The Destiny of Individuals and of Nations
3. The Nature of European Folk Souls
28 November 1914, Berlin
Our first thoughts must once again be directed to the guardian spirits who are guiding those who are at the front where the events of our day are taking place. We address ourselves to the spirits protecting those who are with us in this movement but are now out there, and have to stand up with their life and the whole of their physical being in response to what the time is asking of them. And in a wider sense we are also turning towards the spirits who protect all who have to offer life and limb out there in the field, even though they are not part of our community.
Spirits of your souls, guardian guides,
On your wings let there be borne
The prayer of love from our souls
To those whom you guard here on earth.
Thus, united with your might,
A ray of help our prayer shall be
For the souls it seeks out there in love.
And for those who have already gone through the gate of death we say:
Spirits of your souls, guardian guides,
On your wings let there be borne
The prayer of love from our souls
To those whom you guard in the spheres.
Thus, united with your might,
A ray of help our prayer shall be
For the souls it seeks out there in love.
May the spirit we are seeking in our movement, the spirit we have been seeking in coming together through the years, rule over you and spread his wings over you, so that you shall be able to complete your task according to your karma. Dear friends, I do not know how many of our friends were able to sense that it is much harder than usual to speak in public lecturers in the present day, lecturers like those given yesterday and the day before 15Lectures given on 26 November 1914 (‘Die Menschenseele in Leben und Tod’) and 27 November 1914 (‘Die Seelen der Volker’) both in Aus schicksaltragender Zeit (GA 64). The Human Soul in Life and Death (tr. V. Compton-Burnett, C. Davy, D.S. Osmond and K. Wegener) London, Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co. 1935 and The Soul of the People (tr. not mentioned) London, Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co. 1934. — especially in public lectures of the type given yesterday. The reason is that the things which have to be said may only too easily be subject to misunderstanding. It is particularly when we are within our movement with heart and mind that we need to let a thought I also made reference to the last time I was able to speak to you here, enter more and more profoundly into our souls. It is the thought that, fundamentally speaking, external life — life on the physical plane as man normally encounters it, not in its reality — is Maya, a kind of ghostly dream, and that the truth, the reality, lies only behind this. It must be clear to us that this truth of the Maya cannot be grasped by theories only, nor indeed just with the intellect. It has to be grasped with all the powers of our soul, the whole of our soul-life and, above all, also the impulses of our heart and feelings. Our intellect is focused on things physical and finds it impossible to grasp that this world that surrounds us is not to be regarded as the true, real world. And our feelings, our will impulses, find this truth even more difficult to grasp. Entering into the life of spiritual science we not only have to learn to think differently but also to feel differently and go down to the wellsprings of our will activity in a different way.
It is difficult to find adequate expression for these things, for no words exist for what pertains to the spiritual world. It is therefore only too easy for the things I said yesterday to be taken to show a certain bias, a certain sympathy or antipathy, in the characterization of one folk soul or another in these days when human thoughts and feelings are so strongly tinged with the sympathies and antipathies that arise out of the mood of the time. And yet, when spiritual science is spoken of in the right frame of mind, it will have to be believed that things like the characterization of folk souls in fact cannot be presented in sympathy or antipathy in the usual sense, even if it is necessary to characterize them sharply. If they were presented in sympathy or antipathy they could not be true, they would have to be untrue, a lie. Why is this so?
It is very easy to think that someone developing his soul life in a certain way to attain to perception of the spiritual worlds, to an objective view of these spiritual worlds, might dry up in his inner feelings and will impulses. That definitely is not possible, however. It would be quite impossible for someone to attain to an objective vision of the spiritual world if he first allowed himself to dry up in the sphere of his living will and feelings, dry up in the inner fire of the impulses that are normally arising in the world of human feelings, sentiments and paSsions. On the contrary all the inner feelings there are, all the inner will activity, must be firmly taken hold of, must become as fiery as possible. But they need to be transformed in the soul. They cannot remain the way they are in ordinary life. They need to be transformed to such effect that through this life of feeling and will impulses the person achieves something of a new synthesis in the sphere of his will and feelings. It is exactly in this way that something must evolve which we may call the inner eye, the inner ear. It is impossible to become inwardly dried up when seeking the spiritual world. Yet once that world is perceived, once it has been reached after all the inner struggles, all inner victories, then it does present itself in such a way that, for example, it may still evoke sympathy and antipathy in us, but that any characterization given of it has as little in it of budding sympathy and antipathy as you would find of budding sympathy in a rose you arc looking at. We are able to experience sympathy with it and antipathy, but it is there before our eyes as an objective presence and if we wish to grasp its nature we are merely able to characterize. For a person who is forced, as it were, to characterize the spiritual world, it is in every single case an impossibility to speak in either sympathy or antipathy.
