Occult Research into Life Between Death and a New Birth
II. The Establishment of Mutual Relations between the Living and the So-called Dead
20 February 1913, Stuttgart
It has often been said that when Spiritual Science will spread, it should play its part as a true force of life. And this assertion may be strengthened by the most varied considerations of life's relations. By the very fact that we become more and more acquainted with the characteristics of that invisible world which is the foundation of the visible world, do perceptions, concepts take hold of our soul which in their turn become impulses toward quite definite actions, toward a quite definite attitude in life. Of special importance will be the attitude which may be initiated in regard to the so-called dead, concerning those who during our life span go through the time between death and a new birth. Just as man here in the physical body is, through his soul and body, related in the most varied ways with the physical world, and the spiritual nature underlying it, so does he also stand between death and a new birth in the most varied relations to the facts, happenings, and beings of the supersensible world. And just as human beings have an occupation, an activity, in the physical world between birth and death, so they also have activities, occupations, if you please, between death and a new birth. What we may learn about human life and human activity between death and a new birth will lead more and more to what is called the removal of the abyss which, especially in our materialistic age, opens up between those living on earth and the dead. Between the living and the so-called dead, an increasing mutual intercourse will be established.
Let us today call attention to details in this intercourse between the living and the dead, as well as to the occupations and ways of living of the souls who live between death and a new birth. Those who die before others with whom they had relations here on earth must naturally often look back from the spiritual world on the beings they loved, or who have otherwise remained in the life on earth. Now, the question is whether such souls existing between death and a new birth can perceive human beings living here between birth and death. If we have developed the faculties which enable us to penetrate into the life between death and a new birth, we have quite special, one might say, deeply moving experiences. For instance, one may find souls of the dead who sometimes say the following in the language which is possible between the departed souls and the seer, and which can only be understood by the latter who is able to look from our world into the world of the dead. In the following way, for instance, a soul was able to make itself known to the seer after death (it was a soul embodied in its last incarnation in a male body): “All my thoughts and memories go back to that person who was my faithful wife when I was below in the life on earth; she was, so to speak, the sunshine of my life. When, my business completed, I came home in the evening, my soul was refreshed by what she was able to be for me, by what then came into my soul from hers. A true spiritual bread of life she was for me, and longing for her has stayed with me. My spiritual eye is directed toward the earth and I cannot find her, she is not there. From all I have learned, I know that this soul must be on earth as she was before in a physical body, but for me she is as though extinguished, as though she were not there.”
This deeply moving experience one may often have with reference to souls who think back about those left behind and who feel as though fettered, so that they cannot get through, cannot look down on these earthly souls. They are fettered, not by their own essential being, but rather by the other soul left behind. And if one investigates the reason why the soul from the beyond cannot perceive the soul remaining on earth, then one learns that the soul who has remained on earth has not, on account of the existing circumstances of our age, been able to be inspired by, to be imbued with, any thoughts which might become visible, be perceptible, to a soul having gone through the portals of death. We might make another comparison. Souls who have gone through the portals of death and long for the sight of those remaining in physical bodies, such souls have a dim idea of the existence of others on the physical plane, but are unable to manifest themselves to them. Just as one who is dumb is unable to call attention to himself by means of language, therefore is inaudible to others, so does the entire soul remain mute to the disembodied soul who longs for it; it is in its spiritual nature inaudible to the one who has already passed the portals of death.
