The Fall of the Spirits of Darkness. Lecture 7 of 14.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, October 12, 1917:
To get even closer to the problems we have opened up in these lectures, I want to make some incidental comments today. You probably know the amusing experiment so often done by conjurers: they show the audience some heavy weights and the effort required to lift them. To make the thing more credible, the pretend weights usually have figures written on them — so and so many hundredweight, or kilogram, or whatever. Having made enormous efforts and slowly lifted the weights, so that the audience can admire his muscular strength, the conjurer then suddenly lifts them up high, or may even bring on a small boy who'll trot off swinging the weights — for the whole is made of cardboard. It is merely that the shape and the figures have been imitated to give the impression that those are real weights.
This experiment will frequently come to mind for anyone who has a little bit of spiritual science and who learns what people, even the more intelligent ones, are saying or writing about historical events or historical figures. This applies even to biographers and historians who, according to current opinion, are doing their work extremely well. If you have training in spiritual science, you may be entirely satisfied with the descriptions which are given — for a time. But when you go over it all in your mind again, it does seems as if a child might as well come and run off swinging all this stuff.
Perhaps there are not very many people who feel like this, though I have found something like it, at an instinctive level, with quite a number of people when it comes to the historical writings one gets today. The whole of Roman history, and particularly also Greek history, which is written today comes under this heading. And I am forced to say that historians dealing with one particular field, people whom I respect highly, nevertheless leave me with this impression. I have enormous respect for the historian Herman Grimm, [ Note 1 ] as will be evident from several of my lectures. But when I take up his books on Goethe, Michelangelo, or Raphael, these figures seem as if they had no real weight — comparatively speaking — as if they were but darting shadows. The whole of Grimm's Goethe, the whole of his Michelangelo, are merely figures from a magic lantern, for these, too, have no weight.
What is the reason for this? It is that people who are merely equipped with the education, the intellectual content, of our present time do not have a real idea of the true reality, even though they generally think they are describing such a reality. People are infinitely far away from the true reality today because they do not know the element which is always around us and gives spiritual, if not exactly physical, weight to the figures.
Luther is being presented in hundreds, if not thousands, of ways during these weeks. [ Note 2 ] All very erudite, of course, for today's writers generally are most erudite; I am quite serious about this. But the Martin Luther described by our contemporaries is like the image we have of the weight made of cardboard, for the element which lends weight to a figure is missing. You may say: If one is sitting on a chair and watching the man lifting weights, it looks exactly the same whether the weights are made of cardboard or are real weights. You could even paint the scene; it would look the same. The painting could be perfectly true, even if the weights lifted by the model were made of cardboard. The descriptions given of historical figures like Luther may be eminently true, and the individuals who are so proud of their realism may have succeeded extremely well in using numerous details, numerous characteristic and significant things to create a sophisticated image, but the image does not necessarily correspond to reality, because the spiritual weight is lacking.
If we really want to understand Luther today we must know the inner quality of his true nature, quite independent of our own point of view; we must know he lived a short time after the dawn of the fifth post-Atlantean age, but that all the impulses of the fourth post-Atlantean age were alive in his heart and mind. He was out of place in the fifth post-Atlantean age, for he felt, thought, and reacted like someone from the fourth post-Atlantean age; the task facing him belonged to the fifth post-Atlantean age, which then was just beginning. And so the beginning of the fifth post-Atlantean age, the horizon of that age, sees an individual whose inner impulses really came from all the qualities of the fourth post-Atlantean age. The prospect of what was to come in the fifth post-Atlantean age lived in Luther's soul at an unconscious, instinctive level.
