Polarities in the Evolution of Mankind
March 9, 1920
There are a few things I want to add to the points we have been considering. They may help to make some of the ideas on which we must base our actions more real. I am looking for ideas that are less abstract than the vast majority of ideas by which people allow themselves to be governed today. We really need such concrete ideas, for they are the only ones that enter into the realm of feeling for human beings, and therefore into real life. They are the only ideas to fire the human will and human actions.
Looking at the world today we should really consider the most striking characteristic of social life in the civilized world to be that the smaller communities of past times have given way to quite large human communities. We need not go far back in human evolution to find that social communities extended only over limited territories. The civic communities of towns formed a relative whole, and fundamentally speaking it is only now, in quite recent times, that large empires have arisen, that the empire of English-speaking peoples has come about — I have characterized this a number of times. None of us should have any illusions concerning the consequences, particularly in Central Europe. It needs the point of view of spiritual science, however, to get the right ideas about these things, ideas that fully relate to reality. The spiritual-scientific point of view makes us go back to earlier stages of human development to see that then, too, people formed certain kinds of communities, though these should not be called ‘states’ — as I have said on a number of occasions — for that would cause tremendous confusion. Instead, let us find some other, more neutral term. Let us say that ‘realms’ arose. Such realms were ruled by individuals, or by particular groups. Subsequently states developed out of this, and today states are taken so much for granted that no one would think of going against them — at least in certain areas no one would go against them.
What is worse, they are so much taken for granted that people are not even inclined to think about them.
Behind this, however, lies something that unites human beings in their inner soul life with the spiritual, the divine principle, as it came to be called during different stages of earth evolution.
If we go back to prehistoric times, times that only partly extend into historical times, we find that in those prehistoric times the idea of a ruler of the realm, as we may call it — whatever words we use do not really fit those earlier ideas — was quite different from what we take it to mean today. The idea of the ruler of an earthly realm came very close to what people knew to be their idea of a god. These things inevitably must seem highly paradoxical to modern minds, though that is only because modern minds are little inclined to take serious consideration of things that existed during the past in human evolution and do not fit in with the way of thinking that has become customary in Western Europe and in its appendage, America, over the last three or four hundred years.
Of course the way a ruler of the realm was introduced to his office, at least in many empires, was very different in those early partly prehistoric times. We need only go back as far as ancient Egypt, meaning the earlier, partly prehistoric times of ancient Egypt, or as far as Chaldea, and we shall find that it was considered a matter of course that regents were prepared for their office by the forerunners of our present-day priests. People had quite concrete ideas as to how a ruler should be prepared for office by the priesthood and its institutions. They felt that with this kind of preparation the person called to be regent truly became what the Chinese, still having a faint notion of this, called the Son of Heaven. There was an awareness that someone called to rule over some region had to be made a kind of Son of Heaven. What was in people's minds was however something quite different from the one and only idea we have today when we speak of training a person or preparing them for something. You can go to great lengths to explain that one should not train people for some office or other in this world by merely implanting intellectual knowledge into their souls, but that the whole person needs to be developed; practically all our ideas today on development, education and so on tend to be abstract to an extreme degree. People have the idea that only some aspect or other of the human being should be changed or transformed to advance him in his training, his preparation for some office. No one thinks that development should be such that the individual undergoes a complete change. Above all no one thinks that something objective should enter into the soul of that individual, something that was not there before. No one has that idea. I could characterize this more or less as follows: I am talking to someone who is the product of the natural and social life of the present day. He tells me this and that, I tell him this or that. The person who speaks to me bears a name: he is the product of the usual natural and social background that people have today. The same applies to me. That is really almost the only way in which we behave towards each other nowadays, the way in which we look at each other.
