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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Four Mystery Plays
GA 14
The Soul's Awakening (Written 1913)

Scene 1

Hilary's office. Fittings not very modern. He is a manufacturer of sawn woodwork.

And e'en our good friends in St. George's Town
Declare that they too are dissatisfied.

What? even they; it is deplorable.
The self-same reasons too; 'tis plain to see
With what regret and pain our friends announce
That they can deal no more with Hilary.

Complaints of our unpunctuality
And of the value of our goods compared
With those produced by our competitors
Reach us by post; and on my business trips
Our clients meet me with the same old tale.
The good name of this house is vanishing,
By Hilary's forefathers handed down
To us intact that we might heighten it.
And men begin to think that Hilary
Is swayed by dreamers and strange fantasies,
And, thus obsessed, no longer can bestow
The earnest care which he was wont to give
To all the operations of the firm,
Whose products were world-famous and unique.
So many as were our admirers then,
So great is now the tale of those who blame.

It is notorious that Hilary
Long since hath let himself be led astray
By seekers after some strange spirit gifts.
To such pursuits he ever was inclined
But formerly he kept them separate
From business and its workaday routine.

(Enter Hilary.)

(To the Secretary):
It seems advisable for me to speak
Alone with our employer for a while.

(Exit Secretary.)

Anxiety it is that bids me seek
An interview and earnest speech with thee.

Why then does my adviser feel concerned?

Things happen constantly which bring to light
A serious diminution in demand
For what we manufacture; nor do we
Produce as large an output as we should.
There is besides an increase of complaints
About the lower standard of our work,
And other houses step in front of us.
So too our well-known promptness kath declined
As many clients truthfully attest.
Ere long the best friends that remain to us
No more will be content with Hilary.

Long have I been full well aware of this
And yet indeed it leaves me unconcerned.
But none the less I feel an urgent need
To talk things over with thee; thou hast helped
Not only as the servant of my house,
But also as my dear and trusted friend.
And so I shall speak plainly to thee now
Of matters at which hitherto I've hinted.
Whoever wills to introduce new things
Must be content to let the old things die.
Henceforth the business will be carried on
In different ways from those it knew before.
Production, that but stays in straitest bounds
And without care doth offer up its fruits
Upon the market of our earthly life
Regardless of the uses they may find,
Doth seem so trivial and of little worth,
Since I have come to know the noble form
Work can assume when shaped by spirit-men.
From this time forth Thomasius shall be
Directing artist in the workshops here,
Which I shall build for him close to our works.
So will the product made by our machines
Be moulded by his will in artist-forms
And thus supply for daily human need
The useful with the exquisite combined;
Art and production shall become one whole,
And daily life by taste be beautified.
So will I add to these dead forms of sense,—
For thus do I regard our output now,—
A soul, whereby they may be justified.

Manager (after long reflection):
The plan to fabricate such wonder-wares
Suits not the spirit of our present age.
The aim of all production now must be
Complete perfection in some narrow groove.
The powers which work impersonally, and pour
The part into the whole in active streams,
Confer unthinkingly upon each link
A worth that is by wisdom not bestowed.
And were this obstacle not in thy path
Yet would thy purpose none the less be vain.
That thou shouldst find a man to realize
The plan thou hast so charmingly conceived
Passeth belief, at least it passeth mine.

Thou knowest, friend, I do not dream vain dreams.
How should I aim at such a lofty goal
Had not kind fate already brought to me
The man to realize what I propose?
I am amazed that thine eyes cannot see
That Strader is, in fact, this very man.
And I who, knowing this man's inner self,
And my own duty to humanity,
Conceive one of my duties to be this;
To find a field of work for such a man,—
A dreamer is no proper name for him.

