Polarities in the Evolution of Mankind
June 24, 1920
Today's meeting provides a further opportunity for me to speak to you who are friends of the anthroposophical movement before I leave. I wish to do something which in a way is particularly close to my heart, to discuss some of the things that really need to be discussed. It is possible that most of what I have to say today is a repetition of things that have been discussed on a number of occasions from all kinds of different aspects, things now also taken into consideration in public lectures. There are reasons, however, why it is necessary for us to consider some of them once again today.
I have often stressed that it is necessary for a sufficient number of people to fully understand the following. To prevent the decline into which we have got ourselves in the civilized world from continuing into utter ruin, certain impulses must be brought into modern civilization that can only arise if spiritual science reveals the nature of the world to its fullest extent.
Materialism has come to Europe over the last three or four centuries, coming to a crest in the 19th and then tumbling over in the 20th century. It has a peculiarity that seems paradoxical, particularly if one fails to realize the true causes. The peculiar thing about materialism is that it has no possibility of recognizing the material world as it really is. I think I have already given you an example of this. The materialistic way of thinking has in more recent times given rise to an idea that is believed by a great many people, namely that the heart is a kind of pump in the human organism that pumps the blood through the organism. This idea of the human heart being a pump comes up in all kinds of variations nowadays. The facts are rather different, however, and should be seen like this: The whole of our rhythmical circulatory system is something alive. It cannot be compared with a system of channels or the like with water flowing through them, water kept circulating with the aid of a pump. Our rhythmical circulatory system, our blood system, is something alive. It is kept alive by a number of factors, the major factors being breathing, hunger, thirst and so on. These clearly function at the level of soul and spirit. Our blood system is set in motion by entirely primary causes, and the movement of the heart arises when this spiritual principle enters into the rhythm of the blood. The rhythm of the blood is the primary, living principle, and the heart is caught up in this rhythm. The facts are therefore entirely the opposite of what every professor of physiology is teaching today, with the result that it is dinned into people's heads at school and indeed from their earliest childhood.
It therefore has to be said that materialism has not even managed to get a real understanding of the physical processes relating to the heart in the human organism. The material aspect in particular is completely misunderstood. This is just one of many examples. Material things in particular have found no explanation whatsoever under the influence of materialism. The heart is not a pump. It it something we might regard more as a sense organ incorporated within the human organism to give human individuals a kind of subconscious perception of their circulation, just as the eye perceives colour in the world outside. Basically the heart is a sense organ within the circulatory system, yet exactly the opposite is taught nowadays.
This would appear to be an example of limited relevance. I can imagine some philistine saying: ‘Well, it can't do much harm if people have entirely the wrong idea about the nature of the human heart. Of course, if doctors had the wrong idea about the nature of the human heart that would be cause for general alarm. After all, it does make quite a difference in human life if doctors have the right or the wrong idea about the heart.’ But this also holds true for other things. Everything is connected with everything else in life, and because of this humankind is absolutely full of wrong ideas, completely upside-down ideas. One might well think, if one was serious about it, that being hung up on wrong ideas would cause real havoc in our thinking processes. It certainly does. Our thinking is utterly ruined because it has been dinned into us and we have become used to thinking that things are the opposite of what they really are. That is why we never acquire the habit of steady, purposeful thinking. How can our thinking grow purposeful in social life, for example, if in areas where truth should be sought above all else we are in fact going in the opposite direction?
You see, some things that are important to know are a closed book for People today. When the human organism is investigated in conventional institutes nowadays, in physiological and biological laboratories, in hospitals and similar institutions, the brain for instance is examined by analyzing it bit by bit as it presents itself to the eye. The liver is examined by the same kind of analysis. In doing so, people never consider one thing that is absolutely essential if one wishes to understand the human being: The whole of the head organization as We have it today and everything it governs is entirely different from the rest of the human organism.
Let me show you what lies behind this. You can draw it like this. I intend to lead up gradually to what I really want to say. You can say that the human being has two organs of perception, and the direction in which they perceive is approximately like this [see (a) in the diagram]. Two other directions in which we perceive show a certain relationship to these. In diagrammatic form I would draw them like this (b):The human being thus perceives in four directions, as shown in the diagram.
