21 November 1911, Berlin
In our survey of the world we have now carried a difficult aspect of it far enough to discover to some extent the spiritual behind the phenomena of the external sense-world. Concerning such phenomena, at first outwardly revealing little of the fact that the spiritual in its own peculiar form stands behind them, as we experience this spiritual in our own soul-life — concerning such phenomena we have recognised that nevertheless spiritual qualities and properties do stand behind them. For example, in ordinary life we recognise the properties of heat or fire, and we have learnt to see in these the expression of sacrifice. In what meets us as air and at any rate, to our ideas, seems to reveal so little of its spiritual nature, we have recognised the bestowing virtue of certain Spiritual Beings. And we have learnt to perceive in water what might be called resignation. It may just be mentioned here, that in earlier conceptions of the world there was naturally a greater sense of the spiritual behind the outer material element, and the fact that specially volatile substances have been designated “spirit” may be looked upon as proving this, for we make a peculiar use of the word “spirit” to-day. Indeed in the outer world it may often occur that people use the word “spiritual” with very little application to spiritual things. On one occasion (as some here present are aware) a letter was addressed to a spiritualist union at Munich, and so little did one know what a spiritualistic circle was, that the letter was delivered to the Central Committee of Wine and Spirit merchants!
But to-day, when we wish to study that significant transition in the evolution of the Earth planet which took place in the passing from ancient Sun to ancient Moon, we must bear in mind a different kind of development of the spiritual. We must now start from that point which we reached in the last lecture, when we came to the subject of “renunciation.” This, as we have seen, consisted essentially in the refusal of Beings of exalted Spiritual rank to accept the sacrifice, which as we were told, consisted for the most part of will or will-substance. If we represent this to our minds in such a way that we picture certain Beings desirous of offering the substance of their will in sacrifice which through the renunciation of yet higher Beings was rejected, it will be easy to rise to the conception that this substance must remain with the Beings desirous of sacrificing, who were prevented from doing so. Thus we are introduced to Beings in the Cosmic scheme ready to contribute with fervour what dwells within them — but who are not able to do this, are obliged to retain this substance within them. The Beings whose sacrifice was rejected were unable to establish a particular connection with still higher Beings, which might have been established had their offering been accepted. What we must understand by this is symbolically expressed in the world's history by the figure of Cain confronting Abel, though there the contrast is more sharply emphasised. Cain too wished to offer sacrifice to his God. But it was not pleasing unto God and He would not accept it. The sacrifice offered by Abel was accepted. What we must bear in mind in this story is the inner experience which came to Cain through the rejection of his sacrifice.
If we wish to raise ourselves to the height necessary for the comprehension of what is now under consideration, we must clearly realise that in speaking of the regions referred to, both conceptions and ideas slip into use regarding them which only have meaning in our ordinary life. It would be incorrect to speak of “sin” or “wrong-doing” as coming into being by the rejection of the sacrifice. Guilt or atonement as we know it in our ordinary life, could not as yet be spoken of in those regions.
Rather must we think of these Beings in such a way, that on the part of those Higher Ones who rejected the proffered sacrifice, there is renunciation or resignation. In the mood of soul described in the last lecture there is nothing of guilt or omission; on the contrary, it contains all the greatness and significance to be found in resignation. None the less the fact remains that in those other Beings who wished to contribute their sacrifice there arose a feeling, though very faint, which was the beginning of an opposition to those who rejected it. So that when at a much later epoch, the story of Cain is brought to our notice this feeling is represented in an accentuated form. Hence we do not find in those Beings who continued to evolve from the Sun and to pass over to the Moon, the same disposition of mind as in Cain; in them the mood is different in degree. We only really become acquainted with this if we look into our own souls as we did in the last lecture, trying to find its counterpart there, and thus get a hint of that feeling which was developed in the Individualities whose sacrificial gifts were rejected.
