The Building at Dornach
24 October 1914, Dornach
In the last two lectures an endeavour was made to interpret the sequence of columns in the Buildings to give one of the many possible interpretations to which the Building naturally lends itself.
It is possible for one who enters the Building from the West to feel, as it were, in the very heart of humanity, because the forces working in the various cultural communities are given expression in the forms of the capitals, and the mutual relationships of the single European cultures in the architraves.
It may have occurred to some of you that mention has not been made of all the European peoples. It is of course, impossible on every occasion to present a subject in all its aspects, for it is a matter of indicating the principles involved, not of making dogmatic statements.
In the single motifs of the capitals, artistic expression has been given to the impulses at work in the souls belonging to European civilisations — in the inhabitants of the Italian peninsula, or rather the South-westerly peninsulas, of Western Europe, Middle Europe and Eastern Europe.
The subject was presented as it was because the character of these civilisations enables them to be expressed by a single design, a single motif. The design and the cultural community concerned are therefore related.
From West to East, the second pillar is an expression of the civilisation of the peninsulas in the South-West of Europe; the third pillar of that of France; the fourth of that of the British people, and so on.
But there are also other European peoples. I cannot deal with all of them but will again speak of the underlying principles. It may be said that the cultures already referred to are the simpler cultures, however strange that may seem; they are simpler at any rate as far as the occultist is concerned. For the occultist, the Danish, Swedish and Norwegian cultures, for example, are much more complicated than those already mentioned, for many things which to the observer on the physical plane may seem the simpler, are for the occultist the more complicated. Thus if we are speaking of Danish culture, the queation may arise: How should we approach the designs in this case?
In entering from the West we should have to look, first, at the capital of the third column, and then also at that of the fifth, seeing the third column, as it were, through the fifth.
Obviously there is something more complicated here, for two capitals have to be taken into consideration.
Now take Sweden. There we should have to view the capital of the second column from the West through the capital of the fifth column.
And now, Norway. We should have to take the capital of the fourth column from the West and look at it through that of the fifth.
It would be a matter of superimposing these capitals, and then we should have the same expression of feeling in connection with the cultures of Denmark, Sweden and Norway as we have for the Italian-Spanish, the French, the British and the Middle-European cultures when we look at the corresponding capitals.
Really, everything is contained in these motifs of the capitals. Now that the principle has been explained, it might be very interesting to study for example, how it applies to the civilisations of Holland, Switzerland, and so forth. But I leave that to your own occult studies.
So you see, when we speak of our Building we are truly not speaking of anything arbitrary, of anything whose forms and other artistic content have arisen in such a way that one can remain stationary at these forms and think of them as one is obliged to think of the forms of painting motifs produced at the present time. As I have already said, everything we have absorbed of Spiritual Science in the course of the years, and a great deal more besides, is expressed in this Building — but the appeal is to perceptive feeling, not to theoretical, intellectual cogitation. It would therefore be possible to speak about this Building without ever finishing. But again I leave it to your own hearts to elaborate the indications I have given you. For the aim of the Building is to bring hearts and souls into movement when, in contemplating the forms and their relationships, people do not interpret them intellectually or symbolically but allow the heart and mind and soul to speak when they are inside and outside the Building.
What I now have to say can be explained by taking a particular motif of four columns embraced above by a cupola or dome. To regard any such motif as completely self-contained would be to take too constricted a view. Nothing in the world is completely self-contained — not a blossom, not an animal, not a human being. Neither, then, is a motif such as this, for part of its very essence is that forces are present entirely apart from the geometrical aspects. There are four columns embraced shows by a dome. But this geometrical aspect is only part of the whole. What belongs to the motif in addition is a set of forces which inhere in the whole structure of the universe and enable the columns to support the dome. The dome rests on the columns, the columns stand on the earth; the force of gravity comes into play.
If we really feel this motif, we do not feel the geometrical aspect only, but also the other, which I have often called the dynamic element, or element of force — the insertion into the configuration of forces of the whole universe, more particularly of the earth.
This motif, then, has the peculiarity 0f being symmetrical at every point in its circumference. It is symmetrical in every direction of space, as far at least as the dome is concerned. So we can say: On the body of the earth there is a motif which stretches heavenwards and at its periphery is symmetrical.
