The Mystery of Death. Lecture 6 of 15
It may seem at first, and it seems so to many people, as if that which one calls clairvoyant forces in the true sense of the word through which the beings and processes of the spiritual worlds can be recognised, as if the human being does not have these clairvoyant forces in the everyday life at all, or as if he develops nothing at all of these forces in his soul in the everyday life. However, it is not that way. The clairvoyant forces are not such forces which are quite strange to the human being living in the everyday life. This is not the case, but that we have to develop so that we can behold in the spiritual worlds what we must bring out of the deep subsoil of the soul in order to find the path into the spiritual worlds, this already exists in a certain soul activity also for the everyday life of the human being.
These are the moral impulses of the human being. A really moral action, a really moral impulse arises from the same abilities of the soul which lead to clairvoyant abilities by means of a corresponding development. Indeed, for the everyday life the matter is different because everything that the human being is doing comes from his physical nature or from that which he has acquired for and by means of his physical nature in the course of life. If the human being develops desires, if the human being does this or that which is determined by his education or his other conditions of life, then it is the body from which the impulse comes. But there are real impulses in the human life which do not come from the body with which only the soul deals if the human being grasps these impulses: these are the moral impulses. A really moral action is that to which the body is called for help, indeed, so that one gets a mental picture of the moral action, but the impulse of the moral action is in the psycho-spiritual which is really independent of the bodily. One will never be able to define morality with the help of mere philosophy, and it is just typical of philosophy, provided that it wants to be moral philosophy, that it does not come to a correct, satisfying definition of morality if it does not position itself on the ground that the human being is able to experience his psycho-spiritual in himself independently of his body.
We know that human life is composed of moral, less moral, and immoral actions and impulses. The difference which exists between moral and immoral actions appears only to the esoteric consideration in the true light. The human being goes in his smallest life cycle, in that time of twenty-four hours, into the sleeping state. This sleeping state means that the ego and the astral body go out basically from the physical and etheric bodies and live then beyond this physical and etheric bodies. Not yet everything is said with it if I say that the ego and the astral body leave the physical and etheric bodies. But you have also to realise that the ego and the astral body, while they leave the etheric and the physical bodies, are taken up in the spiritual worlds which prevail in the supersensible around us. We go into the supersensible worlds with our ego and astral body. If we have had a moral impulse during the day, during our waking state, and have accomplished a moral action, then the following is true: we must be taken up with our ego and astral body by the spirits of the next higher hierarchies, by the spirits which we count to the hierarchy of the angels, of the archangels et cetera. These take us up; we go into them as it were in the sleeping state.
As well as we live in the body during the day, we live inside the beings of the higher hierarchies during sleep. That has to be clear to us. If we have accomplished a moral action, if we have had a moral impulse, then it is possible for the beings of the next higher hierarchies — according to the spiritual cosmic laws — to take up our ego and our astral body with our moral impulses or that which of our moral impulses has remained in our soul. If we have committed an immoral action or have had an immoral impulse, we cannot come with this rest, with that which was formed by the immoral impulse in us into the beings of the higher hierarchies during sleep. That really remains behind, is pushed back which is immoral in us, it is pushed down again into the physical nature. The result of the fact is that everything that we bring as an after-effect of morality into the spiritual worlds during sleep does not have an effect on our physical and etheric bodies, because it is taken away from them.
An immoral idea, an immoral impulse, an immoral action, however, becomes something that is pushed back into the etheric and physical bodies, and this has an effect on them. That is why the results of immoral actions can work in the physical and etheric bodies during sleep, from falling asleep up to waking. In this regard, it is really easy to recognise what I have often emphasised in my talks: that language has a miraculous genius, that it works ingeniously. If we speak of guilt, there just this German word “Schuld” (also meaning debts) signifies infinitely exactly what it concerns. We pay what we owe to the spiritual world with our moral actions, but we remain guilty to the spiritual world of that which we must leave behind in our bodies, our immoral thoughts, our immoral impulses, our immoral actions.
