Monday, February 29, 2016

Receiving the grace of the Holy Spirit. Anthroposophy: the cure for our materialistic times

Building Stones for an Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha.
Lecture 5 of 17.
Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, March 6, 1917:

I have told you of the three meetings which the soul must go through in its life between birth and death, and which even while still in that life, bring it into touch with the Spiritual worlds. Today let us return to this subject, which on the last occasion was touched on in a preparatory way, as an episode, so to speak. We shall now go into it more minutely.
We noted that man in the middle of the intermediary state between sleeping and waking, has, as a rule, his meeting with the world which is related to our spirit self. (I say as a rule, because I am alluding to the normal sleep, at night.) He then meets with the world in which we place the beings of that Hierarchy which we designate as that of the Angels. Thus every time we pass through sleep, we pass in a sense, through that world in which these beings dwell; through the world which is nearest to our own physical world, reckoning upwards. Through this meeting we refresh and strengthen our whole spiritual being. Because this is so, because in the state of sleep man is in relation with the spiritual world, no merely materialistic explanation of sleep, such as is put forward by external science, can ever be satisfactory. Much of what goes on in man can be explained by the changes that take place in the body between waking up and going to sleep; we may try to explain sleep itself by means of these same changes; yet any such explanation must always prove unsatisfactory, for the reason that in sleep the afore-mentioned meeting takes place, and man enters into relation with the spiritual world; that makes the whole difference. Thus it is just when we consider the state of sleep that we can see that man, unless he consciously seeks a relation to the spiritual world, only arrives at half-true concepts and ideas, which indeed, because they change into life-falsify it, and at last actually bring about great catastrophe. These half-true concepts are indeed in some respects even worse than those which are quite false ones, for those who form the partly-true concepts and ideas rely upon them; they are able to prove them, for, being partly true they can be proved. An attempt to disprove them would bring no further illumination, for these ideas are, after all, partly true! Such concepts really falsify life even more than do the entirely wrong ones, which we can immediately recognise as false. One of these half -true concepts which external science today is to some extent giving up, though it is in a great measure still believed, is the idea I have often alluded to before, that we sleep because we are tired. We may say that this concept is only half-true, and is the result of a half-true observation. People think that the day's life tires out the body and because we are tired we must sleep! I have often, in former lectures, called attention to the fact that this concept does not explain how it is that people of independent means, who do no work at all, often fall asleep when the most stirring things relating to the outer world, are being discussed. It cannot be proved that these persons are tired out and therefore in -need of sleep. It is absolutely incorrect. If we believe that we are compelled to sleep by fatigue, we are only half-observing. We only notice that this is so when we compare the observations made on the one side, with what can be observed on the other, when we come in contact with the other half of the truth. You will presently see what I mean.
Sleeping and waking in individual human life follow each other in rhythmic succession, yet man is a free being, and can consequently interfere with this rhythm (this he does more by reason of circumstance than from what may be called freewill; but the circumstances are the bases of free life). Another rhythm which we have often placed in the same order as sleeping and waking, is that of the seasons of the year; the alternation of summer and winter (leaving the intermediate seasons out of account), but the ordinary consciousness does not connect them aright. It will occur to no one to say that because the earth is hard at work during the summer, unfolding the forces leading to the growth of plants and to much else besides, that thereby it grows tired and needs the rest of winter. Everyone would consider such an idea absurd and would say that the setting in of winter has nothing whatever to do with the summer-work of the earth, but is caused by the changed position of the sun in relation to the Earth. In this case everything is supposed to be brought about from without; in sleeping and waking it all comes from fatigue, from within. Now the one is just as incorrect as the other, or rather the one is only partly true and so is the other — for the rhythm of sleeping and waking is just the same kind of rhythm as that of winter and summer. There is just as little truth in saying that we only sleep because we are tired, as in saying that winter comes because the earth has exhausted herself in summer. Both these statements rest on the independent working of a rhythm, brought about by certain circumstances. The rhythm between sleeping and waking comes about because the human soul has need of the continually recurring meeting with the spiritual world. If we were to say we want to sleep and consequently feel tired, if we were to say that we enter the state in which we have need of one part of the rhythm, that of sleep, and consequently feel tired, we should be speaking more correctly than when we say that because we are tired, we must sleep. This whole question will become still clearer to us, if we simply ask: ‘What then does the soul do when it sleeps?’ The non-spiritual science of today has not the requisite understanding and cannot reply properly to such a question. You see, while we are awake, we enjoy the external world and the enjoyment of this lasts our whole life through. We do not merely enjoy the outer world when we convey good food to our palate, which is the sense in which we generally speak of ‘enjoyment’ because it is here directly applicable, but the whole time we are awake we enjoy the outer world; all life is enjoyment. Although there is much that is unpleasant in the world, much that is apparently no enjoyment, this is only an illusion, of which we shall speak in the subsequent lectures in other connections. In our waking state we enjoy the external world; in sleep we enjoy ourselves. Just as when we with our souls are in the body and through the latter enjoy the external world, so when we with our souls are outside our body, for in the life between birth and death we are still connected with the body: even when outside it — we then enjoy our body. The condition of sleep, of normal sleep, consists essentially in our having a deeper experience of our body, so that we enjoy it. We enjoy our body from outside. The right interpretation of dreams, of the ordinary chaotic dreams, is that they are the reflection of the enjoyment of his body which a man has in dreamless sleep.
You see this explanation of sleep is approximately that of the need of sleep felt by the man of independent means, of which I have already spoken. We cannot easily believe that he is really tired; but we can very readily believe that he may be so fond of his body that he would rather enjoy that than what often comes to him from the external world. He really loves it so much and is so fond of enjoying it, that he may even prefer that to listening to a lecture, let us say, which he is perhaps ashamed not to attend. Or perhaps a better example would be to say he would rather enjoy his body than listen to a difficult piece of classical music which sends him to sleep at once, if he is compelled to listen to it — sleep is self-enjoyment.
Now, as in sleep, in normal sleep, we have the meeting with the spiritual world, our sleep does not therefore consist merely of self-enjoyment, it is also self-understanding, to a certain degree self-understanding, a sizing-up of oneself. In this respect our spiritual training is really needed, so that people may learn to realise that in normal sleep they actually plunge down into the spirit and emerge from it when they wake up; it is necessary that they should learn to feel reverence for this meeting with the spirit.
Now, in order that we may not fail to understand completely, I will return once more to the so-called enigma of fatigue; for the commonplace consciousness may very likely lay hold of this point. It may say: Well, but we do really feel tired, and when we are tired we feel sleepy. This is a point which demands that a really clear distinction should be made. Certainly we do get tired with the day's work and while we sleep we are able to get over our fatigue. This part of the question is true: we are able to drive away fatigue by going to sleep. Yet sleep is not a result of the fatigue, but consists in the enjoyment we feel in ourselves. In this self-enjoyment, man acquires the forces through which he is able to drive away fatigue, but it does not follow that all sleep can do so; for while it is true that all sleep is enjoyment of self, yet it is not true that all sleep drives away fatigue. For a man who sleeps unnecessarily, who goes to sleep at every opportunity without any need for it, may just as well bring about a sleep in which there is no fatigue to be driven away, in which there is nothing but the enjoyment of self. In this kind of sleep, a man will certainly strive the whole time to drive away fatigue, because he is accustomed to do so while asleep; but if there is no fatigue, as in the case of the well-to-do man who falls asleep at a concert, he will simply keep on sweeping out his body, as he would do if the fatigue were there. If there is no fatigue, he goes on sweeping out unnecessarily, with the consequence that he sets up all kinds of bad conditions in his body. That is why these well-to-do men who sleep so much are the most troubled with all those fine things known as neurasthenia, and the like.
Through connection with spiritual knowledge, one may conceive a condition in which a man will be conscious of the following: ‘I am living in a state of rhythm, in which I am alternately in the physical world and in the spiritual world. In the physical world I meet with the external physical nature; in the spiritual world I meet with the beings who inhabit that world.’
We shall be able fully to understand this matter if we enter somewhat more deeply into the whole nature of man, from a particular point of view. You know that it is customary to consider the external science known as biology as a unity, necessarily divided into the head, breast, and lower part with the members attached thereto. In the olden times when man still possessed an atavistic knowledge, he connected other ideas with this division of the human being. The great Greek philosopher, Plato, attributes wisdom to the head, courage to the breast; and the lower emotions of human nature to the lower part of the body. What pertains to the breast-part of man can be ennobled when wisdom is added to courage, becoming a wise courage, a wise activity; and that which is considered the lower part of man, which belongs to the lower parts of his body, if it be rayed through with wisdom, that Plato calls ‘clothed with the sun.’ Thus we see how the soul is divided and attributed to the different parts of the body. Today, we, who have Spiritual Science, which to Plato was not attainable in like manner, speak of these things in much fuller detail. In speaking of the four-fold division of man, we begin at the top by speaking of his ‘I,’ his ego. All that a man can call his own in the soul and spirit sense in his physical life between birth and death, works through the instrument of the physical body; and we can ask concerning each of the four principles of man: with which part of his body is each physically connected A real and sufficiently penetrating spiritual observation shows us that what we call the ego of man — strange as it may seem, for the truth is often very different from what the superficial consciousness supposes — strange as it may seem, the ego of man is between birth and death, physically connected with what we call the lower part of the body. For the ego, as I have often said, is really a baby as compared to the other parts of man's nature; the germ of the physical body was already laid down in the Old Saturn epoch, the germ of the etheric body during the Old Sun, and that of the astral body during the Old Moon; but the ego was only laid down in our own earth-period; it is the youngest member of man's being. It will only attain the stage at which our physical body now stands, in the far-distant era of Vulcan. The ego is attached to the lowest bodily part of man, and this part is really always asleep. It is not so organised that it can bring to consciousness what takes place within it; what takes place there is, even in the normal waking periods, ceaselessly asleep. We are just as little conscious of our ego as such, in its reality, in its true being, as we are of the processes of our digestion. The ego of which we are conscious is but a reflex conception, the image of which is reflected into our head. We never really see or realise our ego, whether in sleep, when in normal conditions we are quite without consciousness, or in our waking state; for the ego is then also asleep. The true ego does not itself enter our consciousness, nothing but t a the concept of the ego is reflected therein. On the other hand, between sleeping and waking, the ego really comes to itself; only a man in normal deep sleep knows nothing of it, being himself still unconscious in this his deep sleep during the earth-period. Thus the ego is in reality connected with the lowest bodily part of man; during the day, in the waking time, it is connected therewith from within; and during sleep from without.