The important thing is to have an artistic feeling for such a motif. If we try to feel this motif in the right way — it is of course a matter of really sinking oneself in the character of the forms themselves — we shall come to realise: This motif, which rises upwards from the earth and in its upper part at least is symmetrical in every direction, seems to impel us to go down into ourselves, to experience our feeling inwardly.
If you want to make progress in occultism it is essential to abandon the one-sidedness of an abstract, intellectual approach, and to adopt an approach which originates in actual experience. For this reason many things must be expressed, not in terms of the intellect, but in terms of experience.
It is particularly difficult for the man of the present day to accept forms of experience in the same way that he accepts forms of the intellect. I will tell you what I mean by a form of experience. I can do no more than indicate, but everyone can understand it who makes the effort to go through it as an actual experience of his own. How can one develop a feeling for such a motif and what it expresses? This can be done in the following way. — In the morning, on getting out of bed to set about the day's work, you can say to yourself consciously: “I have now passed from the lying position into the position of standing or walking.”
That is an actual experience — one of which few people make themselves conscious, but it is an experience to pass from the lying position into that of standing and walking. When one is lying down, the force of gravity works upon one as it does upon a sack, let us say a sack of flour. The force of gravity also works in a deeper sense, for when you are lying down you always lie on some area of the body and this area presses upon what is underneath. So pressure is always being exercised upon the area of the body on which you are lying. True, you are not aware of this pressure in the ordinary way, but for all that, it is there; it is connected with your sentient experience of the force of gravity and it works into your astral body.
When a man begins to be conscious of this pressure-experience, he becomes aware at the same time of the elemental spirits of the earth. It is here that he is very well able to be aware of them, for when he is standing or walking the only area of pressure is that of the soles of the feet.
When you stand up after having been lying down, you leave the sphere of the pressure; you assert yourself against the force of gravity; you insert the axis of your own body into the field of gravity, no longer resigning yourself to it like a sack of flour; you enter actively into the sphere of gravity. That is an actual experience different in character from some thought-experience of the brain which thinks in abstractions.
In the lectures I gave on “Occult Reading and Hearing” I spoke of three brains. As soon as a man begins to experience things with his middle brain, he experiences them in a living way; feeling begins to be a middle brain experience.
Very well, then, when we have made ourselves conscious of the experience of standing up, we have the experience of Feeling the World, and we know for the first time what feeling really is. This can be achieved in many other ways too, but we do really begin to realise what feeling is when we make the act of standing up a conscious experience.
If it is brought to consciousness in the real sense this experience will lead us to understand the form here (see diagram). We say to ourselves: This form differs from what I myself am, in that it cannot stand up but must remain always in the lying position. To achieve my experience it would have to turn through 90° into the vertical plane. This dome stretches heavenwards. When man standing upright, has a feeling of the world, this upward stretching impulse works especially through his hands. And if he were to lie down and were able to feel what is above him, he would feel with his hands something of the nature of a cupola arching over him. What comes to expression in this architectural motif is contained in the sphere of feeling.
If man were able to lie bound to the earth, reaching out spiritually into the universe with his hands, he would feel the spiritual world above him as though he were inside a great dome, symmetrical in every direction.
In a certain respect the Greeks had a similar experience. Greek culture, which sprang primarily from the Intellectual Soul, was, in one of it aspects, a, culture born from a peaceful union between man and the earth; while peacefully united with the earth, man felt the heavens above him. — There may appear to be a contradiction here, but when we are, finding our way into occultism such apparent contradictions must be faced and understood.
We in our age have not the impulses that were at work in the inner life of the Greeks, nor have we within us what is now for the first time beginning in the evolution of humanity and is to come to expression in our Building.
A man who rises out of repose must not merely make the transition into the standing position, but he must also begin to move, to go forward. As well as the sphere of feeling he must come to know the sphere of will. This can be expressed in art only by transforming what was symmetrical on all sides (the dome) into something that is symmetrical about a single axis only. We can therefore say that when the dome-motif is transformed into a motif that has only one axis of symmetry, we have expressed in the Building not only what is experienced by the man who passes from repose into the sphere of feeling, but also by the man who pasees from feeling into willing, into progression, going forwards. The motif of will is a motif that leads onward. Hence the experience of one who is looking at the architraves and capitals must also lead him onwards; it must be an experience of progression. This was indicated in the two foregoing lectures.
