6 February 1924, Stuttgart
From various anthroposophical sources you know of the significance of the heavenly bodies for man's existence and I shall speak to-day of a particular aspect of this subject.
When during life on Earth we look around at our terrestrial and cosmic environment, our physical senses, even when they reach as far as the stars, perceive only what is connected with the part of our human constitution that is laid aside at death. We know from Anthroposophy that the physical body derives its forces, as well as its material composition, from what surrounds us on the Earth. In addition to the physical body we have an etheric body, and just as the physical body draws its forces and material components from the Earth, so does the etheric body draw its forces and components from the extraterrestrial Cosmos, from the etheric world. This etheric world surrounds the Earth in the expanse of space; in it the stars are embedded and from it the light streams down to the Earth from the Cosmos. Thus we owe our physical and etheric existence to what is visible in our terrestrial environment or cosmic environment. But within this etheric environment of the Earth there are two heavenly bodies which may be said to be gates or portals into the spiritual world. These are the two cosmic bodies of Sun and Moon to which everyone possessed of deeper insight into the structure of the universe has always attached the greatest possible importance for human life.
If we study man with anthroposophical insight we know that as well as the physical and etheric bodies he has within him his astral body and Ego. But if we direct our attention to the astral body and Ego of man we shall find that in the cosmic expanse perceptible to our physical senses, including even the world of stars, there is nothing in the least akin to them. We find only what is akin to our physical and etheric nature. In the whole wide universe actually or potentially visible to our senses or comprehensible to the intellect there is nothing that provides any forces or components for our astral body and Ego. The Moon and the Sun, however, are like gates into the world from which these members of our being originate.
You know that in my book Occult Science and other writings, reference is made to the time when the physical Moon separated from the Earth with which it once formed a single body in the Cosmos. But this physical and etheric separation is not the only matter with which we should be concerned in connection with the Moon existence and human life. The separation of the Moon is a very significant spiritual fact.
I have often said that in very ancient times man possessed a primordial wisdom. We are very proud nowadays of our intellectual acumen, of knowledge based upon reason and observation. This kind of knowledge was not possessed by early humanity. The Earth, and man together with the Earth, had necessarily to develop to a certain stage before such knowledge was possible. Without this development man would not have been able to use his physical body and its delicate nervous system for the acquisition of intellectual knowledge. The primordial knowledge possessed by man was an instinctive knowledge, expressed in a form altogether different from that adopted by modern scholarship. What men knew about the mysteries of the world in those ancient times was expressed in poetical language of great majesty and what tradition has preserved or can be discovered in existing records is no more than an echo of the power of that ancient wisdom. We may well be filled with wonder today when we study the Vedas or the Vedanta philosophy; we may marvel at the glorious verses of the Bhagavad Gita and recognise the sublimity of all these works, but it must be remembered that they are only the last offshoots of something infinitely greater and more powerful. Men owed this wisdom to the fact that they lived in communion with Beings whose existence was on a higher level than that of modern humanity and naturally also of the humanity of those days. These Beings had no physical body comparable with that of man to-day; they moved about the Earth in etheric bodies but nevertheless shared a life in common with humanity.
Since they had no physical body, these Beings were not able to converse with men in the way that one person converses with another to-day. But in certain states of consciousness the men of those ancient times, that is to say we ourselves in earlier incarnations, were aware of certain feelings and thoughts of which we knew that they did not spring from within our own being, as little as what we hear from someone else through oral communication springs from within ourselves. The much higher and more powerful knowledge possessed by these etheric Beings was as it were ‘inspired’ into men in a spiritual way. Thus in earlier incarnations in the primeval periods of the Earth's existence, we communed with non-physical Beings. These Beings are no longer and for long ages have not been part of earthly life. They have withdrawn from intercourse with men and only a few sparse remnants have been preserved of the world-secrets once revealed through these Beings in the remote past. Moreover it can be said with truth that even these few remnants are not really understood.
