Saturday, December 23, 2023

What the world needs now is Anthroposophy


"The Future of Humankind"

Theosophy of the Rosicrucian [aka Rosicrucian Wisdom]. Lecture 13 of 14.
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, June 5, 1907:

It is now our task to speak somewhat of the progress of human evolution in the future and of what one calls initiation. It is by means of initiation that present-day man passes in advance through stages of life which are otherwise only passed through by humanity in the future.
If we occupy ourselves with the first problem it may seem to you audacious to try to speak about the future, or even that it is impossible to find out anything of the future of man. Nevertheless if you will consider the matter a little you will find that the view that one can know something about the future is not so unfounded after all. You have only to compare these things with what the ordinary researcher, the natural scientist, for example, can know with regard to future events. He can tell you definitely that if he mixes together oxygen, hydrogen, and sulphur under certain conditions, sulphuric acid always results. One can say exactly what happens when one intercepts rays by a mirror. In fact, this goes even further in regard to things of external life: one can predict eclipses of the Sun and Moon for indefinitely long periods of time.
How is it possible to do this? Because one knows the laws of physical life. Now, if someone knows the spiritual laws of life, from these laws he can likewise say what must come about in the future. Here, however, a question generally arises which weighs heavily in people's minds. It is so easy to imagine that it is a contradiction of freedom, of man's own voluntary acts, if it could be known in advance what will happen. This too is an incorrect idea. When you combine sulphur, hydrogen, and oxygen under certain conditions, sulphuric acid arises; that is determined by the laws of the combination. Whether you do it, however, depends on your will; and so it is also in the spiritual course of human evolution. What will happen will be done by man in entire freedom of will, and the higher a man develops, the freer he will be. Nor must one think that it is already decided what a man will do in the future because one can see it in advance. Most people, however, have no right understanding of this problem, and in fact it presents very great difficulties. Since ancient times philosophers have tormented themselves with the question of human freedom and the law of predestined phenomena. Practically all that has been written in this field is extremely unsatisfactory, for as a rule people cannot distinguish between foreseeing and being foreordained. Seeing in advance is in fact no different from looking out to some distant spot in space. If you look in space to a point far off, let us say the corner of the street over there, and you see a man giving a penny to another, have you brought about this action? Has it been caused through the fact that you see it? No, you only see that he does it, and that exercises no pressure on his act. Now, in a certain respect it is like this in time, only people cannot grasp it. Let us suppose you are reincarnated in a couple of thousand years; you then do something of your own free will; that is the same as the example of the gift of the penny. Under certain circumstances the seer sees what is done in the future, and this future act is just as little determined by the present point of time as the gift of the penny by the point of space. People often say if one sees that something will happen then it is actually predetermined. But then one is confounding the present with the future. In fact it would be no prevision into the future if it were already predestined; you are not seeing something that is already there, but something that has first to come; you must grasp with exactness the concept of seeing-into-the-future. It must be exercised and practiced in patient meditation; then only does one find it possible to understand these things aright.
After these introductory words we will now speak of some few things that can be said about the evolution of humanity in the future. We have reached the point where humanity has descended most deeply into matter, where men turn to account their spiritual forces in the construction and manufacture of instruments and machines that serve the personal life. Connected with this was an ever-increasing densification, both of mankind and of the Earth as a whole. We have seen that the mineral kingdom, as we call it, the densest part of the Earth, only arose at a definite point of time in our evolution. It was only then that man entered upon his present earthly development; and the division of the sexes and other phenomena went hand in hand with it. At that time when the human being had not as yet entered this physical development which contains a mineral kingdom, he too was of a much finer, softer nature. Just to give some idea of it, let us note how the reproduction of the human race took place in those ancient times before the two sexes were in existence. At that time the human being — who was still of double sex and of a thinner, finer corporeality — brought forth another being from itself. This did not take place as it does today, but somewhat as in spiritualistic seances wherein the etheric body of some other being proceeds from the medium. That gives you more or less a picture of this materialization from oneself — the manner of human propagation in ancient times. It was like an out-pressure from human beings who were ripe to continue their own development.