Manager (surprised):
Am I to look on Strader as this man?
In his case hath it not been manifest
How easily deluded mortals are
Who lack the power to know realities?
That his contrivance owes to spirit-light
Its origin doth not admit of doubt.
And if it can sometime be perfected
Those benefits will doubtless pour therefrom
Which Strader thought he had already won.
But a mere model it will long remain
Seeing those forces are still undisclosed
Whose power alone will give reality.
I am distressed to find that thou dost hope
Good will result from giving up thy plant
Unto a man who came to grief himself
With his own carefully contrived machine.
'Tis true it led his spirit up to heights
Which ever will entice the souls of men,
But which will only then be scaled by him
When he hath made the rightful powers his own.

That thou must praise the spirit of this man
And yet seek'st cause to overthrow his work
Doth prove most clearly that his worth is great.
The fault, thou sayest, did not lie in him,
That failure rather than success was his.
Among us therefore he will surely find
His proper place; for here there will not be
External hindrances to thwart his plans.

And if, despite what I have just now said,
I were to strive within myself and try
To tune my reason to thy mode of thought,
Still one more point compels me to object.
Who will in future value this thy work?
Or show such comprehension of thine aims
As to make use of what thou mayst have made?
Thy property will all be swallowed up
Before thy business hath been well begun,
And then it can no more be carried on.

I willingly admit my plans would show
Themselves imperfect, if amongst mankind
True comprehension were not first aroused
For this new kind and style of handicraft.
What Strader and Thomasius create
Must be perfected in the Sanctuary
Which I shall build for spirit knowledge here.
What Benedictus, what Capesius
And what Maria yonder shall impart
Will show to man the path that he should tread
And make him feel the need to penetrate
His human senses with the spirit's light.

And so thou wouldst endow a little clique
To live self-centred, from the world apart,
And shut thyself from all true human life.
Thou fain wouldst banish selfishness on earth
Yet wilt thou cherish it in thy retreat.

A dreamer, it would seem, thou thinkest me,
Who thoughtlessly denies experience
That life hath brought him. Thus should I appear
Unto myself if, for one moment's space,
I held this view thou hast about success.
The cause that I hold dear may fail indeed,
Yet even if, despised by all mankind
It crumbles into dust and disappears,
Yet was it once conceived by human souls
And set up as a pattern on this earth.
In spirit it will work its way in life
Although it stay not in the world of sense.
It will contribute part of that great power
Which in the end will make it come to pass
That earthly deeds are wed to spirit aims;
This in the spirit-wisdom is foretold.

I am thy servant and have had my say
As duty and conviction bade me speak;
Yet now the attitude thou hast assumed
Gives me the right to speak as friend to friend.
In work together with thee I have felt
Myself impelled for many a year to seek
A personal knowledge of the things to which
Thou giv'st thyself with such self-sacrifice;
My only guides have been the written words
Wherein the spirit-wisdom is revealed.—
And though the worlds are hidden from my gaze
To which those writings had directed me,
Yet in imagination I can feel
The mental state of men whose simple trust
Leads them to seek such spirit-verities.
I have found confirmation in myself
Of what the experts in this lore describe,
As being the possession of such souls
As feel themselves at home in spirit realms.
The all-important thing, it seems to me,
Is that such souls, despite their utmost care,
Cannot divide illusions from the Truth
When they come down from out the spirit heights
As come they must, back into earthly life.
Then from the spirit world, so newly won,
Visions descend upon them which prevent
Their seeing clearly in the world of sense,
And, thus misled, their judgment goes astray
In things pertaining to this life on earth.

What thou wouldst raise as hindrance to my work
Doth but confirm my purpose; thou hast proved
That in thyself I now have one friend more
To stand beside me in my search for truth.
How could I have conjectured up till now
Thy knowledge of the nature of those souls
Who fain would come and join me in my task?
Thou know'st. the perils ever threat'ning them,
So will their actions make it clear to thee
That they know paths where they are kept from harm.
Soon thou wilt doubtless know that this is so,
And I shall find henceforth as in the past
In thee a counsellor, who doth not fail.

