The Cosmic New Year
I. The Three Streams in the Life of Civilization
21 December 1919, Stuttgart
Those of you who heard the last lectures given here will have understood from what was said in them that it is an absolute necessity of our time that the Science of Initiation, the real science of the spiritual life, should permeate the whole evolution of our present civilized society. I have already said much concerning the obstacles which hinder the permeation of our civilization, both present and in the future, by the science of the spiritual worlds. First, above all things, there is that feeling which I have often characterized as fear of spiritual knowledge. At the present time one has only to say such a thing openly for it to be received on all sides as a kind of insult. According to the views of most people, how can it be conceivable that in this age in which such splendid progress has been made, men should be afraid of any kind of knowledge? People today undoubtedly believe that with their powers of cognition they are in a position to comprehend everything, practically everything. The fear, however, of which I am speaking and of which I have so often spoken, does not lie within the consciousness of mankind. In his consciousness man persuades himself that he is courageous enough to face any kind of knowledge. But deep down in that part of the soul of which men know nothing, and of which indeed they wish today to know nothing, there lies this unconscious fear. And because men have this unconscious fear, all kinds of reasons rise up from the depths of their soul which they call logical, and they give out these reasons as logical objections to Spiritual Science. These are not logical objections. They are only the outcome of that fear of the science of the spirit, a fear which rules unconsciously in human souls. As a matter of fact, in the hidden depths of his soul-life everyone knows far more than he thinks, but he does not want this knowledge, which is rooted in the depths of his soul-life, to come to the surface, because in the presence of it he is afraid. Above all things man surmises one thing about the super-sensible worlds; he surmises that in all that he calls his thinking, in all that he designates as his world of thought, there is something contained of a super-sensible world. At the present time, even persons of a materialist turn of mind cannot altogether drive away the dim feeling that in the life of thought there is something contained which somehow indicates a super-sensible world. And at the same time man surmises something else about this thought-world. He divines that this world of thought relates itself to an actual reality, just as the image seen in a looking glass relates itself to the reality reflected by the looking glass. Just as the image in the looking glass is no reality, so man has to admit that his own world of thought is no reality. In that moment where man has the courage, the fearlessness, to admit that the world of thought is not a reality, in that moment he is also seized with yearning for a knowledge of the spiritual world. For after all, one would like to know what it is that is really there, but of which one only sees the reflection.
What I have just said has an important polaric counterpart. When through the Science of Initiation we cross the threshold of the super-sensible world, over into the spiritual world, then everything which man experiences here as sensible reality is transformed to a mere picture, to an appearance. We mount up into the super-sensible world and just as, let us say, here on earth the super-sensible world is a mirror-picture, existing only as a mirror-picture, so in the super-sensible world the earthly world exists only as a mirror-picture. He, therefore, who speaks from the Science of Initiation, speaks quite naturally of the realities of the sense world as of “pictures”. Now, human beings feel this; they feel that that on which they can stand so comfortably, that which they can breathe in so comfortably, which they can see so comfortably without having to do anything else than, at most, open their eyes when they get up in the morning and rub them — all this becomes a mere picture. They feel this and they begin to feel insecure, much as a man might who, taken for a walk, is led to the edge of an abyss and is then seized by the dizziness of fear. On the one side therefore, the human being feels that his thinking in the sense-world is a mere sum-total of pictures. On the other side he feels — and he feels it even if he deceives himself through that unconscious fear — that that which is told him of the super-sensible world makes this physical world a mere picture. As I have said, this is felt by men, and therefore they struggle against that which comes from the Science of Initiation. They rebel because they think that the secure foundation of existence falls away from them when their soul-life is, as it were, transformed to a mere picture.
