5 January 1919, Stuttgart
From our considerations of yesterday you will have seen how easily the whole course of human evolution can be misunderstood and how it is particularly misunderstood from many sides today to the detriment of present knowledge as well as of the present social striving of mankind. (see Z-7.) Today we will for once call up before our souls some results of Spiritual Science of such a nature that they can throw light, it may be said, from another side on what becomes so enigmatical if looked at from the points of view holding good at present. Now I have told you that man can come to terms with this present time only if he makes up his mind to find his real bearings by starting on the path to the spirit. He must decide to look for a new relation to external nature since the old means to this end no longer suffice, and also find his way to a new relation to his fellow men, the old relation no longer being suitable, so that he sees what impulses are necessary for the modern social structure of mankind. If we wish to be successful in this, we must earnestly keep before our souls the following—that as man is placed in the world today, in earthly existence between birth and death, he sees but the outer manifestation of his own essential being and enters into actual relationship with merely the outer manifestation of his fellowmen. Life takes on a different form for the different epochs of mankind's evolution, and we exert ourselves really to study these things just in their relation to men of the present time. For the present age is a very critical one for men on earth. Up to the fifteenth century, and, since things do not change in a flash, one might say on into the present time, man is still actually more or less dominated by inherited concepts and impulses of the past. This fifth post-Atlantean epoch is indeed in a certain sense rather out of the ordinary where the evolution of men is concerned. For you certainly know that taking earthly evolution as a whole it divides itself into seven great successive epochs, of which the fourth was the Atlantean epoch and the fifth, our present one, the post-Atlantean. The sixth and the seventh should then follow.
In the Atlantean period there was a kind of crisis. For up to that time the whole of the earth's existence was a recapitulation of the earlier existence of Saturn, Sun and Moon. During the Atlantean period there was a kind of crisis but it is true only the beginning of a crisis. There was merely a preparation of things that were actually to be developed in the following evolution of the earth. So that up to Atlantean times man was really only what he had been in his different forms as man on Saturn, Sun and Moon. In Atlantean times, however, he had only intimations of what he was supposed actually to become as man of the earth; then he continues on, and now we are in the fifth post-Atlantean period. In the post-Atlantean period, throughout the old Indian end old Persian development, and so on, ever more definite relations were arising. But the Greco-Latin time, the fourth post-Atlantean period, gives us again even though in another form merely a kind of repetition of what existed on another level of existence in Atlantis. It is only now in the fifth post-Atlantean period, in the time since the fifteenth century, that man stands within his whole evolution in such a way that new impulses arise—impulses which are perceptible in his very being. Previously they were not so noticeable; now they appear in his being noticeably, nevertheless there are still only intimations of their presence. The terrible, catastrophic events of our time, the consequences of which—one can already foresee—will be shattering to mankind, are the expression of how new relations are making their way into mankind's evolution. I have already indicated how from a certain aspect these new relations can be described by pointing to the way in which an on-rolling spiritual wave is clearly perceived, arising from, as it were, a surging up into evolution of the Spirits of Personality.
Now we notice it after the manner of Spiritual Science we keep in mind this particular state of soul in which modern man is found here on earth, it is markedly noticeable today, according to the outlook of Spiritual Science, how man when he perceives or is outwardly active in his willing is really surrounded only by manifestations of the being of nature, and the being of his fellow men. He is not surrounded by the real beings into whom he must, as it were, grow in the course of evolution, into whom he will have grown at a later stage of evolution. As you know, man's position in the world is such that—to describe it broadly—he perceives the surrounding world in the mineral kingdom, plant kingdom, animal kingdom and in his own human kingdom. This is what is visible around man. And in the visible human kingdom there is played out what comes from the will and what should find a certain ordering for the social structure.
Now people have reflected a great deal about man's attitude to his environment, though insufficient thought has gone into their reflections. But the result of these reflections has been worked into various theories of knowledge. We get very little, however, from these theories of knowledge. And what in schoolmaster fashion is given in these theories today to the young people, who are then supposed to speak to the world as philosophers, is really perfectly inadequate nonsense. For a true insight into what is really revealed in man's surroundings, a real insight, can only be gained when the matter is observed according to the way of Spiritual Science. You see, on one side man can look upon the mineral kingdom and the plant kingdom; on the other side he can look on the animal kingdom and the kingdom of man himself. Both—mineral kingdom and plant kingdom as well as human kingdom and animal kingdom—unveil themselves to him in such a way that if now in a theoretical sense he is honest, in this unveiling, in this revealing, he notices contradictions. He is unable to make anything of the way in which on the one hand the mineral kingdom and plant kingdom, and on the other hand the animal kingdom and human kingdom reveal themselves to him. And when people believe they can succeed in doing so this comes from a certain dullness. Because they take life too easily they are unwilling to go into all the doubts which arise from observing the kingdoms of Nature. But now, when one presses on to knowledge, when one trains oneself in the direction given in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, then to a certain extent a change takes place in our contemplation of the mineral and plant kingdoms, as well as in our view of the connection with the animal and human kingdoms. Unconsciously men already have, to a high degree today, a feeling for this change, even if it does not enter consciousness. It remains indeed in the unconscious—just as I told you that today in the natural course of evolution man passes by the Guardian of the Threshold unconsciously. It is actually a certain fear of the truth which always unconsciously holds men back from really pressing on so that they come to this change. I am speaking in Imaginations, my dear friends, in Imaginations translated into words. In reality these things cannot be appropriately described in any other way. For when man brings to life within him what can be made living, when he applies himself to what is described in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, looking at the mineral and plant kingdoms with this transformed power of cognition, he will always experience something like fear. But you should not have to shudder nor get gooseflesh at the description of these conditions. People avoid them because they are afraid. From this you ought to understand that of course when picturing these conditions one can indeed get gooseflesh to a certain degree, and on that account people just get frightened. When such knowledge is acquired, on looking at the mineral and plant kingdoms, one always experiences something like the smell of a corpse; there is a corpse-like smell which characterises as if in a vivid feeling what is living in the mineral and plant kingdoms. On the contrary, When with transformed cognition we look at the animal kingdom and the kingdom of man, there is always a sensation that can be described by saying: actually (you will forgive me, I know, for putting this Imagination into words) actually so long as they are in a physical body men remain—even the most advanced of them—where what in reality is hidden within them is concerned, always children, thorough children. The simple truth is that far more lies hidden in a man between birth and death than he can develop outwardly, can bring to manifestation out of himself.