In the times of which I have been speaking that would have been a very alien notion. It was above all alien to people called to hold important offices, to be leaders within the human community. The external natural background — family origins, father, mother, grandfather, grandmother and so on — was of no real concern if the people concerned had been properly prepared for their office. The things we look for and find in present-day individuals who have been raised to the highest spheres were then of no account. People felt that if they spoke to someone who had been properly trained in this respect it was not the ordinary ego that spoke to them: i.e. an ego born in some place or another, bearing the imprint of some social background or other. Instead they felt that something was speaking to them that had been made to come down from spiritual heights to take up its abode in a human individual thanks to the preparation and training given in the mystery cult. This must of course sound incredibly strange to present-day people. It is however necessary to stop harbouring confused notions about these things and to form ideas that have their basis in truth.
The idea was that education — not all training but the training of people called to high office — should enable spirits from the higher hierarchies to speak through these individuals, using them as their instruments. Those instruments were prepared by training, so that spirits of the higher hierarchies would be able to speak through them. There was general awareness of this, particularly when the population at large came to form an opinion about the identity of their ruler. Remnants of this still survive, for instance in the title Son of Heaven for the ruler of China. That was the level of human awareness in earliest Egyptian and Chaldean times. Spiritual science has established this. To the people at large their ruler was God. Basically they had no other concept of divinity. The preparation of the ruler had been such that the outer physical form was nothing, it merely made it possible for a god to move among human beings. The earliest inhabitants of what was later to become the kingdom of Egypt quite naturally accepted the fact that they were ruled by gods who walked on earth in human form. In this respect the earliest social awareness of human beings was entirely realistic. There was no recognition of a separate world beyond, of a separate spiritual world. The spiritual world existed in the same place as the world within which people moved on earth. In this world, where human beings walked the earth, not only ordinary human individuals were walking about in physical form but also gods. The divine world was right among them, made absolute and visible under the conditions regularly created through the mystery cult. When such a ruler wanted something, decreed something, it was a god who wanted it. To the minds of earliest humankind during that partly prehistoric period it would have been pointless to question whether something decreed by their ruler should or should not happen; it was after all a ‘god’ who wanted it.
Earliest humanity thus connected the spiritual hierarchies with everything that happened on earth. Those hierarchies were there in their midst; they were not something to which one first has to ascend by some kind of spiritual, inner means. No, they were present in the mysteries as the training given to physical bodies found suitable for preparation as dwelling places for spirits of the higher hierarchies, so that these might walk among human beings and be their rulers.
This may seem strange to modern minds, but modern minds will finally have to leave behind the narrow-minded views they hold today, ideas only three or four hundred years old as we know them today, and take a wider view. We cannot develop and think ahead to the future unless we broaden the tunnel vision which has evolved in almost every sphere of life. We must expand the time horizons we survey and consider larger evolutionary time spans than present-day history normally covers.
The things of the past, things that existed in historical and prehistoric evolution, do of course give way to other things as time progresses, but in certain areas they are retained. They are often retained by becoming external, continuing in an outer form and losing their inner meaning. The awareness of the godlike nature of the ruler that was a feature of earliest imperialism still comes up here or there in the present age, except that it no longer has any meaning, since mankind progresses and does not stand still.