To what habitation, then, have these Beings of the ancient past withdrawn? When the physical Moon separated from the Earth, these Beings followed after it into the universe. I have already spoken about this but to-day I want to say something more, so that when we turn our gaze to the Moon we shall be aware that this cosmic body is inhabited by Beings who were once the companions of mankind on Earth. It may seem as if these Beings have no connection with the man living on Earth in his physical body: nevertheless there is a connection and it is of this that I want to speak. Simply from the fact that long ago these Beings were man's companions on Earth we may conclude that they are connected in some way with his past. And this is in fact the case.
A man's life here on Earth in his physical body is interwoven with what we call destiny. Destiny or ‘karma’ — the oriental term we are accustomed to use — is a very mysterious factor in human life but its most significant connections are not always perceived.
Suppose two people who have never seen each other before, meet at a particular moment. From this moment something that is the result of joint action begins to play a part in their lives. Their recognition of each other is mutual and they know that from now on they will have a great deal to do with each other. If two people in this situation review the course of their lives since childhood, they will find, if they observe with sufficient detachment, that everything they did up to the moment of their meeting had a definite significance in that every step they took since childhood seems from the beginning to have been so cleverly directed that the path led them to the point where the meeting took place. If, starting from the time when they met and began to form a friendship, they look back over their past lives without preconceived notions it will seem that since a certain starting-point in their distant childhood, every step led them inevitably to the place where they finally met. Whatever they did so purposefully was of course done unconsciously; the conscious period began only after the meeting but the conscious and the unconscious unite in a remarkable way. In the weaving of our destiny there is a great difference between the path we have arranged unconsciously so that we may meet the other person, and what we do after the meeting has taken place. Then he is actually before us, we understand what he says and we adjust our actions to what he is doing in external life; thereafter we lead a common life of which our senses and intellect are aware. But we shall see how that common life is interwoven with what we did until the time we met. We may well ask: what is it that is taking effect in all these forces and movements which finally bring us together?
There may also be some event lying ahead of us. Every aspect of destiny comes into consideration. We shall find that there is a great difference between experiences of the two kinds of events. There are, in fact, two ways of encountering another human being in life. In the one case we immediately have a feeling, or at least we have it as soon as we have come across the man or the event in question — a feeling which we take into the sphere of our will. We get to know the person: what he is, what he now does in company with us — all this we experience in the realm of our will; we want to think as he thinks, to feel as he feels, to will as he wills. We actually feel that he is beginning to be active within our own being. He sets something astir within us, something that originates in him but nevertheless lives in our will and from our will pervades our whole soul. Indeed we learn in this way to know ourselves better, inasmuch as in our life of will and in the deeper feelings connected with our will, we become aware that the person not only makes an impression upon us from outside, but stirs something into activity within us. That is one way in which our destined encounter with another human being takes effect.
In another case we are less inwardly stirred by an acquaintanceship; we observe the person more from outside, forming an opinion of him by the impression he makes upon our intelligence, upon our aesthetic sense. There is a very great difference between these two kinds of acquaintanceship.
Suppose we get to know someone, then we go away and are tempted to talk about our new acquaintance. There will be a noticeable difference in the way we speak about the different people we know. On one occasion the way in which we speak makes it quite obvious to others that we are putting something of ourselves into our words. We may speak about the other person as though he were handsome, but in point of fact he is the very reverse and those who are listening simply cannot understand why we speak of him as we do; he appears to them to be the reverse of good-looking, hence they cannot understand how anyone can possibly rhapsodise about him. But we are not in the least concerned with what others may see in him from an aesthetic point of view; we are not talking about the impression he makes upon us from outside. We are talking about the inner effect he arouses in us and what we say about him need not tally with the impression he makes upon others.
In the case of another acquaintance it is different. We have a good eye for whether he is handsome or the reverse. From the way we speak it is clear that here the impressions made upon our intellect, our senses and our aesthetic judgement have been the criterion. We may, for instance, refer to him as a fine fellow. You know quite well that there are acquaintances of whom it would never occur to us to speak in this superficial way. The actual language we use is such that other people will immediately understand what we mean, if they know the individual or get to know him later on.