I deliberately did not tell you where these organs are to be found in the human organism. If I draw nothing but two arrows to indicate direction (a) here, where one stretches out, as it were, to perceive, and two others here, (b), where we perceive sideways, it makes no difference at all if these are the directions in which feeling and sensation pass through my legs and these where they pass through my arms. Here we have something that is in accord. I perceive my own gravity, as it were, I stand with my two feet on the ground. I really perceive something. And I also perceive something when I stretch out my hand, stretch out my arm, even if I do not actually touch anything. I can draw it like this (a). The same drawing can also stand for something different. Imagine this is the horizontal plane. The two arrows could represent the two visual axes; I could draw the two visual axes like this. And these arrows (b) could indicate the directions of my ears. The same diagram would serve to indicate perception by the eyes and ears. On the one occasion I have the whole organism within the head, though the plane has turned through a 90° angle, on the other within the rest of the organism. There is a higher point of view where both are the same. Our two legs are merely directions in which we perceive that have become flesh. The same directions exist in a less physical form where they extend from the brain through the eyes to perceive colour. Elsewhere we perceive gravity and everything connected with it. We see our weight and we step on colour, we could say, if we were to change the two things over, entirely in organic terms, of course. I hear the blackboard chalk, I touch a C or C sharp that is sounding. The difference is merely one of degree. In the head everything has gone through a 90° angle and is less physical; the other is in the vertical plane, and is physical. In the final instance both are the same. It is only that I am aware of the way my eyes step on colours, my ears touch sounds; I know about it, it is part of my ordinary conscious life. Everything my legs see with regard to gravity and all kinds of other things that my arms hear — all these are in the subconscious sphere. Conditions belonging to the cosmic sphere are present in the subconscious. With the whole of my subconscious I have knowledge of the cosmic sphere, knowledge of the way the earth relates to other bodies in the universe, knowledge of the universal background to gravity. I hear the music of the spheres with my arms and not with my ears.
Thus we may say that we have a lower organism, as it is called, with subconscious cosmic awareness, and we have a head with early awareness; this however is a ‘conscious’ awareness. The whole of the human being is organized on the basis of these differences. Our outer form and configuration depends entirely on these differences. You know that the head we carry today is the transformed body of our previous incarnation, our previous earth life, and that the rest of our present organism will be the head in our next life. The head, then, is the rest of the organism which has undergone a transformation. It is more perfect, more finished in a way. As a result the legs have become fine visual threads extending beyond the eye and stepping on the colours in a very lively way. The arms of our former life have become so ethereal that they now extend from our ears and touch the sounds we hear.
These are concrete facts about the human being. It does not get People anywhere to know about repeated earth lives and so on. Those after all are dogmas and it makes no difference if you have the dogmas of the Catholic or Protestant church or the dogma of repeated earth lives. Real thinking only starts when you enter into concrete events, when you come to realize that looking at the human head you are looking at the transformed body of your previous earth life, and that the head you had then was the transformed body of the preceding life — you must imagine it without the head, of course. The head you see now is the transformed organism of the last life lived on earth. The rest of the organism as you see it now will be the head in the next life. Then the arms will have metamorphosed and become ears, and the legs will have become eyes. We must look at the physical world and understand it in its transformed non-physical form, our intellect must illumine the material world in this way. Then at last we shall have what humankind is much in need of today. Once the human mind has been organized so that it no longer produces the kind of folly that has been put forward as a potential social theory, particularly in the second half of the 19th century, human beings will indeed be ready to develop social ideas that can be put into effect in this world. It is necessary to gain a thorough understanding of this today. It is a serious matter when people say today: Something else will have to take the place of the science which has evolved and is so highly respected, of all the things that are generally disseminated. There can be no other way.