Not long ago a Roman Catholic bishop addressed a pastoral to his
diocese 13Prince-Archbishop Johann Baptist Katschthaler,
Salzburg, Austria. Pastoral of 2 February 1905 entitled 'Die dem
katholischen Priester gebiihrende Ehre' (The honour due to Catholic
priests), reprinted in Carl Mirbt Quellen zur Geschichte des
Pabst-rums and des rdmischen Katholizismus (Sources relating to the
history of the papacy and of Roman Catholicism) 5. Aufl. Tubingen 1934,
S. 497 ff. The passage relating to the powers of consecration is given
‘Honour your priests, for they have the power of consecration. Catholic priests have this wonderful power of consecration, Protestant pastors do not. This power of consecration, to make the Body of the Lord be present, with the precious Blood, with the whole of His sacred humanity and His divine nature in the Bread and the Wine — that is a great and sublime power, a truly extraordinary power! Where in heaven is a power like that of the Catholic priest to be found? Among the angels? Or does the Mother of God have it? Mary conceived Christ, the Son of God, in her womb and gave birth to Him in the stable in Bethlehem. Yes. But consider what happens during Holy Mass! Does not the same thing happen, as it were, when the priest raises his hands in blessing during the consecration? Christ is really and truly made to be present, to be reborn, as it were, in the Bread and the Wine. Mary bore her child in Bethlehem, wrapping it in swaddling clothes; a priest does the same, as it were, placing the wafer on the corporal cloth. Mary brought her child into the world just once. But see, a priest does this not once, but many hundreds and thousands of times, each time he celebrates the Mass. There, in the stable, the child which Mary gave to the world was small, capable of suffering and mortal. Here, on the altar, in the hands of the priest, we have Christ in His glory, not capable of suffering and also immortal, sitting in heaven to the right of the Father, glorious and triumphant, perfect in every regard. Do priests merely make the Body and Blood be present? No. They sacrifice, offering sacrifice to the Heavenly Father. This is the same sacrifice that Christ brought by shedding His blood on Calvary and bloodlessly at the Last Supper. There the eternal High Priest Jesus Christ sacrificed His Flesh, His Blood and His very Life to the Heavenly Father; here, at the Mass, He does the same through his representative, the Catholic priest. He ordained priests to take His place so that they might continue the same sacrifice that He had brought. He has transferred to them the authority over His sacred humanity, giving them power over His body, as it were. A Catholic priest is able not only to make Him be present on the altar, lock Him up in the tabernacle, take Him out again and give Him to the faithful to eat, he is actually able to offer Him, the Son of God become Man, as a bloodless sacrifice for the living and the dead. Christ, the only begotten Son of the Father by whom heaven and earth were created and who sustains the whole world, submits to the Catholic priests in this respect.'=’ (Italics as in the original text given by Mirbt.) in which he stated nothing more and nothing less than that a Roman Catholic priest conducting an act of worship was more powerful than Christ Jesus himself. Acting as the celebrant, the priest coerced Christ Jesus, the god of Christianity, to enter into the physical world as the priest performed the act of transubstantiation. The god might be willing or not, the act of transubstantiation forced him to take the route prescribed by the priest. It is really true that very recently a pastoral referred to the sublime power of the earth-born ‘priest god’ over the ‘inferior god’ who descended from cosmic heights and walked on the earth in the flesh of Jesus. Things like this have their origin in older times and have lost their meaning in the present age. Some people representing certain confessions know very well, of course, why they keep throwing such things into human minds. They have become just as meaningless as the words modern rulers write in albums: The king's wishes are the supreme law. 14‘Suprema lex regis voluntas’. William II (see note 10) wrote this in the Golden Book of the City of Munich. See also J. von Kiirenberg War alles falsch? Das Leben Kaiser Wi/helms II. (Was it all wrong? A life of the emperor William II. Translated into English and published in 1954, but exact English title not known), Basle-Olten 1940; German edition S. 190. These things have happened in our times. Humanity, fast asleep, has said nothing at all about it and still says nothing now to things going on that bode ill for humankind, things one gets used to, things one does not want to see. Today we are altogether little prepared to take note of major events in human evolution.
That was a first stage in the evolution of human empires: when the ruler was the god. This way of looking at it was still very much alive in Roman times. Whichever way you may look at Nero, as a fool or a bloodhound, for the large majority of the Roman people Nero's dreadful tyranny merely made them marvel that a god could walk on earth in such a guise. Many of the citizens of imperial Rome never doubted that the figure of Nero was that of a god.
A second stage in the evolution of empires came with the transition from a ruler who was a god to one who ruled by the grace of God. During the earliest times of human evolution on the civilized earth the ruler was God. At the second stage the ruler stood for God; he was not indwelt by the god himself but inspired by God, given special grace. Everything he did would succeed because divine power — now no longer within him but in a realm close to the earthly realm — flowed into him, inspired him, filled him, and guided him in all he did.
To describe the essential nature of such a second stage ruler we have to say that the ruler was a symbol. At the first stage the ruler was a divine spirit walking on earth. At the second stage he represented what that spirit signified; he was the sign, the symbol in which the spirit came to expression. The ruler became the image of God.
