Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, November 18, 1917:
You will recall the studies in which we have tried to establish a relationship to the different premises and assertions of modern psychoanalysis. What mattered to me in those studies was to bring clarity into the concept of the “unconscious,” to show that the way in which the concept of the “unconscious” is commonly used in psychoanalysis is essentially unfounded. As long as one is unable to go beyond this concept, a purely negative concept, one cannot say more than that psychoanalysis works with insufficient methods of cognition on an especially challenging phenomenon today. Because the psychoanalysts strive to explore the soul and spirit and, as we have observed, even pursue this soul and spirit into a social life, one must admit that we have here a point of departure that is much more significant than what official academic science is able to offer in this realm. Because analytical psychology tries to intervene in life, however, through pedagogy, therapy, and soon, most likely, social and political means, the dangers related to this matter must be regarded with great concern. The question thus arises what it is essentially that the researchers of today cannot and do not wish to reach. They recognize that there exists a soul nature beyond consciousness; they search for a soul beyond consciousness, but they cannot raise themselves to cognition of the spirit itself. Spirit can in no way be grasped through a concept of the unconscious, because an unconscious spirit is like a human being without a head. I have brought to your attention that there are people who under certain hysterical conditions walk about the streets and see in other human beings only their bodies, not their heads. It is a definite form of illness if one is unable to see a person's head. Among contemporary researchers, there are some who believe they are seeing the whole spirit. Since they represent the spirit as unconscious, however, they show immediately that they themselves have fallen prey to illusion, the illusion that there is an unconscious spirit, a spirit without consciousness, if we were to cross the threshold of consciousness, whether in the right way, as we have always described it in our spiritual scientific research, or in an ill, abnormal way, as in the cases that are usually submitted to psychoanalysts.
When one crosses the threshold of consciousness, one always enters a spiritual realm; regardless of whether one enters the subconscious or the super-conscious, one always enters a spiritual realm. This is a realm, however, in which the spirit is conscious in a certain way, is developing some form of consciousness. Where there is spirit there is also consciousness. One must only seek the conditions under which the consciousness in question exists. Through spiritual science it is possible to recognize what type of consciousness a particular spiritual being has.
A week ago the case was presented here of the lady who left a social gathering and ran in front of some horses but then was prevented from jumping into a river and was carried back to the house from which she had fled. There she was brought together with the master of the house, because in some unclear, subconscious way she was in love with this man. In this case it may not be said that the spirit, which did not belong to this lady's consciousness, this spirit that pushed and led her, is an unconscious spirit or that it is an unconscious soul quality. Indeed, it is something extremely conscious. The consciousness of this demonic spirit that led the lady back to her unlawful lover, this demon is indeed much shrewder in its consciousness than the lady is in her muddle-headedness, that is to say her consciousness. When the human being in any way crosses the threshold of his consciousness, these spirits that become active and powerful are not unconscious spirits. Such spirits become consciously active and powerful in their own right. The expression, “unconscious spirit,” as the psychoanalysts use it, has no sense whatsoever. If I were to speak merely from my own viewpoint, I could just as well say that the whole illustrious company sitting here is my unconscious if I were unfamiliar with it. Just as little may we describe as unconscious the spiritual beings that surround us and that take hold of the personality under particular conditions, as was the situation in this case that I related a week ago. They are subconscious; they are not actually grasped by the consciousness that lives directly within us, but in themselves they are fully conscious.
It is exceptionally important to know this — particularly for the task of spiritual science in our time — basically because the knowledge of a spiritual world that lies on the other side of the threshold and the knowledge of truly self-conscious individualities is not merely an achievement of today's spiritual science but is actually an ancient knowledge. In earlier times it was only known through an ancient, atavistic clairvoyance. Today one knows it through other methods; one learns to know it gradually. The knowledge of actual spirits to be found outside of human consciousness — spirits living under different conditions from human beings but standing in continuous relationship to human beings, spirits that can take hold of the human being in his thinking, feeling, and willing — this knowledge was always there. This knowledge was always considered the secret treasure of particular brotherhoods, who treated this knowledge within their circles as strictly esoteric. Why did they treat it in this way? To enlarge on this question would lead at this moment too far afield. It should be said, however, that individual brotherhoods were permeated with the earnest conviction that the majority of humanity was not sufficiently mature for this knowledge. Indeed, this was the case to a large extent. Many other brotherhoods, however, which are called brotherhoods of the left, were striving to retain this knowledge, because such knowledge, when taken possession of by a small group, would give this group power over others who did not possess such knowledge. There have always been endeavors whose aim was to secure power for certain groups over others. This could be achieved by considering a particular kind of knowledge as an esoteric possession but using it in such a way that the power over something quite different was expanded.
