From Mammoths to Mediums
IX. Creating boredom artificially. Opinions formed artificially. Opinions formed in the physical world are reversed in the other world
30 June 1923, Dornach
We'll continue to consider the questions that were put before. You need to understand, however, that the answer to these questions is one of the most difficult. I'll try and make it as simple as possible. As I told you before, to find a way of gaining insight into the spirit one must first of all be able to develop completely independent thinking. Secondly one must be able, as I told you, to think backwards. This means one must try to think things backwards which in ordinary life go like this: starting with the first, then the second, the third, and so on. If I give you a talk, therefore, you should try to do as I told you the last time and start from the end and think back to the beginning. Such things are the first elementary steps.
Today, very much in connection with the second question, I'd like to consider something else. You know that human beings can only live within a particular temperature range. If necessary they can tolerate a great deal of heat. If it gets quite hot in the summer, well, they'll sweat but they can bear it; but if the temperature were to go even higher, they would no longer be able to live. In the same way people can tolerate some degree of cold, but when it gets below their limit they'll freeze to death. And you see, the strange thing is that between these two temperatures — the low temperature where they begin to freeze to death and the heat they can only just tolerate — between these two temperatures, in the range in which human beings live, it is actually impossible to see spiritual entities. It is just like the situation I spoke of the last time where I said that the moment one begins to think backwards one would begin to see spiritual entities. But there one goes to sleep. Most people go to sleep unless they have first trained themselves so that they'll stay awake.
But now to something else. You see, if people were to live at higher temperatures than those they can just tolerate, they would perceive spiritual entities. But they cannot tolerate those temperatures. And they might also be able to perceive them if they were to make themselves a garment of snow, get themselves right into the snow; but they would freeze to death. Something that seems quite unbelievable to people is a fact, nevertheless. It is that the spirits withdraw from the temperature range which human beings are able to tolerate when they are in their physical bodies. Human beings do not tolerate such temperatures in their bodies, but they can tolerate them in their souls. Only, as I said, the mind, the soul, then goes to sleep. For the mind, the soul, does not freeze to death, nor does it burn, but it goes to sleep.
There are however two ways we have of gaining a notion of how things would be if we were at a higher temperature than we are able to bear and also if we were at a lower temperature than we are able to bear. Let me give you an example. You see, when we develop a temperature ourselves we reach a higher temperature than we are able to bear, doing so inwardly. The temperature will not be so high that we'll immediately die of it, but with the temperature produced from the inside, we reach a higher temperature than we normally have. You know how people begin to talk like someone who's not on this earth when they get such a high temperature. The things people say in a fever do not relate to this earth. But a materialist would be bound to say that these were thoughts cooked up at a high temperature, but they were not true, of course.
A situation therefore exists where people develop a higher temperature, getting feverish and talking nonsense. Now you see, the soul cannot talk nonsense. However high the temperature, the soul cannot talk nonsense. It is talking nonsense because the body is out of order at a higher temperature. You'll have an idea of it if you think of the kind of glass spheres people sometimes put in their flower gardens to mirror the garden world that surrounds them. Looking into such a glass sphere you'll see a face you won't like! [blackboard sketch] It's the kind of face you'll not like. But you won't say either: 'Wow, just look what has happened to my face!' You'd not think for a moment that it actually was your face which looked so very different in the reflection. And if your mind begins to talk nonsense when you have a temperature, you won't say either that your mind, your soul, is beginning to talk nonsense. The things your mind and soul are saying are distorted because they are said out of a sick brain, just as your face looks squashed flat in such a faulty mirror.
You therefore have to say to yourself: 'When I have a temperature and talk nonsense, the situation is that the mind and soul is speaking out of a sick brain. My face has not changed when I stand before the reflective glass sphere, but it looks all distorted.' In the same way the things someone says in a fever sounds distorted because it comes from a sick body and a brain that is not functioning the way it should. But how come that the brain is not functioning properly? It is because the whole of the blood circulation is moving too fast. You only have to feel the pulse and you'll know it. The high temperature in the head is therefore due to the blood circulating too fast. The blood circulation produces heat which then rises to the head — you have a temperature. Your mind and soul then shows itself as if in a mirror that does not work properly.