The principles governing those external social relationships also came to expression in the institutions which became established. In earliest times empires were so constituted that a number of people were governed by a divine spirit. This god would be similar to them in external appearance but utterly different inside. At the second stage we find empires where the leader or leaders represent the god or gods and are symbols for them.
At the early stage of human empires discussion as the whether the ruler, the god, was acting rightly or wrongly was beside the point. At the second stage it began to be possible to think whether something he had done was right or wrong. At the early stage everything the ruler did, thought or said was right, for he was the god. Then, at the second stage, some other spiritual sphere was felt to exist side be side with the earthly realm, one that has the god, the ruler given the grace of God, within it. The power streaming into the earthly realm, giving direction and orientation, was felt to come from that other realm. The institutions and human individuals in the earthly realm were the reflection of something streaming in from the realm of the higher hierarchies.
It is interesting to find out, for example, that Dionysius the Areopagite, 15Dionysius the Areopagite (an Athenian converted by St Paul): ‘ the Heavenly and Ecclesiastical Hierarchies' and The hierarchy of the church,’ in Die angeblichen Schriften des Areopagiten Dionysius, übersetzt and mit Abhandlungen begleitet von J.G. V. Engelhardt (Writings ascribed to Dionyius the Areopagite, translated and provided with commentaries by J.G.V. Engelhardt), part 2, Sulzbach 1823. also called the pseudo-Dionysius, who was much more genuine than orthodox science imagines, presented the right theory concerning the way human empires were ruled by divine empires so that the conditions and institutions created among humans were a symbol of what existed in the divine realm. Dionysius the Areopagite wrote that there were heavenly hierarchies behind the human hierarchies on this earth. He stated very clearly that the social structure of the priestly hierarchy here on earth, from deacons and archdeacons all the way up to bishops, ought to show that the relationship of deacon to archdeacon is the same as that of angel to archangel, and so on. The earthly hierarchy should truly reflect the heavenly hierarchy. This refers to the second stage of empires. Something was able to evolve that was to govern human ideas until quite recent times. After all there existed in Central Europe until 1806 an institution that in its title gave expression to the way the heavenly and the earthly principle were seen to be one: the Holy Roman Empire, an empire seen to be based on the power of heaven. The words ‘of German nationality’ were added [to the German title] to show that the empire was also of earthly origin. The way the title evolved it is evident that a whole empire was formed in such a way that it should be seen to be the image of a heavenly institution.
Such were also the ideas behind St Augustine's City of God
and Dante's work On the Monarchy. 16Aurelius Augustinus, De Civitate Dei.
Dante Alighieri, De Monarchia. If only people were not so limited in their ideas they could take a wider view when reading something like Dante's work and realize that Dante, who after all must be considered a great thinker, still had ideas in the 13th and 14th centuries that are radically different from our modern ideas. If we were to take such things in historical evolution seriously we would give up those narrow ideas that do not even go back as far as Dante but are just a few hundred years old. The ideas used by people nowadays to fill their heads with illusions, wanting to understand history by merely going back as far as ancient Greece, are limited ideas. Yet it is only possible to understand the whole structure of ancient Egypt, for instance, if we know that the ancient gods still walked on earth. In the times that followed gods no longer walked on the earth, but the institutions created on earth had to be an image, a symbol, of the divine world order.
Then something arose for example like the possibility to reflect on the lawfulness of things, to reflect on such things as the fact that the human intellect can arrive at a judgement as to what is lawful and what is not — all this only became possible during the second stage of imperial development. During the earliest stage it was pointless to reflect on what was lawful and what was not. People had to look to what the ruler said, for the god lived in him, he was the god. In the second stage, human judgement could be used to determine that there is something in a spiritual realm next to our own realm that we cannot reach as physical human beings but only as human beings of soul and spirit. Then people no longer believed, as they had believed in earlier times, that the divine could unite with the whole physical human being, that a human being could indeed become a god. At most — using mystical language to define the living truth about public institutions — people believed that the human soul element could unite with the god.