Of course, it is not everybody in our present age who, quite unprepared, can go through that which has to be gone through by one who actually directly enters the world of Initiation. For anyone who enters the world of Initiation must not only know in it what every human being today should strive to know, but he has to live in it as well. He has to live in it, just as a man lives with his body in the physical sense world. That means he has to go through, as it were, by proxy what is only to be gone through in the physical sense-world at the moment of death. He has to gain the power to live in a world for which the physical, sensible part of him is not adapted. If we cut our finger we feel a certain pain, a discomfort. Why do we feel discomfort when we cut our finger? For the simple reason that the knife cuts the skin and muscle and nerve, but does not cut the super-sensible etheric body. If we have an uninjured finger, our super-sensible etheric body is adapted to it. If we cut the finger (and we cannot cut the etheric body) the super-sensible uncut etheric body is not adapted to it. That is the reason why the astral body then feels pain. The pain comes from non-adaptability to the sensible corporality. But when man crosses the threshold and enters the super-sensible world, then in his whole body he is no longer adapted to the sensible body. He gradually feels something similar to what he felt locally when he cut his finger. And this, my dear friends, this has to be thought of as enhanced to an unlimited degree.
Naturally, then, one cannot imagine what would come over human beings of the present-day, who often are so brave in their consciousness, and so sorry for themselves in their souls, if they suddenly received the power to live in the super-sensible world, if they had to experience everything which comes from non-adaptability to the super-sensible world.
But not only are human beings today so far advanced that with their healthy human understanding they can comprehend everything related by those who know the life in the super-sensible, but this knowledge of the super-sensible, this receptivity towards the science of the super-sensible, is an absolute, an unconditional, necessity for the healthy human understanding of the present age. Only this knowledge of the super-sensible can throw light upon all that is so chaotic, so destructive, in our modern surroundings. We are living in a world in which things are making their appearance, in which things are working themselves out, of which we must say: “They cannot go on like this, they must undergo transformation.” But human beings today have absolutely no insight into that which lives around them. To see through that which lives around man today is only possible through the Science of Initiation, is only possible when all the life of our present age can be compared with all the phenomena of life which have marked the evolution of mankind in the course of centuries, of millennia.
There has come a time when it must be said publicly that if any fruitful impulse is to be brought into life, into life with its modern destructive phenomena, it can be no other than the principle of the Three-fold Division of the Social Organism. By this means the eyes of men's souls will be directed to the three basic streams of our present life of civilization.
These three basic streams, as most of you today are fully aware, are the stream of the Spiritual Life (in the full meaning of the word spiritual), and that of the Political Life of Rights, and that of the external Life of Economy and Industry.
When these three basic streams of life are placed before the soul of man, when the name for each of these streams is uttered, in each case a great sum-total of the phenomena of Life is really included.
Let us now pass briefly before our spiritual vision these three streams in their sequence. We have today a Spiritual Life. In one way or another each individual has a part in this spiritual life: One, perhaps because his way of life is conditioned by economic circumstances or civic status, goes only to an elementary school; another perhaps is taken further on in our educational institutions. And that which is learnt in this way by human beings lives on at work amongst us in our social life. By this means we are linked to our fellow man.
Today the time has come when the question has to be put searchingly: “Where has this whole spiritual life come from, and what was it in the course of its descent, in the course of its evolution, which gave to it the character which it bears today?” If we go back to the real origin of this spiritual life, we must pass through certain stages on the way. That which characterizes the life of our schools, elementary and higher — I am leaving out the intermediate stages for the present — all goes back to a far-distant past. People usually do not know how far it goes back, e.g., in the case of the elementary school, that that goes back to the time of ancient Greece. Fundamentally our spiritual life today is nourished by impulses which existed in ancient Greece in a somewhat different form, and which have only been changed since then. But these impulses did not originate even in ancient Greece. They originated far away in the East. Thousands of years ago at their source in the East they had certainly another form than they had in ancient Greece. In the East these impulses belonged to the Wisdom of the Mysteries. If we leave aside our legal-political life, which is entangled chaotically as in a knot with the spiritual life, and also leave aside the life of industry, of economics; if we separate, abstract from these our spiritual life, then we can go back, mounting the path to certain Mysteries of the East, the origin of which lies undoubtedly thousands of years ago. That, however, which for us today in educational institutions is a dry barren abstraction, devoid of life, was then something altogether living. And if we transport ourselves in spirit back to those Mysteries of the East to which I am now referring, we meet as the leaders of these Mysteries men who may be designated as a kind of union of priest, of king, and at the same time, strange as it may sound to people today, of industrialists, economists. For in those Mysteries — I shall call them the “Mysteries of Light or of the Spirit”- an all-embracing knowledge of life was pursued, a knowledge which, in the first place, aimed at directing the study of the nature of man by means of the facts of the world of the Heavens, and the world of the Stars. But this knowledge was also a wisdom which aimed at regulating the rights of man's communal life in accordance with the knowledge thus acquired. Thus from these Mystery centres instruction was given for the tending of the cattle, for ploughing the fields, for laying the water courses, and so on. This Science of Initiation of hoary antiquity had an impelling power for social life; it was something which gave scope to the whole man. It was in a position not merely to say lovely things about the good and the true, but also by the Spirit itself it could rule practical life, could organize it and give it form.