There is a great difference between one soul and another here on earth, depending on whether these souls have one content or another. Let us consider a soul who lives here in the physical body and from the time of awaking to the time of going to sleep is only concerned with thoughts taken from the material world; such a soul, filled entirely with thoughts, concepts, ideas, and sensations taken solely from the material world, cannot be perceived at all from the other world. No trace of such a soul can be found. A soul that is filled with spiritual ideas, as for instance those which Spiritual Science gives, and which is aglow with and irradiated by spiritual ideas — such a soul is perceptible from the beyond. Therefore, souls who have remained behind, however good they may be as human beings, are without reality and imperceptible to the world beyond if they are immersed in materialism. These are deeply shocking, terrible impressions for the seer who certainly has attained serenity. But these experiences, possible with reference to the world beyond, especially in our era, are numerous. In our era it is just as though every contact were cut off between souls who here are often so closely linked. This is frequently the case when a soul has gone through the portals of death; while it can always be found that the souls who live beyond, who have gone through the portals of death and look down on human beings harbouring spiritual thoughts, even though only now and then, and letting them permeate their soul, can then perceive these, so that these earthly souls remain real souls for them. Even more significant: what is touched upon here can become of practical import. The spiritual thoughts which souls harbour here can not only be perceived, they can be understood by the souls beyond. And in this way something can be brought about which may become of great importance for the intercourse between souls here and souls beyond, namely, that which may be called “Reading to the Dead.” And such “Reading to the Dead” is often extraordinarily important.
Here, too, the seer can have the experience that human beings who have entirely disregarded spiritual wisdom, now have a strong longing for spiritual wisdom and wish to hear about it after having passed through the portals of death. Then, if the souls that have remained behind make a clear mental image of the dead person and, at the same time, bring to mind an anthroposophical train of thought or open an anthroposophical book and in thought, not aloud, read to the dead whose spiritual image stands before them, the dead will become aware of it. It is in the anthroposophical movement that we have had, in this regard, the most excellent results, when still living anthroposophists read of their departed relatives. One can often see how these dead long to hear what penetrates to them from here. One thing is of especial importance during the time immediately after death in order that one may enter into a relationship with a soul. It is not possible without further ado to enter into relation with any supersensible being. There is often much deception, much illusion in this respect, it is not as easy as it seems. It is a grave error to think that a human being need only to die in order, so to speak, to come into contact with the whole spiritual world. On one occasion I met a man who was otherwise not really very smart, but who, nevertheless, talked incessantly about Kant, Schopenhauer, and so forth who even gave lectures on Kant and Schopenhauer. This man, when I lectured about the nature of immortality, answered me in a rather smug way. He said: “Here on earth we cannot know anything about immortality, since we do not experience it until we die.” One might say that, with his present equipment, he will not differ in his soul very much after death from what he is now. It is deep prejudice that believes the souls become quite wise as soon as they have passed through the portals of death. On the contrary, we cannot after death establish so easily connections with human beings, if we have not already established them before death. Connections that have been already established here are effective for a long time. It does not occur readily that a soul be instructed immediately by souls in the beyond, because it cannot have a connection with them. But the departed human being has connections with people on the earth, and they can bring him the food for which he is starving, they can bring him spiritual wisdom by reading to him and thus bring about immensely meritorious effects. The dead would not be helped if we read them external, materialistic science, perhaps chemistry or physics; that is a language they do not understand because these sciences are of value only for life on earth. But what is said about the spiritual worlds in the language of anthroposophy remains comprehensible to the dead. During the time immediately following death, one thing, however, has to be considered; during that period the souls retain an understanding for things communicated in the languages they usually spoke here on earth. Only after a time do the dead become independent of language; then one may read to them in any language and they will understand the thought content. During the time immediately following death, the departed is also more connected with the language he has last spoken, if he has exclusively spoken only one language. We should really consider the fact that during the time immediately following death we have to send our thoughts to the dead, — we must send our thoughts to them — in the language they were accustomed to. Here we have come to a point in our considerations which can teach us how the abyss may be bridged over by the fact that anthroposophy flows into our spiritual life in this world and in the other world, in the world in which we live between death and a new birth. While materialism only allows us to bring into life an intercourse between souls confined to their earthly existence, anthroposophy will open the way for a free communication, an intercourse between the souls on earth and the souls dwelling beyond in the other world. The dead will live with us. And truly, what we may call the passing through the portals of death will often after a time be felt merely as a change in the form of existence. And the entire change in the life of spirit and of soul, which will take place when such things have become common knowledge, is going to be of great significance.
