The Karma of Vocation
26 November 1916, Dornach
One of the criticisms that is made against our spiritual science by many theologians and others who believe they stand on a Christian foundation, but without understanding it correctly, is that spiritual science affirms truths regarding a large number of hierarchies that embrace beings standing above man in the spiritual world. We speak, as you know, of spiritual hierarchies embracing the angels, archangels, archai, exusiai, and so forth; we speak of these kingdoms of the higher super-sensible worlds just as we speak of the animal, plant, mineral, and elemental kingdoms within the earthly world. It is quite clear to us, moreover, that human life falls into two sections. One of them takes its course between birth and death. During this life, or by reason of this life, man descends from the super-sensible world to the kingdoms of the human being, and to those of the animal, plant, and mineral in his physical environment. When an individual passes through the portal of death, the other section of his life begins; he or she ascends to the higher kingdoms that tower upward from below just as the other kingdoms descend from above downward. The individual ascends into the kingdoms of the angels, archangels, archai, and so on. The person of the present day who believes, but without understanding, that his own foundation is that of Christianity is especially antagonistic to this view of the beings who have their place between man and the real Godhead, which is far above humanity and those beings who have their place in this super-sensible space, i.e., the angels, archangels and so forth. Especially the people who believe themselves to be unusually advanced in their Christian conception will declare that this knowledge of the spiritual hierarchies and their beings represents a relapse into an ancient polytheism or, as it is said, into a kind of paganism. In their opinion it is precisely the mission of contemporary man to place nothing whatever between himself and the Godhead, but to live in the world directing his view to what is offered to the senses, and then to find his way directly to the Godhead without the mediation of angels, archangels, and so forth. Many people consider it especially sublime to stand thus, without mediation, face to face with their god.
You may hear this objection raised against spiritual science from many directions. It indicates that in those very circles there is absolutely no understanding of what the spiritual needs of our time really are, since it is not important if a man imagines he can find the way to his god, but rather whether he actually can. What is really important is not at all the question of whether the human being imagines he has a conception of his god, but whether he really does have such a conception. From our point of view, we must ask what the conception is that those individuals really hold when they say, “We do not wish any mediation by other spirits but will ascend directly from our souls to our god.” What is the concept held by such men? Do they really have a conception of God when they speak of Him? When a man speaks of his god in a justifiable manner, does he conceive of what must be meant by the term God?
This is not the conception they hold, but rather something quite different. When we review all the concepts such individuals form of their god, what is really represented in such concepts? Nothing other than the being of an angel, and all those who say that they look up directly from their own souls to God are really looking only to an angel. If you examine all the descriptions given by such people, no matter how lofty they may seem, you will find that they describe nothing but an angel, and what they are saying is nothing more than to demand that one should conceive nothing higher under the term God than an angel. For example, what is called God in modern Protestantism, the God about whom there is so much talk among the protestants, is nothing other than one of the angels — nothing else whatever. The important fact is not whether a person imagines that he or she is finding the way to the highest God, but to what such a person really does find the way. Thus, in this manner, individuals find the way only to their own angel — I say to their own angel because that is important.
If we fix our attention first on the beings of the lowest hierarchies — archai (spirits of personality, as we have also named them), archangels and angels — then comes man, the animal kingdom, the plant kingdom and the mineral kingdom.
When we direct our attention to these beings who are relatively the lowest, we need only bear in mind what has already been explained in order to know that the archai, the spirits of personality, are also time spirits.They are the controlling forces for the entire temporal epoch; they are what lives as spirit in a temporal epoch. We live today in a different spiritual relationship from that of the ancient Greeks or Romans because we are controlled by a different time spirit, who is, of course, a most sublime being. Then we have, in turn, those beings whom we call archangels whose mission is to establish harmony among men on earth; thus they are also, in a certain sense, the leaders and guides of peoples. The angels, standing just above man, guide and lead him through the portals of death so that he has his angel by his side from death to a new birth and is lead by him again into a new life. The mission of the angels is to guide individual humans through repeated earthly lives.