Now the path which these Mystery leaders took and, which so far as was possible to them, showed to the people who belonged to such a Mystery, was a path leading from above downwards. First, these Mystery leaders strove for a revelation of the spiritual world, then grasping the spirit in the concrete in accordance with the basic principles of atavistic clairvoyance, they worked down to the political life, to the political shaping of the social organism, then down to economy and industry. That was Wisdom, with impelling force for life itself. By what road did this wisdom with its impelling life-force actually come among mankind?
If we go back to the ages before the Mysteries to which I am now referring became authoritative, we find in the regions of civilized humanity people with a primeval atavistic clairvoyance, human beings who, if they spoke of the needs of life, could invoke the impressions of their heart, of their soul, of their inner vision. These people were spread over the regions now called India, Persia, Armenia, North Africa, South Europe, etc. One thing, however, we do not find in the souls of these human beings. It is that which today we consider our proudest soul-treasure — Intellect, Reason. The inhabitants of the civilized world of that time did not yet need reason. What our reason does today, was done by those human beings out of the promptings of their souls, and these promptings were guided and directed by the leaders whom these men had. Later there came into these regions another human race, quite a different race from the earlier population. In the Sagas and Myths, and indeed also in history, we are told that from the highlands of Asia certain people came down in very ancient times who brought a form of civilization to the south and south-west. Spiritual Science is required to establish what kind of men these were who came down upon those earlier human beings, who simply from their own inner promptings received the guiding powers for daily life. Through investigation by Spiritual Science we find that those who brought in a new population-element combined two qualities, one of which the earlier people did not possess. The original inhabitants had atavistic clairvoyance without reason, without intelligence. Those who came down amongst them also had something of the clairvoyant power, but at the same time in their souls they had received the first germ of intelligence, of reason. They brought, therefore, into the civilization of that time, a clairvoyance impregnated with reason. These were the first Aryans, of whom history tells us, and out of the mutual opposition of the ancient early people living by atavistic powers of the soul, and those who impregnated the ancient soul-powers with reason, out of that opposition there arose the first distinction into Caste, external, physical and empirical, which still works on in Asia, and of which Tagore, for instance, speaks.
The most prominent members of the race, who possessed at the same time ancient soul-vision and the intellect which was dawning in humanity, were the leaders of those Mysteries of which I have just spoken, the Mysteries of Oriental Light. From these proceeded the Mysteries of Greece. Thus we may say: From the Mysteries of the East there went forth later the stream of the Spirit, that living wisdom with its living practical impulse of which I have just spoken. In the course of time it came over to Greece. Its influence is still to be traced in the most ancient Greek civilization. But in the progress of Greek civilization the influence became weakened, the leaders lost their ancient soul-vision, and reason more and more freed itself from the old clairvoyance. Thereby the leadership of this civilization lost its meaning, because this once only had meaning as long as the leaders were endowed with spiritual soul-vision as well as intelligence. History tells us that that which had a meaning in ancient times is preserved into a much later epoch. Thus we find humanity in the later Greek civilization still grouped in a way which had a meaning for that ancient time, when the leaders of the Mysteries were actually messengers of the Gods. That which once was wisdom with an impulse for life, was transformed into Greek logic and dialectic, into the wisdom of the Greeks, wisdom which is already strained thin compared with its old Oriental origin. In the old Oriental times every one knew why there were people who obeyed when the leaders gave them directions in economics. In Greece we find the division into masters and slaves. The division of mankind was still there, but the meaning had been gradually lost. And that which for the Greeks still had much meaning, for at least they knew that it came from the ancient Mysteries, was still more weakened as it passed into our modern life of education. In our modern life of education, everything has become devoid of living connection. We pursue today an abstract science. We find no longer a connection between this abstract science and external life. The stream from Greece has gone into our Colleges, into our elementary and secondary schools, into the whole popular cultural life of modern humanity. One curious thing may be observed today. We meet among the men with whom we are surrounded some whom we call “noblemen”, “aristocrats”. We try in vain to find the reason why one person is an aristocrat and another is not, for mankind has long stripped off that which distinguishes the aristocrat from the non-aristocrat. The aristocrat was the leader in the old Oriental Mysteries of Light. He could be the aristocrat, because from him came everything which had a real living impulse in political and economic affairs. The wisdom has become watered thin, the divisions into which it made groups of people have become an external abstraction without meaning for those whose lives are cast in it. From that stream proceeded what we call Feudalism. In external social life this Feudalism lives on, tolerated by some, perhaps vexatious to others, meaningless. No one thinks any more about the meaning, because it is not to be found in life today, but in our modern age of chaos the feudal origin of our abstract science and knowledge shows itself pretty clearly. And when our modern Spiritual life became entirely the spiritual life of the journalistic world, a term was invented which really is a verbal atrocity. Through this term men sought to bring about a transformation of our life, but it was merely the expression of an utterly rickety spiritual life — they invented the term, “spiritual aristocracy”. If anyone tried to explain exactly what is meant by this term he could only say: “It is that which now squeezed dry to the uttermost had once upon a time in the Mysteries of the East, an impelling force which worked down into the furthest limits of practical life.” The term in those days had a meaning, but today it has lost all meaning. And if anyone wishes to describe our Spiritual life, he has to think of a desperately tangled coil of wool where all the threads are twisted together. There are three threads in particular which are entangled. One of them I have just described to you. Our essential task is to unravel the tangle.
Let us now turn the eyes of our soul to the second stream. This second stream had another origin, which also lies far back in the evolution of mankind; it, too, was essentially united with the Mysteries, and in particular with the Mysteries of Egypt. I called the first stream “the Mysteries of the East” or “the Mysteries of Light”. I shall call this second stream “the Mysteries of Man”. These Mysteries were directed above all to obtaining at the Egyptian source, that Wisdom which gives the power to organize human communal life, to establish a relation between one human being and another. This stream from the Mysteries spread through the South of Europe, and then, just as the first stream went through the life of Greece, this second stream found its way to the people of Rome, a people lacking in imagination. I might call it “the stream of Rights”. It took its path through Rome. All that which, bit by bit, in the course of human evolution has been inoculated as Jurisprudence, as legal distinctions in Equity, is the attenuated remnant of knowledge of these Mysteries of Man.
The second thread in our tangle of civilization has come to us in this way, but very much changed, transformed after having passed through the unimaginative mind of Rome. We shall not understand modern life, until we know that men even today are still unproductive both in the life of Spirit and in the life of Rights; until we know that both of these have been received by us from outside — the first after it had traveled the long way from the Mysteries of the East through the Mysteries of Greece, the second, the long way from the Mysteries of Egypt through Rome. Present-day humanity has been sterile with regard to both the life of Spirit and the life of Rights. We could bring forward many cases to prove this assertion, but it will suffice if I point out paths taken by Christianity.
When Christianity sought to enter the world, where had Christ Jesus to appear so that what He had to give to the world could find a foothold? He had to appear in the East. It was in that which lived in the East that He had to place what He had to give to humanity. The Mystery of Golgotha is a fact. What mankind knows about it is in process of evolving. What people first had to say about the Mystery of Golgotha was clothed in that which was still left to them from the Mysteries of the East. They surrounded the Mystery of Golgotha with the Science and Wisdom of the Mysteries of the East, and with that Wisdom they tried to understand it. In the early Greek Fathers of the Church we find there is still something of this Christianity.
To point to another manifestation of the same kind, when the civilization of the West had spiritually become utterly sterile, and a spiritual restorative was sought for, through one of its representatives, what happened? In England and America a few people came together and borrowed the Wisdom from the conquered and enslaved people of India. That is to say, they went once more to the East to seek there the spiritual stream, to seek in the East what remained of that ancient spiritual stream. From this arose Theosophy of the English-American dye, which sought to draw water from this source, but in the form it has assumed at the present day. It is the sterility of modern Spiritual life which strikes one most forcibly, especially in Western lands.
