3 November 1912, Vienna
We shall begin this study by considering what we call human consciousness. What is human consciousness? In the first place, we can say that in the sleeping state — from the time of going to sleep in the evening until waking next morning — we have no consciousness. Nobody in possession of his five senses, however, doubts that he exists when he goes to sleep, and loses consciousness. If he had any such doubt he would be holding the utterly senseless view that during sleep everything he experiences perishes and must come into being anew the next morning. Anyone who does not hold this senseless view is convinced that his existence continues during sleep. All the same, he has no consciousness.
During sleep we have no mental pictures, ideas, desires, impulses, passions, no pain or suffering — for if pain becomes so intense that sleep is prevented, it stands to reason that consciousness is present. Anyone who can distinguish between sleeping and waking can also understand what consciousness is. Consciousness is what enters a man's soul again every morning when he wakes from sleep. Ideas, mental pictures, emotions, passions, sufferings, and so on — all this enters again into the soul in the morning. Now what is it that specially characterizes the consciousness of man? It is the fact that everything a man can have in his consciousness is accompanied by the experience of the “I.” No mental image of which you could not think, I picture this to myself; no feeling of which you could not say, I feel; no pain of which you could not say I suffer, would be a genuine experience of your soul. Everything you experience must be linked, and indeed it is, with the concept “I.” Yet you are aware that this link with the concept “I” only begins at a certain age in life. At about the age of three, when a child begins to have the experience, he no longer says, “Carl speaks,” or “Mary speaks,” but “I speak.” Knowledge of the “I” therefore is kindled for the first time during childhood. Now let us ask “How does knowledge of the ‘I’ gradually awaken in the child?”
This question shows that apparently simple things are not so easily answered, although the answer may seem to lie very near at hand. How does the child pass out of the ego-filled ideas and mental pictures? Anyone who genuinely studies the life of childhood can understand how this happens. A simple observation can convince everyone how ego-consciousness develops and becomes strong in a child. Suppose he knocks his head against the corner of a table. If you observe closely you will find that the feeling of “I” is intensified after such a thing happens. In other words, the child becomes aware of himself, is brought nearer to a knowledge of self. Of course, it need not always amount to an actual injury or scratch. Even when the child puts his hand on something there is an impact on a small scale that makes him aware of himself. You will have to conclude that a child would never develop ego-consciousness if resistance from the world outside did not make him aware of himself. The fact that there is a world external to himself makes possible the unfolding of ego-consciousness, the consciousness of the “I.”
At a certain point in his life this consciousness of the “I” dawns in the child, but what has been going on up to this point does not come to an end. It is simply that the process is reversed. The child has developed ego-consciousness by becoming aware that there are objects outside himself. In other words, he separates himself from them. Once this ego-consciousness has developed it continues to come in contact with things. Indeed it must do so perpetually. Where do the impacts take place? An entity that contacts nothing can have no knowledge of itself, not, at least, in the world in which we live! The fact is that from the moment ego-consciousness arises, the “I” impacts its own inner corporeality, begins to impact its own body inwardly. To picture this you need only think of a child waking up every morning. The ego and the astral body pass into the physical and etheric bodies and the ego impacts them. Now even if you only dip your hand in water and move it along, there is resistance wherever your hand is in contact with the water. It is the same when the ego dives down in the morning and finds its own inner life playing around it. During the whole of life the ego is within the physical and etheric bodies and impacts them on all sides, just as when you splash your hand in water you become aware of your hand on all sides. When the ego plunges down into the etheric body and the physical body is comes up against resistance everywhere, and this continues through the whole of life. Throughout his life the man must plunge down into his physical and etheric bodies every time he wakes. Because of this, continual impacts take place between the physical and etheric bodies on the one side and the ego and astral body on the other. The consequence is that the entities involved in the impact are worn away — ego and astral body on the one side, physical and etheric bodies on the other. Exactly the same thing happens as when there is continual pressure between two objects. They wear each other away. This is the process of aging, of becoming worn out, that sets in during the course of man's life, and it is also the reason why he dies as a physical being.