Now we have come all the way down to man. In his earthly existence today, man remembers only his life in the physical body. The memory of angels extends much further, and it is only through the far greater extension of their memory that they can guide and direct man's repeated earthly lives. But the modern theologian does not even conceive the angel correctly because he has eliminated the angels' characteristic of guiding the individual through repeated earthly lives. Let us grasp the fact that it is only the archangels who are beings who control human relationships over long stretches of time. Then, if we also conceive of angels as beings who really control the life of the individual, we shall readily acknowledge that it is a concealed egoism that makes people wish to ascend directly to their god. Although they do not admit it, the truth is that what they wish to do is to ascend only to their own god, to their own angel.
This has immense practical significance and is most important because it bears within it a certain germ in that men speak of one god, but he is nothing but a phantasm. The truth is that, in surrendering to this phantasm, each speaks of his own god; that is, of his angel. As a result, in the course of time each human being comes to worship his own god, that is to say, his own angel. We already see how strong is the impulse of humans each to worship his own god. During modern times, the union of human beings with those gods who are common to all has become quite restricted. The emphasis that each places upon his own god has become most conspicuous. Humanity has been fragmented into bits and pieces. All that survives is merely the word god, which has a common sound for the peoples using the same language, but each individual conceives something different in connection with this one word; that is, his own angel. He does not even ascend to the archangel who guides society.
At the bottom of this lies a certain concealed egoism but people will not admit it. When we consider this, however, we see it is an important statement because a man really lives in an untruth when he denies that he looks up to his angel while declaring that he looks up to the one and only god. He lives in a nebulous conception; that is, an inner illusion, an inner maya, and this has important consequences. When we surrender ourselves to this inner illusion and to fantastic conceptions, we do not all change the spiritual realities that come about by virtue of our correct or incorrect conception. As a human being really looks up to his angel but does not admit this, believing on the contrary that he is looking up to God, while really not looking up even to an archangel, he deadens his soul by means of this untruthful conception. This stupefaction of the soul is everywhere present nowadays but, when the soul is stupefied, the consequences for human evolution are disastrous. This is so because the deadening of the soul brings about a suppression of the ego, a beclouding of the ego, and then other forces that ought not to work in the soul do actually slip in. That is to say, in place of the angel, whom the person at first wanted to revere but whom he wrongly names “God,” the luciferic angel slips in and it gradually comes about that the individual reveres not the angel, but the luciferic angel. Then, however, the steep incline is near that leads man downward because he is close to the utter denial of God; that is, the denial of his own angel, which is always connected with the denial of the true ego. I have shown you an example of this in the book by Leblais, Materialism and Spiritualism, where it is asserted that the cat has an ego just as a human being does, and where the author speaks of the “high priest of the dogs!”
Thus, we must understand that, from many points of view, the answer to the question: Who is to blame for the materialism of our time? must be: The religions are to blame, the religious sects. They darken the consciousness of man and put in the place of God an angel who is then replaced by a corresponding luciferic angel. The latter will soon lead the human being into materialism. This is the mysterious connection among proud egoistic religious sects who are unwilling to listen to anything that stands above the angelic level, but assert with boundless pride that they are speaking of God, whereas they are speaking only of an angel, and incompletely at that. In the final analysis, this incredible arrogance, which is often called humility, was bound to bring on materialism. When we bear this in mind, we see a highly significant connection; that is, through the false interpretation of one's angel as God, the inclination to materialism arises in the human soul. There is an unconscious egoism lying at the bottom of this that is expressed through the fact that the human being disdains to ascend to a knowledge of the spiritual world and hopes to find a direct connection with his god only out of himself. When you pay close attention to what I have here suggested, you will gain an insight into much that plays a part in the present. There is only one single way of avoiding misinterpretation of God and that is to acknowledge the spiritual hierarchies. We then know that the present religious denominations do not rise any higher than to the hierarchy of the angels.
