21 October 1917, Dornach
The aim of these talks has been, and must continue to be, to show from all kinds of different aspects how people today and in the near future are moving into a period of civilization which will make special demands in different spheres of life. Speaking of processes deep down in the life of the spirit, I have sought to show what is happening today supersensibly, but all the same with powerful effect especially in the present time and which will influence the whole of human life, the whole of culture and the whole social sphere. We have been able to gather from these considerations that human soul nature will essentially become more inward.
When it is said that human soul nature will become more inward we must not fail to realize that this growing inwardness will, in many instances, go hand in hand with people becoming more superficial in their intellect, for instance with regard to the sciences. This will be due to the circumstances we have already considered and others which are still to be considered. It really has to be taken into account that, in reality, evolution is never as consistent as those who present the modern scientific theories of evolution would like it to be. Their ideas are not incorrect; yet ideas which are biased, even if correct, will often cause greater confusion than completely wrong ideas. They assume simple linear evolution from incomplete life-forms all the way to the human being. This is not how it is, however, for in the evolution of humanity and also of the world outside the human being, a more outward stream is always complemented by an inner one. Thus we are able to say: if a particular stream continues for some time in the outside world, an inner stream will run parallel to it (see Fig. 11a). This stream may be more material or materialistic on the outside, whilst inwardly it is more spiritual or spiritualistic. Then a more spiritualistic stream comes to the surface and the materialistic or material stream goes down into the hidden depths of human nature. And then the situation is reversed again: the more spiritual line goes inward and the material or materialistic one comes to the surface.
In the time immediately ahead of us, outer life will very much follow the course shown by the red line here (see Fig. 11a) where material events and material attitudes and considerations are concerned, and the depth of the human soul will be more spiritual. It may well be that people do not even want to know about this growing spiritual inwardness; but it will happen nevertheless.
If you really dwell on this in your soul, you will be able to give due consideration to two aspects which will be extraordinarily important for the future. Remember we said yesterday that in 1879 ahrimanic powers of a special kind descended from the heights of the spirit into the realm of human evolution, and specifically into the evolution of the human intellect and soul. These powers are here, they are living among us. They seek above all to take possession of our heads, of anything we think and inwardly feel. They are angelic Spirits, I said, who cannot continue their development in the spiritual world and want to use human heads to continue to develop in the immediate future. It is therefore particularly important that this line (blue line in Fig. 11a) of secret, hidden soul development is given due attention. As I have told you, many people probably do not want to give it conscious attention; they would far rather it stayed down below, so they need only concern themselves with material things. If it is not given attention, those ahrimanic powers will take hold of this very process of growing inwardness. This is one thing we must take into account. We must be ready to face the danger soon to come in the evolution of civilization, and stand guard in our most holy, inner human reality against the influences of ahrimanic powers.
Educational issues will be particularly significant in the immediate future. The inwardness of the human soul will be most significant during childhood and youth in the near future. Perhaps it is difficult to believe this today, but the time has long since come for us to say: the children and young people we see do not show their true nature in what we see on the outside. We see the red line here (see Fig. 11a), but beside it runs the blue one, a hidden inner life to which we must pay real attention. Teachers must pay attention to it, lest they surrender it to the ahrimanic powers. Education and training will have to change completely in many respects in the near future.
Let us consider the origin of the principles in our present system of education and training. Certain things always lag behind in the cosmic order. ‘Enlightenment’, as it was called, was a special feature of the eighteenth century. People even wanted to establish a kind of rational religion based only on human reflection, on the starveling among the sciences, as I have said in my public lectures in Basle. 1Lectures given in Basle on 18 and 19 October 1917. See Note 8, lecture 10. The way people feel they must behave towards growing children and young people in education and training has entirely come out of this stream of rationality: always do everything in such a way that the child can immediately understand; children should never experience anything deeper than they are able to understand.
