Tuesday, January 23, 2018

"and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes"

"For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of water: and God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes."  — Revelation 7:17

Differentiation of Primeval Wisdom into East, Middle, West

Rudolf Steiner, Dornarch, Switzerland, November 9, 1919:

From our last lectures you will have seen how man comes to a kind of illusory idea of the outer world; but as a matter of fact, what are usually understood as the connections of nature are inwardly dependent on humanity itself; and we can only gain a true view of the world when we consider the earth and indeed the universe, in its entirety — which means when we regard man as being part of the world — and visualise the interchange, the inter-relation between man and the world. Otherwise we always come to an unreal, a mere abstract grasp of the mineral kingdom; at most understanding something of the plant and animal worlds, which no longer play any strong part in the present concept of nature.
When one speaks of the connections of nature, it is, as a rule, merely the mineral connections in nature to which one refers. To these, if one so desires, that short episode which one calls History, is added; but as a truth of quite a different nature.
From this view, which does not extend to man in his real being, humanity in our present age has to come right away. From diverse points of view we have brought forward the reason why humanity must abandon this view of things, a view which, as you know, has in a sense been necessarily developed in the last three or four centuries.
To-day I will only mention that human beings, with reference to their external knowledge, their external cognition, will become more and more dependent on the physical body with its necessities, unless they can rise in their own evolution to the production of a higher knowledge, through the very effort of their own Will. And in the future it is a question of this:- either humanity will simply succumb to a view of the world gained by remaining just as one was at birth, acquiring no other concepts than those one has already through being placed on the earth through birth, and by means of the ordinary education customary to-day.
That is the one possibility. The other is this: That humanity will cease to believe that, simply from being Born as human beings on earth, they can judge of everything real; and they will then be able to build up a real evolution of man, such as is indicated by Spiritual Science. That is the other path; humanity will have to traverse this latter path, otherwise the earth simply faces its downfall.
What I have just said, can also be observed geographically, when it acquires a quite special significance for the present.
If we only go far enough back in the evolution of the earth, we find man is not rooted in earthly existence itself; for before the evolution of the earth, he had already undergone a long previous development. You find this evolution described In my Outline of Occult Science. You know that man was, in a sense taken back again into a pure Spiritual existence, and from this pure Spiritual existence, he has descended to earthly existence. Now it is a fact that, because of this descent of man into earthly existence, there has been taken away from humanity, a comprehensive, one might call it — an inherited Wisdom — a primeval Wisdom, which was of such a nature that it was one and the same, uniform, for the whole of humanity. You will find such things described in more detail in those lectures which I have called The Folk-Souls, a course given in Christiania. So this inherited Wisdom was a uniform thing. When I naw speak of knowledge, I mean not merely that which is usually called knowledge in Science to-day, but everything which man can absorb in his soul life as a view of his cosmic environment and of his own life.
Now this primeval knowledge specialised itself in such a way that it became different according to the different territories of the earth. You will see this better if you go into those chapters in Occult Science dealing with this matter. But even externally, if you just look at what we call the civilisation of the different earthly races, you may say: That what the human beings of the different races upon earth have known, differed from the beginning. One can distinguish an Indian civilisation, a Chinese civilisation, a Japanese civilisation, a European civilisation. And again, in this European civilisation there is a special culture of its own for each of the various European territories. Then we have an American civilisation and so on. But if we ask: How it it that this primeval or inherited wisdom became specialised, how did it become ever more and more differentiated? We must answer: The inner relationships, the inner dispositions of these races were to blame for this. Indeed we find that there is always an adaptation of the inner relationship of the different races to the external conditions of the earth. We can to some extent get an idea of this differentiation if we try to find out the connection between, let us say, what forms the Indian civilisation and the climatic geographical conditions of the land of India. In the same way we can get an idea of the special nature of the Russian culture, if we consider the relationship between the Russian and his earth. Now we must say, in reference to these relationships, that humanity to-day — as indeed in many other connections — has arrived at a kind of crisis. This dependence of man on his territory gradually, in the course of the 19th century, increased to the utmost conceivable extent. Of course, it is true that human beings have emancipated themselves from their territories. That is true. they consciously have emancipated themselves from their territories; but they are nevertheless dependent in a certain way upon these territories. Te can see that if we compare, let us say, the attitude of a Greek to ancient Greece, and say that of a modern Englishman or German to their countries. The Greeks still had much of the ancient wisdom in their civilisation and education, they were perhaps more physically dependent upon their land of Greece than the modern human being on his country. But this stronger dependence was modified, because the Greeks were inwardly filled with this ancient wisdom. This wisdom has however gradually faded away from humanity, and we can point almost exactly to the time in the middle of the 15th century when the direct understanding for certain treasures of wisdom ceases, and how even the traditions of such treasures gradually faded away in the 19th century. Artificially, as I might say, like plants in a forcing house, certain of these treasures were still preserved in all sorts of secret societies, which sometimes pursued very evil practices with them. But such societies still preserved a primeval wisdom even in the 19th century. (In the 19th century it was somewhat different), but in the 19th century they still preserved some things of which one can say: They are like plants in a forcing house. What have the symbols of the Freemasons to do with the ancient wisdom from which they originated? They are like plants raised in the forcing house, compared with plants growing freely in nature. Not even so much likeness still remains between the masonic symbols and that ancient wisdom!
Just because humanity is losing that inner permeation with this old wisdom, men are really becoming all the more dependent upon their territories and unless they can again acquire a treasure of Spiritual Science which can develop freely, they will be differentiated all over the earth according to their territories.
As a matter of fact, we can distinguish three types which we have studied already from other points of view. To-day we can say that unless the impulses of Spiritual Science are spread abroad in the world, from the West there will come none but economic truths, which can indeed produce many other things out of their bosom; none but economic thought and ideas would prevail in the West. From the East there would come over what once were essentially Spiritual truths; Asia,, even if in very decadent ways, would confine itself more and more to Spiritual truths.
Central Europe would cultivate the more intellectual sphere; and this would make itself specially felt in the uniting of something of the traditions of ancient times with what streams over from the West as economic truths, and with what streams over from the East as Spiritual truths. Human beings living in these three main types of earthly division, would specialise more and more in this direction.
The tendency of our present age tends absolutely towards making this specialisation of humanity a really dominant principle. We can say, my dear friends — and I beg you to take this very seriously, that unless a Spiritual Scientific impulse permeates the world, the East will gradually become absolutely incapable of managing its own Economic Life, of developing its own economic thinking. The East would come into a position of being able to produce only; that means, of actually cultivating the soil, of working upon the immediate products of nature with the instruments transmitted from the West. But all that has to be administered by human reason, would develop in the West.
From this point of view the catastrophe of the World War which has just run its course, is nothing but the beginning of the tendency: (I will express it in popular phraseology) — to permeate the East by the West in an economic way. That means making the East a sphere in which people work, and the West a sphere in which economic use is made of what is derived from nature in the East. The boundary between the East and the West need not be a fixed one; it is moveable.
