1 February 1916, Berlin
We are far too accustomed to dealing with big problems like necessity and freedom in the simplest possible concepts and trying, as it were, in the twinkling of an eye to cover as many aspects as we can. We usually do not consider that problems of this kind require that we realize how complicated many of the interrelationships are in the world, and that what takes place in one area must be looked at in an entirely different light, if we want to understand it, than something quite similar in another area of the world.
I would like first of all to remind you of something I mentioned here a short time ago in a different connection. When we see such significant world events as those of the present, we are very much inclined to look hastily for the most obvious causes and to expect to find the consequences in what will happen immediately afterward. With this kind of observation we do the facts a thorough injustice. When I mentioned this before, I drew your attention to the fact that at the beginning of the Middle Ages the Roman world and what is now Central Europe were in opposition to one another. From a historical point of view we can say lightly, “Well, we try to discover the particular political motives of ancient Rome that made those Romans feel compelled to carry out their campaigns against the countries to their north, against what is now Central Europe. And we can look for the consequences in subsequent developments.”
Yet if we look at things this way we do not by any means exhaust all the points that should be considered. For just imagine, if something different had happened in the way the tribes moved across Europe from east to west, or something had happened differently in the clash between the might of Rome and the Teutonic tribes, the whole subsequent development of Central Europe right up to modern times would have had a different appearance. All the various events we have seen taking place in the course of the centuries up to our time would have been different if, at that time, the world of the ancient Roman people, who owing to their particular quality and their position in world history could not fully take up Christianity, had not fused with the world of historically young peoples who had taken up Christianity with youthful energy.
Out of the way this encounter came about between a culturally overly mature people, such as the Romans were, and a historically young people, such as the Teutonic people were in those days, all the later events have developed right up to Goethe's Faust and all that nineteenth century culture has produced. Could things have happened the way they did if that encounter had not occurred? Here, we are looking at a stream permeated with a strict inner necessity moving through world events and spreading out over immense regions. How could anyone at that time possibly have even wanted to arrange his actions in keeping with what has happened on the physical plane through the centuries from then until now?
What is taking place today is in turn the starting point of universal configurations that will of course be connected with current happenings; yet, as far as events on the physical plane are concerned, these configurations will on the face of it look very dissimilar to what takes place compressed into a short time span. I only want to mention this so that you become aware that there are deep reasons behind what I already mentioned in connection with these studies, namely, that we do not get far by brooding and speculating about how things are connected in the world. Imagine a Roman or a Teuton of the third or fourth century speculating on the possible consequences of the battles taking place in that time, and how far he would have got. Not very far!
It is essential that we become aware that the deciding factors concerning things that have to happen and our recognition that they really ought to happen are not our speculations about their possible results or immediate consequences but other things. It is essential that we become aware that into the stream of events taking place on the physical plane there actually enter forces we sense as coming from the spiritual world, impulses about the particular effects of which we don't need to speculate in regard to what ought to happen on the physical plane. We must be in no doubt that looking at human action and world history shows clearly how necessary it is that we should extend our view beyond what lies on the physical plane. And after having prepared the way for these essentials, let us return to considering the human being as such.
In the last lecture I showed how impossible it is to acquire a right relationship to our past actions if we merely continue mulling them over. On the contrary, we must realize that what is past, including our own actions, belongs to the realm of necessity, and we must become familiar with the thought that what happened had to happen. That is to say, we acquire a right relationship to our actions if we can look objectively at our past achievements, looking at a successful or unsuccessful deed of ours with equal objectivity.
Now you are bound to have serious objections to what I have just said, for such objections do exist. Consider for a moment what I have just said, that when we have done something, it is over; that we establish a proper attitude to it by facing it objectively and not wishing we had acted differently. The serious objection is this: What about the whole domain that should play a great part in human life, the domain of repentance for a deed we have done? Obviously people are quite right in saying that repentance is necessary and has to take place. If we could manage to remove from the human soul the feeling of regret, we would be removing a moral impulse of the highest order. But are we not actually doing away with it when we simply look at all that has happened completely objectively?