Take now the following into account: if we spent our life in such a way that we would only perceive the things of the outside world and think about them, the processes even in our physical body would be quite different than they are. Because we not only think and perceive, but we also remember the thoughts, perceptions, and experiences. What we think, imagine, feel goes down into our etheric body, but the etheric body imprints it again into the physical body. And what the etheric body creates like impressions in the physical body: this is memory. If we remember something of former experiences in the later life, this means: we bump our astral body, which is connected then with the etheric body, on that which like an impression, as a seal impression, has remained in our physical body. The materialistic idea is childish: as if a recollection sits in the brain here, another there, as if it is tinned thus. This is not true, but any recollection has an impression which corresponds basically to the whole head and still some other parts of the human figure, and the recollections are in each other, not side by side as a childish materialistic idea supposes it.
This activity of remembering is based on the fact that our astral and etheric bodies can cause impressions in our physical bodies. It is really the same activity which takes place externally when we write down something. If we look at the notes, then what we have in our soul, of course, does not have the slightest resemblance to the signs we have on the paper. On the paper are signs of any form, but by what we do then from it, while we are induced to bring back to life again that in the soul which we have written down, a spiritual process takes place. It is the same also with memory. What remains in us does not have more resemblance in principle with that which appears in the soul while remembering than that which stands on the paper with that what appears in the soul if we read it again.
Clairvoyantly beheld, the matter is like that: let us suppose that somebody remembers something that he has gone through once. What lights up then in his physical body is a mark which is a copy of the human figure from the head and a piece below in a way. These are marks. Every mark is different which appears in the memory, but these are marks. The soul only makes with the help of the marks what we experience, while we remember. This is really a subconscious reading that appears as memory. If natural sciences progress a little further and investigate the physical processes, they will be a help to spiritual science, while they will show that that what remains in the body must really be submitted by the soul to a process which is similar to the reading in the soul in principle. Memory is a real subconscious reading. This is a regular activity of the human soul, this remembering.
However, if we send down results of immoral impulses, thoughts, or actions into our body while falling asleep, we do not remove immoral impulses from our physical body. Something similar thereby happens as happens usually regularly in memory. The work on the physical body imprints itself there. If now the human being wants to fall asleep and his ego and astral body want to go out from his physical and etheric bodies, this process begins. What he must leave behind there imprints itself like memories imprint themselves, and then there come the pangs of conscience which appear there. This is the real process of the pangs of conscience. Thus they are reflected from that which the matters cause as impressions in our physical body and also in the etheric body. This remains then.
Because these pangs of conscience remain as the regular memories do and attain strength, they appear then as self-reproaches in the further life. This is the important matter, that we really succeed in seeing that the moral action is a real process that it is not only something abstract, but that this moral action is handing up into the spiritual worlds what we here act on earth. Because we hand over the results of our moral behaviour to the higher hierarchies, they also remain in certain respect in these higher hierarchies. What we cannot take with us, what works then in the physical and etheric bodies,remains here on earth; this is in the earth process. If the human being has gone through the gate of death, he must always look back at it, and while he always looks back at it, the impulse must originate in him to put it away from the earth process. The working out of karma between death and a new birth is based on that.
We take the results of our moral impulses in our karma with us, but while we bring them into spiritual worlds during sleep, they also make impressions there. We can say that the angels, the archangels, also the spirits of personality then have the moral impulses. What do they do with them? These moral impulses, which are now in the spiritual world, are the real fertilising germs for the later earth periods. Not only that we keep these results in our karma, but we bring the impressions up, and in the coming earth epochs the spirits of higher hierarchies bring them down again. These results of the moral impulses are the fertilising germs for human inventive thinking, for human thinking generally in later earth epochs. Imagine that an epoch of the earth evolution is quite immoral, so that no impressions of moral impulses are brought to the spiritual worlds. Then an epoch would follow in the earth evolution when the human beings would think of little for the life on earth, when the human beings would have few ideas and concepts, when they have no means to imprint and stimulate their soul-lives.
So we stand with our moral impulses in a real process of the universe. Hence, spiritual science which shows us such a matter is suitable to increase our responsibility, to make our responsibility more vigorous, because we thereby notice what it means to be moral or immoral in human life. Being immoral means to take its life germs away from the earth, to incorporate them into the physical earth process in which they become then germs of destruction for the next earth epochs, because they are also preserved there, of course, because nothing gets lost. Then they extinguish what should live vividly as a soul element. Suppose that a bigger crowd of people would decide that they would live immorally in a certain epoch. Then a later epoch poor in thoughts would be thereby caused, and the souls would come down to the earth and find no ideas there, they would have a desolate life.