If this tendency which is dominant to-day, goes further, if it is not permeated Spiritually, then without any doubt at all the following would have to arise. One need simply utter it hypothetically. The entire East would economically be an object of booty for the West; and man would regard this course of development as the proper course laid down for earthly humanity. It would be regarded as quite justifiable and obvious. There exists no other means of introducing into this tendency that which does not make half of humanity slaves and the other half employers of these slaves, than by permeating the earth with a common Spirituality which man must acquire once more.
If one utters these things to-day most people prefer to reject them. The man of to-day is only too inclined to wave these things aside with a movement of his hand, for the simple reason that it is externally uncomfortable for him to face the true reality. He says to himself: “Well, even if this economic permeation of the East does come about, it will not take place yet awhile, not in my lifetime.” Certainly those who have children, do think a little more earnestly, because of their children; but then they like to fog themselves a little in the hope that better times may come, and so forth.
But to realise in their inner being that there exists no other means of fashioning the future of humanity into a form worthy of human beings, than by not permeating merely the earth economically, but also Spiritually is a thought very few people pursue for themselves to-day, because of a certain love of ease.
We may say that humanity has received the present configuration of its life of civilisation from three sides, and it is extremely interesting to fix one's mind on these three sides of this earthly life of civilisation, especially for the task we have set ourselves in these lectures.
If one surveys the whole earth-sphere from East to West, one must say: “Everything which man possesses in the way of ethical truths, of moral truths, has come from the East”. One can say that the form in which the East, with its general view of the Cosmos, has developed its ethical truths, the form of its general cosmology, and 1 so on, has now been lost; but certain Ethics have remained over as relics of oriental thought and feeling.
It is infinitely interesting from this point of view to read the speeches which Rabindranath Tagore held, which are collected under the title of Nationalism. You will see if you read these speeches that there is hardly anything now to be found in them of that great Cosmic Wisdom teaching, which at one time, lived in the feelings of men in the East. But one who can read with understanding these speeches of Tagore collected under the title Nationalism will say: the moral pathos which lives in them and which indeed is the chief essence of these speeches, the ethical will which lives in them, that bitter moral criticism which exercised against the individual mechanism of the West, and against all the still more evil political mechanism of the West, lives as Ethos in these speeches of Tagore, could not have been uttered unless there stood behind them the ancient primeval wisdom of Asia; even though it no longer lives externally in men's consciousness. With that wisdom, created out of the stars, the moral truths were permeated which resound from out of the East, and this comes to us when such people as Rabindranath Tagore speak.
If, without prejudice, one investigates everything which has developed in this way of culture in the West, in Central Europe, one must say: What lives there, whether it be in philosophers or non-philosophers, in the simple or most educated — that which ethically and morally permeates the humanity of the West has all trickled over from the East, from Asia. The East is the real home of Ethos, of ethics.
If we now Look towards the West, the civilisation of which has transpired before the eye of history, we see how muck enters into the consideration of the reasoning, intellectual working-man, of world phenomena. There what rests an the principle of utility comes into consideration.
There is a great contrast, of which humanity should become aware, between what lives as pathos in the speeches of Tagore, and everything which develops in the West as the stand-point of utility.
To speak radically, one might say, that the sort of thing we meet with in philosophers such as John Stuart Mill, or in national economists such as Adam Smith or intellectual philosophers such as Bergson, anything of this nature remains for the Asiatic, even if he tries to understand it, something which lies completely outside his being. He can grasp as an interesting fact that such things are said by human beings, but he will never be tempted to produce things which relate simply to external human utility, from out of his own nature.
The Asiatic thoroughly despises the European and American nature, because it always refers him to the standpoint of utility, which can only be dominated with the intellect, with the understanding. So it has come about that this way of thinking, which is connected with the idea of utility, is above all the product of the West.
As I have previously drawn your attention to the fact that over the earth the ancient wisdom, has specialised itself according to Races, so we can now distinguish these great types. The ethical type in the Orient, in the East; the intellectual utilitarian type in the West, the Occident, while in between there is, always trying to press forward, what I want to call the third type, the Aesthetic, which is just as much characteristic of Central Europe, as the ethical type is of the East and the utilitarian type of the West.
We need merely remind ourselves of a certain phenomenon, in order to be able to bring forward a proof drawn from external facts: how it is that just in Central Europe this Aesthetic type seeks to make itself felt. While in the West the French Revolution partially raged and partially bore its consequences, and the East was still immersed in Spiritual dreams, we see e.g. Schiller writing his letters concerning the aesthetic education of man. These are directly concerned with the French Revolution, but they seek to solve the problem thrown up politically by the French Revolution, they seek to solve it humanistically, in a purely human way. They seek to make man inwardly a free human being. It is interesting to note that the whole method of observation of Schiller in those Aesthetic letters rests an this: that on the one side he rejects the pure utilitarian intellectual standpoint, and an the other he rejects the merely ethical standpoint. You see, this ethical standpoint had once already been rationalised, intellectualised. Everything in the world goes through different metamorphosis and then reappears in another form. And so although this ethical standpoint of the East is certainly not intellectual, yet one can grasp it with one's intellect, one can intellectualise it, one can (Königsbergerise) it, and it then becomes Kantian. That happened; and from Kant there comes this beautiful saying: “Duty, thou mighty, exalted name, thou hast nothing within thee of an attractive or insinuating nature, but requirest solely and simply the subjection of man to morality”.
Schiller an the other hand, said, “I gladly serve my friends, yet unfortunately I do so with inclination. Therefore I reproach myself that I am not virtuous”. Schiller as a real Central-European man, could not take into himself this Kantian, this Königsbergian intellectualising of ethics. For him no man was a complete human being who had first to subject himself to duty in order to fulfil his duty. For Schiller a man was only a complete human being who felt in himself the desire to do what was of moral value. Therefore Schiller rejected the ethical rigourism of a Kant. But he also rejected the purely intellectual principle of authority, and he saw in the production and enjoyment of Beauty, (thus in the Aesthetic behavior of man), the highest, free expression of human nature. He wrote his Aesthetic letters, one might say, as a personal description of Goethe. Schiller had only with difficulty struggled to acquire an appreciation of Goethe. He had started with jealousy, with inner antipathy to Goethe; and one may say that there was a time in Schiller's youth when any talk of Goethe left a bitter taste in his mouth. Then they became acquainted; and they learnt not only to honour each other, but to understand each other. Then Schiller wrote one might say as a kind of Spiritual biography, a Spiritual description of Goethe, his letters upon the Aesthetic education of man. Nothing which stands in these Aesthetic letters could have been written unless Goethe had previously lived a life which was to Schiller an example of what stands in them. Schiller wrote a letter to Goethe at the beginning of their friendship which I have often quoted: “For a long time I have followed the path of your life, although from a far distance.” And now he described Goethe, according to his spirit, which was really that of a reincarnated Greek; and we see how the first dawn of the Aesthetic spirit of Central Europe is united with Greece.