We have just dealt with an example of the effect of the living on the dead. We may also form a conception of the way the dead in their turn affect the living. Several times I have ventured to mention — please excuse the personal reference — that in the past I had to instruct many children. I had to instruct several children in a family where only the mother was living; their father was dead and I felt it to be my task — this must be the task of any educator — to discover the potentialities and talents of these children in order as educator to guide and instruct them. Regarding these children of whom I am speaking, something remained incomprehensible; no matter what was tried they showed a certain behaviour that was not a consequence of their inherent qualities or of their surroundings. One could not quite manage them. In such cases one must call on everything for help; and spiritual research resulted in the following: the father had died, and in consequence of special circumstances, which had occurred among the relatives, he was not in accord with the way in which the children were being treated by the relatives nor with the things which happened within the intimate family circle — and, because of special circumstances, his influence had an effect on the children. And it was not until the moment I could take into consideration that there was something special which neither derived from potentialities nor from surroundings, but which came out of the supersensible world from the departed father who directed his forces into the souls of his children — it was not until then that I could be guided by it. Now I had to take into consideration what the father really wanted. And the very moment I investigated the will of the father who had passed through the portals of death, and considered him as a real person, like the other persons in physical existence who had their joint effect on the children — it was then that I succeeded in my task.
This is a case in which it was clearly shown that spiritual knowledge can tell us, indicate to us, the effect of the forces from the supersensible, spiritual world on this physical world. But in order to perceive such a thing one needs the right moment. One must try, for instance, to develop a kind of force which makes it possible to perceive, as it were, the raying in of the supersensible force — in this case that of the father — into the souls of the children. This is oftentimes difficult. It might be easy, for instance, to try to recognize how the dead father wants to implant this or that thought into the children's souls. But that often proves incorrect and, especially, it cannot always be repeated. It may then prove to be a good device to procure a picture giving the father's form, the way he looked at the last; if a distinct picture of his handwriting is held in memory and is kept there before the mind's eye, and we thus prepare ourselves for the kind of instruction meant here by concentrating on handwriting or picture, then we take into our own work the views, the intentions, the aims of the dead person. The time will come when we are going to take into account what the dead want for those left behind. Today we can only take into account the will of those who are on the physical plane. There will be a mutual, one might say a free intercourse between the living and the dead. We shall learn to investigate what the dead want for the physical plane. Just imagine the great upheaval, one might also say of the external factors of physical life, when the dead shall play a part and through the living have an effect on the physical plane. Spiritual Science, if it is rightly understood, and it always must be rightly understood, will not be a mere theory. Spiritual Science will become more and more an elixir of life which pervades all existence, transforming it the more it spreads. And it will surely accomplish this, for its effect will not be that of an abstract ideal which is preached, or which is “sold” by societies. It will, slowly but surely, take hold of the souls on earth and transform them.
There will be an enrichment of our conceptions in many other respects. In our existence our life with the dead shall change because we shall understand what the dead are doing. Many things now remain quite incomprehensible regarding the relations between the world here on earth, the physical plane, and the world which we experience between death and a new birth; for much that happens here in the physical world remains incomprehensible. And since all that happens here corresponds to what happens beyond, the relation of the world and humanity to the supersensible world remains incomprehensible. But if anthroposophy is rightly understood, comprehension will increasingly take the place of non-comprehension in this realm.