As we consider this, we are standing more or less within the realm of what a person develops in conscious life, but much that lives in the human being is also unconscious, or not clearly conscious. Now we might say that the connection between an individual and his or her angel is a real one, but then so is one's connection with the hierarchy of the archangels and that of the archai. The misinterpretation of the angel, which is performed more or less consciously, leads also more or less consciously to a materialistic conception of the world, not in the case of the individual human being but gradually over a period of time. When we are talking about an individual's relation to his angel, we are still dealing in some way with conscious processes of the human soul. But in the relationship of the human being to the hierarchy of the archangels, we already stand in the midst of something of which man knows little; something of which he speaks a great deal at times but regarding which he knows almost nothing. Nowadays, to be sure, we have confessions directed not to the hierarchy of the archangels but frequently to one archangel — not a clearly expressed confession but the inclination of the feeling nature to one or another of the archangels. At least in one field this bore obvious fruit during the nineteenth century: in the rise of the idea of nationality. This idea is grounded in an unconscious desire to overlook the cooperation among the archangels and instead, be inclined to always embrace a single archangel. Something egoistic lies at the basis of this as is the case with man's inclination to a single angel, but here the egoism is of a social nature.
Now, we might well desire to describe what arises in connection with this social-egoistic inclination to an archangel, just as materialism arises consciously in connection with the misinterpretation of the angel. But here we walk on slippery ice and it is not possible to speak of it in our day.
Still more obscure are the relationships of the human being to the archai, the time spirits. These relationships are subliminal in nature. Human beings do stand at least in a sort of relationship to angels. Even though they do not admit it, yet, when they say, “I believe in God,” they admit this in the false way I have indicated. But if they at least desire to establish a relationship to the angels, their attempted relationship to the archangels in their feelings and emotions is not in tune with the spirit of our times. When they claim they have a certain connection by reason of their blood or something of the kind, this connection at the present time is false. This leads to false paths that I will not, cannot, describe today, but they are similar to the ones they encounter when they deal with the spirits of a time. People will embrace them in the forms in which the spirit of their own time presents itself to them. Just bear in mind how we endeavor by means of spiritual science to oppose this egoistic representation when we describe the consecutive periods of time with their special characteristics, letting them work upon us. By this, our hearts and souls may be broadened to extend over the entire evolution of the earth, indeed, over the entire cosmic evolution, attaining thereby, at least in our thoughts, a relation to the various time spirits. But people today will not have this. Much that has only been suggested would have to be described if we should wish to picture those false ways upon which men enter because of this egoism in reference to the spirit of the time. I have been able to give you from a work of fiction 113 Albert Steffen, Der rechte Liebhaber des Schicksals [The True Lover of Destiny]. a dark picture, described in a remarkable fashion, of our immediate present. Such false paths as are there described are connected with this false relationship to the spirit of the time. But as we encounter these false paths in relation to the time spirit, we enter into a most important realm. When a human being who substitutes his angel for God passes from his angel to a luciferic angel, it is a confusion in belief, in acknowledgment of a world conception, which is, in a sense, individual. Next there may be a confusion of entire peoples; nevertheless, it remains an aberration among human beings in a certain way, and the consequences can always be blamed on human aberrations. But when we advance to the spirit of the time and fall into error in relation to it, we then collide with the cosmos in our errors. There is a mysterious relationship between errors related to the time spirit and the beginnings of what man brings down upon himself cosmically. A person disinclined to look up to anything above the angel sees nothing of this connection. What I am now saying let each of you receive as best you can. It is asserted from spiritual science and profound investigations, but I would have to speak for months if I wanted to place these investigations before you in detail.
The errors the human being perpetrates in relation to the spirit of the time clash with cosmic events and these cosmic events strike back. The result of their being brought into human life — at first, their beginnings — is decadence that extends even to the physical body, bringing diseases and mortality and all that is connected with them. Perhaps in a not too distant future humanity will be convinced that much that man performs on the physical plane, when it is of such a nature as to transgress even all the way to the time spirit, evokes destructive forces in earthly evolution whose influences extend even to illness and death. If you ask yourselves on the basis of insights you have acquired, whether much of what has been happening recently may not constitute a violation of the time spirit, you will be able to answer that these profound connections extending to illness and death introduce a compensation for all sorts of sins perpetrated against the time spirit.
We know perfectly well that the clever men of the present will, of course, only laugh when such things are asserted. They know, on the basis of their scientific view of the world, that it is mere nonsense, as they say, to suppose that what a human being does, what men do in their relationships, could cause events to occur in the elemental sphere. But the time is not far distant when men will believe this simply because they will be able to see it.
