The Challenge of the Times
1. East and West from a Spiritual Point of View
29 November 1918, Dornach
In my last lecture dealing with present events, I called your attention to the necessities of a social order resulting from the impulses of the modern age. I must expressly emphasize the fact that I do not by any means wish to develop a program. You all know how little importance I attach to such things. They are mere abstractions. What I have discussed with you is not an abstraction, but a reality. I have expressed the matter in the following way to various persons with whom, in the course of the last few years, I have spoken of these impelling social forces as something inevitable. I have said that what we are seeking to set forth, which is something utterly different from an abstract program, will by its own connection with the impelling forces of history come to realization in the world within the next twenty or thirty years. “You have the choice” — I could express myself at that time in this way because people still had the choice, as they do not any longer possess it — “You have the choice between adopting a rational attitude and accepting such things, or realizing later that these things will come about in the most chaotic way through cataclysms and revolutions.” There is no other alternative in these things in the course of world history, and the demand simply faces us today to understand such things as proceed from the impulses actually at work in the world. As I have repeatedly declared, this is not a time when each person can say that believes this or that will happen or ought to happen, but it is a time when the only person who can speak effectively in regard to the necessities of the age is one who is able to perceive what bears within itself the impelling force for its realization in the course of the times.
Now, it is most important to understand that it was impossible for me to give you anything more than a sketch of what I am compelled to view as a necessity embodying the impulse to realization. In order to establish a connection with what has already been said, I shall repeat briefly today what I then spoke about, that is, that the confusion in the social structure that has gradually led to these catastrophic events of recent years over the whole world must be set aside, and it is imperative to replace it by that threefold organization of the social structure of which I spoke to you at our last meeting. You have seen that the outcome of this threefold organization will be to distribute into separate spheres what has hitherto constituted, in a confused fashion, the basis of the seemingly unitary organization of the state.
It will be distributed among three spheres, the first of which I designated as the political, or security, order; the second, as the sphere of the social organization, the economic organization; the third, as the sphere of free spiritual production. These three spheres will be integrated independently of each other, each in its own way. Indeed, this will become manifest within the net few decades even to those persons who are unwilling today to understand it. We shall escape the great perils toward which the world is still continuing to move only if we endeavor to understand these things, but we shall not understand them unless we really study them thoroughly. In order that what follows may not be misunderstood, I should like once more to emphasize that it is not our business either to create the social question or to discuss it in any merely theoretical way. In the light of our recent reflections, you will already have seen that the social question actually exists, that it must be accepted as a factor, as an actuality, and that it can be grasped and understood only in the same way in which an occurrence of nature must be understood.
You will already have seen that everything I set forth here last Sunday as constituting the necessary impulses leading to the future is of such a nature as to supersede, in a just and legitimate way, the elements left over from ancient times in our social structure, elements that permeate it destructively through and through. Especially if you reflect more deeply on the practical results of what I said to you last Sunday, will you see that these practical results of the social organization of which I spoke are of such a character as to supersede in a suitable way what those who call themselves socialists but who live in illusions rather than in realities, wish to overcome in an impractical way. What must be superseded — as will become clear to you upon deeper reflection over what was said last Sunday — is the membering of the social structure according to classes. What must be achieved in harmony with the period of consciousness in which we live, the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, is that the human being as such shall take the place of the ancient distinctions according to classes. For this reason it would be disastrous if what I developed before you here last Sunday should be confused with something that is perpetuated in our contemporary social organization out of past ages. Something extends into our social organization from the Greek period that must be superseded according to the principles holding sway in the course of world events. The differentiation of humanity according to the ancient Greek classification into husbandmen, soldiers, and teachers must be superseded by the very thing I brought to your attention last Sunday. It is the differentiation according to classes that brings chaos into our contemporary social structure. This differentiation will be superseded by the fact that human beings will not be divided in any way according to classes under the organization of society of which I spoke to you last Sunday. In the very nature of things, these classes will completely disappear. It is in this direction that historic necessity moves.
Man, as a living being and not as an abstraction, shall bring about the connections among the three spheres of society. We are by no means dealing with a differentiation according to classes, as husbandmen, soldiers and teachers, when we say that we must move forward toward political justice, economic organization, and free spiritual production. What this signifies is that relationships shall be integrated in this way, and that it will be impossible for human beings to belong to a single class when the relationships are really integrated in this way. The human being exists within the social structure and he himself forms the connecting link among the different elements integrated in these relationships. There will not be a separate economic class, a separate class of producers, but a structure of economic relationships. In the same way, there will not be a special class of ”teachers” but the relationships will be such that spiritual production will be free in its own nature. Likewise, there will not be a separate class of soldiers, but the effort will be made gradually to achieve for the first sphere of the social order in a liberal democratic manner that for which a confused struggle now proceeds on behalf of all three spheres.
The very essence of the matter is the truth that the passage from
ancient times to modern times makes it imperative that the human being
shall take his place in the world. There is no possibility of our
reaching an understanding of the demands of our age otherwise than by
acquiring the capacity to understand human beings. This can be achieved,
of course, only on the basis of those perceptions that a science of the
brings to light.