It is a simple fact that these are two ways of describing individuals we meet. The first case indicates that when we meet the individual in question the existence we share in the previous earthly life is set astir within us; something is pointing back to earlier incarnations when we lived in each other's company. In the second case we judge externally; we express our opinions in a way that others can immediately understand, because we were not together in an earlier earthly life but may perhaps have met him for the very first time in the present incarnation.
If spiritual insight enables us to penetrate to what lies at the root of the destiny which reveals itself in so definite a form in the first case, we shall find the following. — Before the human being comes down to physical existence on Earth and while, before the actual descent, he is passing through the Moon sphere, there is implanted into his astral body the karma he shares in common with other human beings. It is implanted into him for his present earthly existence by those Beings who once lived on Earth together with men and who then withdrew to the Moon sphere. These are the Beings through whose sphere we pass before we descend into earthly existence. It is they who since they left the Earth and their companionship with men, concern themselves with recording the destiny which individuals have in common. Thus it is that when we come across another person in the first of the two ways I described, what reverberates within us has been recorded in those great books of destiny kept by the Moon Beings with their knowledge of the lives of men on Earth. These are books in which spiritual ‘accounts’ are kept and they contain entries of everything we have experienced in common with other men. As we pass through the Moon sphere we read in those books what we are to bring with us to the Earth, and then, with the help of what we have thus read, we direct our path — perhaps for twenty-five to thirty years — until we finally meet in earthly existence the individual of whom we had read in these Moon-books before we descended to the Earth that we had shared certain experiences with him in a previous earthly life.
These mysterious connections are organised in a wonderful way. We must look up to the Moon existence with feelings deepened through Anthroposophy, having in mind not only the information given by physical science but also what Spiritual Science can tell us about the spiritual aspect of the Moon. There are many analogies which make this sphere of cosmic existence intelligible. The analogy drawn from earthly life is supported by knowledge to which little attention is paid.
It has often been emphasised here that in seven or eight years the physical substance of a man's body has completely changed. Physical substance is thrust out through the skin; nails and hair are cut. This indicates, and it is actually the fact, that man thrusts out physical substance from the centre of his being and produces new substance to replace it. What you cut from your nails today was within your organism seven or eight years ago; you thrust it out and have now got rid of it. Physical substance is renewed. Any of you who may have been here ten years ago must not imagine that the same muscles and the same physical components are present to-day, for that is not so. But the soul-and-spirit of each of you — that is present. The same is true of the heavenly bodies. The physicist is concerned only with the physical substance and speaks as if the Moon he now sees in the heavens were the same Moon whose physical substance once separated from the Earth. But that is just as nonsensical as to believe that the muscles and physical components which were here ten years ago are here again to-day. It takes longer for the heavenly bodies to change their substance, but they do indeed change it. The physical Moon should not really be spoken of in the way that modern science speaks. What has endured in the Moon are the spiritual Beings who were once inhabitants of the Earth together with men. The Moon that is now their habitat has changed — that is to say, its physical substance has changed. And just as it is your soul-and-spirit which forms the link between the ‘you’ who sat here ten years ago and the ‘you’ of to-day, so it is the Beings of spirit-and-soul who in reality constitute the essence of the Moon. And these are the Beings who register our past.
This whole subject can be further deepened when expounded in the light of Initiation-knowledge. So far I have explained how in the case of acquaintances of the first kind something begins to stir in us, and how this is what the Moon Beings make it possible for us to read in their records before we descended to the Earth. An Initiate has a very different experience of a meeting of this kind. He, like everyone else, meets other human beings during his life; but whereas a man with ordinary consciousness merely has the feeling that he takes the other human being into the sphere of his will and does not judge him only by the external impression he makes, the Initiate can actually see the earlier incarnations of the personalities whom he encounters. He sees not only the physical man together with his qualities of soul-and-spirit but he sees behind him a shadowy picture of the man's previous life or perhaps of several lives. Through spiritual perception we get to know a man in such a way that he seems to be a whole series of persons who are as objectively real as the one physically in front of us. In civilisations where some inkling of these things still survived, attempts were actually made to portray them. Certain old pictures portray a human figure, behind it and a little higher, a second, and behind that a third, a little higher still. In this way attempts were made to capture in painting the impression which the Initiate has of an acquaintance in whom he perceives not only the qualities of which he is the bearer in this life but what comes over with him from previous incarnations. It may be said, and it is in strict conformity with Spiritual Science, that whatever is karmically connected with a human being is clearly perceptible to an Initiate but is no more than a dim inkling to ordinary consciousness.