The opposite may also happen, but in this case not by lying down in the snow and letting yourself freeze to death in the snow, for in that case you would really freeze to death. The opposite condition can only arise out of the mind and spirit. In this case one has to do something using the mind. And this, gentlemen, will produce something very strange. Just think: someone begins to think terribly hard about things, reflecting on the most insignificant details. It is better to reflect on the most insignificant details, things considered so insignificant that most people don't even want to think about them. Let me show you something. If you have a triangle [Fig. 18] and divide it into four equal parts, so that you have four triangles like this, you can say that the larger triangle is greater than each of the four small triangles. I can now put this in general terms and say there is a theorem which says: The whole is greater than its parts [writing it on the board]. Well, really, if you have a satisfied stockbroker and say to him, 'Just think about this: The whole is greater than its parts,' he'll say: 'Certainly not. I'd find that extremely boring.' And if you were actually to go to him and say: 'Look, the blackboard is a body with particular dimensions; the table is another body which has its own dimensions' — I now formulate the statement that all bodies have dimensions [writing on the board]. Now imagine you were at some kind of meeting and all the time you'd just hear things said about the statement that all bodies have dimensions. You'd go home saying it was a really insipid, boring meeting. And if I were now to come and say: 'Look, the grass is green, the rose is red, and these things therefore have colour. Yesterday the judge in a court case passed judgment in some way or other, and that had no colour. And a court was also in session in another place where the judge passed judgment and again it was colourless. Judgments, or opinions, are colourless,' this gives us a third statement [writing it on the board]. Well, gentlemen, if someone were to talk for an hour on the subject that opinions are colourless, you'd say to yourself: 'I've been hearing that opinions are colourless for an hour, but this is terribly boring; it is utterly and completely boring!'
But why do you find such opinions boring? I should not write these things on the board for you, nor should I say them in a fairly humorous way, but I should enter the room walking stiffly and briskly, like a professor, and then say: 'Gentlemen, today we shall talk about the statement that opinions are colourless.' And I'd then have to spend a whole hour proving to you that the statement is correct. The way I am presenting it to you here is still quite amusing. But I'd have to come in like that and talk a whole hour on the statement 'Opinions are colourless' or on 'All bodies have dimensions'.
You might also draw a line like this to get from one point to another [drawing on the board]. One line is straight, the others are curved. But looking at it you'll immediately say: 'The straight line is the shortest route, all others are longer.' Now I can write this on the board as well: 'A straight line is the shortest route connecting two points.' If I wanted to talk a whole hour on this subject as well, you'd find it equally boring.
The whole is greater than its parts
All bodies have dimensions
Opinions are colourless
A straight line is the shortest route connecting two points
There's a German professor, however, who says that we can indeed perceive something of the world of the spirit, but we can only perceive the kind of thing of that world which can be put in the form of such statements. He presents the statements that allow us to perceive something of the world of the spirit to his students: 'The whole is greater than its parts. All bodies have dimensions. Opinions are colourless. A straight line is the shortest route connecting two points,' and so on. He says this is the only thing we can know of that other world. His students get terribly bored in his lectures. But the situation is such today that people have come to think that science has to be boring. And the students will generally be particularly enthusiastic about a professor who says such things. This merely by the way, of course.
The situation is really this. When you take in such opinions, form opinions or statements such as 'The whole is greater than its parts; a straight line is the shortest route connecting two points,' the back of your head grows cold. And because coldness develops in the back of the head, and a person is beginning to feel cold, he immediately wants to get away from such statements. They bore him. For that is the strange thing. When we are bored, the back of the head gets cold. It is not that the whole person gets cold, only the back of the head. It begins to want to die of cold. And this is not because of snow or because of ice now; the person is feeling cold because of the soul principle, because he is thinking things that are of no interest to him.
You see, we may make fun of such statements. But the fact is that to be patient and think them through again and again, that is, enter into boredom again and again with great patience, is one real way of gaining insight into the spirit. It is a strange thing, for people have to do exactly what they do not really want to do. I can tell you that mathematics are boring for some people, but because they are so difficult and one has to make an effort, and because it is so cold and one has to make a real effort with mathematics, it is the easiest way of entering into the world of the spirit. People who are able to overcome their reluctance and take up those statements again and again in a living way, artificially creating boredom for themselves, will find it easiest to enter into the world of the spirit.