As I recently declared, what I have developed before you must be viewed against the broad background of world history. I have set before you certain things from the content of this historic tableau. In order that we may now continue further in describing such conditions as I began to explain to you last Sunday, I wish to lay a foundation today derived somewhat more from occult sources in order to make it clear to you that the manner of dealing with these things cannot be one in which each person thinks out something for himself in utter disregard of the facts of the case, but that the way to deal with these things is to view them in accordance with the actual movement of events. Here my point of departure must be the statement that the first necessity in developing the social structure is to base it upon social understanding. Indeed, this is the very thing that has been lacking for decades. The realm we here touch upon is one in which the greatest number of blunders have been made. A great majority of persons in positions of leadership have been utterly lacking in social understanding. It is not surprising, therefore, that such revolutionary movements as we now have in Central Europe seem to people like something springing out of the earth, something for which they have had no preparation. They do not appear as something unexpected to people who have a social understanding but I fear that people will continue still to be permeated by the mood that filled them before the year 1914. Just as the World War, obviously hanging over the heads of everyone at that time, came as a surprise, people will still behave in even more vital matters in just the same way. They will still continue to sleep while the social movement, which is spreading over the whole world, breaks in upon them. Because of the phlegmatic habits of thought now characterizing humanity, it may be just as impossible to prevent this as it was to prevent mankind from permitting the present catastrophe to overwhelm it unprepared.
What really matters most of all is to learn the truth that human beings must not conduct themselves in one way or another in the various parts of the world according to abstract notions, but that, the moment their conduct may have social consequences, they must choose their course according to how they are impelled to act by the impulses existent in the sequence of cosmic events into which man himself is integrated. An elementary fact is utterly ignored by people even today. I say this on the basis of experience, for I have been compelled in recent years to the discuss these matters with men belonging to varied professions and classes, and I know the response one meets when these things are discussed. I refer to the fact that people of the East and the West — and everyone will take part in the future shaping of things — are quite unlike one another in their impulses, and are different in what they will for themselves. Indeed, if we pay attention only to the social environment nearest to us, we shall reach no clear judgment as to what is proceeding as a matter of necessity in the world. We reach a clear judgment only when — and I must once more employ this expression — we form our judgment about things according to the impulses existing in the universal course of events. The people of the West, of Western European states and their appendage America, will have their say. The people of Eastern Europe, with its Asiatic hinterland, will have their say during the next two or three decades, but their manner of speaking will vary greatly among themselves, for human beings in various parts of the world necessarily have different conceptions regarding what man feels and must inevitably feel as a necessity of his human dignity and his nature as man.
We cannot discuss these things unless we see clearly that events must necessarily occur in the future that people would like best of all to avoid. I told you last Sunday that it is simply impossible for effectual, fruitful social ideas to be discovered in future by any other path than the one that leads in the search for truths beyond the threshold of ordinary physical consciousness. Within the limits of ordinary physical consciousness there are no effectual social ideas. For this reason, as I explained last Sunday, these social ideas, which are truly effectual, must come to people. But this statement implies at the same time that it will not do to shrink back in future from acquainting oneself, so far as this is possible for each person, with the real nature of the threshold of the spiritual world. Within the limits of everyday life and science, humanity may continue for a long time on its beaten path without becoming acquainted with the threshold of the spiritual world. In these fields we can get along as well as is absolutely necessary. But, as regards social life, it is not possible to get along without giving attention to what is here called the threshold of the spiritual world. There exists within people of the present age — still unconscious, of course, but thrusting ever more upward into consciousness — the impulse to bring about such a social structure as will permit every person to be, as his nature demands, a human being.
By no means clearly, and yet in an instinctive way, people in all regions of the earth feel the meaning of human dignity, of an existence worthy of the human being. The abstract social democrat of the present time believes that it is a simple matter to express in an international way the meaning of human dignity, human rights, etc. This cannot be done. If these things are to be expressed, it is imperative that we bear in mind the truth that the real conception of the human being belongs inherently beyond the threshold of the spiritual world, since man really belongs to the world of spirit and soul. In other words, a true and comprehensive conception of what the human being is can come to us only from beyond the threshold of the spiritual world.
In reality, the conception does come from this source. Even if the American, Briton, Frenchman, German, Chinese, Japanese or Russian speaks to you of the human being, expressing quite unsatisfactory conceptions and ideas, there yet dwells in his subconsciousness something far more comprehensive, but something that must be clearly grasped. This more comprehensive thing dwelling there struggles to rise into consciousness. In other words, we may say that historic evolution has progressed to the point where an image of the human being lives in the hearts of men. Without giving attention to this image of the human being, it is impossible to develop any social understanding. This image is alive but it lives only in the subconsciousness. The moment that it struggles upward into consciousness and really enters there, it can be grasped only by means of the capacities belonging to the form of consciousness that is in its nature super-sensible — at least, by means of these capacities in the conceptual field, as they have been taken up by sound common sense.
An image of the human being lives in those persons who are engaged at present in the social struggle that may remain unconscious and only instinctive so long as the impulse is lacking to see the matter clearly. If, however, there is a desire to arrive at clarity, it can be done only by irradiating the matter with the light that comes from the other side of the threshold. Then it becomes obvious to the objective spiritual observer that the image of the human being lurking instinctively in human souls varies greatly in people belonging to the West and those belonging to the East. This will become an enormously important question in the future. It plays a role in all actual conditions. It plays a role in the Russian chaos, in the revolution in Middle Europe, in the confusion that is in its early stages in the West, even all the way to America. In other words, what is in process of development must be viewed in the light of super-sensible consciousness if it is to be understood. It must be grasped by means of the capacities that are derived from super-sensible consciousness.