Whatever works and weaves from our past into our destiny may be called the Moon-element in us. The effect of this is that if we meet a human being who is karmically connected with us we are really always meeting a plurality. For the Initiate, this means acquaintance with a number of human beings in the one or at very least in several human lives; and this recognition of the earlier lives is as vivid to him as that of the present life.
Now let us consider the other kind of acquaintanceship where we judge a man more by the external, aesthetic impression he makes, by what our intellect or our senses tell us about him; the impression can be understood by everyone. In this case, if it is studied by the methods of Spiritual Science, it will be found that nothing leads back to the past; no Beings in the Moon sphere have prepared the way to this acquaintanceship in earthly life; nothing has been inscribed in the Moon sphere into the astral body of the man concerned. Other forces are working here, forces of soul-and-spirit connected with the Sun existence. In this second kind of acquaintanceship, the Sun forces, forces of soul-and-spirit, weave destiny from a different side. Again, if we are capable of spiritual insight, what leads us to human beings with whom we have jointly accomplished something in past lives, is experienced to begin with as if it were hidden in dark, mysterious night. Then, when we actually meet the person in question and allow the impression he makes to affect us, the Sun and the bright light of day seem to take the place of the mysterious night. That is indeed what happens spiritually: in the case of two people who have been karmically connected for long ages, not only the past but the present and the future as well are glimpsed and the weaving of destiny continues. The spiritual influences of the Sun make themselves felt.
But even in the case of those who have shared no experiences in earlier earthly lives, this spiritual element of the Sun weaves in their destinies both in the present and in the future. If, with the insight of Initiation, we meet someone with whom we have had no joint experiences in earlier lives but whom we are meeting now for the first time, we should see no shadowy pictures of earthly lives behind him. We should see instead, Beings of the higher Hierarchies, Beings of a rank not yet attained by man. To the insight of Initiation there is a great difference between meeting someone with whom we have already been connected in the past and someone we meet for the first time. If we had often been together with him, his earlier lives rise up in a picture behind him. If we had never met before, Beings of the next higher Hierarchy appear in his background, Beings who come down to us on Earth together with the rays of the Sun. Just as the Moon Beings weave into our astral body the karma that is past, so do these Sun Beings weave into our subconscious Ego-organisation what is to take place after our first meeting with another human being here on Earth: this is the basis of our future karma. The present is all the time changing into the future; what is now the present has for the preceding moment become the future.
The counterpart in the Cosmos of this course of man's evolution from the past to the future is to be seen in the passage of the Moon in the heavens, with the Sun either following or ahead. The relationship between past and future in the mysterious weaving of destiny in human life is the same as the relationship between Moon and Sun in their passage around the universe. If with Initiation-knowledge, when you meet someone you say to yourself with deep feeling that what the Moon Beings have inscribed in his astral body belongs to you just as it does to him and that by its means you have been led to him, when you meet someone for the very first time you will feel that Angels and Archangels stand behind him. Both experiences point to the future. There are endless ways in which destiny may be fulfilled.
If you learn how to contemplate the cosmic expanse in this way, Moon and Sun are revealed as the two gates into the spiritual world. You will realise then that what is part of the earthly, physical environment lives for the moment in your physical body; what is present in the wide etheric spheres where the stars are to be seen, lives in your etheric body. But when you look up to the Moon or the Sun, you will know that you are looking at what is present, not in your physical or your etheric body, but in your astral body, and gives power to your Ego. Through the Moon existence you are led out of the physical and etheric worlds into the spiritual world. In the same way, when you look up at the Sun, you will recognise that through its forces of spirit-and-soul you are being led through a gate to a world akin to your own Ego — not akin to your physical and etheric bodies but to your Ego. The Ego enables you to take your place in the world as a conscious being, accompanied by the destiny woven into your life as necessity and to which you conform because of your particular physical aptitudes, temperament or character, all of which are merely means of expression for your karma. In everything of which the poet says: “this you must be, you cannot escape from yourself” — in all this the past Moon existence is living on. And the Sun existence is working whenever you are conscious of freedom of choice.