What is lacking in our age for a real view of the world, capable of supporting human life, is seriousness. It is for this reason that one of the first demands made upon those who enter spiritual science is to develop this seriousness in their view of the world and really to penetrate the course of human evolution a little. We have frequently emphasized the fact that the evolution of the world really acquires meaning only through the Mystery of Golgotha, and we have already introduced many considerations that revealed the Mystery of Golgotha in its deeply significant light. But our characterization must become ever more thorough if we wish to comprehend the complete significance of this event. The question may be asked how the human soul then really reaches Christ. It may be said that, since Christ is, of course, a Being higher than all the archai, the way to Christ must be found. The paths that are used today by the ordinary religious confessions do not lead to the Christ but at most to an angel, as we have seen. People may conduct themselves as they do today in the names of various angels or even archangels, if the luciferic beings have taken the place of the progressive beings. But one cannot so conduct oneself in the name of the Christ since it is an absolute impossibility for two human beings who are hostile to one another to confess the Christ. I think this is not difficult to see because it is self-evident. This is possible when a person utters the name, Christ, Christ, or Lord, Lord — as Christ indicated — and means only his or her own angel, but it is impossible when a person is really speaking of Christ. So the question may arise as to how, indeed, the soul comes to a path leading to the Christ. We may approach the solution to this problem in various ways and shall here enter upon a road we have come to in a natural way from many considerations.
People today know extremely little of the past. Least of all do they know why certain things have been handed down. At best, they know they have been handed down but they scarcely know why. Tradition reports, for example — this may be read in all sorts of esoteric books even including those on Freemasonry — that there were mysteries in ancient times. They were a secret institution in which the mysteries, as even the name suggests, contained secrets that were really so also in the external sense. That is, one who had found access to the mysteries was informed about certain things that he was obligated not to communicate except to those who, in turn, were associated with him in these mysteries; it was a stringent rule that these mystery communications should not be betrayed. It was one of the most punishable misdeeds should one utter a mystery secret within hearing distance of the uninitiated, but it was just as punishable an offense were one to listen who was not qualified to hear it. As long as the mysteries existed in the ancient sense, this rule was observed in the strictest way. Why was this? Why did it happen in this way?
You see, there is a good deal of talk today about the mysteries, especially on the part of people who utter all sorts of pretty words and who wish to whine a little through what they say. Especially where there is much talk about these things without the necessary will to understand much, as is frequently the case among the Masons, a great deal of nonsense is practiced; people talk superficially about these things without knowing too much. They do not notice whether these things are discussed on the basis of facts or whether the talk is nothing but words. We may have the most astonishing experiences in connection with these things, which I do not wish in the least to criticize or rebuke, but the matter is too serious to be left without some mention of it. For instance, the following may occur. Someone or other is a member of one of the societies that are called by all kinds of fraternal names and claim to be protectors of the mysteries. Such a person — and I am telling you facts — comes to you and asks for information about something seemingly of interest to him — at least, in words — but which he can little understand. Later, it is reported that he has been making speeches here and there about these things and that what he has said has been more or less worthless. To these very miseducated persons who have been spoiled by certain occult brotherhoods, it is most futile of all to speak because they do not enter into what is really important. Only in this way could it recently happen, for example, that a book was published by a well-known lecturer and writer, a free thinker regarding the secrets of Freemasonry, that naturally contains nothing whatever but the shallowest stuff. This nonsense is taken seriously even by those who belong to so-called occult brotherhoods.
Now we will bring to mind a real characteristic in connection with the practices of the mysteries that has grown from the evolution of humanity. I have frequently stressed the fact that humanity has changed in the course of earthly evolution and that an important incision occurred in this evolution at the time when Christ passed through the Mystery of Golgotha. If we wish to consider a vitally important characteristic of this evolution along with others we have already mentioned, we must say that, when we go back beyond the Greco-Latin period and especially if we should pass beyond the fourth century before Christ all the way into the fifth, sixth and seventh centuries — we might even remain within the Greco-Latin but we should find more if we entered into the Egypto-Chaldean or even passed all the way to the Persian — we find everywhere that what was uttered by men had an entirely different significance for the rest of mankind from what it possessed, for example, even in the seventh and eighth centuries after the Mystery of Golgotha. The words that one person spoke to another had an entirely different meaning during the time when the ancient atavistic characteristics of the soul, leading all the way even to atavistic clairvoyance, were still present from what it had later, even today. At that time the word possessed, by reason of its inner power, a sort of suggestive quality; there dwelt in it much inherited divine-spiritual power. When the human being spoke, his angel also spoke in a certain way from the higher hierarchies.