In our day it is particularly necessary to have real clarity in these matters. As you know — I have enlarged on this in the last lectures — since 1879 humanity has been living in a very special spiritual situation. Since 1879, extraordinarily powerful spirits of darkness have been shifted from the spiritual world into the human realm, and those people who cling to the mysteries connected with this fact and retain them wrongfully within small groups could cause everything imaginable with these secrets. Today I shall show you exactly how certain mysteries that relate to present-day development can be used in a wrongful way. You must be careful, however, to consider coherently all that I say today, which will be of a more historic nature, with what I will add tomorrow.
You all know that for a long time attention has been drawn within our anthroposophical stream to the fact that this twentieth century is one that should bring about in the evolution of humanity a special relationship to the Christ. This relationship to Christ will come about in the course of the twentieth century, and already in the first half, as you know, will begin the phenomenon that has been suggested in my first Mystery Drama, in which for a large number of people Christ in the etheric will be an actual, existing being.
We know that we actually live in the age of materialism. We know that since the middle of the nineteenth century this materialism has reached its climax. In reality, however, polarities must converge. It is exactly this climax of materialism within the evolution of humanity that must converge with the intensification in human evolution that leads to truly beholding Christ in the etheric. One can grasp that just the announcement of the mystery of beholding Christ, of this new relationship with humanity into which Christ will enter, would arouse ill-will and resistance from some human beings. These would be members of certain brotherhoods who wished to exploit the event of the twentieth century, this event of the appearance of the etheric Christ, who wished to use it for their own purposes and not allow it to become general human knowledge. There are brotherhoods, and brotherhoods always influence public opinion by allowing this or that to be publicized by such means as would be least noticed by people. There are certain occult brotherhoods who spread the message that the age of materialism has almost run its course, that in a certain way it is already past. These poor, pitiable, “clever people” — in quotation marks, of course — spread the doctrine in numerous assemblies, books, and societies that materialism has exhausted itself, that one can already grasp again something of spirit, but they can offer people nothing more than the word spirit and single phrases. These people are more or less in the service of those who have an interest in saying what is not true, that materialism has been “ruined by bad management,” as it were. This is not true; on the contrary, materialistic thinking is in the process of growing. It will thrive most when people deceive themselves by believing that they are no longer materialists. The materialistic way of thinking is in the process of increasing and will continue to increase for about four or five centuries.
It is necessary, as has been frequently emphasized here, to grasp this fact in clear consciousness, to know that it is so. Humanity will come to a true healing when one works so thoroughly in the life of spirit that one knows absolutely that the fifth post-Atlantean epoch is there for the purpose of extirpating materialism from the general evolution of humanity. A more spiritual being, however, must counteract materialism. I have spoken in previous lectures about what people of the fifth post-Atlantean period must learn to meet, that is, the fully conscious struggle against evil rising up in the evolution of humanity. Just as in the fourth post-Atlantean cultural epoch the task lay in the struggle with birth and death, so we are now facing a struggle with evil. What matters now, therefore, is to grasp spiritual teaching in full consciousness, not to cast sand into the eyes of contemporaries as if the devil of materialism did not exist. He will thrive increasingly. Those who deal with these matters in a wrongful way know about the event of the appearance of Christ as well as I do, but they deal with this event in a different way.
In order to understand this one must keep one's eyes on the following. Now that humanity has become what it has in the post-Atlantean time, the phrase that many people expound in their comfortable smugness is completely incorrect: “While we live here between birth and death, it is a matter of surrendering ourselves to life. If later, when we have passed through death, we then enter a spiritual world, that will reveal itself in good time and for that we can wait. Here we will enjoy life as if there were only a material world; if one enters a spiritual world through death, such a world will then reveal itself, if it really exists.” This attitude is about as clever as the pledge that someone makes, saying, “As truly as there is a God in heaven, I am an atheist!” It is just about that intelligent, but it is the attitude of many who say, “It will be revealed after death how things are; meanwhile it is not at all necessary to occupy ourselves with spiritual science.”