Coming nearer and nearer to the earthly life of man, we find this mood in ourselves — everyone knows it — as uncertainty and at the same time as torment in the domain which can be included in the hidden depths of soul-life. This feeling with which we are all acquainted holds sway in the secret depth of our soul-life, and sometimes pushes its way up to the surface; and then perhaps its torment is least. We often go about with these feelings without being aware of them in our superficial consciousness; yet there they are within us. We might recall the words of the poet: “He alone who longing knows, knows what I suffer,” if we wish to convey an idea of the tormenting nature of this mood with which is connected a certain degree of pain. The longing to be found in the souls of men, is what is here meant.
In order to transport ourselves into what went on spiritually in the evolutionary phases of ancient Saturn and Sun, it was necessary to raise our vision to peculiar states of the soul which only appear, so to speak, when the human soul begins to aspire and prepares for higher striving. We saw this when we tried to understand the nature of sacrifice by referring to our own soul-life, when we tried to comprehend the nature of the wisdom man can acquire, which we saw trickling in, and which has its origin in what may be called: “readiness to bestow,” “readiness to give,” even to giving oneself; so to speak. When we come on to the more earthly conditions which have evolved out of the earlier ones, we encounter a soul-mood resembling in many respects what a man may even yet experience at the present day. But we must quite clearly realise, that although the whole of our soul-life is inserted into our earth-body, an upper layer lies over the hidden soul-life in the depths. Who could fail to know that there is such a hidden life of the soul? Life itself amply teaches us this.
Now in order to make clear to ourselves something of this hidden life of the soul, let us take the case of a child who in his seventh or eighth year, or at some other age may have experienced some injustice, to which children are particularly sensitive. He perhaps may have been blamed for something which he really had not done, but it suited the convenience of those around him to throw the blame on the child, so as to have an end of the matter. Now children are very specially sensitive to unjust accusation; but as life now is, although such an experience may have bitten deeply into the childish life, the later soul-life put another layer of existence over it, and as far as everyday life is concerned the, child forgot it. And indeed it may very well never crop up again. But suppose that in his fifteenth or sixteenth year this boy should experience fresh injustice, perhaps at school; then that which has lain dormant below in the surging waves of his soul, begins to stir. The boy need not know that a memory of what he had formerly endured is rising to the surface, he may have different concepts and ideas on the subject. But if his earlier experience had not occurred he might simply have gone home, perhaps grumbled and complained, and shed a few tears, and that would have been the end of the matter. The first injustice had, however, been experienced, and although, as I make a point of saying, the boy need have no recollection of it, yet it works! It becomes active beneath the surface of the soul-life just as there may be movements beneath the surface of a calm and glassy sea, and what might have ended in a few grumblings and tears now becomes the suicide of a schoolboy! Thus do the hidden depths of the soul-life play their part on the surface. The most important of all the forces ruling below in these depths, one which governs every soul and occasionally emerges in its original form, is — longing. We also know the names by which this force is known to the outer world, but they are only metaphoric and indefinite, for they express very complicated connections and thus do not enter a man's consciousness at all.
Take as an example a phenomenon with which we are all well acquainted: perhaps a man who lives in great cities is less affected by it, but he will have seen it in others: — I refer to what is known as “home-sickness.” If you investigate into the true nature of home-sickness you will find it differs fundamentally in every one. Sometimes it takes one form and sometimes another. One person may long for the homely stories of the family circle; he does not know that he is longing for home, he only feels an undefined craving, an undefined want. Another longs for his mountain, or for the river on whose banks he used to play, watching the movement of the rippling water. He is seldom aware of what it is that is working within him. All these diverse characteristics we include in the term “home-sickness,” expressing something that may be active in a thousand forms, and would be most accurately defined as a kind of longing. And what is this longing? We have just said that it is a kind of willing, and whenever we investigate this longing, we find that it is of this nature. What kind of willing? It is a will which in its immediate form cannot be satisfied; for were it satisfied, the longing would cease. What we described as longing is an unattainable desire of the will.
