Tuesday, October 31, 2023

How High The Moon


“There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.”

— George Carlin

Danse Macabre: The New York Times' effect on man


Feel the city breakin' and everybody's shakin'

Related post:

Regarding "Thoughts and Prayers"

Regarding "Thoughts and Prayers"



"Faith does not work and neither does hope; these one must indeed have, but only love works. Love stands in the center."

Rudolf Steiner:
If we go back in human evolution we pass through the post-Atlantean epoch to the Atlantean catastrophe, then into the Atlantean epoch, and then further back to the Lemurian epoch. When we then arrive at the starting point of earthly humanity we come to a time when man, not only as regards his spiritual qualities, was much closer to the Deity, when he first developed not only out of the spiritual life, but also out of morality. So that at the beginning of earthly evolution we do not find unmorality but morality. Morality is a divine gift which was given to man in the beginning; it was part of the original content in human nature, just as spiritual power was in human nature before man's deepest descent. Fundamentally, a great part of what is unmoral came into humanity in the manner we have described, namely, by the betrayal of the higher Mysteries in the ancient Atlantean epoch.
Thus morality is something about which we cannot say that it has only developed gradually in humanity: it is something which lies at the bottom of the human soul, something which has only been submerged by the later civilizations. When we look at the matter in the right light we cannot even say that unmorality came into the world through folly; it came into the world through the secrets of wisdom being disclosed to persons who were not sufficiently mature to receive them. It was through this that people were tempted; they succumbed, and then degenerated. Therefore in order that they might rise it was above all necessary that something should occur which would sweep away from the human soul all that is contrary to moral impulses. Let us put this in a somewhat different form.
Let us suppose we have before us a criminal, a man whom we call especially unmoral: on no account must we think that this unmoral man is devoid of moral impulses. They are in him and we shall find them if we delve down to the bottom of his soul. There is no human soul — with the exception of black magicians, with whom we are not now concerned — in which there is not the foundation of what is morally good. If a person is wicked it is because that which has originated in the course of time as spiritual error overlies moral goodness. Human nature is not bad; originally it was really good. The concrete observation of human nature shows us that in its deepest being it is good, and that it was through spiritual errors that man deviated from the moral path. Therefore moral errors must in course of time once more be made good in man. Not only must the mistakes be made good but their results as well, for where evil has such mighty after-effects that demons of disease have been produced, super-moral forces such as were in Francis of Assisi must be also active.
The foundation for the improvement of a human being always consists in taking away his spiritual error. And what is necessary to this end? Gather together what I have told you into a fundamental feeling; let the facts speak to you, let them speak to your feelings and perceptions, and try to gather them together into one fundamental feeling, and then you will say: What is the attitude which a man needs to hold regarding his fellow man? It is that he needs the belief in the original goodness of humanity as a whole, and of each single human being in particular. That is the first thing we must say if we wish to speak at all in words concerning morality: that something immeasurably good lies at the bottom of human nature. That is what Francis of Assisi realized; and when he was approached by some of those stricken with the horrible disease we have described, as a good Christian of that day he said somewhat as follows: “A disease such as this is in a certain way the consequence of sin; but as sin is in the first instance spiritual error and disease the result, it must therefore be removed by a mighty opposing power.” Hence Francis of Assisi saw by the sinner how, in a certain way, the punishment of sin manifests itself externally; but he also saw the good in human nature, he saw what lies at the bottom of each human being as divine spiritual forces. That which distinguished Francis of Assisi most was his sublime faith in the goodness lying in each human being, even in one who was being punished.
This made it possible for the contrary power to appear in his soul, and this is the power of love which gives and helps morally, and indeed even heals. And no one, if he really develops the belief in the original goodness of human nature into an active impulse, can arrive at anything else than to love human nature as such.
It is primarily these two fundamental impulses which are able to found a truly moral life. First, the belief in the divine at the bottom of every human soul, and secondly, the boundless love of man which springs from this belief. For it was only this measureless love which could bring Francis of Assisi to the sick, the crippled, and those stricken with leprosy. A third thing which may be added, and is necessarily built upon these two foundations, is that a person who has a firm belief in the goodness of the human soul, and who loves human nature, cannot do otherwise than admit that what we see proceeding from the cooperation of the originally good foundation of the human soul with practical love, justifies a perspective for the future which may be expressed in the fact that every single soul, even though it may have descended far from the height of spiritual life, can be led back again to this spiritual life. This third impulse implies the hope for each human soul that it can find the way back again to the Divine-Spiritual.
We may say that Francis of Assisi heard these three things expressed very very often; they were continually in his mind during his initiation in the Mysteries of Colchis, on the Black Sea. And we may also say that in the life he had to lead as Francis of Assisi he preached very little about faith or love, but was himself their embodiment. Foremost, of course, was that which really works. For faith does not work and neither does hope; these one must indeed have, but only love works. Love stands in the center, and love is what carried the actual moral development of humanity toward the divine during this incarnation of Francis of Assisi.
How did this love — which we know was the result of his initiation in the Colchis Mysteries — develop in St. Francis? We have seen that in him appeared the knightly virtues of the ancient European spirit. He was a valiant boy. Valor, bravery, was transformed in his individuality, which was permeated by the Christ impulse, into active practical love. We see the old valor, the old bravery, resurrected once more in the love manifested in Francis of Assisi. The ancient valor transposed into the spiritual, bravery transposed into the spiritual, is love.
It is interesting to see how very much of what has just been said corresponds also to the external historical course of human evolution. Let us go back a few centuries into the pre-Christian era. Among the people who have given the principal name to the fourth post-Atlantean age, the Greeks, we find the philosopher Plato. Among other things, Plato wrote about morals, about the virtues of man. By the way in which he wrote, we can recognize that he was reticent concerning the highest things, the actual secrets, but what he felt able to say he put into the mouth of Socrates. Now, in a period of European culture in which the Christ impulse had not yet worked, Plato described the highest virtues he recognized, namely, the virtues which the Greeks looked upon as those which a moral man ought to have above all things. He described first of all three virtues, and a fourth with which we shall later become acquainted. The first was “Wisdom.” Wisdom, as such, Plato looked upon as virtue. This is justified, for in the most varied directions we have found that wisdom lies at the foundation of moral life. In India the wisdom of the Brahmins lay at the foundation of human life. In Europe this was indeed withdrawn into the background, but it existed in the Norse Mysteries, where the European Brahmins had to make good again that which had been spoiled through the betrayal in the old Atlantean epoch. Wisdom stands behind all morality, as we shall see in our next lecture. Plato also described, in the manner corresponding to the Mysteries, as the second virtue: “Valor” — that which we meet with in the population of Europe. As the third virtue he described Temperance or “Moderation” — that is, the opposite of the passionate cultivation of the lower human impulses. These are the three chief Platonic virtues: Wisdom, Valor or Bravery, and Moderation or Temperance, the curbing of the sensual impulses active in man. Finally, the harmonious balancing of these three virtues Plato describes as a fourth virtue, which he calls “Justice.”
Here is described, by one of the most eminent European minds of pre-Christian times, what were looked upon at that time as the most important qualities in human nature. Valor, bravery, is in the European population permeated by the Christ impulse and by what we call “ I ” or the ego. Bravery, which in Plato appears as virtue, is here spiritualized and thereby becomes love. The most important thing is that we should see how moral impulses come into the human race, how that which formerly existed in the form we have described becomes something entirely different. Now, without disparagement to Christian morality we cannot describe as the only virtues wisdom, temperance, valor, and justice, for we might receive the reply: “If you had all these and yet you had not love you would never enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Let us bear in mind the time when, as we have seen, there was poured out into humanity an impulse, a current, of such a nature that wisdom and bravery were spiritualized and reappeared as love. But we shall go still further into the question as to how wisdom, moderation or temperance, and justice have been developed, and thereby will appear what is the particular moral mission of the Anthroposophical Movement in the present day.

Only love works.

Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.  — 1 Timothy 4:8

1 Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Source: May 29, 1912

Also recommended: The Screwtape Letters

The inner aspect of the first embodiment of the Earth


A lecture given by Rudolf Steiner in Berlin

October 31, 1911:

If we wish to pursue the studies we carried on in our lectures last year, it will be necessary to acquire still other concepts and views than those that have so far been discussed. We know that what we have to say about the Gospels and other spiritual documents of humanity would not suffice if we did not presuppose the evolution of our whole cosmic system, which we describe as the embodiments of our planet itself, through the Saturn-existence, the Sun-existence, the Moon-existence, on to our present Earth-existence. Anyone who recollects how often we have had to start from these fundamental conceptions will know how necessary they are for all occult observations of human evolution. If you now turn to the accounts given, for instance, in my Occult Science about Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolution, to that of the Earth, you will admit that nothing but a sketch could be given (indeed even if it were much more amplified it would still be no more), nothing but a sketch from one side, from one point of view. For just as the Earth-existence comprises an infinite wealth of detail, it is quite obvious that the former embodiments are equally detailed, and that it would never be possible to give more than a merely rough charcoal drawing, just an outline, of these. It is, however, necessary for us to describe evolution from yet another side.
If it be asked, whence arise all the accounts given here, we know that they arise from the so-called entries in the Akashic Record. We know that what has once taken place in the course of the world's evolution is in a sense to be read as though registered in a delicate spiritual substance, the Akashic substance. There is a register there of everything that has taken place, by which we can discover how things once were. Now, it is natural that just as the ordinary vision, contemplating anything of our physical world, sees the details of objects in its vicinity more or less clearly, and that the further away they are the less clear do they appear, so we may also admit that those things that are near us in time, belonging to the Earth or the Moon evolutions, can be more minutely observed; while on the other hand those further removed from us in time take on more or less indistinct outlines — as for instance when we look back clairvoyantly into the Saturn or Sun existence.
Why do we do this at all, why do we set value on following up an age so far behind our own? It might well be objected: For what reason do students of Spiritual Science bring up such primeval subjects for discussion at the present day? We really do not need to trouble ourselves about these ancient matters, we have quite enough to do with what is going on now in the world!
It would be wrong to speak in this way. For what has once happened is fulfilling itself continuously even at the present day. What occurred in the time of Saturn did not only take place then — it goes on even today; only it is covered over and made invisible by what today surrounds man on the physical plane. And the ancient Saturn-existence which played its part so long ago, has been made utterly invisible to us; but it still somewhat concerns man even now, this old Saturn-existence. And in order that we may form a conception of how it concerns us today, let us place the following before our souls.
We know that the innermost core of our being meets us in what we call our ego. This ego, the innermost core of our being, is in reality for people of the present day an absolutely supersensible and imponderable entity. This can be seen in the fact that there are today teachings regarding the soul, so-called official psychologies, which no longer have the slightest inkling that such an ego is to be alluded to. I have often drawn your attention to the fact that in the German psychology of the nineteenth century the following expression has come into use: “Soul-teaching without soul.” In the celebrated School of Wundt, which is considered decisive not only in German countries but everywhere where psychology is discussed, it is mentioned with great respect. This school was well known for the “soul-teaching without soul,” although it did not coin the expression. This teaching insisted, without taking an independent soul-being into consideration, that all the qualities of the soul are gathered into a sort of focus — into the ego. It would be impossible to think of greater nonsense, yet the psychology of the present day is absolutely under the influence of this nonsense. This “soul-teaching without soul” is today famous throughout the world. Future writers on the history of civilization will have much to do to make it appear plausible to our successors that in the nineteenth century and well on into the twentieth it was possible that such a thought could have arisen as the greatest production of the psychological field. This is only mentioned to point out how vague is official psychology respecting what we designate as the central point of the human being.
If we could have a clear grasp of the ego and place it before us like the external physical body; if we could look for the environment upon which the ego depends in the same way as the physical body is dependent upon what is seen by the eyes and perceived by the senses — if we could look for the environment of the ego in the same way as we do for that of the physical realm, in the clouds, mountains, etc., or in the same way as the physical body does for its means of nourishment, we should come even today to an expression of the cosmos, to a cosmic tableau in which, as it were, our environment is imprinted invisibly and which is similar to the cosmic tableau of ancient Saturn. This means that a man who wishes to learn to know the ego in its own world must represent to himself a world such as ancient Saturn. This world is hidden; to man it is a supersensible world. At the present stage of his evolution man could not possibly bear the perception of it. It is veiled by the Guardian of the Threshold, Who conceals it from him. And it requires a certain grade of spiritual development to support such a vision. It is indeed a vision to which we must first become accustomed. And above all you must form a conception of what is necessary to be able to feel such a cosmic tableau as reality. You must think away everything that can be perceived by the senses, you must even think away your own inner world, in so far as this consists of the wonted working of the mind. Further, you must think away from everything that is in the world, all the concepts you have within you. Thus you must remove from the external world all that the senses can perceive, and from the inner world all the workings of the mind, all conceptions. And now, if you wish to form an idea of that soul-disposition which a man must have if he really holds the thought that everything is taken away and man alone remains, we cannot say otherwise than that he must learn to feel dread and fear of the infinite emptiness yawning around us. He must be able to feel, as it were, his environment tinged and saturated with that which inspires dread and fear wherever he turns, and at the same time he must be able to overcome this fear by inner firmness and certainty.
Without these two frames of mind — dread and fear of the infinite emptiness of existence, and the overcoming of this fear — it is impossible to have the faintest conception of the ancient Saturn-existence underlying our own world. Neither of these feelings is much cultivated by people in themselves. Hence, even in literature we find but few descriptions of this condition. It is naturally known to those who in course of time endeavor to seek the origin of things by means of clairvoyant forces. In external literature, however, whether written or printed, you will find but few indications of man having felt anything like the dread of the infinite emptiness or the overcoming of this. In order to obtain a sort of insight into this, I have tried to investigate some of the more modern literature where the consciousness of this dread of the immeasurable emptiness might be found. The philosophers are as a rule extremely clever and speak in clear concepts — they avoid speaking of the mighty, awe-inspiring impressions; it will not be easy to find anything of the sort in their writings. Now, I shall not speak of those in which I have found nothing. But I once found one small echo of these feelings, and this was in the diary of Karl Rosenkrantz, the writer on Hegel, in which he sometimes describes intimate feelings produced in him by engrossing himself in the Hegel philosophy. I came upon a remarkable passage, which is simply expressed and noted in his diary. It had become clear to Karl Rosenkrantz that this philosophy proceeds from pure being. This “pure being “of Hegel is much discussed in philosophical literature of the nineteenth century — but we must say that it was very little understood. We might almost say (though, of course, this can only be said in the most intimate circles) that the philosophy of the second half of the nineteenth century understood just as little of the “pure being “of Hegel as the ox understands of Sunday, when he has eaten grass all the week. This concept of the “pure being” of Hegel is one that has been sifted again and again (not existing but Absolute Being); it is a concept which indeed is not quite what I have described as the dreadful emptiness into which flows fear. But all space in Hegel's sense is tinged with the quality containing nothing that can be experienced by man; it is infinity filled with “being.” Karl Rosenkrantz once felt this to be as a dreadful shuddering recoil from a coldness, tinged with nothing but “being.”
In order to understand what underlies the world it does not suffice to speak of it in concepts, or to form concepts and ideas on it; it is far more necessary to call up an impression of the feeling aroused by the infinite emptiness of the ancient Saturn-existence. A feeling of horror accompanies the mere hint of it. If we wish to ascend clairvoyantly to the state of Saturn, we must prepare ourselves by acquiring a feeling, more or less known to everyone, that may be compared to the giddiness experienced on a mountain, when a man stands at the edge of an abyss and feels that he has no sure footing under him, that he cannot retain it in any place and wants to give way to forces over which he has no longer any control. But that is only the most elementary of these apprehensive feelings. For he loses not only the ground beneath him, but also what eyes can see, ears hear, and hands grasp; in fact all spatial environment. And he can do no other than lose every thought that may come to him, in a sort of condition of dimness or sleep; and then he can arrive at having no perception at all. He may be so deeply absorbed in this impression that he can do no other than come to the condition of dread, which often is like a giddiness not to be overcome.
Man of today has two possibilities. The first is that he may have understood the Gospels, or the Mystery of Golgotha. Anyone who has really understood these in their full depths — naturally not as modern theologians speak of them, but in such a way that he has drawn from them the deepest that can be expressed in them — will take something with him into that emptiness, which seems to expand from a given point and fills emptiness with something similar to courage. It is a feeling of courage, of protection through being united with that Being Who accomplished the sacrifice on Golgotha. The other way is to penetrate into the spiritual worlds without the Gospels through a genuine true Spiritual Science or Anthroposophy. This is also possible. (You know that we emphasize the fact that we do not start from the Gospels when we consider the Mystery of Golgotha, but that we should arrive at it even if there were no Gospels at all.) That would not have been possible before the Mystery of Golgotha took place; but it is the case today, because something entered the world through the Mystery of Golgotha which enables a man to understand the impressions of the spiritual world directly through his own impressions. This is what we call the ruling of the Holy Spirit in the world, the ruling of cosmic thought in the world. Whether we take one or the other of these with us, we cannot lose ourselves and we cannot, so to say, fall into the bottomless abyss when we stand before the dreadful emptiness. If we now approach this dreadful emptiness with the other preparations given us by the various methods — for instance, those in my book The Knowledge of Higher Worlds and other methods dependent on these — and enter a world born from that which can shake our minds, which can seize upon our conceptions, when we live into that world, when we place ourselves, so to say, in the Saturn-existence, then we learn to know beings — not in the least similar to those we perceive in the animal, plant, or mineral kingdoms, but  beings. This is a world where there are no clouds, no light, where it is quite devoid of sound, but we become acquainted with beings — indeed those beings called in our terminology Spirits of Will, or Thrones. We learn so to know them that it becomes a true objective reality for us — a surging sea of courage.