Here indeed is a new difficulty, one that can be the starting point for endless misunderstandings. We will have to go to the heart of the question of freedom if we want to clear away this difficulty. You know, the great Spinoza said that when we look at the world, we can really only speak of necessity. 1Baruch Spinoza, 1632–1677, Dutch pantheist philosopher. The example of a stone being pushed into motion can be found in his sixty-second letter of 1674. Freedom is fundamentally a kind of illusion. For if a ball is hit by another one, it has to go the way the second one goes. “If it had consciousness it would believe” — Philosophy of Spiritual Activity — “that it was going its way by choice. And it is the same with the human being,” says Spinoza. 1Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, (Hudson, N.Y.: Anthroposophic Press, 1986). “Even though he is in the clutches of necessity, just because he is conscious of what he does, he thinks he is free.”
But Spinoza is utterly and totally wrong. The matter is quite different. If we really flew off somewhere like the ball that follows only the necessity of propulsion, we would lose consciousness regarding everything to do with our flying and our acting out of necessity. We would be bound to be unconscious of it. Consciousness would be eliminated. And that is what happens. Just think of the speed with which you are moving through space according to the science of astronomy! You most certainly do not do that consciously. There, consciousness is cut out. You would not be capable of being conscious, for you would not be able to hurtle through space as the science of astronomy shows you do. Consciousness of everything a person does out of necessity has to be eliminated, and in such an obvious case as flying through space we can readily see that processes subject to necessity eliminate our consciousness.
However, we are not always so obviously conscious of things, but more or less unconscious of them. In real life it is very difficult to distinguish one from the other. Where one thing borders on another we cannot understand them as easily as in our case above. On the contrary, we could say, “In all matters where we are absolutely conscious, our actions cannot be other than free. If a ball that I struck really had consciousness, it would only fly in a certain direction if it received into its consciousness the impulse I gave it and directed its own course accordingly. The ball would first of all have to become unconscious in order merely to follow the momentum.”
If you think this over, you will make a distinction that we unfortunately do not make in ordinary life with regard to actions. The fact that we do not make this distinction has not only a theoretical significance but also a very practical one. We do not in fact distinguish between situations where we have been unsuccessful and cases that are immoral and bad. This distinction is an extraordinarily important one. It is absolutely true that we arrive at a correct estimate of an action that has not succeeded and has not turned out as we intended only if we can look at it objectively as though it had been absolutely necessary. For as soon as it is over it is in the realm of absolute necessity. If something does not work out and we feel uncomfortable later on because it has not worked out, it is absolutely true that our uneasiness arises from egotism. One would have liked to have been a better person, a more capable person. That is egotism expressing itself. And unless this egotism is completely rooted out, we cannot see the further development of our soul in as significant a light as we should.
But not every deed we have done is an unsuccessful one; there can also be a bad deed, a morally bad deed. Let us look at morally bad deeds, for instance, the following one, to choose a really striking example. Suppose someone has nothing to eat, or would like something for some other reason than hunger, and he steals. Stealing is a bad deed, isn't it? Does what we have said keep a person who has stolen something from feeling remorse for his deed? No, it does not! And why not? For the very simple reason that he did not seriously want to steal, but only wanted to possess what he stole. He could readily have cut out the stealing if you had given him what he wanted, or if he had been able to acquire it in some other way than by stealing.
This is a striking case, but in a certain way it applies to all forms of bad deeds. The bad deed as such is never really intended, and language has a subtle feeling for this. When an evil deed has been done, we say, “conscience stirs.” Why does conscience stir? Because the bad deed only now becomes a matter of knowledge. It comes up into consciousness. When the deed happened, the awareness was taken up by the motive on account of which the bad deed was done. A bad deed is not willed. And repenting means that the perpetrator becomes aware that he allowed his consciousness to be dulled at the time the bad deed was done. Whenever anyone does a bad deed, it is always a matter of his consciousness of the deed being dulled, and of his having to acquire an awareness of cases like the one in which his consciousness was dimmed. The whole point of punishment is to awaken forces in the soul that will enable consciousness to extend to the kind of situations that previously produced an elimination of consciousness.
