Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Light of Truth

Rudolf Steiner: "Thinking is a hushed breath illumined by ingested light, made vibrant by it."

Der Hüter:
Hat verstanden dein Geist?
Der Weltengeist in mir
Er hielt den Atem an
Und seine Gegenwart
Mög' erleuchten mein Ich.

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

In Life-Threatening Times
You spirit of my life, guarding companion,
Be the goodness of heart in my willing,
Be human love in my feeling,
Be the light of truth in my thinking.
                        —Rudolf Steiner

In Todesgefahr
Du Geist meines Lebens, schützender Begleiter,
Sei Du in meinem Wollen die Herzensgüte,
Sei Du in meinem Fühlen die Menschenliebe,
Sei Du in meinem Denken das Wahrheitslicht.

John 14
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?
Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.
Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
If ye love me, keep my commandments.
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.
At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.
Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.
These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.

Related post:
Steiner translation by Robin Mitchell. Thank you, Robin!

Faux Pas

Dear Miss Manners:

    What do you consider a good conversation opener?

Gentle Reader:
    Almost anything except, "I've been on a wonderful journey of self-discovery lately, and I'd like to share it with you."

Mike Pence is the love child of Jeff Sessions and Roy Moore

Anthroposophy: New Wine

Rudolf Steiner:  "Anthroposophically oriented spiritual science aims to uncover true reality, and therefore it cannot be founded on the model provided by religious confessions of the past. That, you see was what one suffered from so terribly in the course of the old theosophical movement. What more was the old theosophical movement than just that people wanted a sort of select religion? It consisted in no new impulse proceeding from the civilization of Europe itself. It consisted merely in emotions, which were to be had out of the old religious element just as well. Only people had grown tired of these old religious concepts and ideas and feelings, and so had taken up something else. But the same atmosphere pervaded it as pervaded the old persuasion. They wanted to feel good, with an evangelical sort of goodness if they had been evangelicals, or with a Catholic kind of goodness if they had been Catholics; but they did not at bottom want the thing really needed, namely, an truly new religious impulse alongside other impulses; and this was because the European population had become accustomed to a life imbued with an alien, Asiatic religious impulse."


The Influences of Lucifer and Ahriman

What The World Needs Now Is Anthroposophy. Lecture 11 of 15.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornarch, Switzerland, November 1, 1919:

When social questions are discussed from a spiritual scientific point of view, this is not done out of any subjective motive or impulse. Everything is based upon observation of the evolution of humanity and of what the forces underlying that evolution demand of us now and in the immediate future.
To reveal the deeper impulses working at the present time is not a congenial task, for there is little inclination to enter into such matters with any real earnestness. But our age calls for this earnestness wherever the affairs of humanity are concerned, above all for the discarding of prejudices and preconceptions. Today, therefore, I shall put before you certain deeper aspects of matters to which reference has often been made.
Once again it is necessary to survey a rather lengthy period in the life of humanity. As you know, we distinguish the present epoch from other epochs, reckoning that it began in the middle of the fifteenth century A.D. We speak of it as the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, distinguishing it from the previous epoch which began in the eighth century B.C. and is called the Greco-Latin epoch after the peoples responsible for its culture. It was preceded by the epoch of Egypto-Chaldean civilization.
When we come to consider the Egypto-Chaldean epoch we find that the records of ordinary history break down. Even with the help of accessible Egyptian and Chaldean lore, external evidence does not carry us very far back in the history of humanity.
But it is not possible to grasp what is of importance for the present time unless we understand the intrinsic characteristics of that third post-Atlantean epoch of culture.
You are certainly aware that in the ordinary history of that ancient time, all civilization, all culture in the then-known world, goes by the name of paganism. Like an oasis, Hebraic culture arises in its midst as a preparation for Christianity. But disregarding for the moment this Jewish culture, which differed so fundamentally from the other forms of pre-Christian civilized life, let us turn our attention to paganism. Its special characteristic may be said to lie in its wisdom, in its deep insight into the things and processes of the world. The knowledge contained in paganism had its source in the ancient Mysteries and although according to modern scholarship it bears a mythical, pictorial character, it must be emphasized that all the imagery, all the pictures which have come down to posterity from this ancient paganism are the fruits of profound insight.
Recalling the many treasures of this super-sensible lore which we have been endeavoring to bring to light, it will be obvious that here we have to do with a primeval wisdom, a wisdom underlying all the thinking, all the perceptions and feelings of those ancient peoples. A kind of echo of this primeval wisdom, a tradition in which it was enshrined, survived here and there in secret societies, actually in a healthy form, until the end of the eighteenth century and at the beginning of the nineteenth. In the nineteenth century the source ran dry and such vestiges as remain have passed into the hands of isolated groups belonging to certain, nationalities. And what is in the possession of ordinary secret societies today can no longer be regarded as wholesome or as a genuine tradition of the old pagan wisdom.
Now this ancient wisdom has one particular characteristic of which sight must never be lost. It has one characteristic on account of which Judaism, the smaller stream then making preparation for Christianity had to be introduced as a kind of oasis.
If this ancient paganism is rightly understood, it will be found to contain sublime, deeply penetrating wisdom, but no moral impulses for human action. These impulses were not really essential to humanity, for unlike what now passes as human knowledge, human insight, this old pagan wisdom gave one the feeling of being membered into the whole cosmos. People moving about the earth not only felt themselves composed of the substances and forces present around them in earthly life, in the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms, but they felt that the forces operating, for example, in the movements of the stars and the sun were playing into them. This feeling of being a member of the whole cosmos was not a mere abstraction, for from the Mysteries they received directives based on the laws of the stars for their actions and whole conduct of life. This ancient star-wisdom was in no way akin to the arithmetical astrology sometimes considered valuable today, but it was a wisdom voiced by the initiates in such a way that impulses for individual action and conduct went forth from the Mysteries. Not only did human beings feel safe and secure within the all-prevailing wisdom of the cosmos, but those whom they recognized as the initiates of the Mysteries imparted this wisdom in directives for their actions from morning till evening on given days of the year. Yet, neither Chaldean nor Egyptian wisdom contained a single moral impulse from what had been imparted by the initiates in this way. The moral impulse in its real sense was prepared by Judaism and then further developed in Christianity.
Inevitably the question arises: Why is it that this sublime pagan wisdom, although it contained no moral impulse, was able, for example in ancient Greece, to come to flower in such beauty of art and grandeur of philosophy?
If we were to go much farther back, to a time more than three thousand years before the Christian era, we should find that together with the promptings of wisdom there did come a moral impulse, that the moral principles, the ethics needed by these people of old were contained in this wisdom. But a specific ethos, a specific moral impulse such as came with Christianity was not an integral part of paganism. Why was this? It was because through the millennia directly preceding Christianity, this pagan wisdom was inspired from a place far away in Asia, inspired by a remarkable being who had been incarnated in the distant East in the third millennium before Christ — namely, Lucifer.
To the many things we have learned about the evolution of humanity, this knowledge too must be added: that just as there was the incarnation which culminated in Golgotha, the incarnation of Christ in the man Jesus of Nazareth, there was an actual incarnation of Lucifer in far-off Asia, in the third millennium B.C.And the source of inspiration for much ancient culture was what can only be described as an earthly incarnation of Lucifer in a man of flesh and blood. Even Christianity, even the Mystery of Golgotha as enacted among human beings, was understood at first by the only means then available, namely the old luciferic wisdom. The one-sidedness of the gnosis, for all its amazing profundity, stems from the influence that had spread from this Lucifer incarnation over the whole of the ancient world. The significance of the Mystery of Golgotha cannot be fully grasped without the knowledge that rather less than three thousand years previously, there had been the incarnation of Lucifer.
In order that the luciferic inspiration might be lifted away from its one-sidedness, there came the incarnation of Christ and with it the impulse for the education and development of European civilization and its American offshoot. But since the middle of the fifteenth century, since the impulse for the development of individuality, of personality, has been at work, this phase of evolution has also contained within it certain forces whereby preparation is being made for the incarnation of another super-sensible Being. Just as there was an incarnation of Lucifer in the flesh and an incarnation of Christ in the flesh, so, before only a part of the third millennium of the post-Christian era has elapsed, there will be, in the West, an actual incarnation of Ahriman: Ahriman in the flesh. Humanity on earth cannot escape this incarnation of Ahriman. It will come inevitably. But what matters is that people shall find the right vantage point from which to confront it.
Whenever preparation is being made for incarnations of this character, we must be alert to certain indicative trends in evolution. A being like Ahriman, who will incarnate in the West in time to come, prepares for this incarnation in advance. With a view to his incarnation on the earth, Ahriman guides certain forces in evolution in such a way that they may be of the greatest possible advantage to him. And evil would result were people to live on in a state of drowsy unawareness, unable to recognize certain phenomena in life as preparations for Ahriman's incarnation in the flesh. The right stand can be taken only by recognizing in one or another series of events the preparation that is being made by Ahriman for his earthly existence. And the time has now come for individual human beings to know what tendencies and events around them are machinations of Ahriman, helping him to prepare for his approaching incarnation.
It would undoubtedly be of the greatest benefit to Ahriman if he could succeed in preventing the vast majority of people from perceiving what would make for their true well-being, if the vast majority of people were to regard these preparations for the Ahriman incarnation as progressive and good for evolution. If Ahriman were able to slink into a humanity unaware of his coming, that would gladden him most of all. It is for this reason that the occurrences and trends in which Ahriman is working for his future incarnation must be brought to light.