Therefore, because in supersensible knowledge there is always a gradual ascent from semblance to actual reality, you see that when looking at, observing the outer world as it now is, we actually have to do with semblance alone. For the corpse-like smell of which I have spoken and, forgive me, the childishness of men, are veiled. The corpse-like smell finds, if I may say so, too dull a nose in our physical men, the etheric nose not being sufficiently developed. And the childishness of men does not allow us to confess its presence because , as men, we are too conceited to do so. Yet this is how the matter stands. My explaining what I have just been describing one points at the same time to there being far more hidden in in man than can be given practical proof. The question may now be asked: If man does not perceive the reality in minerals nor plants, if he perceives no reality in animals either—not even in his own being as man, where then is his right setting on earth? Strange as it may seem we find him placed among beings who belong neither to the mineral and plant kingdoms, nor to the animal and human kingdoms, but lie between them. He bases his being upon a kind of plant-animal, or animal-plant. were there a being here on earth neither wholly plant nor wholly animal, but having mere plant nature where their inner organisation is concerned, and having the power to go around, to move about at will like the animals—now this is what I meant were there beings who on being examined anatomically would not be found to have muscles and blood within them but whose anatomy would resemble that of the plants, with only their cells and tissue, but if these beings were able to move at will like the animals, or were there wandering round our earth animals that on dying left plantlike corpses, then man in his whole attitude of soul would really belong among these beings. Here in his earthly existence man would really be able to comprehend such beings. But again the remarkable thing is that for their part these beings could not exist on earth, these beings are only to be found in other worlds. They could not flourish in earth existence. Thus, we may say that man really lacks the faculty for knowledge—and this particularly apparent today's—which enables him to penetrate directly into the being of minerals and plants. and also of animals and men. And the beings he would directly perceive in their whole constitution are just these which could not live on the earth. This is the remarkable position of man where his relation to nature around him is concerned.
But here on earth man stands also in a strange relation to himself. Man is on the one hand a being who has conceptions. When, however, he puts this faculty for conceiving, for having ideas, into action, in the conception he loses his own identity. And he actually has his identity, that is not able to make an appearance in the conception, only when something—his will—works up out of the unconscious. If the will were not to work up and we were to have no trace of it in us, could we have andy ideas about it. The whole world would seem to us ghostly. We should have a ghostly world before us, which about describes the world of scientific concepts; this would actually constitute our world. Imagine the world looking as it is described by natural scientists or zoologists; just think of it being nothing more than what is found in books on Botany and Mineralogy. Real Botany and Mineralogy contain far more than what we find in books. But imagine you were taken into a world described in books, where there was nothing more than what is described in books; it would indeed be a world of mere apparitions, a proper world of ghosts. The world not being one of ghosts is amply due to the will having something to say. Now look! Were you able to fly—I don't mean with a machine but were you able to fly yourself, if you had no need of earth under your feet and were you able to move freely without the earth—then you would come near to perceiving the world in this ghostly fashion. Even if you could only follow the world with your eyes when awake it would appear very ghostly, not so much so as when described by the natural scientist, but all the same it would appear very ghostly. You have a feeling of the solidity of world existence only because you stand with your feet on the ground. And this pressure of your feet against the ground gives you the feeling, akin to the will, but watered-down will, that you are not in a ghostly world but in one that is solid. Were you not to have this feeling, should you only see, the world would appear to you a very ghostly place. You do not tell yourself what is going on in the subconscious; in the subconscious something is going on that makes man say (in the subconscious he does say it): Yes, the world looks very like a ghost! Were it really what is presented by my eyes I should never be able to stand firm, I should have to sink down; and as I do not sink, the world is not as presented by my eyes. This conclusion is constantly being arrived at in the unconscious. The entirely ordinary, most everyday relation to the world is as complicated as this. It is always an unconscious conclusion that to a certain extent originates with the will. Thus in mere conception we actually lack—to use an erudite expression, a pedantic expression—we lack the subject, it drops out. That we have a subject and feel ourselves bound up with the world comes from the will.