There is no approach from the side of sensory consciousness that will enable us to understand what dwells instinctively as an image of man both in the peoples of the West and of the East.
In order to achieve this understanding, however, it is necessary that you acquaint yourselves with two things. First, with the peculiar manner in which something that actually obsesses the subconsciousness of a person rises up into real super-sensible consciousness. A person learns in two different ways through the Guardian of the Threshold how something that is stirring chaotically in his instincts and does not belong to the person, for only what a person consciously grasps belongs to him, appears before him. Things that instinctively obsess a person appear in one case before the Guardian of the Threshold in such a way that they seem like external perceptions. It is an hallucination, an external perception, actually appearing before the person and presenting itself like something externally perceived. That is the specter character. When something that has lived instinctively and chaotically in an individual comes to be known clearly in the presence of the Guardian of the Threshold, where all instincts cease and everything begins to be known consciously and to take its place in the free spiritual life, such an instinctive living element may appear as a specter. The person is then rid of it as an instinct. There is no need for fear because of the fact that such a thing appears as a specter. This is the sole way in which the person can get rid of it. He sees it in external objectivity and what has been chaotically stirring within him is really before him in the form of a specter. This is one of the forms.
The other form in which such an instinctive thing may appear is that of a nightmare. This is not an external perception but an oppressive feeling or the aftereffects in the form of a vision of something that oppresses one. It is an imaginative experience but it may at the same time be felt as a nightmare. What exists instinctively in the person must come to manifestation either as a nightmare or as a specter if it is to be brought up into consciousness.
Just as every instinct living in a person must gradually rise to a higher level either as a specter or as a nightmare, if the person is to become fully human, so must what lives unconsciously and instinctively as the feeling of human dignity, as the image of man in the West and the East appear to him in one form or the other and be understood by him but understood primarily through sound common sense. Thus, it may happen that the practicing spiritual scientist will be able to show that some things appear as nightmares, others as specters. What a spiritual scientist experiences on the basis of his observations will be expressed by him in words applicable to historical or other conceptions in order to render it possible for what he has experienced to be grasped by the sound common sense of those who do not yet possess the occult capacities necessary for seeing these things.
The fact that a person does not actually behold these things is not in the least a valid excuse for not accepting them, since everything perceived is presented in such concepts as can be grasped by sound common sense. Confidence in the person who does see these things should not go beyond believing that he can give suggestions. It is not necessary to believe him because, if a person employs his own powers diligently without preconception, everything that is declared to be true can always be grasped with sound common sense.
Now, the situation is such that those instincts living in the West, as constituting the image of the human being and striving toward a social structure, appear before the Guardian of the Threshold as specters. The image of the human being living in the people of Eastern Europe with its Asiatic hinterland, manifests itself as a nightmare. The occult fact is simply that, if you ask an American, and this is most marked in the case of America, to describe what he feels to be the image of true human dignity, and you work over this image in an occult way and carry it all the way to the Guardian of the Threshold, and then observe what you experience in his presence in connection with this image, it appears before you as a specter. If you prevail upon an Asiatic or an informed Russian to describe what they conceive as the image of man, it will work upon you, if it is carried all the way to the Guardian of the Threshold, as a nightmare.
What I am saying to you here is only a description of an occult experience that has its basis in historical impulses and events because what takes form instinctively in the hearts and souls of men grows also out of historical substrata. The peoples of the West — Britons, Frenchmen, Italians, Spaniards, Americans — because of certain historical stimuli in the course of their development from ancient times up to their present state, have permitted to take root in their hearts, not in full clear consciousness but in an instinctive way, such an image of the human being as can be described when we study historical stimuli adequately.
These images of Eastern and Western man must be replaced by what can actually be discovered by means of spiritual scientific research. This alone can become the basis for a true social order, not one that will be dominated by either specters or nightmares. If we investigate in the right way the question as to why the Western image of the human being is a specter, we shall discover, after taking into account all the historical substrata, that the specter of the ancient Roman Empire lies at the bottom of the instincts that have led to the image of the human being in the Western parts of the world. They are the instincts that have now led, for example, to the so-called Wilson program for the West, upon which so much praise is being lavished. Everything that has gradually developed in the course of history that possesses a thoroughly outmoded character, that is, a luciferic-ahrimanic character, and is not suitable for the immediate present but is a specter from earlier ages, constitutes the specter of Romanism. Of course, there is much in Western culture that does not belong at all to Romanism. In English-speaking regions you naturally find much that has no such connection. Even in the truly Latin countries there is much that has no connection with Romanism. That, however, is not the important matter. The important fact is the image of the human being insofar as he is supposed to enter into the social structure. In all these regions this is wholly determined instinctively by what has taken form within Roman culture. It continues to be altogether the product of the Latin way of thinking, belonging to the fourth post-Atlantean culture. This is nothing that really possesses life but is something that haunts the present like a ghost of the dead. It is this specter that appears to the objective occult observer when he undertakes to form an image of what is intended to be made dominant over the world under the influence of the West.