Thus, spiritually considered, nature-existence and moral existence interweave. Nature does not exist in isolation with its rigid necessities on the one side and, on the other side, soul-and-spirit unable to enter into any real relationship with it and existing only as a remote moral order. There is no such contrast, for it is possible, with spiritual insight, to find in the phenomena of nature the morality that is alive within us. True, it is necessary here to pass beyond the ordinary phenomena of nature to what is revealed by the spiritual Sun-and Moon-existence.
Insight of this kind makes it possible for us to ascend from a nature-existence to existence as beings of soul-and-spirit. It is also possible — although not with ordinary consciousness — to perceive in our earthly or cosmic environment the causes of illnesses which may befall us. In itself our organism is healthy, for it is born out of its healthy Ego, its healthy astral body and also out of a healthy etheric world. If someone falls ill here on Earth it can only be because something approaches him from outside which owing to his inherent constitution he is not able completely to transform. You can see that this is so from very simple examples. Suppose you are in a warm or a cold room. You must not allow the heat or cold to pass through you as it might pass through a piece of wood or stone. You absorb and convert the external warmth which acts merely as a stimulus; you yourself generate in your own organism the warmth you have within you. If you cannot do this, if you allow the environment to treat you as it treats a stick or stone, if external warmth penetrates into you and you are unable to transform it, you will immediately catch cold. Man cannot take anything from the environment of the Earth into himself without transforming it — this also applies to the food he eats. He transforms what he eats just as he transforms everything in the environment and it is a scientific fantasy to believe otherwise. If no transformation is achieved he will fall ill. Here lies the physical cause of illness; but illness can also be connected with destiny.
If we limit our thoughts to this present earthly life, to the period, let us say, between some year in the nineteenth or twentieth century and to-day, 6th February 1924, we shall agree that if something from the environment is going to make us ill, it will have to exert a very powerful influence. If something that comes from outside — cold or heat, or perhaps noxious air — is to make us ill, it will need to be very forceful. If we merely look at a deadly nightshade it will not poison us; nor if the noxious atmosphere is sufficiently far away will it poison us. In short, if the influence from outside affects only the life of soul, it does not make us ill. To achieve that, a much more powerful influence is needed.
But now consider the following — Large numbers of people nowadays are out-and-out materialists and believe only in material influences from the environment But actually there are many ways in which they cannot be materialists, for instance, in some of their bodily needs: they cannot avoid eating what is spiritual in plants or of the nature of soul in animals. If they were honest and consistent materialists in the matter of their food they would eat nothing but stones — nothing but inorganic, lifeless matter. In their life of soul the only concepts and ideas they will accept are concerned with the lifeless and this becomes a force leading to illness in the following incarnation. The impressions make their way into the soul and are transformed into forces which can become physically active. The karmic aspect of illness is carried over from previous earthly lives into our present life, because we admitted into ourselves in earlier incarnations elements which are not fitting for human beings; we have become susceptible to illness. These ideas and impressions work in this present life as potent causes of illness. Something that may have been no more than an idea or inner experience of the soul in one earthly life is transformed in the period we live through between death and rebirth into forces that work physically. We have within us much that works physically, whereas in an earlier life it was purely of the nature of soul. Thus we have to regard illness as a matter of destiny and we must not succumb to the superstition that illnesses can be cured by spiritual means alone. Means that take effect physically are necessary. But if we fully understand the facts and realise that what is physically active in the present life is to be traced back to something that was active in the life of soul in earlier lives, we shall recognise also that by turning our thoughts away from what was imperfect towards what is perfect in man, we shall carry over in a healthy form into our next life what would otherwise be a cause of illness. For instance, if we are convinced that an illness has resulted from a materialistic life of soul in a previous incarnation, we may be sure that we can only rid ourselves of the illness by a treatment based upon spiritual views and ideas. And these are found in Anthroposophy — which is not theory but directly related to life, cultivating the insight and feeling that life requires.