If we now pass on to the second principle in man's nature, to what we call the astral body, we find that as regards the instrument through which it works, it is, from a certain point of view, connected with the breast-part of man. Of all that goes on in this astral body working through the breast-part, we can, in reality, only dream. As earth-man we can only know something of the ego when we are asleep, consciously we know nothing. Of all that the astral body works in us, we can only dream. This is really why we dream constantly of our feelings, of the sentiments that live within us. They actually live a sort of dream-life within us. The ego of man is actually outside the region which we human beings, with our ordinary sense-consciousness, can grasp; for it is continuously asleep. The astral body is also in a certain respect outside that region too, for it can only dream. With respect to both these we are, in reality, whether asleep or awake, within the spiritual world; we are really and truly within that world.
What we know as the Etheric body, is, however, as far as the body is concerned, connected with the head. Through the peculiar Organisation of the head, the etheric body is able to be constantly awake when in the human body, when connected with the physical head. We may therefore say: The ego is connected with the lowest parts of our body; and the astral body with our breast-part. The heart — as to the workings of which we have no full consciousness, nothing but a dream-consciousness — beats and pulsates under the influence of the astral body. When the head thinks, it does so under the influence of the etheric body. We can then further differentiate our physical body, for in its entirety, it is connected with the whole external world.
We now see a remarkable connection: the ego is connected with the lowest parts of the body, the astral body with the heart; the etheric body with the head, the physical body with the whole outer world, with the environment. The whole physical body is really during the waking condition in constant connection with the outer environment. Just as we, with our whole body are in relation to the outer environment, so is our etheric body to our head, the astral body to the heart and so on. This will show you how really mysterious are the connections in which man lives in the world. In reality things are generally just the opposite to what the superficial consciousness may lightly suppose.
The lowest parts of man's nature are at present the least perfected forms of his being; hence these parts of the body, as such, correspond to what we have called the baby — our ego. Innumerable secrets of human-life lie concealed in what I am here referring to, secrets without number. If you go thoroughly into this subject you will understand above all, that the whole man is formed out of spirit, but at different stages. The head of man is formed out of spirit, but is more fully moulded, it belongs to a later stage of formation than the breast, of which indeed one might say, that it is just as much a metamorphosis of the head, as, in the sense of Goethe's theory of the metamorphoses of plants, the leaf is a metamorphosis of the flower. If we consider the rhythm between sleeping and waking from this point of view, we may say that the ego actually dwells during the waking time in all the activities in the human body, in all the lowest activities, which finally culminate in the formation of the blood. The ego is present in all these activities during the waking hours. These activities are those which are in a sense at the lowest stage of spirituality; for of course, everything connected with the body is spiritual. Now it must be carefully noted that while during the waking hours the ego stands at the lowest stage of spirituality, during the hours of sleep it stands with respect to man, at the highest stage. For consider the following: When we look at the head which we as human beings have today, that head is, as regards its outer form, the strongest manifestation of the spirit. It is the most representative of the spirit, its greatest manifestation; here the spirit has entered most deeply into matter. For that very reason there is here less left behind in the spirit itself. So much work has been spent by man on his head, to make its outer form a manifestation of the spiritual, that but little is left behind in the spirit. Whereas the lower members of the human bodily nature as regards their outer formation are the least spiritualised, have least been worked upon in a spiritual sense, there is on that account more of— what pertains to them left behind in the spiritual. The head, as head, least corresponds to the spiritual, for the reason that it has more spirit within it; the lower part of the body corresponds the most, because it has the least spirit within it. But in this greater portion of spirit which does not dwell within the bodily nature, the ego dwells during the hours of sleep.
Just reflect on this wonderful equalising process: while, as regards his body, man possesses a lower nature into which the ego immerses itself during the waking hours, this lower nature is only lower because the spirit has worked less upon it., because it kept back more of the spirit in the spiritual region. Yet in what it thus kept back, dwells the ego during sleep. During sleep, the ego is even now already present in that which man will only develop at a later epoch, which he will only then be able to develop and unfold. This at the present day is merely indicated and but little developed as yet in the bodily nature of man. Hence when the ego becomes conscious of the conditions in which it finds itself during sleep, when it really becomes conscious of this, it will be able to say to itself: ‘During sleep I am within that which is my holiest human predisposition; and when I come forth from sleep, I pass over from this holiest part of me, into that which gives but a faint indication of it.'
Through Spiritual Science such things as these must find their way into our feelings and inner sentiments, and live in them. Life itself will then become spiritualised by a magical breath of holiness. We shall then have a definite and positive idea of what is called the Grace of the Spirit, of the Holy Ghost. For we shall connect the realisation of this collective existence which runs its course in the rhythm between sleeping and waking, with the idea: ‘I am allowed to take part in the spiritual world, I am allowed to dwell in it.’ When we have once realised and felt this idea, this conception: ‘I am allowed to be within the spiritual world; grace is given me whereby I am permeated with the spiritual world, which is inaccessible to my ordinary earth-consciousness,’ — when we have thoroughly filled ourselves with that thought, we shall have also learnt to look up to the Spirit which reveals itself just as clearly, I might say, between the lines of life, as the outer world of nature reveals itself to our external eyes and ears. But the age of materialism has led man far from the consciousness of being rayed into and permeated in his whole collective existence by the Grace of the Spirit. It is of immense importance that this consciousness should be re-acquired: for the depths of our souls are more affected than we suppose by the general materialism prevalent in this age of ours. Yet the human soul is now as a rule too weak to be able to realise in itself those conceptions which could lift it out of and above materialism. One such conception is that of the holiness of sleep, which if once understood, we should then ascribe all those thoughts and conceptions in our waking life which do not connect us with matter, to that inward working of the spirit which follows upon sleep. We should not then look upon our waking state, which unites us with matter, as the only important thing to man, which would be like considering the winter as the important time for the earth; we should contemplate the whole. As regards the earth we contemplate it as a whole when we take the winter in connection with the summer; and as regards man, we contemplate him as a whole when we take the day, i.e., man in relation to matter — in connection with sleep, i.e., his relation to the spirit.
Now a superficial observation might lead one to say: ‘As man in his waking state is bound up with matter, he can know nothing of the spirit; yet he does know something of the spirit, even while awake.’ Now, man has a memory; and this memory does not only work in his consciousness, it also works subconsciously. If we had no memory, sleep could not help us at all. I want you to fix this fact very firmly in your minds, for it is very important. No matter how much we slept, if we had no memory it would not help us. For if we had no memory we should of necessity be led to believe that there was naught else but material existence. It is only because we preserve in our subconscious memory what we experience during sleep — although we may know nothing of it in our outer consciousness — only because we have a subconscious recollection of what we then go through, that we are not entirely given over to a materialistic mode of thinking. If man does not think merely materialistic thoughts, if he has any sort of spiritual ideas during the day, he owes it to the fact that his memory acts. For man, as he now is, as earth-man, — only comes into touch with the spirit during sleep.
The point is that if, on the other hand, we were now able to develop as strong a consciousness of what happens to us during sleep as, under certain circumstances, men of bye-gone times could do, we should never think of doubting the existence of the spirit. We should then be able to remember not only subconsciously, but in full consciousness, what we encounter during our sleep. If a man were to experience in full consciousness what he passes through in sleep, it would be just as absurd for him to deny the existence of spirit as it would be for a waking man to deny the fact that there were tables and chairs. The crucial point now is that mankind should once more become capable of properly appreciating the meeting with the spirit in sleep. This can only be done by making the pictures of the days experiences sufficiently vivid; it can only be done by entering deeply into Spiritual Science. In this study we occupy ourselves strongly with ideas drawn from the spiritual world. We compel our head — the etheric body of our head — to picture things which are in nowise connected with outer matter, but only have reality in the world of the spirit. This requires more application than it does to picture the things which are real in the world of matter. Indeed that is the true reason why many people do not go in for Spiritual Science. They find all kinds of reasons against it. They say it is not logical. If they were driven to prove in what it is illogical, they would be embarrassed: for it could never be proved that Spiritual Science is illogical. The real reason they turn away from Spiritual Science comes from something very different! In a scientific refutation it is perhaps allowable not to be quite polite, and we may, therefore, say that the non-recognition of Spiritual Science comes solely from laziness of soul. However industrious certain learned people may be as regards all the concepts relating to outer matter, yet when it comes to the force necessary for understanding the things of the spirit, they are idle and lazy; and it is because they will not arouse in themselves this necessary force, that they refuse to recognise Spiritual Science. For it requires more effort for thinking the ideas of Spiritual Science, than it does for thinking the ordinary thoughts connected with the things of sense. The latter really come of themselves; but the ideas not connected with material things, must be thought; one must wrestle with them and make a big effort. It is this shrinking from the necessary effort which is at the bottom of the non-acceptance of Spiritual Science; and this is what we have to realise. When however, the effort really is made to accept such concepts and ideas as are not connected with the material, and to think them out, such activity is aroused in the soul that it is gradually able to develop the consciousness of what goes on between falling asleep and waking, to realise that a meeting with the Spirit takes place then. It will certainly be necessary to unlearn certain ideas. Just think how little some of the leaders of spiritual life are capable of developing such ideas. What I am about to relate is of less frequent occurrence now, but those who are the present leaders were in many cases, in the days of their youth, so deeply immersed in the life of their day, that they drank themselves into the state called in German ‘Bettschwere.’ They drank so much that the necessary gravitation was established. Well, in such cases a man's ideas as well as his feelings as to what goes on in sleep, are certainly not adapted to elucidate the whole significance of sleep. A man may be extremely learned as regards everything connected with matter, but he is naturally not then able to gain an insight into what happens to him between his falling asleep and awaking.