Thus you see that with the densification of man in the cosmos is connected a descent into the world of matter. And another force is connected with it which could never have developed without it: egoism. Egoism has a good and a bad side. It is the foundation of human independence and freedom, but in its reverse aspect the foundation too of all that is bad and evil. But man had to go through this force of egoism if he was to learn to do good of his own freewill. Through the forces which had guided him previously, he would always have been impelled to the good; it had, however, to be possible for him to go his own way. Just as he has descended, he must now ascend again to spirituality; and as the descent is linked with the predominance of egoism, so does the ascent depend on men's selflessness, their feeling of sympathy for one another, becoming stronger and stronger. Mankind has evolved through various epochs: first through the old Indian, then the Persian, the Egyptian-Chaldean-Babylonian, the Greco-Latin, to the present, the fifth epoch. And this will be replaced by a sixth. And as human evolution is working towards this, it is working at the same time at the overcoming of the principle which has been strongest since the time when the etheric body united with the point in the brain of which I spoke to you yesterday. That was the time of the fall into the deepest egoism.
Man was also egotistic in his earlier evolution, but it was then in a different way. The egoism which enters so deeply into the soul in our present age is inseparable from the predominating materialism; a spiritual age will denote the overcoming of this egoism. Therefore Christianity and all movements imbued with genuine religious life have worked consciously towards breaking through all the old blood-ties. Christianity has made a radical statement in the words “He who forsaketh not father, mother, wife, child, brother, sister cannot be my disciple.” This indicates nothing less than that in place of the ancient blood-ties there must enter the spiritual bond between soul and soul, between one human being and another.
The only question now is: What are the ways and means by which humanity may attain spirituality, that is, the overcoming of materialism, and at the same time reach what may be called the bond of brotherhood, the expression of universal human love? One might imagine that universal human love need only be stressed strongly enough and that then it must come about, or that one should found unions which aim at the goal of a universal human love. Occultism is never of this opinion. On the contrary! The more a man speaks of universal brotherly love and humanity, becoming in a sense intoxicated by them, the more egotistic he becomes. For precisely as there is a lust of the senses, so is there a lust of the soul; and it is in fact a refined voluptuousness to say “I will become morally higher and higher.” This, to be sure, is not a thought which creates the ordinary conventional egoism, but it does lead to a subtle form of egoism.
It is not by emphasizing “Love,” “Sympathy,” that they are generated in the course of mankind's evolution. Mankind will be led to that bond of brotherhood far rather through something else, namely, through spiritual knowledge itself. There is no other means of bringing about a universal human brotherhood than the spreading of occult knowledge through the world. One may talk forever of Love and the Brotherhood of Man, one may found thousands of Unions; they will not lead to the desired goal, however well-intentioned they may be. The point is to use the right means, to know how to found this bond of brotherhood. Only those whose lives are grounded in universal occult truth, valid for all men, find themselves together in the one truth. As the Sun unites the plants which strive towards it and which yet remain individually separate, so must the truth to which all are striving be a uniform one: then all men find themselves together. But men must work energetically towards truth, for only then can they live together in harmony.
The objection might be made: "Surely all are striving towards the truth!" But there are different standpoints, and therefore strife and dissension arises. That denotes a knowledge of truth which is not sufficiently thorough. One must not plead that there may be different standpoints: one must first experience that truth is single and indivisible. It does not depend on popular vote: it is true in itself. Or would you put it to the vote as to whether the three angles of a triangle are equal to 180 degrees? Whether millions of people admit that, or not a single one, when you have recognized it, it is true for you. There is no democracy about truth. And those who are not yet in harmony have not penetrated far enough into the truth — thence originates all quarreling over truth. It may be said: “Yes, but someone asserts this and another that in occult matters!” In genuine occultism that is not so. It is the same in occult things as in materialistic things: there too someone asserts this and another that — but then one of them is false. Even so is it in genuine occultism; it is only that people often have a bad habit of judging occult matters before they have been understood.