The second stream, then, is that which is concerned with Politics and Rights, and which passed through Rome. In it we find the origin of our life of Politics and Rights. This stream which has flowed into, and is still active in our life of Rights, only came by the side-channel of the Roman world. Hence, in our civilization, that which passed into our Spiritual life also has been received by way of the Roman political-legal system. This accounts for so many anomalies. Even Christianity, which spread in the West on Roman lines, took on a form conditioned by this fact. What did the religious element become on its passage through the Roman world? It became that great System of Law which we call the Roman Catholic religion. There, God with his attendant gods, is essentially a Being who rules according to the Roman conception of justice, only He is in the super-sensible world. Here we find established the ideas of debt, of default, which are really only legal ideas, ideas which never existed in the Mysteries of the East or in the Greek philosophy of life. In this Christianity the juristic concepts of Rome are established. It is a religious stream saturated with legalities. Everything which finds expression in life can assume a form of beauty, but we must confess that even that juristic-political scene in which the God of the World becomes the Judge of the World, and winds up the whole evolution of the earth by a legal Act, even that magnificent painting of Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel, is only a glorious expression of Christianity saturated by legalism. It is just this Christianity saturated by legalism, which finds its culmination in the “Last Judgment”.
We must unwind the tangle of our spiritual, political, and industrial life so that we may see what is really contained inside it. For we live in a chaotic civilization. Three streams are working in it; we must separate them from one another.
The third stream which has come into our chaotic civilization, originated more in the North. Much has filtered into it also, but in another way. This stream has been preserved till today, especially in the social organization of England and America. I shall speak of this stream as “the Mysteries of the Earth”, the Mysteries of the North or of the Earth. Now this stream which developed first as primitive spirituality out of the Mysteries of the Earth, took a different course from that of the essentially Spiritual life of the East. I have said that in the East the path led from above downwards, first revealing itself as the Mysteries of the Heavens and of the Light, then passing down into Politics and Economics. Here, in the North things rose out of Economics, out of the life of Industry. The origin has, of course, vanished from ordinary modern life. We notice it at most in ancient customs which still survive here and there; such customs as are described in accounts of ancient Nordic civilization, of which the English civilization is a branch, e.g., processions through the villages at a certain season of the year, with the bull, which has to fertilize the herd of cows, crowned with wreaths. That is to say, from below upwards there arose a longing after the Spiritual life. The path leads from below upwards. Everything, even that which existed as primitive spirituality, was taken from the industrial-economic life. All the festivals originally were connected with the life of Economy, of Industry, all expressed something of the meaning of the life of Economy. Just as in the Oriental civilization the path led from above downwards, so here, in the North, the path had to lead from below upwards. Mankind had to be raised from below, out of Economics, through the life of Rights, into the Mysteries of the Spirit. Mankind has not as yet advanced very far on this path from below upwards.
If we investigate the Legal life, the life of law and justice, as it has developed in the regions of Western Europe, we find it completely orientated to Rome. If we investigate the Spiritual life, we do not find it so plainly orientated to the East as that Indian Theosophy is of which I have just spoken. But we do find that that which has survived as innate Spiritual life which was not taken from the East, nor saturated with legalities from Rome, we do often find this original Spiritual life struggling to release itself from the Economic life, and with hard labour working itself free.
Let us take a characteristic example. Such philosophers, such students of natural science as Newton, Darwin, Hume, Mill, Spencer, can only be understood if we see how they developed out of the Economic life, how they endeavoured to take an upward path. Mill, for example, as a national economist, can only be understood if we understand the economic conditions surrounding him. We can only understand the English philosophers if we clearly grasp the economic basis of their environment. That basis is something inseparable from the third stream, the stream of “the Mysteries of the Earth”, the stream which works its way from below upwards. This, the third stream, is as yet quite unrefined.