I told you that when you get a temperature your pulse goes faster. You get hot, and you then get heat into the head, into the brain. So you then get into a hot condition and you talk nonsense. But if you struggle with statements like these here, where you really want to stop thinking altogether, the blood will not get more mobile but it will come to a stop in the back of the head. And when the blood comes to a stop back there, salts collect. Salts collect back there. They have two effects, these salts. Most people get a belly-ache from them. And because they notice this belly-ache quite quickly — things get uncomfortable in the belly when they are supposed to think such statements — they'll soon stop. But when someone thinks such things all the time, as Nietzsche 36Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900). did, a great man who lived towards the end of the nineteenth century and was always battling with such statements in his youth, many salts are deposited in the head, and Nietzsche was always suffering from migraine. And one must now find a way, you see, of thinking such statements without getting migraine, without salts being deposited, and also without getting a belly-ache. You have to stay perfectly healthy and be able to create boredom for yourself artificially. Someone who is honest about telling you how to enter into the world of the spirit will therefore have to say: 'You must first of all be able to create artificial boredom for yourself; otherwise you'll not get into the world of the spirit at all.'
Consider the times we live in. What is the general desire? The general desire is to avoid boredom at all costs. Just think of the way people rush from one place to another, just so that they won't be bored! They always look for entertainment. That is to run away from the spirit. It is true — if there might perhaps be something somewhere that is of the spirit, people of our time will immediately run away. They do not know this; it happens unconsciously. But seeking entertainment is a matter of running away from the spirit. That's the way it is. And the only people who will be able to enter into the spirit are those who are not afraid to do without entertainment for once and live artificially in statements like these [see above]. And having got so far that one is able to live in such statements artificially, without getting a migraine or a belly-ache, but really being able to manage to live in such statements for many hours, it will gradually be possible to see things in the spirit.
But then something else will have to change as well. A time will come when you realize that having lived in such statements you then find they begin to go the other way round! So I've been thinking for a long time that the large triangle is greater than its parts. If I do this for a long time, the statement reverses itself and I develop the following idea: 'If this is a triangle here, and I take a quarter of it and want to take it out, it begins to grow [drawing on the board], and it is no longer true that the whole is greater than its parts. The quarter is suddenly bigger.' I see that the quarter is bigger, and I then have to say: 'The whole is smaller than its parts' [writing on the board].
The work I have done has now brought me to the point where I perceive the way things look in the world of the spirit. For they look the other way round from the way they are in the physical world. In the physical world, the whole is always greater than its parts, whilst in the world of the spirit the part is greater than the whole. You'll be unable, for example, to perceive the true nature of the human being unless you know that the part is greater than the whole. In modern science, people always want to look into the smallest things. But if you want to know the human liver here in the physical world, it is smaller than the human being. If you want to see it in the spirit, it grows and grows to gigantic proportions; the liver becomes a whole universe. And if you fail to take note of this, you'll not be able to understand the liver in the spirit.
You must first of all have arrived at the statement in an honest way which says that the whole is smaller than its part, and the part is greater than the whole. In the same way, if you have thought the statement 'All bodies have dimensions' long enough, so that you are facing the terrible danger of your brain freezing to death back there, all bodies will shrink, cease having dimensions, and you finally have the statement 'No body has dimensions' [writing on the board].
And now something really funny. It is funny in the physical world, but a most serious matter in the world of the spirit. You see, you may think there's nothing more silly than my saying that the court was in session in Wigglesham and a judgment, an opinion, was given that was colourless. And another was given in Tripshill and it was equally colourless. But if you think the statement long enough, the opinions will gain colour. And just as you are able to say that a rose is red so you'll be able to say the judgment in Wigglesham was a dirty yellow, and the one in Tripshill was red. Well, you may get some that are a beautiful red, but it does not happen often. So you see you reach the point where you say: 'All opinions given by people are in colour.' And it is only now that one actually is able to think about the world of the spirit, for there everything is the opposite: opinions are in colour [writing on the board].
A straight line is the shortest route connecting two points — this is so true that it is served up to you as one of the first theorems in geometry. In the physical world it is as true as it can possibly be. But if you think about it for a long time: if someone who is not a physical but a spiritual entity wants to get from village A to village B, the route will seem terribly short to him if he goes in a semicircle [drawing]. And you form the opinion that a straight line is the longest route connecting two points [writing on the board].