It serves no useful purpose to make assertions regarding these things without the necessary knowledge. That is no longer in keeping with the status of humanity in the present epoch. What must be taken into account is the necessity of acquiring a clear view of these things. The specter of Romanism is haunting the West. When I recently called your attention to the future destiny of various peoples of the West, especially the French, this is closely related to the fact that they have clung most firmly of all to the Roman specter. Their whole instinctive temperament and fundamental character would not permit them to get rid of this Roman specter. This, then, is one aspect of the matter, that pertaining to the West.
The other aspect is that a certain image of the human being, to the extent that he should take his place in the social structure, dominates also in the East. This image is of such character that there tends to come about even now through the very necessity of things something I have always spoken of. The sixth cultural epoch is in its preparatory stages in Eastern Europe. If we view the matter, however, from the standpoint of the present age, what is still alive in Eastern Europe, including its Asiatic hinterland, is not yet the image of the human being that will in future be developed in a natural way even though it is the duty of humanity even today to develop it through knowledge. On the contrary, it is an image that appears as a nightmare when we take it and approach the Guardian of the Threshold in order there to observe it.
This image, in turn, appears as a nightmare because the instincts that are nourished in the East and become effective in the determination of this image are nourished by, a force that is not yet perfect. This force will not reach its highest level of development until the future, until the sixth post-Atlantean cultural epoch. This force actually requires an impulse to support it. Before the consciousness awakes — and consciousness must, indeed, first awaken in the East — this force requires an instinctive basis. It is this instinctive basis, still living in the peoples of the East when they form their image of man, that works as a nightmare. Just as all the impulses left over from Romanism have their influence as ancient lingering impulses in the formation of man's image in the West, so does this instinctive foundation work as a nightmare but one that is to give a support, the effect of which ought to be precisely that of bringing the people of the East to the point of freeing themselves from the nightmare. It has this effect in a strange manner, working just as a nightmare does when it has been overcome after we have awakened and have seen clearly what actually has happened. This force that must work there in the East is not something from the past, but rather something that is working in our own epoch for the first time. It is made up of the forces proceeding from the British Empire. Just as the image of the human being in the West has been made into a specter through the stimuli of Romanism, so is the image of the human being so stamped upon the soul in the East that what will continue for a long time into the future as the undertakings of the British Empire becomes a nightmare.
These two things produce the result that what was conscious in the Roman Empire continues to live unconsciously in a ghostly way in the West. The British-American impulse toward world empire that is in process of preparation and is active in the present epoch, manifests itself as a nightmare, as the counter force of a nightmare in order that the peoples of the East may awaken to a conscious and adequate image of man.
It is not pleasant to state these things at the present time, to
listen to them is equally unpleasant. The simple truth is, however, that
we have arrived at an epoch in the evolution of world history when
nothing can be achieved unless people take cognizance of the things in
the world on the basis of their knowledge, their full consciousness, and
really acquaint themselves objectively with what exists in the world. No
progress can be made in any other way. What has been happening in our
time is of such a nature as to compel men in a certain sense to reverse
the direction of these events. Things must not continue longer in such a
way that, just as men have permitted themselves for a
long time to be compelled to think in a certain way, they shall again permit themselves to be compelled to think entirely different thoughts for the simple reason that everything has been turned upside down in a certain region of the earth. It is possible to make the acquaintance today of people who, within a few weeks have suddenly evolved from gallant royalists into extreme republicans and all other imaginable sorts of things. Nothing helpful to humanity could previously be accomplished by those who were royalists out of compulsion, and nothing helpful can come now from those who are today socialists as a matter of compulsion, or who have even become bolshevists after having been true royalists. There are even such individuals as this.
What is necessary is neither the one nor the other of these things.
What is necessary is that we shall come to see that only what proceeds
from the free decision of the free human soul can be beneficial, that
is, what the human being decides for himself through the use of his
powers of reflection, through the use of his heart and most of all his
insight. That is what really matters. Otherwise, we shall observe
repeatedly that things will be viewed in one way or another under the
force of circumstances. A person who considered Ludendorff a great field
marshall six weeks ago and who calls him a criminal today, for instance,
if he has no reason for either of these judgments and cannot form them
through the free decision of a free heart, is of just as little use in
the evolution of humanity in the one case as in the other. It is not
sufficient that a statement is abstractly true, though generally one
statement is as false as the other, but that we shall develop the
capacity for forming real judgments. In this matter spiritual science
may constitute a really excellent guidance
I am constantly being made aware that statements I make here or elsewhere in the field of spiritual science are considered difficult to understand. This is due simply to the fact that people do not really have the will to apply their sound common sense in full measure to these things. They are considered difficult to understand because people do not find it sufficiently comfortable to lay hold of them.
In the course of these reflections I have made various statements in regard to this so-called war catastrophe of recent years and its origin. I hope that what has happened in the last few weeks will be seen to be a complete confirmation of what I have said for many years to you and to others in regard to these matters. Nothing has come about that fails to harmonize with what has here been asserted. Indeed, you can see the map I drew on the blackboard here years ago coming to reality during these very days.
What is said here, however, must not be taken in the sense of a Sunday afternoon sermon, but in the sense intended; that is, as something asserted on the basis of the actual impelling forces that either have been realized or are driving toward realization. For this reason I shall not hesitate to call your attention repeatedly to certain matters of method, even if this involves repetition. These questions of method are most important of all in the field of spiritual-scientific knowledge, which is so necessary for our age. What this science of the spirit makes of our souls is far more important than the acquisition of a merely abstract acquaintance with one truth or another.