It is nonsense, and I also said so recently in a public lecture, 30‘Die Erziehung und der Unterricht gegenüber der Weltlage der Gegenwart’ (Education and teaching in the light of the present world situation), Stuttgart 10 June 1920. Published in Geisteswissenschaft und die Lebensforderungen der Gegenwart 6, Dornach 1950. To be published in GA 335. No record of translation into English. to talk about setting up adult education thinking that the same kind of work can be done there as at ordinary universities. It is the work done at the universities that has brought us to these disastrous situations, because it has become the materialistic view of a few leading personalities. This is now to be presented to the masses; that is, millions are to head for the disasters that so far have come about because the wrong lead was given by a few. Something that proved useless for a few is now to be spread among many. It is not as easy as that, however. Popular education cannot be introduced simply by teaching outside the universities what until now has been alive inside them. It would mean teaching something that is altogether unsuitable for human beings. This may sound radical, but it is absolutely essential that it is fully understood if there is to be even the least hope of the decline being halted and something new and positive developing. These are the things one wishes one could speak of in words that truly go to the heart. These concrete truths must reach as many hearts as possible. It was therefore important to me to point out in my public lectures that something has been achieved in the Waldorf School, that anthroposophy has positively influenced the history lessons in some places. I was also able to refer to the teaching of anthropology in class 5. There, too, anthroposophy was effective. Not that one would teach anthroposophy to the children — we would never think of doing such a thing — but lessons come to life if anthroposophy is the foundation, if the inspiration of anthroposophy is there in what we teach. This brings the souls of the children to life; they are quite different when this influence is there. It would be taking the easy way simply to teach anthroposophy in our schools. No, that is not what we are about, but rather to use anthroposophy to enliven the subject matter. It will of course be necessary for anthroposophy to come alive in oneself first of all, and that is something that really comes hard, to let anthroposophy come alive in human beings. Otherwise the potential is there today for all kinds of disciplines, not only in science but all kinds of disciplines in life, to have the full benefit of what life in anthroposophy is able to give.
That is a general way of looking at it. Let me go on to something specific, so that you can see the things we are considering in their proper context.
Marxist philosophy, Marxist views are widespread today. They have their most radical expression in Leninism and Trotskyism, which are destroying the world. A view of history known as ‘historical materialism’ plays a great role in Marxist philosophy, particularly the dogma of the fundamental importance of the modes and relations of production. Millions of proletarians have accepted this dogma according to which tradition, law, science, religion and so on are like smoke, like an ideology rising from the modes and relations of Production—you will find further details in my book Towards Social Renewal 31Die Kernpunkte der Sozialen Frage in den Lebensnotwendigkeiten der Gegenwart und Zukunft (1919) GA 23. English translation: Towards Social Renewal. F.T. Smith tr. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1977. — and that the modes and relations of production are the Only reality on which to base one's view of history.
It was very important to me on past occasions — this has to do with the feeling I have that I was really able to achieve something and create a potential basis at the Worker's Education Institute in Berlin 32See Rudolf Steiner's Mein Lebensgang (1923–25) GA. 28. English translation: Rudolf Steiner: An Autobiography. R. Stebbing tr. New York: Rudolf Steiner Publications 1977. — to speak in proletarian circles about the view that the modes and relations of production are the only effective element, and to present a clear picture. My aim therefore was not to teach historical materialism but the truth. That was of course also the reason why I was thrown °in, for it offended those in charge at the time just as much as the idea of a threefold social order offends people today. Authoritarian thinking and belief in authority were and still are as great in the socialist movement as in the Catholic church.
What really matters is to gain a clear understanding of social relations in this world. Real understanding of the natural threefold order of the human organism, of the way the human organism is an organism of nerves and senses, rhythmical organism and a metabolic organism, as shown in my book Von Seelenrätseln, 33Von Seelenrätseln (Riddles of the soul) (1917) GA. 21. Parts translated into English in The Case for Anthroposophy. Owen Barfield tr. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1970. leads to a way of thinking that can also apply to social life. People of little understanding will say: ‘You are using analogy in applying the threefold order of the human body to the social organism’. This is nonsense of course. Analogy is not the method used in Towards Social Renewal. All I said was that if people succeeded in letting their thinking escape from the strait jacket put on it by modern scholarship and particularly public opinion, they would free their thinking to the extent that it will be possible to think sensible thoughts concerning social issues. The kind of thinking that puts the human brain side by side with the liver, examining everything as though it were of the same substance, will never come to sensible conclusions.