And now as regards Goethe, we see how he works his way up from an intellectual element, to a recognition of truth, which can be just as well understood through art as through science. If you follow how Goethe with Herder studied the Ethics of Spinoza, how Goethe then went to Italy and wrote home that, in the works of art which he sees proceeding out of the Greek spirit, he sees Necessity, he sees God. — then one must say, the intellectualism of Spinoza becomes Aesthetic in Goethe, on his Italian journey, in the contemplation of those works of art. Goethe bears testimony that the Greeks created their works of art according to the same laws which nature herself follows, laws which Goethe believed he was now on the track of. That means, Goethe is not of the opinion that when a man creates a work of art he is merely creating a thing of phantasy. Science is strictly true. No, Goethe was of the opinion that what lies in a true work of art absolutely gives the deeper, true, content of the life of Nature. Now that is an Aesthetic view of the world, and so we must say: Occident, West — intellectualistic utilitarian; Central earth-regions — Aesthetic; the East — ethical, moral. It is absolutely true, my dear friends, that wherever it be, whether in the past or in the Centre or in the lest, wherever ethical truths have appeared — they have originally sprung up from the East. It is no matter whether utilitarian truths spring up in the Centre, or in the East they all originally spring from the West. Beauty arises from the Central region.
One can follow everywhere the path of these three elements in the life of man in this way, down to the very details.
You see, my dear friends, when through one's karma one is destined to found Anthroposophy in Central Europe, then in this Anthroposophy something must live of that Goethe-faith, which is after all, the same element that lives in art; that is, the element of truth. That same element which is expressed in painting, in sculpture, and even in architecture must live also in the thought structure of truth. One must come to say, what I attempted to say in the first chapter of my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity — that the philosopher, the man who founds a World-conception, must be an artist in ideas. One usually rejects the concepts of an artist of ideas. In that book I had to accept it; it all sprang from one and the same spirit.
When one produces something of this kind, all the ideas one expresses have a definite character, which bear the colourings of what I have just described. Books are written, form instance, much as that bit Aime Blech, which recently appeared as a Pamphlet, containing all kinds of evil, consciously evil calumnies. Books are written in which, for instance, it is stated that in what is brought forward from this side as Anthroposophy, there are, of course many beautiful things, but they are opposed to the clarity of the French mind!
Certainly Anthroposophy contradicts intellectuality, the barren, rhetorical grasp of ideas; such minds would much prefer the coarse, material ideas which can be grasped in sharp outlines, so as one can follow these things down to the minutest details. I could bring forward many an example, entering into details which would make clear what I have shown you in general outline; but I will rest content with the example I have already given you, which is a very interesting one.
Now the point in question is that we should clearly realise that e.g. in the West morality, art and intellectualism are simply not being produced. No! Art, is taken over from the Central regions, and Ethics, from the East; and they are then inserted into the intellectual-utility-element, just as in the Centre a kind of ethical element is cultivated, and everything which has been taken up, especially in the 19th century into the Aesthetic element has come over from the West. It would be interesting to follow for once the path of biology from this point of view. If you read Goethe's Theory of Metamorphosis to-day, you can find in that a grand theory of evolution, but the West would always consider that theory spoilt by its Aestheticism. In the 19th century, over the entire earth which is dependent an the West, the Darwinistic element penetrated into the theory of evolution, and brought in the Utilitarian-standpoint, the doctrine of purpose, of aim. You find that doctrine of “purpose” entirely excluded in Goethe, because he is everywhere permeated by Aestheticism.
It must not be the case in the future, that men are thus economically differentiated, as it were, to such an extreme degree that they will not learn from each other. Because that would mean that there would gradually spread over Asia a certain Ethos, such as one finds advocated in the fire-sounding words of Rabindranath Tagore. In Central Europe there would sp read in another form — that which certain Nietzsche-fops have already advocated — a certain “Beyond-ness” of good and evil, a certain Aestheticism, even in moral ideas. We see here the triumphant march of this Aestheticising making itself felt, especially towards the end of the 19th century. And then the merely utilitarian standpoint would pour out over the West, cleverness in the utilitarian standpoint, a caricature of the Spiritual element from the utilitarian standpoint, etc., etc.
The permeation of humanity by a real Spiritual element can alone help mankind. We assume, of course, that this Spiritual element shall be taken in full earnestness — that men shall develop the will to regard things as they present themselves to-day to one who is really prepared to be unprejudiced. This War-Catastrophe has brought many extraordinary things to the surface, amongst which are phenomena, which are in part uncomfortable to the highest degree, but which can teach us much, I will mention one such phenomenon.
In the German literature of the day there appear — one simply cannot keep pace with what comes out in this way — but almost every week there appear slimy excretions, as I must call them — the explanations of different men concerning their share in the course of the War and of political events — and we can read what such heads — I say expressly such heads — as Iagow Bethmann (Michaelis has, I think, still spared us), Tirpitz, Ludendorf, and a whole row of others which one can name. It is unpleasant, in one way,to read this stuff, but from another point of view, it is interesting to the highest degree.
You see, one can read such books as those written by Bethmann or Tirpitz, from quite opposite points of view. But their points of view depend very often an whether the author has been treated with the toe or the heel of the boot for a certain time. Bethmann was favoured for a time by the “All Highest”, whereas Tirpitz was treated with the heel of the boot. Hence their different points of view!
And so we will enter further into the view-point; it is not so much a question of that, but of seeing what spirit lives in the writings.
Now one can experience the following: I once made the following experiment. After allowing myself to be saturated with the dreamy writings of Bethmann and Tirpitz, I turned back to certain utterances (very dear to me;, of Herman Grimm, which indeed have been found chauvinistic by non-Germans. But again that is just a point of view. It is simply a question with me of the spirit which lives in them.
At the first view one can put this question: How does the spirit, the way of thinking, the inner soul-constitution of the Bethmann and Tirpitz writings compare with what lives in Herman Grimm's political observations? Here we must say: Herman Grimm felt that Goethe had lived and had not lived in vain; to him he was a living presence. To, Bethmann and Tirpitz Goethe was not there. I will not say they had not read him, it might have been better if they had left him unread; but as far as they were concerned he was not there. And at first I had to say to myself; what stands in these books sounds as if it were written by a medieval serf — with the logic of a medieval Serf.
Especially interesting, for instance, is the logic of Ludendorf. He is the one who was so greatly praised for the idea of having Lenin transported in a sealed wagon, through Germany to Russia! Ludendorf is the real importer of Bolehevism into Russia! Now he simply had not the cheek to deny that in his book, although he had cheek enough for many things. So he says, that to send Lenin to Russia was a military necessity, and that the political government should have avoided the evil consequences, but did not do so. Such is the logic of these gentlemen. But I do not wish to assert that Clemenceau has better logic; and I beg you not to think that I take sides with any Party. Neither Lloyd George nor Wilson have any better logic. This, however, is not so easy to substantiate.
