass through many experiences. While we are asleep, we pass with them through the fifth post-Atlantean age and through events resembling their own experiences.
From the moment of waking up to the moment of falling asleep, we live, on the other hand, in a world that we sleep away during our waking life; we live in everything that we inherited from our past earthly existences. We live together with what has remained behind from ancient India, Persia, or Egypt; we live with what we have experienced spiritually here on earth, and this is cramped together egoistically in our inner being. We bring it along with us into our present incarnation. During the day, we live with all these things, and sleep away the present. Indeed, the present contains many things that can only be grasped spiritually. We cramp ourselves egoistically in ideas that come from the past and adhere to them obstinately even in our language, in our speech. Languages contain a great store of ancient crystallized wisdom. Yet we rebel against any kind of influence that may be exercised upon our souls by this ancient store of wisdom. For instance, to-day we use the words “Messer”, knife, or “Schere”, scissors. When we use the word “Schere”, scissors, we do not as a rule think that it comes from a kind of “Scheren”, or shearing, that is announced in every barber's shop! And when we use the word “Messer”, knife, we do not think that it is really based on a moral idea, for it is connected with “Maass”, measure, and “Zumessen”, to mete out, or cut to measure. When a knife was used in ancient times, it was really used to “mete out” a gift for someone. A store of wisdom lies crystallized in the words we use, and this ancient spiritual life that is contained in the words now uttered so thoughtlessly, lives in the depths of our being. Whenever we speak, we really experience the life of ancient epochs.
Spiritually, we pass through ancient epochs of the earth, from the moment of waking up to the moment of falling asleep, but we pass through them in a sleeping condition. And from the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking up, we pass through events that are connected with the descent of human souls to their life on earth.
You see, these are realities, these are truths. These realities should be well impressed upon us, if we do not only wish to become acquainted with the forces of decay, but also with the forces of growth and progress. It would be so much better if, before going to sleep in the evening, a greater number of people were to do other things than those which they are accustomed to do! Consider what many people generally do, as last thing, before they go to bed! Yet a modern man should say to himself: I wish to enter the world that contains the forces of growth and progress, it is the world in which I can experience those forces that lead the human souls down to the earth, a world in which I can experience those forces spiritually.
From the moment of falling asleep to the moment of waking up we experience the forces pertaining to the future. For that reason, we should have a kind of craving for the teachings that speak of a spiritual world and that enable us to be conscious of the experiences of souls that are in a condition (but consciously) resembling that of souls who are asleep here on earth. The impulses for the progress of civilisation, for the healing of civilisation, must come from that world! The spiritual, political and economic impulses that should unfold as healing powers for our civilisation must come from that world! It is necessary, at the present time, that we should once more acquire the possibility of grasping the Mystery of Golgotha, of grasping it in a spiritual way.
What is the essential, or let us say, one of the essential things (for there are, of course, many essential things in it), in the Mystery of Golgotha? — That a God, a super-earthly Being, took up His abode in the man, Jesus of Nazareth. Beings of His kind have one characteristic quality: they cannot die. All those Beings of the higher Hierarchies, described in my “OCCULT SCIENCE”, the Angels, Archangels, etc. up to the highest Beings, the Cherubim, Seraphim, etc. do not die (read the description of their life's course in my books), they do not die as men die. What did Christ take upon Himself, Christ Who came from the higher Hierarchies? — He died within a human body. You see, here we have significant forces that pass over into the evolution of humanity upon the earth, Christ died in a human body; he passed through the experience of death, an experience unknown to the other gods who are connected with the earth. Up to the year 333, it was still possible to grasp this truth to a certain extent. Now we must learn to grasp it anew! We should grasp anew that a super-earthly Being shared with us the experience of death, thus passing over into the development of the earth. Yet at the same time we should have the great modesty of recognising that the experiences of this Being highly surpass what can be experienced through the soul-constitution of a human being.
The Christ descended from worlds where death is unknown. What Beings serve the Christ? — Among those who serve Him, there is not one who could make the same sacrifice, not who could have come down to the earth, in order to pass through death. Beings that belong to the hierarchy of the Angeloi, right up to the higher Hierarchies, Beings connected with the evolution of the earth, are Christ's servants. We cannot perceive them, if we do not rise to a super-earthly knowledge of the higher Hierarchies. Through a knowledge of the spiritual worlds we should seek that which leads us to Christ. Spiritual science is needed above all in order to attain a new knowledge of Christ. For Christ is here, upon the earth, and He is surrounded by the world of the higher Hierarchies. Man's great temptation in modern times is the modern natural science with its great triumphs and its admission of purely external forces of Nature. Yet behind all these forces of Nature live the spiritual Beings! The assertions of natural science are certainly right, nevertheless the spiritual Beings that serve Christ live behind the forces of Nature, thinking and directing them. Christ lives in everything that constitutes the development of the earth. Super-earthly Beings serve Him — but these super-earthly Beings can only be recognised through spiritual science. Consequently an extremely important task evolves upon spiritual science: the renewal of Christianity.