One of the developments in which Ahriman's impulse is clearly evident is the spread of the belief that the mechanistic, mathematical conceptions inaugurated by Galileo, Copernicus, and others, explain what is happening in the cosmos. That is why anthroposophical spiritual science lays such stress upon the fact that spirit and soul must be discerned in the cosmos, not merely the mathematical, mechanistic laws put forward by Galileo and Copernicus as if the cosmos were some huge machine. It would augur success for Ahriman's temptings if people were to persist in merely calculating the revolutions of the heavenly bodies, in studying astrophysics for the sole purpose of ascertaining the material composition of the planets — an achievement of which the modern world is so proud. But woe betide if this Copernicanism is not confronted by the knowledge that the cosmos is permeated by soul and spirit. It is this knowledge that Ahriman, in preparing his earthly incarnation, wants to withhold. He would like to keep people so obtuse that they can grasp only the mathematical aspect of astronomy. Therefore he tempts many people to carry into effect their repugnance to knowledge concerning soul and spirit in the cosmos. That is only one of the forces of corruption poured by Ahriman into human souls. Another means of temptation connected with his incarnation — he also works in cooperation with the luciferic forces — another of his endeavors is to preserve the already widespread attitude that for the public welfare it is sufficient if the economic and material needs of humanity are provided for. Here we come to a point that is not willingly faced in modern life. Official science nowadays contributes nothing to real knowledge of the soul and spirit, for the methods adopted in the orthodox sciences are of value only for apprehending external nature, including the external human constitution. Just think with what contempt average citizens today regard anything that seems idealistic, anything that seems to be a path leading in any way to the spiritual. At heart they are always asking: What is the good of it? How will it help me to acquire this world's goods? They send their sons to a private school, having perhaps been to one themselves; they send them on to a university or institute of advanced studies. But all this is done merely in order to provide the foundations for a career, in other words, to provide the material means of livelihood.
And now think of the consequences of this. What numbers of people there are today who no longer value the spirit for the sake of the spirit or the soul for the sake of the soul! They are out to absorb from cultural life only what is regarded as “useful.” This is a significant and mysterious factor in the life of modern humanity and one that must be lifted into the full light of consciousness. Average citizens, who work assiduously in their offices from morning till evening and then go through the habitual evening routine, will not allow themselves to get mixed up with what they call the “twaddle” to be found in anthroposophy. It seems to them entirely redundant, for they think: that is something one cannot eat! It finally comes to this — although people will not admit it — that in ordinary life nothing in the way of knowledge is considered really useful unless it helps to put food in the mouth!
In this connection people today have succumbed to a strange fallacy. They do not believe that the spirit can be eaten, and yet the very ones who say this, do eat the spirit! Although they may refuse to accept anything spiritual, nevertheless with every morsel that passes through the mouth into the stomach they are devouring the spiritual, but dispatching it along a path other than the path which leads to the real well-being of mankind.
I believe that many Europeans think it is to the credit of their civilization to be able to say: We are not cannibals! But these Europeans and their American affinities are, none the less, devourers of soul and spirit! The soulless devouring of material food leads to the side-tracking of the spirit. It is difficult to say these things today, for in the light of such knowledge just think what would have to be said of a large section of modern culture! To keep people in the state of being devourers of the soul and spirit is one of Ahriman's impulses in preparation for his incarnation. To the extent to which people can be roused into conducting their affairs not for material ends alone and into regarding a free and independent spiritual life, equally with economic life, as an integral part of the social organism — to that same extent Ahriman's incarnation will be awaited with an attitude worthy of humanity.
Another tendency in modern life of benefit to Ahriman in preparing his incarnation is all that is so clearly in evidence in nationalism. Whatever can separate people into groups, whatever can alienate them from mutual understanding the whole world over and drive wedges between them, strengthens Ahriman’s impulse. In reality we should recognize the voice of Ahriman in what is so often proclaimed nowadays as a new ideal: “Freedom of the peoples, even the smallest,” and so forth. But blood relationship has ceased to be the decisive factor and if this outworn notion persists, we shall be playing straight into the hands of Ahriman. His interests are promoted, too, by the fact that people are taken up with the most divergent shades of party opinions, of which the one can be justified as easily as the other. A socialist party program and an anti-socialist program can be supported by arguments of equal validity. And if people fail to realize that this kind of “proof” lies so utterly on the surface that the No and the Yes can both be justified with our modern intelligence — useful as it is for natural science but not for a different kind of knowledge — if people do not realize that this intelligence lies entirely on the surface in spite of serving economic life so effectively, they will continue to apply it to social life and spiritual life irrespectively. One group will prove one thing, another it’s exact opposite, and as both proofs can be shown to be equally logical, hatred and bitterness — of which there is more than enough in the world — will be intensified. These trends too are exploited by Ahriman in preparation for his earthly incarnation.
Again, what will be of particular advantage to him is the short-sighted, narrow conception of the Gospel that is so prevalent today. You know how necessary it has become in our time to deepen understanding of the Gospels through spiritual science. But you also know how widespread is the motion that this is not fitting, that it is reprehensible to bring any real knowledge of the spirit or of the cosmos to bear upon the Gospels; it is said that the Gospels must be taken “in all their simplicity,” just as they stand. I am not going to raise the issue that we no longer possess the true Gospels. The translations are not faithful reproductions of the authentic Gospels, but I do not propose to go into this question now. I shall merely put before you the deeper fact, namely that no true understanding of Christ can be reached by the simple, easy going perusal of the Gospels beloved by most religious denominations and sects today. At the time of the Mystery of Golgotha and for a few centuries' afterward, a conception of the real Christ was still possible, because accounts handed down by tradition could be understood with the help of the pagan, luciferic wisdom. This wisdom has now disappeared, and what sects and denominations find in the Gospels does not lead people to the real Christ for whom we seek through spiritual science, but to an illusory picture, at most to a sublimated hallucination of Christ.
The Gospels cannot lead to the real Christ unless they are illumined by spiritual science. Failing this illumination, the Gospels as they stand give rise to what is no more than hallucination of Christ's appearance in world history. This becomes very evident in the theology of our time. Why does modern theology so love to speak of the “simple man of Nazareth” and to identify the Christ with Jesus of Nazareth — whom it regards as a man only a little more exalted than other great figures of history? It is because the possibility of finding the real Christ has been lost, and because what people glean from the Gospels leads-to hallucination, to a kind of illusion. An illusory conception of Christ is all that can be` gleaned through the way in which the Gospels are read today — not the reality of Christ. In a certain sense this has actually dawned on the theologians and many of them are now describing Paul's experience on the way to Damascus as a “vision.” They have come to the point of realizing that their way of studying the Gospels can lead only to a vision, to hallucination. I am not saying that this vision is false or untrue, but that it is merely an inner experience, unconnected with the reality of the Christ being. I do not use the word “illusion” with the side-implication of falsity, but I wish only to stress that the Christ Being is here a subjective, inner experience, of the same character as hallucination. If people could be brought to a standstill at this point, not pressing on to the real Christ but contenting themselves with a hallucination of Christ, Ahriman's aims would be immeasurably furthered.