That age was to bring all the materialism which could only arise for humanity in post-Atlantean times and would gradually penetrate every human sphere. To put it as a paradox — paradoxes never represent the actual facts, of course, but we are able to deduce the facts from them — we might say: Luther was entirely rooted in the fourth post-Atlantean age when it came to the impulses in his heart and mind and feelings, and this meant that he did not really understand the innermost nature of the materialistic human beings of the fifth post-Atlantean age. He certainly had an instinctive, more or less unconscious, inner grasp of the conflicts which would arise between the people of the fifth post-Atlantean age and the outside world, of how they would act in that world and be caught up in its works. Yet all this was really of no concern to him, because his feelings were those of the people who had lived in the fourth post-Atlantean age. Hence his insistence that no good would come of being connected with the works of the world and being involved in the world. You must distance yourselves from these works and from everything which exists in the outside world, and find the way to the world of the spirit solely in your heart and mind. You must build your bridge between the spiritual and the earthly world not on the basis of what you are able to know, but what you are able to believe; it must grow from your inner mind and soul. Because he was not connected with the outside world, Luther emphasized that the relationship with the spiritual world was a purely inward one based on faith.
Or consider this: In some respects the world of the spirit lay open before Luther's inner eye. His visions of the devil do not need to be explained in the way Ricarda Huch [ Note 3 ] explains them in her book, which otherwise has considerable merit. There is no need to make excuses for his visions of the devil by saying that he did not believe in a devil with horns and tail walking around in the street. Luther really had the devil appear to him; he knew full well the nature of this ahrimanic spirit. To some extent the spiritual world still lay open before his mind's eye as it had done for the people of the fourth post-Atlantean age, and it lay open specifically for the phenomena which were, in fact, to be of the essence in the fifth post-Atlantean age. The ahrimanic powers are pre-eminent in the fifth post-Atlantean age, and Luther saw them. People of the fifth post-Atlantean age are characteristically under the influence of these powers but not able to see them. Luther, however, was an individual of the fourth post-Atlantean age displaced into the fifth, and he saw those powers and therefore gave them such emphasis. This is the concrete situation as regards the spiritual world, and Luther cannot be understood unless this is taken into account.
If you go back to the fifteenth, fourteenth, thirteenth, and, ultimately, the twelfth century, you will always find that people understood the conversion of matter. Anything written about this at a later date was largely fraudulent, because the real secrets were lost with the end of the fourth post-Atlantean age. But not everything written is fraudulent, and some of the things which were said were true, though they are difficult to find. What has been written is not exactly outstanding, however, especially anything printed at a later time. Yet at the time when the secrets of alchemy were known, which was during the fourth post-Atlantean age, church people were well able to speak of the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the body and the blood, for there were definite ideas connected with these words. Luther was caught up in the thinking and inner responses of the fourth post-Atlantean age; yet he lived in the fifth post-Atlantean age. He had to separate transubstantiation from the process of physical conversion of matter. So what did the sacrament of the transubstantiation become for him? — It became a process which occurs entirely in the realm of the spirit. Nothing is transformed, he said; but when the faithful receive the bread and the wine the body and blood of Christ enter into them. Everything Luther said, thought, and felt was said, thought, and felt by someone whose heart and mind belonged to the fourth post-Atlantean age. He clung to the spiritual connection between man and the gods which belonged to the fourth post-Atlantean age, taking this with him into the godless fifth age, an age of materialism, empty of spirit, without faith and without understanding.
Now, Luther has weight, and we understand why he said the things he said — we know it quite apart from the impression he makes on us today. We see him standing in the outside world and he is like the real weight, not the cardboard one. Hundreds or thousands of modern theologians or historians may now come and give their impressions — these will not give us the man, someone with real weight; they will only give us the kind of thing produced by someone who is not holding up a real weight but one made of cardboard.
You see now what really matters at the present time. We must labor to gain awareness of the factors which give the world around us spiritual weight, and be aware of the fact that the spirit is alive in everything, and that this spirit can only be found with the help of Anthroposophy. You can collect all the documents you want and scribble endless notes on Luther, you can present an accurate picture as far as the outer aspects are concerned — but, to stay with our analogy, you will always have a cardboard figure, unless you are truly able to look for the things that give the figure real weight. Now, you may well say it seems hard to say to compare the work of some of the most erudite people to cardboard weights. And even if this were so, their work was really beautiful and satisfying in many ways. Is all this to be changed? Could we not go on enjoying their work?