Now a relationship will be established which may show what strangely devious ways are taken by the beings who, so to speak, carry out the further development of world wisdom. Strangely devious ways are taken by these beings, but nevertheless, if we follow them, they show themselves full of wisdom in every respect. Let us consider various conditions. Let us first consider souls whom the eye of the seer may perceive in their occupation between death and a new birth. There we see — and again that is for the seer something deeply affecting — we see many souls who are condemned for a certain time between death and a new birth to be the slaves of the spirits who send sickness and death into physical life. Thus we see there souls between death and a new birth who are under the dominion of beings whom we call the Ahrimanic spirits, or the spirits of hindrance, of those who work at death in life, and of those who bring obstacles into life. And a hard lot it is which the seer observes, in some souls, when they have to submit in this manner to the slave yoke. If one traces back such souls to the life they led before they passed the portals of death, one finds that the souls who for a certain time after death must serve the spirits of resistance have prepared this for themselves by self-indulgence during life. And the slaves of the spirits of sickness and death have prepared this fate for themselves by having been unscrupulous before death. So there we see a certain relation of the souls of men to the evil spirits of sickness and death, and to the evil spirits of resistance. But now let us take a further look at the following, let us look at the souls who here on earth are subjected to that which such souls must do. Let us look at the souls who perish here on earth in the flower of their youth without reaching the death of old age. Let us look upon the souls who here on earth are subjected to sickness, who are pursued by misfortune, as obstacle upon obstacle arises before them. What does the seer observe when he considers souls who die early or are pursued by misfortune and then pass into the spiritual world? What does the seer notice about such souls? One may have strange experiences concerning human destinies on earth. We shall point to at least one example, to one of the very moving destinies on earth, and which may certainly happen.
A child (a little girl) is born; the mother dies at the birth of the child; the child is orphaned at birth with regard to the mother. The father, on the day the child is born, learns that his whole fortune which was tied up in a ship on the high seas is lost; he learns that the ship has been wrecked; because of this he becomes melancholic; he, too, dies, leaving the child completely orphaned. The little girl is adopted by a wealthy woman; she is very fond of the child and wills her large fortune to her. The woman dies while the child is still comparatively young. The will is probated and a technical error is found — the child does not get a penny of what was willed to her. For the second time she is cast out into the world penniless and must hire out as a servant, must do menial work. She meets a man who falls in love with her, but they cannot be united on account of the prejudices governing the community: they belong to different denominations. But the man loves her so very much that he promises to adopt her faith as soon as his father, already very old, dies. He goes abroad; there he learns that his father has fallen ill. His father dies; he adopts the girl's faith, and as he hurries to her side, she falls ill and dies. When he returns, she is dead. He feels the deepest pain and will not be satisfied until the grave is opened so that he can see her once more. And from the position of the corpse, it can be seen that the girl was buried alive. This is a legend — Robert Hamerling, the Austrian poet, has retold it in his writings — it is a legend which is not reality, but it might occur in innumerable instances. We see that a human soul does not merely perish in the flower of her youth but we see her pursued by misfortune from the beginning of life in a certain way. In the working out of such conditions those souls cooperate who, on account of unscrupulousness, become the servants of the evil spirits of sickness, death and misfortune. Thus such unscrupulous souls must be active in the preparation of such hard fates; here is a relationship! To the seer this is especially evident in such happenings as, for instance, the catastrophe of the Titanic, by investigating the effect of the souls who for lack of conscience have become the servants of these spirits of sickness and misfortune. Karma must be carried out, these things are necessary; but it is an evil fate which engulfs the souls who, after death, are bowed down under such a yoke of slavery.
But let us ask further: What about the souls who here on earth suffer such a fate, who perish in the flower of their youth, who are destroyed early by epidemics? What about these souls, when they pass through the portal of death into the spiritual world before their time? We learn the fate of these souls when with the eye of the seer we penetrate, so to speak, into the occupation of the spirits who give a forward impulse to the evolution of the earth, or to all evolution. These beings of the Higher Hierarchies have certain forces, certain powers to further development; but they are in a certain way limited with regard to these forces and powers. Thus the following becomes manifest:
The completely materialistic souls, those who lose all sense of the supersensible world, are in fact already in this our era threatened by a kind of blight, a kind of cutting off from progressive development. And in a certain way already in our era the danger exists that a large portion of humanity may not be able to keep up with evolution, because they are, so to speak, bound to the earth by the heaviness of their own souls, being completely materialistic souls, so that they are not taken along for the next incarnation. But this danger is to be deflected according to the decision of the Higher Hierarchies. The truth is that the hour of decision for the souls who, having cut themselves off completely, are not carried along with the evolution, that the hour of decision does not come until the sixth period — actually, not until the Venus evolution. Souls must not fall prey to the downward pull of gravity to such an extent that they are compelled to remain behind. It is actually according to the decision of the Higher Hierarchies that this must not happen. But these beings of the Higher Hierarchies are in a certain way limited in their forces and capabilities. Nothing is unlimited, even among the beings of the Higher Hierarchies. And if it were only a question of the forces of these Higher Hierarchies, then completely materialistic souls, through themselves, would have to be already cut off in a certain way from progressive evolution. The beings of the Higher Hierarchies really cannot alone by themselves save these souls — so an expedient is used. Namely, the souls that die here an early death have, as souls, a possibility before them. Let us say they die through some catastrophe; for instance, they are run over by an express train — then indeed the bodily sheath is taken from such a soul; it is now free from its body, denuded of its body, but it still contains the forces which might be active in the body here on earth. By going into the spiritual world such souls carry up very special forces, which in fact still might have been effective here on earth, but which have been prematurely diverted. Forces, especially applicable in helping, are carried up by those who die early. And the beings of the Higher Hierarchies use these forces to save the souls whom they could not have saved by their own power.