Basically it is true to say that no one nowadays is able to understand the way things were said in works written and published as late as the 13th and 14th centuries unless one knows that the people of that time had quite a different awareness, a feeling that some degree of divine inspiration was alive in those who were called and trained to hold special office. Oddly enough things referring to something rather serious will often become derisory expressions at a later point in time when the evolution of humankind has progressed. Someone saying ‘God shapes the back for the burthen’ nowadays would say this more or less as a joke. Yet though it may be said today partly as a joke, in the times when empires were at their second stage of development it certainly held true and was to the forefront of people's minds. It applied not only to people but within certain limits also to what was being done. Rituals were made to be such that the actions performed in them reflected what went on in the spiritual realms. The rituals performed were spiritual events reaching across into what went on in the physical world. People very much believed the spiritual realm to be adjoining the physical realm, but they also thought that it extended across into the earthly realm and that the symbol or sign of the spiritual realm was to be found in the earthly realm.
Very gradually people ceased to believe in the validity of this. An
age was to follow where this awareness of the connection between earthly
and spiritual things was to fade. In the days of Wycliffe, of Huss, 17Wycliffe, John, English
Hus, or Huss, John, Bohemian reformer, burned when the Council of Constance condemned his and Wycliffe's writings. people began to dispute things which it would have been unthinkable to dispute before. They were in disagreement on the significance of transubstantiation: whether this ritual act had anything to do with what went on in spiritual worlds. When people begin to disagree about such things, old ideas are coming to an end. People no longer know what to think; yet for centuries, indeed millennia, they had known exactly what to think. It always happens that certain things normal to a particular age continue to play a role in later ages. They are then out of place, anachronistic, luciferic. That is what has happened to the great, far-reaching symbols relating to a particular age when they showed how ritual acts and the like performed on earth Were connected with divine and spiritual happenings in the world. Those symbols persisted during later ages and certain secret societies preserved them in a luciferic way. Western secret societies in particular have been preserving such ancient symbols. They are traditional in those societies, though they have lost their real content. On the one hand, then, we see certain secret societies — Freemasons, Jesuit organizations and denominational groups have arisen from these — preserving, in a way, those symbols which only had meaning in an earlier age. On the other hand we see how words preserve ideas that belonged to an earlier age in a basically luciferic way. Words used In everyday life have also lost their original substance, lost the context of a way of thinking when those words were symbols of spiritual things. For the spiritual content is gradually lost and words become empty symbols, signs without meaning.
During a third period, at a third level of empire development, there was no longer any awareness of individuals being given the grace of God, of divine elements entering into earthly events, earthly speech. The spiritual realm was now entirely in the beyond. The opposite of what had existed at the first stage of empire development now held true. During the first stage the god lived on earth, went about in human form. During the third stage one can only think of the god being present in an invisible world that is not perceptible to the senses. Everything people were able to use to express their relationship with the realm of divine spirits lost its meaning. The word ‘god’ continues to be used. When the word ‘god’ was spoken in the distant past people were looking for something that appeared in human form, walking among human beings. It is not that human beings in those very early times were materialists. Materialists only became possible once the spiritual realm had been banished beyond the sense-perceptible world. During the earliest period of human evolution the spiritual world was right there among human beings. There would have been no need for someone living in ancient Egypt during its earliest times to say: The kingdom of the divine is at hand. He would take that to be self-evident. At the time when Christ Jesus appeared among men people first had to be told: ‘The Kingdom of the gods cometh not with observation… for, behold, it is within you. 18TN. Luke 17:20-21. Rudolf Steiner was quoting from the Luther Bible, but saying 'gods' instead of 'God'.