Just think of it. If we had no physical body, no etheric body, we could not maintain our ego-consciousness. True, we might be able to unfold such consciousness, but we could not maintain it. To do this we must always be impacting our own inner constitution. The consequence of this is the extraordinarily important fact that the development of our ego is made possible by destroying our own being If there were no impact between the members of our being, we could have no ego-consciousness. When the question is asked, “What is the purpose of destruction, of aging, of death?” the answer must be that it is in order that man may evolve that ego-consciousness may develop to further stages. If we could not die, that is the radical form of the process, we could not be truly “man.”
If we ponder deeply about the implications of this, occultism can give us the following answer. To live as men we need physical body, etheric body, astral body and ego. In human life as it is at present, we need these four members. But if we are to attain ego-consciousness, we must destroy them. We must acquire these members time and time again and then destroy them. Hence many earthly lives are necessary in order to make it possible for human bodies to be destroyed again and again. Thereby we are enabled to develop to further stages as conscious human beings.
Now in our life on earth there is only one member of our being whose development we can work at in the real sense, and that is our ego. What does it mean to work at the development of the “I?” To answer this question we must realize what it is that makes this work necessary. Suppose a man goes to another and says to him, “You are wicked.” If this is not the case the man has told an untruth. What is the consequence of the ego's having uttered an untruth such as this? The consequence is that from this moment the worth of the ego is less than it was before the utterance was made. That is the objective consequence of the immoral deed. Before uttering an untruth our worth is greater than it is afterwards. For all time to come and in all spheres, for all eternity the worth of our ego is less as the result of such a deed. But during the life between birth and death a certain means is at our disposal. We can always make amends for having lessened the worth of our ego; we can invalidate the untruth. To the one we have called wicked we can confess, “I erred; what I said is not true,” and so on. In doing this we restore worth to our ego and compensate for the harm done. In the case where our ego is involved it is still within our power during life to make the necessary adjustment. If, for example, we ought to have acquired knowledge of something but have forgotten all about it, our ego has lost worth, but if we make efforts we can recall it to memory and thus compensate for the harm done. To sum up, we can lessen the worth of our ego but we can also augment it. This faculty to correct a member of our being, to rectify its errors in such a way as to further its development, we possess in respect of the ego.
Man's consciousness does not, however, extend directly to his astral and etheric nature, and it extends far less to his physical nature. Although perpetual destruction of these members is taking place through the whole course of life, we do not know how to rectify it. Man has the power to repair the harm done to the ego, to adjust a moral defect or defect of memory, but he has no power over what is continually being destroyed in his astral, etheric and physical bodies. These three bodies are being impaired all the time, and as we live on constant attacks are being made upon them. We work at the development of the ego, for if we did not do so during the whole of life between birth and death, no progress would be made. We cannot work as consciously at the development of our astral, etheric or physical body as we work at the development of our ego. Yet what is all the time being destroyed in those three bodies must be made good. In the time between death and a new birth we must again acquire in the right form — as astral body, etheric body and physical body — what we have destroyed. It must be possible during this time for what was previously destroyed to be repaired. This can only happen if something beyond our power works upon us. It is quite obvious that if we do not possess magical powers it will not be possible for us to procure an astral body when we are dead. The astral body must be created for us out of the Great World, the Macrocosm.