It is now possible that we take up not only the contents of morality in our knowledge. If we do not take up that in our effective knowledge, we obliterate the earth. But we need and we have the possibility to take up something different in our soul development, and this is the knowledge of the supersensible. Basically, the earth never was completely without supersensible knowledge. We know that humankind received a certain inheritance of clairvoyant capacities, also of clairvoyant knowledge, in olden times. It is not long ago that the aftermath of this clairvoyant knowledge was there on earth. We also know that we live in the time when this clairvoyant knowledge is drawing to an end since centuries, but must be replaced by the clairvoyant knowledge gained consciously. We live in this important time. We have yesterday made ourselves aware that the fifth culture-epoch and those who are its bearers have a vocation to gain clairvoyant knowledge consciously for the souls. The fifth culture-epoch will not come to an end before a certain sum of clairvoyant knowledge has grasped a relatively big part of humankind. Herder's saying is true that enlightenment will spread over the earth.
Any knowledge we acquire from only the sensory outside world, all the thoughts we have only as after-images of the sensory outside world, cannot be brought directly by us into the spiritual world while we sleep. It is true, the thoughts, the ideas which we have reach to the beings of the higher hierarchies up to a certain degree — just with the exception of the immoral impulses. However, that rises up which we acquire as pictures of the outside world up to a certain degree into the spiritual world. But it does not rise up very far, not at all to the sphere of the archangels. So that the human being — if he fills himself with ideas only which come from the sensory world — can bring that which he gains as ideas of the sensory world not very far into the spiritual worlds. The supersensible ideas we experience in ourselves are brought far into the spiritual worlds. Just those beings who belong to the hierarchy of the archangels get, as it were, the impressions of them and carry them over into later times. That of supersensible knowledge which the human egos and astral bodies carry up into the spiritual worlds is used later for the earth evolution.
It does not form, like the moral impulses, the fertilising germs, the stimulating element, the germs for that which we call the earth progress. Refusing supersensible ideas by an age means the condemnation of a coming age to make no progress in the earth evolution. He who refuses the supersensible ideas restrains the progress of coming epochs as far as he is concerned. If any nation became quite materialistic, this materialism of a whole nation would condemn the earth to a standstill in its development — of course up to a certain degree, because the other peoples would not have to reject the supersensible ideas. We see again how the acquisition of supersensible ideas is significant in the earth process itself. Causes and effects are connected in the whole earth process that way. Those human beings who are, as it were, consciously materialists in our present are ahrimanically enticed beings, enticed by the ahrimanic spirits, because Ahriman is very interested in restraining the regular progress.
We see again how spiritual science is able to increase the feeling of responsibility of the individual human soul to the world as a whole. We see spiritual science snatching us from our selves and making us members of the whole human process, that spiritual science is basically an unselfish activity of the human soul.
In a certain respect, any living in supersensible ideas is a reproduction of the moral life. Hence, there is nothing more disturbing for the knowledge of the supersensible worlds than filling the human soul with immoral impulses. That is why it is deeply founded to demand a kind of moral thinking in the most eminent sense as a preparation of the esoteric development. The fifth epoch has the task to make consciously sure that spiritual knowledge fills human beings, so that during the rest of the post-Atlantean age the progress of humanity is not restrained, so that really a progress can take place in humanity. If we have to ascribe the natural ability of spiritual knowledge in the most eminent sense just to the Central European peoples after all our discussions during the last days, it must be clear to us what significance the further existence, the undisturbed development of the Central European culture, has.
If we now are able to see the horizon of the European life only a little bit by means of that which we have mentioned, what does it present to us? The life of the higher hierarchies is connected with the life of peoples. You need only to study the series of talks about the development of the folk-souls which was held once in Kristiania (= Oslo), which is especially important to study in our present time. You need only to call it in your mind and you will see how the archangels intervene in the national life; how generally this national life unfolds in the cooperation of the higher hierarchies with what happens here on earth. If we look at an individual human being, we know that his ego-development takes place only slowly and gradually. Indeed, in the tender childhood, from the time up to which one remembers, the ego-consciousness begins. But this ego becomes increasingly mature, advances in his development. In our time big mistakes are there concerning this ego-development. There is too little consciousness of the fact that such an ego-development takes place in life. Thus one can experience that today greenhorns regard themselves to be mature to judge everything because they do not know that one has to attain a certain age to judge certain matters, because the ego thereby reaches a certain maturity only.