We can observe repeatedly that the sort of soul structure that comes about through spiritual science is serviceable precisely in the comprehension of the immediate events of the times. How often have I emphasized in the course of these years the fact that it is really terrible for people to repeat continually, as they have done, the easy questions, “Who is to blame for the world catastrophe of this war? Is it the Central Powers or the Entente? Or is it heaven knows who?” These questions as to who is to blame simply cannot be answered in any fundamental sense. What is really important is the correct and definite statement of the question. Only thus can we arrive at a sufficient, fundamental, actual insight, but it is utterly useless in the case of many persons of the present time to appeal to this insight. For example, much of what is now being reported from Paris reminds me of other things bearing upon this unhappy situation, things that happened earlier in Berlin or elsewhere. It is not a matter of any consequence to form one's judgment in accordance with what is permitted or not permitted — especially a judgment about questions of fact — but what matters is that this judgment should be formed on the basis of a free consideration, formed by the free mind itself. That is what really matters.
If you will recall various things I have said here in recent weeks, you will see that the events meanwhile have confirmed many of my statements. For instance, I explained to you that it is utterly wrong to discuss these things in such a way, so satisfying to many persons, as to discover on the side of the Central Powers what is called “guilt” in connection with the World War. But I have said to you that the governments of the Central Powers have contributed to the World War in an essential way through their idiotic methods. What I explained to you even in the most recent lectures has during this week been completely confirmed by the disclosures made by the government of Bavaria. They, that is, the publication of the letters exchanged between the government of Bavaria and the Bavarian Envoy in Berlin, Count Lerchenfeld-Koefering, are in complete agreement with my explanations. Through such events the picture I have given you for years, which I had to give in such a way that I was continually tracing things back to the right form of questions regarding them, will become clearer. It is a certain service — and even such things as these may now be openly mentioned — that has been undertaken by this Kurt Eisner in the publication of these things, a service by one who has come in a strange way out of prison to the post of premier. At a time when so much is said in regard to persons who have made themselves unworthy of their official positions, it is certainly permissible to speak also about such a person as the present Premier of Bavaria, though we )feed not lavish praise upon him for this reason.
Naturally, in accordance with the karma of each person and the manner
in which he is stationed in the world by his karma, he will be able to
pass one judgment or another in one place or another in the world, or
ought to pass such a judgment. If we desire to achieve a social
understanding, as I have said in various connections, the most important
thing of all is that we shall acquire an understanding of the human
being, interest in human beings, a differentiated interest in persons,
that we should desire to know human beings. It is this that must
constitute the task, the most important task of the future. But we must
acquire a certain instinct, if you will permit me to use this
expression, for forming judgments on the basis of symptoms. It is for
this reason that I delivered the lecture on history as symptomatology.
Such a person as this Premier of Bavaria, Kurt Eisner, is vividly
present before our minds, for instance, when we consider the following
facts. I say this to you now not for the purpose of bringing to your
attention something actual, but to illustrate a bit of psychology, a bit
of the science of the human
Before there had been any declaration of war, either from the left or from the right, in the last days of July 1914, Kurt Eisner said in Munich, “If a world war really comes about, not only will the nations tear each other to pieces, but every throne in Central Europe will fall. This will be the inevitable consequence!” He remained true to his convictions. Throughout these years he continued to assemble a little group of men in Munich, always pursued by the police, and to speak to them. When a strike occurred at a particularly serious moment in the developments of recent years in Germany, he was sentenced to prison, and he has now ascended from prison to the premiership of Bavaria. He is a human being molded in a single piece. I do not mean to praise him because conditions are now such that even such a person may make blunder after blunder. But I wish to describe an example of what must really be considered. What is needed is that we shall rightly estimate as symptoms the occurrences confronting us in the world, that from the symptoms we shall reach conclusions regarding what lies behind them — if we do not possess the capacity of seeing through the symptoms the spirit at work behind them. We must at least strive to reach through the symptoms a vision of the spiritual that lies behind them. Especially in the future will it be necessary that mutual understanding shall come about between human beings. The social question is not to be solved by cliches, programs or Leninisms, but by an understanding between man and man — such an understanding, however, as can be acquired only when we are able to recognize the human being as an external manifestation of the eternal.
If you consider what have said, that in the West the human being produces the effect of a specter in the presence of the Guardian of the Threshold and in the East that of a nightmare you will receive in a certain way the necessary stimulus for obtaining a true view of the conditions of the present time. In the West an image of the human being that is on a descending path and appears, therefore, as a specter; in the East an image that is ascending, but that must not be accepted in its present form since it is still merely an imagination of an oppressive nightmare and will appear in its true form only after this nightmare has been overcome. The conditions are such, therefore, that we must gain a deeper insight if we wish to participate at all in discussions of the social problem. The matters into which we must acquire a deeper insight are such as pertain to the character of our thinking, and the manner in which this thinking streams forth from the whole human being, differentiated in the case of individual personalities over the whole earth.
The reason why this ghost of Romanism could acquire so profound an influence is that the thinking characteristic of the Old Testament world view has not yet been surmounted in the essential nature of human thought. Christianity is really only at its beginning. Christianity has not yet progressed sufficiently to have really permeated human hearts and minds. What was necessary to prevent this has been brought about by the Roman Church, which in its theology is completely under the influence of the specter of ancient Romanism. As I have often indicated, the Roman Church has contributed more toward hindering the introduction of the image of Christ into human hearts and minds than it has helped because the conceptions that have been applied within the Roman Church for the purpose of comprehending the Christ are all taken from the social and political structure of the ancient Roman Empire. Even though human beings do not know this, it works within their instincts.