When people make the necessary effort to think out to their conclusion ideas not connected with material things, they will be able to develop understanding of what I have called the first meeting, the meeting with the Spirit during sleep. Unless the world is to fall into a state of decadence, this understanding must before very long illuminate life, and fill it with sunshine. For if men do not take up these ideas, on what are their concepts to be based? They will only be able to form them by observing external conditions, by studying the external world. Ideas formed in this way alone, leave the inner part of the human being, his soul-part, in a state of inertia; that part of man which must under other circumstances be strongly exercised in spiritual concepts and ideas is left inert, unused: it dies. What is the result of this? The result is that man becomes blind, spiritually blind in his whole relation to the world. If he develops no ideas or concepts except such as he forms under the influence of outer impressions, he becomes spiritually blind; and spiritual blindness does indeed prevail to a great extent, in this materialistic age. In science this is only injurious up to a point, but in practical life this blindness to the real world is extremely harmful. You see, the further we descend into matter, the more things correct themselves in this materialistic age. For if a man builds a bridge, he is forced by circumstances to learn the proper rules of construction, otherwise when the first wagon crosses it, that bridge will collapse. It is easier to apply wrong conceptions in trying to cure anyone, for it can never be proved what a man dies of, or what makes him well. It does not at all follow that the ideas put into practice are necessarily the right ones. If one wishes to work in the realm of the spiritual, it is a much more serious matter; and it is, therefore, particularly serious that things are in a bad way in what are generally known as the practical sciences, Political or National Economy and the like. In this materialistic age people have become accustomed to be guided by the impressions and ideas formed in the outer world and to apply these to their doctrines of national or political economy, and in this way their ideas have become blind. Almost all that has hitherto been developed along these lines is but a blind idea. It must, therefore, follow as a natural consequence, that people with these blind notions are led along in leading strings by events, they yield themselves blindly to the course of events. If in this state they then intervene in them, well, what can we expect?
One possibility formed as a result of not taking up Spiritual Science is these blind ideas. Another possibility is that instead of being stimulated to form ideas by outer circumstances people may let themselves be stimulated from within; that is to say, that nothing but what lives in the emotions and passions is, in a sense, allowed to arise in the soul in this way a man certainly does not acquire blind ideas, but rather what we might call intoxicated ideas. People of the present day who are acknowledged materialists constantly swing backwards and forwards between blind ideas and intoxicated ideas. Blind ideas, in which they allow themselves to be blindfolded to what is going on, so that when they intervene they do so in the clumsiest way possible! Intoxicated ideas, in which they only give way to their emotions and passions, and confront the world in such a way that they do not really understand things, but either love or hate everything; and judge everything according to their love or hatred, their sympathy or antipathy. For it is only when, on the one hand, a man makes efforts in his soul to acquire spiritual ideas, and on the other develops his feelings for the great concerns of the world, that he can attain to clear-sighted ideas and conceptions. When we lift ourselves up to the thoughts given us in Spiritual Science of the great connections concerning which the materialistic view of the world merely laughs: of the ages of Saturn, Sun and Moon and of our connection with the Universe, when we fructify our moral feelings with the great goals of humanity, we can then rise above all the emotions displayed in sympathy or antipathy for anything in the world around us. And these emotions can be overcome in no other way.
It is undoubtedly necessary, that through Spiritual Science, a great deal that lives in our age, should be purified. For man, after all, does not allow himself to be entirely cut off from the spiritual world. He does not really allow himself to be cut off at all, he only allows himself to be apparently cut off. I have already called your attention to the way this is apparently done. When man, on the one hand swears only by the material and the impressions of the external world, the forces which are intended for the spirit still remain within him, but he then directs them to a false region and gives himself up to all kinds of illusions. That is why it is chiefly the most practical and materialistic people who are subject to the strongest illusions and give way to them. We see people going through life denying the existence of spirit and laughing heartily if they are told of anyone having had spiritual experiences. ‘He sees ghosts!’ they exclaim. Having said that, they consider they have broken the back of the matter. They themselves certainly do not see ghosts, in their sense of the word. But they only believe they see no ghosts; in reality they are incessantly seeing ghosts, they see them the whole time. One can put a man who is thus rooted in his materialistic view of the world to the test, and it will be evident that as regards what the next day may bring forth, he gives way to the worst illusions. This giving way to illusions, is nothing but a substitute for the spiritual, which he denies. If he denies the spiritual, he must then necessarily fall into illusion. As has been said, it is not easy to prove the illusions, existing in the many different departments of life, but they are everywhere prevalent, really everywhere. People are really fond of giving way to illusion. For instance, the following is a very frequent experience. Some one may say: ‘If I invest my money in this or that undertaking, it may be used for the brewing of beer. I refuse to use my money in that way, I will take no part in that.’ So he takes his money to the bank. The bank, without his knowledge, invests the money in a brewery. It makes no difference at all to the objective fact, but he is under the illusion that his money is not used for such base purposes as beer!
Of course, it may be objected that this is far-fetched, but it is not, it is really a thing that rules all life. People do not take the trouble today to become really acquainted with life, to be able to see through it. This, however, is of great significance. It is immensely important that we should learn to know what we ourselves are in the midst of. This is not easy today, because life has become complicated; nevertheless, what I have drawn attention to, is true. For, you know, under certain circumstances one might easily conceive an absurd situation. I will give you an example. There was once an incendiary, (this is a true story,) who ran out of a house which he had set on fire, having so arranged things that he allowed himself time to do so. He was caught and brought before the magistrates. On being questioned, he answered that he considered he had done a good piece of work, that he was not the one to be blamed, but the workmen, who had left a lighted candle in the house when they left it in the evening. If the candle had burnt out at night, it would have set the house on fire. He, therefore, set it on fire himself, before it was quite dark. In either case the house would have been on fire; he only set it on fire so that the fire might be speedily extinguished: for if a house is on fire in the daytime it may be saved, but at night it is a more complicated matter, and the whole house would then have been burnt to the ground. He was then asked why he did not put the candle out; to which he replied ‘I am a teacher of humanity; if I had blown out the candle, the workers, who were the ones to blame in the matter, would have gone on being careless, whereas now they can see for themselves what happens when they forget to blow out their lights.’
We may laugh at such an example as this, for we do not observe that we are continually doing the like. People are constantly acting in the same way as the man who did not put out the lighted candle, but set fire to the house. Only we do not notice this when we are disturbed by our emotions and passions, which cause an intoxication of ideas, and when the whole thing relates to the spiritual world. If we accustom the soul to that elasticity and flexibility, which is necessary for the forming of spiritual ideas, we shall so mould our thought that it will really find its way into life and be properly adapted to it. If we do not do this, our thought will never be fit to deal with life; it will not even be affected by it, except on the surface. That is why-to turn now to the deeper side of the question — the materialistic age really leads one away from an connection with the spiritual world. Just as we undermine our bodily health if we do not get our proper sleep, so do we undermine our soul-life if we do not spend our waking-time in the right way. If we only give way to outer impressions and live without being conscious of our connection with the spiritual world, we are not awake in the right way. Just as a man may by reason of certain conditions sleep restlessly, turning and twisting about, and thus undermine his physical health, so does a man undermine his spiritual health if he only yields to the external impressions of the world, if he is only subject to physical matter. This will prevent his experiencing in the right way that first meeting with the spiritual world, of which I have spoken. In this way he loses all possibility of rightly connecting himself with the spiritual world, during his physical existence. The connection with that world in which we spend our time when not in incarnation, into which we ourselves pass when we go through the Gates of Death, is thereby cut off.
Man must once again learn to understand that we are not here merely to build in the physical universe during our physical existence; he must learn to understand that we, during the whole of our existences are bound up with the whole world. Those who have already passed through the Gates of Death want to work with us on the physical world. This co-operation of theirs appears to be only a physical working with us, but everything physical is only an outer expression of the spirit. The age of materialism has estranged man from the world of the dead; Spiritual Science must re-establish the friendship between them. The time must once more come, when we shall cease to make the work of the dead for the spiritualisation of the physical world impossible, by estranging ourselves from them. For the dead cannot take part with hands in the events of the physical, they cannot accomplish physical work in that direct way. It would be foolish to believe that. The dead can work in a spiritual way. But to do so they need to have instruments placed at their disposal; they require the spiritual matter that lives here in the physical world. We are not merely human beings, we are also instruments, instruments for the spirits who have passed through the Gates of Death. As long as we are incarnated in physical bodies we use the pen or the hammer or the axe; when we are no longer incarnated in physical bodies the instruments we use are the human souls themselves. This rests upon the peculiar way in which the dead perceive, which I will just touch upon once more — I referred to this subject once before here.
Suppose you have before you a small vessel containing salt; you can see that. The salt looks like a white substance, like white powder. The fact that you see the salt as a white powder depends on your eyes. Your spirit cannot see the salt as a white powder; but if you put a little salt on your tongue and taste the peculiar salt taste, it is possible then for the spirit to become aware of it. Every spirit is able to perceive the taste of the salt in you. Everything that takes place in man through the external world, can be perceived by every spirit, including the human souls which have passed through the Gates of Death. Just as within us the world of sense extends to our tasting, smelling, seeing and hearing, so does the world of the dead reach down into what we hear, see and taste, etc. The experiences we have in the physical world are shared in by the dead, for these experiences do not only belong to our world but to theirs. They belong to their world when we spiritualise what we experience in the outer world with spiritual ideas. Unless we do this, if we merely experience the laws of matter, that to the dead is something which they cannot comprehend, it remains dark. To the dead a soul devoid of spirit seems dark. For this reason the dead have become estranged from our earth-life during the age of materialism. This estrangement must be got rid of. An inner common life of the so-called dead with the so-called living must take place; but that can only be when people develop in their souls those forces which are really spiritual, that is, when they develop such ideas, concepts, and images as deal with spiritual matters. When a man in his thinking makes an effort to reach the spirit, he will gradually reach it in reality. It signifies that a bridge is thrown across between the physical and the spiritual world. That alone can lead men across from the age of materialism to that age in which they will face the realities, neither blindfolded nor intoxicated, but with vision and poise. Having learnt to see through the spirit, they will attain vision and poise, and through the feelings and sentiments aroused in them by the great concerns of the world, they will attain the right balance between sympathy and antipathy, with respect to what our immediate surroundings demand of us.
We shall continue the considerations of these subjects in our next lecture, and go still more deeply from this aspect, into the ideas to be gained from the spiritual world.