Now the will is the sphere in man's being that is connected with subconscious experiences. It is that element which, in the case of man as he is at present, is for the most part directed by the gods. Naturally, then, by Lucifer and Ahriman as well. Hence there can also be evil will. Nevertheless, the will is borne onwards by the gods, and only in the rarest of cases is man able to know what goes on in his will. What a man expresses quite involuntarily when he is speaking belongs to what is conditioned in his will- nature and to which his will gives rise. One may even say that this is as it should be. It is not at all necessary, to begin with, for man to be fully conscious when he gives himself up to the primal, fundamental nature of his will, when he allows the impulses of the gods to be active in his will. The impulses of the will are the most fundamental of all. Hence the human being is able in his successive incarnations to progress from nation to nation. This is expressed in our Building through the progression in the series of columns.
Man is able to progress from nation to nation, from people to people with every incarnation he is born into a different people. He experiences what proceeds from the sphere of his will as coming in a certain sense from the gods. Neither, to begin with, can he change very much that belongs to this sphere of the will. A man who is born in some particular place on the earth cannot alter the fact that he is born at some place represented in one or another of the forms of the columns. For he stands at this particular place in the evolutionary process through the subconscious foundations of his life of will.
The way in which the members of the different nations think about each other, the way in which they mutually — let us say — esteem each other, is basically connected with what rises up like smoke out of the substrata of the sphere of will; it springs from nothing else than the impulses of the will.
From what has been said we shall realise that it is possible for us to raise ourselves above these impulses of the will. But then we must naturally take a different direction. The direction of the will-impulses is it ˂ — : it is the direction of progression. The direction of the impulses of feelings, however, is from below upwards. Man can raise himself out of what proceeds entirely from the impulses of will. He can do this through contemplating what is expressed in the motifs of the columns and architraves.
Is not our whole mental horizon widened by these thoughts? And is not Spiritual Science a means of attaining this wider mental horizon? Only think of all that could be done to enable men of every cultural community to acquire mutual understanding of one another if what was presented in the two last lectures were to become living feeling, living knowledge. How could a member of one cultural community hate and abuse a member of another if he understood the things that were spoken of in those lectures? The limitations of what springs from the sphere of will in a single cultural community expand into the harmony formed by all such communities together when we know what mission each one has to fulfil.
We begin to feel the single communities as we feel our own soul-members. This too had to be given artistic expression in the structure of our Building, in the direction from below upwards. And what is indicated as a theoretical, ethical principle in the first declared Object of our Movement (the universal brotherhood of peoples) has been given concrete expression in the forms of the Building, when these forms are contemplated in their flow from below upwards, inside and, as well, outside the Building.
Now the whole is always contained in the part, so we have not only the direction of the will impulses ˂ — , and the direction of the feeling-impulses (up), but something else as well. We have something else as well through the fact that there is a closure, an endings, overhead.
In referring to this motif I have so far spoken of the supporting force, with its upward direction. But I can also speak of the closure above, the covering, the roofing in. The motifs may thus be described as motifs which progress, ascend, and enclose.
You can also picture the Staff of Mercury. If you carry it, forward, it progresses; if you lift it up, it ascends; if you press the spirals together at the top, allow them to become rigid in themselves you have the closure above. This closure represents the thought-sphere, just as the progression represents the will sphere, and the ascent the feeling nature.
A true feeling of the whole evolution of humanity will develop in one who absorbs what is contained in the form-motifs of our columns and architraves in their flow from below upwards. They are motifs which express the principles of mutual understanding between the members of the different cultures and civilisations on the earth.
To pass from the sphere of the will into the sphere of feeling one must rise above the state of isolation, of separateness; one must actually participate in what is expressed in this movement from below upwards. A certain element which will become more and more essential in the modern age will then be laid into the life of feeling, into the sympathies and antipathies of the members of the different spheres of culture.
The Unconscious is an even stronger factor than what man has in his actual consciousness. The will impulses belong to the Unconscious; the feeling-impulses are more conscious, but still partly unconscious. The thought-impulses belong to the sphere of Consciousness, for a man is conscious of what he is thinking about. He is conscious of it, but only when he is really thinking, when he lives in the thoughts. But he does not always do this; when he is speaking he more often brings the impulses of the spheres of feeling and of will to expression.