The influence of the Gospels also leads to hallucinations when one Gospel alone is taken as the basis of belief. Truth to tell, this principle has been forestalled by the fact that we have been given four Gospels, representing four different aspects, and it does not do to take each single Gospel word-for-word on its own, when outwardly there are obvious contradictions. To take one single Gospel word-for-word and disregard the other three is actually dangerous. What you find in sects whose adherents swear by the literal content of the Gospel of St. Luke alone or that of St. John alone is an illusory conception arising from a certain dimming of consciousness. With the dimming of consciousness that inevitably occurs when the deeper content of the Gospels is not revealed, people would fall wholly into Ahriman's service, helping in a most effective way to prepare for his incarnation, and adopting toward him the very attitude he desires.
And now another uncomfortable truth for humankind today! Living in the arms of their denominations, people say: “We do not need anthroposophy or anything of the kind; we are content with the Gospels in all their simplicity.” They insist that this is said out of “humility.” In reality, however, it is the greatest arrogance! For it means that such persons, making use of ideas which have been presented to them through their birth and surge out of their blood, are deigning to rule out the deeper treasures of wisdom to be discovered in the Gospels. These “humblest” of human beings are generally the most arrogant of all, especially in the sects and denominations. The point to remember is, however, that the people who do most to prepare for the incarnation of Ahriman are those who constantly preach. “All that is required is to read the Gospels word-for-word-nothing more than that!”
Strange to say, in spite of their radical differences, the two parties play into each other's hands: those whom I called “devourers of soul and spirit” and those who demand the literal, word-for-word reading of the Gospels. Each party plays into the hands of the other, furthering the preparation of Ahriman's incarnation. For if the outlook of the “devourers of soul and spirit” on the one side and that of professed Christians who refuse to enter into the deeper truths of the Gospels on the other were to hold the day, then Ahriman would be able to make all human beings on the earth his own. A good deal of what is spreading in external Christianity today is a preparation for Ahriman's incarnation. And in many things which arrogantly claim to represent true belief, we should recognize the preparation for Ahriman's work.
Words nowadays do not really convey the innermost reality of things. As I have often told you, far too much store is set upon words — for words do not necessarily lead to that reality; nowadays indeed it is rather a case of words separating people from the real nature of things in the world. And this they do most of all when people accept ancient records such as the Gospels with “simple understanding” — as the saying goes. But there is a far truer simplicity in trying to penetrate to the in dwelling spirit of things and to understand the Gospels themselves from the vantage ground of the spirit.
As I told you, Ahriman and Lucifer will always work hand in hand. The only question is which of the two predominates in human consciousness at a particular epoch of time. It was a preeminently luciferic culture that persisted until after the Mystery of Golgotha — a culture inspired by the incarnation of Lucifer in China in the third millennium B.C. Many influences of this incarnation continued to radiate and were still powerful in the early Christian centuries; indeed they are working to this day.
But now that we are facing an incarnation of Ahriman in the third millennium after Christ, Lucifer's tracks are becoming less visible, and Ahriman's activities in such trends as I have indicated are coming into prominence. Ahriman has made a kind of pact with Lucifer, the import of which may be expressed in the following way. Ahriman, speaking to Lucifer, says: “I, Ahriman, find it advantageous to make use of ‘preserving jars.’ To you I will leave people's stomachs, if you will leave it to me to lull them to sleep — that is to say to lull their consciousness to sleep where their stomachs are concerned.”
You must understand what I mean by this. The consciousness of those human beings whom I have called devourers of soul and spirit is in a condition of dimness so far as their stomachs are concerned; for, by not accepting the spiritual into their human nature, they drive straight into the luciferic stream everything they introduce into their stomachs. What people eat and drink without spirituality goes straight to Lucifer!
And what do I mean by “preserving jars?” I mean libraries and institutions of a similar kind, where the various sciences pursued by human beings without really stirring their interest are preserved; these sciences are not really alive in them but are simply preserved in the books on the shelves of libraries. All this knowledge has been separated from human beings. Everywhere there are books, books, books! Themselves students, when they take their doctor's degree, have to write a learned thesis which is then put into as many libraries as possible. When the students want to take up some particular post, again they must write a thesis! In addition to this, people are forever writing, although only a very small proportion of what they write is ever read. Only when some special preparation has to be made do people resort to what is moldering away in libraries. These “preserving jars” of wisdom are a particularly favorable means of furthering Ahriman's aims.
This kind of thing goes on everywhere. It could only be to some purpose if people took a really live interest in it, but they do not, its existence is entirely separate and apart. Just think — if one were so disposed one might well despair — just think, for example, of a lawsuit where a lawyer has to be engaged to plead the case. The time comes when one has to discuss the matter. Documents pile up! The lawyer has them all there in a dossier, but when one starts talking, this lawyer has no inkling of the circumstances. The papers are turned over and over without getting anywhere; the lawyer has no connection at all with the documents. Here is one portfolio full of them, there another. The number of documents grows and grows but as for interest in them — that is simply nonexistent! These professional people make one despair when one has dealings with them; they really know nothing about the matter at issue, have no connection with it, for everything remains in the documents. These are the little preserving jars and the libraries are the big preserving jars of soul and spirit. Everything is preserved in them but human beings do not want to connect themselves with it, to permeate it with their interest. And finally there arises the mood which does not want the head to play any part in a professed view of the world. But after all, the head, or some element of the head, is necessary for any understanding! What people like is to base their religious faith, their view of the world, on the heart alone. The heart must play a part, of course; but the way in which people today often speak of their religion reminds me of a saying much quoted in the district where my youth was spent. It was to this effect: “There is something very special about love. If you buy it, you buy the heart only and the head is thrown in gratis.” This is more or less the attitude which people today like to adopt in their view of life; they would like to take in everything through the heart, as they say, without exerting the head at all. The heart cannot beat without the head, but the heart is well able to take things in if by “heart” here one really means the stomach! And then, what ought to be achieved through the head is supposed to be thrown in gratis, especially where the most important things in life are concerned. It is very important indeed to pay heed to these matters, because in observing them it becomes evident what earnestness must be applied to life at this juncture, how necessary it is to learn from the illusions to which even the Gospels may give rise, and how dearly humankind today loves those illusions.
Truth is beyond the reach of the kind of knowledge for which people aspire today. They feel on secure ground when they can reckon by means of figures, when they can prove things by statistics. With statistics and figures Ahriman has an easy game; it suits him admirably when some erudite scholar points out, for example, that conditions in the Balkans are due to the fact that the population of Macedonia consists of so many Greeks, so many Serbs, so many Bulgarians. Nothing can stand up against figures because of the faith that is reposed in them; and Ahriman is only too ready to exploit figures for his purposes. But later on one begins to see just how “reliable” such figures are! Admittedly, figures are sometimes a means of proof, but if one goes beyond them and investigates more closely, one often notices things like the following. In the statistics of Macedonia, for example, a father may be put down as a Greek, one son as a Serb, another son as a Bulgarian; so the father is counted in with the Greeks, one son with the Serbs, and the other with the Bulgarians. What would really help one to get at the truth, however, would be to discover how it has happened that in the same family one is said to be Greek, one Serbian, and one Bulgarian, and how this affects the figures — rather than simply accepting the figures that people find so satisfactory today. If the father is Greek then naturally the sons are Greek too. Figures are means whereby people are led astray in a direction favorable to Ahriman for his future incarnation in the third millennium A.D.
We shall speak of these things again in the lecture tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Earth's mission: to transmute God's love into human love