Here then, in the tangle of our so-called civilization, we have the three threads chaotically at work. Always in a certain sense there has been a revolt against this tangle, in the West at least. In America, where the Economic life is derived from the Mysteries of the North, we find theories built up scientifically, but devoid of Spirit, alien to Spirit. America obtained her Legal-Political life by way of Rome. Spiritual concerns were borrowed from the East. In Central Europe, too, there was a good deal of revolt, and various endeavours were made to grasp these things in their primitive clarity; in the Spiritual life with most penetration in what I must call Goetheanism. Goethe, who sought to get rid of a Law-code in the sphere of natural science, Goethe is characteristic of this revolt against the purely Oriental life of Spirit. For the legal element has entered into natural science too. We speak of “Laws of Nature”. The Oriental would never have spoken of the Laws of Nature, but of the Rule of Cosmic Will. The term “Natural Law” was derived from the side-stream of Jurisprudence. It crept into nature knowledge as through a window and became “natural law”. Goethe wanted to grasp the pure phenomenon, the pure fact, the primal phenomenon. Until we purge our Natural Science from its dependence on Jurisprudence, we can never reach a purified cultural life. For this reason Spiritual Science everywhere lays hold on facts, and indicates so-called “laws” as secondary phenomena only.
We find also a certain revolt against the Roman system of Rights, a revolt which is still in the minds of many persons inclined to socialism. For instance, a Prussian minister, Wilhelm van Humbold, in his fine treatise on “The Limits of State Action”, shows stirring within him something of this impulse to free the Cultural life and the life of Economics from the mere life of the State. In that little book there lives the impulse to strip off the political from the other directing forces. Thus in German philosophy, too, there lives this revolt against that which is merely “old”. But only through a healthy insight into that which the Science of Initiation can give concerning the origin of our present cultural life, can man gain a sure foot-hold; only through such insight can healing, can health, come into the evolution of human civilization.
In the East of Europe especially, there has always been a feeling for the necessity of a right co-operation of the three elements in our present life of culture. Of these three streams the one most characteristic in expression is that which came from the North to the West. In the West everything is overpowered by the Economic-industrial life. Of the legal element there is much in Central Europe, whilst much of that which arose from the Mysteries of the East, the Mysteries of Light, is to be found in Eastern Europe and Asia. There, where the caste system still prevails, we find something of the meaning of that old Feudalism which came forth from the Spirit. The life permeated with legalities has bred the modern Bourgeoisie. The Bourgeoisie is the outcome of the stream of Rights. These things have to be seen with perfect clarity now; and the impulse towards this clear recognition lies already in the unconscious part of man, but it is only Spiritual Science which can bring this longing, this impulse, to real clarity.
In the nineteenth century, again and again, we can see how men strove amid all the confusion of very indefinite impulses, to reach ideals for the future. Men wanted especially to put an end to the abstract relations which prevail today between man and man. The life of the Spirit has been watered down so that it lives in us as an abstraction; and the life of Economics is grasping and struggling to find the way upward from below.
In Eastern Europe, where things of such disturbing, devastating significance are now working themselves out, it was shown for the first time in the much-confused nineteenth century how men attempted to prepare for the revolt against this chaos of civilization. The Russian revolutionaries of the second and last third of the nineteenth century, attempted in particular to fertilize the remnant still left in the East of an early stage of Spiritual life, with that element in Central Europe which had already revolted against tradition. We find among such Russians in their correspondence with each other, how they point out that already in Central Europe, the intellect, the pure abstract life of reason has endeavoured to permeate itself with a certain spirituality. Again and again there appears some such sentence as the following: “In German philosophy the attempt has been made once more to raise the intellect, which has lost its ancient soul-vision, to a certain spirituality.” In Eastern Europe they wanted to make themselves intimately acquainted with this attempt in Central Europe, and this intimate knowledge reflects itself in the way these Russian revolutionaries write to one another. They greatly esteemed the philosopher Ivan Petrovitch. They spoke much of his philosophy, how he had raised himself to pure thought, attempting to bring Spirit again into the dialectic play of thought of Western Culture. They tried to draw conclusions from his philosophy. The better to mark their own feeling of relationship to him, they called him not “Hegel”, but “Ivan Petrovitch”. In their endeavours we see foreshadowed that which later on had to work so destructively.