Among the dissertations done at universities by philosophers who are also occupied with legal problems there is usually one on “the right to administer punishment.” Now a great many theories have been drawn up concerning reasons for giving punishment. The one and only possible reason can be found only when we realize that punishment is given for the sake of exerting the soul forces so that consciousness will extend into spheres it did not previously reach. This is also the task of repentance. Its purpose is precisely to let us observe the deed in such a way that the force of the repentance raises the action into consciousness. Then the consciousness will see the whole picture and will not be dulled the next time. You see what is involved. We must learn to discriminate properly between a fully conscious deed and one where the consciousness is dimmed.
On the other hand, if you have an action that does not fit the category of good or bad but was only unfortunate, an action in which something we had intended to do was not successful, there the point is that we ourselves can obscure our view of it if we judge it by bringing in the thought, the feeling, that it would perhaps have turned out differently if we had done this or that better, or if we ourselves had been different. Here, it is a matter of bearing in mind that if the eye is to see an object, it cannot see itself. It must hold up a mirror, for the moment the eye holds up a mirror to see itself, it cannot see the object. The moment a person broods about how differently he should have acted, the deed cannot act upon him with the kind of power that will further his soul development. For as soon as you set egotism between yourself and your deed, as implied in the fact that you would really like to have done the deed differently, you are doing exactly the same as when you hold a mirror in front of your eye so that it cannot see the object.
We can also put it another way. You know there are so-called astigmatic eyes, eyes in which the cornea are curved in different degrees in the perpendicular and the horizontal direction. Eyes like that have a peculiar kind of inaccurate vision. Such persons see specters merely because the cornea has an irregular curve. They see specters because they are actually perceiving their own eyes and not what is outside. If one perceives one's own eye because it is incorrectly constructed and has not become an eye that can completely eliminate itself and allow the object to affect it, one cannot perceive the object. If we fill our mind with the thought “You should have been different, and if you had only done this or that differently, it would all have turned out well,” it is just as though we had astigmatism and did not see the actual fact but distorted it. Yet a person must see the real facts allotted him, only then will they really be effective. Their effect on a person who is not filled with feeling about facts but allows the facts themselves to work upon him will be the same as the effect an outside object has on healthy eyes. The facts then continue their work in the soul.
One can say that anyone who has not yet acquired an objective view of past facts in which he was involved cannot see them in their objectivity and therefore cannot obtain from them what he ought to have for his soul. It is exactly as though our eyes were to remain at their stage of development in the sixth or seventh month of embryonic growth, while we ourselves were born at the proper time. We would see the whole world wrongly. If the eyes were not to continue developing during the sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth month, but were to stop short, they would not eliminate themselves in the process of seeing. We would see something entirely different from what we actually see when we develop normally.
Thus what we have done acquires its right value only when we have come to the point of being able to let it enter the stream of necessity, and when we can regard it as necessity. But as has been said, we must realize that we then have to make the distinction between what is successful and unsuccessful and what is called “good” or “bad” in a moral sense.
Broadly speaking, you will find all this analyzed, though more philosophically, in my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity for there it is emphasized that human beings become free when they achieve the possibility of drawing impulses from the spiritual world. In one passage it is even expressly stated that impulses of free will come from the spiritual world. However, that does not exclude the utmost freedom in relation to certain events in which we very distinctly follow necessity. For we must distinguish between purely external physical necessity and spiritual necessity, although the two are basically pretty much the same. But they differ in regard to the position they occupy in world existence.
It is like this: Let us look again at a figure such as Goethe, who has appeared in world history and of whom one can say that we can follow up the education of a person such as he, and can see how he became what he was; we can then follow up the impulse that led him to achieve his Faust and his other poetical works. We can, as it were, regard all that Goethe achieved as if it were the result of his education. And then of course we see him as a genius. We certainly can. By doing this we remain focused on Goethe.