The conclusion to the lecture cycle Occult Physiology

Rudolf Steiner, Prague, March 28, 1911:

What the organism produces in the way of inner warmth processes in our blood, warmth processes which it conducts to us through all its different processes, and which it finally brings to expression in a flowering of all other processes, penetrates up into the soul and spirit, transforms itself into soul and spirit. And what is most beautiful, the loftiest thing about it, is the fact that, through the forces of the human soul, what is organic can be transformed into what is soul nature! If everything that man can have through the activity of his earthly organism is rightly transformed by him after it has become warmth, it then transmutes itself in his soul into what we may call an inner living experience of compassion, a sympathy for all other beings. If we penetrate through all the processes of the human organism, to the highest level of all, to the processes of warmth, we pass as it were through the door of the human physiological processes, above the uppermost heights which are formed by these processes, into that world where the warmth of the blood is given its worth in accordance with what the soul has made out of it: in accordance with the living sympathy of the soul for everything that has being, and its compassion for everything around it. In this way we broaden our life, if our inner life carry us on to a kindling of inner heat, beyond all that is earthly being; we make ourselves one with all earthly being. And we must note the marvelous fact that the whole of Cosmic Being has taken the round-about path of first building up our whole organisation, in order finally to give us that warmth which we are called upon to transmute through our ego into living compassion for all beings.
In the Earth's mission, warmth is in the process of being transmuted into compassion.
This is the meaning of the earth process; and it is being fulfilled, since man as a physical organism is embedded in this earth-process, through the fact that all physical processes finally come together in man's organisation as their crown; that everything therein, like a microcosm, in turn, of all earthly processes, opens again into new blossoming. And, as this is transmuted in the human soul, the earth-organism, through man's sympathetic interest and living compassion for every kind of being, attains to that for which warmth had its intended use in the organism allotted to him as Earth-Man. What we take up in our souls through living sympathy, which helps us to broaden our inner soul-life more and more, we shall take with us when we shall have gone through many organisations such as enable us to use to the full, for the spirit, everything that the earth could give us as kindling heat, burning warmth, flame of fire! And when, through innumerable incarnations, we shall have taken up into ourselves all that there is of this fervour of warmth, then will the earth have reached its goal, its purpose. Then will it sink beneath us, a great corpse, into indeterminate cosmic space; and there will arise out of this earth-corpse the united throng of all those earthly human souls who, through their different earthly incarnations, have realised the worth of the outpouring warmth of earth-organisms by transmuting it into living compassion and sympathy, and into whatever can be built upon these. Just as the individual soul, when the human being passes through the portal of death, rises to a spiritual world and gives over the corpse to the forces of the earth, so to the forces of the cosmos will one day be surrendered the earth's corpse, when it shall have given to us that burning warmth we needed for the compassion which was the foundation-stone of all our higher activities of soul. This corpse which will be given over to the cosmic system, just as the individual human corpse is given over to the earth-system, will be able to see rising above it the sum of all the individual human souls, now one important stage nearer perfection as a result of earth existence, and these will then press onward to new stages of existence, to new cosmic systems. Just as in the earth-system the individual human being, after he has passed through the portal of death, advances to new incarnations, so does the throng of all the individual souls, after the earth-corpse has fallen away, advance to new planetary stages of existence.
And so we see that nothing in the cosmic system is lost, but that what is given to us in our organism up to the final blossoming of heat is that “material” which, when we have used it up as burning warmth, helps us to find the way to a new and higher stage leading to eternity. Nothing in the world is lost, but what the earth produces, through human souls, is carried over by them into eternity!
Thus does spiritual science also permit us to connect the physiological processes in the human organism with our eternal destiny. And thus will this science, if we view it as something which must so implant itself within us that it is not mere theory or abstract knowledge, fill us with all those forces which show us that we as human beings do not, after all, stand only upon the earth, but in the whole cosmic system! If we learn to think thus about the lofty and eternal destiny of humanity, how man takes the forces of the earth in order that he may work on into eternity, we then receive through spiritual science what must be wrung out of it, not only what we may attain for the sake of knowledge but for our whole man. And if those human beings who divine or already possess this high ideal of knowledge come together in a true brotherhood, harmoniously united in striving toward the highest of all, who understand each other, that is, in their innermost being, this means that there are present on our earth, in its process of becoming, human beings who have the right to be conscious that they bear within themselves seeds which are developing, which can be fruitful for the further evolution of earth and humanity. In all modesty may anthroposophists come together and unite their feelings with what is highest, most universal, in man. And, when men gather in such a spirit, they understand one another in their deepest being; for they acknowledge one another, not merely as individual earth-men and in their earthly destiny, but rather in their eternal destiny.
It was in this spirit that we came together here; and it is in this spirit that we shall go away again, to live in the outside world and perhaps to pass on to others much of what it has been possible to give here as an incentive, even if only in outline, and thus to bring it to new flower. We shall at the same time strive so to work when we are scattered that, although physically separated, we shall be in harmony with one another in living thought, in feeling, and in all our willing. Then shall we be rightly united in that Spirit which ought to be brought to mankind through Anthroposophy. In this Spirit we are about to separate after having been together for a while; in this Spirit we shall remain united in soul; and in this Spirit we shall meet again when it is meant to be.