"Spring and All" by William Carlos Williams

By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast—a cold wind. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless vines—

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches—

They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind—

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf

One by one objects are defined—
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity of
entrance—Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted they
grip down and begin to awaken

A prayer with which to go to sleep

Rudolf Steiner: "People should at least become gradually able to develop a feeling which can be expressed somewhat as follows: ‘I am going to sleep; until I wake, my soul will be in the spiritual world. There it will meet the guiding power of my earthly life, who lives in the spiritual world, and who hovers around my head. My soul will meet my genius. The wings of my genius will come in contact with my soul.’"

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Most Real Idea That There Can Possibly Be

Rudolf Steiner:  "That the moral world-order in the present is the germinal force of a future order of nature is the most real idea that there can possibly be."


"I am the way, the truth, and the life"

Rudolf Steiner:  "If one is unable to conceive of the Christ mystery as a true reality, one also cannot develop any ideas and concepts relating to the rest of world existence that are imbued with reality, which really penetrate to the truth."

"God's Grandeur" by Gerard Manley Hopkins

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Yoga: Well-balanced living

Rudolf Steiner:  "Although in the outside world the very height of materialistic views and opinions prevail, we are nevertheless just entering on an epoch of the de-materialising of thought and of the world of ideas, which, in the course of time, must lead to a spiritualising and permeating of the earth-life as such, by the spirit. That which is to lay hold of and affect the external life on the physical plane must first be grasped by a few and then by an ever-increasing number of persons, grasped and understood Spiritually. Spiritual Science is in this respect to be a beginning, a means whereby men can uplift their souls to that which is today accessible to those who desire to raise themselves to it, and of which the external physical life is not as yet a reflection, though that is what it must become if the earth is not, in a sense, to be swamped in the downfall of materialistic development. The situation of present-day man can be described as follows. His soul is generally speaking really very near to the Spiritual world; but the ideas and especially the feelings produced by a materialistic conception of the world and by a materialistic attitude towards it, have woven a veil before that which is in reality very close to the human soul today. The connection between the physical Earth-existence, in which man with his whole being is involved notwithstanding many assertions to the contrary made in other quarters — the connection between this materialistic earth existence and the Spiritual world can be found by man, if he will endeavour to develop the inner courageous forces necessary for understanding, not only what nature paints to his external senses, but also that which remains invisible. We can unite ourselves with this invisible essence and experience it, if we stir up the inner force of the soul sufficiently to become aware that in this force the soul shares in something super-human and Spiritual. This connection must not be sought just as human connections and relationships are sought, in the rude external sense-existence; for the connection between the human soul and the Spiritual world is to be found in the intimate forces which the human soul develops when it evolves an inner, silent and quiet attention. Man must now train himself to this, for he has become accustomed, in this materialistic age, to pay attention only to what presses on him from without, and which in a sense calls out to his capacities of perception. The spirit that must be experienced within does not call out, we have to wait for it, and we can only approach it by preparing ourselves for its approach. Concerning the things belonging to the external world which present themselves to our senses and press in upon our outer perception, we can say that they come to us, that they speak to us; but we cannot say anything of the kind as regards the way in which the spirit, the spiritual world, draws near to us. The language of modern times — as I have often said — is more or less coined for the use of the external world, and it is therefore difficult to find words conveying a real impression of that part of the spiritual world which stands before the soul. But an attempt can be made to show approximately the difference between that and the physical. We might say that the Spiritual is experienced in the feeling of gratitude which comes whenever one experiences the Spiritual; one feels: I am grateful to it. Take special note of this: we owe gratitude to the spiritual world. In observing the physical world we say: we see spread out before our senses the mineral world, from which proceed the plant world, the animal world, and our own, — the world of man. In the latter we feel ourselves in a sense at the top of an ascending sequence of external kingdoms; but as far as the Spiritual kingdoms are concerned, we feel ourselves at the bottom, while above and beyond us stretch out the kingdoms of the Angels, Archangels, Archai, and so on. We feel the whole time that we are being supported from these kingdoms, continually called to life by them. We owe gratitude to them. We look up to them and say: our lives and the whole content of our souls flows down to us from the will-impregnated thoughts of the Beings belonging to those worlds, and by them we are constantly being formed. This feeling of personal gratitude to the higher kingdoms should become just as alive in us as the feeling — let us say — of the impressions received through physical perception. When these two feelings are equally alive in our souls-one, that: ‘The external sense things react upon us,’ and the other, that: ‘We owe what lives in the very centre of our being to the Higher Hierarchies,’ — the soul is then in that state of balance in which it can continually perceive aright the co-operative working of the Spiritual and the physical, which indeed goes on unceasingly, but which cannot be perceived unless the two feelings described above are properly balanced."