You see, two questions arise for people in the present-day state of consciousness, questions which may well touch us deeply. Why did the spiritual world demand that these people should have the instincts which have led to such works? Well, these things really point to something which is very widespread today and closely bound up with human nature. As I have already mentioned, we are living at a time when certain truths have to become known which are not welcome truths. Yet anyone who can read the signs of the times knows that they have to become known.
In the first part of my essay on The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, written for the next issue of the journal Das Reich, [ Note 4 ] I have touched lightly on some of these truths. Just a short while ago it was still taboo for those in the know to speak of these things in public. Today one must speak of them, even if this may cause problems. A short passage in my essay relates specifically to what I am going to say now.
Is it not true that as we move about in this world we do not have full and real knowledge of the things which are immediately around us, at least not to begin with? I think this is something anyone can quite easily establish for himself. We mainly use our sense of sight as we move through the world; but if we did not have other kinds of experiences as well, we would never know with complete certainty if something we see weighs a great deal or only little. We would have to pick it up to check the weight. Think of how many things there are where you cannot know if they are heavy or light as air until you pick them up. And finally, when you know that something is not as light as air, this knowledge has not come from looking at it but from having lifted something like it before. You do not even think about it, but unconsciously, instinctively, come to the conclusion: If it looks the way such things always look, it will also weigh the same. Just looking at objects therefore provides you with nothing at all.
What does looking at objects provide? Illusion! If you regard the world with just one of the senses, you are deceived wherever you go. You only escape the illusion because you are unconsciously and instinctively drawing on experience. The whole world is really trying to deceive us, even in the world we perceive around us with the senses. The illusion may be very naturalistic nowadays. Painters and sculptors, who aim to present something to just one of the senses, fail to realize that they are merely presenting maya, illusion; for the more you try and present something realistically for just one of the senses, the more you are presenting maya. This is necessary, however, for if it were not for this illusion we would not be able to progress in conscious awareness. We owe our progress in consciousness to this illusion. To stay with my original analogy: If all objects appeared in their true weight, even when they were just perceived by the eye, if I were to feel the burden of their weight as I looked around me, I would quite obviously be unable to develop conscious awareness of the outside world. We owe our consciousness to this illusion. It lies at the root of all things which make up our consciousness. We have to be deceived in order to progress in consciousness, for our consciousness is the child of illusion. To begin with, however, the illusion must not enter into human beings or they will become unsure. The illusion remains beyond the threshold of conscious awareness. The Guardian makes sure that we do not realize how the world around us is deceiving us at every step. We fight our way upwards because the world does not reveal its weight to us and in this way lets us rise above it and be conscious. Consciousness also depends on many other things, but it mainly depends on the fact that the world around us is full of illusion.
Yet, necessary as it may be for illusion to be there for a time so that consciousness may arise, it is also necessary that when consciousness has developed we rise above the illusion, particularly in certain areas. Because it is based on maya, on illusion, our consciousness cannot gain access to true reality. Over and over again it would have to be subject to the kind of confusion I have mentioned. And so there must be alternating periods, periods when weightless situations and people are presented, and periods when the weight, the spiritual weight, is perceived. We are now facing the latter kind of period with regard to major world events as well as everyday events. We have to see through the things which seriously come into consideration in this respect.
One thing is particularly important: When the world looks to the East now, to what really lives in the east of Europe today, the people of Central Europe and America see the east of Europe exactly like someone who is looking at weights made of cardboard. They do not see the true spiritual weight of it. And indeed, neither do the people who actually live in eastern Europe have a real idea of the spirit which lives there. We can see Luther as an individual whose inner life belonged to the fourth post-Atlantean age, but who himself lived in the beginning of the fifth post-Atlantean age. In the same way the world must come to see the true nature of the spirit in eastern Europe, for this is how we should actively consider these things in the fifth post-Atlantean age. If you take everything I have said about eastern Europe in lectures and lecture cycles — how the spirit-self is actively seeking to develop and how it must unite with the consciousness soul[ Note 5 ] of the West — and if you add the fact that impulses for the sixth post-Atlantean age are in preparation in the east of Europe, then you have something which will lend weight to the east of Europe. If on the other hand you take all the statements people make today, however erudite, then you have weights which may just as well be made of cardboard.