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Revelation 2:17:  "And I will give him a white stone, and in that stone a name written, which no man knoweth save him that receiveth it."

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Nagapushpam ["Serpent Flower"]

"And so all the blood that was contained in this body [of Jesus on the Cross] flowed out of it: around four to five liters of living, foaming blood poured into the basin of rock at the foot of the Cross. We have already said that this rock was green in color. But this was not so beforehand. Before the holy blood touched the stone it was yellowish white in color, like all the other rocks in Jerusalem. When the living blood touched it, however, the rock sank down, forming a vessel-like basin, and changing its color to green." —Judith von Halle, Secrets of the Stations of the Cross and the Grail Blood, pp. 80-81.



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Fundamentals of the Science of Initiation

What The World Needs Now Is Anthroposophy. Lecture 5 of 10.
Rudolf Steiner, Dornarch, Switzerland, October 17, 1919:

Today I wish to speak to you of some fundamental pieces of knowledge of the science of initiation, which will then supply to us a kind of foundation for that which we shall consider to-morrow and the day after to-morrow. Today we shall first speak of something which lies in the consciousness of every human being, but is not grasped clearly enough in the ordinary course of life. When we speak of such things, we always speak of them from the standpoint of our present time, in the sense and meaning which I have often explained to you: namely, that knowledge is not in any way valid for all time and for every place, but that it is only valid for a certain definite time, indeed, only for a definite region of the earth. Thus, certain standpoints of knowledge would be valid, for instance, for the European civilisation, and other standpoints would be valid — let us say — for the knowledge of the East.
Everybody knows that we live, as it were, between two poles of our knowledge. Everyone feels that, on the one hand, we have the knowledge gained through our senses. A plain, unprejudiced person learns to know the world through his senses, and is even able to sum up what he sees and hears, and, in general, what he perceives through his senses. After all, that which science supplies to us, in the form in which science now exists in the Occident, is merely a summary of that which the senses convey to us.
But everyone can feel that there is also another kind of knowledge, and that it is not possible to be in the full sense of the word a real human being living in the ordinary world, unless another kind of knowledge is added to the one which has just been characterized. And this kind of knowledge is connected with our moral life. We do not only speak of ideas pertaining to the knowledge of Nature, and explaining this or that thing in Nature, we also speak of ethical ideas, ethical ideals. We feel that they are the motives of our actions, and that we allow them to guide us when we ourselves wish to be active in the ordinary world. And every man will undoubtedly feel that this knowledge of the senses, with the resulting intellectual knowledge (for, the intellectual knowledge is merely a result, an appendix of the knowledge transmitted by the senses) is a pole of our cognitive life which cannot reach as far as the ethical ideas. The ethical ideas are there, but when we pursue, for instance, natural science, we cannot find these ethical ideas by contemplating the plant-world, the mineral world, or by following any other branch of modern natural sciences. The tragic element of our time consists, for instance, in trying to discover, upon a natural-scientific basis, ideas which are to be applied to the social sphere. If sound common sense were adopted, this would never be possible. The ethical ideas exist as if on another side of life. And our life is indeed under the influence of these two streams: on the one hand, the knowledge of Nature, and on the other hand, the ethical knowledge.
From my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity you will know that the highest ethical ideas required by us as human beings are given to us when we grasp moral intuitions, and that when we begin to gain possession of these ethical ideas, they are the foundation of our human freedom. On the other hand, you may perhaps also know that for certain thinkers there has always been a kind of abyss between that which is given, on the one hand, by the knowledge of Nature, and on the other hand, by ethical knowledge. The philosophy of Kant is based upon this abyss, which he is unable to bridge completely. For this reason, Kant has written a Critique of Theoretical Reason, of Pure Reason, as he calls it, where he grapples with natural science, and where he says all that he has to say about natural science, or the knowledge of Nature. On the other hand, he has also written a Critique of Practical Reason, where he speaks of ethical ideas. We might say: The whole human life is born for him out of two roots which are completely severed from one another, which he describes in his two chief critical studies.
Of course, it would be unfortunate for the human being if there were no connecting bridge between these two poles of our soul-life. Those who earnestly pursue, on the one hand, spiritual science, and on the other hand, earnestly consider the tasks of our present time, must eagerly ask themselves: Where is the bridge connecting ethical ideas and the ideas of Nature?
To-day we shall adopt the standpoint which I would like to characterize as a historical standpoint, in order to come to a knowledge of this bridge. You already know from the explanations which have recently been given here, that in past times man's soul-constitution was essentially different from that of a later time. The origin of Christianity really forms a deep incision in the whole evolution of humanity. And only if we understand what has really arisen in the evolution of humanity through the birth of Christianity we shall understand human reason.
That which lies behind the rise of Christianity — not to mention Jewish history — is the whole extent of pagan culture. Jewish culture was, after all, a preparation for Christianity. This whole extent of pagan culture is essentially different from our modern Christian culture. The more we go back into time, the more we shall find that this pagan culture had a uniform character. It was principally based upon human wisdom. I know that it is almost offending for a modern man to hear that, as far as wisdom is concerned, the ancients were far more advanced than modern man; nevertheless it was so. In ancient pagan times a wisdom extended over the earth, which was far nearer to the origin of things than our modern knowledge, particularly our modern natural sciences. This ancient, this primeval knowledge, was very concrete, it was a knowledge intensively connected with the spiritual reality of things. Something entered the human soul through man's knowledge of the reality of things. But the special characteristic of this ancient pagan wisdom was the fact that the human beings obtained it in such a way (you know that they obtained it from the Mysteries of the Initiates) that this wisdom contained both a knowledge of Nature, and an ethical knowledge. This extraordinarily significant truth in the history of human evolution, this truth which I have just explained to you, is ignored to-day only because people cannot go back to the truly characteristic times of the ancient pagan wisdom. A historical knowledge does not reach back so far as to enable us to grasp the times when the human beings who looked up to the stars really received from the stars, on the one hand, a wisdom explaining to them in their own way the course of the stars, but on the other hand, it also told them how they were to behave and act here upon the earth. Metaphorically speaking, (yet it is not entirely metaphorical, but quite objective up to a certain degree), we might say, that the ancient Egyptians and the ancient Chaldean civilisations were, for instance, of such a kind that men could read the laws of Nature in the course of the stars, but in the star's course they could also read the rules governing that which they were to do upon the earth.
The codices of the ancient Egyptian Pharaohs contain, for instance, rules concerning that which was to become law. It was so that for centuries ahead that which would later on become law was foretold prophetically. Everything contained in these codiceswas read from the course of the stars. In those ancient times there was no astronomy such as we have it now, merely containing mathematical laws of the movements of the stars or of the earth, but there was a knowledge of the cosmos which was at the same time moral knowledge, ethics.
The doubtful element of modern astrology, which does not go beyond the stage of dilettantism, is that people no longer feel that its contents can only be a complete whole if the laws discovered in it are at the same time moral laws for the human beings. This is something extraordinarily significant.
In the course of human evolution, the essence of that primeval science was lost. This lies at the foundation of the fact that certain Secret Schools — but the schools of an earnest character have really ceased to exist at the end of the 18th century — and even certain Secret Schools of the Occident, have again and again pointed back to this lost science, to the lost Word. As a rule, those who came later no longer knew what was meant by the expression “Word”. Nevertheless, this conceals a certain fact. In Saint-Martin's books we may still find an echo showing that up to the end of the 18th century it was very clearly felt that in ancient times men possessed a spiritual wisdom which they obtained simultaneously with their knowledge of Nature. Their spiritual wisdom also contained their moral and ethical wisdom; this had already disappeared in the eight centuries preceding the rise of Christianity. We may even say: Ancient Greek history is, essentially, the gradual loss of primeval wisdom.
If we study the philosophers before Socrates, namely Heraclitus, Thales, Anaximenes, Anaxagoras, the philosophers of the tragic epoch, as Nietzsche called them — I have dealt with them in my book Riddles of Philosophy, and have tried to give as good as possible a picture, from an external standpoint — if we study these philosophers (but the external writings tell us very little about them), we shall find again and again that the passages which have remained like oases in a desert, re-echo a great, encompassing wisdom and knowledge which existed in the remote past of human evolution. The words of Heraclitus, of Thales, Anaxagoras and Anaximenes, appear to us as if humanity had, as it were, forgotten its primeval wisdom and only remembered occasionally some fragmentary passages. The few passages of Thales, Anaxagoras, of the seven Greek sages, etc., which have been handed down to us traditionally, appear to us like fragmentary recollections.
In Plato we still encounter a kind of clear consciousness of this primeval wisdom; in Aristotle everything has been transformed into human wisdom.