It will have to be realized that this is the worst possible way of providing for the life of a human being, for it takes us to a truly disastrous extreme in human life. Just consider this: if we make every effort to give children only such things as are in accord with their level of understanding, things they can grasp, we do not give them anything for later life when they are supposed to have deeper understanding. Care is taken, so to speak, to ensure that for the whole of their lives they have nothing but the understanding of a child. This approach has already borne fruit, and the fruits are what you would expect! Much of the thinking in our present-day civilized world, where people consider themselves to be so wise and enlightened, remains at a childish level. No one in the newspaper world is, of course, going to admit that the thinking in their world is largely childish, but it is true nevertheless. Essentially this is connected with the fact that only the child's understanding is addressed. This then remains the same throughout life. Something quite different will have to be done: we must fill our souls, especially if we are educators, with the inner awareness, the consciousness, that a mysterious inwardness reigns in a child and we must present to the child's heart and mind much that will only be understood later on in life, not in childhood. Later in life they can then recall these things from memory and say to themselves: this is something you heard or learned on that occasion; now at last you are able to understand many of these things. Nothing will be better for the soundness of human life in the future than for individuals to recall things they were told in childhood, and then be able to understand them.
When people are able to live with themselves in such a way as to recall from memory the things they could not understand before, this will be the source for a healthy inner life. People will be spared the inner emptiness which enters into so many hearts and souls today, and causes them to end up in institutions. There, souls which have remained empty and barren inside because education has failed to give them anything that can be recalled later on in life may be offered something from outside.
Something else needs to be considered in this context. Because of the circumstances I have spoken of in recent times, people of our present age have lost awareness of the close connection between human beings and the universe. People today believe they are just hunks of meat walking on this earth or travelling in a railway carriage. They will not always admit this, of course, but this is in fact what they have in mind. It is not true, however. Human beings are closely bound up with the whole universe. And it is good to bring this clearly to mind again by considering the following.
Consider the Earth. The Moon moves around it; let us say this is the orbit of the Moon (see Fig. 11b). The Earth is, of course, anything but the abstract mineral entity imagined by modern mineralogists, geologists and physicists. It is very much alive, and we can observe many forms of existence in connection with the Earth. For the moment, let us merely consider the currents which move around the Earth all the time. They move around it in all kinds of directions. They are etheric and spiritual by nature and have a real, substantial effect. Something is always present in these currents.
It is good to consider the source and origin of these currents. We shall be going into more detail as time goes on; for today I merely want to make some preliminary statements. If you read my Occult Science you will find that in very early times the Earth and the Sun were one. Our present-day Earth has been eliminated from the Sun. These currents are remnants from the life of the Sun; Sun life is still present in the Earth.
Yet the Moon, too, was one with the Earth in the past. And the Moon which orbits the Earth today also has currents within it. Those currents are remnants from a later time, from Moon evolution.
We thus have two kinds of currents and we may call them Sun currents and Moon currents. They take quite a different course, and they are a living reality. Let us assume a creature walking this Earth in a certain way has Sun currents passing through it; these pass through easily. Let us assume another creature is constructed in a different way, so that the Sun currents pass through it coming from one side and Moon currents from the other. Sun currents are not limited to specific places and actuality pass through everything; they can therefore pass through this creature in one direction. Thus there can be creatures on Earth who have only the Sun current passing through them in one direction, and there may be others who have the Sun current pass through them in one direction and the Moon current in another.
Animals are creatures which can only have the Sun current going through them. Imagine a four-legged animal: as it walks, its backbone is essentially parallel to the Earth's surface. The Sun current, which has now become an Earth current, can continually pass through this backbone. This creature, then, is related to the Earth.