What at first can only be pictured in thought becomes, through clairvoyance, objective reality. Think of yourself as immersed in this sea — but now immersed as a spiritual being, feeling one with the Christ-Being, carried by the Christ-Being, swimming — though not in a sea of water but in a sea filling infinite space, a sea (there is no other description for it) of flowing courage, flowing energy. This is not simply a uniform and undifferentiated sea, but we meet here with all the possibilities and diversities of what we call a feeling of courage. We become acquainted with beings who, to be sure, consist of courage, but although they consist of courage alone, we meet them as really concrete beings. Naturally it may appear strange to say that we meet beings just as real as man who is made of flesh, and yet they are not of flesh but consist of courage. Yet such is the case. Of such a nature are the Spirits of Will. To begin with, we shall only designate as Saturn-existence what the Spirits of Will, consisting of courage, represent — and nothing else. This, in the first place is “Saturn.” It is a world of which we cannot say that it is spherical, hexagonal, or square. None of these definitions of space applies to it, for there is no possibility of any end being discoverable. If we revert to the simile of swimming, we may say it is not a sea in which one would come to any surface, but on all sides and in all directions are to be found Spirits of Courage or Will.
In later lectures I shall describe how we do not at once come to this: for the present I will keep to the same order as formerly: Saturn — Sun — Moon; though it is much better to keep to the reverse direction, from Earth to Saturn. I am now describing the other way 'round, but it is of no importance.
When we have lifted ourselves to this vision, something meets us of which it is extremely difficult to form an idea, except for one who has taken the trouble slowly and gradually to attain to such conceptions. For something ceases, which is more intimately connected with our ordinary human ideas than anything else: space ceases! It no longer has any meaning to say we swim “up or “down,” “forward or backward,” “right or left” — these have no longer any meaning. In this respect it is everywhere the same. But the important thing is when we reach these first ages of the Saturn-existence time, too, ceases; there is no longer “earlier “or “later.” It is naturally very difficult for man to imagine this today, because his ideas themselves flow in time. On Saturn no thought is before or after another. This again can only be described by a feeling that time ceases. This feeling is certainly not pleasant. Imagine that your concepts are benumbed, that everything that you can remember, everything which you undertake, is benumbed into a rigid rod, so that you feel yourself held in your conceptions and are no longer able to move: then you will no longer be able to say that what you formerly experienced you experienced “formerly”; you are fastened to it; it is there, but it is benumbed: time ceases to be of significance, it is absolutely no longer there. On this account it is rather foolish for anyone to say: “You describe the Saturn-existence, the Sun-existence, etc.: now tell us what was before Saturn.” “Before” has no longer any meaning because time ceases to exist; we must also cease all definitions of time. In the old Saturn-existence, speaking very comparatively, the world is really boarded up, inasmuch as thought must stand absolutely still. It is the same with clairvoyance: ordinary thoughts must be left behind, they do not extend so far. By way of a comparison and expressing it in image, we must say that our brain is frozen. And when we realize this condition of rigidity, we shall have a comparative conception of the consciousness no longer enclosed in time.
Now, when we have got as far as this we become aware of a remarkable alteration in the whole picture. It can now be observed that out of this rigidity, this timeless character of the infinite sea of courage with its beings whom we call the Spirits of Will, come the beings of other Hierarchies, as though striking into it and playing into it. We can only notice that other beings here play into it when we become aware of the cessation of time. We notice an indefinite experience of which we cannot say that we ourselves experience it, but that it is there. We can only say that it is within the whole infinite sea of courage. We observe something passing through this like a flashing-up, like a becoming lighter, but not a real illumination, more like a glimmer. This glimmer does not give the impression of a glimmering light, but as we must understand these things in various ways and we desire to make this comprehensible, we must imagine the following: Suppose a man says something to you and you think: “How clever he is!” and as he talks on further, this feeling increases and the thought comes: “He is really wise, he must have had endless experience, to say such wise things.” ... Besides this feeling, the person makes an impression upon you like a breath of enchantment. Imagine this breath of enchantment enormously enhanced — and within it clouds, which do not flash up but glimmer; if you take this altogether you will have a conception of how beings consisting entirely of Wisdom interact with the hierarchy of the Spirits of Will. Their Wisdom is not Wisdom alone, but streams which are actively radiant. In short, you then obtain clairvoyantly the conception of what the Cherubim are. The Cherubim play into it.
Now imagine yourself surrounded by nothing but what I have described. I have already said, and have laid certain stress upon it, that we cannot say of it: “We have it around us,” we can only say: “It is there.” We must think ourselves into this. And concerning the conception that something is there flashing up, I said it was not a flash but a glimmering. It is not as though something arose and vanished again; everything is simultaneous. Now, however, the feeling comes that there is some connection between these Spirits of Will and the Cherubim. The feeling comes to us that they have established a relationship to one another; we become conscious of this. And indeed we become conscious that the Spirits of Will or Thrones sacrifice their own being to the Cherubim. That is the last conception to which we can attain when we approach Saturn in retrospect: that of the sacrificing Spirits of Will offering their sacrifice to the Cherubim. There the world is ‘boarded up’.
And inasmuch as we can experience the sacrifice that the Spirits of Will make to the Cherubim, something looses itself from our being. This we can express by saying: through the sacrifice made by the Spirits of Will to the Cherubim, time is born. But “time” here is not the abstract time of which we usually speak, but independent being. We can now first speak of something that begins. Time begins with the birth of time-beings--whose nature is pure time. Beings are born consisting only of time. These are the Spirits of Personality, known to us as Archai in the hierarchy of spiritual beings. In the Saturn-existence they are nothing but time. We have also described them as Time-Spirits, as Spirits who rule time. But there they are born as spirits, they are really beings consisting of nothing but time.
To take part in this sacrifice of the Spirits of Will to the Cherubim and in the birth of time is something of extraordinary importance. For it is only now, when time is born, that something else appears — something that makes it possible for us to speak of the Saturn condition as having anything in the least similar to our environment. What we call the element of warmth in Saturn is, as it were, the sacrificial smoke of the Thrones giving birth to time. Hence I have always said, in describing the Saturn-condition, that it was one of warmth. Of all the elements we have around us now, the only one we can speak of as being on ancient Saturn is warmth. And this warmth arises as sacrificial heat offered by the Spirits of Will to the Cherubim. This should give us an indication of how we should really look upon fire. Wherever we see fire, wherever we feel warmth, we should not think in so materialistic a fashion as is natural and usual to the man of today. But wherever we see and feel warmth appear we should feel that what is at the spiritual foundation of our life is present, though it is still invisible, namely the sacrifice of the Spirits of Will to the Cherubim. The world only acquires its truth when we know that behind every development of heat there is sacrifice.
In Occult Science, in order not to shock people outside unduly, I have begun by describing the more external condition of ancient Saturn. They are quite shocked enough by this, and people who can only think in accordance with modern science look upon the book as pure nonsense. Just think what it would mean if we were to say “Ancient Saturn has in its innermost being — in its very foundation — this fact: that the beings belonging to the Spirits of Will offered sacrifice to the Cherubim, that in the smoke of their sacrifice time came to birth as the sacrifice they brought to the Cherubim, and that from this have proceeded the Archai, the Time-Spirits, and that external heat is nothing but a maya as compared with the sacrifice of the Spirits of Will!” But so it is. Externally heat is really only a maya. And if we wish to speak truly we must say that wherever there is heat we have in reality sacrifice, sacrifice of the Thrones to the Cherubim.
And now an excellent “imagination” is the following: In Knowledge of Higher Worlds and elsewhere it is frequently said that the second stage of Rosicrucian initiation is the forming of imagination. The Anthroposophist must build up these imaginations from the right conceptions of the world. Thus we can think of what we have discussed today as transformed into an “imagination”: we can imagine the Thrones, the Spirits of Will, kneeling in absolute devotion before the Cherubim, but so that their devotion does not proceed from a feeling of littleness but from a consciousness that they have something to offer. Imagine the Thrones, with this desire of sacrifice founded upon their strength and courage, as kneeling before the Cherubim and sending up their sacrifice to them. ... And they send up this sacrifice as foaming heat, so that the sacrificial smoke ascends to the winged Cherubim. So might we picture it. And proceeding from this sacrifice (just as though a word of ours spoken into the air became time — in this case it is time-beings) and emerging from this whole proceeding: the Spirits of Time — Archai. This sending forth of the Archai gives a grand and powerful picture. And this picture placed before our souls is extremely impressive for certain imaginations, which can then lead us further and further into the realm of occult knowledge.
This is precisely what we have to attain; we must be able to transform the ideas we receive into imaginations, into pictures. Even if the pictures are clumsily formed, even if they are anthropomorphic, even if the beings appear as winged angels, etc., that does not signify. The rest will be given to us later; and what they ought not to have will fall away. When we yield ourselves to these pictures we penetrate into imaginative perception.
If you take what I have just endeavored to describe you will see that the soul will soon have recourse to all kinds of pictures unconnected with intellectual ideas. These latter owe their existence to a much later period, so that we should not at first take such things intellectually. And you must comprehend what is meant when some minds describe things differently from the intellectualists; the intellectualist will never be able to understand such minds. I will give a hint to anyone who wishes for instruction on this point: take out of the public library a book — which is quite a good one — the so-called “Old Schwegler,” formerly much used by students for examinations, but now no longer applicable since the “soul” is dethroned; although this book has been mutilated by way of improvement, it is not quite spoilt. You can take old Schwegler's History of Philosophy and you will have quite a good book. If you read there about the philosophy of Hegel you will find everything splendidly described. But now read the short chapter on Jacob Boehme, and try to obtain a correct idea of how helpless a man is who writes an intellectual philosophy when confronted with a spirit such as Jacob Boehme! Paracelsus — thank goodness — he left out entirely; for concerning him he would have written completely unjustifiable things. But just read what he says about Jacob Boehme. Here Schwegler comes to a spirit to whom there objectively appeared — not the Saturn picture — but the recapitulation of the Saturn picture taking place in the Earth period; this he can only do in words and concepts that cannot be approached by the intellect. To the intellectual man all comprehension here ceases. It is not as though these things were impossible of comprehension, but they cannot be understood if the standpoint of the dry philosophic intellect is insisted upon.
You see, precisely the most important thing for us is that we lift ourselves to what the ordinary intellect is unable to grasp. Even though the ordinary intellect produces something as excellent as The History of Philosophy by Schwegler (for I have expressly called this a good book), it is still an example by which we must see how a splendid intellect is completely at a standstill before a spirit such as Jacob Boehme.
Thus today we have endeavored in our consideration of ancient Saturn to penetrate more inwardly, so to say, into this old planetary embodiment of our Earth. We shall presently do the same with the Sun- and the Moon-existence. And in doing so we shall see that there too we come to ideas which perhaps may not appear less impressive than the glimpse afforded us when we look back to the old Saturn condition, and to the Thrones sacrificing to the Cherubim and resulting in the creation of the Beings of Time. For time is a result of sacrifice, and first arises as living time, as a creation of sacrifice. Then we shall see how all these things are transformed on the Sun, and other glorious events of the cosmic existence will confront us when we pass from Saturn to the Sun, and then to the Moon-existence.