But we can do it another way. We can follow the spiritual development in the eighteenth century. We can pick out some details, for instance, that before Goethe had thought of writing a Faust, Lessing had projected one, so there was already one in existence. 3Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, 1729–1781, German poet, playwright, and critic. Thus we can say that the conception of Faust arose out of the spiritual problems and impulses of the time. We could say that if we examine Lessing's projected Faust and a number of other similar Faust versions, they all led to the famous Faust. By leaving Goethe out, we still come to Faust as though by necessity. Faust arose out of what preceded it. So we can arrive at Faust by following Goethe's development. One can look at Goethe from a more developmental point of view, or one can entirely leave him out and look in detail at how a type of poetry originated in Europe, such as the Song of the Nibelungs, 4Nibelungenlied, a Middle High German epic of about 1200, telling of the life of Siegfried, his marriage to Kriemhild, his wooing of Brunhild on behalf of Gunther, his murder by Hägen, and the revenge of Kriemhild. and how it became compressed into the poem Parsifal: 5Parsifal, a hero of mythology and various epics and romances, especially the one by Wolfram von Eschenbach. Parsifal, the striving human being, belonging to a certain period of evolution. One can look at how another line of development then came about, due to which the Parsifal concept was quite forgotten, and how that remarkable idea took hold of people that found its expression in the popular romance of Faust. This brought the appearance of a Faust about, what one might call a Parsifal of a later age. Goethe can be left out entirely.
Obviously we must not be pedantic; fifty years more or less do not matter. Time is elastic and can be stretched forward or backward, so that that does not interfere. It is only with things that go on in an ahrimanic way that time plays an important part. Things that come from the gods can always be moved forward or backward in time. But speaking generally we can say that even if the Frankfurt councilor Kaspar Goethe and his wife Aja had not had their son Wolfgang, or if he had died immediately after birth, for as you know he was ill at birth and nearly died, someone else would certainly have produced something similar to Faust. Similarly if Goethe had lived in the fourteenth century, he would certainly not have written Faust. These are unreal thoughts of course, but sometimes one has to consider them in order to realize the truth.
Thus we can now ask the question, “Did Goethe produce his Faust or any of his life's work out of freedom, or was it a question of absolute necessity?” The greatest freedom of all is to obey historical necessity! For if anyone imagines that his freedom could ever be endangered by what exists in the world as necessity, he ought also to say, “I want to create a poem, but I am a person who wants to work in total freedom! I want to disregard all the other poets who were unfree; I want to write a free poem. But I could not be free if I were to use the words of our language, for they came about through primeval necessity. That would not do! I will be an absolute champion of freedom. I will make up my own language!” And he sets about doing so. What he would actually achieve, of course, would be that everybody rejects him and his poem written in a nonexistent language, that with his freedom he would be bound to arouse everyone's resistance, which would express itself at first of course merely in incomprehension. From this you will see that there can be no talk of freedom, as it enters into the stream of events, being in any way encroached upon by the necessity present in the ongoing stream of world events.
We might also imagine a painter who wanted to be completely free saying, “I want to paint for sure, but I do not want to paint on a canvas or any other surface; I will paint freely. Do I first of all experiment on a given material? Not me! For then I would perpetually be compelled to comply with its surface.” The material has a very definite conformity to law, yet complying with it does not mean one is not free.
Particularly where major events in world history are concerned, it is obvious that when consciousness plays a part in our actions, what we can call necessity can join directly with freedom. As I have already said, in the fourteenth century Goethe would not have been able to create Faust, for it would have been absolutely impossible for Faust to have come about at that time. He would not have been able to write it. Why not? Because there is something we have to call an empty space in world events with regard to certain evolutionary impulses. Just as we cannot put more water into a cask if it is already full, or we can only put a certain quantity into it if it is already partly full, we cannot put anything we please into an already “full” age.
In the fourteenth century there was no space for anything like the kind of thing that came down from the spiritual world through a human being into the physical world in the form of Faust; no space, only a state of fullness. Events run their course in cycles, and when a cycle has been completed, an empty space appears for new impulses which can then enter the life of the world. A cycle has to be complete in regard to content, and then an empty space must occur again, before new impulses can come in. In the cultural period in which Goethe lived, an empty space had occurred for the impulses that came from the spiritual world to the physical world through him. Evolution really does proceed in waves: emptiness — a state of fullness to the point of completion — an ebbing — emptiness again. Then something new can come.