Again, when we will, when we develop the will, the object is actually lacking. The object does not come into our consciousness at all as something properly solid. If I want simply to lift this little book from the left side over to the right, and actually do it—the real object of the will does not enter consciousness at all. You can see the passage of the book, the conception which takes its ghostly way into the will, but the actual object of the will does not enter consciousness. So that man when he makes conceptions and also when he wills (this again sounds grotesque because an Imagination is being clothed in words) man as a conceiver as well as a willer is—if you will forgive me—a cripple. He conceives in a ghostly way and wills incompletely. What man is in reality, is actually neither quite within his conception nor his will; once again it is in the centre between the conception and the will. But all this goes on in ordinary life without being able to enter consciousness. In the same way as the plant-animal is unable to enter external nature, what man actually is cannot enter his consciousness. For this reason I have often spoken to you of the fact from another point of view by saying: man perceives the real ego like a hole in life's events. You see we have to be clear that holes can also be perceived. Man knows nothing of sleep, he wakes, sleeps; wakes, sleeps; wakes, sleeps. But reviewing the course of his life he is faced by empty space in his consciousness, the hole in consciousness, and he sees just as if there were a white surface before him with black holes where really nothing is to be seen. Thus he looks at the holes that, during sleep, are there in consciousness. But it is also the same with our ego in waking life. Our ego is not in reality brought into consciousness: in the consciousness there is only a hole for this ego, and perceiving this hole is the only thing that makes us aware that we really have an ego.
These things, that appear to the insensitive men of today as sophistry, must gradually become an elementary consciousness in man. For in the future man will not be able to found life on dogmatic conceptions, as has been possible for him in the past owing to the still existing remains and after effects of atavistic clairvoyance. In future we shall have to base life on grounds that are easy to detect. It will have to be part of our everyday conceptions that mineral and plant kingdoms are observed after the manner of Goethe. For Goethe only examined the phenomenon, and did not believe that in the phenomenon there was revealed anything but, at best, the basic phenomena, the archetypal phenomena and that phenomena do not reveal in laws of nature which can be put thoughts. Goethe never looked for laws of nature, for this would have seemed to him very fantastic; he wanted to pursue the phenomena because the external world shows us in the mineral and plant kingdoms nothing but perceptions, appearances. Thus man has to look at the external world to become conscious of himself. In the mineral kingdom, in the plant kingdom I really see only the outer side, and when confronted by the animal and human kingdoms I actually see only something like an embryo of the complete being. That also must be so. For you see, in the mineral and plant kingdoms in reality there exist beings who, when observed by man, reveal only a certain side of themselves because it may be said they cannot reveal themselves in any other way. For in the mineral and plant kingdoms lives something man can only fully recognise if—please understand me, thoroughly he looks back to the world from which he came on entering physical existence through birth. Could you after birth with your thought keep possession of the consciousness that stretches backward before birth, could you, that is, look upon being born as an event in your life like—shall we say—the passing from the fifteenth to the sixteenth year, and were the backward-running thread of consciousness to remain unbroken—the consciousness being quite different before birth, before conception—without more ado you would get a view of mineral and plant kingdoms quite different from the one you get on looking from the standpoint of life between birth and death. For you would then say to yourself the followings I have come from the spiritual world through birth. I have entered this physical realm. Why should I have done this? Why should I not have remained in the spiritual realm? Why have I been enticed down to earth at all? For one may speak here of enticement. Then, if you were able to remember, you might says I have been enticed to earth for the reason that suddenly in the course of my development between death and a new birth, it seemed—I came into a sphere where it seemed—as if certain beings had flown away, as if they really should be there, were missing—and were not there. To put it bluntly, in the time just before birth in the spiritual world one is dogged by the feeling that one misses certain beings which actually belong there and are not there. Everything goes to show that these beings are lacking. And if one comes down through birth, these beings are there in the minerals and in the plants, but as though banished, as if these beings were banished from the world just left, as if they could not really flourish, would half die and thus create the corpse-like smell, would become half dead in the world one has entered. Before birth we long to know certain exiles. We only know there are banished beings, but where are they? Then we go into the physical world and perceive them, but they might be said to be embalmed, mummified. For in the world we have entered it is only possible for them to be embalmed, mummified, dried up. It is perfectly right, on being confronted by the mineral world and the world of the plants, that we should have the feeling we are looking at beings exiled from the spiritual world, from the regions in which we were before having to enter physical life.
And when we look at animals and men end see their childishness, then, if we can develop the power to see more deeply into being, we remember that these animals and men, as they actually are here in the world in which we live between birth and death are never finished, never actually bring to completion the whole of their life which is conditioned by their inner being. Anyone looking at animals in the right way, anyone who can look at them with full inward and living force of knowledge, knows well that animals are not immortal, but knows too that animals experience in their group souls the whole tragedy of this not being immortal. The group souls outlast the individual life of the animal but what there is here on earth of the animals is—as I recently sale—in reality sick (see Lecture 1), and this is so on account of its deterioration through belonging to s world from which it is banished. And in his outer physical form man also is an exile in this world. He therefore remains crippled and a mere child. Man remains a child, the animal in his general being, in his physical form, is dried up. For what belongs to animal and man is found when we go through death and enter directly into the spiritual world, which then after death we observe. For actually a circle is described in the life between death and a new birth. What remains hidden here of animal kingdom and plant kingdom, what causes us to perceive that animals and men—as far as men's physical forms are concerned—are exiles from the spiritual world, banished out of the spiritual world, is first perceived by us when we pass into the spiritual world through the gate of death. There we go through an evolution and as we approach ever nearer the cosmic midnight, described in my mystery play, (see The Soul's Awakening, scene 6) we become clear that something is missing, that what is missing has run away from the spiritual world; we pursue it through birth and find it on the physical earth in the mineral and plant kingdoms. On entering this existence through birth we are never really surprised about the mineral and plant kingdoms because they are what we have been expecting. Finding animals on the physical earth, too, and men with an outer form that recalls that of the animal though it is more perfect, is astonishing to us in some measure after being born with our gift of consciousness. We begin ia understand this, however, when we know that a beginning has been made with this outer form of animal and man, which only develops in the world we enter through the gate of death.