Interview with a toad


A young girl with her pet toad
at a pet show, 1936



"Late Fragment" by Raymond Carver


And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.

Walter Harry, Girl with Her Frog, Venice Beach Raceway, California, 1936

Emily Dickinson's Haunted House


"Nature is a Haunted House—but Art—a House that tries to be haunted."


Monday, October 30, 2023

The Spiritual Background of the Social Question. Lecture 6 of 6

Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, Switzerland, April 14, 1919

Today, first of all, I have the urge in my soul to say something to you with regard to what wills, out of the impulses and need of our time, to be spoken to mankind in general through my booklet about the Social Question which will be appearing in the near future. It will be called The Key Points of the Social Question in the Vital Necessities of the Present and the Future (GA 23). It will have become evident to you from the lectures which we have held here for many weeks that what I now have to say just with regard to the Social Question is, perhaps, not only a sort of secondary stream by the side of what is pulsing in our whole spiritual-scientific striving, but that, in fact, matters must be so considered that this spiritual-scientific striving develops, in a way peculiar to itself, understanding for the needs and demands of our time and of the near future. The basic character of our time can really only be radically helped as a result of spiritual impulses. Everything else could at best be a substitute. Even the external activity which has to take place will have to be of such a kind that — I will not say a particular form of Spiritual Science, but that a spiritual life, penetrating to the real Spirit, becomes possible within the Social Order.

This is necessary for the reason that, as a result of human development, the man of the present day is in a quite definite position, which I have described to you from the most diverse sides. Today I shall only refer once more to the fact that, basically speaking, all considerations have led us to realize how the man of the present day is, as a result of his organization, in a certain state of disunion at the present point of time. You see, one can easily be inclined to look on man as a unity in his whole being. But he is not a unity. We know that he is a three-membered being. And these three members of the human entity stand in different relationships to the physical-, soul- and spiritual outer world, and to his own inner part, in the various epochs of the post-Atlantean period.

We can now consider the three-membered man in two different ways. (We will make this schematic and simply place the three members of man one above the other — see diagram). Whether we now give names to these three members according to their physical aspect and say: nerves-senses system, rhythmic or breathing-and-heart system, and metabolic system, or whether we give them names according to their spiritual aspect and say the Intuitive-spiritual, the Inspirational-psychic, and the Imaginative-bodily, or whether we proceed with other words as I have represented in my book Theosophy regarding this three-membered man from the spiritual aspect, or whether we fix our attention on the physical projection of the three-membered man, to which I have drawn attention in my last book, Riddles of the Soul, from every point of view it appears to us that man is a three-membered being. But this three-membered being, man, is, if I may say so, on the other hand not at all so "simply three-membered". We can say: Man is, in a certain sense, a double being, a twofold being, and the boundary really goes midway through the rhythmic system, right through the breathing-and-heart system.

Man as a two-membered being

In our present phase of development, the inner part of man really only lives in the metabolic system and the lower part of the heart-lungs system, of the rhythmic system. There, man is inward in reality in today's age. On the other had, with regard to the upper part of the heart-breathing system and similarly with regard to the nerves-senses system, man is to a great extent external today. You will at once understand what I mean. Man perceives the external world through the senses: he then works it up by means of his understandings. He also breathes in the outer world by means of his lungs. From outside, man takes what comes from perceptions, from the working of his understanding, from breathing-in. But man is, as it were, a sort of dwelling-house with respect to what comes to him from outside (see diagram). The whole of external nature is really contained in this upper part of man: colors, tones, stars, clouds, the air even as far as the breathing process — and you yourselves are really only the dwelling-house for this external matter. In olden times, men have found something else which was related to this upper part: elementary spirits and also divine-spiritual beings of the higher Hierarchies. They have spoken of these nature-beings in their mythologies, which were wiser than the natural-scientific knowledge of today. Now they have fallen out of human perceptions.

Today, Man only perceives the sensible and works it up. Here, he is really carrying only the external world into himself. We are hardly sufficiently aware of how little of ourselves there really is in what we carry into ourselves as perceptions of the outer world, or even as what the memory retains of the outer world. If you go up this hill in the morning or at midday and see the Goetheanum, then go down and carry in yourself the picture of the Goetheanum and all that has happened, you apparently have something in you, but yet something which is only a mirror-image in you, for the Goetheanum is standing here on this hill. You are only its dwelling-place — with the upper part of Man which I have separated off (see diagram). And Man is so poor in spirit today because he no longer finds the Spirit in the external world.