As it is in the individual life of the human being, it is also in the life of peoples. We must only take the following into consideration if we want to understand the life of peoples in relation to the individual human life on the physical plane. The individual human being matures concerning to his ego-development. Because he grows increasingly mature, he also learns to take a better overview of the outside world. What we know about the outside world if we have attained twenty, twenty-five years, and what we can know if we spend life substantially if we have worked through ten years more. For such matters just the spiritual scientist has to get a feeling. There is the ego in its relation to the external world, to its surroundings.
The beings of the higher hierarchies behave differently. These beings of the higher hierarchies have the same relationship to our egos as we have to the matters of the outside world. The matters and beings of the mineral, plant, and animal realms are objects for us. For the beings of the higher hierarchies, for example, our egos are objects. The relationship of the beings of the higher hierarchies to our egos is not that of perception as we have it to the outside world. Their volition rather penetrates our egos, their volition works on our egos.
Those archangels who have to lead the peoples have the same relationship to the egos, to the individual human beings of the people, as we have concerning the perception of matters of the outside world. We are the objects for these archangels. What is an outside world for us, we are as human beings for the archangels, only that it is more a process of perception with us and more a process of will with the archangels. But concerning this process of will the archangel also experiences a development. This archangel goes through a maturation of his soul exactly the same way, now not concerning his ego, but concerning deeper forces of his soul. He experiences a development through which he attains another relation to the individual human beings of his nation; as well as we attain another relation to our environment with a more mature ego.
Let us take, for example, the archangel to whom the guidance of the Italian people has been transferred in the course of history. This archangel has had such a relation to the Italian people for a long time that he has, actually, worked with his will basically on the higher parts of the soul. In the further course this archangel had an effect not only on the higher parts of the soul, but also on the lower ones, on the passions, on the impulses of the soul which are still connected with the body. Thus the development of the archangel goes on: at first, he has more an effect on the soul as such, in the later course he becomes more and more powerful and works on those parts of the soul which are more connected with the body.
We can give for the Italian people that the archangel experienced a condition of his development in 1530 which can be characterised in such a way that one can say: he has worked more on the real soul, now he starts impregnating the soul more with his will, in so far as it penetrates the body. The Italian people, really, starts now to let itself go concerning its appearance, to develop its national character so surely. Study the history of the Italian people before the mentioned time — about the middle of the 16th century — then you see that there the archangel still worked on the internal soul qualities of the Italian people; that then the external national character formed in the most remarkable sense, as we know it today. Before this point in time — and such a point in time exists for any people — the whole soul-life of a people is still alive. It is still possible then that the soul-life of the people can take on this or that quality. The qualities are not yet coined so strongly. After this point in time, when the archangel has developed his will relations to the deeper qualities of the soul, the people's character becomes rigid; it penetrates the bodily qualities. The time begins when one can hardly approach the people with anything that does not correspond to the national character. It becomes nervous at once if anybody comes with anything that does not lie completely in the national line or current.
One can really give this point in time in the historical development of the French people correctly. All these statements are approximate, of course, but this time is for the French people about 1600, in the beginning of the 17th century, and for the English people in the middle of the 17th century, in 1650.
If you go back before this time, to the Middle Ages, you see how much the peoples of Europe still have in common, and how with the single peoples the development of the national character begins at the points in time which I have given. The archangel experiences a development so that one can say: his forces were weaker before that, so that he was only able to work on the soul, on the inside. The forces grow stronger after that, he can stretch his forces up to the physical. He thereby causes the sharply distinctive national character. Single phenomena appear quite comprehensible to you if you have such matters for the historical consideration. Imagine that in the time in which the English people had their Shakespeare the national character had not yet been enclosed in this way, so that just the English people are no longer able to understand Shakespeare. This comes from the fact that the archangel enclosed it with a distinctive national character. This will give a real historical consideration of the future when one no longer starts, as it was the case so often in the 19th century, from the assumption that ideas have an effect in history. A human being can have ideas, but ideas cannot work as forces in history. The angels, archangels, and archai can have ideas, but ideas must always come from beings. The whole historical consideration of the 19th century, in so far as it speaks of ideas in history, is a spook, because it is based on the faith that ideas develop, can freely move in the continuous current of time.