We can now understand the question, “Where is the destruction we have caused in our astral body repaired?” We need a proper body when we are born again into the new bodily existence. Where are the forces that repair the astral body to be found in the universe? We might look for these forces on the earth with every kind of clairvoyance, yet we would never find them there. If it depended entirely on the earth, a man's astral body could never be repaired. The materialistic belief that all the conditions needed for human existence are to be found on the earth is utterly mistaken. Man's home is not only on the earth. True observation of the life between death and a new birth reveals that the forces man needs in order to repair the astral body lie in Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, that is, in the stars belonging to the planetary system. The forces emanating from these heavenly bodies must all work at the repair of our astral body, and if we do not get the forces from there, we cannot have an astral body. What does that mean? It means that after death, and it is also the case in the process of initiation, we must go out of the physical body together with the forces of our astral body. This astral body expands into the universe. Whereas we are otherwise contracted into a small point in the universe, after death our whole being expands into it. Our life between death and new birth is nothing but a process of drawing from the stars the forces we need in order that the member we have destroyed during life can be restored. So it is from the stars that we actually receive the forces which repair our astral body.
In the domain of occultism — using the word in its true sense — investigation is difficult and full of complications. Suppose a man with good sight goes to some district in Switzerland, climbs a high mountain and then, when he has come down again, gives you an accurate description of what he has seen. You can well imagine that if he goes to the district again and climbs higher up the same mountain, he will describe what he has seen from a different vantage point. Through descriptions given from different vantage points it is obvious that an increasingly accurate and complete idea of the landscape will be obtained. Now people are apt to believe that if someone has become clairvoyant, he knows everything! It is by no means so. In the spiritual world, investigation always has to be gradual — ”bit by bit,” as it were. Even in respect to things that have been investigated with great exactitude, new discoveries can be made all the time. During the last two years it has been my task to investigate even more closely than before the conditions of life between death and rebirth, and I want to tell you now about the findings of this recent research.
You will of course realize that true understanding is possible only for those who can penetrate deeply into such a subject, those whose hearts and minds are ready for a study of this kind. In a single lecture it cannot be expected that everything will be proved and substantiated. If what has been said in the course of time is patiently compared and collated, it will be found that nowhere in the domain of the occultism studied here is there anything that does not fit in with the rest.
In the recent investigations of the life between death and a new birth the conditions prevailing during that period came very clearly to light. To the eyes of the spirit it is disclosed that the human being on the earth between birth and death, contracted as he is into the smallest possible space, emerges from it when he lays aside his physical body and expands farther and farther out into the universe. Having passed through the gate of death he grows stage by stage out into the planetary spheres. First of all, he expands as far as the area marked by the orbit of the Moon; the sphere indicated by the position of the Moon then becomes his outermost boundary. When that point has been reached, kamaloca is at an end. Continuing to expand, he grows into the sphere formed by the orbit of Venus. Then as his magnitude increases, his outermost boundary is marked by the apparent course of the Sun. We need not here concern ourselves with the Copernican theory of the universe. We need only picture the surrounding spheres as they were described in the Düsseldorf lectures on the Spiritual Hierarchies. Thus as man ascends into the spiritual worlds he expands into the planetary system, first into the sphere of the Moon, and ultimately into the outermost sphere, that of Saturn. All this is necessary in order that he shall come into contact with those forces needed for his astral body, which can be received only from the planetary system.
A difference becomes apparent when different individuals are observed. Suppose we observe a man after death whose bearing throughout life was morally good and who has therefore taken with him through the gate of death a moral disposition of soul. Such a man may be compared with another, for instance, who has taken with him through death a less moral tenor of soul. This makes a great difference, and it becomes evident when the men in question pass into the sphere of the forces of Mercury. What form does this difference take? With the means of perception at his disposal after the period of kamaloca is over, a man becomes aware of those who were near him in life and who predeceased him. Are these beings connected with him? True, he meets them all. He lives together with them after death, but there is a difference in how he lives together with those with whom he was connected on earth. The difference is determined by whether the man brought with him through death a greater or lesser moral disposition of soul. If he lacked a moral sense in life, he does come together with members of his family and with his friends, but his own nature creates a kind of barrier that prevents him from reaching the other beings. A man with an immoral disposition becomes a hermit after death, an isolated being who always has a kind of barrier around him and cannot get through it to the other beings into whose sphere he has passed. But a soul with a moral disposition, a soul whose ideas are the outcome of purified will, becomes a sociable spirit and invariably finds the bridges and connections with the beings in whose sphere he is living. Whether we are isolated or sociable spirits is determined by our moral or immoral disposition of soul.