This attitude has always been contestable, but in the post-Atlantean period in which we live it becomes especially ominous, because it has been particularly urged upon human beings by the powers of evil. When man under the present conditions of evolution passes through the portal of death, he takes with him the conditions of consciousness that he has created for himself between birth and death. The person who has occupied himself under present circumstances exclusively with materialistic ideas, concepts, and sense impressions of the material, of the sense world, condemns himself after death to live in an environment in which only concepts defined during bodily life have bearing. The human being who has absorbed spiritual ideas enters the spiritual world legitimately, but one who has rejected spiritual ideas is forced to remain in a certain sense within earthly conditions until he — and this may endure for a long time — has learned there to absorb enough spiritual concepts that he can be carried by them into the spiritual world. Whether we absorb spiritual concepts or reject them therefore determines our environment on the other side of the threshold. Many of those souls — and this must be said with compassion — who have rejected or were hindered from absorbing spiritual concepts here in life are still wandering about on earth and, though dead, remain bound to the earthly sphere. The soul of the human being, however, when no longer separated from its environment by the physical body — which can then no longer prevent the human soul from acting destructively — becomes a source of disturbance within the earthly sphere.
Let us study what I would like to characterize as the more normal situation, in which souls under present circumstances pass over into the spiritual world after death, souls who wished to know nothing at all about spiritual concepts and experiences. They become sources of disturbance, because they are retained within the earthly sphere. Only souls who here on earth have already been completely permeated by a certain relationship to the spiritual world pass through the portal of death in such a way that they can be received in the right way in the spiritual world. They will be carried away from the earthly sphere in such a way that they can spin threads to those remaining behind, threads that are continually being spun. We must be clear about this: the spiritual threads between the souls of the dead and those of us who are bound to them are not ruptured by death; they remain, are even closer, after death than they were here on earth. What I have said must be accepted as a serious, significant truth.
I am not the only one who has this knowledge; others are also aware that this is so at present. There are many, however, who exploit this truth in a terrible way. There are misguided materialists today who believe that material life is the only one, but there are also initiates who are materialists and who spread materialistic teaching through brotherhoods. You must not be misled into believing that these initiates are of the foolish opinion that there is no spirit or that the human being does not have a soul that can live independently of the body. You can be confident that one who has been truly initiated in the spiritual world would never surrender himself to the foolishness of believing in mere matter. There are many, however, who have a certain interest in encouraging the dissemination of materialism and who make all sorts of arrangements so that a large proportion of human beings believe only in materialism and are totally under its influence. There are brotherhoods that have at their head initiates who have exactly this interest in cultivating materialism and disseminating it. These materialists are well served when there is constant talk that materialism has already been overcome, for it is possible to further some causes by using words with antithetical meaning. How this is handled is often most complicated.
What is it that such initiates desire, these initiates who know quite well that the human soul is a purely spiritual being, a spiritual being fully independent of corporeality? What do these initiates desire who, in spite of knowing this, shelter and cultivate the materialistic thinking of human beings? These initiates desire that there should be as many souls as possible who here between birth and death absorb only materialistic concepts. Through this, these souls are prepared to remain in the earthly sphere. They become to a certain extent fastened to the earthly sphere. Picture to yourself that brotherhoods are established that clearly know this, that are thoroughly familiar with these circumstances. These brotherhoods prepare certain human souls so that they remain in the realm of the material. If these brotherhoods then arrange — which is quite possible through their infamous power — that these souls come after death into the region of the power-sphere of their brotherhood, then this brotherhood grows to tremendous strength. These materialists, therefore, are not materialists because they do not believe in the spirit — these initiate materialists are not so silly; they know full well the spirit's position. They induce souls to remain with matter even after death, however, in order to make use of such souls for their own purposes. From these brotherhoods, a clientele of souls is thus produced who remain within the realm of the earth. These souls of the dead have within them forces that can be guided in the most diverse ways, with which one can bring about a variety of things and by means of which one can come to special manipulations of power in relation to those who have not been initiated in these things.