Using external analogies we might say: The social organism is threefold by nature and so is the human organism. The head is the organ of mind and intellect; it should therefore be compared with the cultural and intellectual life in the threefold organism. The rhythmical system establishes harmony between different functions in the action of the heart, in respiration—that would be the rights sphere in the social organism. Metabolism, the most physical, material aspect — something mystics tend to look down on to some extent, though they say they also have to eat and drink--would be compared to the sphere of economics.
This is definitely not the case, however. I have repeatedly pointed out on other occasions that in reality things are very different than mere analogy would make them to be. It cannot be said, for instance, that summer is comparable to the waking state for the earth and winter to a state of sleep. The reality is different. In summer the earth is asleep, in winter it is awake. I have gone into this in detail.
The same applies if we consider the real situation in comparing the social and the human organism. The economic sphere of the social organism actually compares to the activities of the human head. As to the sphere of rights, the legal sphere, people were quite rightly comparing this, the middle realm, with rhythmical activities in the human organism. The life of mind and intellect however has to be compared with the metabolism. This means that economic life has to be compared with the organs that serve the mind and intellect, and the cultural and intellectual sphere of the social organism with the metabolic organs. There is no way round this. Economic life is the head of the social organism; cultural life is the stomach, liver and spleen of the social organism but not of the individual human being. It is of course too much of an effort for anyone whose thinking is in a strait-jacket to make distinction between social life and the life of an individual person.
Again the essential point is that spiritual science prepares us to see things as they really are and not to produce analogies and elaborate symbolism. We will then arrive at important conclusions. We shall find, for example, that we can say: But in that case economic life, if it really is the head in the social organism, will have to live on the rest of the organism, just as the head does in the human organism. In that case we cannot say morality, religious life and the search for knowledge are ideological elements arising from economic life. Quite the contrary, in fact. Economic life is dependent on cultural life, on the metabolism of the social organism, just as the human head depends on respiration, on stomach, liver and spleen. We then come to see that economic life arises out of cultural and religious life. If we did not have a stomach we could not have a head. Of course we also could not have a stomach if we did not have a head, but it is the head after all that is fed by the stomach, and in the same way economic life is fed by cultural life and not the other way round. The socialist theories that now threaten to spread through the whole of the civilized world are therefore quite erroneous, a dreadful superstition. No one has thought to look for the truth in recent centuries; on a purely emotional basis everyone has been promulgating the kind of truth their class and point of view suggested to them. Now at last it is realized that it is a total delusion to see historical evolution as the product of the modes and relations of production. The idea is now to compare the actual facts and not to talk in analogies. Now a realistic view is taken and it is realized that if the stomach is undermined in the human organism, the head will suffer. In the same way there can be no sound metabolism in the social organism and economic life must fall into decline if morality, religious life and intelligent thought are undermined in the social organism. Nothing in fact depends on economic life; primarily everything depends on the views, the ideas, the cultural life of humankind.
The head is always dying—I have spoken of this in other lectures — and we only maintain the head organism because it is constantly dying and the rest of the organism rebels against this. The same applies in the sphere of economics. Economic life is constantly bringing death and decay into the progress of history; rather than generating everything else it brings about the death of everything. This element of death constantly has to be counterbalanced by what the cultural organism is able to produce. The situation is therefore exactly the other way round. Anyone speaking in materialistic terms and saying economic life is the basis for progress is not speaking the truth. The truth is that economic life is the basis of something that is always dying in stages, and the mind and spirit have to make up for this dying process. To proceed the way people are now proceeding in Russia is to help the world to its death. The only possible outcome of proceeding in this way is to help the world to its death, for the simple reason that the laws of death are inherent in the things that are being done there.