Now, the conceptions that were dominant in the Old Testament, that must be designated primarily as conceptions of Old Testament Judaism, and that took their worldly form in Romanism, which is in the worldly sphere the same thing as Judaism was in the spiritual sphere even though it is in opposition to Judaism, have come over into our own epoch by way of Romanism; they haunt our age in spectral forms. This Old Testament thinking, unpermeated by the Christ must be found in its true origin within the human being. We must ask ourselves the question, “Upon what forces does such thinking as that of the Old Testament depend?”
This thinking depends upon what can be inherited with the blood from generation to generation. The capacity to think in the manner characteristic of the Old Testament is inherited with the blood in the succession of human beings. What we inherit as capacities from our fathers through the simple fact that we are born as human beings, that we ere embryonic human beings before our birth — what we inherit as the power of thinking, what lives in our blood, is Old Testament thinking. Our thinking is made up of two members, two parts. One part of our thinking consists in what we possess by reason of our development up to our birth, what we inherit from our forefathers or from our maternal ancestors. We are able to think in the Old Testament way because we have been embryos. This was the essential characteristic also of the ancient Jewish people that, in the world in which we live between birth and death, they did not wish to learn anything in addition to what the human being brings with him as a capacity because of the fact that he was an embryo up to the time of his birth. The only way that you can conceive of Old Testament thinking with real understanding is to say to yourself, “This is the kind of thinking that we possess by reason of the fact that we have been embryos.”
The kind of thinking that is added to this is what we have to acquire for ourselves in the course of our development beyond the embryonic period. For the purposes of certain external needs man acquires a variety of experiences, but he does not carry this process all the way the transformation of his thinking. Thus, even today Old Testament thinking continues to exert its influence far more than is generally supposed. People do not permeate the experiences through which they pass here with the thinking that is actually the consequences of these experiences. This is done only in the most limited measure and for the most part instinctively. At least the experiences through which people pass are not pursued by them to the stage of the birth of a special kind of thinking. This is done only by the true occultist whose development has been in accordance with the present age. In his case the life lived is so ordered that he awakes again, just as a child awakes after it is born. One who conducts his life in accordance with my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, goes through this process a second time. He relates himself to his normal nature as the ordinary man relates himself to the embryo. In ordinary life people conduct themselves in such a way that, although they are compelled to go through experiences, they apply only the kind of thinking to them that they have acquired by reason of the fact that they have been embryos. It is thus that people go about having heir experiences but are not willing to proceed further. They apply to these experiences as a thinking content, especially as the character of their thinking, the form of their thinking, what the embryonic life has given them. In other words, they apply what is inherited in the blood from generation to generation.
One fact is of fundamental importance. The Mystery of Golgotha can never be grasped in its special nature by means of the kind of thinking that we possess because of our embryonic development. For that reason I have explained to you also in the lectures given during my present stay here that the Mystery of Golgotha is something that cannot be comprehended by means of ordinary physical thinking. This is something that will always be denied by honest individuals so long as they remain at the state of physical thinking. The Mystery of Golgotha and everything permeated by the Christ, must be grasped, not by means of what is derived from the moon but by what is derived from the sun; that is, from the standpoint that one attains after birth during the present life. This is the great distinction between what is permeated by the Christ and what is not so permeated. Whatever is not permeated by the Christ is mastered by a kind of thinking inherited in the blood stream. A comprehension of the world that is permeated by the Christ spirit is mastered by the kind of thinking that must be acquired by the individual human being as a personality in this world, through the experiences of life, by spiritualizing these experiences in the manner explained in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment.
This is the essential fact. The kind of thinking we possess because of our embryonic development leads to the recognition of the Godhead only as the Father. The kind of thinking that is acquired in this world through the personal life after the embryonic stage leads to the recognition of the Godhead also as the Son.
Now, the influence of this tendency to make use only of the kind of thinking that belonged to Jehovah persisted even into the nineteenth century. But this thinking is suited to grasp only that element in the human being that belongs within the order of nature. This condition came about through the fact that the Jehovah divinity, who, as you know, was one of the Seven Elohim, gained the mastery of human consciousness and suppressed the other Elohim at an early period. The other Elohim were in this way thrust into the sphere of so-called illusion and were supposed to be fantastic beings. But this came about because the Jehovah divinity temporarily supplanted these spirits and permeated human consciousness with what alone can be developed as a power from the pre-embryonic time.
This continued into the nineteenth century. Human nature came under the influence of lower elemental spiritual entities who were working against the endeavors of the Elohim, through the fact that the Jehovah divinity dethroned the other Elohim in a certain sense. They, however, made themselves effective only through the personality of Christ, and they will continue to make them-elves effective one after another in the most varied ways.
Thus, the evolution of consciousness was such because the Jehovah divinity had placed himself as sole ruler and had dethroned the others. Through the fact that the others had been dethroned, human nature came under the influence of beings lower than the Elohim. Thus, not only does Jehovah continue his influence even into the nineteenth century, but so also do gods of a lower character instead of the Elohim. I have always told you that Christianity is really still in its beginning but even after it had become widely disseminated humanity did not yet understand it for the reason that men did not immediately accept the influence of the Elohim. They continued to be attached to the Jehovah thinking, to the kind of thinking awakened by the embryonic force, and also because they remained under the influence of the opponents of the Elohim.