This is simply an arrangement of certain brotherhoods. In this matter, one can see clearly only if one does not allow oneself to be deceived by darkness and fog, does not permit oneself to be deceived by the belief that such brotherhoods either do not exist or that their activities are harmless. They are by no means harmless; they are, in fact, extremely harmful. They say that human beings should enter more and more deeply into materialism, that they should believe, according to the thinking of such initiates, that spiritual forces exist, to be sure, but that these spiritual forces are nothing other than certain forces of nature.
I would like to characterize for you the ideal that such brotherhoods hold. One must exert a little effort to understand the situation. Picture for yourself, therefore, a harmless world of people who are somewhat led astray by today's prevailing materialistic concepts, who have strayed away a little from the old, established religious ideas. Picture for yourself such a harmless humanity. Perhaps we can picture it for ourselves graphically.
We imagine here the realm of such a harmless humanity (larger circle). As I said, this humanity is not completely clear about the spiritual world; led astray by materialism, they are unsure how they should conduct themselves toward the spiritual world. They are especially unclear how they should act in relation to those who have passed through the portal of death. Let us assume that the realm of such a brotherhood is here (small circle, green). This brotherhood spreads the teachings of materialism; it is concerned that people think purely materialistic thoughts. In this way the brotherhood brings about the procreation of souls who remain in the earthly sphere after death. These would become a spiritual clientele for the lodge (see drawing, orange). This means that dead people have been created who would not leave the earthly sphere but would remain on earth. If the right preparations have been made, they can be retained in the lodges. In this way, therefore, lodges have been created that contain the living as well as the dead, but dead who are related to earthly forces.
The matter is directed so that these people hold sessions in the same way as was the case with the seances held during the course of the second half of the nineteenth century, about which I have often spoken. It may then happen — and I beg you to bear this in mind — that what occurs in these seances is directed by the lodge with the help of the dead. The true intention of the masters of those lodges, however, is that the human beings should not know that they are dealing with the dead but rather should believe that they are dealing with higher forces of nature. People are made to believe that these are higher forces of nature, that psychism and the like are only higher forces of nature. The true concept of soul will be taken from them, and it will be said that, just as there is electricity, just as there is magnetism, so there are also such higher forces. The fact that these forces are derived from souls is concealed by those who are leaders in the lodge. Through this, however, these others, these harmless souls, gradually become completely dependent, dependent in their souls, upon the lodge, without realizing what is subjugating them, without realizing the source of what is actually directing them.
There is no remedy against this situation other than knowledge of it. When one knows about it, one is already protected. When one knows it to the extent that the knowledge has become an inner certainty, a real conviction, then one is protected. One must not, however, be too lazy in striving to gain knowledge of these things. It must be said, though, that it is never entirely too late. I have often brought the following to your attention: these things can become clear only gradually, and I can pull together only gradually the elements to bring you complete clarity. I have often made you aware that, in the course of the second half of the nineteenth century, many brotherhoods of the West introduced spiritism experimentally to convince themselves through this test that they had gone as far with humanity as they had intended. It was a testing to see how far they were with humanity. In these seances they expected that people would say that there are higher forces of nature. Then they were disappointed, these brothers of the left, that people did not say this but rather said that in the seances spirits of the dead appear. That was a bitter disappointment for the initiates; that was exactly what they did not want, because it was just this belief in the dead that these initiates wished to take from man. Not the activity of the dead, not the activity of the forces of the dead, but this thought that the forces derive from the dead, this correct, significant thought, this was to be taken from man. The brothers see that this is a higher materialism; it is a materialism that not only denies the spirit but wishes to force the spirit into matter. They see that materialism has forms in which it can already be denied. One can say that materialism has disappeared — we are speaking already about spirit, but all of them speak about spirit in a vague way. It is very easy to be a materialist when all nature has been made into spirit in such a way that psychism emerges. What is important is that one is able to cast one's glance into the concrete spiritual world, into concrete spirituality.
Here you have the beginning of what will become more and more intense in the next five centuries. These evil brotherhoods now are limiting themselves, but they are bound to continue their activity if they are not prevented, and they can only be prevented if one overcomes laziness toward the spiritual scientific world conception.