We can now put the question: what about the German people? Was there a point in time at which the archangel attained a certain level? — Yes, such a point in time happened. But the German people differ from the other peoples to a certain degree. We know that the soul of the human being consists of sentient soul, intellectual soul or mind-soul, and consciousness-soul. You can gather from the talks on the folk-souls that the archangel of the Italian people preferably wants to gain power in the sentient soul, that of the French people in the intellectual soul or mind-soul, that of the British people in the consciousness-soul, and that of the German people in the ego which extends its power to the three soul members. Hence, the relation of the archangel to the individual egos of the German people is also other than with the western peoples.
There was a point in time when the archangel of the German people intervened in the physical life or in the lower soul-life, in so far as it seizes the physical. This is the time approximately between 1750 and 1830. If one studies the matters once quite rationally, one will get wonderful explanations about the course of the national development. If anybody got involved only to look at the really great, magnificent difference which is there in the German life in the human beings of the 19th and 20th centuries and the human beings living two hundred years ago, then he would see how immense this difference is. In those days, the archangel intervened in the national character of the German people, as well as the archangels intervened in the other peoples at the points in time which I have given. But, one would like to say, he stopped again, he did not transform the physical constitution so vigorously, as thoroughly as it happened with the other peoples. Hence, it has even happened that the second half of the 19th century took such a course that this German people have really taken up everything imaginable from the other peoples unconsciously.
This has led to tragic conflicts in our days. Think only once that Ernst Haeckel is an Englishman in his whole worldview, in so far as he has based his worldview on science. He is completely an Englishman, because he has taken up English thought-forms. Everything that he thinks is influenced by the English being. He starts from Darwin, from Huxley. He regards Spencer as his philosophical God. While one cannot really translate a book of Hegel or a book of spiritual science into English, one can translate Haeckel very easily into English, of course. You may be surprised about me saying this, because you know that spiritual-scientific books are translated into English. But what you read in the books, you read this only approximately in the English translations. One can never really translate, for example, the sentence which is essentially German, which is connected with the sensation of Master Eckhart [Master Eckhart: ~1260–1327, mystic] and with everything that developed in the German being following Master Eckhart. You cannot translate this sentence correctly into English: “In dem Gemüte lebt das Fünklein, in dem sich in der Menschenseele die Weltseele offenbart.” “The little spark lives in man's feeling nature in which the world-soul reveals itself to the human soul.” It is impossible to translate it really into English, because for that what is experienced in the word “Gemüt” does no translation exist. Also the original dictum by Hegel cannot be translated into English which is almost the foundation stone of German idealistic philosophy: “Sein und Nicht-Sein vereinigen sich zur höheren Einheit im Werden.” “Being and Not-Being coalesce to Becoming as the higher unity.” Of course, one can translate everything, but the translation cannot report what is experienced in such a sentence.
The German language has the special peculiarity that it still allows certain liquidness. Imagine how infinitely easy it is to say if anything is translated into English or French: this is wrong; one does not say this that way! — We Germans must not develop the bad habit to say that something is wrong, but we must keep our language liquid — this is spoken radically, of course. Study our cycles, there you will see how I always struggled to form new words, also forms which formulate the words from within. This comes, for example, from the fact that the archangel of the German people stopped the sharp stamping again. He has only made an attempt, as it were, to sharply coin the national character during almost one century, and has then released the people again.
That means a lot. But this must be that way, because the German people have a vocation to transform their idealism to lively spiritual knowledge. Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, who are attacked today, created a thinking which is indeed not already spiritualism, nor spiritual science — which is, however, the seed of spiritual science, which guides you really to spiritual science, so to speak, if you meditate it thoroughly. However, the German national character must still remain liquid, must make really possible that one says: somebody is an Italian, somebody is a Frenchman, and somebody is an Englishman. However, somebody becomes a German! The archangel has only made an attempt with the German people to form the national character. In the same way to be national or chauvinistic as the West-European peoples are, this would be an untruth with the German; he is not able to do this at all — one is able to do everything, of course, but then it is not commensurate with the real being of the German.