One may say that at first sight, but the matter goes further. One finds on comparing things that one must go further back still. An extraordinary similarity exists between the Tirpitz and Ludendorf way of thinking, and those human beings who guided the so-called civilisation of Rome in the 1st and 2nd pre-Christian centuries. And if we wish to establish an intimate community of soul between these, we may say that it is as if the old method of thought of the ancient pre-Christian Rome again appeared, and as if everything which has happened since then, including Christianity itself, (even if these gentlemen externally speak of Christ, and so on), had never taken place.
You see, it is often supposed, when one says of the Luciferic that it remained behind in humanity — that one means something only external to the world. But this principle of remaining behind, expresses itself quite strongly within the world. One can say the pre-Caesar greatness of old Rome has re-arisen in such people, and everything which has happened in Europe since that time is really non-existent for them.
My dear friends, this phenomenon must be observed in an unprejudiced way to-day. It must be kept in mind; because only by so doing can one win a strong standpoint for judging the present. This present age makes great demands on man's capacity for judgment. All this must be said, if one speaks of how necessary it is that the present age should be permeated by Spiritual impulses. Superficially considered it is easy to say the present age must be permeated Spiritually; but, my dear friends, the matter is not quite so simple as this. You need only investigate where Spiritual Impulses found their way to some extent into humanity to see whether they have always borne the right fruit. One must in conclusion also say the following. Let us consider certain brochures, certain pamphlets which have been written, some written indeed by members of long standing. There are such written, wherein what figures here as Spiritual Science, is really placed before the world, but inverted, turned upside down, as it were. These are plants which have grown on the soil on which we attempt to give Spiritual treasure to humanity to-day. And anyone who thinks that this process, has run its course — of our so-called followers into its opposite what is transmitted as Spiritual Science to-day, must be a simpleton. For it most certainly is not yet finished. It is by no means so easy to reckon with this fact, that Spiritual truths must be brought to humanity, because as humanity is to-day it tends above all to differentiate into the three types which I have characterised: the Ethical, the Aesthetic, the intellectual; and further differentiations again within these.
Now Spiritual truths are not adapted to be taken up in their purity by human beings who approach them with such differentiations. Just think how on all sides to-day human beings tend to shut themselves off in their national chauvinism, and if you try to take up generally human and spiritual truths with national chauvinism, you transform them thereby into the opposite. It is impossible simply to impart what is now desirable from a certain point of view, for human beings tend to such differentiations as I have described. Therefore it is necessary above all that the interest of man should be awakened from the side which already exists. It is necessary that, in a certain sense, one should link on to what is already there, continually bearing in mind the tendency men have to turn away from that ancient treasure of wisdom and put nothing else in its place except the territorial differentiation on this earth. It does not do to spread Spiritual truths among humanity, without also spreading a certain Ethos.
Many people have read How to Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. These books have been read considerably for some time. They have objected that the first counsels given there are ethical, and that they must be in ethical agreement with them. They are right. right The first counsels given must be ethical and form an extract of the best Ethos of earthly civilisation. But, on the other hand, it is also necessary to cultivate a certain artistic element, and that has made quite special difficulties in the Anthroposophical Movement; for without the Anthroposophical Movement there existed a certain disinclination at first towards artistic things. An abstract, Aesthetically indifferent, symbolism was striven for. There still exists to-day, movements which call themselves Theosophical which rejects everything artistic. Therefore it was a good fate, a good Karma, of our Movement that we were able to make artistic experiments here in Dornach, and that we could work them out away from the abstract symbolic element. Perhaps if things had gone according to the desires of many, we should see many a black cross with red roses or something like roses, as the deep symbol of our building. We have of course, to beware of this symbolism, and strive to create from out of the artistic element. That had to be linked an to the best traditions, of human civilisation — if I may call impulses traditions. Above all one thing must be considered, that these are deep and earnest truths, and they must run somewhat as follows: whoever wishes to attain true knowledge must cultivate in himself a sense for truth! When one speaks radically about this question, my dear friends, one comes in touch with something which sounds repellent to many to-day, because this rigorous striving everywhere for the truth is something which is extraordinarily unpleasant to many people to-day, truth being something which they want at least to touch-up in life. But untruth, even if untrue from sentimentality, does not go with that strong sense for truth, demanded e.g. by a real devotion to these truths which Anthroposophy wishes to place in the world.
My dear friends, in this connection the religious confessions have sinned especially, because they have inserted something which can no longer be united with a pure sense for truth. Certain kinds of piety are carried out into the world which satisfy human egoism far more than human feeling for truth. Therefore it is quite specially necessary that real attention should be paid to the cultivation of inner truthfulness, as is so often pointed out in our Anthroposophical writings. As you know, life itself demands from human beings to-day many untrue things, and we may say there exists to-day two distinct tendencies, which evoke in man a certain disinclination to look at facts in their true light. To-day the tendency exists to characterise things from personal preference and not according to the facts. To-day a man is called practical who is in a certain sense a man of routine; one who with a certain brute force works within his own sphere regardless of any consideration, and puts aside everything which does not serve to promote his own particular objects. From this standpoint one distinguishes “practical” men and “visionaries”; and with a certain world-historic untruth, the consequences of these things have shown themselves in a terrible way, in the course of the 19th century, and up to our own day. Indeed it was difficult before this great testing came over humanity through the catastrophe of the World War, to say something of what ruthlessly characterises these things. I am shortly publishing a collection of a few of my more important early writings — articles written in the eighties and nineties, in order to show how, as it were through small slits, I even then attempted to utter many truths. Among these articles there is one on Bismarck, the Man of Political Successes, in which I attempted to show that the success of this personality depended upon the fact that he could never see much further than his nose! But, as you know, it is no use to cast these things in the face of the world if no one is there who can take them up. Now, however, we must start from this basis, that the World-War Catastrophe can teach us many things. Of course, for most men, nothing is to be learnt from these facts. They have a certain fund of opinions, and do not alter them. They are not able to understand what underlies the statement that we must learn from the facts.
I always tell each person whom I conduct round the Goetheanum, that if I had to design such a building a second time, I would do so quite differently. I would certainly never make it in the same way again. There is nothing, of course, against the present building, but I myself would not make it in the same way again, because obviously, one has learnt something from what one has made, and which stands there as an accomplished fact.
To-day I read with astonishment that Field-Marshal Hindenburg said, if he had to conduct the World-War over again he would do it in exactly the same way.