The whole is smaller than its parts
No body has dimensions
Opinions are in colour
A straight line is the longest route connecting two points
This is certainly something to make your jaw drop! The world will not consider such things, however. People will say that someone who starts to say that judgements or opinions are coloured has a temperature or that he is mad. But the situation is that one can come to these things without one's body, whilst of sound mind, for in the spiritual world properties are the opposite of what they are in the physical world. And you have to get to this by means of the simplest statements, for the simplest statements are tie most incredible. You know, if someone starts to talk about the world of the spirit in an interesting way people will, of course listen, the way they also do if someone tells ghost stories. But they won't listen if someone says: 'You just first of all get in the habit of creating artificial boredom for yourself.' This has to be done artificially. Nothing will come of it if one gets bored with conventional science. But to develop boredom artificially, making an inner effort, and not get migraine or a belly-ache, that is, without involving the body. If the body is involved, you'll immediately get migraine or a belly-ache.
Just listen to what people say when they hear that they should not let the professor bore them, for that would not help them, and that to be seers they must gradually overcome the migraine and the belly-ache. You see, your student sits there, and the professor bores him most dreadfully. He should really get a migraine or a belly-ache, but he doesn't. The matter then moves to other organs that don't hurt so much. And people really get sick then, because the physical body is involved. If you produce boredom in this way today, which is what happens in modern science, you'll just make people ill. If you tell people to produce boredom for themselves by their own inner efforts, and if they go through this boredom, they will bit by bit enter into the world of the spirit, but this needs to be grasped in the right way, for the very first opinions you gain in that world will be the other way round. So there is an extraordinarily good way of working effectively on oneself. It is this. If you have come across something in the world that is really, really boring, and then afterwards, seeing it was so boring that you ran away, that you did not like it at all any more, or were glad when it was over, you start to think about it, doing so very, very slowly.
You see I myself — this is something I know from experience — learned an enormous amount from this. I used to hear terribly boring lectures in my young days. Indeed, I used to look forward to this, knowing that the lecture was going to be boring, because this would get you out of yourself, just as going to sleep normally does. So I used to be really pleased to know that I was about to hear boring lectures for some hours. But once the lecture had started and the professor would be speaking, I would always feel that he was disrupting my boredom by talking and talking all the time. Afterwards, however, I'd give deep thought to every detail he had said. It was not the least bit interesting to me, but I went through every session again from the beginning, really going through it, and sometimes would go through a one-hour lecture in such a way that it would take two hours, and so I created boredom artificially.
Gentlemen, this is where you make a strange discovery. It was particularly at the end of the nineteenth century that you were able to make a very strange discovery. Just imagine you have been listening to a lecture given by a real clot — they do exist — and were then able to meditate on this boring lecture. You therefore bring back to mind all the things that bored you so terribly. And gradually something will show itself behind the person who produced the most boring things, this real clot; something like a higher human being, a wholly spiritual human being will show itself. And the lecture theatres are transformed in your mind in a way that can be grasped when you are entirely of a sound mind. And I knew many professors at the end of the nineteenth century where that was the case. But please don't talk a lot about it, otherwise people will think it was something quite dreadful, for the most intelligent spiritual human beings appeared behind those men.
Now what was going on there? It is not at all true that inwardly, unconsciously people are as stupid as they appear to be. They are actually much cleverer, and it is the most stupid who are sometimes really clever. The reverse happens again. But they cannot grasp their own cleverness. This is a dreadful secret. For the element which is people's true mind and soul is often there behind them and they cannot grasp it themselves.
Yes, this is indeed how you get into the worlds of spirit. As you know, we had materialistic science at the end of the nineteenth century. People are still blindly following that science today. I myself must say that it has been tremendously useful to get to know this materialistic science, for from beginning to end it always produced the most boring statements. Now if you just think yourself the cat's whiskers, having grown so clever, finally knowing that man is descended from the apes, as we are told in science — well, in that case, nothing will come of it. But if you think this statement through again and again, using all your inner energy, it will finally change into one that is correct in the spirit and you realize that man has not descended from the apes at all but from a spiritual entity.