And among the Stoics and Epicureans this gradually disappears. The ancient primeval knowledge only remains like an old legend. This is how matters stood with the Greeks.
The Romans — and they were by Nature a prosaic, matter-of-fact nation — even denied that this primeval knowledge had any meaning at all, and they transformed everything into abstractions. The course which I have just described to you in regard to the primeval knowledge, was necessary for the evolution of humanity. Man would never have reached freedom in the course of his development, had the primeval wisdom, which came to him indirectly through atavistic clairvoyance, remained in its original intensity and significance. Nevertheless, this primeval knowledge was connected with everything which could reach man from divine heights in the form, I might say, of moral impulses. This had to be rescued. The moral impulse had to be rescued for man.
Among the many things which we have already explained in regard to the Mystery of Golgotha we have also explained that the divine principle which descended to the earth trough the man, Jesus of Nazareth, contained the moral power which was little by little dispersed and cleft through the waning and gradual dying out of the ancient primeval wisdom. It is indeed so — although this may seem paradoxical to a modern man — that we can say: Once upon a time there was an old primeval wisdom. Man's moral power and moral wisdom were connected with primeval knowledge; this was contained in it as an integrant. The ancient primeval wisdom then lost its power, it could no longer be the bearer of a moral impulse
This moral impulse had, as it were, to be taken under the wing of the Mystery of Golgotha. And for the civilisation of the Occident, the further continuation was the Christ Impulse which has arisen from the Mystery of Golgotha containing that which had remained as a kind of moral extract from the ancient primeval wisdom.
It is very strange to follow, for instance, that which Occidental civilisation contains in the form of true science, true wisdom, up to the 8th or 9th century after Christ. Try to read the description of Occidental wisdom up to the 8th and 9th century, as contained in my book Riddles of Philosophy, and you will see that, after all, this course of development contains nothing of what may be designated as knowledge, in our modern meaning. For this arises towards the middle of the 15th century, at the time of Galilei. Until that time, knowledge has really been handed down traditionally from the primeval wisdom of the past. It is no longer a wisdom gained through inner intuition, no longer a primeval wisdom experienced inwardly, but an external wisdom handed down traditionally. I have often told you the story of Galilei, the story which is not an anecdote, namely, how Galilei had to make a great effort in order to convince a friend of the truth of his statements. Like all the other people of the Middle Ages who pursued wisdom, this friend was accustomed to accept what was contained in the books of Aristotle, or in the other traditional works. Everything which was taught at that time was traditional. That which was contained in the books of Aristotle was handed down traditionally. And the learned friend of Galilei agreed with Aristotle that the nerves go out from the heart. Galilei endeavoured to explain to him that according to the knowledge he had gained by studying a corpse, he was obliged to say something else: namely, that in the human being the nerves go out from the head, or the brain. This Aristotelian thinker could not believe it. Galilei then led him to the corpse, showed him that the nerves in fact go out from the brain and not from the heart, and felt sure that his friend would now have to believe what he saw with his own eyes. But his friend said: “Indeed, this appears to be true; I can see with my own eyes that the nerves proceed from the brain. But Aristotle says the opposite, namely that the nerves proceed from the heart. If I have to choose between the evidence of the senses in Nature and Aristotle's statements, I prefer to believe in Aristotle, and not in Nature!” This is not an anecdote, but a true occurrence. After all, in our time we simply experience the same thing, only the other way round.
You see, at that time all knowledge was traditional. A new knowledge only began with the time of Galilei, Copernicus, and so forth. But throughout these centuries the moral impulse was borne by the Christian impulse. It was essentially connected with the religious element. This was not the case in pagan times. The pagans realised that when they obtained cosmic wisdom, they obtained at the same time a moral impulse.
A new impulse arose towards the middle of the 15th century, an impulse which completely severed the connection with everything that existed in the form of ancient wisdom, even though this merely existed traditionally. It is very interesting to see the passion with which those who brought to the surface this new science — for instance, Giordano Bruno — abuse everything which existed in the form of old traditional wisdom. Bruno almost begins to rave when he rails against the recollections of ancient wisdom. Something entirely new arises. In fact, we shall be far from understanding human evolution if we are unable to look upon this new element which thus arises, as a beginning.
We may say (a drawing is made on the blackboard): If we indicate, here, the Mystery of Golgotha ... the moral impulse will continue from there, but what was that which the Mystery of Golgotha carried from an older into a more recent time? What was it, in reality, while it was being borne in that direction? It was an end. The more we progress, the more the ancient wisdom disappears, even in its traditional form. We may say that it continues to drip like water, in the form of traditional knowledge; but a new element, a beginning, arises with the 15th century.
Indeed, we have not advanced very far in this new direction. The few centuries which have elapsed since the middle of the 15th century have brought us some natural science, but we have not progressed far since that beginning.
What is this new wisdom? You see, it is a wisdom which, to begin with, in the form in which it has appeared, has this peculiarity: Contrary to the ancient pagan wisdom, it does not contain a moral impulse. You may study as much as possible of this new wisdom, of this Galilei wisdom — mineralogy, geology, physics, chemistry, biology, etc. etc., — but you will never be able to draw a moral impulse out of this knowledge of Nature.
If modern people think that they can establish sociology upon the foundation of natural sciences, this is a tremendous illusion. For it is impossible to squeeze out of natural science, such as it exists to-day, that kind of knowledge which can be an ideal for human actions. For natural science is altogether in an elementary stage, and we can only hope that by developing more and more, it will again come to the point of containing, as natural science, moral impulses.
If the knowledge of Nature were to continue only in accordance with its own form, it would not be able to produce moral impulses out of its own nature. A new super-sensible knowledge will have to develop by the side of this knowledge of Nature. This super-sensible knowledge will then contain once more the rays of a moral will. And when the beginning which was made towards the middle of the 15th century will have reached its end at the conclusion of the evolution of the earth, then super-sensible knowledge will flow together with the knowledge of the senses, and a unity will arise out of this.
When the old pagan sage, or the follower of pagan wisdom received pagan wisdom from his initiate in the Mysteries, he received at one and the same time a knowledge of Nature, a cosmic knowledge, an anthropogenesis and a moral science, and this was simultaneously a moral impulse. All this was one.
To-day it is necessary to admit that we obtain on the one hand, a knowledge of Nature, and on the other hand, super-sensible knowledge. This knowledge of Nature is, as such, devoid of moral impulses. Moral impulses must be gained through a super-sensible knowledge. Since the social impulses must, after all, be moral impulses, no true social knowledge, and not even a sum of social impulses can be imagined, unless man rises to super-sensible knowledge.
It is important that modern man should realise that he must strike out a new course in regard to social science; he must tread a different path than that of natural science. But I am at the same time obliged to draw your attention to a strange paradox: — I have often explained to you here that the deepest truths of the science of initiation appear strange to the ordinary every-day consciousness, may even appear crazy to an extreme materialist, but in our time it is necessary to grow acquainted with this wisdom which appears so paradoxical to-day. For in our time many things which appear foolish to men are wisdom before God. It would be a good thing if this bible passage were to be considered a little by those who brush aside Anthroposophy with a supercilious smile, or who criticize it in a vile way. They should consider that what they look upon as foolishness may be “wisdom before the Gods”. It would be a very good thing if several people — and by “several” I mean many — particularly those who go to church with their prayer book and revile Anthroposophy, were to insist less upon their proud faith and look more closely into that which is really contained in the Christian faith. In our time it is necessary to become acquainted with several things which appear paradoxical. You see, two things are possible to-day. Someone may become acquainted with the natural science of to-day (I shall now characterize these two things rather sharply), he may, for instance, take up the facts supplied by the science of chemistry, physics, biology, etc. He may study diligently and eagerly the Theory of Evolution which has arisen from the so-called Darwinism. If he studies all this he may become a materialist, as far as his world conception based on knowledge is concerned. Indeed, he will become a materialist; this cannot be denied. Since men, as it were, so quickly arrive at an opinion, they become materialists if they give themselves up wholly to the external knowledge of Nature, according to the intentions of some of their contemporaries. But it is also possible to do something else. In addition to that which physics, chemistry, mineralogy, botany, geology, biology, offer, in addition to that which these sciences teach, we may also direct our attention to what we do in the physical laboratory, to our behaviour during an experiment; we may watch carefully how we behave in the chemical laboratory and what we do there; we may watch the way in which we investigate plants, animals, and their evolution.