In our age, clear thinking must spread over the whole earth. Everything must be done to help forward the victory of clear thinking. But we must be quite conscious of all that is against us when we make the attempt to reach this clear thinking, and that, amongst many other things, we have against us man's love of ease. We must wean ourselves from the habit of regard for the comfort of men. For mankind needs the Spirit, and the triumph of the Spirit is not brought about by the comfortable paths so often trodden today. Today men fight against the coming in of Initiation with the most significant weapons.
I was recently informed of something which is significant in historic culture. You will correct me if I make a mistake, for I was not there myself. At a meeting where a Protestant clergyman was in the chair, one of our friends made some quotations from the Bible. The truth of these did not please the chairman, who then used the expression, “Here Christ is wrong!” Have I repeated that correctly? (Assent.) Today when one can no longer justify one's own view, it is man who is infallible, and the Christ who is wrong! We have come as far as this.
All these things bear witness to the true character of that which is stirring as Spiritual life in mankind today. Where Spiritual life has reached the most utter abstraction, it can no longer keep within the sphere of truth. But we must become aware of what really exists.
The periodical, The Threefold Social Organism, recently published a notice of a gathering held here at Stuttgart, where from the Roman Catholic side, but in harmony with the Protestant, opposition was made to the teaching given as Spiritual Science. And the leading cleric is reported to have said that no discussion was necessary because people can inform themselves concerning the doctrines of Dr. Steiner from the writings of his opponents, but the writings of Dr. Steiner himself may not be read because the Pope has forbidden it. In fact, this is the latest decree from the Holy Congregation, and it applies especially to Catholics — the decree that it is forbidden to Catholics to read Anthroposophical writings. Roman Catholics, therefore, are officially bound to seek information upon what I teach from the writings of my opponents, but they are not allowed to read what I write myself. Anyone on the other side who knows the whole constitution of the Roman Catholic Church, how the individual is so dovetailed into it that he is only a representative of the whole organization, must in all earnestness, out of the depths of his soul, bring forward the question regarding the moral aspect of such a procedure. Is such a procedure to be reconciled in any way with human morality? Is it not profoundly immoral? Such questions must be put bravely today, without any leniency. We are living in a serious time, and may not go on sleeping in the easy comfort-loving, lazy way. We must express ourselves unreservedly about these things. If we show the immorality of modern untruth in the right light, it will bring about a healing.
Recently an article by a doctor in Sociology was brought to me. It began somewhat as follows: “What a distance there is between the clear thoughts of Waxweiler and the obscure thoughts of Dr. Steiner! But then, this Dr. Steiner was the intimate of William II, and it has been suggested that he helped William II with important advice, especially in recent years. So one can even call this man the Rasputin of William II.” His next sentence runs: “We will not make ourselves the transmitters of such a rumour.” And there are today many people with this mentality, people forsaken by every spirit of truthfulness, and whatever they say is beyond the sphere of truth.
We see two things here. First, the moral degradation of a man who makes himself the bearer of this rumour, and then his fine logic when he says, “Because I spread this rumour among my readers, I do not make myself a spreader of this rumour.” Countless people think in this way. What they say has no reality in it. I cannot say, “I say something because I do not say it.” This is what Monsieur Ferriere says, the man who wrote the article from which I have just read. We cannot enter into relationship with such morally degenerate individuals. I can only maintain, and I hope that it will be brought before this writer's notice, that I have had the following relationships with William II. Once about 1897, I was sitting in a theatre in Berlin, in the middle of the front row, above, and William II sat in the Royal Box, and I saw him, as far away as from here to the end of this room. The second time was when he walked behind the coffin of the Grand Duchess of Weimar, and that was quite far away. The third time was in the Friedrichstrasse in Berlin, where, with his following, with the Marshal's baton in his hand, he rode through the streets, all the people shouting “Hurrah!” after him. These are all the relationships with William II, I have ever had. I have never had any others nor sought them. Thus assertions arise today, and much of what you read on paper in printer's ink is of no more value than that dirty rumour which is used to make Anthroposophy a heresy in Latin countries. Today such things have to be traced to their origin. It is not enough to take them as mere parlance. People must accustom themselves to go to the origin of what is affirmed.
A sense for the true origin of facts in the external world will only develop in mankind out of a deepening in real Spiritual Science.