The relations of the Russian people are quite different. Its archangel is connected with the individual egos of the people in a different way than with the West-European and Central European peoples. The archangels of the West-European peoples work with their rays of will, with the Italian people on the sentient soul, with the French people on the intellectual soul or mind-soul, with the British people on the consciousness-soul, with the German people on the ego. However, the folk-soul of the Russian people does not work on the souls at all. It hovers as it were over the people like a cloud, and the soul can only have a premonition of it and long for it. It has still remained a group soul, as it were. There is no intimate interaction of the folk-soul with the individual human egos. You can get no more tragic, more serious impression than when you are present at a Russian-orthodox service, in which the human egos of those who take part in it as believers, are almost completely eliminated.
There is something impersonally universal that does not seize the individual personality. There is nothing in this service that appeals to the human nature. This is an immediate expression of the fact that the Russian soul has not awoken at all to that stimulation which is due to the interchange of the individual ego with the folk-soul. Everything is a little bit rigid and stereotyped, as if spirituality comes from unknown worlds and turns to something rigid and stereotyped, in the performances just as in the icon painting. There we stand before something quite different as it is the case in Western Europe. There we stand before the fact that the archangel has not got ready at all to intervene in the national element. Hence, the national element is for the Russian more a soul dream. The Russian always talks of the “really Russian human being,” and the Russian writers talk of it. But it is a soul dream which is emphasised in particular, because the folk-soul is not incorporated into the human beings, because the Russian has a longing for a super-personal folk-soul.
You have to look into these deep secrets, and then you understand how the European cultural regions stand facing each other. I never think, of course, to see the cause of the present events directly in this facing each other of the cultural regions. Nevertheless, you must do that indirectly. In particular, you must be aware of the fact that the torch of the current war is a powerful mark to familiarise ourselves with that which weaves and reigns within the spiritual life of Europe.
We look up to beings of the higher hierarchies; we see these beings of the higher hierarchies also developing. Whereas we develop our egos as individual human beings, we see these developing in such a way that they get more and more power to penetrate the ego with their will. First they still keep far away from this ego, overshadow it from above like in the case of the Russian people. Then there is a more intimate overshadowing and living together at the same time as it is with the German people. Then they add the intransigent national character to the individual human beings like it is the case of the three characterised West-European peoples. You can derive from that in which condition this modern life of the human development is. Have a look only once at the Central European history and you will find — if you refrain from Russia where the relations are quite different — you will find that the life of the West-European peoples and in certain way also of the Central European peoples is similar, that a European internationalism is there. Then we see a new time dawning in the individual peoples from the 14th century on. With this dawning we see the peoples being seized by distinctive national characters. At the turn of the 18th to the 19th century, we see the German people getting just as much of national character that the German feels as it were what a national character is, but not so much that he is taken up in the solidified national character. One will find that that lies in the disposition of the German nature, that the German does not need to be taken up in the national character; that it really has a deep sense when Fichte [seventh address in Addresses to the German Nation] says: Everything that wants freedom of the human soul-being, everything that strives for the universally human, that belongs to us.
There is a possibility of free development of the Central European or German character. However, something is contained in that which leads immediately to the insight that the West-European peoples have to take this national character — or fluid national character — of the German people into account. I say, something like the fluid national character of the German can lead to the tragic just in our time. Think of Ernst Haeckel once again. We have seen that he was influenced by the English so deeply in the second half of the 19th century — because the development of the national character was released again. And today? The man who bears, actually, the whole English nature in himself has thrown words of the strongest hatred against the English people. He stood at the head of those who sent back their English certificates, medals, and honourings. It would be so much more important that they would send back the materialistic Darwinism, the materialistic Newtonism, everything that came from them. In this regard, we have to learn to really understand us, to see the matters objectively and without national hatred.