During the nineteenth century — indeed, precisely during the fifth decade of that century, which I have often designated as an important turning point — the situation became such that Jehovah himself was gradually overpowered in his influence upon human consciousness through the dominance of those lower spirits he had evoked. The result was that, since only the element in the human being that is bound to the natural order of things, to the blood, can be comprehended by means of the forces of Jehovah, man's earlier seeking for the one God in nature was transmuted, because of the influence of the opposing elements, into mere atheistic natural science; that is, to mere atheistic scientific thinking and to merely utilitarian thinking in the field of practical life.
This must be grasped firmly as regards the fifth decade, the period mentioned. The fact that Jehovah could not free himself from the spirits he had evoked led to the transition of Old Testament thinking into the atheistic science of the modern age. This in the field of social thinking has become marx ism or something similar. Thus, a thinking under the influence of natural science holds sway in the field of the social life.
This is connected with much that is happening in the immediate present. Old Testament thinking in human beings today is transformed into naturalism. Against this kind of thinking neither what comes from the West as the image of man, nor what comes from the East, can provide an adequate defense because this thinking prevents man from acquiring actual and true insight.
It is perfectly obvious at present that people are opposed to the acquisition of insight. This sometimes takes on a pathological form. The so-called war history of the last two years, as I have recently said, will be a psychiatric account, socially psychiatric. The course of events, as these have occurred, is such that, when put together in the proper order, they provide for those who are familiar with them the best symptomatology for the social psychiatry of recent years and of the years to follow. Only it is necessary, of course, to deal with psychiatry also with more delicate hands and in a manner somewhat different from that of materialistic medicine. Otherwise we shall never bring to light in the right way the psychiatry to be studied, for example, in the person of Ludendorff. But it is precisely a considerable portion of the most recent history of our times that must be viewed in this light.
You will be able to recall that, from the beginning of the catastrophe, I have repeatedly and emphatically declared on the occasion of one or another irresponsible assertion that this particular war catastrophe will render it impossible to write history on the basis of mere documents and the results of archival research. The manner in which this catastrophe became possible will be understood only by one who comes to realize clearly that the most decisive occurrence that took place at the end of July and the beginning of August, 1914 occurred because of a dimmed condition in human consciousness. Men over the whole earth were in a state of dimmed consciousness, and occurrences were brought about through the influence of ahrimanic powers in these dimmed consciousnesses. In other words, things will have to be unveiled through a knowledge of spiritual-scientific facts. This is something that must simply be perceived. The time is past when events can be rightly explained on the basis of mere documents, in the manner in which Rancke wrote history, or someone else in some other field — Buckle, or others. This is important. Mere sympathies and antipathies determine nothing when the right guidance for one's judgment is needed. Judgments, however, have been formed in recent years, and are still being formed primarily according to sympathies and antipathies. Certainly, correct judgments are formed even under the influence of sympathy and antipathy, but these do not signify much as regards a person's grasp by means of his judgment of the factual world. The manner in which one sort of opinion or another becomes epidemic can be subjected to special studies if we trace the development of opinions among people during recent years. What have millions of persons believed in Central Europe, and what will they believe? What is believed in the rest of the world? This continued in Central Europe as long as possible; outside of Central Europe it will continue even longer. But what is really needed is that the habit shall be formed at last of learning from the events themselves. Events shall be observed for the purpose of forming judgments on the basis of these events.
It is to be desired that the weight of events shall have some determining, decisive influence upon people, and especially the way in which events have taken their course in the present period. This way is quite new; earlier events came about differently. Today, things diametrically opposed to one another come together.
I called your attention last time to the fact that the transplantation of bolshevism into Russia was an impulse derived essentially from Ludendorff. These things, which it was naturally not necessary to mention outside the region of the Central Powers, have been stated there often enough. People would not listen. I repeatedly had the following experience. It is highly significant and I once referred to it here, but I desire that it shall not be forgotten, for I shall gradually narrate all these things so that the world shall learn what has really been happening. The writing I have prepared consisted of two parts. The second part contained what I have sketched for you as the social relationships but arranged in a form suited for that time. The first part contained what I considered it necessary that I should discuss and disseminate in the manner indicated. I have met persons who have read what I wrote and who answered me by saying, “Yes, indeed, but to carry out the first point you make would lead inevitably to the abdication of the German Kaiser.” Of course, I could only reply, “If it leads to that, it will simply be necessary that it should lead to that.” World history has confirmed this. This abdication had to come. It should not have come, however, in the way in which it actually occurred, but ought to have come from a free inner decision. Most assuredly this would have resulted from my very first point. Naturally, the first point did not read, “The German Kaiser must abdicate,” but it made a definite demand. If this had been carried out, the abdication would have occurred long ago under entirely different circumstances from those that actually took place.
I could never bring people to understand that what had there been written down was an utterance derived from reality. Regarding that one point also no further progress was made. As I was stating the matter to a minister of foreign affairs, I said to him also, “Well, you have the choice either to be reasonable and employ reason in bringing things to pass, or to experience revolutions, which must occur in the course of the next decades, and will begin soon.”