Now it might be said: For the abstract and completely dried up religious conceptions that still persist (these conceptions were once much more full of life and really gave men something) for these abstract, dried up conceptions still remaining in our age of consciousness, all that men perceive here in the physical world, all that they should conceive as underlying the world experienced by man between death and a new birth, comes upon them too abruptly. What man experiences between death and a new birth remains on this account so problematical for men today, and can so easily be denied by the grossly material mind, because men in arriving at the age of the consciousness soul, which means the age of the intellect, lives as I have explained only in what is reflected into his consciousness. Therefore, he is also only able to live in reflected images when he goes out beyond the perceptions to where, if he stands firmly on his feet, the will plays into him in the way I have previously indicated. If no will plays in however—and in the immortal life after death no will does play in—when there is no interplay of the will and man is restricted to placing before his soul, the reflected images of his conceptions of what the world is between death and a new birth, then this world will have no certainty and will be not only ghostly but without certainty. Indeed we can go as far as to say that if men obstinately cling only to science, if they fix, their attention only upon the ghostly world given them by science, then they are quite right in denying any life at all after going through the gate of death. For what is given by science is only pictures, apparitions. And even this comes to an end when we pass the gate of death. Science is unable to contain anything of what we experience in the realm after death and before birth. For, you see, in books on mineralogy, in books on botany, in everything connected with Physiology, Geology end so forth, in any of the conceptions you can absorb about plants and minerals, you can absorb only about beings who are living in banishment here in this physical world. Again, you can also perceive in the bodies of animals and men only what has been banished here—even with all the help of your books on Zoology and Anthropology, and, if you widen the field of your thought you can really put all knowledge in the same category—you are only able to perceive what is living down here in banishment. But when you reflect that before birth you feel the lack because they really are not there of just these beings experienced here after birth, that in animals and men you then experience what does not exist down here, you will understand that into the conceptual life of science nothing at all of immortal life can enter, and that since it lives in images science in its own domain has a perfect right not to trouble itself about immortal life. It in for this reason that, since the fifteenth century, in the epoch when the conceptions of science are dominating the whole of mankind, man has on the one side the robust, crude nature actually representing for him the whole of reality, and on the other side a realm that he wishes to reach with only the weakened mirrored images of the age of the consciousness soul. This comes before him as though he were saying to himself: Now that I come to see (this happens in the subconscious, for it is there he comes to doubt immortality) when I come to see that what I think are only reflected images, then were I to believe these reflected images would still be there after my death, including the images of my self, I should be just as stupid as if I believed that there were coming towards me out of my mirror here on the wall the men who appear to approach me—that they were not simply reflected but were actually coming towards me.
It is simply characteristic of this epoch of the development of the consciousness soul that if man will not advance to a spiritual comprehension of the world, then connection with the world into which he will enter once he has passed through the gate of death will vanish from him more and more. It will also disappear from his thought life, from his conscious life, but he will not cease to long for it. And even the most hardened deniers of immortality have in the depths of their will, where longing is born, the longing to experience something of the world man enters through the gate of death, the world from which he comes on passing through the gate of birth. They have a longing. The present time is sick with this longing. And the many illnesses of the present time are the expression of this longing holding sway in man, and of man's inability to find conscious conceptions for his longing. If anything is living in the sphere of the will which we are unable to master by conception (again one has to develop very fundamental concepts to speaker these things) when man cannot overcome by his conception what is living in the sphere of his will, then he starts to rage. This is the essence of raging, or frenzy, that something is living in the realm of the will that man cannot comprehend with his capacity for conception. And if man refuses to give in and agree to recognise the existence of the spiritual world, so that through the recognition of the spiritual world he comprehends what has already taken shape in the sphere of the will, than this raging will become ever greater and greater in the world; the raging which indeed presents itself today as the next stage for men after the—not forthcoming but always hoped for—conclusion of peace. This is not anything which can be talked about in the way things ere discussed at a bowling club where, according to the usual philistine conceptions, people come to an understanding as to the possibility of getting some kind of relief or redress. No, it is something connected with the deepest reality of human evolution. Man cannot struggle against the development in him of what enters the sphere of his will. He has no power over it. He is able only to make up his mind consciously to penetrate to the sphere of the spirit so that he learns to understand what is permeating the region of his will. By this means an ordered co-operative life for men can be developed in future in place of this raging.
You see, men turning to the spiritual world which will be revealed in our time by a special wave of events, is not an affair only affecting mean subjectively; it is an objective necessity for man to turn to the spiritual world in this age of the consciousness soul. For changes have even now entered human evolution.
Up to the time in the Mystery of Golgotha took place in earthly life, up to that time, everything man needed for standing here in the world with some measure of security came just through sleep. Before the Mystery of Golgotha man slept in a different way from what he now sleeps, whatever the physiologists may say. Those prophetic natures like the Hebrew prophets to whom such sublime things were revealed in dreams, exist no longer, therefore, in the same form. For today these things are not given to men by God in sleep. This used to happen. This is just the great crossing point in evolution. And pictures of the future were not given only to the prophetic natures but in the time of the Greeks men still had their thoughts given them during sleep. On waking, man brought his thoughts back with him. The structure of the human organism was still such that man could bring back his thoughts. For quite a while this went on working, for the fact is that men actually became headless in the fifteenth century—you will forgive mel To become headless means that the head could no longer he used properly, the head could no longer bring back thoughts out of sleep.