It is different with human beings. In the living human body only the head has the position held by animals. Think of a line drawn from the back of the head to the forehead — it is the direction of the animal's backbone, and the same Sun current passes through the head. The human backbone, on the other hand, is lifted out of the currents which run parallel to the Earth, including the Sun current which has become Earth current. Being lifted out, human beings are in a position (this does, of course, depend a great deal on the geographical latitude and so on, but it is also what makes people different from each other) where under certain conditions the Moon current goes through them; not through the head, however, but through the backbone. The difference between animals and humans is tremendous. The cosmic current which passes through the animal backbone passes through the human head; the old Moon current, which does not relate to anything in the animal, passes through the human backbone. The human backbone even reflects its relationship to the Moon current in its composition, for human beings have approximately as many vertebrae as there are days in a month, between 28 and 31 vertebrae. The reason why the figure is only approximate will be considered at a later time. The whole life of the human backbone, and indeed of the human breast, is intimately bound up with the life of the Moon. Hidden beneath the life of the Sun, which relates to sleeping and waking and takes 24 hours, lies the rhythmical life of the Moon.
This is a basic reflection on the relationship between the human being and the whole universe. For just as the currents passing through the human backbone are part of the current which relates to the life of the Moon, so other currents in the human being relate to the other planets in our solar system. All these things are utterly real. In modern science they have been completely abandoned, and no one even ventures to consider these relationships. In consequence, scientists are not able to appreciate that the conscious human life which is outwardly apparent here on Earth goes hand in hand with an unconscious life which is connected with the human breast and arises from mysterious inner depths. This must be especially taken into account in times like those which lie ahead; it must be especially taken into account in the sphere of education, for otherwise the adversarial ahrimanic powers will take hold of the unconscious life. It would be utterly disastrous if people were to fail to note that part of their inner life, the part which is in the process of becoming more inward — the blue line in the diagram — is in danger of falling prey to the ahrimanic powers, unless it is taken up in full consciousness and deepened through the insights of a spiritual science in which courage is taken actually to say something about realities which outer science is unable to discover.
We must look at this in entirely concrete terms. Consider the way outer science is going. It is entering into all kinds of abstractions and, indeed, is most useful when it enters into all kinds of abstractions. People will need this science for their outer life; it must become part of human civilization. To use the outer scientific culture, such as it is now, in education will be particularly detrimental in the immediate future. To teach children abstract notions of nature and the laws of nature which people need to know will become an absurdity in the near future. On the other hand, it will be important — I can always only give examples — to consider the lives of animals in a loving way, with their special conditions of life described to give the children a real picture of how ants behave in their communities, how they live together, and so on. As you know, the beginnings of this are to be found in Brehm's Tierleben, 2Alfred Edmund Brehm (1829–1884) wrote Illustriertes Tierleben (The illustrated lives of animals), with the second, 10-volume edition appearing in 1876–1879. Later editions were revised by other authors, and the narratives that gave the kind of picture of which Rudolf Steiner was speaking were gradually replaced with ‘strictly scientific’ texts. Many other natural histories have been based on Brehm's work. though they are not fully developed. Such symbolized stories of life in the animal world need to be more and more fully developed. Individual stories should be told in a truly thoughtful way, rather than dishing up elementary zoology to children in the dreadful way it is done now. We must tell them of the special things the lion does, and the fox, the ant, the ladybird, and so on. It is of no real consequence if the details which are told actually happen or not; what matters is that they are thoughtful and come from the heart. The kind of extract of natural history which is dinned into children today should only come in later years; children must first of all be able to take delight in stories which represent individual aspects in the lives of animals.
It will be particularly important to consider plant life in such a way that one has many stories to tell about the relationship of the rose to the violet, of shrubs to the weeds which grow around them, and long stories about the Spirits leaping above the flowers as one walks through a meadow, and the like. This is the botany children should be told. And they should be told of how certain green-coloured crystals which dwell in the earth behave towards colourless crystals, or a cubic crystal to an octahedral one. Instead of the abstract crystallography which is dished out to children who are still quite young, much to their detriment, we should have a symbolistic presentation of the life of the crystals down in the earth. Our views on everything which goes on in the depths of the earth can only be fruitful if we make them fruitful with the descriptions which are given in our anthroposophical literature. It will not be enough just to list items; these things must be the stimulus and give us ideas, so that we can tell many stories about the life shared by diamonds and sapphires, and so on. Think about it and you will know what I mean.