If we can contemplate the Cosmos and the whole environment of the Earth in the light streaming from Anthroposophy when rightly cultivated, Moon and Sun seem intimately related to us; we see in them the cosmic pictures of our own past and our own future. We become intensely conscious of our relationship with the whole Cosmos; we see our past and future weaving in our destiny; in Sun and Moon we see world-destiny revealing itself. We shall feel in our past something that takes its place beside our present and our future as the Moon takes its place in the Cosmos beside the Sun. Our reverence and devotion, our capacity for sacrifice for the sake of the whole Cosmos will be enhanced when we learn how to expand our own existence into cosmic existence and thus experience the kinship between what lives in us and weaves in the universe.
One of the tasks Anthroposophy sets itself is to help human beings to establish union with the universe in this way. And I hope that one of the results of our meeting here in such large numbers will be that we shall identify ourselves more and more with this task of Anthroposophy which is to give added depth not only to the thoughts of men but also to their hearts and feelings. This was indeed the purpose of the Christmas Foundation Meeting. That Meeting made it clear that if the Anthroposophical Society is to develop the right kind of activity it must abandon the paths it has been taking during these last ten years; it must cease to concern itself with externalities, must penetrate to inner, spiritual realities. The School of Spiritual Science to be established in Dornach must have this esoteric character, and so must the Society as a whole in order to maintain the spiritual life it needs. It must throw off the tendency that has threatened it during the last ten years — the tendency to be absorbed in externalities.
What has actually been happening during these ten years and was happening even before then? Here is an example. A very strong opposition — it is particularly active just now — has been able to refer to lecture-courses and transcripts of lectures which are not available to the general public. As you know, people wished to possess these lecture-courses and transcripts and it was a matter of meeting these wishes, although it was obvious that this was the very way to give the opposition the ammunition it needed. We live in times when secrecy is quite out of the question. Therefore at the Christmas Meeting the Society was declared to be a public institution. But that does not in any way gainsay the fact that on the other side it becomes all the more esoteric. The leadership of the Society must be more and more consciously anthroposophical. It was for this reason that when we were framing our Statutes, our procedure differed entirely from what is customary. Statutes usually start by laying down some basic principle. — We had such Statutes in the Theosophical Society: the establishment of a universal brotherhood of mankind; the recognition of unity in religions, and so on. As I have often said, instead of all this we must emphasise the reality which the Anthroposophical Society is able to establish. This was in fact done at the Christmas Meeting. There was no mention of abstract principles but it was declared that in Dornach there is something that is living reality. Whoever sees justification in what is thus actively alive in Dornach is entitled to join the Society. The life of the Society is not conditioned by abstractions usually known as ‘Statutes;’ our so-called ‘Statutes’ are an account of what exists in Dornach and what we aim to do from there. The Society is to have an Executive which acts and which in its actions and in the initiatives it takes has a clear view of what forms and constitutes it. Thus we have tried to replace abstractions by the genuinely human element and to assert this even in the ‘Statutes.’ This is the one and only possibility of life for a Society that is to be an organ for the influx of spiritual power into the world.
Let me put it like this. — The Executive created in Dornach at Christmas is based upon a hypothetical assumption. If the Society is willing to accept what it does, it will be an Executive in the real sense; if the Society is unwilling, then the Executive will amount to nothing; it can be accepted only as the centre of living activity. I can give no more than brief indications at the moment — everything else will be clearly set forth in the News Sheet.