One of the results arrived at through Spiritual Science is that we recognise our head as an instrument to have been really of much less use and much more dried up since the fifteenth century than it was before that time. But it is only now that this has become so noticeable; and it will become ever more noticeable if some means is not found to compensate, s0 that the evaporation of the head is made good again by the spiritual world. For up to the present, up to the nineteenth century, the other nature, man's breast nature has always been accustomed to what the head was still getting from sleep during the Greco-Latin period. The breast nature was inured to this, and in their headless condition men were still receiving impulses as an after effect; they were still in the habit—or I might say men still had the gesture of the thought, the shadow of the thought. But this shadow too will pass away and men will have no thoughts at all if they leave their thinking only to their head. And this is really how the matter stands; it is shown by men's reluctance to think. They have less and less will to think. On the one side they want to have thoughts dictated by nature, for what they like best is merely to make experiments and let the experiments say what they themselves should be thinking. But men prefer not to do the thinking themselves. They even have no proper faith in it, for it is their opinion that what they think out lacks true reality. It is true that there is no reality if you take the mere thoughts. We can come to see, however, that thinking, not the thoughts but the thinking, must become active. And when thinking is made active, this means the spiritual world is coming into play. Today when you really begin to think actively, you can do nothing further than let the spiritual world play a part in you. Otherwise you do not think; you think as little as the scientist thinks today who prefers to let his experiments or his investigations dictate everything to him. Or you think so little as the modern students of sociology who, because they have no will to be active, because they do not come to grips with real social impulses which can be grasped only by being active, actually work with what can be discovered in history, what is inherited from the past. Think for once how men, because they themselves no longer have impulses able to create the social structure, have come down to looking back to the time when thoughts were still formed. The matter is then seen from only a false point of view. It was Rousseau who held up to men the natural state, because he had the feeling that in his day nothing could be gained unless men became active in their pursuit of knowledge of the higher worlds. Well, and even modern socialism likes to indulge in a study of mankind's primitive state; it is something that particularly interests the socialists. They study the original conditions of mankind, their primitive conditions, they study the most savage original peoples, primitive peoples, so as to understand how men are meant to live in social co-operation. This is recognised by all who are familiar with these things. Everywhere there is a certain fear of what is making its presence so inevitably felt as the first dawning of connection with the spiritual world, a certain fear of active thinking. This is why there is difficulty in understanding my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity, for example, which makes such demands on active thinking. In it the thoughts are different from the usual thoughts of today. And people often stop short when reading this book for the simple reason that they would like to read it as any other book is read. But the other books particularly popular today—well, I think you will agree, they are read in a comfortable easy chair where one can just let thoughts go by with as little trouble as possible. Many people do any reading they go in for just like that. Don't delude yourselves into believing that these men often read newspapers in a different way (present company, of course, always excluded); it is true that emotions are mixed up with this reading, and worries too. But even the newspapers that are devoured so sensationally are also read by letting the pictures slip by. Ah, but all one has tried to put into The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity cannot be read just like that. There you have continually to give yourself a shake to prevent the thoughts sending you to sleep, my dear friends! For it was not written with the idea that you would simply sit in an easy chair; naturally you can sit, even rest your back, but then, just because you are physically at rest, you have to try with the whole of you to set the inner being of soul and spirit in motion so that the whole thinking begins to move. Otherwise you get nowhere but go to sleep. Many indeed do go to sleep and they are not always the least sincere; the insincere ones are those who read The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity just like any other book and then believe they have really followed the thoughts. They have not followed them, they have on the contrary just jumped over them as if they were the husks of words; they go on reading the words without taking in what actually follows from the words as the spark should be produced by flint and steel. But this is something that must be required of what has to take hold of the evolution of mankind in the present and the immediate future, for through it man will gradually raise himself to the spiritual world in the right way. By active thinking man's inner relations to the spiritual world will be kindled and then he will make ever greater progress. Today he can already get very far by carrying out such things as are described in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. But there too it is sufficiently indicated how pre-eminently necessary it is to develop coherent, connected thinking where there is no broken thread—when the thread of the thought is carefully followed.
In this longing, today more or less lacking in clarity and consciousness, to push oneself upward with unconscious thinking to the sphere of the spirit—and it is possible to do this—there is mingled a desire from the past, a weary desire, to go on thinking incoherently. Just recently I have drawn your attention to how contrary it is to men's sense of comfort to have to progress step by step in conscious thinking. They would much prefer to leave things more to the unconscious, and not in thought go on to the next point and then again to make a further step. Isn't it so? You see, Spiritual Science as we understand it here and as in a sane way it reckons with the unbroken sequence of the thoughts in the way you know—well, it is not that this Spiritual Science cannot be understood if thinking is made active, but men simply want to understand Spiritual Science in a different way from how they must understand it; instead of which they would like the thread to be continually broken. When you go deeply into what Spiritual Science gives you, when you plunge into it with real energy (have patience, in the present epoch only faint indications of this can as yet exist) then, already today, by developing the power of thought, by following in thought Saturn, Sun and Moon, as described in my Occult Science, you can follow this evolution up to where man stands there in the world, and you can press on to your own life, penetrate this life of yours with the thought which is thus made vigorous. Then you come to certain conceptions which, although not as you would like them to appear but entirely in the connection, in the coherence, of the thinking, enlighten you about their being, about their nature, about what they are and their character. By bringing to life what is said about Saturn, Sun, Moon and their corresponding details, and then about the evolution of the earth, applying all this to your individual selves, you would be able to progress to your own being; only you have to go on in your thought to the perception of yourself, not letting the thoughts be broken but keeping them coherent and connected. What in this way man begins rightly today enlightens him up to the stage where he should become clear about his own personal being. In this longing, still present more or less unconsciously in men, however, something else is mingled with the broken thread of thought, something calculated! Man would like to find out something of the kind about his being; what does he do? He takes old antiquated knowledge of which, it goes without saying, the venerable nature is certainly not to be disparaged, which, however, has need of explanation when applied in a new epoch—he calculates, reckons, breaks the thread of thought at any point, calculates constellation of the stars, and after that the thread of thought can break, and quite externally without any sequence in the thought this being of man as he appears on earth is supposed to develop without any thinking.