Yes, my dear friends, there were times in the development of the Earth in which, after people had gone down again, what had been seen would have worked in those who had come up the hill here and thus had seen something such as the Goetheanum, not only as a fantasy, as an inner mystery, but as a world of facts. From what they had seen people would have received — just as they carry down colors and forms now — those spiritual beings which had slipped out of every corner and which had taken part in what man did here. But this is over for men, just as though the elementary and spiritual beings had fled out of external nature. External nature is emptied of Spirit, and as a result so is this part of the human interior. And all that really is left for what is inward is the lower part of the chest, and the metabolic system with the limbs.

For the externalized man of today, this is what he calls his "inner part" if he does not really begin to interest himself in true spirituality. Man has arrived at the point where he speaks, it is true, of his "inner part", but, basically speaking, he means nothing beyond his metabolic system and, at most, the connection which the breathing and the rhythm of the heart enter into with the metabolic system. We should not be deceived about it, and should be clear with ourselves: when men declare that they are out of order in their "inner part", that they have inner difficulties, this is only a verbal expression for some lack of regularity in the metabolic system.

One man is cheerful, another ill-tempered owing to his "inner part"; one is passionate, another full of humor. Basically speaking, all this is a result of the metabolic system and at most the reaction of the breathing and heart-circulation on the metabolic system. When one says that the soul is out of order in this or that person, it is, in reality, his stomach and intestines which are out of order. All that people call "soul-life" is, basically speaking, only a verbal expression for events in the metabolic system. Naturally, no one wants to confess, in accordance with reality: my stomach, my intestines, spleen, or liver, or such things are not in order within me, but we say: my soul has this or that difficulty. This sounds better, more elegant, to many people; they consider it to be less materialistic. To anyone who looks at things according to reality, it is merely more untruthful. For we stand today in that phase of development in which human nature already separates itself into these two members.

You may ask: by what means can this be corrected? There is only one help for the man of today, namely to get loose from himself, by means of an interest in the affairs of mankind, through real interest in what concerns all men today, and to turn the attention as little as possible to these irregularities of the metabolic system in the wider sense, which are, nevertheless, almost universally present today. If men could get loose from themselves through a far-reaching interest, which is to be reached only by taking Spiritual Science seriously — then alone can health pour itself out over the human race today.

Today, you see, one has really characteristic experiences. I was recently at the League of Nations Congress at Berne, where they spoke about all the things about which it is unnecessary to speak today, because they just lead to nothing, and where they did not speak about all that is most necessary today. But I do not at all wish to mention this as the main point. I should like to mention, as the main point, something about the manner of speaking which cropped up in what almost all the speakers said. In at least every third sentence uttered by these speakers is found the little word "I". "I am of the opinion", "I think", "It seems to me that this or that is necessary", "I am in favour of this or that" — you can hear this in almost every sentence. And the men were quite angry if one did not join in in the same strain! If one speaks more from an objective standpoint, if one puts one's sentences in such a way that one gives priority to the inner, objective contents of the matter, without personal opinion, they say that one is speaking authoritatively, that one is speaking arrogantly. But surely the highest arrogance is when one brings the word "I" into one's mouth every third sentence.

But people have certainly forgotten, today, to feel this arrogance. They find it more sensible if someone is always talking of himself, and they find it in the highest degree immodest and arrogant if someone tries to speak from an objective standpoint, for, you see, they have this dim feeling: he is asserting that he knows something beyond what is his personal opinion. And it is a great sin today if anyone asserts that he does know something beyond what is his personal opinion. And as to those personal opinions — !

To those who are versed in Spiritual Science I should frequently like to describe this kind of conference more accurately, just from its spiritual-scientific standpoint! One hears a speaker of the kind who utters the little word "I" with every third sentence — "I think", " I am of the opinion", "this is sympathetic to me", "I ask you to enter into this": when this speaker is speaking about the super-State, the super-parliament, the spiritual scientist says to himself: the man surely has something wrong with his liver, something is out of order in his liver and the metabolic system is speaking out of the man. A second speaker gets up and talks in a similar way. As he goes away, the spiritual scientist says to himself: probably he has a gall stone. The third is inclined to stomach trouble.

These things are important only in an age in which materialism is pulsating, where the free soul, independent of what is material, does not speak, where, in fact, it is the body which speaks. And very often indeed, today, it is the body which speaks. Really, people are only accustomed to make use of old words of their bodily indispositions. To one who looks into things in a spiritual-scientific way it would be preferable if, instead of talking about the Superman (naturally, I do not mean Nietzsche, but the others who have spoken about the "Superman" after Nietzsche's time) were to talk about the "sub-stomach". For in this way they would better catch the likeness of the reality which is, in fact, speaking out of them.

This is not pessimism, my dear friends: it is quite simply the world of present-day facts. And in the present time men are impelled to become untruthful for the simple reason that they are ashamed to call the facts by the right name. There is even a longing in them to give themselves up to that "man" which is, in fact, only the physical man. In our time it is certainly the case that perhaps the only reason why we have no Molière to write a new Malade imaginaire is that we should need too many Molières, for today there is a genuine enthusiasm for being ill in people who have time to be ill. Such people as have no time for it do not, for the most part, turn their attention to those conditions which are sufficient causes for making others, who have time to be ill, feel that they are ill.

One must look for the destructive workings of materialism not only where people talk of materialism or where they talk materialistically: these working show themselves in numerous other examples as well. And sometimes even talk about the Spirit today is nothing else than the purest materialism, for this talk about the Spirit is, for very many people, nothing else than an anesthetic for their otherwise cozy materiality. The will to activity is lacking in men today, the will to real inner activity. This is the reason why the bourgeoisie has remained in a state of ineffectiveness in face of the Social Question which has been rising up for 70 years. It is a monstrous materialism which has taken hold of men in the most diverse forms — and especially the circles on whom, in recent times, was set the task of turning to the Spiritual.

One must know this about the basic impulses of our time, about what is living in our time. Not to know it implies that one is giving oneself up to illusions. Spiritual Science is of such great importance for present-day men because it takes them away from themselves, but it must be truly comprehended in this sense. An illusion can easily arise regarding Spiritual Science: a quality can assert itself, which is so thoroughly propagated at the present time just as a result of materialism — namely, superficiality. If people grasp in a superficial way what Spiritual Science wishes to arouse in the way of interests, they can be all the more hardened in themselves, can be all the more pressed into themselves. Then nothing else at all is of assistance than to return again and again to what does not in any way concern us personally, but what represents the content of our Spiritual Science and the things which are found in its content, to take them as objectively as possible and, when one speaks about the most subjective things, not to take them in a subjective way! Only think how important it is to resist, in this point, temptations which lie near.

When I recently depicted how Man is really capable of development from outside only up to the 28th year today, and how development comes to an end at that point of time when he is standing just before the mind-soul and the ego but does not come to them, and thereby goes to meet a certain inner emptiness — this, then, is an important truth for the present time. It is important to know this: it is important to receive it into oneself as an inner experience. But it would be dangerous to think afterwards: am I, perhaps, one of those who have not developed to the mind-soul in the right way from the 28th year forward? Just the most subjective things, which refer to what is most important of all, should be taken up objectively: we should not look into whether we are among those in whom something can happen in this way: we should just be able to look away from ourselves in the most important human truths, and look at the age, at humanity, and not always think of ourselves in an egotistical way.

It is this which is characteristic of the time, which is coming forth from the deep impulses of our time and which makes it so difficult today to propagate ideas which refer to the very most important impulses of the development of the time. Men can develop no interest from this basic disposition which I have described. Their ideas remain sensations for them, do not sufficiently take hold of them, do not sufficiently spur them on to activity.