Now this has important consequences. A sociable spirit, one who is not enclosed in the shell of his own being, but can make contact with other beings in his sphere, is working fruitfully for the progress of evolution and of the whole world. An immoral man who after his death becomes a hermit, an isolated spirit, is working at the destruction of the world. He makes holes, as it were, in the texture of the universe commensurate with the degree of his immorality and consequent isolation. The effect of the immoral deeds of such a man is for him, torment; for the world, destruction.
A moral disposition of soul is therefore already of great significance shortly after the period of kamaloca. It also determines destiny for the next, the Venus period. A different category of ideas also comes into consideration then, ideas a man has evolved during life and that concern him when he enters the spiritual world. The ideas and conceptions are of a religious character. If religion has been a link between the transitory and the eternal, the life of soul in the Venus sphere after death is different from what it is if there has been no such link. Again, whether we are sociable or isolated, hermit-like spirits depends upon whether we were or were not of a religious turn of mind during life on earth. After death an irreligious soul feels as though enclosed in a capsule, a prison. True, such a soul is aware that there are beings around him, but he feels as though he were in a prison and unable to reach them. Thus, for example, the members of the Monistic Union, inasmuch as with their barren, materialistic ideas they have excluded all religious feeling, will not be united in a new community or union after death, but each of them will be confined in his own prison. Naturally, this is not meant as an attack upon the Monistic Union. It is merely a question of making a certain fact intelligible.
In the life on earth materialistic ideas are an error, a fallacy. In the realm of the spirit they are a reality. Ideas, which here in the physical world merely have the effect of making us shut ourselves off, incarcerate us in the realm of the spirit, make us prisoners of our own astrality. Through an immoral conception of life we deprive ourselves of forces of attraction in the Mercury sphere. Through an irreligious disposition of soul we deprive ourselves of forces of attraction in the Venus sphere. We cannot draw from this sphere the forces we need; which means that in the next incarnation we shall have an astral body that in a certain respect is imperfect.
Here you see how karma takes shape, the technique of forming karma. These findings of occult investigation throw remarkable light on an utterance Kant made as though instinctively. He said that the two things that inspired the greatest wonder in him were the starry heavens above and the moral law within. These are apparently two things, but in fact they are one and the same. Why does a feeling of grandeur, of reverent awe, come over us when we look up into the starry heavens? It is because without our knowing it the feeling of our soul's home awakens in us. The feeling awakens: Before you came down to earth to a new incarnation you yourself were in those stars, and out of the stars have come the highest forces that are within you. Your moral law was imparted to you when you were dwelling in this world of stars. When you practice self-knowledge you can behold what the starry heaven bestowed upon you between death and a new birth — the best and finest powers of your soul. What we behold in the starry heavens is the moral law that is given us from the spiritual worlds, between death and a new birth — the best and finest powers of our soul. What we behold in the starry heavens is the moral law that is given us from the spiritual worlds, for between death and a new birth we live in these starry heavens. A man who longs to discover the source of the highest qualities he possesses should contemplate the starry heavens with feelings such as these. To one who has no desire to ask anything, but lives his life in a state of dull apathy — to him the stars will tell nothing. But if one asks oneself, “How does there enter into me that which is never connected with my bodily senses?” and then raises his eyes to the starry heaven, he will be filled with the feeling of reverence and will know that this is the memory of man's eternal home. Between death and rebirth we actually live in the starry heavens.
We have asked how our astral body is built up anew in the spiritual world, and the same question can be asked about our etheric body. This body, too, we cannot help destroying during our life, and again we must obtain from elsewhere the forces enabling us to build it up again, to make it fit to perform its work for the whole man during life.