You see, even if the Church, the Roman Catholic Church as I described it to you yesterday, denies what today is most necessary of all, this can be made good just by taking anything like the description of the inner vision of John of the Cross and living today in the sense of the evolution that conforms with Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. What is contained in this book follows on today precisely from what a man such as St. John of the Cross wills; whereas the Catholic Church denies it and wishes even today to see the old way of John of the Cross applied to modern man, as indeed it is to so many people. Because they are too comfort-loving they do not want a life that is active in spirit, a life that has already reached a stage of energetic activity when conceptions are accepted such as those given by Spiritual Science. They would like these to be brought up to date in a more usual form of thought, preferring to remain with what is old and hoping that out of this lack of thought there might spring what should explain present-day mankind. Naturally this is no adverse judgment about what is venerable, but from every point of view it must be indicated that one should not venture to deny what is placed as spiritual necessity into the present evolution of mankind, the evolution beginning with the age of the consciousness soul. The important thing is for man really to understand what today is required of mankind in world-evolution. I believe that out of right feeling for the very things which men find irksome, and do not want, a better attitude towards Spiritual Science will be adopted more and more, and only when this better attitude to Spiritual Science has come about will the social life also be enriched. At this point man will be able to become clear about the life of mankind because he will then have the necessary strength of thought to enlighten himself concerning man's life. For where this enlightenment about man's life is concerned man of today suffers from a very precarious state of affairs. Whether you are a follower of Lenin or Trotsky, whether you are a Marxist or any other kind of thinker about the right form for the social structure of men, in each of these views there lives a state of affairs that is precarious and cannot be understood without the fruitful intervention of Spiritual Science. Doubtless you will admit that man has now entered the epoch of the consciousness soul. He has to develop consciously what arises as social structure. Otherwise nothing will go right. He has to take his place consciously in the world; it is really necessary that man should be conscious. But he should also consciously grasp the relation between men, life in society, the social life. An uncertain state of affairs hinders him in this. The fatal thing is that man can never have a conception of more than one man. And as neither two men (I mean physical men) nor two things (physical things) can be in the same place at the same time—which decides the law of impermeability—two men cannot be in human consciousness at the same time, the actual conception cannot be made of two men! simultaneously. It is very important to take note of this. We cannot live with another man without making a conception of him, neither can we develop any knowledge about the social life in common unless we make conceptions about other men. But today man, because he is able to conceive only of one man, generally prefers to conceive only of himself, to make a conception of himself as man. And social thinking is content to demand a co-operative life in which man's conception is always merely of himself. Man does not get away from the conception of his own self; he often talks of doing so, but in reality today he does not easily get rid of himself. It is only when he makes every effort to fulfil the requirements of Spiritual Science that he gradually finds it possible in some measure to get free of himself. For Spiritual Science sows in the world the seeds of thoughts having a very wide perspective, and this is how man grows into the habit of getting free from himself. As today, if he becomes a spiritualist, man grows more egoistic than he was before, if he would penetrate into the spiritual world on that other path, the path of Spiritual Science, he becomes more selfless. Spiritual Science, therefore, is not simply the handing over of knowledge, but spirit-knowledge is actually something unconditionally necessary for educating modern man in social life. It is for this reason that no cure will be forthcoming if a start is not made in this matter, it men do not really give heed to the necessity for first making a conception. There can be no social reform without schooling to begin with, without men first being instructed. And when this is neglected men miss the possibility of receiving concepts that embrace their longing. And, if I am to get at the root of the matter, men will became more frenzied than ever.
This is the inner connection, my dear friends. But it is desirable that this same inner connection should be perceived. One would wish above all things that this inner connection should be felt by everyone entering upon Spiritual Science and wishing to live in it up to some point or other. This is something that everyone will want to ponder who has the wish to take Spiritual Science and the Movement of Spiritual Science in earnest. It cannot well be overlooked, it cannot well remain unnoticed, that when we enter into relation with Spiritual Science this Spiritual Science makes certain demands on the human heart and mind to widen the interests beyond narrow, personal interests. It is really true that in talking of Spiritual Science one simply speaks of things which, if a right relation is to be established with them, makes it necessary for man to free himself from his most narrow interests! He need have no fear of becoming unpractical on that account: he becomes much more practical. It is just this belief that he is practical which has gradually been arrived at through being unspiritual. In reality the practical man of today is terribly unpractical. And these 'practical' men have actually landed us in the present catastrophe. Herein lies something of tremendous importance which man really must always take for granted if he wishes rightly to understand what has to do with Spiritual Science, namely that he must get free from his narrowest interests. He must rid himself of the immediately personal; for it does not help matters when people carry their narrow personal interests into the Anthroposophical Movement. That is always just the cause of any kind of mischief in the relation taken up towards Spiritual Science. It is also naturally the reason for what is still such a difficulty in our Movement, that people although often abstractly in theory, having the good will to come to Spiritual Science with their own thinking, feeling and willing, nevertheless do not bring all the necessary strength really to enter upon selflessness, which indeed must be called upon for understanding rightly what is said from the standpoint of Spiritual Science. Thus a kind of spirit-condition not easily found today in the world, but the opposite of which is prevalent in the modern world, must be demanded for the health of the Anthroposophical Movement, my dear friends! For the difference between the sincere presentation of the knowledge of Spiritual Science and all other knowledge arising at present, lies in this presentation of Spiritual Science being no personal affair, no personal opinion. Were I obliged to hold the view that I should lecture only about merely personal opinions and not concerning what is revealed today and just what is necessary for mankind, I should prefer to remain silent. For to uphold personal opinions and personal aspirations in a Movement that is anthroposophical is something impermissible. That should not be. A Movement such as is striven for here is justified only when there is the will to present merely what one is allowed to observe out of the spiritual world.