Through these seances, therefore, these brotherhoods betray themselves, so to speak. Instead of covering themselves, they have unveiled themselves through these seances. This showed that their scheme was not really quite successful. For this reason, the impulse sprang up within these same brotherhoods to strive to discredit spiritism for a time during the 1890s. In short, you can see how deeply incisive effects can be achieved in this way with the methods of the spiritual world. What we are dealing with here is the enhancement of power, exploiting certain evolutionary conditions that must emerge in the course of humanity's evolution.
This growing materialization of human souls, this imprisonment of human souls within the earthly sphere — lodges are also in the earthly sphere — will be counteracted. If the souls therefore haunt the lodges and are to be effective there, they must be confined to the earthly. This striving, this impulse to work in the earthly sphere through the souls, is counteracted by the significant impulse of the Mystery of Golgotha. This impulse of the Mystery of Golgotha is also the healing of the world against the materialization of the soul. The way taken by Christ Himself is completely outside the will and intentions of human beings. No human being, therefore, no matter how knowledgeable — also no initiate — has influence over what Christ does, which will lead, in the course of the twentieth century, to the appearance about which I have spoken and of which you will find indications in the Mystery Dramas. This depends completely upon Christ Himself. Christ will exist in the earthly sphere as an etheric being. It depends upon the human being how he establishes a relationship to Him. On the appearance of Christ Himself, therefore, no one, no initiate however mighty, has any influence. It will come. I beg that you hold firmly to this. Arrangements can be made, however, for receiving this Christ event in this way or that, for making it effective.
These brotherhoods about which I have just spoken, which wish to confine the souls of human beings to the materialistic sphere, strive for the Christ to pass unnoticed through the twentieth century, for His coming as etheric individuality to be unobserved by human beings. This striving evolves under the influence of a quite definite idea, under a definite impulse of will. These brotherhoods have the urge to conquer the sphere of influence that is to come through Christ in the twentieth century and to continue further, to conquer it for another being, about which we shall speak later in more detail. There are brotherhoods of the West who strive to battle the Christ impulse. They wish to place another individuality who has never yet appeared in the flesh but only as an etheric individuality, who is of a strong Ahrimanic nature, in place of Christ.
All these measures about which I have just spoken regarding the dead and so forth serve in the end the aim of leading human beings away from Christ, Who passed through the Mystery of Golgotha, and of securing the rulership of the earth for another individuality. It is a real struggle, not just something that I know of as abstract concepts or whatever but a real struggle. It is a real struggle that concerns itself with placing another being in place of the Christ being in the course of human evolution for the rest of the fifth post-Atlantean period and for the sixth and seventh. It will be the task of a healthy, honest spiritual development to eradicate such strivings, which are in the true sense of the word anti-Christian, to remove them, to annihilate them. This can be achieved, however, only through clear insight. This other being whom the brotherhood wishes to substitute as ruler they will call “Christ”; they will actually designate him as the “Christ.” What will be important will be to distinguish between the true Christ, Who, when He appears, will not be an individuality incarnated in the flesh, and the being that is distinguished from the true Christ by having never yet incarnated during earthly evolution. This other being is one who has only reached etheric embodiment, and he will be put by the brotherhoods in the place of Christ, Who is to pass by unobserved.
There we have the part of the battle concerned with counterfeiting the appearance of Christ in the twentieth century. He who observes life only on the surface, above all in outer discussions about Christ and the question of Jesus and so forth, does not look into the depths. This is the fog, the fumes with which people are deceived, diverting them from the deeper things, from what is the essential issue. When theologians debate about Christ, there is always in such discussions a spiritual influence from somewhere. These people then encourage quite different aims and purposes from those in which they actually believe consciously.
This is just the danger of the concept of the unconscious, that people are driven into confusion even concerning such circumstances. These evil brotherhoods pursue their aims very consciously, but what the brotherhoods pursue consciously naturally becomes unconscious for those who have all kinds of superficial discussions and plans. One does not reach the heart of the matter, however, when one speaks about the unconscious, for this so-called unconscious is simply on the other side of the threshold of everyday consciousness. It is in that sphere in which the knowing one can unfold his plans. You see that this is essentially one side of the situation, that it is really so that a number of brotherhoods take an opposing stand, brotherhoods who wish to replace the activity of the Christ with the activity of another individuality. These brotherhoods arrange everything so that they can achieve their purpose.