From this fact you can imagine that oral communications in those ancient times were something wholly unlike those of our day. Even if we knew all these mysteries, it would be impossible for us to express ourselves now in words as it was possible in ancient times because in speaking with words we must speak with what they have become through language. Indeed, in words we have conventional signs. We can no longer go to the human being and, with the same power with which one could still speak of Christ in the third, fourth, or fifth centuries, cause a gentle tremor that was a healing force to pass through his soul by means of the words, “Thine angel holds thee dear.” That can no longer be done today; words have lost their ancient suggestive quality, their power. When human beings spoke to one another in ancient times, the power of human fellowship streamed from soul to soul. Just as we breathe the same air when we sit together in a hall, so did a spiritual power of what they were in common live in what human beings said to one another. As evolution has advanced, this has been lost. The word has been rendered ever less divine.
If you let your spiritual eye dwell upon this truth, you will be able to say that there might have been certain combinations of words, certain word formulas, that had a greater effect than others that were in general oral use. Such word formulas, possessing a power far surpassing that of other words, were communicated in the mysteries. Because these formulas gave the person who knew them a lofty power over other humans, you can now understand that they could not be disclosed or misused. It is an absolute fact that when an ancient Hebrew temple priest uttered in the right way what was ordinarily called the Word, but which was a certain combination of sounds, it then came about that, since in ancient times the force lay in this combination of sounds, a different world surrounded the human beings to whom he spoke; that is, in a spiritual sense, but this spirituality was real.
You can understand, therefore, that it was not only a criminal act to speak the mystery formulas to one to whom they should not be spoken since a certain domination was thus exercised over him that was unjustifiable, but it was also frowned upon to listen because a person thus exposed himself to the danger of being given over completely into the power of the other person. These things are not so abstract as certain persons wish to represent them; they are concrete and real. It is the times that have changed and it is necessary to pay attention to this. Since the Mystery of Golgotha, words no longer possess this significance; otherwise, as you can easily see, real freedom could not have arisen among human beings; in a way, their souls would have remained nothing but the product of speech. Words had to lose this inner force. But another power then entered into earthly evolution that could gradually return to men what originally came from words if only they should find the right relationship to it. The people of ancient times learned to think from their words, and there were no other thoughts in ancient times than those that came from words. But the power of thoughts could come from words only if they were of the character I have described. In later times this power was no longer present. But then He came, that Being who could again restore this force to thoughts if they were filled with Him, that Being who could say, “I am the Word.” This is the Christ. But men must first find the way to make Christ live in their souls. The Christ is there. We know that since the time of the Mystery of Golgotha He is a real power. Now, while we are speaking about karma, we also want to show how He has a relationship to it. An angel enters into relationship with the single man alone, but the Christ can have a far higher significance than even an archangel since He not only united men here on earth in accordance with the time spirit but also unites the living with the dead; in other words, He unites those souls who are here organized in their bodies and also those who have already passed through the portal of death. We must learn, however, to understand a little better how the Christ can be found in the spirit of our times; that is, how a way to Him can be found, since we began with the question, “How can the human being find a way to the Christ today?”
Above all other things, it is necessary that man should once more rise above the egoistic habit of living only in his own soul. A word of truth in the Gospels — and how many words that we read in the Gospels are not taken according to their true meaning because they do not please us — a word of truth in the Gospels is, “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” 114 Matthew 18:20. The spirit of vain mysticism that says, “The Christ shall be born in my soul,” is not the spirit of Christianity; that spirit declares, “Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” However, in order to explain the entire spirit of this saying in connection with repeated earthly lives, as we wish to do in these reflections, and also in connection with the vocational life of a human being today, I must discuss something especially characteristic of our age. We must learn to rise above the egoistic limitation within our human nature. In a sense applicable to our time, we must rise above this by learning once again to know and think of the cosmos with which the human being is related and from which he is born by learning to think of it in relation to man.