However, we cannot buy or sell maya, illusion; we can only buy and sell real objects. You would say ‘thank you very much' if your grocer were to put cardboard weights rather than real ones on the scales. You would certainly demand real weights, not just some which look as if they were real. All political principles and impulses discussed with reference to Russia will be nothing, they will be null and void, unless they come from the awareness gained by knowing what gives spiritual weight. The way people talk today, you would really think they are putting cardboard weights on the scales of world history. However, once awareness has come, it must not be used in the old lackadaisical and slovenly way, but must address itself to reality, not just to outer illusion. A transition will have to be made from the familiar, comfortable way of looking at things to one which is much more alive in its concepts — these will, of course, be less comfortable, for they also shake us awake. Life will be less comfortable with the views which have to be taken in future. Why is this so? Let me give you an analogy which will probably also take you aback. I am not going to flinch, however, and I will say these things, irrespective of what individual people may feel about them.
As I have mentioned, in earlier ages, including the fourth post-Atlantean age, powers were available to humans which have been transformed into something else today. As I said, clairvoyance has become something different today, it is based on different things. Certain things can no longer be as they were even as late as the fourth post-Atlantean age, and one of these is the following.
In the fourth post-Atlantean age — people only know tales about it today and of course they do not believe them — there was an ordeal by fire. To prove guilt or innocence, people were made to walk a red-hot grid. If they got burned, they were considered to be guilty, if not, if they walked across without being harmed, they were considered to be innocent. People consider this to be an old superstition today, but it is true. It is one of the abilities people had in the past and are no longer able to have today. In those days, human nature had this quality: Innocents who were utterly convinced of their innocence and knew themselves to be in the protection of the divine spirits at such a solemn moment, people who were so firmly connected with the spiritual world in their consciousness that the astral body would be taken out of the physical body, could walk across the embers with their physical bodies. It really was so in the past. This is the truth. It is really a good thing for you to be fully and completely clear in your minds that this old superstition is based on truth — though of course it is not a good idea for you to go and tell the vicar all about it.
These things have undergone a transformation. In the past, individuals who had to prove their innocence in a particular way could be made to walk the embers on occasion. You can, however, be quite certain that, generally speaking, people were afraid of fire even then; they did not enjoy walking over red-hot grids. Even in those days it would generally make them shudder — except for those who were able to prove their innocence in this way. But some of the power which carried people through the embers in those days has now become more inward in the sense I spoke of in my last lecture. The clairvoyance of the fifth post-Atlantean age, the connection with the world of the spirit, is based on the same powers, except that the powers which formerly enabled people to walk through fire have been transformed and become more inward.
If one wants to be in touch with certain factors which belong to the world of the spirit, one has to overcome much the same reluctance as had to be overcome when people went through fire. That is the reason why many people fear the spiritual world today as much as they fear fire. We cannot really say people are just speaking figuratively when they say they are afraid of getting burned; they really are afraid. This is the reason for the opposition to Anthroposophy: people are afraid of getting burned. Yet the progress of time demands that we gradually approach the fire and do not shy away from reality. The new inwardness of life of which I have spoken has many factors which demand that we gently draw closer to the world of the spirit — gently for the time being; later it will be stronger and stronger — in all spheres, but especially in the field of education.