Yesterday the attempt was made to characterize the Italian, the French, the British and the German folk souls. There will, of course, have been some people in the audience who felt that what was presented was not objective characterization but sympathy and antipathy. Yet if sympathy and antipathy were to come to expression the characterization itself would have to be a lying one, it could never be reliable.
You will be able to understand this very well in this individual instance if I tell you the following. You all know that man is not merely the entity that stands before us when we look at him with our everyday eyes. There he is living in his physical body by his very nature, there he looks at us, as it were, through his physical body. Yet he has another reality, one he is not conscious of in ordinary life on earth for reasons you are aware of. This reality essentially lies within his ego and astral body, and he lives and passes through it quite independent of his physical and etheric body between going to sleep and waking up. A spiritual scientist obtains the results of his researches by illuminating for himself what normally remains unconscious between going to sleep and waking up. This gives him inner experiences of things that normally remain hidden behind the outer impressions of the world, the ghostly dreams of the world.
One thing I said in yesterday's lecture was that the folk spirit, the folk soul, lives specifically in the etheric body of man, and we are within this body from the moment we wake until we go to sleep. On waking we become immersed in the folk soul as we enter into the body. When asleep we are not in the folk soul — only between the moments of waking and going to sleep.
The question is: If the spiritual scientist brings inner life and light particularly into the aspects that are not within the physical body, what is the situation with regard to his life in the folk soul when separate from the body? There the folk soul has a divisive effect. The spiritual scientist cannot live within the folk soul when consciously going through the things man goes through in his sleep. The peculiar thing is that at any time, at any particular moment, a certain number of folk souls may be said to be reigning. The way these folk souls behave toward one another actually makes up the whole earth life of mankind, in so far as it is on the physical plane. Entering into the physical body we also enter into our folk soul. Coming out of the physical body, and having conscious experience outside it, we also enter into the folk-soul element — this is one of many experiences one has—but not into our own folk soul. We enter into the other folk souls and never our own, that is the one we live in during the day in our physical bodies. Accept the full weight of these words. On going to sleep we do not enter into one particular folk soul but into the concerted action, the dance as it were, of the other folk souls. The one soul which does not contribute to the dance is the one we enter into on returning to the physical body. In doing his researches, the spiritual scientist actually joins those other folk souls — which are acting in concert and with them lives through the same things we normally experience on the physical plane in relation to our own folk soul, the soul belonging to the nation within which we ordinarily find ourselves.
Let me ask you then: If a spiritual scientist really knows of life not only in his own folk soul but also in those other folk souls, if he has to go through this, would he then have any real reason to describe his own folk soul with a different kind of objectivity than other folk souls? He does not. Here the potential is given to rise above the prejudices of sympathies and antipathies and be objective. Of course it is not only the spiritual scientist who goes through this — and he does it consciously — but all human beings go through it. Between going to sleep and waking up every human soul lives in the sphere where all folk souls act in concert, except for the one his soul lives in when awake in the daytime.
This is something spiritual science offers so that the horizon of our feelings and sentiments can be truly widened. We often say that spiritual science is able to provide for genuine love, with no distinction of race, nation, class and so forth, because of the nature of the insights it makes possible. This statement is so profound that anyone who clearly sees himself as a human being in that part of himself that is of the spirit simply cannot shut himself away in hatred and antipathy from that which is humanity. He will have to say to himself that it is really senseless not to love. Yet in order to be able to say ‘It is really senseless not love’ spiritual science simply must come to us as something we live, not something we merely know. That is also why we pursue spiritual science not merely as knowledge but in such a way that in living together for years in our branches it truly becomes one with us, a spiritual nourishment that we take in and digest.
I have said that between going to sleep and waking man usually lives in the interplay of folk souls other than the one which is his own folk soul at the time. That is the usual way. There is a way, however, of living one-sidedly, as it were, in just one particular folk soul. There is a way in which one is forced, in this state between going to sleep and waking, to live not within the whole interplay of those other folk souls, within their dance as it were. Instead one is more or less under a spell to live together with one or several folk souls that are taken out of the total concord of all folk souls. There is such a way. It consists in our feeling a particular hatred for one or several folk souls or nations. This hatred we produce lends the special power that forces us in our sleep state to live with the folk soul we hate most or even hate altogether. There is no better way of preparing ourselves for entering completely into one particular folk soul when in the unconscious state between going to sleep and waking, and having to live with it the way we live with the folk soul we know when in our physical bodies, than to hate it —but to hate it sincerely, at the level of our feelings, not merely persuading ourselves that we hate it.