In the time between death and a new birth a human being plans his next incarnation according to this rhythm. He arranges it so that he encounters the particular level of emptiness or fullness in the physical world that is right for his impulses. Someone bringing with him from earlier incarnations impulses of the highest order that require a space must come at a time when there is an empty space. Whoever has the kind of impulses that need to meet with receptivity must incarnate at a time when there is a space to be filled. In many areas of course one thing will work in opposition to another. That is quite obvious. We see then that in a certain respect we choose — if we may use the word — on the strength of our inner qualities the period in which we come into the world. And on this depends the inner necessity governing our activities.
If you bear this in mind, you will no longer see any contradiction in the consecutive events and realize that Parsifal and so on, and Faust, take their turns, and then comes Goethe who creates a work that can just as well be understood in the succession of periods. You will find no contradiction any longer, because Goethe looked down from above and prepared in his inner being what could become tangible in his work. That is to say, when he was on the physical plane, he brought forth from his inner being what he had absorbed in those particular preceding centuries in which the stream of events had taken place.
Between the two statements “Goethe's work had to be produced at a definite time,” and “Goethe produced it out of freedom” there is just as little contradiction as there would be if I were to have a board and six balls in a row, then produce a small cup and say, “I will put the first ball into the cup, then the second and third and so on, and I pour them out over here.” And if now someone were to say, “But those balls lying over there are the same balls we had to start with,” someone else could reply, “No, they are the balls that came out of the cup.” Both statements can be true.
What took place in the course of time and ultimately led to Faust is what Goethe had absorbed in his inner being and what Goethe then expressed just because it had accumulated within him through looking down from the spiritual world. For we always take part in the whole evolution of the world. If we look at things this way, we can say “The moment we look into the past we have to regard past events themselves as a necessity. And if we look at ourselves and produce the past again as deeds of the present, so long as we do this consciously, we are still free in what we bring into the present of what was prepared in the past out of necessity.” Thus that person is most free of all who knows in full consciousness “what I am doing is nothing but spiritual necessity.” These things cannot be understood by pedantic logic but only by fully grasping reality in a living way.
There is still another approach that can help us understand this completely. We can ask ourselves the following. If we look at animals, we know they have a dimmed consciousness. I have often described that. Human beings have a level of consciousness in which freedom can come to expression. But what kind of consciousness do angels have, the beings immediately above human beings? What is the consciousness of the angels like?
It is actually very difficult to have an immediate perception of the consciousness of angels. When we as human beings want to do something, we consider what form our action is going to take. And if it does not work out on the physical plane as we imagined it should, we have failed. If someone sews two pieces of cloth together, and when he has finished it they come apart, the endeavor has not been a success. This can happen with a sewing machine. If things do not turn out as we had envisioned they would on the physical plane, we say the deed has miscarried. That is to say, people aim their will at something they picture happening on the physical plane. This is how our human willing proceeds.
But not in the case of angels. Their intention is everything. An angel's intention can be carried out in many different ways and the effect can still be exactly the same. This is quite true, though it is of course contrary to ordinary logic. In the artistic sphere only, and then only from the human point of view, can we acquire any feeling for this kind of consciousness. For you will always find that if the artist can take things in a human way — he may not always be in a position to do so, but if he can — he may possibly appreciate what turns out contrary to his expectations, even to the point of failure, and regard it to be of greater value than those things he did exactly as they should have been done. We then come a little closer to what is so extraordinarily difficult to grasp: that with the angels' consciousness, their will, everything depends on the intentions, and that these intentions may be realized in the most varied ways on the physical plane, even in polar opposite ways. That is to say, when an angel decides to do something, he chooses something quite definite, but not in the way that he says, “It has to look like this.” That is not in the least implied. He will not know what it looks like until it has happened.
We have seen, and I have drawn your attention to the fact, that this is even the case with the Elohim. The Elohim created light and saw that it was good. This means that what comes first for human beings, the mental image of what is on the physical plane, does not come first at all in the consciousness of spiritual beings above human beings. With them the intention comes first, and how it is to be carried out is quite another matter. Now in this respect humans are of course midway between animals and angels. Therefore, they tend on the one hand to descend to the unconsciousness of animals. Whenever a criminal deed occurs, it is essentially due to the animality in human beings. On the other hand, however, we also have a tendency to ascend to the consciousness of the Angeloi. We have within us the possibility of developing a higher consciousness, a consciousness beyond the ordinary one, in which intentions take on a different aspect than is normally the case.