So must we define the frame of mind of those Beings whose sacrifice was rejected, it was somewhat of this nature. What we may discover in the depths of our soul-life is a heritage coming to us from those primeval times of which we are now speaking. Just as we have inherited other things from that ancient stage of evolution, so do we inherit all kinds of longings, all kinds of repressed wishes impossible to fulfil. It is in this way we must also conjecture that through the rejection of the sacrifice during the phase of evolution there came into existence beings whom we may designate as: Beings with wishes which are repressed. Now because they were obliged to suffer this repression they were in a very special position. And as we can hardly rise into these conditions by means of thought, we must once again turn to certain conditions in our own soul, if we wish to feel, to sense the reflection of them.
A being able to sacrifice its own will passes, in a certain sense, into the being of the other. We can feel this even in our human life, we live and move in one for whom we sacrifice ourselves, we feel glad and satisfied when in that person's presence. And as we are now speaking of the sacrifice offered to higher Beings, to more widely-extending, universal Beings, by others who found their greatest bliss in gazing up at them, what remains behind as repressed longings and wishes can never create the same inner disposition of soul as would have been theirs if they had been allowed to complete their sacrifice. For if they had been able to do this what they offered would have passed over into the other Beings. We might, by way of example suggest, that if the earth and the other planets could have made sacrifice to the Sun — they would be with the Sun. But if they were not allowed to do this, if they had to withhold what they were preparing to offer up, they would then have been driven back into themselves. If we can understand what has just been said in these few words, we observe that at this stage something new enters the universe. It must be clearly understood that it is impossible to express this in any other way than by saying that the Beings who were ready to offer to another all that dwelt within them, were compelled on the rejection of their sacrifice, to draw all this unto themselves. Do you not guess what now flashed up — that this was what is called egoity which comes out in every form? It is thus that we must look upon what lives on in the Beings as a heritage — which later on was poured into evolution, so to speak. We see egoism flashing up in the weakest form, as longing, but we can also see it slipping into the evolution of the Cosmos. Thus we see how Beings devoted to themselves, to their egoity, would in a certain respect have been condemned to a one-sided development, to living only in themselves, if something else had not occurred.
Let us picture a being, permitted to make sacrifice; such a one lives in the other being, and does so for all time. One not allowed to make sacrifice can only live within itself. It is thereby shut off from what it would have experienced in another, in this case a higher Being. Thus from the outset it is condemned and exiled by evolution to a one-sided existence, were it not that something here enters evolution to redress the balance. This is the arrival on the scene of new Beings who prevent the one-sidedness. Just as on Saturn there were the Spirits of Will, and on ancient Sun Spirits of Wisdom, so, on ancient Moon the Spirits of Movement make their appearance; we must not, however, think of movement in space, but movement rather more like the nature of thought. Every one knows the expression “thought-vibrations,” though this only refers to the fluidic movement of our own thought; yet this expression may serve, if we want to acquire a more comprehensive conception of movement, to show us that we think of something more than the mere movement from one place to another, for that is only one of the many forms of movement. If a number of persons devote themselves to a higher Being who is expressive of all that is within them, and who accepts all the sacrifices they offer him, these people live in that Being as a plurality in unity, and find full satisfaction in so doing. But if their sacrifices are rejected, the plurality is driven back upon itself and is never satisfied. Then came the Spirits of Movement and in a sense they guide the Beings who would have simply been driven back upon themselves and bring them into relation with all other Beings. The Spirits of Movement should not be thought of as merely bringing about changes of place; they are Beings able to bring forth something whereby one Being is constantly brought into new relation with others.
We can form an idea of what was attained in the Cosmos at this stage if we once more reflect upon a corresponding disposition of the soul. Who does not know the longing when a condition of soul approaches in which a man is at a standstill, when he can experience no change! Who does not know the torment of it, how it drives a man into a state of mind which becomes unendurable, and which in a merely superficial person takes the form of boredom? But of this boredom which is as a rule only ascribed to a shallow-pated person, there are all manner of in-between stages up to that which is an attribute of noble characters in whom dwells what is generated by their own natures as longing and cannot be satisfied in this world. And what better method is there of quieting longing than by change? This is proved by the fact that persons who suffer from it incessantly seek to form relationships to new beings. The torment of longing can often be overcome by changing the conditions to ever new beings.