We are now living in an age when it would be a nonsense to look to a person for anything but a straightforward development of what he was as a child, a development based on cause and effect. We live in an age when it would be sheer madness for someone to consider himself more than the straightforward further development of what was also there in his childhood. Eight thousand years ago, let us say, something was taken as a matter of course, was the general way of thinking; yet if anyone were to say the same thing today this would merely indicate that they are mad. The realities of those distant times have been reinterpreted in the modern way of thinking into that fictitious tale we call ‘history’. This spreads a veil over the radical metamorphosis we are able to discover when we consider human evolution in the light of truth. The things we often say today, things we reveal in our external life, exist because they once had relevance and were considered to be the truth. We still say things like ‘by the grace of God’ — people have more or less tried to get out of the habit in recent years, but they have not succeeded very well with this — but we do not know, or pay no attention to the fact, that there was a time when this was a reality to human minds, when it was taken as a matter of course.
Here I am drawing your attention to things that give our public life its meaningless, conventional character. Things we put forward in the words we use, in our customs and indeed the way we judge issues in public life, relate to times when those words, even if they only became part of the vocabulary at a later date — they were modelled on the original language — were formed and used on quite a different basis. The words we use in public life today have been squeezed dry. With some it is immediately apparent, with others it was not apparent for a long time. In the distant past a token was hung upon a human body in magical body in magical rites, transforming it into an important magical aspect of the god walking on earth. This has become something trivial in the decorations given to people today. That is the kind of history humankind is unlikely to pursue. Not only words can become empty phrases and lose all meaning, as is the case with the most important words used in public life today; the objects hung around people's necks or pinned to their chests can show similar character in their relation to reality, like a word that is meaningless today but once had sacred meaning and substance to it.
We must realize that initially our evolution was such that an older awareness lost its substance and became empty and conventional. There can be no real new growth in our devastated public life of today unless we do so. We must look for new well-springs that will give real substance again to public life. We have no awareness of gods walking the earth in human form. We must therefore acquire the ability to recognise the spirit not in human form but in the form it has when we rise to spiritual vision. For us the gods no longer descend to sit on physical thrones. We must acquire the spiritual faculties that enable us to ascend in our vision to the thrones where gods are to be found who can only be alive to us in the spirit. We must learn to fill the abstract formulas we use with spiritual contents of our own experience. We must become able to face truths that are deeply disturbing to those who grasp them rightly. We must become able to see things as they are. Sometimes we fail to do so for periods extending over decades.
As Central Europeans we believe ourselves to be part of European civilization. What we should ask ourselves is what it is that has made our inner life, the life of our soul, so full of discord over the last fifty years or even longer. Let me say just one thing. When you look to the West you see in the first instance — we'll leave aside the rest — a nation falling into decadence, the French nation. One thing is important, however, among the French. When a member of this nation said: I am a Frenchman — this is what they have said to themselves for centuries—he said something that was in accord with the external facts; a permissible, truthful declaration made with reference to external life. Any of us who have ever talked to people who were young and German in the first half of the 19th century will be able to confirm the following. Herman Grimm 19Grim, Herman, Fragtmente (vol. 1), Berlin & Stuttgart, S. 212: ‘For the people of today , it is no longer the Wars of Liberation fought against Napoleon I that are the last important historical event in their lifetime, but the Wars of Liberation fought against Austria and France in the 1860s and 1870s. We have been a nation where children had to be taught that they would never be permitted to act freely in influencing the destinies of their country. Today, however, Germans are compelled to act in this way. Fifty years ago it would have been unthinkable to make it part of education to tell children that they would one day be citizens of a great united German Empire and that their duties towards God, the Emperor and their country would one day also consist in having to elect someone to represent them in a German Parliament, basing their choice on their personal judgement of the country's needs. Just to utter such things would have sounded like high treason and might have ruined the life of the person who uttered them.’ for instance has repeatedly described what it meant, to people who were young when he was young in Germany, for someone to profess himself to be German in public life, not as an empty phrase but in reality. It would have been treason. People were Bavarians, Wurttembergians, Prussians, but to say ‘I am German’ would make them criminals. In the West there was a point to saying ‘I am a Frenchman’, people were permitted to be that in external life. It would have meant going to prison or being put beyond the pale in some other way if one had taken it into one's mind to say one was German, i.e. belonged to a united nation. People have forgotten about this now, but those are facts. And it is important to face up to these things. We shall not develop the right enthusiasm for such things, however, unless we fertilize our inner life by considering the great events of world history, seeing them in the right light—not that fabricated tale written in our handbooks and taught in our schools today, but the true history of the world that can be found by looking at things in the light of the spirit.