When such things are said we become aware how the reality of Maya has to be taken with profound seriousness. It is not only that our intellect, being what it is, does not want to see that things are different in their depths than in the outer ghostly dream they present, but our feelings, our will, also rise in protest against something which holds true for the spiritual world. If we consider such truths as the one of having to live in other folk souls, and particularly in the one we hate, we have to say to ourselves that the vast majority of people reject spiritual truth not only because it is not accessible to the intellect but also because they simply do not want it, because it upsets them also in the sentiments they ordinarily live with on earth. As soon as one enters more deeply and seriously into the realities of the spiritual world, they are not the least bit comfortable; they are not in the least the kind of thing man really likes when he desires to live on the physical plane only. They are uncomfortable. They shake us up and shake us through and the more profound they are the more they demand of us, really at every single moment, that we must be different from the way we usually are on the physical plane. As a living inner entity it demands something different from us than we are on the physical plane, and that is usually one of the reasons why people reject spiritual reality. We cannot do other than see ourselves linked, not with just one part of the world or of mankind but linked with the whole world and the whole of mankind.
Fundamentally speaking, our physical existence is merely the swing of the pendulum to one side. The swing of the pendulum in the other direction is in many respects the opposite, only we do not know of it in our ordinary life. It can be said that things are getting serious as soon as we consider the deeper truths of spiritual life. These deeper truths can become infinitely important in pointing the way for what human evolution, progress for mankind, demands of us at this very time. Let us take a particular example from spiritual science that can be of special importance for the present time.
Things being the way I have just described to you — so that in entering into physical body and ether body we join in experience what is normally called the folk spirit, the folk soul — you will easily understand how sharing in the experience of the fate of the individual folk spirit is one of the things we will gradually shed after death. Many things have been spoken of that man will shed after death; and one of these things is the link with the folk spirit. The folk spirit is active in the progress of earth evolution, it is active in the way mankind develops on earth from generation to generation. After death, between death and rebirth, we have to come free of the folk spirit in the same way we also grow out of other things. This at the same time lends significance to the hero's death, on the field of battle for instance, a significance that is felt. Any who feel it in the right way — and those going through such a death in the right frame of mind surely will feel this — will know that this death is a death of love. It is not suffered for personal reasons, not for the things one can keep with one for. the whole period between death and rebirth—it is suffered for the folk soul, in that this physical and ether body is given up selflessly. It is impossible to think of death in battle without knowing that it is filled through and through with genuine and most heartfelt love, with men being upheld by something that contributes to the future good of mankind. That is what is so great, so utterly tremendous in this death on the field of battle, if it is experienced in the right frame of mind. For it is impossible to conceive of it except in conjunction with love.
The association with our particular folk spirit has to be cast off between death and rebirth. It has to fall away from us. We have to reach a region where we do not live with the individual folk spirit as such. We shall not, however, be able to enter immediately into other folk spirits. That only happens between going to sleep and waking up. We have to free ourselves altogether of everything that is wholly of the earth, and enter into a life that is separate from anything to do with the evolution of mankind on earth. We must also free ourselves of everything that links us to folk spirits. And this again is something that widens and enlarges the horizons of our feeling life, if we make it something we know, for it lets us look towards the other element, an element we seek that is not around us when we live on the horizon of physical existence.
As you were able to see from the characterization of individual folk spirits given yesterday, it is so that in conscious awareness one of them may be more inclined towards the individual personality of man, to what man is as an individual personality, whilst another is less inclined that way. I have compared it with the way one person looks more into his inner life whilst another lives more in the life of the outer world. One particular folk spirit is more concerned with individual human personalities, another less so. As we belong to one folk spirit or another, this determines the way we relate to what the folk spirit is doing in our ether body, what is in preparation there. As a result there are certain differences in the casting-off process after death, in the gradual emergence out of what the folk spirit has made of us.
Let us take the French folk spirit, for example. It is a folk spirit whose Inspirations are connected with a highly developed culture, a culture that can only be seen as arising because this folk spirit is looking back to ancient Greek civilization. I have discussed this already. This folk spirit now works on the people belonging to that particular nation in such a way — and that is the very nature of the folk spirits that go hand in hand with highly developed civilizations — that deep impressions are made on the human ether body, that the signature of the folk spirit leaves a sharp imprint on the ether body. This has to do with something I pointed out yesterday, that the Frenchman becomes attached to the image he has created of himself. The consequence of the sharp impressions left on the ether body by the folk spirit is that when the soul leaves the body when death occurs, sharply distinct features are left in their ether body and also in the astral body of man. It is particularly if one belongs to a nation such as the French that the soul emerges from physical life with an astral body bearing distinct features. The consequence is that it takes a lot to cast off all that is left of the folk spirit after death.