Thus we see that while the earth was passing through her Moon-phase, the Spirits of Movement brought into the lives of those beings who were filled with longing and would otherwise have been desolate — for boredom is also a kind of desolation — the change which is brought about by movement, a constantly renewed relation to ever new beings and new conditions. Movement in space, movement from one place to another, is but one form of the more comprehensive movement which has just been mentioned. When in the morning we have a definite train of thought in our soul, not necessarily to be kept to ourselves, but passed on to others — a “movement” takes place. We can then overcome one-sidedness of longing by means of variety, by change and the movement of the things experienced. In outer space there is only a particular form of change. In this connection let us imagine a planet in relation to a Sun: if it always occupied the same position to the Sun, if it never moved, it would be subject to that one-sidedness, which can only result when it presents invariably the same side to the Sun. Then the Spirits of Movement turn the planet round so as to bring about a change in its conditions. Change of place is but one of the many forms of change. And the Spirits of Movement, by bringing change of place into the Cosmos, merely introduce one specific part of movement in general.
But as the Spirits of Movement introduce change and movement into the Universe as we have learnt to know up to the present, something else must follow. We know that during this evolution, in the whole Cosmic multiplicity that evolves upwards as the Spirits of Movement, of Personality, of Wisdom, and of Will — there is also what we have called “Bestowing Virtue,” which is radiated forth as Wisdom, and is the spiritual element behind air and gas. This then combines with the Will now transformed into longing, and within these Beings it becomes what is known to man hardly yet as “thoughts” but as “picture.” We can best realise this in the picture that a man has when he dreams; the fluidic pictures that succeed one another in a dream may evoke a conception of what takes place in a being in whom the volition of longing dwells, and is guided by the Spirits of Movement into relation with other beings. But when it is thus guided into a relation with the other beings, it cannot completely surrender itself — the egotism within it prevents that; but it is able to take in the transitory picture of the other being, which lives in him like a dream-picture. This is the origin of what we call the “arising” of pictures of the other world. At this phase of development we see the arising of the picture-consciousness. And as we human beings ourselves passed through this phase of evolution without then possessing our present earthly ego-consciousness, we must think of ourselves at that time without that which we can now acquire through our ego, but living and weaving in the universe, while within us lived something which we can compare with the present feelings of longing.
We could in a certain fashion imagine, if we do not remember such conditions of suffering as we know on earth, that they could not possibly exist, by reflecting on the following: — Sorrow and suffering — naturally in its soul-form, came at that time into our being and that of other entities connected with our evolution; through the activity of the Spirits of Movement the inner nature which would otherwise have been barren and empty, suffering the tortures of longing, was filled with the balm which flowed into these beings in the form of picture-consciousness, otherwise these beings would have been empty-souled, empty of everything not to be called longing. But the balm of the pictures was slowly poured in, filling the desolate void with variety, and thus the beings were led away from exile and condemnation. If we take what is here said seriously, it gives us both the spiritual basis of what developed during the Moon-phase of our Earth, and of what we now have in the deep subsoil of our consciousness, for it has been covered over by the earth-stage of our nature. And it is so embedded in the subsoil of our soul, that, as the disturbance beneath the surface of the sea drives up the waves, it can influence us, without our being aware of the cause of what enters our consciousness. Beneath the surface of our ordinary ego-consciousness we have such a soul-life as can play up into it. And when it does so, what does the soul-life say? If we bear in mind the cosmic subsoil of this subconscious soul-life, we can say that what we can sense arising from the depths of the soul is a bursting-forth within what we have acquired through our earth-phase, of what has come over from the Moon-phase of evolution. If we clearly grasp what it is that has come into our nature here on the Earth, we have a true explanation of what has been spiritually brought over from the ancient Moon into our Earth-existence.