In the sphere of education people will have to realize that quite different factors need to be considered than those which arise from the great climax now reached in the age of materialism. The realization must come that many of the things which from the materialistic point of view are eminently right — though the point of view is based on the senses and hence on maya, illusion — must be set aside and the opposite put in their place. Today it is considered important, especially in the field of education, to train teachers by teaching them as much method as possible. All the time it is said: This must be done like this, and that must be done like that. The aim is to develop well-regulated ideas of how one should educate. People love the idea of the regulative ideal. They would like to have the image of the ideal teacher and then always have such a teacher. But they only have to think a little bit about themselves and the issue will be clear. Ask yourself with as much self-knowledge as you are able to muster what has become of you — up to a certain point we can all see what has become of us — and then ask yourself who the teachers, the educators, were who influenced you when you were young. Or, if this is a problem, try and think of a well-known and reasonably important person and then consider the teachers of that individual to see if you can somehow connect the significance of those teachers with the achievements of the individual.
It would be interesting if biographies told us more about the teachers; some interesting things would then emerge. But we would not be able to find out much about what those teachers did to make the individuals in question what they were. In most cases we would have the situation we have in the case of Herder, who achieved much; [ Note 6 ] one of his best-known teachers was headmaster Herman Grimm. [ Note 7 ] He was in the habit of tanning the boys' backsides as hard as he could. Herder's achievements did not come from having his backside tanned; he was a good boy and had few beatings. The teacher's general inclinations therefore did not have any effect on him! A nice story is told of this teacher, and it is really true. On one occasion he gave a terrible beating to a boy in Herder's class. Later, the boy was walking in the street when a man who had brought calfskins and sheepskins from the country asked him: ‘Tell me, boy, where can I find someone who'll bark tan these skins for me?’ ‘Ah,’ said the boy, ‘go to Mr Grimm, he is good at it.’ And the man actually went and rang Mr. Grimm's doorbell — that taught the headmaster a lesson. But, you see, Herder did not become a great man because his teacher had this inclination. You will find many such things if you look into the education of individuals who later became great people.
Something else, however, which relates to something much more subtle, will be important. It will be important that the question of karma, or destiny, is taken into account, especially with regard to education and teaching methods. The people with whom my karma brought me together in childhood and youth certainly are important. And a tremendous amount depends on it that in our teaching we are aware that we and our pupils have been brought together. You see, much depends on a particular quality of mind and attitude.
Take the things we are already able to say about education today from the point of view of Anthroposophy and you will find this to be wholly in accord with what I have said. It really has to be emphasized today that for the first seven years, up to the changing of the teeth, children want to imitate everything, and during the next seven years, until they reach puberty, they must submit to authority. We therefore have to do things which the children can imitate in the right way. Children will of course imitate everybody, but they do so especially with their teachers. They also believe everybody from their seventh to fourteenth year, but they should do so especially when it comes to their teachers and educators. We will know how to behave if we are constantly aware of the idea of karma; but we must have a real inner connection with this. Whether we are particularly good at teaching something, or perhaps less good, is not really so important. Even completely inept teachers may on occasion have a tremendous influence. Now, in the age of inwardness of which I have spoken, the question as to whether we are the right teacher or educator depends on the way in which we were connected with the child's soul before either of us — teacher and child — were born. The difference is merely that we teachers have come into the world a few years earlier than the children. Before that we were together with them in the world of the spirit.
Where does the desire to imitate come from, this tendency to imitate after we are born? We are imitators in our early years because we bring the tendency to imitate with us from the world of the spirit. And whom do we like best to imitate? The individual who gave us our qualities in the world of the spirit, from whom we took something when we were in that world, be it in one particular field or another. The child's soul was connected with the soul of the teacher before birth. The connection was a close one; later, the outer physical being who lives in the physical world merely has to follow this line.
If you do not merely take what I am saying as an abstract truth but let it enter fully into your soul, you will find it has tremendous significance. Just think of the truly serious mood, the profundity of feeling, which would come if, in the field of education, people lived with the idea: You are now showing the child something which it accepted from you in the world of the spirit before it was born. Just think, if this were to be the real impulse! It is much more important that such a mood, such a feeling, is brought to the task, rather than teaching people how to do this and how to do that. This will follow if the atmosphere is right between teacher and pupil, and if teachers are truly conscious of the great task life has given them. Above all there has to be this truly serious mood. It is poison to demand that children should understand everything, as it is often demanded today. I have frequently pointed out that children cannot understand everything. From their first to their seventh year they cannot understand at all; they imitate everything. And if they do not imitate sufficiently they will not have enough in them later which they can use. From their seventh to the fourteenth year they must believe, they must be under the influence of authority, if they are to develop in a healthy way. These things have to be made part of human life.