You can see the eminent social importance of these things. We have now been working in anthroposophy for twenty years, and all the time I have tried to make it utterly clear and apparent in all kinds of lectures that what matters to us is not the cultivation of a philosophy full of inner self-gratification, a kind of spiritual snobbery, but to develop the most important impulse that is needed in the present age.
I wanted to present this to you again today in a slightly different form in connection with a number of things that can help us understand the essential nature of the human being. It is important that those who call themselves friends of the anthroposophical movement clearly perceive the connection between this anthroposophical movement and other events as we know them.
The ideas put forward by myself and other friends are often seriously
distorted. It is therefore difficult to speak freely to such a large
audience, even if it is anthroposophical. As there is no immediate
opportunity, however, to discuss these things at a more intimate level
and yet it is necessary to speak of them, let me draw your attention to
a few things. We must be aware, particularly here in Stuttgart, that the
anthroposophical movement we have now had for twenty Years has indeed
reached a new stage. If we are serious about the movement this means we
have accepted the obligation to follow this change, to adapt to this
change. You must properly understand that because our friends Molt,
Kühn, Unger, Leinhas 34Molt, Emil, see ref. 37.
Kühn, Hans, writer and publisher.
Unger, Carl, grad. engineer, owner of machine tool works, member of Council of the German Anthroposophical Society from 1905, lecturer and writer. Shot by a mentally sick individual in Nuremberg in 1929.
Leinhas, Emil, businessman, managing director of Der Kommende Tag AG (see ref. 39), writer. and others have attempted to take the anthroposophical approach to its practical conclusion something has happened that concerns us all. It concerns us all and we must take account of it in everything we say and do. The fact is — and let us be very clear about this — that until then the anthroposophical movement was a current in the life of the mind and spirit. Such things continue on their way, cliques and closed groups, however objectionable, that go by personal and heaven knows what other interests, may form; a spiritual movement may even proceed by the agency of privy councillors like Max Seiling. 35Seiling, Max, first a follower then an opponent of Rudolf Steiner. Bore the title Privy Councillor.
TN. Rudolf Steiner used word-play here, calling Hofrat (Privy Councillor) Seiling an Un-Rat. The word Unrat means garbage, refuse, ordure. One does of course have to approach it properly in view of what is called for, but for as long as it is a purely spiritual or cultural movement it can be ignored. Now, however, three things have grown out of this spiritual movement.
The first followed the appeal I made last year. 36An das deutsche Volk und an die Kultunvelt! (Appeal to the German nation and the civilized world), pamphlet, 1919, reprinted a.o. in Towards Social Renewal (ref. 31). It now forms part of the struggling threefold movement, the Association for a Threefold Social Organism. This has not yet been able to get anywhere near the real objectives. What the appeal had to say has in a sense met with rejection, and it would be a good thing to be fully aware that there has been this rejection, that only very little of what was intended has come to fruition.
This does of course mean that I have many requests made to me. The idea has come up in Dornach, for example, of issuing a further appeal that would make it known internationally what Dornach means to the world. I had to explain to our friends that in the ordinary life outside that is now heading for a breakdown, appeal usually follows appeal, programme on programme. We cannot do this if we work out of anthroposophy. It is important to realize that, in a way, it is not at all healthy if something is undertaken that does not come off. It is important to make a careful assessment of the chances of success, and not just do what comes to mind but only the things that have a chance of success. This is why I then said — it is important and I must ask you to consider it carefully — that I would not dream of making a similar appeal again, for what has happened to the first appeal should not happen a second time. It was possible to let the appeal for a Cultural Council 37Appeal to establish a Council for Culture. Whitsun 1919, signed by many well-known figures in cultural life. go out, for that was not my work, but we must be very clear that things are getting a great deal more serious than people are inclined to think if something like the anthroposophical movement stands behind them.