The aim of the sixth epoch of humanity will be to popularize occult truth in the widest circles; that is the mission of that epoch. And the society which is united in spirit has the task of carrying this occult truth everywhere — right into life — and applying it practically. This is precisely what is lacking in our age. Only look how our epoch is searching and how no one can find the right solution. There are innumerable problems: the Educational Problem, the Feminist Movement, Medicine, the Social Problem, the Food Question. And people doctor away at these problems: endless articles are written, and each talks from his own standpoint, without being willing to study what lies at the center: occult truth.
It is not a matter of having some abstract knowledge of the truths of spiritual science, but of applying them directly to life, of studying the social problem, the educational problem, in fact the whole range of human life, from the standpoint of real occult wisdom. “But then,” it might be urged, “one would have to know the highest wisdom.” That arises from the mistake of thinking one must always understand what one makes use of in life. But that is not necessary; understanding of the highest principles often comes much later than their application. If mankind had wished to wait in the matter of digestion till the laws of digestion were understood, then the evolution of mankind would not have been possible. So too one does not need to be aware of all spiritual laws in order to let spiritual science flow into everyday life. That is precisely the way in which the Rosicrucian method deals with the spiritual — fewer abstractions, but instead, the study of the problems of everyday life. Do you think that the child knows all the grammatical rules of speech when it has learnt to speak? First it learns to speak and then it learns grammar. So we must lay stress on the value it has for a man, with the help of spiritual teachings, to attack what lies directly around him, before he occupies himself with what is to be found in the highest worlds, with information concerning the astral plane and Devachan. This is the only way to understand what exists in our surroundings, and where we ourselves must play our part. And we shall find that it is our task to bind together through the unifying bonds of spiritual wisdom those portions of humanity who have been torn out of the old bonds of blood and race.
And then, inasmuch as we evolve from the fifth into the sixth and then into the seventh epoch, the ancient connection of race and blood will be increasingly lost. Mankind becomes freer of physical ties in order to form groups from the aspect of the spirit. It was a bad habit in Theosophy to speak of races as if they would always remain. The concept of race loses its meaning in the immediate future. To state incessantly that seven and again seven races have always evolved in the world is the speculative extension of an idea that only holds good for our age — looking backwards and forwards; it has never been said from clairvoyant vision, from occultism. Races have arisen, as everything else arises; and as everything again dies out so will races die out too. Those who have always only spoken of races will have to accustom themselves to making their ideas fluid. It is only a convenient way of talking. If one looks but a little into the future those ideas which applied to past and present are already no longer valid. It is most important that people should not consider that something they have once brought into a beautiful concept is a truth for all time. Men must get into the habit of making ideas fluid, of recognizing that ideas change — that will be an advance. The ability of passing over from rigidly dogmatic ideas to mobile ones must be cultivated in those who would be the bearers of the future. For just as times change so must our ideas change too, if we would understand the times.
Souls live now in a human body which you distinctly perceive with the senses. By what means has it arisen? It was very different in earlier times when the soul descended — in fact, for our present material outlook, even comically different. The soul took up its abode in it. By what means has the human being evolved to its present form? Because the soul has itself worked in the body during all its incarnations. You can form an idea of how the soul has worked on the body if you consider what possibility has remained to the man of our materialistic age to work upon his body. He can work relatively but very little on his dense physical body. See how you work temporarily on the body and its physiognomy. Something for instance causes you terror, anxiety; the impression of anxiety and fear makes you go pale. And your physical appearance is affected in the same way by the blush of shame. This passes away again, but you see how it is caused. Something acts on the soul and the effects extend to the blood and thence to the physical body, changing the very appearance. The effect can be still more intensive. You know that people who lead a life of thought have it very much in their power to create an impression on their countenance of their intellectual work: one can observe whether or not a man has lived a life of mental activity. So men still work on their external expression, and a man of noble feelings displays them in dignified movements. These are but very slight relics of how man has worked on himself during millions of years. Whereas nowadays you can only bring the blood to the cheek and drive it away again, in earlier times man was entirely under the influence of a picture-world which was the expression of a world of spirit.