It is generally considered most important today to understand everything. We are not even supposed to teach the children their tables without their understanding it. But they do not understand anyway! Such an approach makes children into calculating machines rather than sensible people. They are supposed to accept the intellect which is in the elemental environment of which I have spoken, [ Note 8 ] rather than develop their own understanding. This happens a great deal nowadays. Instead of helping the mind of the individual to develop, efforts are actually in progress to make it the ideal to inculcate the elemental intellect which is outside the human being, so that children are caught up in the elemental world. Many instances can be seen today where we can actually say: These people are not thinking for themselves, they are thinking in the general thinking atmosphere, as it were. And if something of an individual nature should come up, its origins are not in the divine element which can be perceived in human nature.
Human beings must enter into truly living ways again, even in their understanding of the world. As I have said, this is more difficult than working with mere corpses of ideas. Humanity must once again find a living approach, and people must realize that dead truths cannot govern life, only living truths can do so. The following is a dead truth.
We are supposed to train human beings to be intelligent human beings. Therefore — as dead truth says — we must cultivate the intellect as early as possible, for this will produce intelligent people. This is arrant nonsense, however. It is as much nonsense as it would be to train a one-year-old to be a shoemaker. People will, in fact, be intelligent only if they are not given intellectual training too early. It is often necessary to do the opposite of what we want to achieve in life. We cannot eat our food raw, but have to cook it first. And if this cooking process were to include the processes which are involved in eating, we might perhaps save ourselves the effort of eating! You cannot make people intelligent by cultivating the intellect as early as possible, but only by cultivating in them when very young the faculties which will later have them prepared to be intelligent. The abstract truth is: the intellect is cultivated via the intellect. The living truth is: the intellect is cultivated by healthy belief in rightful authority. Both parts of the statement have quite a different content in the living truth compared to the dead, abstract truth. This is something humanity will have to come to realize more and more as time goes on.
It is awkward. Consider how comfortable it is to have a goal and to believe this can be achieved by doing exactly what the goal says. But in life one has to do the opposite. This is certainly awkward. It is the challenge of our time that we must find our way to reality and life; this is what we must eminently make our own. There is need for this in both the great and the small things in life. You will not understand this age, you will be doing things as wrong as they can possibly be done, unless you consider this. People have no idea today of how immensely abstract they are, with everything forced always into the same mould. But the reality is not produced in the same mould, for it is in constant metamorphosis. The modified vertebrae which form part of the human head look very different from the vertebrae which make up the spine. Let me give you an example taken from everyday life. Imagine someone on the teaching staff of a university who teaches something which I, or someone else, must go against. I would of course make every effort to show that the things this person teaches are wrong; wanting to do my duty, I would go to any length to show that he is wrong and everything he says — well, to put it bluntly — is balderdash. This is one side of the matter.
Now let us assume the individual concerned found himself in a situation where the authorities wanted to dismiss him from his post or discipline him in some way. Well, of course, I would stand up for him in every possible way, against his dismissal or disciplining; for this would not be a question of the content of his teaching, but of ensuring academic freedom. For as long as we are dealing with people's theories, we have to fight; when it comes to an external institution, the fight ends and may even be transformed into coming to the individual's defence. It has to be realized that it is abominable if someone lets his opposition to someone induce him to take an active part in disciplining such a person. Let us assume, however, the individual concerned was a lecturer or professor of economics or politics and were appointed to hold a government office. What would our attitude be then? It would have to be such that one got him out of that office as quickly as possible, for there his theories would cause real damage.