There are, however, various differences. A boy was sent to school once. There he heard for the first time — from his teacher — that man is descended from the apes. It emerged that it was too early for him. At home he told his father: 'Dad, I heard something new today. Just think, man is descended from the apes.' 'Rubbish,' said his father, all upset, 'you're just stupid! It may be true for you, but not for me!' You see, he, too, found the story unbelievable. He related it only to the mind, however.
But you see from all the things I am telling you that it is also possible to find one's way into modern science in two ways. And I can certainly tell you that if someone has not learned that science the way very many people did in the nineteenth century and still do today, but if instead of repeating everything you are told you think meditatively, thinking things through again and again, for hours and hours, they will turn around, and what you get is the truth in the spirit.
When you have thought for a long time about plants and minerals and for a long time about the things people tell you today in such a dreadfully materialistic way, simply thinking it through, you will finally reach the point where the significance of the zodiac, the significance of the stars all the secrets of the stars are apparent to you.
But the safest way is to start with statements like 'The part is greater than the whole. No body has dimensions. Opinions are coloured. The straight line is the longest route connecting two points.' You will then have torn yourself away from your physical body. If you go through all this, you will be able to use your ether body instead of your physical body. You can then begin to think with the ether body, and the ether body must think everything the oppo164 site way round from the way it is in the physical world. For with the ether body you gradually enter into the world of the spirit. But there things will come to a halt after all, and you'll have to develop yet another habit.
You know, when we read something today, something rather odd may happen. I was in a town in southern Austria once, for instance, and someone gave me the evening paper. This had a leading article, as it is called. A terribly interesting story was told in every detail, a major political story. You read the first column, the second column, the third column — terribly interesting. And right at the bottom, still on the same page, was a brief note saying: 'We are sorry to say that everything written in today's leading article is based on the wrong information and not a word of it is true.'
You see, such things can happen today. It is an extreme case, but anyone reading the papers today may find that every now and then, on every page, he sees something that is simply not true. He only finds out afterwards that it is not true. You see, I think most people have grown so unthinkng today that truth and lies are all one to them. Well, this will not get one into the world of the spirit.
I told you the last time we met: when someone goes mad only his body is sick. The mind, the soul does not get sick, it remains sound. Today I told you that when someone talks wildly in a fever, his thoughts become mere caricature, but the mind and soul is still all right. But one has to get into the habit, if one wants to enter into the world of the spirit, of feeling inner pain when something is not true, and that one's soul rejoices when something is true, that one will be as happy about the truth as if someone had given one a million — I mean a million Swiss francs, not Deutschmark! (Laughter) That is how happy we should be on hearing the truth, and that is how we should suffer in our souls — it is not the body but the soul that must be able to suffer if one finds that something somewhere is a lie — just as the body suffers if it has a terrible illness. It is not that the soul should be sick, but the soul must be capable of feeling pain and pleasure, just as the body does when it is sick or wholly at ease, or when one knows pain or pleasure in the ordinary way in this world.
It means we must come to feel truth the way we feel joy and happiness and pleasure in physical life; and we must come to feel untruth to be pain, grow as sick inwardly in our soul when we meet untruthfulness, as we otherwise only get sick if there are disorders in the body. So when someone has been lying his head off, you have to be able to say, but in such a way that it is truly the case: 'He's given me deadly nightshade berries to eat!' But it must be an inner truth.
Now, of course, if you consider our modern times, the newspapers, for instance, you are made to swallow deadly nightshade berries all the time. And if your mind and soul is to stay healthy, you need to vomit all the time at the soul level. And seeing that we cannot do without the papers, you need to get into the habit, if you wish to enter into the world of the spirit, of getting a bad taste in your mouth from the papers and getting pleasure when you read something decent, where someone writes in a truly inward way. Your pleasure should be like the pleasure you have from eating something, if you like, that tastes really good. The truth and the striving for truth must taste good to you, and lies, if you become aware of them, must taste bitter, poisonous.
You therefore have to learn not only that opinions are in colour, but also to say: printers' ink is usually like the juice of deadly nightshade berries today. You must, however, be able to feel this in all honesty and with great probity. Then, gentlemen, then you have come to something which is known as transformation in the spirit.