A real attempt was made through the Christmas Meeting to bring a new spirit into the Society, but it is essential that the nature of this new spirit shall be understood. It is not a spirit of abstractions but of living reality, a spirit which wants to speak not to the head but to the hearts of men. Thus as far as Anthroposophy is concerned, the Christmas Meeting was either everything or nothing. And it will be nothing if it has no real continuity, if it was merely a festive occasion which people found enjoyable, forgetting about it afterwards and remaining in the same old grooves. If that happens the Meeting will have no real content and nothing will stream back to it. The only content it can have is derived from the life in the various spheres, of the Society. It will become a reality only by virtue of what happens through its impulse in the life of the Anthroposophical Society. The Christmas Meeting becomes a reality only through its consequences and effects. A certain responsibility in the soul is involved merely when attention is directed to the Christmas Meeting — the responsibility to make it a reality; otherwise as a foundation it will withdraw from earthly existence and go the same way as the Moon Beings of which I have spoken to-day. In a certain sense the impulse of the Christmas Foundation Meeting was actually in the world. Whether it will become effective in life depends upon whether its impulse continues.
The spiritual Foundation Stone of the Anthroposophical Society was laid in the hearts of every participant. We brought the Meeting to a formal conclusion, but actually it should never be closed, it should continue perpetually in the life of the Anthroposophical Society. For this reason I would ask you to take very seriously what you will find in the weekly News Sheet, and to consider everything that will become known to you by its means, not only as something reported or described but as actual reality. It cannot be expected that everything will be arranged at once and to begin with people will inevitably be asking, ‘How should this or that be done?’ One of the first steps will be that in the News Sheet you will find what I may call guiding lines in the form of aphorisms giving expression to anthroposophical truths on such themes as life, religion, art, and so forth. And then people in the different groups will be able to say: Here is a thought sent to us from Dornach as a guiding line; in addition to other business let us therefore concentrate on this thought.
In this way unity will develop among the various spheres of anthroposophical life within the Society. Many things will begin to flow through the Society as its life-blood, so that instead of merely speaking about unity the Society may be permeated by a common spiritual blood. Such was the aim of the Christmas Meeting. It could be felt then and its further effects will become apparent as time goes on.
Emphasis on this is particularly necessary here in Germany where the whole position is different from anywhere else. In other countries the opposition is not nearly as strong as it is here. If it crops up elsewhere one can usually see that it is imported from here, although there is a certain kind of opposition everywhere, especially in the vicinity of Dornach itself. All the same it is a special kind of opposition that faces us in Germany, a very tough opposition which works with systematic, fully conscious methods. It was a difficult decision to put someone who was practically lowest at the head of the Society but that is what actually happened. When the Anthroposophical Society was founded in 1912-13, I held no office in it; indeed I was not even a Member. Nor was I a Member afterwards. I have often emphasised this but it has been misunderstood. I wanted the Anthroposophical Society to have me only as teacher, as one who could lead to the sources of anthroposophical life. The attempt had to be made in order to see what would come of it.
What has happened is that at the age when people usually retire, I have to make a beginning, for in fact I regard the Christmas Meeting as a beginning, a genuine beginning in life. And I would like you too to feel that we are at a beginning. If you feel like this then you may expect results from this beginning in which there are great possibilities. It is only from necessity that I have become a Member, in fact President of the Anthroposophical Society, and I sincerely hope that the significance of the Christmas Meeting will be realised. If this comes about it may perhaps be possible, as a result of this attempt, and with the cooperation of everyone with what will go out from Dornach, for genuine anthroposophical life to flow through the Society. In this spirit — and it is upon this spirit that everything in the Society will depend — I should like to respond most cordially to the welcome given me today by Dr. Kolisko, on the occasion of my first visit here since the Christmas Meeting. I should like to respond with equal warmth so that we may work together in the spirit of the Christmas Meeting in such a way that the impulse then given may never cease to be active among anthroposophists who genuinely strive to understand what anthroposophical life means. The influence of the Dornach Meeting and the spirit we tried to invoke then will always be present if there is devotion and perceptive understanding among the Members.
Let us then work together, realising the deep significance of the Dornach Meeting. Let us never treat it with indifference but regard it as an impulse that penetrates deeply into our hearts. The Dornach Meeting will then have been much more than a festival week; it will be an impulse affecting the whole world and the destiny of man. And that is the right impulse for all anthroposophical work and activity.