Souls that are materialistically inclined are thus led away to better times and saved, since their strength is only sufficient for the regular course of mankind's evolution. Salvation is achieved by the fact that these beings of the Higher Hierarchies experience an increase of strength by such unused forces coming from the earth, which have still unused energy. These forces accrue to the beings of the Higher Hierarchies. Thus the souls who perish early help their fellowmen who otherwise would be submerged in the morass of materialism. Here we have what those souls must do who depart early. Strange interdependence, is it not, in the complicated ways of world wisdom! Thus the world wisdom permits, on one side, the sentencing of human souls for lack of conscience to cooperate in bringing sickness and early death into the world. The souls who suffer it are used by good beings of the Higher Hierarchies to help other men. In this manner happenings that seem evil outwardly in maya are often transformed into good, but in complicated ways. The ways of wisdom which are taken in the world are very complicated. It is only gradually that one learns to find one's way in these paths of wisdom. One might say: There, up above, the spirits of the Higher Hierarchies sit in council. Because men must be free, they are given the possibility of plunging into materialism, into evil. The Hierarchies give them so much freedom that these human souls, so to speak, escape them, these souls who could not, by their own strength, carry on up to a certain point of time. They need souls who develop on earth forces which retain their inner potential through the premature separation from the body when these souls have to return to the spiritual world in consequence of accident and an early death. This early death is brought about by the services of human souls who, in pursuance of their freedom, have fallen into unscrupulousness. A wonderful cyclic path is opened up here, we may say, a cyclic path of world wisdom. We should not believe at all that the so-called simple things are the universal ones. The world has become complicated. It really was a significant word of Nietzsche which was revealed to him as though by inspiration, when he said: “The world is deep, and deeper than the day had thought.” Those people are completely in error who think that everything may be grasped by the day-wisdom of the intellect. For the higher spiritual light is not that which shines into the wisdom of the day, but that which shines into the darkness. We must seek this light in order to find our way in the darkness in which, nevertheless, the world wisdom is at work.
If we accept such concepts, ideas and thoughts, my dear friends, then it may come about that we contemplate the world with other eyes than before. And it will become more and more necessary that we learn to contemplate the world with new eyes; for humanity has lost many things since ancient times. What it is we lost may be understood if we consider the following:
Still in the third post-Atlantean period there were intermediate states between sleeping and waking, in which souls looked up into the world of the stars and saw not merely physical stars, as is the case today, but the spiritual beings of the Higher Hierarchies; the directing and leading forces of stellar destiny and stellar movement were observed by them. And what existed as old stellar maps from immemorial times when all kinds of drawings were made of group souls, looking like animals without being animals, all this is not born out of fantasy, but is spiritually perceived. The souls perceived this in the realm of the spirit. They were able to carry this spiritual element through the portals of death. The soul has now lost this vision of the supersensible world. Today when the souls are born, they confront the physical world with the bodily sense organs and see nothing but the external physical world. They no longer can see that which surrounds the external physical world as the world of spirit and of soul, the world of the Higher Hierarchies, and so forth. But what is the nature of the souls who appear in the bodies of today? All the souls of persons sitting here were incarnated in former times, and the great majority were incarnated in Egypto-Chaldaic bodies and through those bodies they looked out into the world in which they also had spiritual perception. This spiritual experience they took into themselves, it exists in them today. Not in all the souls; but the souls who today no longer see anything but physical facts, they once lived in contemplation of the spiritual world, they lived a completely perceptive life of the spiritual world. How do these souls live now? They live exactly as though they had totally forgotten this spiritual world. They have forgotten the spiritual perceptions they once absorbed. But what we have forgotten is merely forgotten for our present consciousness; it still lives in the deepest recesses of our souls. Thus the peculiar situation exists: the souls living today have around them, consciously, nothing but a physical sense image of the world; but in their inner being the perceptions which once they received as true spiritual vision are still living unconsciously in the depths of their souls. Of these perceptions the souls know nothing; they only show peculiar conceptions which burrow in the depths of the soul, but which do not rise into consciousness; these conceptions have a paralyzing, deadening effect. And thus something actually arises in the human beings of today which exists in them as a deadening element.