People talk about alchemy and think it can be used to change copper into gold. Mountebanks will, of course, tell you this in all kinds of ways even today; superstitious people have believed it for a long time. But such things are possible in the spirit. Only you have to believe in the truth of the spirit. There you have to be able to say to yourself: 'The ink the printer used is the same substance everywhere, whether he's printed a book that is true or a lying newspaper. But on the one occasion the printers' ink is genuinely the juice of the deadly nightshade berry, and on the other occasion it is as if liquid gold is flowing. Things that are one and the same in the physical world are very, very different in the spirit.'
But if today's clever people come and you say to them, 'Printers' ink can be like liquid gold or it can be the juice of deadly nightshade berries,' they'll say, 'You are speaking metaphorically; it's just an analogy.' Well, gentlemen, the analogy, the picture, must become truly spiritual, and one has to understand what things become in the spirit.
Let me give you an example that actually comes from the history of the Social Democratic Party. You may not have been so much aware of it, but there was a time when the Social Democratic Party split in two. One group were people who followed Bernstein 37Eduard Bernstein (1850-1932), German socialist theoretician who developed revisionism as a moderate approach to socialism in the 1890s, being against revolution. and similar people. They entered into all kinds of compromises with the middle classes. And the other group were the radicals, with Bebel 38August Bebel (1840-1913), founded the Social Democratic Party in Germany with Liebknecht in 1869. the leader of the radicals until he died. You'll know about Bebel from the literature if nothing else. There was a party conference once in Dresden, and Bebel got pretty wild about the others. He said he'd create order in social democracy. He gave a tremendously weighty speech, in the course of which he said: 'Yes, if that and that happens because of the other group, a louse will run over my liver!' [German saying when something rubs one up the wrong way. Translator] Now everyone will of course say that this is just an analogy, for no real louse would be running across Bebel's liver. But why do people use such phrases? Bebel did not use it, of course, because a louse actually ran over his liver; it was something he'd heard and he used it to say that the thing would really annoy him. But why do people have such a phrase? Why can one say that a 'louse' runs over the liver?
Not everyone is like the man who would always collect lice off his head, and when someone once asked him, 'Tell me, dear chap, how come you are so clever and always catch a louse?' he said, 'No problem. If I miss one, I get the one next to it.' It's not like that for everyone, that he misses the louse he wants to catch but still picks one up. It is usually highly unpleasant when people have lice; they feel terrible about it. You should have seen it. When I was a family tutor, one of the boys in my care came home one day. He had been out, sitting on all kinds of benches in the city, and he gradually developed a pain in his eyes, a terrible pain in his eyes. Now there was some uncertainty as to which specialist to call in, because the boy had such a terrible pain in his eyes. I said: 'Let's first of all try an ointment for lice and put it on his eyebrows.' Quite right. When they took a look he had lots of lice, and when the ointment had worked, his eyes also stopped watering. Now you should have seen his mother's and his aunt's faces when the boy was suddenly found to have lice! They felt this right down to their livers. Things felt very strange in their bellies: 'Oh dear, the boy has lice! How terrible!' And then it does very much seem to one as if the louse runs across the liver. The phrase comes from a very real sensation people did have once when someone had lice.
Now people don't catch lice at a meeting or party conference. But they do something that gives them such a horror, as if in earlier times or among people of a particular class lice had run across the liver. So you see the phrase reflected a real situation when it was coined. Later on such phrases are only used for things affecting the mind or soul.
But one has to bring this about artificially, gentlemen. One must be able to do it, so that one feels it really and honestly and not just as the sound of a phrase. I have a newspaper and most of what it says will probably be the kind of thing where the printers' ink is deadly nightshade juice. I'd like to know what people would really do if they had such a feeling today! Just think how much deadly nightshade has been used to consider whose fault the War was and who was not at fault, and how people feel good simply because they belong to the one nation or the other; not because the things that are said are true but because the papers say they were not at fault, writing all kinds of untruths to say they were not at fault. But how are people to get into the world of the spirit in the present day and age? One must simply resolve, strongly resolve to be very different from the people of today, and yet one must of course also live with these people. For it will do no good to get up on a speaker's platform and start to shout at them. But one has to find an alley-way for the truth. And that is hard, as hard as I have shown you today.
I've had to speak of difficult things today, so that you may indeed see that it is far from easy to enter into the world of the spirit. We'll get to other things again that will not be such an effort for you. But you'll find that it is a good thing that we have been considering difficult things. The next time we continue I'll show you how the whole way into the world of the spirit goes.