Thus we can say, that if as human beings we get involved in some of life's important problems, we cannot then make plans in the ordinary way. Suppose that as a teacher — a proper teacher this time — you have a particular child to educate. Now an average person has his educational principles. He knows when to give punishment and when not to; perhaps that he should never give any punishment at all. He knows how to do that. But if you look at the matter from the point of view of a higher consciousness, you will not always judge in this way, but will leave everything in life's hands. You will wait for the results of observation. Your one intention will be to bring out all the latent talents. But these potential talents can be drawn out in various ways. This is the important thing.
If we take all these things into consideration, we will realize that in order to understand how necessity and freedom affect the human being we must observe both the external physical part and the inner part, first of all the etheric. I have already drawn your attention to the fact that our etheric body takes quite a different course from the physical body. Our physical body, as I once told you, is young to begin with. It then develops and grows older until it becomes senile. The etheric body does the opposite. Whereas we say we grow older when speaking of the physical body, we ought really to say we grow younger as regards the etheric body. If we want to use the words “old” and “young” for the etheric body, it is actually old when we are born, for it is all wrinkled up and small enough to fit us. When we reach a normal old age, and die, our etheric body has become so rejuvenated that we can hand it over to the whole world, where it can work again as a youthful force. While the physical grows older, the etheric body grows younger. It gets younger and younger.
If we die at an unusual time, die young, significant things can happen with the etheric body, such as those I have told you about. But it is not only with regard to aging that we see a difference between the physical and etheric bodies, but also with regard to necessity and freedom. When the human being is most enmeshed in necessity in what he does with the physical body or in general as a being on the physical plane, he is then freest in his etheric body, and the latter is then left entirely to itself. Whenever the etheric body is enmeshed in necessity, everything a person does on the physical plane is left to his own freedom. Thus, where the physical body is subject to necessity, the etheric body has a corresponding degree of freedom, and where the etheric body is subject to necessity, the physical body has a certain amount of freedom.
Let us look at what this means. You cannot say we are completely free to get up and go to bed whenever we want to. People get up in the morning and go to bed in the evening. There is no question of freedom there. This is part of the iron necessities of life. And even if you vary the time of getting up and going to bed, freedom is obviously out of the question. You also eat every day. There is no question of freedom there. You cannot resolve to do away with this necessity and try to be free by not eating, because you feel the taking in of food to be a compulsion. With regard to all these things a human being is tied to necessity. And why is he tied to necessity? Because the companion — as I called him last time — the inner self accompanying us through life on the physical plane and through all the compulsions connected with the physical plane, lives all the while in freedom.
But if we are to involve our inner being, our etheric body, in necessity, how are we to do it? By consciously submitting to what we recognize to be a necessity. For instance, by telling ourselves that the time has come when everyone who realizes he is ready for spiritual science ought to take it up. Nobody is forced to do this by an external necessity, of course. But we can see it as an inner necessity, because it is necessary in the present cycle of humanity. Thus out of our own free will we yield to necessity. There is no external pressure on the physical plane. We must follow compulsion out of inner freedom, as it were. The etheric body itself makes the resolve, which permeates it with necessity; it creates the necessity itself, thus acquiring the possibility of developing in freedom with regard to what happens on the physical plane. That is to say, we become acquainted with spiritual necessity, thereby making ourselves more and more free with regard to life on the physical plane.
You will now say, “Through the very fact that we find our way into a spiritual necessity we ought to become more and more free in life on the physical plane.” That is indeed so. By uniting ourselves with the spirit that streams through the world and letting it pass through us, we really do receive elements that set us free from the fetters of the physical world. We cannot of course free ourselves from what is allotted us by our previous incarnation, by our karma. But if we do not thus free ourselves through our knowledge of spiritual necessity from conditions of necessity on the physical plane, we remain bound to these after death, and have to carry them with us. We have to carry the necessities of the physical plane with us through the life between death and a new birth, and cannot free ourselves from them. But each moment in which we connect ourselves in our etheric body with the necessities of the spiritual plane, we become freer and freer of the necessities of the physical plane.