Indeed these things are read, but they are read carelessly; and people do not notice that one must gain an understanding of the age from the teachings which are given in such a bitter way through this world catastrophe. Whatever one reads and what constantly resounds in one's ears from the world to-day, should be taken with the corresponding background, and one should always be able to say: In important things a revision of judgment is essentially and constantly necessary. It was right as far as could be seen externally, to call Bismarck a practical man, until the World-Catastrophe came. Hermann Grimm regarded Bismarck as a tower of practical excellence. But the World War catastrophe has taught us that Bismarck was a visionary, and the opinions of his judgment have had to be altered; for his idea of the creation of an Empire was naturally only a phantasy.
You see, I just want to make you see clearly that it is life itself, and must be life, which teaches us to discover illusions, even in the sphere of moral history. I have shown you how one must substantiate these illusions in the sphere of natural connections, noting how in nature things stand side by side, and that is how natural investigators describe them. Thus we must say that humanity shares in the occurrences of nature, and that what natural science says about this is simply a web of illusions.
To-day I wanted to make comprehensible to you how we must learn the very facts of history and of life to correct things; because, often for long periods, they only show themselves outwardly as illusion. Men who were naturally regarded by many as practical, must now of necessity be regarded as visionaries. One must accustom oneself to-day to revise one's judgment in this manner. At each step in life, there is not only opportunity enough but also a necessity for revising one's judgment. And one is only in the right mood, the mood the Anthroposophical Movement seeks to acquire, when one says to oneself: “I must revise my opinions, perhaps even about the most important things in life.” Opinions about natural connections, can as a rule, be revised through the study of Spiritual Science. Judgments about life one can only revise when one really develops in oneself the mood necessary for the Anthroposophical Movement.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Curb Your Enthusiasm

Rudolf Steiner:  "We can be tempted and seduced by the most beautiful things if we pursue them one-sidedly, and this one-sidedness, if it takes hold, can also turn every good endeavor and striving into fanaticism. It is true that humanity advances through its noble impulses, but it is also true that the impassioned and fanatic advocacy of the noblest impulses can bring about the worst results for our development. Only when we strive toward the highest goals with humility and clarity, and not out of impassioned enthusiasm, will wholesome and healthy developments for the progress of humanity result."

Self-Knowledge: Not I, but Christ in me

Rudolf Steiner:  "We will only come to know ourselves fully if we can say to ourselves at every moment of our life that we are not only a person of flesh and blood, with consciousness, as most people today are aware of, but also someone who hatches or emerges from his body between falling asleep and reawakening. And that during this time of sleep we live in quite different conditions than in ordinary waking life. Only then, during sleep, is our I in its own, true element ~ it can unfold and lay claim to its substantiality."

The Influences of Lucifer and Ahriman. Lecture 5 of 5.

Rudolf Steiner, Dornarch, Switzerland, November 9, 1919:

I want to speak today of something that will help to deepen our understanding of truths that must now be given to humankind by anthroposophy. We have often spoken of the two poles of forces of the human being: the pole of will and the pole of intelligence. To understand the nature of the human being we must be constantly mindful of these two poles.
The human is a being of will and a being of intelligence. Between them — at any rate from birth until death — lies the element of feeling, constituting the bridge between the intelligence and the will. You know that these forces separate from each other in a certain sense when people reach what is called the threshold of the spiritual world.
Our study today will be concerned more particularly with the relationship in which humanity stands to the surrounding world, on the one side as a being of intelligence and on the other as a being of will. We shall deal with the latter first.
In the life between birth and death, human beings unfold the force of will as the impulse of their actions and activity. As it comes to expression through the human organism, the force of will is a very intricate, complicated matter. Nevertheless in one aspect, everything of the nature of human will bears a great likeness, amounting almost to identity, with certain forces of nature. It is therefore quite correct to speak of an inner relation between the forces of will in the human being and the forces of nature.
You know from earlier studies that even while people are awake, they are in a condition resembling sleep wherever their will is involved. True, we have in our consciousness the ideas lying behind what we will, but how a particular idea takes effect in the form of will — of that we know nothing. We do not know how the idea, “I move my arm,” is connected with the process leading to the actual movement of the arm. This process lies entirely in the subconscious and it may truly be said that people are no more conscious of the real process of will than they are of what takes place during sleep. But when the question arises as to the connection of human will with the surrounding world, we come to something that will strike the kind of consciousness that has developed in the course of the last three to five centuries as highly paradoxical. It is generally thought that the evolution of the earth would be the same even if human beings had no part in it at all. A typical natural scientist describes the evolution of the earth as a series, let us say, of geological, purely physical processes. And even if scientists do not expressly say so, they have in mind that from the earth's beginning until its hypothetical end, everything would go on just the same even if it were uninhabited by human beings. Why is this view held by natural science today? The reason is that when anything takes place, for example in the mineral kingdom, or the plant kingdom, let us say on November 9, 1919, people believe that its cause lies in what has happened in the mineral kingdom prior to this particular point of time. People think: the mineral kingdom takes its course and what happens at any point is the effect of what went before; the mineral effect is due to a mineral cause.
This is the way people think and you will find evidence of it in any text book of geology. Conditions obtaining at the present time are said to be the effects of the Ice Age, or of some preceding epoch but the causes are attributed entirely to what once took place in the mineral kingdom as such; the fact that humanity inhabits the earth is ignored. The belief is that even were humans not present, everything would run a similar course, that the external reality would be the same — although, in fact, humankind has always been part of this external reality. The truth is that the earth is one whole, humanity itself being one of the active factors in the earth's evolution. I will give you an example.
You know that our present epoch — thinking of it for the moment in the wider sense, as comprising the period since the great Atlantean catastrophe — was preceded by the Atlantean epoch itself, when the continents of Europe, Africa, and America in their present form were not in existence. At that time there was one main continent on the earth — Atlantis as it is called — extending over the area that is now the Atlantic Ocean. You know too that at a certain period in this Atlantean evolution, immorality of a particular kind was rampant throughout the then-Civilized world. Human beings had far greater power over the forces of nature than they later possessed and employed these forces for evil purposes. Thus we can look back to an age of widespread immorality. And then came the great Atlantean catastrophe. The orthodox geologist will naturally trace this catastrophe to processes in the mineral kingdom; indeed it is a fact that one part of the earth subsided and another arose. But it will not occur to those who base their thinking on the principles of modern natural science to say to themselves that the deeds and activities of human beings were among the contributory causes. Yet so it is. In very truth the Atlantean catastrophe was the outcome of the deeds of people on the earth.
Outer, mineral causes are not alone responsible for these great catastrophic events that break in upon earth existence. We must look for causes lying within the sphere of human actions and impulses: Humanity itself belongs to the chain of causative forces in earth existence. Nor does this apply only to an event of such magnitude but to what is happening all the time. Only the connection between what goes on within human beings and cosmic happenings which take effect in tellurian events remains hidden, to begin with. In this respect the whole of our natural science amounts to a great, all-embracing illusion. For if you want to get at the real causes you will not discover them by studying the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms alone.