I cannot lend my strength to fashion deeds
Whose processes I do not understand.
Those men whom thou didst trust still seem to me
Misled by the illusion I have named:
And others too, who listen to their words,
Will victims to that same illusion fall
Which doth o'erpower all thought that knows its goal.
My help and counsel evermore shall be
Thine to command as long as thou dost need
Acts based upon experience on earth;
But this new work of thine is not for me.

By thy refusal thou dost jeopardize
A work designed to further spirit-aims.
For I am hampered lacking thine advice.
Consider how imperious is the call
Of duty when fate designs to make a sign,
And such a sign I cannot but behold
In these men being here at our behest.

The longer thou dost speak in such a strain
More clearly dost thou prove thyself to me,
The unconscious victim of illusion's spell.
Thy purpose is to serve humanity,
But in reality thou wilt but serve
The group which, backed by thee, will have the means
To carry on awhile its spirit-dream.
Soon shall we here behold activities
Ordained no doubt by spirit for these souls,
But which will prove a mirage to ourselves
And must destroy the harvest of our work.

If thou wilt not befriend me with thine aid
Drear doth the future stretch before my soul.

(Enter Strader, left.)

Dear Strader, I have long expected thee.
As things are now it seems advisable
To spend the present time in serious talk
And later on, decide what we shall do.
My dear old friend kath just confessed to me
That he can not approve what we have planned.
So let us now hear counsel from the man
Who promises his spirit to our work.
Much now depends upon how at this time
Men recognize each other in their souls,
Who each to each seem like a separate world
And yet united could accomplish much.

And so the loyal friend of Hilary
Will not join with us in the hopeful work
Which our friend's wisdom bath made possible?
Yet can our plan alone be carried out
If his proved skill in life be wisely joined
In compact with the aims of future days.

Not only will I hold myself aloof,
But I would also make clear to my friend,
That this design kath neither aim nor sense.

I do not wonder thou should'st hold that view
Of any plan in which I am concerned.
I saw a great inception come to grief
Because to realise this true discovery
The fuller forces still are hid to-day.
'Tis known I drew from spirit-light the thought,
Which, though proved true, yet had no life on earth.
This fact doth witness 'gainst my power to judge
And also kills belief that spirit hides
The source of true creation on the earth.
And 'twill be very difficult to prove
That such experience bath giv'n me power
Not to fall victim for the second time.
I had to err this once that now I might
With greater safety reach the land of truth.
Yet 'tis but natural men should doubt my word.
Thy spirit outlook most especially
Must find our wisdom promise little gain.
I hear thee praised for that keen sympathy
Which goes out from thee to all spirit-life,
And for the time and strength thou givest it.
But it is also said that thou wouldst keep
Thy work on earth severely separate
From spirit-striving, which with its own powers
Would work creatively in thy soul-life.
To this pursuit thou wouldst devote alone
Those hours which earthly labour doth not claim.
The aim, however, of the spirit-tide
Where I see clear life's evolution writ,
Is to join spirit-work for spirit-ends
To earthly labours in the world of sense.

So long as spirit but to spirit gives
All it can do in free creative might,
It raiseth souls in human dignity
And gives them reason in their life on earth.
But when it seeks to live out its own self
And over others' selves to domineer
It straightway Both draw nigh the realm in which
Illusion often can endanger truth.
This knowledge unto which I have attained
By personal effort in the spirit lore
Doth make me act as I do act to-day;
It is not personal preference, as thou
Misled by what is said of me, wouldst think.

An error 'tis in spirit-knowledge then
That makes thee hostile to the views I hold.
Through this will difficulties multiply.
No doubt 'tis easy for the spirit-seer
To work in partnership with other men
Who have already let themselves be taught
By life and nature what existence means.
But when ideas which claim that they do spring
From spirit sources join reluctantly
With others flowing from the self-same source,
One can but seldom hope for harmony.

(After a period of quiet meditation.)

Yet that which must will surely come to pass.
Renewed examination of my plans ...
Perhaps may make thee change the views, to which
On first consideration thou dost cling.

Curtain whilst all three are sunk in reflection