When you describe the appearance of any town you may, according to circumstance, make the description either interesting or tedious, but what the town looks like does not depend upon you. You describe something objective. What you yourself want, what is your own opinion, should come just as little to expression in Spiritual Science. What must take effect in Spiritual Science according to modern demands is all that is spiritually observed. Those who are able actually to will merely what is personal can for that reason only imperfectly understand what should hold good in a movement for Spiritual Science. They continually confuse what should hold good in a Movement such as is meant here with something else drawn, more than ever from the personal. How many there are who coming to Anthroposophy would like their own opinion to be justified by Spiritual Science. They are not always equipped with the open mind necessary for the acceptance of Spiritual Science. Very often they come to it with something quite different to this open mind. They would like this or that to be true, then in some way, while admitting that the investigator of Spiritual science may know something about the truth, persuade themselves that what one thinks oneself one says. Then they would be happy. But this fine distinction must be noticed; it is a fine distinction although a tremendously far-reaching one; there is a far reaching and important distinction between the one who wants to accept what is imparted by the spiritual world and the one who actually wishes only to have confirmation of what it pleases him to think. Only by the most punctilious self-examination, by conscientious self-examination, will the distinction be discovered. The distinction is often unnoticed by those who come to Spiritual Science; it must, however, be noticed. If it is noticed it will become apparent that through a Movement for Spiritual Science something of a new stream of life must flow which was not there before. It is really not possible for an Anthroposophical Movement to be like a mere soft current of air blowing towards anyone who brings to Spiritual Science the Philistine tendencies of his earlier life and then believes he will find what he is only too willing to acknowledge in Philistinism corroborated by Spiritual Science.
When we proceed in this matter earnestly, conscientiously, we shall not want merely to find corroboration of our actual individual opinion; and we shall also come to understand many things which might be said to be obliged to arise as new things in a Movement for Spiritual Science of this kind, things that must do harm if left unnoticed. In a movement in the act of arising like this Movement for Spiritual Science much can work harmfully that cannot cause so much harm in old, dried up Movements, no longer of use or of very little use. We have really to go into these fins points, my dear friends! You see, connected with the endeavour merely to see our own opinions, our own aspirations, justified by what is revealed through Spiritual Science, a remarkable technique of 'touching-up' is developed concerning what comes forth and comes forth perfectly naturally, within a movement such as ours. In this movement for Spiritual Science we must be alive to the fact that phenomena with men cannot be taken as if in a bowling club or something of the kind where men can reveal how verbose they have become in the ordinary world where nothing new is required of them. We must recognise in all earnestness that the aims of investigation into what is spiritual cannot find expression through our own conceptions; we must really prepare ourselves to receive the things. We should picture that something is wishing to flow into the world, something that should more and more widen itself out, so that everything should really be received in full consciousness. Many connections not yet perceived will be perceived later. This willingness to receive everything as in some sense a preparation, will certainly not be present in those who carry their personal aspirations into the impulse of Spiritual Science, for at the first possible moment they will get done with things, giving them the bent of their ordinary opinions. They do not mould their opinions in accordance with Spiritual Science, they mould the knowledge gained through Spiritual Science in accordance with their opinions. And so we often have given out the kind of thing I would like to describe in the following way.
Now you know that the Anthroposophist has to judge the world in a certain way, the world of nature as well as the world of human beings. Education in Spiritual Science consists indeed in our learning to judge afresh the surrounding world and our relation to it and in our learning to look more deeply, into the world. People very often remark when, let us say, the relation of three men is in question: The Anthroposophist B. has been criticizing the man A. And, my dear friends, as soon as we overstep the usual Philistine sphere, so largely around us today, two standpoints can be put forward where the formation of judgment between man and man is concerned: one of these standpoints is that of reason, the second being the standpoint of sympathy. Thus B's judgment of A may be in accordance with what arises from an inner necessity at same time to do something or other purely out of his—B's—sympathy for A. Should it now suit C to be antipathetic because he does not reflect sufficiently and does not assume that it may be possible for pure sympathy to come into the matter here, out of necessity, then, basing his judgment simply on reason he will say: whatever can he be doing that for? Or this inner necessity may speak in such a way that it is not sympathy that becomes dominant but, because of certain factors, reason. Yes, and when it suits the other better he lets sympathy have its say and gives as his verdict: what an unsympathetic person! How utterly without feeling the man is and what a prosy rationalist! He judges purely from the standpoint of reason. In this way the crudest misunderstandings arise in the case of just those who bestir themselves to grasp the inner nerve of existence, where they have at one time to do something based on reason, another time something just out of sympathy. And when it suits this other man (C) in accordance with the sympathetic view he condemns what is done from reason, and what is done out of sympathy he condemns from the point of view of reason, and he can always condemn or praise as he likes. By this path we never arrive at what is right, we only arrive at what is right if we begin by saying: I must consider the case, I must look into the causes why sympathy or reason have held sway here. It is things like this out of which the little misunderstandings in life arise which often grow to very destructive proportions in men's life in common. It is just this that our education in Spiritual Science should help us to overcome. For life is such that it expresses itself in a twofold way. And because it expresses itself in a twofold way one can always condemn at pleasure one of the two cases. This is very little taken into account, however, above all not taken into account where the teachings of Spiritual Science itself is concerned. This, too, must be placed in the world with definite intention. In an individual case either one or other of the two standpoints can be chosen according to convenience, if greater attention is not paid to the deeper grounds out of which the spiritual seeker is obliged to act. He may often be misunderstood. And if there is no agreement in what must be done out of inner duty in accordance with the facts, then it is possible to misunderstand everything, since the world has this dual form of expression.