All this shows you that to-day we cannot pursue spiritual science merely as a personal concern. To-day spiritual science concerns civilised humanity as a whole. Through an inner necessity, spiritual science was from the very beginning pursued in the circle that afterwards obtained the name of “Anthroposophical Society”, in a different way than in the Theosophical Society. The whole constitution of the Theosophical Society had, from the very outset, a sectarian character, something that reckoned with the egoism of modern times. Anthroposophy therefore had the task of taking into account the consciousness of modern times, that which constitutes the external culture of humanity, and of pouring into it the results of a spiritual manner of contemplation. Little differences and strifes are of no importance whatever in the face of such a task. It was essential for me to maintain the purity of a spiritual movement that reckons with the whole science of modern times. Whether this or that person may or may not accept one or the other truth, is of no importance to me. Even though the whole world may abuse spiritual science and criticize it, I do not consider this as essential, for the essential thing is that the spiritual science that I advance should really harmonize fully, with the modern, scientific mentality, with the moral conscience of modern times. For this reason, I had to publish my “Philosophy of Spiritual Activity” before revealing the truths of Karma. I have often listened with great pain to theosophists who said: If this or that man suffers, if he suffers socially and belongs to a lower class or caste, it is his Karma and he has deserved it. This interpretation of the idea of Karma corresponded to the egoistical requirements of men who lived in the 19th and 20th century. Yet they did not think that we do not only live through our present life on earth, but that we shall also live through a future life. To-day we should not always look back on what we once possessed in past lives on earth, but we should also consider that in future lives on earth we shall be looking back on what we are passing through now — and this will then be an entirely new experience. Freedom fully harmonizes with the idea of Karma ... Everything that appears in the account-book of life is karmically connected.
You see, if I reckon up the debit and credit sides of destiny and strike the balance, I obtain life's balance; but this does not entail that the single items are subjected to the necessity of Nature. Just as the single items of a commercial account book do not depend on diligence, and so forth, and finally enable us to strike a balance, so freedom can very well be connected with the idea of Karma. We should not adopt an easy fatalistic idea when advancing the view of Karma as a fully justified idea. Spiritual science should therefore be in full harmony also with the conscience and the moral attitude of modern humanity. For that reason it was necessary to work more extensively with spiritual science, also during the time in which the catastrophe broke out in regard to everything that has been caused by the egoism of modern humanity, both soul-spiritually and physically.
Would it have been honest and straightforward to continue preaching that spiritual science can help mankind, and yet advance no social ideas at a time when social requirements became as urgent as they are to-day? Would human love not have progressed in the direction of a social knowledge? Shall we content ourselves with declamations on human love? Or should we not rather progress to real social impulses?
The fact that we can only see Christ's ministering spirits, clearly when we look into the spiritual world, is a result and a fundamental knowledge of spiritual science, a result of what I have told you to-day concerning waking and sleeping, concerning sleeping wakefulness and the awakening from sleep through spiritual science. Spiritual science will also enable us to grasp once more the Mystery of Golgotha, in accordance with a modern mentality. And as a result, spiritual science must not restrict itself to some sectarian group, but if must be brought out into the world in the best possible way, according to our capacities and to our place in life! The centre at Dornach was not intended to be a sectarian centre, but one that renders fruitful every branch of science and life, social life and artistic life. Anthroposophy and its spiritual science must become a concern of the great masses of humanity, although its most important things and that which penetrates into the innermost depths of our heart, awakening our inner forces, are pursued within the narrower circles of our Groups. There, in those Groups, we gather forces, in order to develop a certain higher knowledge, which we must first take in there. It is a knowledge that must be developed, for to-day we live in a time in which mankind really does not know what it is seeking; it sleeps away the most important things of life. Nevertheless it is a time in which mankind seeks after a new knowledge of the spirit! Let us feel this deeply, as pioneers, I might say, of a spiritual renewal — as Anthroposophists.
For that reason I so warmly wish that also the Groups in Holland might pursue an earnest, diligent and untiring study of the knowledge that can be obtained in our movement, from out the spiritual worlds. I warmly wish that our Groups should study diligently. These studies should constitute the point of departure for bringing out Anthroposophy into the world — and each one must do this in his own way — so that mankind's longings may be satisfied through a spiritual contemplation directed towards Anthroposophy. For that reason, let us grasp the nature of the longings of modern man. Let us not think that we become materialistic, when we spiritualize matter! And let us clearly realise that mankind would face a great misfortune, if it fails to obtain the true knowledge that is able to avert that misfortune.
The Eighth Oecumenic Council of the year 869 drove away from human knowledge the contemplation of the spirit. Those who have an entirely materialistic mentality seek to prepare the next stage: they also wish to eliminate the soul and to establish the general dogmatic knowledge that man only consists of the body. Certain devilish initiates are now excogitating means of educating the human being materialistically, of preparing him materialistically as a body; they seek to attain their end not by means of psychic influences, but by means of ingredients and substances taken from Nature. They plan an experimental psychology and seek to adopt principles that are not those of the Waldorf School (for the Waldorf School principles are spiritual protests against modern materialism), and they already undertake all manner of experiments in order to test man's capacities. This is but a preliminary stage of what they really aim at. The child is no longer to be educated psychically, but with the aid of external, material means, so that its capacities may develop in a bodily way. Thus man would gradually become an automaton, unless we bear in mind at the right moment that the path that led to the elimination of the spirit must not be continued in the direction of the elimination of the soul as well. We must instead follow the opposite direction of the Eighth Oecumenic Council; we must once more follow the path enabling us to find the spirit anew, and to cultivate in human life, in every sphere of practical human life, only what we can discover through the spirit.
This is what I wish to implant into your souls, what I wish to implant into your hearts, my dear friends, after our long absence. Cultivate spiritual science first of all as a concern of the heart, in the way in which it should be cultivated individually, so that we may progress. Cultivate what you have thus taken in, and then bring it out to humanity in every sphere of life, bring out what you have thus taken in! You will then gradually find the path enabling you, in the present difficult and earnest time of probation, to do the right thing for humanity, according to your place in life.
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