This must now be said at a time when a kind of transition has occurred for all people who are genuinely interesting themselves in our Spiritual Science. Until now you have had a spiritual-scientific literature which refers to the inner development of man and to knowledge about the Spiritual World, and which spoke to a man in such a way that he could take hold of the world, his relationship with the world, his relationship with other men, so far as it is soul-spiritual, from the most varied points of view. Now this Spiritual Science is running, with a branch — it is proceeding as the main body of Spiritual Science, for just this main body of Spiritual Science is the most necessary thing of all for really making all relationships healthy — into a stream which speaks of the Social Question, of the making healthy of the Social Organism, and which may no longer be taken inactively, no longer just passively, because otherwise it would miss its goal. And just now it will appear how many of us have made themselves ripe, during the many preceding years in which they were taking Spiritual Science into themselves, for a clear grasp of what is now to be understood as the Social Question. For what matters is a clear, unprejudiced, unsentimental grasp of what is to be uttered particularly in my forthcoming book The Basic Issues of the Social Question — it will be something on account of which we shall now have to undergo a certain trial.

Up to now, one could certainly be a good spiritual scientist if one studied Spiritual Science without troubling oneself about what was going on in life outside. And we have, you see, just two phenomena within out anthroposophical movement about which we really should reflect. We have the one phenomenon that we have quite good anthroposophists who, though they know a great deal about cosmic development, the membering of Man, reincarnation, destiny and karma, nonetheless have no inkling of the reality of life, but who have sought something just in Anthroposophy, which has enabled them to hold themselves aloof from this reality of life. Those whom what I have just said specially concerns do not realize at all that it does concern them. For every one of them considers himself in naive fashion to be a practical man with regard to his life. This is the one phenomenon which we have among us.

The other phenomenon is sectarianism in some form or other. There is a deep inclination present, you see, to produce sectarianism just in movements which have to do with the Spiritual. It does not depend on whether this sectarianism is now developing from little cliques which appear with a sectarian character, even in very minor matters, or whether direct sectarianism is produced. For the main point is to realize that objectivity, an impersonal point of view, must permeate this anthroposophically-oriented spiritual-scientific movement which is here referred to.

This, you see, was always the difficult thing about our movement, that the personal was interchanged with what is objectively-factual, mostly without our being aware of it. When people gather into a clique which is larger of smaller, they are in full belief that they have a quite factual interest. Certainly they fully believe this, for they do not notice at all that in reality they are generally doing what they wish for just because this person stands near them spiritual-scientifically, because he is connected with them in such and such a way, because they wish to have just this or that relationship with him, or the like.

People are not aware of this. They live in the full belief that they are being objective. But just this sectarianism, this gathering in cliques, has brought forth the dreadful consequence that the promulgation of Spiritual Science, in whatever sphere it may be, is not judged today according to what it is but according to what a society, the Anthroposophical Society, is making and has made out of it. While I point to the most mischievous shortcomings and the most horrible "marsh-plants", of the type of an S------, it may not at all be overlooked, if one goes to the root of the matter, that this kind of "marsh-plant" has been coaxed on, raised up and cultivated by the cliquishness and sectarianism which have developed widely in the last 17 or 18 years in the anthroposophical movement. But what is going on in this anthroposophical movement very often projects itself into Anthroposophy because, you see, sins are committed by very many members against what is the most significant impulse of the time today, against individualism in the spiritual sphere. How frequently do we hear: we Anthroposophists, we Theosophists, want this or that! It is dreadful that we have as many as three basic principles! — We need no basic principles at all, for it is not these which matter: we need truths, not summarizing-principles, and these truths are only for single human beings, for the individual. The Society — how often I have said it — should be something outward, but the thing itself does not concern the Society.

We must now be able to take this in a really and truly serious way. If what is now to flow into the world as a result of efforts with regard to the Social Question is to be borne along by sectarianism or clique-spirit or the various narrow-mindednesses which I have described today, quite terrible injury will be done to the matter! Here we must really develop to a more broad-minded way of thinking: we must seek for access into real, practical life. This is the main point.

Do take what I am saying about these things only in a friendly spirit. Do not take it as though I should like to say anything derogatory on the one side or the other. But now I really am compelled to utter a fundamental warning before this social side of our activities becomes the concern of all members, as it is to become — a warning not to mix into this social thinking any sectarianism, any pettiness, anything which has no wide horizon, which does not arise from clear thinking. But try, to an ever greater extent, to think from the experience and reality of life! I was, indeed, highly astonished when, a short time ago, the slogan (Devise) reached by ears, which I suppose must be uttered here from the one side or the other: one should carry practically into life the things which I am now putting forward as social ideas. What was meant was the carrying over of those practical ideas into the most unpractical measures that could be! We ought not to let that arise which has just led into the most terrible chaos and mischief in our time, the confusing of real with illusory practicality in life. What has been expressed there is so unpractical, has been thought out in so sectarian a way that I do not want to go into it further: it has to so small an extent the will really to step into practical life that I beg you before everything to look on what is going on in real life today, to know how to learn from what the various statements which I make have arisen.

For do you believe that it is a light-hearted theory when one says that labor-power has the character of a commodity? This may only be said if one has got to know it to an ever-greater extent as the most characteristic thing in life. Thus I should like, for example, to say the following — without anger, for these things are not to be taken in a personal way: I have been asked whether the three-membering — economic life, rights-life, spiritual life, could not be realized within our Society.

Certainly, one can utter something in this way with words, if one stands very well within our movement, if one feels for it quite honestly and deeply. But yet, if one did say this, it is as though one had not at all grasped the basic nature of our movement. One has understood nothing at all about what I have said about the Social Question if one thinks that we can split our Society here into three, like a sect! For what are the three branches of the healthy Social Organism? First, take economic life. Do you, perhaps, wish to carry on some sort of communal economy in this Society — I do not know at all how it is to be externally realized — within the rest of the economic sphere outside? Do you wish, then, not to understand at all that one cannot cut oneself off in an egotistical way — even if it be in a group-egotistical way — and leave everything else out of consideration? You carry on economic life, in fact, together with the rest of the economy of the surrounding territory. You take, in fact, milk, cheese, vegetables, all that you need, from an economic body from which you cannot isolate yourselves. You cannot, in fact, reform the times by cutting yourselves adrift from the times. If someone wants to make a Society like this into an economic corporation, it appears to me just as though someone has a large family and says: I shall now begin threefolding in my family!

These ideas are too serious, too comprehensive. They ought not to be dragged into the petty-bourgeois field of various sectarianism which has always been there. They must be thought of in connection with the whole of mankind. They would, you see, cut themselves completely off from practical thinking about the economic circulation of the world if they wished to set up a group-economy for a sect. So much for economic life.

And rights-life! Just found the Rights-state within our Society! If you steal something, it will be entirely without importance if three people come together and pass judgement about this theft. The external court will certainly take you in charge and pass judgement. You just cannot draw yourself out of the external organization with regard to the Rights-state.

Finally, consider spiritual life. Since there has been an Anthroposophical Society or since, with its anthroposophical content, it has belonged to the Theosophical Society, where has there been anything carried on here within this spiritual community which is dependent in even the smallest degree on any state- or political organization? From the first day of this Society forward, our ideal has been fulfilled with regard to spiritual life, which, above all, is our task! Do you believe that it is only today that this is be achieved in this Anthroposophical Society? Is not everything fulfilled, just in this Anthroposophical Society, which is to be desired from the external spiritual organization? Is it not the most practical ideal just with regard to this? Do you wish, now, to reform the Anthroposophical Society according to this aim? To be sure, you must have entirely failed to grasp what sort of a society you have been for so many years if it is only now that you wish to realize the Spiritual Third in this society!

Therefore, look upon just what we have been able to preserve by the skin of our teeth — freedom of spiritual investigation and teaching, at least in those people who long for no state-appointment for what they teach here — as a kind of starting-point for the rest. Just see what really is so, and do not let your thinking miss it. In my book about the Social Question it is stated again and again to be an inherited evil of the present age that the so-called practical people of today have let their thinking and speaking miss the things which matter. Is this evil also to establish itself in us, so that we no longer speak about the things which matter? It cannot be our task to carry free spiritual life into this place, but to carry out into the world what has always existed here as free spiritual life, to make it clear to men that all spiritual life must be of this kind.