Just as truly as this was necessary, which directs attention to a somewhat greater perspective, so was it true that the German Kaiser had to be induced to abdicate, and that a proposal was made looking in this direction. But, when this statement was made, which was based upon a more limited perspective than the other, it was simply something regarding which it was not permissible even to speak, and of which not even a serious discussion was allowed.
Thus it did not require these last events to render obvious the unsound mind of Ludendorff, but this could have been known long before. I was able long ago to point this out. But, as you know, in regard to spiritual science the situation is such that people shrink in terror from it, because they are afraid of it. Fear in heart and mind is something that plays a great and tremendous role in the minds of people at the present time. It appears under the most varied masks. Indeed, anxiety of soul, unwillingness to come into contact with a thing, whatever it may be, is what plays a special role at the present time. It is with this objective in mind that we must view events and we then recognize them as symptoms for things that lie much deeper. Just consider an event of the last few days.
That things would turn out as they have turned out now could have been known long ago by any thoughtful observer of conditions in Germany and of the German army. Only it was Ludendorff who came to realize for the first time on August 8th, 1918, that he could not win the victory. He was the “practical person.” Bear in mind all that I have said to you from time to time about “practical persons,” about the impracticality of practical persons! He was a practical person, who proved to be wrong under all circumstances, who came to realize at the very last, on August 8th, that he could not win the victory with the army available to him. Men of insight had known this since September 16, 1914; it was impossible to win the victory with this army. Now, what did Ludendorff do? He summoned Ballin to him in order that Ballin should go at last to the Kaiser and should tell him what the situation was, since Ballin was on terms of close friendship with him. You will ask whether there was no imperial chancellor at that time. Yes, there was an imperial chancellor, but has name was Hertling. Was there no minister of foreign affairs? There was one, but he was Herr von Hintze, who had come out of ,the most stupefying atmosphere of the court. There was also a Reichstag, and other things likewise — of such appendices of the life of the nation it is scarcely worthwhile in our time to speak. So Ludendorff summoned Ballin to him and proposed to him that he explain the situation to the Supreme War Lord. Ballin set out for the Kaiser's residence — of course, always at a distance from the actual events, except when Ludendorff himself found it opportune to announce that this or that action had been undertaken in the presence of His Majesty, the Supreme War Lord. Anyone who understood the situation knew what significance to attach to the word “presence.” So Ballin, who had long been a well-known and clever man, set out toward Wilhelmshohe, in order to enlighten the Kaiser. This would naturally have been possible only if he had been able to speak to the Kaiser alone, which he could have done at any time if the Kaiser had not once struck him on his cheek with a lady's fan, or something of the kind, when Ballin at an earlier time, at the beginning of the war, had wished to explain something to him. But he consented to go, in spite of the affectionate slap given him with the lady's fan. He consented to go because of the critical situation, in order to explain the situation to his old friend. But the latter summoned Herr von Berg to be present, and he knew how to change the subject of a conversation — as the Kaiser obviously wished, for he did not wish to hear the truth. So the conversation never touched upon what should have been discussed.
I relate this only as a matter of psychology. You have here a person who Stands in the midst of the most critical events and who is afraid of the truth, brought to him by another person, and will not permit it to reach him. Here you see the situation in a clear light. The same phenomenon is common at the present time. So Ballin was not able to convince the Supreme War Lord because he simply could not present the matter to him. Ludendorff summoned Herr von Hintze, and reached an agreement with him that an armistice should be asked of the Entente. This was immediately after August 8, 1918. Herr von Hintze promised to appeal to Wilson. But nothing happened until toward October 1918, in spite of the fact that it was clear that the very thing was a matter of necessity that actually occurred under the most unfortunate ministry of Prince Max von Baden many weeks later. Prince Max von Baden wished to go to Berlin and do something entirely different, but Ludendorff explained that an armistice must be proposed within twenty-four hours to avoid the greatest disaster. Prince Max von Baden did this against his earlier decision.
After five days, Ludendorff declared that he had really blundered, and that it would not have been necessary!
This is an example of the way in which practical persons, highly respected practical persons — to whom, however, there is not the least ground for showing respect — intervene in world events but from what points of view and with what forces of thought! This is also an opportunity for studying how opinions become epidemic. The opinion that Hindenburg and Ludendorff are “great men” has spread everywhere with epidemic violence, whereas they were in so sense really great men, not even from the standpoint of their limited profession. These catastrophic occurrences are especially characteristic in showing how false judgments are formed. Witticisms alone have often hit the mark. If you go to Berlin now — most of you have probably not been in Berlin in recent years — you will see in the vicinity of the Victory Column, near that great cuspidor (indeed, the Reichstag building really looks like a huge cuspidor), in that vicinity you will see a remarkable structure. There stands “Hindenburg,” a great, gigantic, most horrible statue of wood. Every “patriot” has driven a nail into this statue so that it has gradually had nails hammered into it everywhere. Only the wit of Berlin has correctly evaluated this. The saying is that, when he was finally entirely nailed up (Ganz vernagelt=absolutely stupid) he would be placed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
All these things ought to be considered especially from the viewpoint of which I have often spoken — from the standpoint of the symptomatology of history as well as the symptomatology of events that have any relationship to human beings. The external world gives only symptoms, and we arrive at the truth only when we learn to recognize these symptoms in their nature as such.