If you grasp the fact that it was necessary, as has just been described, that pictures should continually arise to assuage the feeling of desolation, you obtain a conception which is of very great importance and weight: that of the longing human soul, in all its yearning emptiness. By the constant succession of pictures, arising one after the other, the yearning is satisfied and brought into harmony; but should the pictures remain any length of time the old longing begins to glimmer faintly up from the depths and the Spirits of Movement call up new pictures. And when these have been there for a little time the longing arises again, demanding fresh ones. Now with respect to a soul-life such as this the momentous sentence must be pronounced: if this longing can only be satisfied by a continual flow of pictures following one after the other, there would be no end to the infinite flow. The only thing that can supervene on this is what must come if the endless flow of pictures is to be replaced by something that is able to redeem it otherwise than by mere pictures — namely, by realities! In other words, the planetary embodiment of our earth through which we have passed, when pictures were brought to us by the activity of the Spirits of Movement, must be replaced by that planetary phase of the earth's embodiment which we call the phase of redemption. We shall see presently that the earth is to be called the “Planet of Redemption,” just as her last embodiment — that of the Moon-existence — may be called the “Planet of Longing”; longing capable of satisfaction yet flowing on endlessly. And while we live in the consciousness belonging to this earth, in which as we know redemption comes to us through the Mystery of Golgotha — there arises continually within us from the subsoil of our soul, a never-ceasing craving for redemption. It is as though, on the surface, we had the waves of our ordinary consciousness — while below, in the depths of the ocean of the soul-life, lives longing, which is the ocean-bed of our soul. This strives continually to ascend to the One who accomplishes the sacrifice, the Universal Being, Who is able to satisfy the longing once and for all time — not in a never-ceasing succession of pictures.
The earth-man already feels moods such as these, and they are the very very best for him to feel. The citizens of earth of our time who feel this longing — which belongs to this particular age of ours — are those who enter our own movement of Spiritual Science. In external life people have learnt to know all the separate things that can satisfy the ordinary superficial consciousness; but from the subconsciousness pushes up that which can never be satisfied in details but yearns for the central basis of life. This basis can only be provided by a universal science which occupies itself with the totality of life rather than with details. That which rises from the subconsciousness must in the sense of to-day be brought into touch with the study of the universal existence living in the world; otherwise that which ascends from the subsoil of the soul will be further longing for something which can never be attained. In this sense anthroposophy is a response to those longings which dwell in the depths of the soul. As everything that happens in the world has had a prelude, we need not wonder at a man who at the present day longs through spiritual science for satisfaction for the powers of his soul, above all, when the unconscious soul-forces akin to longings, would consume themselves as longing. Suppose that he, through living in an earlier age, in which this spiritual wisdom had not been given, had been unable to have it, and had come to long for it, to have a persistent longing for it, unable to grasp the meaning of life, just because he was an eminently great soul. If only something could have flowed into his soul, drowning, silencing the longing for pictures while he yearned for an end to this search for pictures — the greater the yearning, the more intense the search. And is it not like a voice expressing itself to us, the utterance of a spirit living at a time when it could not yet have the spiritual wisdom which, like balsam, is shed forth into the longing soul, when we hear Heinrich Von Kleist writing to a friend. In the following words we seem to hear him say: — “Who would desire to be happy in this world!” I could almost say, shame on you if you wished to be. Would it not be short-sighted, noble man, to strive for anything here below, where all ends in death! We meet here, three Springs long we love, and then we flee apart for an eternity. And what is worth striving for, if love be not? Oh! there must be something more than love, happiness, fame, and so on; something of which our souls do not even dream. It can be no evil spirit at the head of the world, it is merely not understood. Do not we smile too when children cry? Just think of the endless continuity! Myriads of ages, each having its own life, and to each a manifested existence like this world of ours! What is the name of the little star we see in the sky when the night is clear and we gaze at Sirius? All this immense firmament but a speck of dust compared with infinity! Tell me, is this nothing but a dream? At night when we are reposing between our linen sheets, we have a wider aspect, richer in intuition than thoughts can grasp or words describe. Come, let us do something good, and die in doing it! One of the million deaths we have already died, and shall yet die. It is as though we pass from one room to another. Lo! The world to me appears enclosed in a nest of boxes, the smallest exactly like the biggest!” — (From a letter written by Heinrich Von Kleist, in 1806.)
The longing expressed in these words was felt by a man who could not then find anything able to satisfy it — such as a modern thinker may find if he studies anthroposophy in the right way. The writer of these words took his own life a hundred years ago, shooting first his friend, Henriette Vogel and then himself, and now he rests on the banks of Lake Vann in that lonely grave which for a century has closed over his remains.