It is a peculiarity of man that he can speak but by no means always gives expression to thoughts; what seems to be thought in what he says is often maya — nothing more than an unburdening of the spheres of his will or feeling. To think in the real sense is something different, something more. Despite the fact that it is man's privilege to have thought-impulses, it is nevertheless one of the most difficult things to fill these impulses with real thoughts. Although it suffices for daily intercourse, if one desires to have adequate thoughts about the great impulses at work in the evolution of humanity, it will certainly not do to remain content with what originates from feeling, still less with what originates from the will. Thinking must be irradiated by something still higher; it is not enough merely to let the successive spheres of culture work upon the soul; there is something that works still more deeply in these spheres of culture. This can be brought to expression only in the effect made by the dome, the cupola.
So one who passes through the Building from West to East will have in the progression of the columns the expression of will; and as he becomes aware of what flows from below upwards, he will feel the nature of the several European cultures, and a great deal else as well.
What will come to him from the dome? The secrets of the evolution of all earthly humanity. Therefore, as he looks up into the dome or cupola he will see on the one side the portrayal of the primeval Indian inspiration: how through the Rishis there flowed into mankind what was to come from spiritual spheres into ancient Indian civilisation. What had to come to mankind in those days in conformity with the character of the ancient Indian epoch will be painted in one part of the dome. How Zarathustra gave the ancient Persian culture its stamp — the sunlight battling as it were with the darkness — this will be seen at a second place in the dome. Then how the Egypto-Chaldean culture gradually comes right out to the physical plane but is still permeated with astrological, spiritual realities — this will be found in a third area of the dome. At a fourth place will be portrayed the Greek, as if standing by an abyss. This is the culture born of the Intellectual Soul or Mind Soul. What man is, comes to the fore, how he is faced with the necessity of having to solve the riddle of the Sphinx, how, through solving it, he thrusts the Sphinx down into the abyss — that is to say, down into his own being — this will be portrayed in a fourth area of the dome. How the eternal, divine forces and powers work into this evolution of man will come to expression inasmuch as what lies still deeper in the evolution of humanity than the Post-Atlantean impulses, namely the impulses of the Atlantean and Lemurian epochs, will be portrayed at the points of the compass: Atlantean evolution in the South, Lemurian evolution in the North of the dome.
And finally, the outcome of the Lemurian and Atlantean evolution will be portrayed: namely, our own era. Implicit within it is that impulse in world-evolution which expresses itself in the “J A O”. This will meet the gaze of one who looks from West to East towards the smaller cupola., Not that “J A O” is represented symbolically, but it is expressed in the motif. One who looks from East to West will see that which speaks out of the depths of the Cosmos into the development of culture, just as the “J A O” speaks from within into the development of the soul.
But all that I have described is perceptible to a man only if he overcomes the dome which arches over his brain; if he frees the etheric body of his head and looks from within outwards, then what I have described comes to him as a mighty Imagination.
These things are realities, are actually seen. when the etheric body is liberated from its physical foundation. Then one sees what presents itself inwardly to the etheric brain which has expanded to the Cosmos. The whole earthly evolution of man is represented here. (See sketches for paintings in the large cupola.)
To have thoughts about the realities of the evolution of humanity is possible only when we penetrate the secrets that are to be portrayed in paintings in the interior of our dome. In the same way that we can reach the sphere of feeling — that is to say, unprejudiced feeling devoid of sympathies and antipathies — when we experience what comes to expression from below upwards in the motifs of the columns and architraves, so through these motifs (of the paintings) we can penetrate to what is living reality in human evolution at every hour, every moment. Only when we know what is actively at work in the human soul at every moment, can we know what has been evolved in the course of millions of years. For everything that was contained in the Atlantean and Lemurian cultures lives in every soul — otherwise no soul would be as it now is. A human soul in all its depths can be understood in thought only if it is understood as the product of the whole process of world-evolution.
And so our Building expresses — if I may use the word “expresses” — Willing, Feeling, Thinking, but in their evolution, what they should become in the human being who is striving to achieve a measure of self-development.