There were long, long stretches of time in human evolution on earth when man was unable to contribute anything at all towards ensuring that his etheric body would be equipped with good forces in the next incarnation. Then man still had within him a heritage from times when his existence on earth began. As long as the ancient clairvoyance continued, there still remained in man forces that at death had not been used up, reserve forces, as it were, by means of which the etheric body could again be built up. But it lies in the very essence of human evolution that all forces eventually pass away and must be replaced by new ones. Today we have reached a point when man must do something himself in order that his etheric body may be built up again. Everything that we do as a result of our ordinary moral ideas, whatever response we make to a religion on the earth, limited as it may be to a particular people, with all this we pass into the planetary system and from there draw the forces for building up our astral body. There is only one sphere through which we pass without drawing from it these particular forces — the Sun sphere itself. For it is out of the Sun sphere that our etheric body must draw the forces enabling it to be built up again.
Conditions in pre-Christian times were such that as a man rose by stages into the spiritual world he took with him part of the forces of the etheric body, and these reserve forces enabled him to draw from the Sun what he needed for building his etheric body in a new incarnation. Today this has changed. It now happens more and more frequently that man remains unaffected by the forces of the Sun. If he fails to do what is necessary for his etheric body by filling his soul with a content that can draw from the Sun the forces required for the rebuilding of this etheric body, he passes through the Sun sphere without being affected by it.
Now the influence that can be felt to emanate from one particular religious denomination on earth can never impart to the soul what is necessary in order that existence may be possible in the Sun sphere. What we can instill into our etheric body, what we then need in order that the soul's sojourn in the Sun sphere may be fruitful — this can come only from the element that flows through all the religions of mankind in common. What is this? If you compare the different religions of the world — and it is one of the most important anthroposophical tasks to study the core of truth in the different religions — you will find that these religions were always right in their way, but right for a particular people, for a particular epoch. They imparted to this people, to this epoch, what it was essential for this people and epoch to receive. In point of fact we know most about those religions that were able to serve their particular time and people by clinging egoistically to the form in which they originally issued from the fount of religious life.
For more than ten years now we have been studying the religions, but it must be realized that once there had to be given to humanity an impulse transcending that of the single religions and embracing everything to which they had pointed. How did this come to be possible? It became possible through a religion in which there was no single trace of egoism. The supremacy of this religion lies in the fact that it did not limit itself to one people and one epoch. Hinduism, for instance, is an eminently egoistic religion, for a man who is not a Hindu cannot be received into it. This religion is specially adapted for the Hindu people, and the same applies to other territorial religions; their original greatness lay in the fact that they were adapted to particular earthly conditions. Those who do not admit that the religions were adapted to particular conditions, but maintain that all religious systems have emanated from one undifferentiated source, can never acquire real knowledge.
To speak only of unity amounts to saying that salt, pepper, paprika and sugar are on the table, but we are not concerned with each of them individually. What we are looking for is the unity that is expressed in these different substances. Of course, one can speak like this, but when it is a question of passing on to practical reality, of using each substance appropriately, the differences between them will certainly be apparent. Nobody who uses these substances will claim that there is no different, then just put salt or pepper instead of sugar into your coffee or tea, and you will soon find out the truth! Those who make no real distinction between the several religions, but say that they all come from the same source, are making the same kind of blunder.
If we wish to know how a living thread runs through the different religions towards a great goal, we must seek to understand this thread, and study and value of each religion for its particular sphere. This is what we have been doing for the last ten years in our Middle-European Section of the TheosophicalSociety. A beginning has been made towards discovering the nature of a religion that has nothing to do with differences in humanity, but only with the essential human as such, without distinction of color, race, and so forth. What form has this taken? Can it really be said that we have a “national” religion such as is found among the Hindus or the Jews? If we were to worship Wotan we should be in the same position as the Hindus. But we do not worship Wotan. The West has acknowledged the Christ, and Christ was not a Westerner, but an alien with respect to His lineage. The attitude to Christ that the West has adopted is not an egoistic or nationalistic adherence to a creed. The domain touched upon here cannot, of course, be exhaustively dealt with in a single lecture. It is only possible to speak of particular aspects, and one aspect is that the attitude adopted by the West to its professed religion has been absolutely unegoistical.