Do you believe that today's science is capable of thinking of the cosmos in relation to man? Recall the assertion of Hermann Grimm that I have quoted even in public lectures, “Natural scientists conceive of a sort of mechanism in which the human being cannot possibly exist.” 115 Grimm made this statement in the 23rd “Goethe“ lecture with reference to the Laplace-Kant fantasy of the origin and past destruction of the earth. It is entirely impossible today for the scientific view of the world for one to think of man in relation to the cosmos. This cannot be done unless we first learn to view things concretely. Someone constructs a machine today and believes that nothing further has really happened than the actual construction or what will be brought about by means of it. But to give oneself up to such a belief means to establish what may be called negative superstition, and it is most widespread. Superstition is the belief in spirits when none exist, but a person may also express a disbelief in spirits when they are present, and this is negative superstition. Humanity abandons itself completely to this negative superstition without really knowing it because it is not yet accustomed to think of the things that enter human evolution as being cosmically interrelated and under a moral point of view. They are considered only as a mechanism.
Let us select a single example but one that is characteristic of our age and similar to much else that dominates our external life; that is, the steam engine. What a role is played today by the steam engine! Just think for a moment of how many things would not exist if there were no steam engine. I will not say that everything men have must be produced by it, but much is brought about by this machine that is in accord with the true spirit of the age.
The steam engine was really not produced until the eighteenth century. What existed before that time constituted nothing more than impractical experiments. In other words, we may say that the enormously significant steam engine that is used universally today was first made applicable in 1719 by Newcomen 116 In 1711, the English inventor Thomas Newcomen (1663–1729), together with this associate Cowley, succeeded in constructing an atmospheric steam engine that could be used for practical purposes in 1712. and then later, in 1762, by Watt. 117 The Scottish inventor James Watt (1736–1819) was at first unable to utilize for his steam engine the already well known mechanism of the crankshaft and connecting rod because it had already been patented by someone else. However, he circumvented the problem by utilizing the so-called solar and planetary rotary motion. We can speak of these two as the originators of it, at least in the sense in which today we speak of it and everything connected with it.
Now, what makes it possible for us to have steam engines, which are by no means old? What is the basis of this possibility? You see, the year 1769 — I shall now make an assertion that will seem extremely curious to everyone who thinks scientifically — when Watt first made the steam engine useful, was a year by no means far removed from Goethe's conception of the Faust. Although they lie far apart, perhaps we might discover in our reflections curious interrelationships between this steam engine and the conception of Goethe's Faust. But we must first survey in thought much that is connected with the introduction of the steam engine into human evolution. On what principle does the steam engine actually rest? It really rests on the possibility of creating space void of air, or occupied by little of it. The entire possibility of making steam engines rests on the creation and use of a vacuum. In ancient times men spoke of the horror vacui, the horror of a vacuum. Something objective was indicated thereby. It meant that space wants always to be filled with something; that something empty could really not be produced; that nature had a certain horror of a vacuum. First, the belief in the horror of a vacuum had to disappear. Secondly, the possibility had to be established that space containing little air or being almost void of air, could be created. Only then was it possible to consider the use of steam engines. The air had to be eliminated from certain spaces. It is not possible through a mechanical consideration to attain to a new cosmic, moral conception in contrast with the ancient cosmic and moral conception of the horror vacui. But what really happens when we create a space containing little or no air with the purpose of placing what is thus brought about in the service of human evolution?
The ancient Biblical narrative declares that Jahve breathed the living breath, the air, into man, and he became thereby a living soul. Air had to be introduced into man in order for him to become what he ought as an earthly human being. For many hundreds and even thousands of years, man made use of only that rarefaction and condensation of air that occurred automatically in a cosmic connection. Then came the modern age when man undertook to rarefy the air, to put away what Jahve had put in, to work in opposition to the manner in which Jahve can work in placing humans on the earth. What really happens when man makes use of space containing little air, that is, drives air out of space? Here opposition occurs against Jahve. You may now easily think that, whereas Jahve streams into man through air, man drives Jahve out when he creates a space containing rarefied air. When the steam engine is created in this way, Ahriman gains the possibility of establishing himself as a demon even in the very physical entity. In constructing steam engines, the condition is created for the incarnation of demons. If anyone is unwilling to believe in them, he need not do so; that is negative superstition. Positive superstition consists in seeing spirits where there are none; negative superstition consists in denying spirits where they are. In steam engines ahrimanic demons are actually brought even into a physical object. That is, while the cosmos has descended with its spiritual element through what has been poured into human evolution, the spirit of the cosmos is driven out through what is created in the form of demons. That is to say, this new, important and wonderful advance has brought about not only a demonology, but also a demon magic that frequently imbues modern technology.