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Regret Nohing

Calling Christ to our aid

Rudolf Steiner:  "He is here, He makes His presence felt in such a way that we know clearly that He will now expect more of His human children than in centuries gone by. Till now the Gospels have spoken an inner language to man. They had to lay hold of the soul-men should, therefore, be satisfied with faith alone and had not to progress to knowledge. That time is now over, it lies behind us. Christ has something different in view for His human children. His present purpose is that the kingdom to which He referred when He said: ‘My kingdom is not of this world,’ should really draw into that part of the human being which is not of this world but which is of another world. In each one of us there is a part which is not of this world. That part of man which is not of this world must seek with intensity that kingdom of which Christ spoke, of which He said, that it was not of this world.
We are living at a time when this must be understood. Many such things in human evolution announce themselves through contrasts. In our own age something great and significant is announced by a great contrast. For with the coming Christ, with the presence of Christ, will come the time when men will learn to enquire of Him, not only concerning their souls, but concerning their immortal part on earth. Christ is not merely a Ruler of men, but their Brother, Who, particularly in the near future, wishes to be consulted on all the details of life. In anything we undertake today we act in the opposite way. Events seem to be accomplished today, in which men appear to be as far removed as possible from any appeal to Christ. We must ask ourselves this question: Who is there today who stops to enquire: ‘What would Christ Jesus say to what is now taking place?’ Who puts such a question to himself? Many say they do, but it would be sacrilegious to believe that they put the question in the form in which it is put here, addressing it directly to Christ Himself. Yet the time must come and cannot be far distant, when men's souls will, in their immortal part, ask of Christ, when they think of undertaking something: ‘Ought we to do this or not?’ Then human souls will see Christ standing by them as the beloved Companion and they will not only obtain consolation and strength from the Christ-Being, but will also receive instruction from Him as to what is to be done. The kingdom of Christ Jesus is not of this world, but it must work in this world and the human souls must be instruments of the Kingdom that is not of this world. From this point of view we must consider the fact of how few today have asked themselves the question which, as regards individual acts, as well as events, must be put to the Christ. Humanity must, however, learn to ask of Him. How is that to come about? It can only become possible if we learn His language. Anyone who comprehends the deeper purpose of our Spiritual Science, realises that it not only gives out a theoretical knowledge about different problems of humanity, the principles of human nature, reincarnation and karma, but that it contains a quite special language, that it has a particular way of expressing itself about spiritual things. The fact that through Spiritual Science we learn to hold inner converse with the spiritual world in thought, is much more important than the mere acquiring o. theoretical thoughts. For Christ is with us always, even to the end of the earth-epochs. And we must learn His language. By means of the language — no matter how abstract it may seem — in which we hear of Saturn, Sun, Moon and Earth and of the different periods and ages of the earth, and of many other secrets of evolution — we teach ourselves a language in which we can frame out the questions we put to the spiritual world. When we really learn inwardly to speak the language of this spiritual life, the result will be that Christ will stand by us and give us the answers Himself. This is the attitude that our work in Spiritual Science should bring about in us, as a sentiment, a feeling. Why do we occupy ourselves with Spiritual Science? It is as though we were learning the vocabulary of the language through which we approach the Christ. If we take the trouble to learn to think the thoughts of Spiritual Science, and make the mental effort necessary for an understanding of the Cosmic secrets taught by Spiritual Science, then, out of the dim, dark foundations of the Cosmic mysteries, will come forth the figure of Christ Jesus, which will draw near to us and give us the strength and force in which we shall then live. The Christ will guide us, standing beside us as a brother, so that our hearts and souls may be strong enough to grow up to the necessary level of the tasks awaiting humanity in its further development.
Let us then try to acquire Spiritual Science, not as a mere doctrine but as a language, and then wait till we can find in that language, the questions which we may venture to put to the Christ. He will answer, yes, indeed, He will answer! Plentiful indeed will be the soul-forces, the soul-strengthening, the soul-impulses, which the student will carry away with him from the grey spiritual depths through which humanity in its evolution is now passing, if he is able to receive instructions from Christ Himself; for, in the near future He will give them to those who seek."


"I am thy fellowservant"

Rudolf Steiner

Revelation 19:5-10

And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great.

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Epochal Rudolf Steiner

"Some people are destined by karma to announce prophetically what all of humanity will gradually, bit by bit, accept as the meaning of an epoch."  — Rudolf Steiner

The Goetheanum: The Columnar Self

The Goetheanum

On a Columnar Self—
How ample to rely
In Tumult—or Extremity—
How good the Certainty

That Lever cannot pry—
And Wedge cannot divide
Conviction—That Granitic Base—
Though None be on our Side—

Suffice Us—for a Crowd—
Ourself—and Rectitude—
And that Assembly—not far off
From furthest Spirit—God—

— Emily Dickinson

That Granitic Base

On a Columnar Self—
How ample to rely
In Tumult—or Extremity—
How good the Certainty

That Lever cannot pry—
And Wedge cannot divide
Conviction—That Granitic Base—
Though None be on our Side—

Suffice Us—for a Crowd—
Ourself—and Rectitude—
And that Assembly—not far off
From furthest Spirit—God—

— Emily Dickinson

The sphere of the Spirit is the soul's true home

The sphere of the Spirit is the soul's true home,
And a person will surely reach it
By walking in the path of honest thought;
By choosing as his guide the fount of love
Implanted in his heart;
By opening the eye of his soul
To Nature's script
Spread out before him through all the Universe,
Telling the story of the Spirit
In all that lives and thrives,
And in the silent spaciousness of lifeless things,
And in the stream of Time — the process of becoming.

— Rudolf Steiner
[in Verses and Meditations]

Morality as a Germinating Force

Building Stones for an Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha.
Lecture 4 of 17.

Rudolf Steiner, Berlin, February 27, 1917:

On the occasion of our last lecture, I spoke to you of the three meetings which the human soul has with the regions pertaining to the Spiritual world. I shall have to say a few more things as to these, which will give me the opportunity of answering a question asked at the end of the last public lecture at the Architectural Hall, regarding the forces which bring over the karma, the external destiny, from a former incarnation. I have been told that this is very difficult to understand. In the course of these lectures I will return to this subject; but it is preferable to do so after having discussed a few points which may perhaps help to make the question better understood. Today, however, in order to make the question of the three meetings with the Spiritual world still clearer, I intend to insert, by way of episode, something that it seems to me important to discuss just at the present time.
When we consider the ideas and concepts which have found their way into the souls of people of all grades of education as the result of the Spiritual development of the last century, we observe how strongly its influence tended to cause people to consider the evolution of the world and man's place in it, solely according to the standard of Natural Science and its ideas. There are of course plenty of people still living today who do not believe their attitude of mind and soul to have been formed by the concepts of Natural Science. These people do not however observe the deeper foundations upon which their minds were formed; they do not know that the ideas of Natural Science have just slipped in a one-sided way, not only determining their thoughts but even in a certain way their feelings. A man who today reflects along the lines laid down for everyone in the ordinary educational centres, whose mind and disposition have been formed in accordance with them, and whose ideas are based upon what is taught there, cannot possibly feel the true connection between what we call the world of morality, of moral feeling, and the world of external facts. If, in accordance with the ideas of our times, we ponder on the way in which the earth and indeed the whole firmament is supposed to have developed and may come to its final end, we are thinking along the lines of purely external facts, perceptible to the senses. Just think of the deep significance to the souls of men, of the existence of the so-called Kant-Laplace theory of the creation of the world, according to which the earth and the whole heavens arose from a purely material cosmic mist (for it is represented as purely material) and were then formed in accordance with purely earthly physical and chemical laws, developed further according to these laws, and, so it is believed, will also come to an end through these same laws. A condition will some day come about in which the whole world will mechanically come to an end, just as it came into being.
Of course, as I said before, there are people today who do not allow themselves to think of it in this way. That, however, is not the point; it is not the ideas that we form that signify, but the attitude of mind which gives rise to these ideas. The conception I have just alluded to is a purely materialistic one; one of those of which Hermann Grimm says, that a piece of carrion round which circles a hungry dog is a more attractive sight than the construction of the world according to the Kant-Laplace theory. Yet it arose and developed; nay, more: to the great majority of men who study it, it even appears illuminating. Few there are who, like Hermann Grimm, ask how future generations will be able to account for the arising of this mad idea in our age; they will wonder that such a delusion could have ever seemed illuminating to so many. There are but a few people who have the soundness of mind to put the question thus, and those who do are simply considered more or less wrong-headed. But, as I said, the point is not so much the ideas in themselves, as the impulse and frame of mind which made them possible. These conceptions came as the result of certain attitudes of mind; yet, though they came from learned men and were given out by them, most people still believe that the world did not originate in any such mechanical impulse, but that Divine impulses must have played a part in its creation. Still it remains a fact that such conceptions were possible. It was possible for the attitude of men's minds, their disposition of soul, to take on such a form that a purely mechanical idea of the origin of the world was conceived. That signifies that at the bottom of men's souls there is the tendency to form conceptions of a materialistic nature. This tendency is not only to be found among the unlearned, and others who believe in this idea, it exists in the widest circles among all kinds of people, yet most people today are still rather shy of becoming followers of Haeckel, picturing everything Spiritual in a material form. They lack the necessary courage for this. They still admit of something Spiritual; but do not give the matter further thought. If the above mentioned concept holds good, there can then only be room for the Spiritual and especially for the moral, in a certain sense. For just consider: — If the world really came into being as the Kant-Laplace theory believes, and only comes to its end through physical forces, dragging all men down to the grave with it, together with all their ideas, feelings and impulses of will, what then, apart from all else, would become of the whole moral order of the world? Suppose for a moment that the condition of the burial of all things came about: what good would it have been to have ever pronounced some things good and others evil? What would it avail to say this is right, and that is wrong? These would be nothing but forgotten ethical concepts, swept away as something which, if this idea of the world-order were correct, would not perhaps survive even in one single soul. In fact, the matter would stand thus: from purely mechanical causes, by physical and possibly chemical forces, the world came into being and by like means it will come to an end. By means of these forces phenomena appear like bubbles, produced by men. Among men themselves arise the moral ideas of right and wrong, of good and evil; but the whole world passes over into the stillness of the grave. All right and wrong, good and evil, is merely an illusion of man, and is forgotten and vanishes away when the world becomes ‘the grave.’ Thus the only thing that stands for the moral world-order is the feeling one has as long as the episode lasts, which extends from the first state to the last, that man requires such ideas for his common life; that man must form these moral ideals, though they can never take root in a purely mechanical world-order. The forces of nature — heat, electricity, and so on — intervene in the plan of nature, they make themselves felt therein; but the force of morality would, if the mechanical plan of the world were correct, only exist in the mind of man; it would not intervene in the natural order. It would not be like heat which expands bodies, or like light which illuminates them and makes them visible and permeates the world of space. For this moral force is present and soars as a great illusion over the mechanical world-order, and vanishes, dissolves away, when the world is transformed into the grave. People do not sufficiently carry these thoughts to their logical conclusion. Hence they are not on their guard against a mechanical world-order, but allow it to remain — not from kindness of heart, but rather from laziness. If they have a certain want in their hearts, they simply say: ‘Science does not demand that we should think deeply about this mechanical world-order, faith demands something else of us; so we put our faith side by side with science and just believe in something more than mechanical nature, we just believe what a certain inner demand of our hearts compels.’ That is very convenient! There is thus no need to rebel against what Herman Grimm, for instance, felt to be a mad idea of modern science. There need be no rebellion. But this attitude cannot be justified by one who really wishes to think his thoughts out to their conclusion.
It may be asked: What is the reason that people today live thus blindly in an impossible position, in which it is impossible to think logically? Why do they accept such a position? The reason is, strange as this may sound if one is not familiar with the thought and hears it for the first time, — the reason is that people have more or less forgotten, in the course of the last century, how to think truly of the Christ Mystery which must take its place in the very centre of the life of the age; they have forgotten how to think of it in its real, true sense. The way in which man thinks of the Christ Mystery in the newer age should be such that it rays into his whole thinking and feeling. The position which man has assumed to the Christ since the Mystery of Golgotha represents the standard of his whole collective ideas and sentiments. (I may perhaps have more to say on this subject in the near future). If he cannot look upon the Mystery of Christ as a true reality, he is unable to develop ideas and conceptions by which to gauge the views of the world held by others, ideas permeated by reality, and really capable of penetrating the truth.
That is what I wanted above all to make clear to you today. If a man really thinks in the way I have just illustrated, as most people of the present day do, whether consciously or not, the world is then divided on the one hand into the mechanical natural order, and on the other into the moral world order. Now to timid souls, who often believe themselves to be very courageous, the Christ-Mystery forms part of the purely moral world-order. This applies chiefly to those who see nothing more in the Christ-Mystery than the fact that at a particular time, a great, perhaps even the greatest Teacher of the Earth-world appeared, and that His teaching is the thing of greatest importance. Now, if Christ is only considered as the greatest Teacher of humanity, this view is in a sense quite compatible with the twofold division of the world into a natural order and a moral order. For, of course, even if the earth had formed itself as the mechanical world order represented, and is eventually to become the common grave of all things, it might still be possible for a great Teacher to arise who might accomplish much to make men better and to convert them. His teachings might have been sublime, but they would avail nothing when, at the end of all things, everything would be a grave; when even the teachings of Christ Himself would have disappeared, and there would not even be a remembrance of Him remaining in any living being. People do not like to think that; but their dislike would not alter the fact. If it be desired to believe absolutely in a merely mechanical world-order it would be impossible to avoid such thoughts as these.
Everything depends upon the fact being realised that in the Mystery of Golgotha something was accomplished which does not merely belong to the moral world-order, but to the whole collective cosmic order; something which belongs, not merely to the moral reality — which according to the mechanical world-order must be non-existent — but to the whole intensive reality. We shall be able to grasp what is really in question if we turn our thoughts once more to the Three Meetings which I mentioned in the last lecture, taking them in a different sense from that to which I then referred.
I told you that every time a person sleeps, in the intermediate state between his going to sleep and waking he meets Beings belonging to the Spiritual world, Beings of a like nature to his Spirit Self as we are accustomed to call it, Beings of the same substance and kind. This means that when a man wakes from sleep, he has had a meeting with a Spiritual being, and though he may be quite unconscious of having had this experience, yet he carries the after-effects into his outer physical life. Now what takes place in our soul during this daily meeting is in a certain way connected with the future of man. A man of today, unless he busies himself with Spiritual Science, knows very little as yet of what goes on in the depth of his soul during sleep. Dreams, which in ordinary life betray something of this, do indeed reveal something, but reveal it in such a way that the truth does not easily come to light. When a man wakes in a dream or out of a dream, or remembers a dream, this is mostly connected with ideas he had already acquired in his life, with reminiscences. These are however only the garments of what really lives in the dream or during sleep. When our dreams clothe themselves in pictures taken from our daily life, these are but the garments; for in dreams is revealed what actually takes place in the soul during sleep, and that is neither related to the past nor to the present, it is related to the future. In sleep are found the forces which in a human being can be compared to the germinal forces which develop in the plant for the production of a new one. As the plant grows it always develops the germinal forces for the new plant in the following year. These forces reach their height in forming the seed, in which they become visible. But as the plant grows, while it is growing, the germinal forces for the next plant are already there. In the same way the germinal forces; — whether for the next incarnation or even for the Jupiter-period -are present in man, and he chiefly forms these during his sleeping state. The forces then formed, my dear friends, are not immediately related to individual experiences, but rather to the basic forces of the next incarnation: they relate to the forces of the next incarnation. In sleep, a man works upon his germs for his next incarnation into the future. So that while he is asleep, he already lives in the future.
I do not wish to leave a too hazy impression in your minds in respect to this, so will at once say that in the sleeping state, the next incarnation is as the knowledge of the next day. We know from experience that when to-morrow comes the sun will rise and we know more or less how it will run its course, although we may not know what the weather will be or what separate events may affect our lives. In like way the soul is a prophet during our sleep, but a prophet who only knows of what is great and cosmic; not of the weather. If one were to suppose that the soul during sleep becomes aware of the details of the next incarnation, one would be falling into the same error as one who thought that because he knew that next Sunday the sun will surely rise and set, and knew certain universal facts as well, he could therefore predict the weather. This does not alter the fact that while we are asleep we do have to concern ourselves with the future. The forces which are of like nature with our Spirit-Self and that work on the forming of our future, meet us during our time of sleep.