The supremacy of the Christ Principle is shown in another way, too. Think of a congress where learned representatives of the different religions have gathered with the aim of comparing the various systems of religion quite impartially. To such a congress I should like to put the question, “Is there any religion on earth in which one and the same saying means something different when made from two different sides?” This is actually what occurs in Christianity. Christ Jesus speaks profound words in the Gospel when He says to those around Him, “In all of you there is Divinity; are you then not Gods?” He says with all power and authority, “Ye are gods!” (John 10:34). Christ Jesus means by these words that in every human breast lies a spark that is Divine. This spark must be kindled in order that it may be possible to say, “Be as the gods.” A different and indeed exactly opposite effect is the aim of words spoken by Lucifer when he approaches man in order to drag him down from the realm of the Gods, “Ye shall be as God” (Genesis 3:5) The meaning here is entirely different. The same utterance is made at one time in order to corrupt humanity at the beginning of the descent into the abyss, and at another time as a pointer to the supreme goal!
Look for the same thing in any other denominational creed, and the one utterance or the other may be found, but never both. Close examination will show what depth of meaning lies in the few words that have just been spoken. The fact that these significant utterances have become an integral part of Christianity shows clearly that what is really important is not the mere content of the words, but the Being who utters them. Why is it so? It is because Christianity is working to achieve the fulfillment of the principle that gives expression to its very core, namely, that there is not only kinship among those related by physical descent, but among all mankind. There is something that holds good without distinction of race, nationality or creed, and reaches beyond all racial traits and all epochs of time. Christianity is so intimately connected with the soul of man because what it can bestow need not remain alien to any man. This is not yet admitted all over the earth, but what is true must ultimately prevail.
Men have not yet reached the stage of realizing that a Buddhist or a Hindu need not reject Christ. Just think what it would mean if some serious thinker were to say to us, “You who are followers of Christ ought not to maintain that all denominations and creeds can acknowledge Him as their supreme goal. In so doing you give preference to Christ, and you are not justified in making such a statement.”
If this were said, we should have to answer, “Why are we not justified? Is it because a Hindu might also demand that veneration be paid only to his particular doctrines? We have no desire whatever to deprecate those doctrines; we honor them as highly as any Hindu. Would a Buddhist be justified in saying that he may not acknowledge Christ because nothing is said to this effect in His scriptures? Is anything essential at stake when a truth is not found in particular writings or scriptures? Would it be right for a Buddhist to say that it is against the principles of Buddhism to believe in the truth of the Copernican theory of the universe, for no mention of it is made in His books? What applied to the Copernican theory applies equally to the findings of modern spiritual-scientific research concerning the Christ-being, namely, that because He has nothing to do with any particular denomination, the Christ can be accepted by a Hindu or an adherent of any other religion. Those who reject what spiritual science has to say about the Christ impulse in relation to the religious denominations simply do not understand what the true attitude to religion should be.”
Perhaps some day the time will come when it will be realized that what we have to say about the nature of the Christ impulse and its relation to all religious denominations and world-conceptions speaks directly to the heart and soul, as well as endeavoring to deal consistently with particular phases of the subject. It is not easy for everyone to realize what efforts are made to bring together things that can lead to the true understanding of the Christ impulse needed by man in the present cycle of his existence. Avowal of the belief in Christ has nothing fundamentally to do with any particular religion or religious system. A true Christian is simply one who is accustomed to regard every human being as bearing the Christ principle in himself, who looks for the Christ principle in a Chinese, a Hindu, or whoever he may be. In a man who avows his belief in Christ is founded the realization that the Christ impulse is not confined to one part of the earth. To imagine it as confined would be a complete fallacy. The reality is that since the Mystery of Golgotha, Paul's proclamation to the region with which he was connected has been true — Christ died also for the heathen. Humanity must learn to understand that Christ did not come for one particular people, and particular epoch, but for all the peoples of the earth, for all of them!