Three things have now evolved out of the anthroposophical movement, in a way, each of them quite distinct. A threefold order following that appeal — we will have to work at it, for it partly meets with rejection; secondly the Waldorf School; 38Waldorf School: intergrated primary and secondary school established by Emil Molt in 1919 for the children of workers in the Waldorf Astoria Cigarette Factory and the general public. This was done under the guidance of Rudolf Steiner who also appointed the teachers and himself gave the preparatory teachers' seminars. thirdly the financial, commercial and industrial enterprise called Der Kommende Tag (Dawn of Tomorrow). 39Der Konunende Tag, Aktiengesellschaft zur F6rderung wirtschaftlicher and geistiger Werte (join-stock company for the promotion of economic and cultural values), established in Stuttgart in March 1920. Rudolf Steiner was Chairman of the Board until 1923. The company became a victim of post-war inflation in Germany and had to be dissolved in 1925.
Coming to Stuttgart in the past, when we only had the anthroPosophical movement — I am referring only to Stuttgart — I would spend three or four days here and you know how many personal interviews I managed. These things have had some effect, as is now becoming apparent. It was not without significance that whatever had happened in the meantime — people will understand what I mean if they want to — could be put to rights again in those personal interviews. Events could then proceed until the next time. Now the position is such that following those outer developments one has to attend meetings from morning till night, and indeed well into the night, and there is no question of continuing in the ways we got used to when we were only an anthroposophical movement. Now there are many people who feel that it is a nuisance that things are no longer the way they were. It is necessary, however, to look at all the changes and really say to oneself: Things have changed since the spring of last year and this will have to be taken into account.
The situation cannot remain as it is, but a united effort must be made to see that it does not remain this way. It cannot remain as it is because everything that is done — be it for the Waldorf School or the Kommende Tag — has its basis in spiritual work. Without the spiritual work that has been done and must continue to be done there is no point to it all. The spiritual work must give form, vigour and content to the whole. To continue the way we are going would mean that the institutions which have now been established would swallow up the original spiritual movement. We would be taking away the original basis. Nothing growing out of the anthroposophical movement should be allowed to swallow up the movement as such.
You see, these are serious matters we have to discuss today, and I think at least some of you will understand what I mean. Things will not be different unless we accept it as a reality that anthroposophical work has been done for many years, for decades. This work must be seen as something real.
I would ask you also to consider the following. There is much conflict in the world, but where is most of this conflict to be found? It takes a certain form and people fail to notice, but most of it takes place in the sphere of spiritual endeavour. There is no end to the conflict within the body we call the anthroposophical movement, for example. When our movement evolved out of older practices — it was necessary to start from these, you know the reasons—that is, when many people familiar with the old theosophical practices joined our movement, I had the feeling that a gentleman, who at the time was particularly vehement in his defense of the line we were following, would very soon be in conflict with various other people. Conflict is likely to be particularly bad in this sphere. In fact I always made it quite clear that the gentleman in question, a theosophist of the purest Water, would not only come in conflict with others, but that his right side and his left would be involved in a desperate struggle. People Will find that the left side of this individual will have the most dreadful quarrel with his right side.
It will of course be necessary to develop the other extreme, where the conflicts that constantly arise are overcome. Such conflicts are due to the very nature of spiritual movements, because they all aim to develop the human individuality. The other pole, the other extreme, of human understanding, must be there as well; it is the pole of human understanding where it is possible to enter into a human individual, to go deeply into the life impulses of another person, and so on. It must be possible for the Kommende Tag and the Waldorf School we are now running to be given a sound moral basis by the anthroposophical movement here in Stuttgart, the moral basis that is the work of decades, or at least should have been such. That has to be the foundation, for it is the only way in which we can go ahead and restore the balance between a life consisting of meetings and the necessary spiritual work which after all should be the basis. We cannot achieve this, of course, if things go on all the time where one is told, for instance, that dreadful things have been going on again, with someone causing trouble all the time, someone upsetting all the rest. Well, that may be so. To date — and on this visit such things have come up again countless times — I have not been able, however, to pursue such an affair to the point where the second person, when approached, told the same story as the first. When it came to the fifth or sixth person, I would hear the absolute opposite of what the first had told me. I do not want to criticize, to apportion praise or blame, really, not even the latter, but that is how it is. What is needed, particularly among anthroposophists, and I have said this on many occasions, is an absolute and unerring feeling for the truth. It is very difficult to continue working in all these areas unless there is a basis of truth, of genuine, immediate truth. If there is this basis of genuine truth, surely it must happen that when something comes up and one pursues the matter further a fifth or sixth person would still present the same facts. Yet it happens that I am told about something ‘dreadful’ and everybody I ask tells me something different. I cannot, of course, apply the things I have from other sources to external life; I have said this many times. It is not a question of whether I know about it, know who is right and who is wrong. The question is whether the first says the same as the sixth or seventh. What I know has nothing to do with it. As a rule I do not allow people to pull the wool over my eyes, and that is not why I ask people. The reasons are quite different. As a rule it does not interest me very much what people tell me. The point is that I hear what the first person says and then the seventh, only to find on many occasions that one person says one thing and the seventh says the opposite. It evidently follows that one of the two things cannot be true. It seems to me that this does follow.