Another, a further meeting — if I leave out the second — is the third meeting, of which I said in the last lecture that it only takes place once in the whole course of a man's life — in the middle of it. I said that when a man is in his thirties he meets with what may be called the Father-Principle, while he meets the Spirit-Principle every night. This meeting with the Father-Principle is of very great significance, for it must occur. You will remember I explained that even those who die before the age of thirty have this experience, only, if they live through the thirties it comes in the course of life, while when death is premature it occurs sooner. You know that, as the result of that meeting, man is enabled to impress the experiences of the present life so deeply into himself that they are able to work over into the next incarnation. Thus, that which is the meeting with the Father-Principle is connected with the earth-life of the next incarnation, whilst our meeting with the Spirit-Principle is for the whole future; it radiates over the whole of our future life, as well as over the life experienced between birth and a new birth.
Now the laws with which this meeting, that we experience only once in a life, are interwoven, they do not pertain to the earth: they are laws which have remained in the earth-evolution just as they were at the time of the moon-evolution. On the physical side they are connected with our physical descent, and with everything which physical heredity signifies. This physical heredity is indeed only one side of the matter; there are Spiritual laws behind, as I have already explained. So that everything that comes to pass regarding the meeting with the Father Principle, points back to the past; it is the legacy of the past; it points back to the moon-evolution, to earlier incarnations, while that which takes place during sleep points to the future. Just as what takes place during sleep forms the germ for the future, so that which comes about as a result of men being born as the descendants of their ancestors, carrying over from former incarnations what is necessary should be brought over; all that has remained over from the past. Both these — what relates to the future and to the past — are in a sense striving outside the natural order. The peasant still goes to sleep at sunset and rises at dawn; but as man progresses in so-called civilisation, he tears himself free from the order of nature. One meets persons in cities — though they may not be very numerous — who go to bed in the morning and arise at night. Man is freeing himself from the mere order of nature, the development of his free will makes it possible for him to do so. Thus in a sense, because he is preparing for a future which is not yet here, he is torn away from the order of nature. When he carries the past into the present, especially the past connected with the moon, he is also torn loose from the order of nature. Nobody can prove the necessity according to the universal laws of nature, that John Smith should be born in 1914; such an event is not ruled by necessity as is the rising of the sun or other natural occurrences, but by the natural order of the moon. During the moon-period everything was like the order of our birth on earth.
Man is however entirely subject to the order of nature as regards what is of immediate significance to the present, to his earth existence. Whereas, as regards the Father-Principle he bears the past within him, and as regards the Spirit-Principle the future — with respect to that meeting of which I have said that it occurs in the course of the year and which is now connected with the meeting with Christ — man is connected with the order of nature. If he were not, the consequence would be that Christmas might by one person be celebrated in December and by another in March, and so on; but although different nations have different designations for the Festival of Christmas, there is everywhere some kind of festivity in the latter days of December which always bears some relation to the meeting I referred to. Thus with respect to this meeting which is inserted into the course of the year, man, for the very reason that this is his present, is in direct connection with the order of nature; while with respect to the past and the future he has become free from it, and has indeed been free from it for thousands of years.
In the olden times man joined in the order of nature both as regards the past and the future. In the Germanic countries, for instance, birth was regulated in olden times in accordance with the order of nature. Birth, which was then regulated by the Mysteries, might only take place at a stated time of the year. Thus it was inserted into the order of nature. In olden times, long before the Christian Era, conception and birth were regulated in the Germanic countries by that of which only a faint echo has been preserved in the Myth of the worship of Hertha. In those days her worship comprised no less than the following. When Hertha descended in her chariot and drew near to men, that was the time of conception; after she had withdrawn, this might no longer take place. This was so strictly adhered to that anyone not born within the appointed season was considered lacking in honour, because his human existence was not in harmony with the order of nature. Birth and conception were just as much adapted to the course of nature in olden times as sleeping and waking, for in those days people slept when the sun had set and woke at dawn. These things have now become displaced; but the central event which is adapted to the course of the year cannot be displaced. By means of this, through its harmony with the order of nature, something is retained and must be so retained in the human soul.
What then is the whole purpose of man's earthly evolution? That man should adapt himself to the earth and take the earth-conditions into himself; that he should carry into his future evolution what the earth has been able to give him, not in any one incarnation alone, but in the whole sum of his incarnations on earth. That then is the purpose of the earth evolution. This purpose can however only be fulfilled through man's to some extent forgetting during his sojourn on earth, his connection with the cosmic and heavenly powers. This he has learnt to do. We know indeed that in olden times man possessed an atavistic clairvoyance, and into that the heavenly powers could work; man was still connected with them; the kingdom of heaven in a sense extended into the human heart. This had to become different so that man might develop his free will. In order that he might become related to the earth he had to have nothing more of the kingdom of heaven in his vision, in his direct perception. This however is the reason that at the time of his closest relation to the earth, in the fifth epoch in which we are living now man became materialistic. Materialism is only the most complete, the most extreme expression of man's relation to the earth, and if nothing else had happened this would have brought about his complete and utter subjection to the earth. He would have had to become related to it and gradually share in its destiny; he would have had to follow the same path as the earth is herself pursuing; he would have been entirely dovetailed into the earth's evolution, — unless something else had occurred. He would have been obliged to tear himself away, as it were, from the cosmos together with the earth, and to unite his destiny completely with that of the earth. That however was not planned for mankind, something else was intended. On the one hand man was to unite himself in the proper way with the earth; on the other, although through his nature he was to become related to the earth, yet messages were to come down to him from the Spiritual world which would raise him once again above the earth. This bringing down of the Heavenly Message came about through the Mystery of Golgotha. Therefore the Being Who went through the Mystery of Golgotha had to take on human nature as well as that of a Heavenly Being. This means that we must think of Christ Jesus not merely as One, who although the Highest, entered human evolution and developed therein; but as One Who possessed a heavenly nature, Who not only taught and propagated doctrine but brought into the earth that which came from Heaven. That is why it is important to understand what the Baptism in Jordan really is; it is not merely a moral action — I do not say it is not a moral action, but it is not that alone. It is also a real action. Something took place then which is just as much a reality as the happenings of nature. If I warm a thing by some warmth-giving means, the warmth passes over into that which is warmed. In like manner did the Christ-Being pass into Jesus of Nazareth at the Baptism by John. That is most certainly in the highest degree a moral action; but it is also a reality in the course of nature, just as real as the phenomena of nature. The important thing is that it should be understood that this is nothing originating in rationalistic conceptions, which always accord merely with the mechanical, physical or chemical course of nature; but something which as idea, is just as much an actual fact as the laws of nature, or indeed the forces of nature.
Once this has been grasped, other ideas will become more real than they are at present. We will not now enter into a discussion on alchemy, but remember that what the old alchemist had in view was that his conceptions should not remain mere ideas, but that they should result in something. (Whether he was justified or not is a not the point for the moment, that may perhaps be the subject of another lecture.) When he burnt incense while holding his conception in mind or giving voice to it, he tried to put sufficient force into it to compel the smoke of the incense to take on form. He sought for such ideas as have the power of affecting the external realities of nature, ideas that do not merely remain within the egoistic part of man but can intervene in the realities of nature. Why did he do this? Because he still had the idea that something occurred at the Mystery of Golgotha which intervened in the course of nature: that was just as real a fact to him as a fact of nature. You see upon this rests a very significant difference which began in the second half of the Middle Ages, towards our own fifth age which followed the Graeco-Latin epoch. At the time of the crusades, in the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth, and indeed in the sixteenth century, there were some special natures, principally women, who devoted themselves so deeply to mysticism, that the inner experience resulting therefrom was felt by them as a spiritual marriage, whether with Christ or another. Many ascetic nuns celebrated mystical marriages. I will not enter into the nature of these inner mystic unions today; but something took place in their inner being which could afterwards only be expressed in words. In a sense it was something that subsisted in the ideas, feelings and also the words in which these were clothed. In contrast to this, Valentine Andrea, as the result of certain conceptions and Spiritual connections, wrote his Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreuz. This chymical — or, as we should say today, chemical-marriage is also a human experience, but when you go into the matter you find that this does not only apply to a soul-experience but to something not merely expressed in words, but which grips the whole man; it is not merely put into the world as a soul experience, for it was a real occurrence, an event of nature, in which a man accomplishes something like a natural process. Valentine Andrea in The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreuz, meant to express something that was more permeated with reality than the merely mystical marriage of Mechthild of Magdeburg, who was a mystic. The mystical marriage of the nuns only accomplished something for the subjective nature of man; by the chymical marriage a man gave himself to the world. Through this, something was accomplished for the whole world; just as something is accomplished for the whole world by the processes of nature. This is again to be taken in a truly Christian sense. Those who thought more real thoughts, longed for concepts through which they could better lay hold of reality, even if only in the one-sided way of the old alchemists — concepts through which they could better grasp reality, ideas in fact which were really connected with reality. The age of materialism has at present thrown a veil over such concepts; and those who today believe they think aright about reality are living in greater illusion than these despised men at the time of the old alchemists, who strove for concepts which should help them to master it.