You see we can fall into the following error for example. When anyone is eager to have what suits him substantiated, he may just fall into the worst form of belief in authority. Belief in authority can naturally make its influence felt, and this influence is actually frequent and of wide range in the very sphere where Spiritual Science also would be active, which wishes to make man into a perfectly free, self-reliant being. The other pole of the belief in authority, however, is hatred of authority. And fundamentally the man who does not feel himself drawn to Spiritual Science through entering into the facts revealed from the spiritual world, but wishes to have these truths conveyed to him by authority, wanting to believe in authority because it is easier than going into things—this man is terribly apt to spring over from his belief in authority, that always has in it a certain kind of love of authority, to hatred of authority. And all manifestations that have arisen in our particular movement of this leap from blind worship of authority, which sometimes has even appeared with a certain shamelessness in the moment of passing over to hatred, this passing from blind worship of authority to hate—all this is something inwardly present as a danger. It is very important to keep these connections in mind, for these connections make it terribly difficult today to create an Anthroposophical Movement so that it will prosper. It must be created in a successful way for the sake of mankind's welfare.
Now, my dear friends, in my life I have found quite a number of people who were spiritual people and were seeking in all sincerity away into Spiritual Science, into some kind of Spiritual Science, who were also in a way advanced in their development. A certain type among them was disillusioned, people who had been disillusioned by one or other of the modern spiritual movements and who then in some place or another came across us—how many are disillusioned today by the Blavatsky Movement, the Besant Movement or some other Movement. There we do not see the characteristic phenomenon that takes such curious forms in the Anthroposophical Movement; but there we have people, for example, who are to a certain extent spiritually advanced; then after some time one again comes across them but now they say: You are completely wrong! And these meetings are not infrequent. Spirituality today is not at all common but there are men indeed who say to one after a time: You are actually wrong, for, you see, the things you give out in Spiritual Science—there's no possible sense in publishing them! But men are not in inclined to accept them; they are certainly not sufficiently mature. All this can only serve one purpose to be developed in oneself and then kept to oneself. I have found many such people who say: It is a definite characteristic of the man who is really advanced spiritually that it no longer enters his head to speak about it to his fellowmen; he keeps the matter to himself. There is indeed no lack of such people in the world. I have never been able to come to an understanding with these people about what out of a certain inner ground I learn from the spiritual world. These men do quite useful work in a spiritual community but they have a hermit tendency, even when at the same time they remain in association with others. For it is possible to become a hermit in spite of wearing elegant shoes and leading an Hotel life. This one sees this double life being led by a number of people; they are indeed the modern Hotel dwellers; for all I care they may be well dressed but they lead this life as an outward mask to hide what is within them; they have their inner life of the spirit with no wish to share it with their fellow men. This seems to one to be doing what is not right, to be sinning against mankind. For one is right in saying that such men have en effect on the spiritual life, what they experience goes into the spiritual stream. Man is not a self-contained being, therefore what he experiences has value and its own significance in the spiritual world, but the question of time always plays its part there. Men like this who live in such a way nowadays, as many do whom I have known, bring about something indeed in the spiritual world which however only comes to maturity after a long time, in the later epochs of mankind. Then, however, can, and quite certainly would, were there always only those who as hermits develop their spiritual being, having no wish to teach what knowledge they have gained from the spiritual world, what they have developed in themselves—then by the time the fruits of these men are ripe, people outside would have so deteriorated that they would no longer be able to receive the knowledge! Earth evolution would be endangered: connection would be missed. We live indeed today at a time when certain spiritual truths such as those of which we have been speaking must unconditionally be imparted to mankind. Things will not be helped by the attitude expressed, for example, by one of my acquaintances who in a certain sense was spiritually advanced. He came to Berlin and I asked him whether he would come to hear a lecture of mine, just to see how the Movement was run (this is some time ago). He answered: No, holding lectures and talking to people serves no possible purpose! To sit together for half-an-hour and have a little talk I find very pleasant—but let us leave spiritual things alone when we can; everyone must settle those for himself! To pay a civil visit and pass the time of day is best for just those people who are seeking the spiritual. And this attitude is a prevalent one. It would be more comfortable, my dear friends, to live in accordance with such an attitude. And the word comfortable certainly does not describe what it is nowadays days to get up in front of people to impart what one feels impelled to impart as a duty. In an Anthroposophical Movement it should be borne in mind that work is done out of inner necessity, and what happens is not a matter of choice but the punctual observance of a duty.
I have used these words at the end of our studies today because I have wanted once again to take the opportunity of calling attention to what is necessary if a movement for Spiritual Science is to be taken nowadays as earnestly as it should be taken. For what can be made of an Anthroposophical Movement, if personal aspirations, personal ambition, is brought in, can cause much injury must cause much injury. Besides there is still the shadow side, namely, that whoever thinks to find only what is just personal corroborated through Spiritual Science cannot discern whether the other may not be acting also merely from personal ambition. And a terrible doom is then forthcoming. I wanted to give an indication of these things, my dear friends. We shall be speaking further next Friday.