In a similar way it will be important not to dish up those horrible abstractions which are taught as history today, but again to bring life and liveliness into the course of human history and help the children to develop a feeling for what human hearts and minds experience in the course of human evolution. Conversations which did not actually take place in the physical world will have to be invented, a conversation between an ancient Greek and someone living in the fifth postAtlantean age, for example. To let those living human figures appear before the mind's eye of the children will be much more useful than all the historical abstractions presented to them today.
You can see where this is leading. The point is to fill the souls of children with living ideas so that the mysterious hidden undercurrent in them can be reached. Then you will see an inner life which is less arid and infertile and people who will be will also be less nervous later in life, because they will be able to recall stories which were told out of an insight into cosmic laws. They will also be familiar with the laws of nature and able to establish harmony between what was given to them in a living, vital form and the laws of nature. Their minds can only grow barren if they are given the abstract laws of nature. These are a few thoughts I wanted to put to you with special reference to the field of education.
It is, of course, much easier to get together in all kinds of associations today and proclaim over and over again “Education must be put on an individual basis” — and other abstract formulations of this kind. Of course, this is easier than to do what is now needed, which is that people interested in education should enter into the spirit of human and natural evolution and find imaginative tales which allow the life of the spirit to be concretely grasped in exactly the form it will take in the immediate future.
We will always, and in every field, need the stimulus of spiritual science. It alone will be able to let new life arise from the dying forms of the present life of mind and intellect — new life which can act as a stimulant in the way I have described, especially for the minds of children. Without the stimulus of spiritual science, one will be a dried-up school teacher who also dries up the children's minds. Worst of all, people will increasingly have the idea, especially with regard to educating the young, that the best we can do with everything we learn is to forget it again as quickly as possible. If a situation is created where in later life people do not want to miss any of the things they were given in their childhood, this will not merely be a pleasure but prove a wellspring, a true wellspring of human life. I would ask you to take this to heart.
Science itself also needs new stimulus. Yesterday I spoke of how difficult it is to bridge the gap between spiritual science in general and the special fields in which people are engaged in scientific life. Yet this will be absolutely one of the most essential things in future. You must have realized from some of the things said here and elsewhere that paucity and impoverishment of concepts and ideas have led to the conditions we have today.
I have said it in my public lecture in Basle and I have also repeated it here, that people who considered themselves competent believed when this war started that it would last no longer than four months. They thought they had studied the social and economic structure and they formed the idea on that basis. Their ideas of this kind did not relate to reality, and reality has proved them wrong. It is strange how little people are prepared to learn from events. Someone who had arrived at such an idea on the basis of their own scientific understanding surely ought to say to himself now: ‘The premises on which I based my conclusions were clearly quite inadequate.’ Surely, he must now be inclined to learn something. But he sleeps on, drawing further conclusions from those same premises, which have only changed a little under the pressure of experience, because he does not want to consider the inner connections. Of course, anyone who wishes to consider the inner connections in life will have to take this hurdle, which is such a problem, particularly to people who are involved in scientific issues. The last thing they want is to be bothered in the limited field in which they are active; they do not want to establish links with related fields.
This type of specialization was quite a good thing for a time. If it continues, and if our university students continue to be ruined by the bias which comes with specialization, the calamities which result when people's ideas are divorced from reality will get worse and worse. We will have people in municipal, rural and national representative bodies who simply have no real grasp of the issues they are supposed to regulate according to law, because their ideas are too limited to encompass reality. Reality is far richer than those ideas.
There can be no question, then, of being inclined to leave specialized areas as far as possible to ‘experts’, nor of using anthroposophy to satisfy subjective and egotistical needs. It has to be a matter of knowing how to unite these two opposites, and let one prove fruitful for the other.