It was a kind of a spiritual prelude when some years ago the splitting had to take place between our anthroposophical movement and the Anglo-Indian coloured theosophical movement. It had to take place. Those who have a vocation to develop the spiritual element cannot go along with the materialistic view of a Christ re-embodied in the flesh. It had to come out among us that the return of Christ will really be the return of the etheric Christ. It has often been said that and could also be heard out of Theodora's mouth in my first mystery drama [ The Portal of Initiation ]. Indeed, now we read in an English-theosophical magazine — I tell no fairy tales to you, the president of the society herself expressed it — that the warfare of the Germans shows now what was, actually, behind the theosophical German undertaking at that time, because it appears now that we would have taken amiss, actually, on theosophical field that the president Annie Besant has always stood up for the peace prince, who did his best for Europe, Edward VII. We would have looked at this already with immense aversion, and, therefore, we would have sent our agents to England who should there talk about theosophy in our sense to get the theosophists in our hands. If we had succeeded, the president tells in the English theosophical magazine, to penetrate at that time so far that we would have got the complete, as she says, “rich administrative machinery” of the Anglo-Indian theosophy — never have we wanted this, of course, — our intention would have been carried out to bring the poison of our views to India and to gain influence on the British government from there. Then our intention would have been executed to induce the British people to acknowledge the German supremacy over England on this way! — This is the representation which is given now in English-theosophical magazines to the theosophists there.
Now look at the truth. We have to realise it, because we cannot think about these matters in a dreaming way. The truth is, for example, that that which I wrote in my book Mysticism at the Dawn of Modern Life is written out of the kind as spiritualism lives in the Central European cultural current. The book was translated into English straight away, and at that time one said to us there — to me at least — that the whole theosophy is contained in this book. Now we could say: well, if people think in London that the whole theosophy is contained in this book, they can go along with us. — But each step we undertook was nothing but an expression of the Central European developing spiritualism.
Some months before the outbreak of this war, it touched me still peculiarly — today I am allowed to mention this — that some of our ladies who do eurythmy drove to London to give there a course. The eurythmy has pleased. This is all right, it shall please human beings. But one does not notice that this eurythmy is the spiritual counter pole of the materialistic sport; the fact that on one side Europe is flooded completely by materialism and sport brings materialism into the movement of human beings, which serves the amusement of the people, the addiction to make oneself healthy which is quite materialistic, whereas with us each movement is the expression of the spiritual, corresponds exactly to that which is Central European spirituality. We work on this ground and let grow up the fruits of the spiritual development from this ground. How did just the sport intervene in the second half of the 19th century in Germany! How finer sport activities have then also — I believe, a method was especially that of Dalcroze [Emile Dalcroze (1865–1950), he founded a kind of rhythmic gymnastics] — how these matters have intervened! Now one will not like him particularly because he also belongs to those who insult “German barbarism” so violently. But that which belongs to the German being, this is the eurythmic by means of which the spiritual is expressed in the movements of the external physical body. It lives in the movements of the etheric body, is natural to the etheric body which works on the supersensible human being.
This eurythmy is based on the following principles: we have an organ through which the etheric body acts immediately, so that the physical becomes an image of the etheric. This is the case when we are speaking. Not the whole physical, but the air becomes an image of the etheric. The sounding word in the air, the kind how the air swings, is a direct expression of the etheric. If one seizes what lives in the sound, in the word, and spreads it over the whole etheric body and lets the hands and feet and everything of the human being be moved, like in speaking and singing the air is moved in the etheric body, then one has eurythmy. Since eurythmy is a speaking of the whole human being, so that one makes use not only of the moving air but of the human organs.
Such a matter shows you that the intervention of spiritual science in modern civilisation is intended as something universal and extensive. To understand the nerve of the thing we have just heard something of which one does not think today. I have given these both talks within this small circle by means of which I wanted to stimulate the sensation in you to look at what spiritual science intends for the whole human life universally. If I succeeded in doing so, it would be already enough. Since the task of spiritual science is not really fulfilled if we learn single theoretical concepts. The task of spiritual science is fulfilled if it intervenes in everything, in every life, and spiritualises this life. It is inevitable in our fifth culture-epoch within that nation to which this task is assigned to cause spiritualisation, to understand these matters, to cause a sense of responsibility concerning development. It is easy to criticise the human development, rather easy. However, this does not concern, because the matters which happen happen with necessity, even if they counter that which as it were the good progress intends with the human beings. In a certain respect, we must have and let have something in our culture that counters this good progress, actually.
Among these various matters which belong to it, for example, is that we start to maltreat our children from tender age on because of our present cultural point of view, as one says, for the sake of progress. One does not know it, but one maltreats them. Since there is basically nothing more countering the human nature than to let start the children from the seventh year already learning the school objects and to teach them as pupils as one does it presently. One would really experience something especially advantageous if one grew up quite differently and such matters that are taught already in the seventh year would be taught only in the ninth or tenth years. Mind you, that I do not say this intending that it should not happen, because the general cultural progress demands it, it must be like that. But the counter pole must be created. And particularly while we maltreat the etheric bodies of the children terribly on one side because we have certain types of school lessons, because we stamp something into them for which they are good in no way during these years, we must create eurythmy as a counter pole and supply just that which is eurythmy for the children, so that their etheric bodies have the balance in these movements indigenous to them.