What matters is, at least in the first place, to see the nearest reality. In this direction, what I have brought forward about the Social Question must, in the first place, be understood by Anthroposophists. Within the Anthroposophical Society at least, one should avoid propagating odd ideas with the expressed intention of making practical what is represented here. Take seriously what has been gone through as a principal feature of the lectures of the last weeks — perhaps, indeed, of the last months: before everything, regard it quite seriously that the present time makes necessary a new adjustment of Man with regard to life, that it is not enough that we only take in new thoughts but that we should find the possibility to adjust ourselves in a new way in face of life, and that we should avoid everything which tends to isolation and to shutting ourselves off. Regard it seriously, before everything, that mankind has come to a real cul-de-sac in all three spheres with their so-called culture. How can this cul-de-sac show itself more clearly than in its chaotic, destructive effects in East- and Middle-Europe? The conditions in Russia do not arise only from the war. The war is only the culmination. What men have thought, perceived, and felt for a long, long time, and what one was compelled to describe as a kind of social cancer has brought this chaos to a head in East- and Middle-Europe.

But what is most lacking at the present time? Judgment is lacking most of all! In the present time, social enlightenment is most of all lacking! It is this which the bourgeoisie has neglected most of all — the right kind of social enlightenment. There is, you see, no social sense in men. Every man knows only himself! This is why judgment is so short-sighted. If one speaks like this today, that economic life is to be brought into the Anthroposophical Society, then this is how I should be able to represent something real to myself — if we were to buy a cow, take care of it and milk it, and thereby produce something and deal in the right way with what had been produced. Then this would not be any sectarianism within our Society; for an ordered economic life, what matters before everything is to take measures to raise productivity, taking account of necessary needs.

Here a beginning was actually made, which only, in the first place, partly failed because of the personage by whom it was made. Remember, we made a beginning with our bread through Herr von R., producing bread not according to the principle of production but according to that of consumption, which can be the only really sound principle. We wished, first of all, to provide consumers, which should have been possible through a Society. Then production would have been put in hand according to the number of these. This was a real, practical beginning. It has only failed because Herr von R. was or is a quite unpractical man. Thus this was a practical idea, but one which only had to do with the Anthroposophical Society so far as the Society represented, in the first place, a body of consumers. What matters is to turn one's glance to the thing, not to the Anthroposophical Society, certainly not to make this into an isolated sect.

With reference to these external things which lie at the basis of production, and to many another thing, you will not come far if you do not grasp on a large scale the ideas which are in my book about the Social Question. For, in the last resort, economic practical experience is necessary for the reform of economic life; one must even know how to milk cows, and it is more important to understand the milking of cows than to put in hand some economic understanding in a little sect and then, nevertheless, to obtain milk from outside.

In our case, what matters would be to realize in just what the impulse of the present time must lie, what is the most important thing at the present time. You can engage in all the undertakings that you wish today. Go, if you can, to Russia, Germany, Austria, Hungary, etc. Put in hand there the best, most idealistic things; do what you wish! At the latest, all these undertakings will be bankrupt within ten years — that is how things are today. With the thoughts which men have today, you can put in hand the most idealistic undertakings; in ten years they will be bankrupt — of that you can be quite sure. It will not always be as quick as it was just now in Munich, where one workers' and soldiers' council was set aside by another, and this again by another yet more radical, and so on, but everything which you put in hand today in the way of such undertakings, which appear very good and sound to you, will in their turn be overthrown so long as the same ideas remain in people's heads as have been there for centuries and are still wandering about there like ghosts.

Nothing more is to be done with these ideas! One must therefore certainly accustom oneself to think and learn the other way round, and to take in new ideas as a constituent part of the inner being of one's soul. You cannot at once, from one day to another, apply new ideas to undertakings, but you can work out in detail the ideas which are in my book, down to the most extreme specialization, because they are practical. You can try to put this or that in hand. But you will also need people, you see, for everything which you put in hand. And, so long as the old thoughts are haunting the heads of those people, your undertakings will soon become bankrupt or else will take on the earlier forms, so that everything will remain in the old manner. Therefore it is not the most important thing today to put this or that in hand. Naturally, you can put good things in hand for yourselves. I do not at all want to tempt you to put bad things in hand. But I am only drawing your attention to the fact that even if you put the best things in hand you will not change the times by doing so. In order really to work in any sphere in the new style, one can undertake something in the manner which I previously indicated to you with regard to bread, or one can do it in some such way as we are doing in the sphere of our literature.

How did we start? In the first place, I spoke to a very small circle in Berlin. Then the circles became ever larger. While they were becoming larger the need arose to have in books what was spoken. The readers were there before the books were printed. Follow up the theories about social ideas today; one of the fundamental evils of our social order consists of the continual crises and the danger of crises which arise as a result of sporadic overproduction, when people produce things without deliberation. It is worst of all in the book-trade. If you only knew what is produced in the book-trade in the way of books, editions of which are often produced of 500 copies, sometimes still more, of which not fifty copies are sold! You have employed the setter-up, you have employed the printer, you have used up paper, all for nothing! All this is thrown to the winds; a misuse of human labor-power has taken place! In the moment when you produce things without deliberation, you must be aware that you are using up human labor-power without the consumption being there to justify this using up of human labor-power, for this using-up of human labor-power is only justified by the existing need. Not the content, but the demand must be there. The spending of human labor power is only justified when one can foresee that the product of human labor is for the benefit of human beings.

Thus, in the single sphere into which we could step in a certain way as reformers, we have done so. We have even had to take refuge in under-production, not over-production. The world could by no means think otherwise than that the magazine Lucifer-Gnosis came to an end for want of readers, as other magazines have done. Just when it had to come to an end because other demands came upon me, the moment had to come when it would first have had half as many readers again as it had before, then twice as many, then three times as many. We have even had to resolve on underproduction, not overproduction. But thus crises were avoided in a sound way.

The book-trade lives in a continual crisis. If one makes statistics of books which are not bought, one sees that books are produced which are not bought today because care cannot be taken to see that they are bought. Many people have a certain insight into these things. I once spoke with Eduard von Hartmann in the eighties about the literature of the Theory of Knowledge. It was at the time when I wrote my booklet Truth and Science which is now out of print, of which no copy was printed uselessly, no copy went for waste-paper with a resulting waste of human labor-power. Eduard von Hartmann said to me: people have all their works on the Theory of Knowledge printed in editions of 500; we know that we have at the most sixty readers in Germany; in this case one should have them hectographed and send the books to the small number of readers who are really interested. It is known that works on Theory of Knowledge have had no more readers at that time.

Do not find fault with the fact that I have just spoken here about this purely economic question of anthroposophical literature. These things have nothing to do with the content of the books, you see, nothing to do with spiritual value. They can, however, illustrate what is really meant and what really matters at the present time — that first of all a sound association of consumers should be created and that production should not take place "into the blue". Not even Truth, my dear friends, should be produced from mere human predilection!

It is to this that the answer refers which I once gave to two Catholic priests in Colmar after a lecture on "The Bible and Knowledge", and which I recently touched on again. After the lecture, the two priests came to me and said: as regards to the content of the lecture they really had nothing special to object to, but they had a lot against the manner of speaking, for the way in which they spoke down from the pulpit was suitable for all men. The way in which I spoke was not suitable for all men, but only for educated people. I could only reply to them what matters in not what opinions you hold, and I hold, about the way in which one should speak to all men; no doubt we can have all sorts of interesting ideas about that, but what matters is not how one should speak but what the facts demand. And now I ask you do all the people go to you in the church? You cannot assert this. Thus I am speaking for those who remain outside and who yet also have a right to hear of Christ, and there are quite enough of them today.

These are facts which cannot be denied. But the old bourgeois education, which is wholly shut up in itself, does still deny it. It imagines something is right if done in this way: it must be so; it must be done like this. But, for life, it is not at all necessary that it be done in this way! What matters, for life, is that one observes: this is there and that is there, that one lets the facts which are there demand of one what one has to do. There are only apparently trivialities, for life today is continually sinning against these trivialities.

What is thus necessary before everything is another adjustment, and also the insight that we must see how this culture, which has been so praised, has carried death in itself, has dissolved itself. You must not believe that culture has been ruined as a result of the Radical-socialist movements of today. It has ruined itself. What the upper classes had in the way of culture has led itself into negation, is perishing by its own qualities. This upper class has simply not taken care that the lower, proletarian classes who are coming after them know anything rational about social arrangements, and thus it is astonished when they come to the fore in their social ignorance and bring really nothing about except chaos.