In outer physical life which for this very reason is going into a decline people have always wanted to shut their eyes to the function, the crucial significance, of untruths. Even unintentional untruths are destructive in their effects. In spiritual science working towards anthroposophy it is absolutely essential to realize that an untruth in the life of mind and spirit is the same as a devastating bomb in physical life. It is a devastating force, an instrument of destruction, and this in very real terms. It would certainly be possible to do important and fruitful work in the spiritual sphere again, in spite of the many new developments, providing these things are given some attention — objective attention, however, not subjective attention.
You know I do not normally go in for tirades; it is not my habit to moralize. Just for once, however, I really must discuss the facts that have become very obvious at this time, because the situation is serious. We are looking at undertakings that must not fail, that will have to succeed, and there can be no question of any kind of failure; we have to say today that they shall succeed. They must not however swallow up the original anthroposophical movement, and this means that everybody must do his share to ensure that the moral foundation established in the work of many years really exists. Everybody must do his part. It is really necessary for everybody to to their part.
It saddens my heart that I am unable to respond to almost all the many requests that are made to me. I had to keep refusing to help my friends because time cannot be used twice, and meetings go on not only from morning till night, but even well into the night. Quite obviously I cannot use the same time to talk to individuals. The membership in the widest sense must come to its senses and get rid of the things that play a role in all aspects of life here, the kind of thing I have just been mentioning. Every single member must reflect and see that here in this very place these things have to be done away With Unless this is done—and these things are connected—it will not be possible to find the time to do real fundamental spiritual work. Everything arising out of anthroposophy will succeed. Yet unless some things change the original spiritual movement will be swallowed up. The will impulses of those who consider themselves the bearers of this spiritual movement would then lead to a new materialism, as the original spiritual movement will have been aborted. The spirit needs to be nurtured or it will die. Materialism does not arise of its own accord; you cannot create materialism, just as you cannot create a corpse. A corpse is produced when the soul leaves the organism. In the same way everything created here on a spiritual basis, out of something that has soul, will become entirely material unless there is a genuine desire to nurture the spirit. It means that above all the moral and ethical basis which we have been able to establish is given careful attention. It is necessary above all to ensure that we do not become subject to illusion, that we do not think it is enough to accept Certain views just because they are easy to accept. We must look at life without flinching.
It is really very bad for people to say things like: ‘The threefold order is a good thing; we must take it up.’ Feeling rather good about it they will say: ‘I am getting something organized and it is very much in accord with the threefold order; aren't I good! It makes me really feel good getting something organized that is a nucleus of threefoldness’. Licking your lips morally speaking, full of inner self gratification—you may feel like this when you are doing such things, but it does not mean that you have a sense of reality. The threefold idea is true to reality because it requires genuine effort to bring it to realization. Many people's ideas are however so unrealistic that the idea of threefoldness goes against the grain with them. The first and most essential thing is for this idea to be taken up by a sufficiently large number of people. We must have the necessary sense of reality and practical common sense.