Christ has sown His spirit-seed in every human soul, and progress consists in the souls of men becoming conscious of this.
In pursuing spiritual science we are not merely elaborating theories or amassing a few more concepts for our intellects, but we meet together in order that our hearts and souls may be affected. If in this way the light of understanding can be brought to bear upon the Christ impulse, this impulse itself will eventually enable all men on earth to realize the deep meaning of Christ's words, “When two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.” Those who work together in this spirit find the bridge that leads from soul to soul. This is what the Christ impulse will achieve over the whole earth. The Christ impulse itself must constitute the very life of our groups.
Occultism reveals that if we feel something of the reality of the Christ impulse, a power has penetrated into our souls that enables them to find the path through the Sun sphere after death and makes it possible for us to receive a healthy etheric body in the next incarnation. We can only assimilate spiritual science in the right way by receiving the Christ impulse into ourselves with deep understanding. Only this will ensure that our etheric body will be strong and vigorous when we enter a new incarnation. Etheric bodies will deteriorate more and more if men remain in ignorance of Christ and His mission for the whole of earth revolution. Through understanding the Christ-being we shall prevent this deterioration of the etheric body and partake of the nature of the Sun. We shall become fit to receive forces from the sphere where Christ came to the earth. Since the coming of Christ we can take with us from the earth the forces that lead us into the Sun sphere. Then we can return to the earth with forces that in the next incarnation will make our etheric body strong. If we do not receive the Christ impulse, our etheric body will become less and less capable of drawing from the Sun sphere the forces that build and sustain it, enabling it to work in the right way here on the earth. Earthly life is really not dependent upon theoretical understanding, but upon our being permeated through and through with the effects of the Event of Golgotha. This is what is revealed by genuine occult research.
Occult research also shows us how we can be prepared to receive the physical body. The physical body is bestowed upon us by the Father principle. It is through the Christ impulse that we are able to partake of the Father principle in the sense of the words, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30). The Christ impulse leads us to the divine powers of the Father.
What is the best result that can be achieved by spiritual deepening? One could imagine someone among you going out after the lecture and saying at the door, “I have forgotten every single word of it!” That would, of course, be an extreme case, but it would really not be the greatest calamity. For I could imagine that such a person does nevertheless take with him a feeling resulting from what he has heard here, even though he may have forgotten everything! It is this feeling in the soul that is important. When we are listening to the words we must surrender ourselves wholly in order that our souls shall be filled with the great impulse. When the spirit-knowledge we acquire contributes to the betterment of our souls, then we really have achieved something. Above all, when spiritual science helps us to understand our fellow men a little better, it has fulfilled its function, for spiritual science is life, immediate life. It is not refuted or confirmed by disputation or logic. It is put to the test and its value determined by life itself, and it will establish itself because it is able to find human beings into whose souls it is allowed to enter.
What could be more uplifting than to know that we can discover the fount of our life between death and rebirth. We can discover our kinship with the whole universe! What could give us greater strength for our duties in life than the knowledge that we bear within us the forces pouring in from the universe and must so prepare ourselves in life that these forces can become active in us when, between death and rebirth, we pass into the spheres of the planets and of the Sun. One who truly grasps what occultism can reveal to him about man's relation to the world of the stars can say with sincerity and understanding the prayer that might be worded somewhat as follows, “The more conscious I become that I am born out of the universe, the more deeply I feel the responsibility to develop in myself the forces given to me by a whole universe, the better human being I can become.” One who knows how to say this prayer from the depths of the soul may also hope that it will become in him a fulfilled ideal. He may hope that through the power of such a prayer he will indeed become a better and more perfect man. Thus what we receive through true spiritual science works into the most intimate depths of our being.