Thus neither the forms as they are, nor the things that are done here, are the result of arbitrariness, but everything comes out of the very core of what we also try to grasp in Spiritual Science.
How often, when we are trying to describe the secrets of manes nature, do we not have to consider Willing, Feeling and Thinking? We have portrayed them in our Building and there, just as in man's own nature, willing, feeling and thinking are mysteriously linked with one another. If we go from West to East in this Building, we are moving as the Will-sphere of man moves; if we direct our gaze from below upwards in contemplating the forms of the columns and architraves, we sink down into the Feeling-sphere of human nature; if in what arches over the Building in the painting of the domes we study what we experience inside the Building, then we are studying the secrets of the sphere of human Thinking.
In a production such as this Building, everything corresponds to a certain inner necessity, everything comes into being as it inevitably must. And that is part of the significance of a Building of this kind.
What makes us realise that some Imagination, Inspiration or Intuition contains objective reality? We realise it through the fact that when we have the Imagination, the Inspiration or the Intuition, we have the actual experience that it is not something that has arisen out of ourselves but has its place within the harmony of the whole Cosmos. From now onwards into the future, humanity must have a concept of art which has as its essential characteristic what is felt to be inner necessity. We must feel that a truly artistic creation is not due to ourselves but that the gods create it through us, because it is their will that it shall be in the world.
We may well be convinced that the real progress of 0f human nature will depend upon such feelings and ideas gaining wider and wider recognition and taking the place of those that are current today.
What I mean by saying this, is that everyone who is working on this Building or is in any way connected with it, should feel above all that it is his business to compare what is aimed at here, what is expressed by and in this Building, with what is dominant in the world today.
Such a comparison can give rise to the fervent question; What was it that enabled Christianity in its earliest form to come into being? I have often spoken of this, for all such impulses in cultural life have arisen in the same way: namely, through the fact that in the case of a genuine, initial impulse of culture, those who were the first to ally themselves with it, were sufficiently strong in their souls to let this impulse completely dominate them.
What would have become of Christianity if in the souls of the first Christians the Christian impulses had not been all-powerful? In the Roman world above them, in the physical light of day, a different culture prevailed; we know that Christianity developed in the darkness, down below in the little cells in the catacombs, and then rose above the surface. Nothing of this Roman culture has remained — what developed down below in the catacombs rose up and conquered the world.
This came to pass because Christianity became part of the hearts and souls of those down there in the catacombs. Today the position is not quite the same — if it were, we should have to hollow out this Dornach hill into catacombs so that nobody should see anything of what we are doing. We need not hollow out the hill, we need not keep anything in concealment, we need not prepare the new culture underneath the earth while what is now taking place on the surface runs its course. Spiritually, however, the situation is the same. How much of what we want to inscribe in our hearts and souls is to be found in the culture of the present day? As much as there was of early Christianity in Rome!
Even though we do not worship physically in the catacombs, spiritually we are in the catacombs, and our feeling is true if we realise that this is indeed our situation. Our feeling for the Building is true only if we say to ourselves: There, in the sunshine, the dome of our Building with its glistening grey slate roof gleams. over the countryside. We are under this arching vault, above all, spiritually under it.
By these words I wanted again to indicate what must be the attitude of those who understand the inmost impulse of Spiritual Science towards what is to be found in the outside world. Oh, those early Christians — they heard the Word that resounded through their souls, their hearts, the Word that came from the Mystery of Golgotha, and they did not succumb to the temptation of what was taking place above the catacombs!
May it be the same today — spiritually — within our Movement! A certain difficulty lies in the word “spiritually”. The difficulty is expressed in the fact that if one considers the actual situation, one might sometimes be tempted — I say, might be, not is tempted — to wish that there were still present today the dire compulsion for inner deepening that would be there if we were forbidden by all the means of present-day culture to build on the Dornach hill, so that we should literally have to go into caves and there, in concealment, take up our abode. Confronted with such a prospect we should realise more strongly how our own impulses, which should be those of Spiritual Science, must differ from the blustering racket overhead.
These are things which can be expressed only by analogies such as I have now put into words. You can feel something of what is meant — and more is meant than seems, to be contained, in these analogies — if you penetrate a little into the gist of these words.
May you feel all that I have meant to convey in today's lecture and in these concluding words.