If as a seer one contemplates the human being of today as he is anatomically constructed, one finds in this human being, especially in the nervous system, certain currents, certain forces which are forces of death and which stem from conceptions that were alive in former incarnations. These spiritual conceptions which he has now forgotten have a consuming quality. This would show itself more and more, the farther man advances toward the future, if there were not something present which counteracts it. What could this be? Nothing but bringing up into consciousness that which was forgotten. One must remind the souls of that which they have forgotten. That is what Spiritual Science does, fundamentally it does nothing but remind the souls of the conceptions they have absorbed. Spiritual Science lifts these conceptions into consciousness. In this way it gives again to men the possibility of enlivening what would otherwise be like a dead impulse in life.
Now note these two things which you received in the course of today's consideration. On the one hand the seer perceives human souls who have passed through the portal of death, who long for the souls left behind, whom they cannot perceive, because in these souls there exist only materialistic images of the world, though they may perhaps belong to quite good men. For the seer, though he may have achieved calmness of soul, it is deeply moving to perceive these starving souls. On the other hand, the seer looks into a future of humanity which will contain more and more dead matter, if it does not revivify the conceptions which it once received and which will kill it, if they are not raised into consciousness. The seer would have to look into a future when people, through all kinds of hereditary traits would show signs of old age much earlier than is the case today. Just as one may see today examples of infantile old age, even senility, so people would then show, soon after being born, wrinkles and other indications of old age, if through lack of spiritual knowledge forces did not appear which are memories of conceptions once received in a natural way. In order to provide the dying human race with a life-giving elixir, in order to give the dead the possibilities of coming into contact with the relatives they have left behind on earth — in order to accomplish this, the seer, conscious of this fact, searches for a language which is not only understood here on earth by the souls incarnated in a physical body, but which is spoken in common by the souls living here between birth and death and those souls living beyond between death and a new birth — a language common to the living and the dead.
And truly, it is not that one feels mere sympathy for what is a Spiritual Science — a theoretical sympathy as for other things — truly, this is not what should prompt us; but he who really understands, he who looks into the world, feels that this Spiritual Science has a world-mission. He says to himself: the necessity exists to find the common language, to find the elixir of life which keeps men from becoming arid regarding the various conceptions we mentioned. That is the mission of Spiritual Science for the spiritual worlds themselves. One feels this mission as a high and sacred duty, as something very serious and significant. And we must not merely find pleasure in the ideas which Spiritual Science can give us for our theoretical satisfaction, but we must feel the spiritual power which it must derive from the necessities of the development of humanity and of the world. Then we shall have the right feeling for the reason, for the existence of Spiritual Science, why it has to be implanted into the spiritual life of humanity. It is this feeling which we must actually achieve and we must be permeated by it. This feeling has a highly curative power, it is one which brings to the human soul a real harmony of its forces. This is a fact. The more we allow our souls to be permeated with that which belongs to the world of supersensible truths, the more our feelings will become inwardly able to direct us in our lives, the more essential will these feelings become. The man who is merely pleased with Spiritual Science, who embraces it out of curiosity, or for some similar reason, that man will perhaps make a very bad use of it in his life. But he who is permeated by the feeling we characterized above, by that sacred feeling that comes to us because we know that Spiritual Science must exist out of inner necessity, he will take his place in life with the right attitude toward this Science. He will be able to find his way through Spiritual Science, at least inwardly, even in the most difficult situations; he will perhaps find it especially when outwardly the greatest difficulties arise. For Spiritual Science is an affair of the future, it has entered into the world today because it must serve mankind in the most comprehensive sense, in the most comprehensive manner. But the result of this is that those who in a way have a fear of the spiritual worlds in the depths of their souls manifest this fear in their consciousness as hatred.