Diagram 1
Diagram 1
Let me give you the following illustration of what comes into consideration here. We will approach it, so to speak, from the opposite side. Here (X) is the center of the earth. When something takes place in the mineral kingdom, the plant kingdom, or the animal kingdom, it is a matter of seeking the causes. The causes lie at certain points which are to be found everywhere. You can picture what I mean by thinking of the following. In the region around Naples in Italy, you will find that the earth over a wide area will emit vapor if you take a piece of paper and set it alight. Vapors begin to rise from the ground beneath you. You will say: the force which drives up the vapors lies in the physical process generated by the lighting of the paper. In this case, the physical process is that by lighting the paper you rarify the air and because of the rarification of the air the vapors inside the earth press upward. They are kept down by the normal air-pressure and this is diminished by setting light to the paper. If I merely want to give an example of effects of a purely mineral nature — such as these vapors arising out of the earth — I could say for the sake of illustration that here, and here (points in the diagram), a piece of paper is set alight. This shows you that the causes of the rising of the vapor do not lie below the soil, but above it. Now these points in the diagram a, b, c, d, e, f — do not represent pieces of paper that have been set alight; in this instance they represent something different. Imagine, to begin with, that each point on its own has no significance but that the significance lies in the system of points as a whole. Do not think now of the pieces of lighted paper, but of something else which at the moment I will not specify. Something else is there as an active cause, above the surface of the earth; and these different causes do not work singly, but together. And now imagine that there are not six points only, but, let us say, 1,500 million points [Representing, approximately, the total population of the earth.] all working together, producing a combined effect. These 1,500 million points are actually there. Each of you has within you what may be called the center of gravity of your own physical structure. When people are awake, this center of gravity lies just below the diaphragm; when they are asleep it lies a little lower. There are therefore some 1,500 million of these centers of gravity spread over the earth, producing a combined effect. And what issues from this combined effect is the actual cause of a great deal of what takes place in the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms on the earth. It is a scientific fallacy to trace back to mineral causes the forces manifesting in air and water and in the mineral realm; in reality the causes are to be found within the human beings.
This is a truth of which there is scarcely an inkling today. It is known to very, very few that the causes of processes active in the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms lie within the human organism. (This does not apply to all the forces working in these kingdoms of nature, but to a large proportion of them.) Within humankind lie the causes for what happens on earth. Therefore mineralogy, botany, zoology, cannot be cultivated truly without anthropology — without the study of the human being. Science tells us of physical, chemical, and mechanical forces. These forces are intimately connected with the human will, with the force of human will that is concentrated in our center of gravity. If we speak of the earth with an eye to the truth of these matters, we must not follow the geologist in speaking of an earth in the abstract, but humanity must be accounted an integral part of the earth. These are the truths that reveal themselves on yonder side of the threshold. Everything that can be known on this side of the threshold belongs to the realm of the illusions of knowledge, not to the realm of truth.
At this point the question arises: What relation is there between the forces of will that areconcentrated in our center of gravity, and the external, physical, and chemical forces? We are speaking, remember, of present-day humanity. In normal life, this relation takes effect in the metabolic processes. When people take into themselves the substances of the outer world, it is their will that actually digests and works upon these substances. And if nothing else were in operation, then what is taken into the organism from outside would simply be destroyed. The human will has the power to dissolve and destroy all extraneous substances and forces; and the relation between the human being and the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms of nature today is such that our will is connected with the forces of dissolution and destruction inherent in our planet.
We could not live were this destruction not to take place — but for all that it is destruction. This must never be forgotten. And what are often described as unlawful magical practices are based essentially on the fact that certain human beings learn to employ their will wrongfully, in such a way that they do not confine the destructive forces to their normal operations within the organism but extend them over other human beings, deliberately and consciously applying the forces of destruction that are anchored in their will. That, quite obviously, is a practice that is never, under any circumstances, permissible.
Through our will we are connected with the earth's forces of decline. And if as human beings we had only our forces of will, the earth would be condemned through us, through humankind, to sheer destruction. The prospect of the future would then be far from inspiring; it would be a vista of the gradual dissolution of the earth and its ultimate dispersal in cosmic space. So much for the one pole in the human constitution.
But the human is a twofold being. One pole is, as we have seen, connected with the destructive forces of our planet; the other pole — that of intelligence — is connected with the will by the bridge of feeling. But in waking life, human intelligence is of little account as far as the planet earth is concerned. During waking life we cannot really establish a true relationship to earth existence through our intelligence. What I have told you in regard to the will happens while we are awake, although we are not conscious of it. If you see a rock crumbling away and ask where the actual causes of the crumbling lie, then you must look into the inner, organic nature of the human being. Strange as this will seem to the modern mind, it is indeed so. But as I said, the earth would face a sorry future if the other pole of human nature were not there — the pole of the up-building forces. Just as the causes of all destruction lie in the will that is concentrated in our center of gravity, so the up-building forces lie in the sphere into which we pass during sleep. From the time of falling asleep until that of waking, we are in a condition figuratively described by saying that with our “I” and astral body we are outside the physical body. But then we are entirely beings of soul and spirit, unfolding the forces that are in operation between falling asleep and waking. During this time we are connected, through these forces, with everything that builds up the earth planet, everything that adds to the forces of destruction the constructive, up-building forces. If you did not go about the earth, the destructive forces actually proceeding from your will would not be working in the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms. If you never went to sleep, the forces whereby the earth is continually up-built would not stream out of your intelligence. The constructive, up-building forces of the planet earth also lie in humanity itself. I do not say: in the individual human being — for I have expressly said that all these single causes form a collective whole. The up-building forces lie in humankind as a whole, actually in the pole of intelligence in our being but not in our waking intelligence. Waking intelligence is really like a lifeless entity thrusting itself into earth evolution. The intelligence that works, unconsciously, during our sleep — that is what builds up the earth planet. By this I am only trying to explain that it is a fallacy to look outside the human being for the destructive and the constructive forces of our earth; you must look for them within the human being. Once you grasp this, what I am now going to say will not be unintelligible.
You look up to the stars, saying that something is streaming from them that can be perceived by human sense organs here on earth. But what you behold when you gaze at the stars is not of the same nature as what you perceive on the earth in the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms. In reality it proceeds from beings of intelligence and will whose life is bound up with those stars. The effects appear to be physical because the stars are at a distance. They are not in reality physical at all. What you actually see are the inner activities of beings of will and intelligence in the stars. I have already spoken to you of the ingenious description of the sun given by astrophysicists. But if it were possible to journey to the sun by some means of transport invented by a Jules Verne, it would be found with amazement that nothing of what was to be expected from these physical descriptions exists. The descriptions are merely a composite picture of solar phenomena. What we see is in reality the working of will and intelligence which at a distance appears as light. If inhabitants of the moon — supposing in this sense there were such beings — were to look at the earth, they would not detect its grassy or mineral surfaces but — also perceiving it as a light effect or something similar — they would detect what takes place around the centers of gravity of human bodies and also the effects of the conditions in which human beings live between going to sleep and waking. That is what would actually be seen from the universe. Even the most perfect instrument would not enable the chairs, for instance, on which you are now sitting, to be seen; what would be seen is all that is taking place in the region of your centers of gravity and what would happen if you were suddenly to fall asleep — it is to be hoped that this would not happen in every case! But wherever it did happen, it would be perceived out in the universe.