Eight days ago I had to speak here in Stuttgart about the consequences the threefold order has for the management of landed property. 40Stuttgart 16 June 1920; published in Landwirtschafi und Industrie/Neuordnung des Bodenrechtes als soziale Forderung der Gegenwart (Agriculture and industry/New proposals for land ownership as a social requirement for the present age); quoted from the writings and lectures of Rudolf Steiner, Roman Boos ed., Stuttgart 1957, S. 84 ff. (to be published in GA 335). No record of translation into English. I said that the threefold order obviously aims to achieve a situation where social exchange, social conditions relating to landed property, are such that land cannot be bought and sold like other goods That is entirely based on reality; to say the opposite would be unrealistic. I had to discuss the subject on a day when I actually got here late because we had been going round the countryside all day trying to buy land. If we have a sense of reality we cannot base ourselves on the threefold order and say: ‘I must be good; I am forming a nucleus for the threefold order.’ No, it has to be accepted, and there can be no illusions, that in a certain respect the only possible way in which we can work for a threefold order is by working on the most important aspect, not basing our work on the immediate present.
It is not a question of morally licking our lips as we say that we follow a particular idea. This would make it unfruitful and abstract. It is a question of really seeing the reality, seeing what is necessary. This is the difference between people whose approach is utopian and dogmatic and those who take a practical view. The latter will take an idea as far as it can go, but they are not unworldly people living for some private pleasure; they take hold of the reality. We really only give ourselves up to illusion for our own private pleasure. This must be realized. It is also necessary to realize that many other things go in the same direction. I am sorry, it could not be helped. There were quite a number of things that I could have talked about on this last occasion before my departure. I might have drawn your attention to many things that were put to me more or less in passing, things that do have an effect on the fruitful activities. One of the main problems with those fruitful activities is that there is a constant need to have endless discussions on matters that should be dealt with in half an hour, because things are thrown into the pool that really should not be there. If you have sound thinking habits — and those are the habits we must acquire if spiritual science as it is presented here is to come about — and then find yourself — I am not speaking theoretically — right in the middle of what is nowadays called business practice, the best way of defining what goes on is that people kill as much time as possible, that time is wasted. There are practical people today who boast of being busy all day long. If they did not waste so much time, their work, which let us say takes ten hours, could be easily done in one hour. Time is killed particularly in what is called active life today. This killing of time causes thoughts to be drawn out. Entering into practical life as it goes on today one really gets the feeling that one is in a noodle factory where thoughts that ought to be concentrated are drawn out, pulled apart like strudel or noodle dough; everything is pulled well apart. It is dreadful to come across those spread-apart thoughts that are cultivated in practical life. If you wanted to use thoughts like these to get a clear understanding of the world, of the things I have spoken of today by way of an introduction, you would not get anywhere. All this ‘strudel-dough thinking’ has arisen in the process of killing time. Thoughts that ought to be concentrated, for that is the only way for them to be effective, simply come to nothing by being drawn out. Something which functions properly at a certain density will of course be useless once it has become thin and worn. Many of the things that play a large role in modern economics are quite useless when it comes to making world affairs progress. Our particular task would thus be to grow concise in our thinking also with regard to practical things, and not to kill time. However, time still has to be killed these days, unless the anthroposophical movement, which after all supports our enterprises, becomes what it ought to be: A movement based on truth in every respect, a movement where all untruth eliminates itself because we have no use for it and because it would immediately show itself to be what it is.
This is what I wanted to say to you today. It is not addressed to anyone in particular. Please do not continue to go around saying that I was aiming at one thing or another in particular. I wanted to give you a clear picture of the facts as they are in general. The world situation is serious today and the things that have been going on among us here in Stuttgart really reflect the serious situation that exists for the whole of civilization. The things that haunt us in our community here can teach us a lot about the things that haunt the world as a whole.
I do not wish to hurt anyone's feelings. Nor do I want to moralize, to preach at you. The intention has been to discuss the things that have been obvious to the eye and to the soul on so many occasions over the last two weeks.