Countering this are brotherhoods of the East, especially Indian brotherhoods, who wish no less significantly to interfere in the evolution of humanity. These Indian brotherhoods pursue yet another goal. They have never developed the type of esotericism through which they could ensnare the dead into their realm, into the realm of the lodges. That is far removed from their purposes; they have no interest in such things. On the other hand, they also do not wish the Mystery of the Golgotha with its impulse to take hold of the evolution of humanity. They also do not wish this. It is not, however, that they do not wish it because the dead are at their disposal, as I indicated is the case with the brotherhoods of the West. They wish to fight against the Christ, Who will enter human evolution as an etheric individuality in the course of the twentieth century, not by substituting another individuality; for that purpose they would need the dead and these they do not have. Instead they wish to divert the interest away from this Christ. They do not wish to allow Christianity to become strong, these brotherhoods of the East, especially the Indian brotherhoods. They do not wish the interest in the true Christ, Who has passed through the Mystery of Golgotha, to flourish, the interest in the Christ Who had only a single incarnation for three years here on earth and Who cannot appear again on earth in a physical incarnation. They do not wish to make use of the dead in their lodges but something other than what were once simply living human beings. In these Indian, Eastern lodges, a different type of being is made use of in place of the dead used by the Western lodges.
When a human being dies, he leaves behind his etheric body; it separates from him soon after death, as you know. Under normal conditions this etheric body is assimilated by the cosmos. This absorption is somewhat complicated, as I have shown you in many different ways. Before the Mystery of Golgotha, however, and even after Golgotha, particularly in the Eastern regions, something quite distinctive was possible. When the human being after death surrenders such an etheric body, certain beings are able to inhabit this etheric body; they then become etheric beings with these etheric bodies that have been laid aside by human beings. In Eastern regions, therefore, it now happens that not dead people but all kinds of demonic spirits are induced to inhabit etheric bodies laid aside by human beings. Such demonic spirits that inhabit the etheric bodies laid aside by human beings are taken into the Eastern lodges. The Western lodges thus have the dead who have been directly confined within matter; the Eastern lodges of the left have demonic spirits, spirits that do not belong to earthly evolution but who creep into earthly evolution by occupying the etheric bodies vacated by human beings.
Exoterically this phenomenon is transformed through veneration. You know that certain brotherhoods possess the art of calling forth illusions. Because people do not know how widespread illusion already is in reality, they can easily be deceived by artificially called forth illusions. It is done in this way: what one wishes to achieve is clothed in the form of veneration. Imagine that I have a tribe of people, a related clan; I have arranged ahead of time as an “evil” brother the possibility that the etheric body of an ancestor is occupied by a demonic being. I say to them that they must venerate this ancestor. The ancestor is simply the one who had laid aside his etheric body, which was then occupied by demons through the machinations of the lodge. The veneration of ancestors is thereby brought about. These ancestors who are being worshipped, however, are simply demonic beings within the etheric body of the respective ancestor.
One can divert the world conception of Eastern people from the Mystery of Golgotha by working in these ways, as they do in the Eastern lodges. Through this their purpose will be achieved, that Christ as individuality, as He is intended to pass over the earth, remains unnoticed by Eastern people and perhaps by people everywhere. They therefore do not wish to substitute a false Christ but to cause the appearance of Christ Jesus to remain unnoticed.
To a certain extent a twofold struggle is thus waged today against the Christ impulse appearing in the etheric in the course of the twentieth century. Humanity is actually inserted within this evolution. What we see happening in individual cases is essentially only a consequence of what is transpiring in the great impulses of humanity's evolution. For that reason it is sad that people will be deceived constantly when the unconscious, the so-called unconscious, is working within them — be it some receding love affair or something similar — when, in fact, impulses of extremely conscious spirituality are passing from all sides through humanity but remaining relatively unconscious if one does not trouble oneself about them in one's consciousness.
To these things you must add much more. Human beings who have been honestly concerned with the evolution of humanity have always taken into consideration such things as we have characterized, and they have undertaken what was right from their point of view. Much more than this the human being cannot or is not permitted to do.