Many things, and here again I make a somewhat paradoxical statement, become manifest when we learn rightly to read what is often considered least significant. After all, this (here the letter i was first written on the blackboard without a dot, and later a dot was placed over it) is the principal part even of the material substance of this letter, but only the dot makes it the letter i. Consider how much less this dot contains than the other part even though it is the dot that makes the letter. The person who clings only to the material element in the evolution of humanity will also frequently see even in the material only what contains a hundred times as much as the dot and will fail entirely to see the dot. But one who observes more closely, who does not merely stare at the phenomena but reads them, will often learn to read things in the right way when a delicate suggestion is made. It is astonishing that in a biography of James Watt you will find mention of the following fact; I shall refer to it in a way that will seem utterly insane to every modern and intelligent person. But of course, you yourselves must first understand the interpretation of this fact. Watt could not at first accomplish what he intended through his invention, his steam engine. You see, its development stretched from 1712 to 1769. When once a man has invented something, others, of course, imitate it again and again. Thus much was constructed between these two dates. When Watt had finally made his machine really workable by means of other improvements, he had used a contrivance in it for which someone else held a patent; because of this, he could not proceed until he had thought out something different to replace it. He then discovered what he needed in a strange way. He was living, of course, in an age in which the Copernican view of the world had long been held, which I have characterized as something suitable for the spirit of our age alone. It actually occurred to him to construct his mobile apparatus in such a way that he could call it the “movement of the sun and the planets.” He spoke of it thus because he was really guided by what is conceived in the Copernican system as the revolution of the planets around the sun. He had actually brought down and concealed within the steam engine what had been learned in the modern age as the movement of the heavenly bodies.
Now, bear in mind what I recently explained as something that will happen but which is at present only in its beginnings; that is, that delicate vibrations will accumulate and tremendous effects will thus be produced. Thank God, it has not yet been achieved! But the beginning lies in the fact that the movement of the sun and the planets is copied. Since the movements of the sun and the planets possess a profound significance for our earth when they radiate inward, do you believe that they possess no significance when we copy them here in miniature and cause them to radiate outward again into cosmic space? What then happens has profound significance for the cosmos. Here you see directly how even those vibrations I spoke of are now added to the demon through which he can unfold his activity outward into cosmic space.
Of course, no one should suppose that what I have just said indicates that steam engines should be done away with. In that case one would have also to do away with a good deal more because they are by no means the most demoniacal. Whenever electricity is used — and much else besides — there is far more of demon magic because this operates with entirely different forces having an entirely different significance for the cosmos. Obviously, anyone who understands spiritual science will realize quite clearly that these things should not be done away with, that we cannot be reactionary or conservative in the sense that we must be opposed to progress. Indeed, the demon magic signifies progress, and the earth will continue to make more and more progress. Developments in the world soon will make it possible to produce immense effects ranging outward into the universe. Doing away with these things or condemning them is not what we are after because they are obviously justified. But what must be borne in mind is that since they must appear on the one side in the course of human progress, counter forces must be created on the other to reestablish a balance. Counter forces must be created. They must bring about a balance that can be created only if humanity again comes to understand the Christ principle, if humanity finds the way to Christ. For a time humanity has been led away from the Christ. Even those who call themselves the official representatives of the Christ seek an angel instead of Him. But the way the soul must take to the Christ must be found. Just as we work all the way to the physical stars and into the cosmos by means of the demons of the machines, so must we find the way spiritually into the worlds in which human beings live between death and a new birth where the beings of the higher hierarchies are to be found. What I am now alluding to is connected with what I have already explained. Human beings enter more and more into a vocational karma on the one side, as I have explained, and from the other this vocational karma must be counteracted by an understanding of the spiritual world, which in turn can prepare them to find a way to Christ.
We will speak further of these things tomorrow.