So that to the outer universe, what takes place through human beings is the perceptible reality — not what surrounds us in earthly existence. A very common saying is that everything perceived with the senses is maya — the great illusion — no reality but simply appearance. Such an abstraction is of little account. It has meaning only when one enters into the concrete, as we have now been doing. To say glibly that the animal, plant, and mineral worlds are maya means nothing: What is of value is the realization that what you perceive outwardly depends fundamentally upon yourselves and that — not of course at each moment but in the course of human evolution — you make yourselves an integral part of the chain of causes and effects.
Even when such a shattering truth is uttered — and I think it may well be shattering — it is not always seen in the aspect where it becomes of importance in life. Such a truth assumes importance only when we perceive its consequences. We are not physical beings only; we are moral — or maybe immoral — beings in earthly existence. What we do is determined by impulses of a moral nature.
Now just think with what bitter doubt modern thought is assailed in this domain. Natural science provides a knowledge of the earthly that is confined to the connection between purely external causes and effects; and in this cycle of natural causes and effects, the human being too is involved. So it is alleged by external, abstract science which takes account of one aspect only of earthly existence.
The fact that moral impulses also light up in people is admitted but nothing is known about the connection between these moral impulses and what comes to pass in the round of external nature. Indeed the dilemma of modern philosophy is that the philosophers hear on the one hand from the scientists that everything is involved in a chain of natural causes and effects — and on the other hand have to admit that moral impulses light up in people. That is the reason why Kant wrote two “Critiques”: the Critique of Pure Reason, concerned with the relation of the human being to a purely natural course of things, and the Critique of Practical Reason where he puts forward his moral postulates — which in truth, if I may speak figuratively, hover in the air, come out of the blue and have no a priori relation with natural causes.
As long as we believe that what takes place in the external manifestations of nature can be traced only to similar manifestations, as long as we cling to this illusion, the intervention of moral impulses is something that remains separate and apart from the course of nature. Nearly everything that is discussed today lies under the shadow of this breach. In their thinking people cannot use the earthly round as such with the moral life of humanity. But as soon as you grasp something of what I have tried briefly to outline, you will be able to say: Yes, as a human being I am a unity, and moral impulses are alive within me. They live in what I am as a physical being. But as a physical human being I am fundamentally the cause — together with all humankind — of every physical happening. The moral conduct and achievements of human beings on the earth are the real causes of what comes to pass in the course of earth existence.
Natural history and natural science describe the earth in the way we find in text books of geology, botany, and so forth. What is said there seems entirely satisfactory according to the premises formed through modern education. But let us suppose that an inhabitant of Mars were to come down to the earth and observe it in the light of Martian premises. I am not saying that such a thing could happen but merely trying to illustrate what I mean. Suppose a being from Mars, having wandered dumbly about the earth were then to learn some human language, read some geology, and thus discover what kind of ideas prevail concerning the processes and happenings on the earth. This being would say: But that is not all. By far the most important factor is ignored. For example, I have noticed crowds of students loitering about in their beer houses, drinking and indulging their passions. Something is happening there: the human will is working in the metabolism. These are processes of which no mention is made in your books on physics and geology; they contain no reference to the fact that the course of earth existence is also affected by whether the students drink or do not drink. That is what a being not entirely immersed in earthly ideas and prejudices would find lacking in the descriptions given by human beings themselves of happenings on earth. For a being from Mars there would be no question but that moral impulses, pervading human deeds and the whole of human life, are part and parcel of the course of nature. According to modern preconceptions there is something inexorable in the play of nature, indeed pleasantly inexorable for materialistic thinkers. They imagine that the earth's course would be exactly the same were no human beings in existence; that whether they behave decently or not makes no fundamental difference or really alters anything. But that is not the case! The all-essential causes of what happens on the earth do not lie outside the human being; they lie within humankind. And if earthly consciousness is to expand to cosmic consciousness, humanity must realize that the earth — not over short but over long stretches of time — is made in its own likeness, in the likeness of humanity itself. There is no better means of lulling people to sleep than to impress upon them that they have no share in the course taken by earth existence. This narrows down human responsibility to the single individual, the single personality.
The truth is that the responsibility for the course of earth existence through ages of cosmic time, lies with humanity. Everyone must feel themselves to be a member of humanity, the earth itself being the body for that humanity.
Someone may say: For ten years I have given way to my passions, indulged my fancies and have thereby ruined my body. With equal conviction such a person should be able to say: If earthly humanity follows impure moral impulses, then the body of the earth will be different from what it would be were the moral impulses pure. The day-fly, because it lives for twenty-four hours only, has a view of the world differing entirely from that of human beings. The range of our vision is not wide enough to perceive that what happens externally in the course of nature is not dependent upon purely natural causes. In regard to the present configuration of Europe, it is far more important to ask what manner of life prevailed among human beings in the civilized world two thousand years ago than to investigate the external mineral and plant structure of the earth. The destiny of our physical earth planet in another two thousand years will not depend upon the present constitution of our mineral world, but upon what we do and allow to be done. With world consciousness, human responsibility widens into world responsibility. With such consciousness we feel as we look up to the starry heavens that we are responsible to this cosmic expanse, permeated and pervaded as it is by spirit — that we are responsible to this world for how we conduct the earth. We grow together with the cosmos in concrete reality when behind the phenomena we seek for the truth.
I so often tell you that we must learn to perceive the concrete realities of things for the most part taught as abstractions today. Nothing much is accomplished by adopting oriental traditions such as: the external world of the senses is maya. We must go much deeper if we are to arrive at the truth. Such abstractions do not carry us far, because in the form in which they have been handed down they are nothing but the sediment of a primeval wisdom that did not hover in abstractions but teemed with concrete realities which must be brought to light again through spiritual intuition and research. When you read in oriental literature of maya and of truth as its antithesis, do not imagine that what you read there today can be really intelligible to you. It is only a much later compilation of matters that were concrete realities to the ancient wisdom. We must get back to these concrete realities. People think today that they have some understanding of cosmic processes when they assert that the external world of sense is maya. But nothing can be understood unless one presses on to the underlying realities. The moment it is realized: we have not to ask how the present mineral world has developed out of the mineral processes of another age; we have rather to ask about what has been going on in humankind — at that moment the real meaning of the saying, “the outer world is maya,” becomes clear. Then we begin to perceive in the human being a reality far greater than is usually perceived. And then the feeling of responsibility for earth existence begins.