In speaking of the frame of mind which best illustrates what we are endeavouring to grasp, when we speak of the combined action of the sacrifice of will held back in longing, of the satisfaction of this longing, which could only come through the Spirits of Motion, and the urge towards its ultimate satisfaction, only to come on the Planet of Redemption — a singular Karmic link has caused us to speak here, in accordance with our ordinary programme, on the very day which reminds us of how a great mind expressed this undefined longing in the grandest of words, and finally poured it forth in the most tragic act in which longing could be embodied. How can we fail to recognise that this man's spirit in its entirety as he stands before us, is an actual living embodiment of that which dwells in the depths of the soul, which we must trace back to something other than the life of earth if we wish to recognise it? Has not Heinrich Von Kleist described in the most significant manner what may live within a man (a description of which you will find at the very beginning of The Spiritual Guidance of Man and Mankind), as something transcending him and driving him, and which he will only understand later on if he does not snap the threads of his life before! Think of his “Penthesilea”; how much more there is in her than she can span with her earthly consciousness! We should not be able to describe her at all, did we not take for granted that her soul was immeasurably further advanced than the narrow little soul (although it was a great one) which she could span with her earthly consciousness. Hence a situation must arise which artistically introduces the whole process of the Drama. Indeed, it was necessary to prevent the whole transaction — which Kleist introduces with Achilles — from being grasped with the higher consciousness; otherwise the whole tragedy could not be perceived. Hence Achilles is called “her” Achilles. What lies in the higher consciousness must be plunged into the non-conscious. Again, what part does this subconsciousness play in Kätchen Von Heilbronn, especially in the remarkable relation between her and Wetter Von Strahl, which plays no part in the higher consciousness, but in the deeper strata of the soul where dwell the forces of which man knows nothing, which pass from one to another. When we have this before us we can feel the spiritual nature of the world's forces of gravity and attraction. For instance, in the scene where Kätchen stands before her admirers, do we not feel what lives in the subconsciousness, and how it is related to what is outside in the world which has been drily called the planet's force of attraction? Yet only one hundred years ago a truly penetrating and striving mind was not able to find his way into that subconsciousness. But it must be done today. And the tragedy of a Prince of Homburg strikes us in a very different way now. I should like to know how an abstract thinker, one who accounts for everything by reason alone, could account for a figure such as the Prince of Homburg, who carried out all his great deeds in a kind of dream-state, even those leading finally to victory. Kleist indicates very clearly that he could not possibly gain the victory by means of his higher consciousness, for as far as that was concerned he was not a particularly great man, for he whines and whimpers over everything he has to do. Only when by a special effort of the will, he brings up what dwells in the depths of his soul, does he play the man.
What still belongs to a man as heritage of the old Moon consciousness must not be brought to the surface by abstract science, but by that science which has many sides, and can lay hold in a delicate and subtle way of spiritual contours: that is, Spiritual Science. The greatest unites itself with the mediocre and the ordinary.
Thus we see that Anthroposophy shows that the conditions we are experiencing in our souls to-day are connected with the Cosmos, with the Universe. We see also, however, how that which we experience in the soul to-day can alone provide us with an understanding of the spiritual foundation of things. We see, too, that our era had to come to satisfy what was yearned for in the age preceding our own, when men longed for what cannot be given until our age. We feel a kind of veneration for such men, who could not find their bearings as regards what they longed for in their hearts, and what the world could not give them. When we recollect that all human life is linked together, and that the man of to-day can devote his life to those spiritual movements which — as their destiny shows — bygone men have so long desired we cannot but feel a veneration for them. So, on the centenary of the tragic death of one who was consumed by that longing, we may in a sense point to Anthroposophy or Spiritual Science as being the redemption of mankind from that longing. This day may serve to remind us how tragically and stormily that which Anthroposophy is able to give us, has been desired and longed for. This is a thought that we may well take hold of, which perhaps is also anthroposophical, on the centenary of the death of one of the greatest German poets.