A good sheltered place for spiritual life, an exceptionally good sheltered spot, protected against all possible illusions, was Ireland, the Irish Island during the first Christian centuries. It was truly protected from all possible illusions, more than any other region on earth. This is also the reason that so many disseminators of Christianity in the early Christian centuries originated in Ireland. These disseminators of Christianity, however, had to work with a naive humanity, because European humanity, among whom they were active, was in those days naive. They had to take this humanity in its naiveté into consideration, but as far as they themselves were concerned, they had to know and understand the great impulses of humanity. In the fourth and fifth centuries particularly, Irish initiates were active in Central Europe. They began there, and their activity consisted in preparing what was to take place in the future. To a certain extent they were under the influence of the initiate-knowledge that revealed that in the fifteenth century (1413, as you know) the fifth post-Atlantean era was to begin. They were under this influence. They also knew that they had to prepare for a completely new age, that a naive humanity must be protected for this new period. What was it that was done at that time to protect this naive humanity, to build a fence around it, as it were, to keep certain harmful influences from entering? What was done?
Evolution was guided first by well-instructed and then by honest groups in such a way that gradually all ocean journeys were suppressed, journeys that in past times had been made from Northern lands to America. It was thus arranged that whereas in past times boats would cross from Norway to America for certain purposes (I shall say more about this another time), this knowledge of America would be completely forgotten by the European population, so that the connection with America was gradually obliterated. In the fifteenth century nothing was known of America by European humanity. The development was directed particularly from Rome so that for definite reasons the connection with America was gradually lost, because European humanity had to be sheltered from American influences. Especially involved in this process of protecting European humanity from American influences were just these monks from Ireland who as Irish initiates had spread Christianity over the European continent.
In ancient times quite definite influences were brought from America; in the age when the fifth post-Atlantean epoch began, however, matters were arranged so that European humanity was uninfluenced by America, knew absolutely nothing about it, lived in the belief that America did not exist. Only after the fifth post-Atlantean period had begun was America again discovered, as is familiar history. One of the truths with which you are most likely familiar is that what is learned in schools as history is many times a “fable convenue.” That America was discovered for the first time in 1492 is such a convenient fable. It was only rediscovered. It was merely that for a period the connections were cleverly concealed, as had to occur. It is again important, however, to know what the situation was, to know the true history. True history is that Europe was fenced in for a time and was carefully protected against certain influences that were not to come to Europe.
Such things show you how significant it is not to accept the so-called unconscious as an unconscious but rather as something that is extremely conscious and takes place beyond the threshold of everyday human consciousness. It is indeed important for a larger portion of humanity to learn about certain mysteries. I have therefore done as much as it is possible to do now in public lectures in Zurich. In Zurich, as you may know, I have gone at times as far as to explain to people the extent to which historical life is not grasped by human beings with the ordinary consciousness but is in reality dreamt, how the content of history is in reality dreamt by human beings. Only when people become conscious of this will health come to these concepts.
These are things through which one gradually awakens consciousness. The phenomena, the facts that will come about, will show us the truth of these things. One must only be sure not to overlook them. Human beings go blindly and slumbering through the facts; they also go blindly and slumbering through such tragic catastrophes as the present one. These are things that I would like to impress upon your hearts, today more historically. Tomorrow I shall speak about these things more explicitly.
I would like to add one more picture to these things. First, you have seen from the discussion what a tremendous distinction there is between East and West in the evolution of humanity. Second, I ask you to consider the following. You see, the psychoanalyst speaks about the subconscious, about the subconscious life of the soul, and so on. It is not so important to speak about such an indefinite concept of these things, but it is necessary to grasp what is truly beyond the threshold of consciousness. What is there? Much is certainly to be found down there under the threshold of consciousness. For itself, however, what lies down there is extremely conscious. One must come to understand what kind of conscious spirituality exists beyond the threshold of consciousness. One must speak of conscious spirituality beyond the threshold of consciousness, not unconscious spirituality. We must become clear that man has much about which he knows nothing in his ordinary consciousness. It would put the human being in a terrible position if he had to know in his ordinary consciousness all that goes on within him. Just consider how he would be able to go about eating and drinking if he were to acquaint himself exactly with all the physiological and biological processes that take place from the ingesting of food onward, and so on. All this takes place in the unconscious. There are spiritual forces at work everywhere, even in the purely physiological. Man cannot wait with eating and drinking, however, until he has learned what is really going on within him. So much goes on within man! For man, a large portion, by far the largest portion, of his being is unconscious, or to say it better, subconscious.