The position is quite serious, and it is out of this realization of the serious situation of the whole world today that the ideas flow which I have had to utter in my book about the Social Question. People will only understand this book aright if they grasp that one can put the best arrangements in hand today but that just nothing is to be done with the men who have the ideas of our time in their heads. Before everything, their heads must be filled with other ideas. What, then is the true, the real, the truly practical task? To spread enlightenment, my dear friends, before everything, to spread enlightenment and teach people to think differently! This is the task which is laid on every one of you, to bring enlightenment into people's heads, not to think of sundry reformations in details, but to give enlightenment about what is necessary in the most universal way. For, before everything, men must become different today; that is to say, the thoughts, the feelings in men's souls must become different. It is a question of carrying these ideas out there wherever one can. That is the practical thing, to put these ideas into practice. Something is achieved with every quarter of a man — pardon my speaking in such a way — when you win for these ideas. And it is achieved in the greatest degree if you win over people who have practical standing. In the matter of the signatures under the Manifesto, I recently said: it is really quite a cause for joy that there are writers' signatures under the Manifesto, but one bank director who really understands the Manifesto and works in its sense is of more value than ten writers who set their names under it.

Today, what matters is to take hold of life where it is to be taken hold of. And today this cannot be done except while one is spreading enlightenment before all else, is working in an enlightening way. For what people need as the most necessary thing of all is knowledge of the conditions for the life of the healthy Social Organism. If they do not learn to know the conditions for the life of the healthy Social Organism, they will continue to destroy the old Social Organism so long as destruction is possible. It is natural, you see, only up to a certain point. Everything which is done just now without these ideas is an exhaustion of the forces of the old order, a pulling down of the old order. This has begun in Russia and will go on further from there. What matters is to build up. But you can only build up today if people understand how the building-up must be done. For we are living in the age of the development of the consciousness-soul, that is to say in the age of conscious individualities, in the age when people must know what they are doing.

My book is written out of this spirit, and I should like it understood in this spirit. I should like you to lay it in your hearts in this spirit. It will simply serve the time; it will utter what must be uttered out of the spirit of the time. Cliques, sectarian trends within the body of our own Society, have taken care enough that, basically speaking, people presume all sorts of ghost-hunting and the like when there is talk about Anthroposophy. But one does not seek the Spirit here by always merely talking about the Spirit — one can leave that to other gentlemen — but the important thing is that the Spirit shall be in the position really to plunge down into practical life, to understand how practical life must be handled. Anyone has a poor kind of belief in the Spirit who wishes to grasp it only in a shadowy form which is floating above life. Therefore, to an ever greater extent, you must really avoid turning away from life, must to an ever greater extent seek really to understand life, to look into life; otherwise the same phenomena of which I have spoken will happen again and again. Examples can be given by hundreds and thousands. A lady came to me and said: a man has come to me to ask me to lend him money, but he is a brewer who brews beer for this money. I really cannot support this — a brewery! Now, you see, this is quite nice; in this narrow circle, the lady did not wish to support the brewery because she was an abstainer and not only wished to be an abstainer on her own account but wished also to make propaganda for temperance. I had to reply to her: "I suppose you have money in the bank, by which you live. Have you an inkling how many breweries the bank helps with your money? Have you an inkling of all that is done there? Do you believe that all this is in the sense of the idea which you have just followed with regard to the sum which you were asked to lend to the brewer? But are you not doing the same thing when your money, which you have deposited in the bank, is carried over into economic life?" For do you really believe that it means that you are turning yourself towards life if you do no more than judge this life in the narrowest circles, if you do not at all set about fixing your attention on the broad aspect of life?

But the important thing is this: our Anthroposophical Society is no field for experimenting, but it is to be the germ for everything good which is to come over mankind. With regard to the Social Question, what matters is above all that a wider stream of enlightenment about social necessities shall stream out from it. For you are certainly behaving practically, conforming with life, if you spread these things, but you must also really take trouble to spread them conformably with life, and not remain in a narrow interpretation. I hope that not one of you comes to the strange idea that we are dealing in the old national-economic ideas, by which people learn National-economy. For God's sake don't bring in anything pertaining to "export national-economics" here today, for this, you see, consists of ideas from the oldest lumber-room of all! Do not believe that you are learning to think in a national-economic way if, today, you take practicable concepts into yourselves in a scholastic way, as they are perhaps taught at universities. Do not make any programs which appear to put into practice what I have given in lectures but which, rather, mean nothing more than the terribly-grinning old bourgeois masks! Let us set ourselves on the solid ground of the great demands of our time; let us consider social life before everything in these demands of our time!

I could not but say this before you just now, when we are about to make a journey to Germany and many a task will come to meet me; and though we hope that our absence will this time be much less long than on other occasions, we are yet living in a time when one should really never make plans and projects covering a long time. One can only say people who have found one another as the members of the Anthroposophical Society have done remain together wherever they are, stand in the matter with steadfast courage and inner boldness and stick to their course, whatever the terrible billows of the present time may bring. For the most part, they will not bring anything easy. We shall most likely experience many a thing which will raise the question in us: how should things go further just among us? Stick to your course even when this happens; do what is your part in order to carry something further in the world, and you will be doing what is right.

I could only remain here at this time until this book was completed, for this book is to be of service to the time. Our friends will undertake it here, will take care of its distribution in Switzerland, and I hope for many a reason that I can be here again quite soon to take part in this work. Partly for a reason which is very much misunderstood just here in Switzerland. One can certainly hear from someone on the other side: "but what does the foreigner want just here in Switzerland? He should leave us in peace. Our democracy has lasted for 600 years; it is healthy, it is proof against what is going on outside among the crazy eastern and middle-European peoples."

I have now the conviction that the best could be done today where it could still be brought about from free-will. If such social ideas as are recorded in my book were to blossom in Russia today, this would come to pass because the most external need compelled it, and if the most external need compels it — the same in Middle-Europe, the same in Germany — then the right impulse is no longer there. The right impulse just for these ideas, which will bring social healing to mankind, would be present if they would come to pass out of freedom on a ground of which one can say the Bolshevists have not come to us, we still have something of the old conditions. Oh, if understanding for it were developed to bring forth these ideas from free-will, just on the ground here, before the water runs into the mouths of the people here as well, then Switzerland could be the blossoming land of Europe, for it is equipped for this by its geographical position! It is equipped with a gigantic mission in spite of its small size. But it will only be able to fulfill this mission if it brings to completion, from free-will, what neither the eastern nor the middle states can bring to fulfillment from free-will today — they would have had to take it in hand before now — and what the western states will not do because they have not sufficient disposition to do so. Here there are dispositions, the geographical presuppositions; everything is present here. All that is needed here is good-will towards free human resolve. To this belongs just activity of thinking. To this belongs thought-will.

Thought-will is what the mankind of today most lacks. Thought-will develops very well, even geographically, among those men whom souls come because they wish to go into the mountains. (I drew your attention to this yesterday: souls no longer set very much value on race, they go to a geographical situation). Thought-will does not develop in regions such as that in which The Three Gypsies (poem by Lenau) was composed. This is a very beautiful poem, but it is composed in the plain. Man does not need a plain-disposition today; he certainly needs a mountain-disposition. Therefore, much could come out of the Swiss mountains; therefore one would like to have certain foundations here also, a point from which something could proceed. And therefore it seems important to me not to be silent just here but to speak as long as possible of the great needs of the time. And I call especially to our friends here in Switzerland to understand the demand for enlightenment, to take care that the demands of the time pass over into the consciousness just of those who live in this place. The more Swiss heads and Swiss hearts are won just for these social ideas, the better it will be for Europe and for the world. I say this quite particularly to the Swiss. You can, you see, my dear Swiss who are among us, make the foreign thing into a Swiss thing — then it is a Swiss thing! All these distinctions really have only a passing value.

I could not but say this to you today, and I hope that you have understood me quite aright with regard to these things. I hope that the spirit which should fill and envelop this building may be further maintained as a result of the disposition of our members, and that we may at some time find ourselves together again here, held together by this spirit which, from the beginning forward, was such that it could now live itself out and which cannot be any different, for from the beginning forward it has willed to realize itself in what lies in the demands of our time.

With this I should like to take leave of you for the present. But this place here should have such a spiritual importance that if it should at any time be necessary and if the only way for me to come to work here would be to ride here on a wasted, half-dead nag, I should not shrink from even this. But tasks can come in other places which may delay my return. But in spite of everything, good-bye in our spirit, particularly in the spirit which I have slightly depicted in this last gathering and presented to your hearts.

Source: April 14, 1919. GA 190