The effect of this influence was that the human being could work much more creatively on his body. At the same time the body was also more soft and yielding. There was a time when you could not merely stretch out your hand, when you could not only point with the finger, but when you could send your will into your hand, and so form it that you could thrust out the fingers as continuations. There was a time when the foot was not yet permanent but could be extended as a continuation when man needed it. Thus through the pictures which he received from the surrounding world man shaped his own body. Today in our material age this moulding is unimaginably slow, but a time will come again when it will proceed more rapidly. In the future man will again acquire more influence over his physical corporeality. We shall see when we consider initiation by what means he gains this influence; although he may not reach it in one life, yet he will be able to do much for the next incarnation.
Thus it is man himself who will bring about the future form of his body. Inasmuch as the human being becomes softer and softer, inasmuch as he separates himself from the hard parts, he is approaching his future. An age comes when man will live above his earthly portion as it were, as in time gone by. This condition, which is comparable to your present sleep-condition, will then be replaced by another when the human being will be able to draw his etheric body out of his physical body at will. It will be as if the denser part of man were here below on Earth and the human being will make use of it from outside like an instrument. Man will no longer bear his body about and live within it, but will float above it; the body will itself have become rarefied and finer. That seems a fantastic idea today, but one can be distinctly aware of it from spiritual laws, just as one reckons future eclipses of the Sun and Moon from the laws of astronomy. Above all it will be upon the reproductive force that man will work. He will transform it. Many people cannot imagine that there will ever be a different generative process. But it will be so: the process of generation will be altered. The generative process and all that stands in connection with it will pass over in the future to another organ. The organ that is already preparing to become the future organ of generation is the human larynx. Today it can only bring forth vibrations of the air, can only impart to the air what lies in the word that goes forth from it, so that the vibrations correspond to the word. Later on, not only will the word press forward in its rhythm from the larynx, but it will be irradiated by man, it will be penetrated by very substance. Just as today the word only becomes airwaves, so in the future man's inner being, his own likeness, which today is in his word, will issue from the larynx. The human being will proceed from the human being, man will speak forth man. And this in the future will be the birth of a new human being — that he is spoken forth by another.
Such things throw a definite light on phenomena in our surroundings which no natural science can explain. That transformation of the reproductive force, which will again become free of sex, takes over then the functions of the earlier reproduction. Hence in the male organism at the age of puberty, a transformation also takes place in the larynx. The voice becomes deeper. This shows you clearly how these two things are interconnected. Thus occultism throws light again and again on facts of life and illumines phenomena for which materialistic science can give you no explanation.
And just as the organ of the larynx will be transformed, so too will the human heart. It is the organ which stands in intimate connection with the circulation. Now science believes that the heart is a kind of pump; that is a grotesquely fantastic idea. Occultism has never made such a fantastic statement as has modern materialism. It is the feelings of the soul which give rise to the movement of the blood; the soul drives the blood, and the heart moves because it is driven by the blood. Thus the truth is exactly the opposite of what materialistic science states. Man today, however, cannot guide his heart as he will; when he feels anxiety, it beats faster, since the feeling acts on the blood and this quickens the motion of the heart. But what is suffered involuntarily by man today will later, at a higher stage of evolution, be in his own power. Later on he will drive his blood by his own volition, and cause the movement of his heart, as today he moves the muscles of his hand. The heart with its peculiar structure is a crux, a riddle for modern science. It has diagonally striped fibers, which are otherwise only to be found in voluntary muscles. Why? Because the heart has not yet reached the end of its evolution, but is an organ of the future; because it will in the future be a voluntary muscle. Thus it already shows the rudiments of this in its structure.
All that goes on in the soul changes the organism. And if you now imagine the man who is able to create his own likeness through the spoken word, whose heart has become a voluntary muscle, who will have altered yet other organs, then you have a conception of the future of the human race in future planetary incarnations of our Earth. Humanity will progress on our Earth as far as it is possible under the influence of a mineral kingdom. This mineral kingdom, in spite of its having arisen the last, will be the first to disappear again in its present form. Man will then no longer build up his body from mineral substances as today; the coming human body will only incorporate into itself substances of a plant nature. All that works in man today as mineral will disappear. In order to give you a seemingly grotesque example: the human saliva of today is a mineral product, for the physical body is an inter-action of mineral processes. When man will have ended his mineral evolution he will no longer have a mineral spittle; it will be of a plant-nature — man will, so to speak, spit flowers. Glands will no more secrete what is mineral, but a plant-like substance. The mineral kingdom is brought to an end by the evolutionary return of humanity to plant-like existence.