The strange thing is that this subconscious that we carry within us is taken hold of by another being under all circumstances. This means that we are not only a fusion of body, soul, and spirit, carrying within us through the world our soul, which is independent of our body; shortly before birth another being takes possession of the subconscious portions of the human being. This being is there, this subconscious being that accompanies man the entire way between birth and death. Somewhat before birth it enters man and accompanies him. One can also characterize this being as one that permeates man in those parts that do not come into his ordinary consciousness: it is a very intelligent being and possessed of a will that is akin to the forces of nature; in its will it is much more closely related to the forces of nature than is man. I must emphasize the peculiarity, however, that this being would suffer extraordinarily if under present conditions it were to experience death with man. Under present conditions this being cannot experience death with man. It thus disappears shortly before death; it must always save itself. It always has the urge, however, to arrange the life of the human being in such a way that it can overcome death. It would be dreadful for the evolution of the human being, however, if this being that has taken such possession of man should also be able to conquer death, if it could die with man and in this way enter the spiritual worlds that man enters after death. It must always take its leave of man before he enters the spiritual world after death. In some cases this is very difficult for this being, and all sorts of complications arise.
This is the situation: this being that holds sway completely in the subconscious is extremely dependent upon the earth as a whole organism. The earth is not at all the being described by geologists, mineralogists, and paleontologists; this earth is a fully living being. Man sees only its skeleton, because the geologist, mineralogist, and paleontologist describe only its mineral nature that is the earth's skeleton. If you knew only this much, you would know about as much as if you were to enter this room and, through some special arrangement of your capacities for sight, could see nothing of this honored company but the bones, the skeletal system. Imagine if one entered through the door and on these chairs sat nothing but skeletons (not that you necessarily would have nothing but bones — that I do not expect of you — but we will assume that man has the capacity to see only bones; he would be fitted out with some kind of X-ray machine). This is just what geology sees of the earth; it sees only the skeleton. This earth, however, not only consists of skeleton but is a living organism, and this earth sends from its center to every point on the surface, to every territory, special forces. Picture for yourself the surface of the earth (see drawing):
Here is the Eastern region, there the Western region, to take it only on a large scale. The forces that are transmitted from the earth are something that belong to the life organism of the earth. Depending on whether a human being lives on this or that spot on earth, his soul, this immortal soul, does not come directly in contact with these forces but only indirectly — the immortal soul of man is relatively independent of earthly conditions. The soul is only artificially dependent upon earthly conditions, as was shown today. By the circuitous path through this other being, however, this being that takes possession of man before birth and must leave him again before death, these various forces work particularly strongly. These forces are active in racial types and geographic differentiations in human beings. It is thus this “double,” which man bears within him, upon whom the geographic and other differentiations particularly exert their influences.
This is extremely significant, and we will see tomorrow in which way this double is influenced from various points of the earth and what the resulting consequences are. I have already mentioned that it is necessary for you to consider what I have said today with what will come tomorrow, because the one can hardly be understood without the other. We must now try to absorb into ourselves such concepts as become even more serious when related to the total reality, to that reality in which the human soul lives with its entire being. This reality metamorphoses itself in various ways, but how it is metamorphosed depends greatly upon man. Two significant metamorphoses that are possible become clear when one is aware of how human souls, depending upon whether they absorb materialistic or spiritual concepts between birth and death, imprison themselves on earth or come into the right spheres. In these matters increasing clarity must prevail in our concepts. We will then find increasingly the right relationship to the entire world. This will not occur in an abstract spiritual movement, but rather it must lie within us, in a concretely comprehended spiritual movement that reckons with the spiritual life of a number of individualities.
It is truly satisfying for me that such discussions — discussions that are also particularly significant for those among us who no longer belong to the physical plane but have passed through the portal of death, remaining our faithful members — that such discussions as these are fostered here as a reality, that they bring us ever closer to our departed friends.
Source: November 18, 1917
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