If you will try to get to the inner core of these things — and it must be by inward contemplation, not by means of the kind of intelligence employed in natural science — you will gradually find your way to the realization that humankind is composed of free human beings. Nature does not, in truth, counteract our freedom, for as human beings we ourselves fashion the nature immediately surrounding us. It is only in its partial manifestations that nature counteracts our freedom. Nature counteracts our freedom to an extent no greater than if — to give an example — you are stretching out your hand and someone else takes hold of it and checks the movement. You will not deny freedom of will simply because someone else checks a movement. As people of the present day we are checked in many respects because of some action of our predecessors that is only now taking effect. But at all events it was an action of human beings. — What human beings? Not anyone against whom we can turn with reproach, for we ourselves were the ones who, in earlier earthly lives, brought about the conditions obtaining today.
We must not confine ourselves to the mere mention of repeated earthly lives but think of the connection between them in such a way that even in external nature we perceive the effects of causes we ourselves laid down in earlier lives. Naturally, in reference to the single, individual human being, we must speak of contributory causes only, for in all these things, as I have said, it is a matter of the collective inter-working of human beings on the earth. None of us should, for that reason, exclude ourselves as individuals, for each of us has a share in what is brought about by humanity as a whole and then comes to expression in what constitutes the body for the whole of earthly humanity in its on-flowing life.
I have been endeavoring to give you an idea of how a spiritual scientist must regard the statements made in ordinary scientific text-books. Suppose I were to draw a series of figures:
Diagram 2
Diagram 2
And now suppose some creature who had never lived in our world were to crawl out of the earth and, having some rudiments of arithmetical knowledge, were to look at the figures and say: First figure, second figure, third figure. The third is the effect of the second, and the second the effect of the first. Effect of the first figure — a triangle; effect of the second circle. This creature would then be combining cause and effect. But it would be a fallacy, for I have drawn each figure separately. In reality the one is independent of the other. It only appears to be dependent to this creature who associates what comes first with what follows, as if the one were the outcome of the other. This, approximately, is how the geologist describes the process of the earth: Diluvial epoch, Tertiary epoch, Quaternary epoch, and so on. But this is no more true than the statement that the circle is the outcome, the effect of the triangle, or the triangle the effect of the rectangular figure. The configurations of the earth are brought about autonomously — through the deeds of earthly humanity, including the mysterious workings of the intelligence during the periods of sleep when human beings are outside their physical bodies.
This shows you that the descriptions given by external science are very largely illusion — maya. But merely to speak about maya is of little account. To the assertion that the external world is maya we must be able to reply by stating where the actual causes lie. These causes are hidden to a great extent from our powers of cognition. The part played by humankind in shaping earth existence cannot be fathomed by means of external science but only by an inner science. My book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment speaks of the human being's inner activity between the time of going to sleep and waking. This can be revealed by knowledge that reaches down to the sphere of the will Human beings know nothing of the connection between the will and the outer world for the processes of the will are hidden and concealed. We do not know what is really going on when by lifting our hand we set in operation a process of will; nor do we know that this process continues and has an effect in the whole course of earth existence.
This is indicated in the scene in my mystery play, The Portal of Initiation, where the actions of Capesius and Strader have their outcome in cosmic manifestations — in thunder and lightning. It is, of course, a pictorial representation, but the picture contains a deeper truth; it is not fantasy but actual truth. For a fairly long period in evolution, truths of this kind have been voiced only by true poets whose fantasy must always be perception of super-sensible processes.
This is very little understood by modern people who like to relegate poetry, indeed all art, to a place separate and apart from external reality. They feel relieved not to be asked to see in poetry anything more than fantasy. True poetry, true art, is of course, no more than a reflection of super-sensible truth — but a reflection it is. Even if poets are not themselves conscious of the super-sensible happenings, if their soul is linked with the cosmos, if they have not been torn away from the cosmos by materialistic education, they give utterances to super-sensible truths, in spite of having to express them in pictures drawn from the world of sense.
Many examples of this are contained in the second part of Goethe's Faust, where as I have shown in the case of particular passages, the imagery has a direct relation with super-sensible processes. [Twenty-eight lectures given in the year 1915.Geisteswissenschaftliche Erlauterungen zu Goethe's Faust.] The development of art in recent centuries affords evidence of what I have been saying. Take any picture painted by no means very long ago, and you will find that as a rule, landscape is given very secondary importance. The painting of landscape has come into prominence only since the last three to five centuries. Earlier than that you will find that landscape takes second place; it is the human world that is brought to the forefront because the consciousness still survived that in regard to objective processes of earth existence the human world is much more important than the landscape — which is but the effect of the human world. In the very birth of preference for landscape there lies, in the sphere of art, the parallel phenomenon of the birth of the materialistic trend of mind — consisting in the belief that landscape and what it represents has an existence of its own, entirely apart from humanity. But the truth is quite the reverse. Were some inhabitant of Mars to come down to the earth he would certainly be able to see meaning in Leonardo da Vinci's “Last Supper,” but not in paintings of landscapes. He would see landscapes — including painted landscapes — and the whole configuration of the earth quite differently and with his particular organ of sense could not fathom their meaning. Please remember that I am saying these things merely in order to illustrate hypothetically what I want to convey.
So you see, the saying: “the external world is maya” cannot be fully understood without entering into the concrete realities. But to do this we must relate ourselves intimately with earth existence as a whole, know ourselves to be an integral part of it. And then we must grasp the thought that there can be external and apparent realities which are not the truth, not the true realities. If you have a rose in your room, it is an apparent reality only, for the rose as it is in front of you there cannot be the reality. It can be true reality only while it is growing on the rose tree, united with the roots which in turn are united with the earth. The earth as described by the geologists is as little a true reality as a plucked rose is a reality.
Spiritual science endeavors never to halt at the untrue reality, but always to seek what must be added, in order to have the whole, true reality. The meager sense of reality prevailing in our present civilization expresses itself in the very fact that every external manifestation is taken as reality. But there is reality only in what lies before one as an integrated whole. The earth by itself, without human beings, is no more a true reality than the rose plucked from the rose tree. These things must be pondered and worked upon; they must not remain theories but pass over into our feelings. We must feel ourselves members of the whole earth. It is of importance again and again to call up the thoughts: this finger on my hand has true reality only as long as it is part of my organism; if it is cut off it no longer has true reality. Similarly, the human being has no true reality apart from the earth, nor has the earth without humankind. It is an unreal concept when modern scientific investigators think, according to their premises, that earth evolution would run the same course if humanity were not there. I recently showed you that it would not be so, by telling you that the bodies laid aside by human beings at death become a leaven in earth evolution and that if no human bodies — either by burial or cremation — became part of the earth, the whole course of physical happenings would be other than it is in consequence of these bodies having been received into the earth.
In the lecture today I wanted to speak in greater detail of the connection between the two poles of will and intelligence in human beings and their cosmic environment.