It is quite unthinkable for a present-day protestant Christian to consider that people once felt it to be true to say ‘the god walked on the earth and the ruler was the god’ and ‘there is no kingdom on this earth where gods are still to be found, for the ways in which one is made a god are in the realm where the supersensible dwells, within the Mystery’. In the early times of Egyptian history, which in part was still prehistoric, the Mystery was indeed something supersensible. It was only when the mysteries were made into churches that the church became the symbol for the supersensible.
Present-day humanity has no wish to look to the points of origin of its historical development. It lives like someone who has reached the age of forty-five and has forgotten what life was like as a boy or a girl, at most remembering back as far as his or her twenty-fifth year. Try and visualize what it would mean for the inner soul life of someone of forty-five to remember nothing that happened before the age of twenty-five. Yet that is the state of mind humankind is in now, it is the state of mind in which the people arise who are to be the leaders of humanity. Out of this state of mind something is attempted that is to give the orientation for a social system. The most important thing is that human beings come to see humanity as a living organism with a memory that should not be trodden to death, a memory reaching back to things that still have their effect in the present day, and because of the way they do take effect, literally ask for something new to be poured into them.
We merely need to strike this note a few times and we shall see that there is need for something in the present time that makes all the empty words that are flashing up all around come to nothing. It would be good if a sufficiently large number of of people were to realize how serious the present situation is, and out of this realization were to arrive at something that is really new. The sad thing is that People today have been given great tasks and yet would most of all like to sleep through those tasks. The particular task given to the anthroposophical movement for decades now has basically been to shake humanity out of its sleep, to point out that humanity needs to be given something today that truly changes the present state of soul to the same extent as the dreamer's state of soul changes to being fully awake and alive for the day, when he wakes in the morning.
This I intend to be the conclusion to the two aspects of history seen in the light of spiritual science I discussed during my present stay in this city. If only something could emerge from our anthroposophical movement that would truly fire our social ideas, filling them with warmth and energy. Social impulses are needed in the present age, that is so obvious when we look at events that we really should not fail to see it. These social impulses can only come to fruition if a new spirit is poured into human evolution. This should be realized particularly by the people who from one side or another come to join the anthroposophical movement. On the soil of this anthroposophical movement truthfulness and alertness are necessary, real alertness. Modern civilized society has got into the habit of being asleep in public life. Today people are so much asleep one might fall into severe doubt on seeing the external course followed by people in the pursuit of their affairs — were it not for the fact that one stands within spiritual life and perceives the course taken by spiritual affairs behind the Physical world. The external course people pursue in their events clearly spells it out that people fight shy of having any part in the search for truth in the phenomenal world. They are so glad they do not have to look at the events that are happening. You can see that when people are told of something happening somewhere today, they stand there on their two feet and give no indication of having heard something that is of profound significance for the way events will go. People hear of deeply significant things that must inevitably lead to ruin, to decline and fall, and they do not even feel indignation. Things are going on in the world, intentions are alive in German lands that should horrify people — yet they do not. Anyone incapable of being horrified at these things also lacks the power to develop a sense of truth.
It has to be pointed out that healthy indignation over things that are not healthy should be the source and origin of enthusiasm, of the new truths that are needed. It is actually less important to convey truths to people than it is to bring fiery energy into their lethargic nervous systems. Fiery energy is needed today, not mystical sleep. Longing for mystical peace and quiet is not of the essence today but rather dedication to the spirit. Union with the divine has to be actively sought today and not in mystical indolence and comfort.
This has to be pointed out. We must find a way of making it possible again for our minds to connect a divine principle with our outer reality. We shall only be able to do this if we consider without bias how people found their gods walking the earth in the earliest empires. We must find a way in which our human souls can walk in the spirit in spiritual worlds, that we may find gods again.