Thus the human being lives over to Jupiter inasmuch as he expels all that is mineral and passes over to the creativeness of the plant. And inasmuch as he then later passes over to animal-creation — the animals will be different from those of today — when his heart will have progressed so far that it can appear as a creator, then he will create in the animal world, as today he creates in the mineral kingdom, and then the Venus condition will arise. And when he can create his kind by virtue of uttering his own likeness, then is the meaning of evolution complete, then is the word fulfilled: “Let us create man in our own image.”
Only by observing this aspect — that the body will be moulded from the soul — will man really transform the human race. Only through a thinking trained in the occult and spiritual sense will there appear what has been described as the transformation of the heart and the larynx. What humanity thinks today, that will it be in the future. A humanity that thinks materialistically will produce frightful beings in the future, and a humanity that thinks spiritual thoughts so works upon and transforms the future organism that beautiful human bodies will proceed from it.
What the materialistic mode of thought brings about has not yet been completed. We have two streams today: a great materialistic one which fills the Earth, and the small spiritual stream which is restricted to but few human beings. Distinguish between soul-evolution and race-evolution. Do not think that if races pass over to a grotesque form that the soul too does the same. All materialistically thinking souls work on the production of evil race-formations, and what is done of a spiritual nature causes the bringing forth of a good race. Just as mankind has brought forth that which has retrogressed in the animals, plants, and minerals, so will a portion split off and represent the evil part of humanity. And in the body which meanwhile will have grown soft the inner badness of the soul will express itself externally. Just as older conditions which have degenerated to the ape species seem grotesque to us today, so do materialistic races remain at the standpoint of evil, and will people the Earth as evil races. It will lie entirely with humanity as to whether a soul will remain in the bad race or will ascend by spiritual culture to a good race.
These are things that we must know if we would live into the future with real knowledge. Otherwise we go through the world with our eyes bound, for forces are working in humanity which we must recognize and to which we must pay attention. A man would neglect his duty to mankind if he did not wish to become acquainted with the forces which work in the direction of right evolution or against it. Knowledge for the sake of knowledge would be egotism. He who wants to know in order to look into higher worlds acts egotistically. But one who tries to carry this knowledge into the direct practice of everyday life furthers the advance of the coming evolution of humanity. It is extremely important for us to learn more and more to put into practice what exists as the conception of spiritual science.
So you see, the Spiritual Movement has a quite definite goal, namely, to mould future humanity in advance. And the goal can be reached in no other way than through the acceptance of spiritual wisdom. This is the thought that lives in the mind of one who conceives spiritual science as the great task of mankind. He thinks of it as inseparable from evolution and he regards it not as an object of desire but as a task and duty that is laid upon him. And the more we acknowledge this, the more rapidly do we approach the future form of humanity in the Sixth Age. As at that time in ancient Atlantis, in the neighborhood of modern Ireland, the advanced human beings were drawn to the East in order to found the new civilizations, so have we now the task of working towards the great moment in the Sixth Age when humanity will undertake a great spiritual ascent.
We must endeavor to come out of materialism again, and societies with a spiritual aim must undertake to guide humanity, not from motives of arrogance and pride but as a task and duty.
So a certain group of people must join together in order to prepare the future. But this union is not to be conceived of geographically. All ideas of locality have then lost their meaning because it is no longer a question of racial relationships. The point will be for people over the whole Earth to find each other spiritually, in order to fashion the future in a positive way. For this reason, 400 years ago, when our epoch plunged the deepest into matter, the Rosicrucian Brotherhood emphasized that practical spiritual science which contains an answer to all problems of everyday life.
Here you have the ascending evolution following the descending. Just as old knowledge acts as a disintegrating force, as is shown in Mauthner's Criticism of Language, so the spiritual current of thought seeks the unifying bond of spiritual wisdom. Hence arises the new school of initiation which is directly concerned with leading humanity over into a new cycle of time.
Thus with the principle of human evolution is connected the concept of initiation. 

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