Eurythmy will become something that is quite general, since the development does not arrive at its destination advancing unilaterally, but advancing in contrasts. One must always create the counter pole, assert the counter pole. Development moves in contrasts. And against the maltreating of the etheric body as a result of the present-day school lessons a counter pole must be created, in making the etheric body malleable, causing natural movements of it in the sense, as it is attempted in the first rudiments of our eurythmy. Thus something is connected that many call even today “our eurythmy” with that which I have to call the universal character of our spiritual movement.
If we see, on one side, how that intervenes in the ramifications of the external life, how deeply it can penetrate us, on the other side, that the depths of the Christ Impulse combine with that which we gather in spiritual science, then we have the universal character of spiritual science from the highest knowledge down to the lowest. And even more than on some other things it depends on the fact that we get a sensation of this universal character of spiritual science. I must say, it belongs to the provisionally most serious sensations and feelings that the present destiny-burdened events are not felt as something more significant, that they do not make stronger impressions on our contemporaries. Since apart from all that which one can notice externally, these destiny-burdened events constitute a warning sign, a warning sign not to keep to that which the last centuries have brought up as materialism in humankind, a warning sign to turn on the developmental path of humankind. What is experienced in blood and death should be felt as if it was sent from the gods to Earth to teach us how necessary spirituality is for the further development of humankind.
It is really a pity, for example, when we experience in these times that people hold talks, also write articles in which they say: may it come soon again, the time when again the free interchange of the peoples takes place, as it has taken place before. Otherwise, the Germans could labour under the delusion to come back again to the metaphysics of Fichte and Hegel, to develop metaphysical impulses again. — Even in these destiny-burdened days one fears that in the longings of the human beings something of metaphysical impulses could come in again. The metaphysical impulses shall be aroused in these months again. Since in how many cases we see — to the grievous experience of the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, and other human connections — an unaware confidence in the significance of the supersensible going like a magic breath through our world. Shall thousands and thousands go through death willing to make sacrifices, and the human beings will then keep on preaching that the human life is enclosed between birth and death when peace is on our earth again? Then the sacrificial deaths would be offered for nothing, because these sacrificial deaths arise — even if for many not clearly — from the steady confidence that these deaths constitute the aurora of a new time. He who goes into death on the battlefield wants to confirm something different by his death than this: my body ends here. — Which futility would it be to fill the European earth with corpses in our time if the materialistic worldview even had a grain of justification? We have to write this into our souls above all. Those who survive this time, who live in the time when peace is there again, betray the dead if they do not work on the spiritualisation of the human development. Not to work on the spiritualisation of humankind signifies nothing but to say to those who have gone through blood and death: you died for nothing. — If materialism is right, they all died for nothing.
The spiritual scientist has to permeate himself completely with this feeling. I read just during these days again that there are people today — and in the 19th century these people became more and more numerous — who state: it was a prejudice of St Paul that he said, if Christ did not rise, then our words and our faith would be “null and void.” But this saying by Paul [St. Paul: 1 Corinthians 15:14] is true. Since through what happened as a result of the Mystery of Golgotha, the human soul was appointed again to have forces which lead it to the spiritual world. We have spoken of these forces. But our time calls to us clearly: the deaths of so many people would be null and void if materialism were right. If materialism were right, they all would have died in vain.
If we penetrate ourselves with such thoughts, those who offered to give up their forces to the big human progress in a death which occurred at the blossoming human age will receive their forces increasingly from the thoughts which go up from our souls. If human souls turn what they can have of spiritual thoughts and sensations, the collected forces from above, the unused etheric forces will meet, as I also said yesterday at the end, the human spiritual thoughts and cause a new age. That is why I close with the words today which gave us the feeling sense of standing in our time as spiritual scientists:
From the courage of the fighters,From the blood of the battles,From the grief of the bereaved,From the nation's sacrificesWill grow up the fruits of spiritIf souls aware of spirit turnTheir senses to the spirit-land.