For what can men accomplish today with their concepts? In our age in particular we have some experience of what they can attain through these empty illusions; the husks of ideas are idols worshipped today, they have nothing to do with reality. For reality is only reached by man plunging down into it, not by forming any sort of ideas at will; yet the difference between unreal concepts and those which are permeated with reality, can be perceived in the ordinary things of the day, but most people do not recognise this. They are so absolutely satisfied with the mere shadow of ideas, having no reality. Suppose, for instance, someone today gets up and makes a speech in which perhaps he may say that a new age must come which is already manifesting, a completely new age in which every man will be measured according to his own worth alone, when he will be valued according to what he can do! Anyone today would admit that such words are in complete understanding with the times! But, my dear friends, as long as ideas are nothing but husks, however beautiful they may be, they are not permeated with reality. For it is not the point that one who is convinced that his own nephew happens to be the best man for the job should admit the principle that every man should be put in the place to which his powers are best adapted. It is not the ideas and concepts one may have that signify: what is required is that with those ideas one should penetrate the reality, and recognise it! It is very pleasant to have ideals and fine principles and often still pleasanter to give expression to them. But what is needed is that we should really plunge down into the reality, recognise it, and penetrate it. We are plunging more and more deeply into that which has brought about these sad times, if we continue to carry on this worshipping of the idols of the husks and shadows of ideas, if we do not learn to see that it is not of the slightest value to have ‘such beautiful ideas and conceptions,’ and to talk about them unless there is the will to get right down to the realities and recognise them. If we do that, we shall not only find the substance, but also the Spirit therein. It is the worshipping of idols, of the mere shadows and husks of ideas, which lead us away from the Spirit. It is the great misfortune of our age, that people are intoxicated with fine words. It is unchristian too; for the true basic principle of Christianity is that the Christ did not pour His teaching into Jesus of Nazareth but poured Himself in; which means that He so united Himself with earthly reality, was so drawn into the reality of the earth, that He thereby became the Living Message from the Cosmos.
The New Testament, my dear friends, if read aright, is the most wonderful means of education concerning reality; only the New Testament must little by little be put into our own language. The present translations do not now completely give the original meaning; but when the old meaning is put into the direct language of our day, the gospels will then be the very best means of bringing man ‘that power of thinking that is permeated with reality.’ For nowhere can thought-forms be found in them that could lead to the husks and shadows of ideas. We need but to grasp these things today in their deeper reality. It may sound almost trivial to speak of the intoxication of ideas, but this is so enormously prevalent today that the ideas and concepts themselves, however beautiful they may sound, are no longer the real point at issue: what is important is that the man who utters them should take his stand on reality. People find that difficult to understand today. Everything that comes out into the open is judged today by its content, and indeed by what is understood of that content. If this were not so, such documents, for instance, as the so-called Peace-Programme of President Wilson — which is entirely void of ideas, a husk, a mere conglomeration of the shadows of ideas — would never be taken as based on reality. Anyone having the power of discerning the reflections of ideas would know that this combination could at most only work by means of a certain absurdity, which might become a sort of reality. What is really needed is that people should try to find ideas and concepts really permeated with reality; this however pre-supposes in the seekers that they themselves should be profoundly imbued with reality and be selfless enough to connect themselves with that which lives and moves in reality. There is a great deal in the present day well calculated to lead people entirely away from the search for reality, but these things are not observed.
He who knows sees many sad things going on. For instance, that it should be possible at the present day for people to be impressed simply by a combination of words, by a number of speeches, which indeed are printed, but which, to one who does not go by mere words but by realities, are absolutely appalling. Speeches have been delivered by a highly honoured person of our day, who in his very first speech immediately takes up the attitude that man on one side of his nature, is absolutely related to the order of nature, and that the theologians are not acting aright if they do not leave the order of nature to the scientists who investigate it. The speeches go on to say that as regards the order of nature, man is simply a piece of machinery; but on this machinery depend the functions of the soul; what are then specified as functions include practically all the functions belonging to the soul. All these are then to be left to the Nature investigators! Nothing is left to comfort theology but the thought that all this has now been given over to Natural Science, and all we have to do is to make speeches — to talk! After that, of course one can only live on husks of words. Furthermore, the speeches are so composed that they lack continuity. (I shall come back to this subject in the coming lectures and go into it more fully.) If you look closely into the thought that is supposed to be connected with the one immediately preceding it, you will find that it cannot possibly be thought of as connected. The whole thing sounds very well, however! In the preface to certain lectures “On the Moulding of Life,” it is stated that they have been lately attended by thousands of people, and that certainly many thousands more feel the need to comfort their souls at this serious time by perusing them. These lectures were given by the celebrated theologian Hunzinger, and I believe are in the ‘Quelle-Meyer’ Library, under the name of Knowledge and Education. They are among the most dangerous literature of the day, because, although they sound enchanting, one's thought-life becomes simply confused, for the thoughts are disconnected and, if one strips off the fascinating words, are nothing but nonsense. Yet these lectures were very much praised, and no one noticed the confused thoughts in them or stopped to test them; everyone was charmed by the shadow-words.
Yes, the external reality entirely hangs together with that which man is ever developing. If he develops concepts void of reality, the reality itself becomes confused and then follow conditions such as we have today. It is no longer possible to judge things by what meets us today externally; we must form our opinions by studying what has been developing in the minds of men for years, or decades, perhaps even longer still. That is what must be gone into. The whole thing depends upon our not accepting the Christ from His teaching alone, but that we should look at the Mystery of Golgotha in its actuality, in its reality; that we should see that it was a Fact that Something super-earthly united itself with the earth in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. We shall then come to realise that morality is not merely something which fades and dies away, when the earth, and even the fabric of the heavens, shall become a grave; but that even though the present earth and the present heavens become a grave, yet, just as the present plants will become mere dust while in the present plant there is the germ of the next one, so there is the germ of the next world in this world of ours, and man is connected with this germ. Only this germ requires the connection with Christ that it may not fall into the grave with the earth, as a plant germ that has not been fructified falls into dust with the plant. The most real thought it is possible to hold, is that the present moral order of the world is the germinal force for the future order of nature. Morality is no mere worked-out thought; if permeated with reality it exists in the present as a germ for later external realities. But a conception of the world such as that of Kant-Laplace, of which Hermann Grimm says that a piece of carrion which attracts a hungry dog is a more appetising aspect, does not belong to that order of thought. The mechanical plan of the world can never penetrate to the thought that morality contains within it a force which is the germ of the natural, of the nature of the future. Why can it not do this? Because it must live in illusion. For just imagine, my dear friends: if the Mystery of Golgotha had not taken place, all would have been as in the Kant-Laplace theory. If you think away the Mystery of Golgotha from the earth, that theory would be correct. The earth had to reach such a condition that, left to itself, it must inevitably lead the human race into the desolation of the grave. Things had to take place as they have, that man might attain freedom through his relation to the earth. He will not sink into the grave, because at the critical moment the earth was fructified by Christ, because Christ descended, and because in Christ lies the opposing force to that which leads to the grave, namely, the germinal force whereby man can be borne up once more into the Spiritual world. That means that when the earth becomes a grave, when it fulfils its destiny according to the Kant-Laplace theory, the germ which is concealed within it must not be allowed to fall into decay, but must be carried on into the future. So that the Christian-moral plan of the world presupposes what Goethe calls ‘the higher nature in nature.’ We might say: A man who is able to think in the right way of the Mystery of Golgotha, as a reality, is also able to think thoughts and form concepts permeated with reality. This is necessary, this is what people must learn before all else. For in this fifth Post-Atlantean age they have either desired to form concepts which intoxicate them, or such as create blindness in them. The concepts which intoxicate are chiefly formed in the realms of religion; those which cause blindness chiefly in the domain of Natural Science. A conception like that of Kant, which, while admitting the purely natural ordering, placing the two worlds of knowledge and of faith side by side, has yet only the moral in view, — must result in intoxication. Concepts based on moral grounds are able to intoxicate, and the intoxication prevents one from seeing that one thus simply succumbs to the stillness of the grave, into which all the moral plans of the world have fallen, and perished. Or, again, such concepts as those of present-day Natural Science, National Economy, and — forgive the expression, which may be rather hard to swallow — even the political concepts of the day, may create blindness; for they are not formed in connection with a Spiritual conception of the world, but from the shreds of what are called actual (that is, actual in the physical sense), actual reality. Thus each man sees only as far as the end of his own nose, and blindly forms opinions upon what he can see with his eves and grasp with mechanically acquired ideas, between birth and death; without having formed any concepts permeated with reality through being permeated by the Spiritual, by a grasp of Spiritual reality.
It is necessary over and over again to point out what it is that our age so desperately needs. For even history itself in our age is often no more than the mere shadow of ideas. How frequently what Fichte said to the German people is proclaimed abroad today! What he really said, however, can only be understood if one studies his whole life, that life so profoundly rooted in reality! That is why I tried in my book, The Riddle of Man, to represent the personality of Fichte, as he afterwards became, showing how closely from his childhood up he was connected with reality. I should indeed be glad if such words as these — as to the need for our thoughts and concepts to be permeated with reality — were not only listened to superficially but profoundly grasped, taken in, and really absorbed. Then only will a free and open vision, a psychic vision, be acquired for what our age so badly needs. Everyone of us should have this open soul-vision. If we do not each make it a duty to think over the facts touched upon here, we are not paying sufficient attention to the traffic going on today in the shadows and husks of words, nor to the fact that everything tends to lead people either into intoxicating concepts or to such as make them blind.
I hope you will not take what has been said today as propagandism of any sort, but look upon it as expressing existing facts. A man certainly must and ought to live with his times and when anything is described, he should not look upon it as all that is to be said on the subject; he should learn to strike the balance. It is quite natural that the world today should be confronted with impulses leading entirely to materialism. That cannot be prevented, it is connected with the deep needs of the age. But a counterbalance must be established. One very prominent means of driving man into materialism is the cinematograph. It has not been observed from this standpoint; but there is no better school for materialism than the cinema. For what one sees there is not reality as men see it. Only an age which has so little idea of reality as this age of ours, which worships reality as an idol in a material sense, could believe that the cinema represents reality. Any other age would consider whether men really walk along the street as seen at the cinema; people would ask themselves whether what they saw at such a performance really corresponded to reality. Ask yourselves frankly and honourably, what is really most like what you see in the street: a picture painted by an artist, an immobile picture, or the dreadful sparkling pictures of the cinematograph. If you put the question to yourselves quite honourably, you will admit that what the artist reproduces in a state of rest is much more like what you see. Hence, while people are sitting at the cinema, what they see there does not make its way into the ordinary faculty of perception, it enters a deeper, more material stratum than we usually employ for our perception. A man becomes etherically goggle-eyed at the cinema; he develops eyes like those of a seal, only much larger, I mean larger etherically. This works in a materialising way, not only upon what he has in his consciousness, but upon his deepest sub-consciousness. Do not think I am abusing the cinematograph; I should like to say once more that it is quite natural it should exist, and it will attain far greater perfection as time goes on. That will be the road leading to materialism. But a counterbalance must be established, and that can only be created in the following way. With the search for reality which is being developed in the cinema, with this descent below sense-perception, man must at the same time develop an ascent above it, an ascent into Spiritual reality. Then the cinema will do him no harm, and he can see it as often as he likes. But unless the counterbalance is there, people will be led by such things as these, not to have their proper relation to the earth, but to become more and more closely related to it, until at last, they are entirely shut off from the Spiritual world.