Goethe's knowledge of Nature is chiefly based upon the fact that he has deeply studied the way in which others have come to their knowledge. The greatness of Goethe depends upon this very fact, namely, that he has deeply occupied himself with the way in which others have attained to their knowledge. And it is very, very significant to penetrate really into the essence and spirit of an essay by Goethe, such as “The Experiment as Mediator between Object and Subject”. Here we may see how Goethe carefully follows the way in which phenomena of Nature are handled. What we may call the method of investigation, this is something which he has studied with the greatest attention. If you read my Introduction to Goethe's Natural-Scientific Writings you will find what great results Goethe has reached by thus pursuing the natural-scientific method.
In a certain way, that which Goethe has done can be developed further for the achievements of the 19th century and up to the 20th century ... but Goethe was no longer able to do this.
I therefore state: Two things are possible. Let us keep to this, to begin with. We remain by the results which natural science supplies, or else we investigate the attitude needed in order to arrive at these natural scientific results. Let us keep to what we have said in regard to the knowledge of Nature; let us now observe the human striving after knowledge from another standpoint.
You know that beside natural science there is also a spiritual knowledge; in the form of Anthroposophy, the knowledge of man, we may pursue cosmology, anthropology, etc., in such a way that they lead to the kind of results described, for instance, in my Occult Knowledge. There, we may find positive knowledge pointing to the spiritual world. Just as we obtain positive knowledge in natural science, in mineralogy, geology, etc., so we have, here, a positive knowledge referring to the spiritual world. In our anthroposophical movement it was particularly important for me to spread also this kind of positive knowledge concerning the spiritual world in the various books which I have written. Now we may also tackle things in such a way that we observe chiefly the way in which these things are done, and do not merely aim at obtaining knowledge. We observe how a person describes something, how he rises from external observation to inner observation; how he arrives to a higher spiritual conception, not through scientific investigations in the laboratory, in the clinic, in the astronomical observatory, but through his inner soul-development, along a mystical path. This would be parallel to the observation of the natural-scientific method, of the handling, of the way in which things are done. Also here we have this twofold element: to watch the results, and to watch the wayin which our soul comes to these results.
Let us take hypothetically something which may seem rather paradoxical. Let us suppose that someone were to pursue the natural-scientific methods, like Goethe: he will certainly not become a materialist, but will undoubtedly accept a spiritual world-conception. An infallible way of overcoming materialism in our modern time is to have in insight into the natural-scientific methods of investigation. In the natural-scientific sphere, men become materialists only because they do not observe, because they insufficiently observe the way in which they carry on their investigations. They are satisfied with results, with what the clinic, the laboratory, the observatory supply. They do not progress as far as Goetheanism, i.e. the observation of their manner of research; for those who allow themselves to be influenced by the natural-scientific manner of contemplating the world and of handling things in order to reach knowledge, will at least become idealists, and probably spiritualists, if they only proceed far enough.
If we now try to avoid reaching the positive results of spiritual science, if we find it boring to enter into the details of spiritual science, and only like to hear again and again how man's soul becomes mystical, if we concentrate our chief attention upon the methods leading to the spiritual sphere, this will be the greatest temptation for really becoming materialists. The greatest temptation for becoming materialists is to ignore the concrete results of spiritual science and to emphasize continually the importance of mystical research, mystical soul-concentration, and the methods of entering the spiritual world.
You see this is a paradox. Those who observe natural science, natural research, become spiritualists; those who disdain to reach a real spiritual knowledge and who always speak of mysticism and of how spiritual knowledge is gained, are exposed to the great temptation of becoming more than ever materialistic. This should be known to-day. We cannot do without the knowledge of such things.
To-day we have monistic societies. Those who give themselves the air of leaders in these monistic societies spread a very superficial world-conception. They condense the external materialistic results of natural science to a superficial world-conception. This is so easy for modern men who do not wish to make a great effort, who prefer to go to the “movies” rather than to other places, and consequently prefer to accept a kind of cinema-science — for materialism is nothing else — they prefer this to something which must be worked out inwardly. These leaders of monistic societies therefore supply a superficial materialism. Undoubtedly they are, at least for a time, temporarily noxious creatures, for they spread errors. It is not good if they flourish, for of course they turn the heads of people in a materialistic way. Nevertheless they are the less dangerous elements, for to begin with they are generally honest people, but this honesty does not protect them against this spreading of errors; however, they are for the most part frankly honest and their errors will be overcome. They will only have a temporary significance.
But there are other people who systematically, knowingly, refuse to lead man towards the concrete positive results of spiritual-science. Indeed, they nourish the aversion which exists to-day through a certain love of ease, the aversion of penetrating into the positive concrete results of spiritual science. You know that the things described in my “Occult Science” must be studied several years if we wish to understand them, they are not comfortable for a modern man, who may indeed send his son to the university, if he is to become a chemical scientist; nevertheless, if he is to recognize and grasp heaven and earth in a spiritual way, he expects him to do this in a twinkle, at least in one evening, and from every lecture on the super-sensible worlds he expects to have the whole sum of cosmic wisdom. Concrete results of a positive spiritual research are uncomfortable for most men, and this aversion is made use of by certain personalities of the present time who persuade men that they do not need these things, that it is not necessary to pursue the positive concrete details of spiritual facts. “What is this talk of the higher hierarchies which must first be known? What is this talk of Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, Vulcan etc.? All this is unnecessary.” They will tell you: “If you concentrate deeply, if your soul becomes quite mystical, you shall reach the God within you”. They will tell you these things, give general indications on the connection of the material and the super-sensible world. They nourish man's aversion to penetrate into the concrete spiritual world. Why do they do this? Because apparently, apparently they wish to spread a spiritual mentality, but in reality they aim at something else: Along this path, more than ever, they seek to produce materialism. For this reason the leaders of the monistic societies are less harmful. But the others who so often spread mysticism to-day, and who always speak of all kinds of mystical things, they are those who truly foster materialism, who foster it in a most refined way. They put into the heads of men that one or the other way leads into the spiritual world, and they avoid speaking about it concretely. They chiefly speak in general phrases and if they remain victorious they will undoubtedly succeed in making the third generation entirely materialistic. To-day, the more certain and also more refined way leading into materialism is to transmit mysticism traditionally, a mysticism which despises to penetrate into positive spiritual-scientific results. Many things which appear to form part of the spiritual literature of to-day foster materialism far more strongly than, for instance, the books of Ernst Häckel.
You see, these things are uncomfortable to hear, because in setting them before men we strongly appeal to their power of discernment, but men do not wish to listen to this appeal to their power of discernment. They are much more satisfied if every kind of mystical nonsense stimulates an inner lust of the soul. This is why there are so many opponents, particularly of those efforts which to-day honestly pursue spiritual life by disdaining to approach men with a shallow mysticism of a general nature. True spiritual science arouses opposition. In the present time there are numerous people and communities who do not in any way wish that a true spiritual regeneration and elevation should take hold of humanity, and who make use of the fact that materialism is undoubtedly festered if they speak to men of mysticism in general terms. They make use of this fact. For this reason they wage war to the knife where they encounter honest paths which are meant to lead into spiritual science.
I have thus characterized an extensive literature which exists to-day. In reality everyone who takes up a mystical book, no matter of what kind, should appeal strongly to his own judgment. This is strictly necessary. For this reason we should not be led astray by the fact that the many pseudo-mystical scribbles of our present time seem to be so easily accessible. Of course, people will easily understand us if we tell them, for instance: “You only need to penetrate deeply into your inner being and God will be within you; your God whom you only find by treading your own path; no one can show you this path because every other man speaks of another God”, or similar stuff. To-day you will find this in many books, and it is described in a most tempting and misleading manner.
I would like you to take to heart these things very deeply. For that which is to be reached through our anthroposophical movement can only be reached through the fact that you are at least a small number of people who strive to cultivate the characterized power of discernment; it would be fatal for humanity if no effort were made to develop this power of discernment. To-day we must try to stand firmly on our feet, if we do not wish to lose our foothold in the midst of the confusion and chaos of the present. We may often ask to-day after the cause of so much confusion in humanity. But we can almost touch these causes. We may find them in insignificant facts, but we must be able to judge these little facts on the right way.
It is uncomfortable to see this immediately, in the many forms in which it exists on all sides. Many grotesque paradoxes can be found not only in rather loathsome places, but also in the modern life of humanity. They undoubtedly exist also in the modern life of humanity. And it is necessary to-day to strive to obtain a clear understanding, an understanding as sharp as a blade, if we wish to gain a firm foothold. This is the essential thing.