In anything we do, we must relate to the immediate, living reality and not let ourselves be ruled by concepts. In the sphere of concepts, on the other hand, it is important to take a good hard look at the concepts we use. I have given this example to demonstrate the difference between dealing with reality and dealing with concepts. People who do not make this distinction will find it quite impossible to live with the tasks of the immediate future; they will at best be Wilsonians. What matters is to consider carefully what lives in reality and what one has to have by way of convictions in the sphere of concepts.
This is particularly important in the education of the young. Teachers in training are weighed down today with all kinds of principles as to how they should teach, how they should educate. In the immediate future this will become much less important. The important thing will be for them to get to know human nature and the different ways in which it comes to expression; they have to become psychologists in a most subtle way and really know the human soul. The relationship of the teacher to the pupil must in future be something analogous to clairvoyance. Teachers may not be fully conscious of this, and it may only live instinctively in their souls, but they must instinctively, at a level close to prophecy, have a picture of what wants to emerge from the individual who is to be educated. Then a strange thing will happen, peculiar as it may sound today. The teachers of the future will dream a great deal of their pupils, for the prophecies will be wearing the garment of dreams. The pictures we see in our dreams arise only because we are not used to connecting our dreams with the future; we dress them in elements remembered from the past, as in a garment. In reality dreams always point to the future. Yes, it is indeed true that the inner life will have to be changed, especially in those who educate the young. This is the most important aspect. Of course, everybody is more or less involved in educating the young, with just a very few exceptions, and it must therefore also hold true in a more general sense that we must have understanding for the karmic connections, as I have mentioned. Tremendously much will depend on this becoming general knowledge.
The present generation is mainly educated to think in abstract terms, and keeps confusing abstract and living ways of thinking. This is why it is so rare for anyone to support someone with glowing enthusiasm, for, having his own concepts, he dislikes those of the other person, and it suits him rather well if others come and put the other person out of action. These, however, are the very things which can teach us. And there can be no better education for people but to find ways in which they can stand up for their opponents with ever-increasing enthusiasm. This should not be forced, of course. People are friends or enemies today on a purely abstract basis. There is no point to this, however. Only the realities of life have a point to them, and they are given by life, not by our sympathies and antipathies. We should still have those sympathies and antipathies, but the pendulum should not merely swing up in one direction but also go down and in the opposite direction. Humanity must learn to live on two levels at once, in dualism — to enter into profound thought and, where reality demands this, to pour ourselves out over reality. Today, people want to take their thought-forms into everything connected with real life; and they are only prepared to put up with reality if it fits in with their own thought-forms. Uniformity is what they are after. But uniformity cannot be justified in the light of the spirit; this is impossible. The world cannot be easy and comfortable the way it is in reality. Not everyone will have the kind of face we like and find sympathetic. But it is wrong to let our actions toward others be determined by our personal sympathies and antipathies. Other impulses must come into play. People find it difficult to manage today because they look at the world, and if they do not find it in accord with their sympathies and antipathies then, in their view, everything is crooked and awry and quite wrong, and they are governed by just one impulse — that the world ought to be different.
This is one thing which has to be said. On the other hand we must not allow this to take us to the opposite, equally lackadaisical extreme, where we say that one should not be too fussy and just take the world as it is. This would be equally wrong. There are situations in life when serious objections must be raised, and this is what should be done. It means that due recognition must be given to reality. What really matters is the pendulum swing between a clear-minded inner life in well-defined concepts and loving care extended to the phenomena of the world.
Anthroposophy can show the way if we have the right attitude to it. But this, too, is something which has to be learned. The truths which are won from the world of the spirit are like communications, even for clairvoyant individuals. If we treat these truths in the same way we treat the facts of the outside world which are accessible to our unrefined senses, we are being unfair to spiritual science. The whole of spiritual science is open to our understanding. But it is wrong to ask the spiritual scientist ‘Yes, but why?’ each time he says anything, for these are communications he has received from the spiritual world. And if I say: ‘Jack Miller has told me this or that,’ it is pointless to say: And why did he tell you this?' He simply told me; the question as to why has little relevance. The things which come from the spiritual world must be considered as communications of this kind. It is important to understand this.
We shall continue with this tomorrow.
Post a Comment