Something we find again and again — you would also find it so if you were to focus your attention on these things — is that if you speak about special subject-areas to people who are sincerely devoted to anthroposophy, they do find the matter rather tedious. The request is always to speak about central issues — soul, immortality, God, and so on. This will, of course, satisfy their immediate egotistical religious needs, but it leaves no opportunity to give them what is needed more than anything for the near future, namely that people make themselves a real part of this real life. This is why we must take note when someone seeks to make a real connection between impulses to look at things on the basis of spiritual science and the specialist areas.
I have previously drawn attention here 3In an addendum to a lecture given on 6 August 1916 (GA 170). The addendum has not so far been published in German or in English. to the important book our friend Dr. Boos 4Dr Roman Boos (1889–1952), social scientist, writer and lecturer; represented anthroposophy and later Rudolf Steiner's idea of the Threefold Social Order; he was head of a social sciences association at the Goetheanum in Dornach. has written on the Collective Agreement. 5Der Gesamtarbeitsvertrag nach Schweizerischem Recht, Munich and Leipzig 1916. The book is now generally available and I should like to draw your attention to it, for it is a perfect example of building bridges between the general approach used in anthroposophy and a whole specialist field, the sphere of law. The point is that our friends will not, I hope, consider special investigations of this kind as something outside their sphere but rather give them their attention, for in the time which lies ahead life itself will have to be the subject for anthroposophical consideration. If you read the book carefully and work through it, you will find aspects of everyday life are taken up in a living way, and also in such a way that one can see two things coming into play here: first, impulses to consider life in a truly comprehensive way, impulses altogether attuned to cosmic laws, and then also great historical perspectives. You will also find it infinitely helpful to consider the difference between Romance contracts and agreements on the one hand and Germanic social cohesion on the other. The relationship of Romance to Germanic human nature presents itself in a very profound way in a particular specialist field. And it is important, especially with this specialist book by Dr. Roman Boos, to work one's way up to what really matters for the immediate future from the point of view of spiritual science -to bridge the gap between the life that presents itself to the senses and in which we establish our social conditions, and the life which streams in from the spiritual world and lets the Spirit pulse through our forms of existence.
I also recommend that you read the new issue of Wissen und Leben, 6Wissen und Leben (translates as ‘Knowledge and life’), a fortnightly Swiss journal edited by Alb. Baur which appeared from 1907 to 1925. The issue concerned was dated 15 October 1917. which has an article by Dr. Boos on the key issues in Swiss national policies. 7‘Die Kermfragen der Schweizer-Politik’, later reprinted in Boos' Michael gegen Michel, Basle 1926, pp. 36–47. You will find that current political issues can also be considered from a different point of view than that of everyday journalism — if you do not mind my saying so. Awareness of the relationship between different forms of culture, such as different forms of art, for instance, and political forms, is brought out most beautifully in this essay.
Having read Dr. Boos' article, which takes a serious look at Swiss national policies and is truly in the anthroposophical spirit, you may glance at the first essay in the journal, which is on the significance of the Reformation and was written by Adolf Keller. 8Adolf Keller (b. 1872), Swiss Protestant theologian, professor in Geneva and Zurich. It is an essay in the old style, even if it is thought to be in a very new style. In one and the same issue you therefore have a justifiably truly modern work side by side with the most antiquated stuff. People who write such antiquated stuff do, of course, believe they are particularly clever and logical, with penetrating thoughts. The significance of the Reformation is discussed from different points of view in elevated terms which are nothing but empty and vapid abstractions.
Having read Adolf Keller's article, which is decent and well-meant and one of the best pieces of work in this field, one is tired out from being tossed hither and thither between what are again and again the same abstractions: the Reformation created freedom of initiative; freedom of initiative arose through the Reformation; when the Reformation was in progress, free initiative came to life. One is tossed hither and thither in the typical fashion of all abstractionists who know no better than to wallow in a few impoverished notions, having nothing to do with the real world. Here you have a typical instance of the abstract way of thinking which must be overcome, when people live with notions that have little real thought to them, yet are positively smacking their lips with pleasure because they imagine they are saying something really outstanding when they put it in a particularly abstract way.