It is indeed so that if we can follow out of a free resolve a purely spiritual impulse, we become freer and freer from all that would otherwise fetter us to physical life, fetter us far beyond death. On the other hand, with regard to everything we are enmeshed in during physical life, and which is unalterable, the etheric body as such becomes freer and freer.
Thus we see how freedom and necessity interact on the physical plane and also in connection with the etheric body. The etheric body receives its freedom through the necessity of the physical plane, and has to recognize its own necessity. The physical body receives its freedom when the etheric body thus recognizes its necessity, and its necessity arises through its self-chosen karmic involvement in the events on the physical plane.
In this way we see the physical part of human beings, free in bondage, and the spiritual-soul part, bound in freedom, interacting organically. Freedom and necessity always interweave. It is quite impossible for us to be subject to pure necessity when we are fully conscious. Through the fact that we permeate a thing with consciousness, that is to say, accept it in full consciousness, freedom governs our soul. This is how we lift ourselves out of necessity in our soul and make ourselves free concerning matters we are conscious of. However, if we acknowledge with our minds that something is necessary, for instance, that the present time is the time for taking part in spiritual science, if we freely comply with a necessity, so to speak, does this give us a degree of unconsciousness? In a certain sense it does. We do become unconscious to the extent that we undertake to develop our consciousness to the point where we reach the gate through which streams and radiates what is to come from the spiritual world. We then receive this, and bend to the powerful forces coming to meet us from the spirit world. This is why in connection with working our way into spiritual necessity we speak of working our way up to the beings who bend down toward us.
Therefore we shall always stress that with our consciousness we soar toward the beings who permeate and pulse through us from the spiritual world and when we say, “We must of necessity accommodate ourselves to the impulses coming from the spiritual world,” we expect that at the same time the impulses of higher spiritual beings will descend into these our impulses. Thus a relative, deep unconsciousness arises, where we become aware of what is at work in us spiritually in the same way as we would be aware of an unconscious action where we are quite sure that the spirit is in us and the right thing to do is to obey, where we are privileged to obey.
We have now come back to our starting point. If we tried with our ordinary consciousness to mull over the many consequences that can arise from such significant events as those of the present, for instance — and I compared them earlier to the Roman-Teutonic wars — we would get nowhere. However, the moment we can tell ourselves we do not want to find the right solution through mulling them over but through giving way to the spiritual impulse and letting it stream in, we do not need to brood. For then we know that if only we let these spiritual impulses take hold of us, they lead us to the right solution, to spiritual currents that even go beyond the centuries, beyond millennia. This is what is important.
Then we see that we no longer need to think that things must go like this today and like that tomorrow for such and such to happen, for we will realize that we are now living in the particular epoch of humanity in which the further evolution of earthly existence can progress in the right way only if spiritual impulses coming from the spiritual world are directly taken up. That is how it is. And the things that happen externally on the physical plane must of necessity unite with these impulses in the right way. Then the right things will happen. Then we shall know, without mulling over what will happen tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, that what will really come about will be that the souls now passing through the gate of death will continue to work on, both in their etheric bodies and as souls, to the extent that the thoughts of those human beings who will in the future populate the blood-stained battlefields of the earth join with them, so that something will arise that will live for centuries. But we must have a direct awareness of this in the spirit of these words we have often heard:
Out of the courage of the fighters,
Out of the blood of battles,
Out of the grief of the bereaved,
Out of the peoples' deeds of sacrifice
There shall arise spirit fruit
If only souls, in spirit-mindfulness,
Will reach out to the spirits' realm.
The important thing to realize is that from a certain point in the present our souls must become conscious of the spirit, souls that have the will to direct their consciousness toward the spirit. Then, from what is happening today, the right things will come for the future. To make this thought our own, steadfast confidence is needed, such as those beings have whom we count as members of the hierarchy of the angels. For angels act out of that kind of confidence. They know that if they have the right intentions, the right things will come of them; not because they envision that future events should take a definite form, but because they have the right intentions. These right intentions, however, can only be grasped spiritually. And only through thinking in the way of spiritual science can we find the way to grasp something spiritually, as we have endeavored to do.