Many human feelings are related to each other; ambition and vanity, for instance, are related to fear. And in a complicated manner all kinds of feelings are related to each other. Why is man ambitious, vain? What does it mean to be ambitious, vain? To be ambitious, vain, means wanting to be valued in the opinion of one's environment, and to take pleasure in the value one gains in the opinion of one's environment, to take intense pleasure in that opinion. Why does one want that? One may want it for a number of reasons. But today is the time when men, if we look into the depths of their souls, reveal themselves as particular cowards. Some of them who appear to be quite robust in their outward consciousness are cowards in the depths of their soul. And they seek all kinds of narcotics when they have such fear of the supersensible worlds. That is, because some people are afraid of losing their foothold when they gain access to the spiritual worlds, fear overcomes them; but they want to stifle this fear, sometimes because they are afraid of the earnest and solemn strength which they must use in order to enter into the spiritual worlds. We have seen many a man who believed he could be in the spiritual world at the end of four weeks, but there are — oh, the most terrible of terrors — hindrances: it proves impossible for this man to become in this incarnation, on the basis of spiritual knowledge, that which he would like so much to be — a famous man. Many a man then loses his joy, that is what he is afraid of, and he wants to stifle this fear; and so he creates against this Spiritual Science an antipathy permeated by hatred and vanity.
This mood will spread farther and farther in the present, for the inwardly cowardly, outwardly vain souls will become more and more prevalent in the world. And it may well come to pass that much more hatred, many more attacks will be launched against Spiritual Science than has been the case so far. Thus, there is certainly sufficient reason to see quite clearly, to feel quite clearly in all these things; in spite of the characterized feelings, we should have harmony, even though outwardly it may often seem that everything may go awry. To see clearly and distinctly, that will be necessary if one wants to stand firm on the ground of spiritual knowledge. For in our times those who most intensely believe they are qualified to criticize often do not know at all what they are talking about. There are people who, let us say, begin to write articles about Spiritual Science, who criticize terribly the “fantasies” of the spiritual researcher. Then, in the second half of the article there appears all kind of information about the author, which is entirely false, which is not true. A wild fantasy governs these descriptions. No one who ascends to the supersensible worlds could think up such fantasies as the person who in the first part of his article has criticized the “fantastic” Spiritual Science. Thus things are turned around in the human soul. Those who think they can tell the truth very clearly and who are gifted with a certain impure imagination about the facts of the physical plane partially stupefy themselves by holding forth against that which is supersensibly perceived. Thus humanity seeks oblivion not merely by means of alcohol, but by all kinds of other means. In many things we must see clearly, and the spiritual conception of life will give us the guidance to clear seeing. The most varied narcotics are sought and also found, and they are found for the reason that demonic beings are increasingly active in the hidden depths of the souls of men. These demonic beings will certainly be released by degrees against that which is to fructify humanity from the spiritual side.
This is something, my dear friends, which I wanted to paint before your souls just at this time as a kind of picture of the future, because it is well that we remind ourselves in our time of the way we shall have to take a firm and secure stand on the ground of this Spiritual Science by creating the right feelings toward it and its mission, if we really recognize this Science and its mission. From this ground we can tranquilly watch in our innermost being the development into the future, even though perhaps we may be brought outwardly more and more into disharmony, even though we may more and more be put in the wrong.