A few days ago I was sent a treatise on profound theosophical matters which was, in fact, merely a treatise on the ‘something’; it only dealt with the ‘something’ — the ‘unimproved something’ and the ‘improved something’, and how the improved takes hold of the unimproved, and how the ‘improved something’ takes precedence over the ‘unimproved something’. And so: conscious and unconscious ‘something’, improved and unimproved ‘something’ — going one way and then the other, here again, there again; and in the final instance you have no more than this strange modern way of working in the abstract — though here applied to things of the spirit — which likes to see itself in the abstract and in reality is flight from reality and no longer has anything to do with any kind of reality. This does, of course, have quite specific consequences. People's limited ideas make them unable to wend their way through the river of life. Their ideas are too limited to encompass the reality of life. As a result one reads things like the following, for instance, which is on page 51 of Adolf Keller's essay:
Yet although this experience causes the deepest wellsprings of heart and mind to open up, it is still more than a mere upsurge of feeling. Divine and human elements are not mixed together in this. Conscience takes care this does not happen. It keeps the distance and maintains reverence. Man remains man and God remains God. The Reformation and mysticism have it in common that the relationship to God is established through a personal experience; what separates them is that the Reformation experience does not come in a seething and boiling of emotions in the depths of the soul, as in the case of mysticism, but from a troubled and morally elevated conscience. Anything which is a must, an absolute demand, holds the greatest power in the inner life. Man can only withstand this with divine help that is inwardly experienced.
Nothing but abstractions, and we are pushed hither and thither among them. Then follow the words: ‘This is the gospel, Jesus Christ.’
The gentleman has gone so far in his abstract thinking that he
identifies the message of Jesus Christ with Jesus Christ himself. This
is what one gets when abstraction is taken to its extreme. What follows
is strange indeed. He has rejected mysticism. With his limited ideas he
says that the Reformation had nothing to do with mysticism but that it
creates healthy life. As if mysticism were not exactly such a living
experience. But you see, his limited ideas cannot encompass reality.
They are therefore used to say exactly the same about completely
opposite things Thus he rejects the ‘seething and boiling’
as something which true adherents of the Reformation should not have,
for if they did they would be mystics.
Adolf Keller goes on to say:
This help is not merely presented outwardly, historically or in the sacraments. It, too, can only grow strong if it is inwardly made one's own. It does not act from outside, magically, but only in so far as it may become part of our inner feelings and will, and can set the soul aglow.
Thus the Reformation must not be a ‘seething and boiling’ in the depths of the soul, yet this same Reformation can only be active in the soul if it is able to set the soul aglow, that is make it seethe and boil. You can study the whole essay like this, and nowhere does its poverty of spirit prove adequate for entering into reality. Yet writings like these are read with real passion today. People consider them most erudite. They fail to realize that they only have to read two or three lines more and they get all confused in their minds, for the same ideas have to be used for quite different things, and there is such a paucity of ideas.
If, on the other hand, you study Roman Boos' beautiful essay on the key issues in Swiss national policies — I do recommend it, for it will show you how connections can be made between political life and other forms of culture, and how our ideas can really come alive and the life of ideas be enriched, how you can find an exemplary study here concerning the future of Swiss politics — you can compare this with the vapid maunderings of Adolf Keller's essay in the same issue of the journal. By spending just a single small sum you can have the opportunity of getting old and new absolutely side by side and really see for yourselves.
Sometimes I really have to take account of current issues which are in complete opposition, for anthroposophy does not exist for self-indulgence at exalted levels but to make exactly the observations which take us truly into the present, into the intents and purposes of the present time.