If we compare the shedding of the essential folk spirit as it occurs in a member of the French nation with the same process for a soul that has been under the influence of the Russian folk soul, for example, we get really the opposite effect in the latter case. The Russian folk soul is young, as it were, and as yet concerns itself less with the individual human beings put in its care. Because of this, individual people passing through the gate of death bear little of the stamp of the Russian folk soul in the ether and astral bodies. Looking at the overall situation in the spiritual world we find, in looking at the souls that have passed through the gate of death, that we encounter sharply defined ether bodies and also sharply defined astral bodies in the souls of the French people whilst Russian souls show little of the imprint of the folk spirit on their ether and astral bodies. Because of this the different souls can be used for different purposes by the guiding spirits that have the task of furthering the evolution of mankind.
We are now in an age that truly cannot progress unless a certain sum of spiritual truth reveals itself to mankind. That has been discussed on many occasions, even to the point that it has been said that by a certain time-span in the present century the revelation of Christ will be made to man in the spiritual world. But we can take it in such a way that we say: A spiritual element has to come into the world. This spiritual element entering into human evolution is first of all the fruit of a struggle won by the spirits in the supersensible sphere. Higher spirits, spirits belonging to higher hierarchies, are fighting in this supersensible sphere to enable the spiritual stream to enter into human evolution. In this struggle they also bring into play forces deriving from human beings who have passed through the gate of death. In the life between death and rebirth man is always participating in the work that brings about what happens in the world. Being individual in his constitution he will also contribute in quite a different way, depending on whether he comes from a French body, for example, or a Russian one. That is why the spirits of the different higher hierarchies are able to use these souls in different ways.
The future development of mankind does, however, depend on a tremendous struggle taking place in the spiritual world at this moment. A struggle in the spiritual world does have a different meaning from one in the physical world. A struggle in the spiritual world means working together to give form and function to something fruitful. It is a struggle necessary for human evolution; in short it is a struggle that gets somewhere. It is being fought by certain spirits belonging to the higher hierarchies. They are fighting it by making use of certain young souls coming from the area of Eastern European civilization and certain souls coming from the Western European civilizations. It is a struggle that will go on for a long time yet, a struggle between Russian souls that have gone through the gate of death and French souls that have gone through death; a war waged by spiritual Russia against spiritual France. It is a terrible war if we use the words belonging to the physical plane. Looking into the spiritual world today one sees this struggle between spiritual Russia and spiritual France, and the spiritual world is full of it. It is a distressing struggle.
And now, in the light of this, let us look at what is happening on on the physical plane. An alliance is made. That is the mirror-image of the struggle in the spiritual world. Now this is the kind of problem one has to cope with in spiritual science. Please do not think that it is possible simply to generalize and say: ‘It is easy to arrive at spiritual truths by always thinking the opposite of what is happening on the physical plane’. If that were made the rule we would get the most silly and erroneous results. For it may hold true in five out of a hundred cases, but not in the other ninety-five. All spiritual truths are individual and have to be considered individually! They cannot be determined by mere dialectics. But the truth I have spoken of is one of those that make a particular impact today, for it can make us aware once again how very different the world looks when we see behind the veil of Maya and how the external doings of man may present the opposite of the true reality, of the spiritual.
If we take this point of view it is inevitable that our feelings must change in the contemplation of external happenings. We come to understand that proper discernment must first be used with regard to external events if the truth is to be seen. A cloud formation may look undefined when seen from a distance and quite different from near by. And that is also true for things that happen on the national scale. And right in the middle, I would say, between the warring parties in East and West, lies the German area in the spirit, and this exists for the purpose of mediating between the two sides, truly to mediate between the two, and also does this. And whilst in the spirit there is mediation between the two sides we see them hitting out from both directions and in both directions in the physical world.
In a sense the events we are now experiencing have to do with the deepest impulse in present-day human evolution. I have often said: Why do we actually pursue anthroposophy? We pursue it because it is a cosmic mission, a work the spiritual world demands of man. A number of Imaginations have to be conveyed to mankind; within the near future men will have to take in a number of spiritual truths. That is part of the plan, I would say, for human evolution. Against it there is the objection, the very real objection, the opposing view, that men have to mature gradually and that this takes a long time. But the Imaginations want to come in now into human evolution. Something has to enter into human evolution that lies a bit above the physical plane, I would say, something higher. Men are still rejecting it today, rejecting it as comprehensively as possible. As a result the counter-image appears. And the counter-image of Imaginations are passions, are emotional outbreaks arising from the depths of human nature, from a point as far below the physical plane as the Imagination are above it. When we see human beings face one another in hatred today, in genuine untruthfulness — what is this hatred, this untruthfulness? They are the mirror-images of the Imaginations that want to burgeon forth and are now emerging in this form because men resist them. An element present at a certain height above the physical plane emerges as a product of transformation, as something that lies at the same distance below the physical plane; it has to work itself out. Again it is possible to find the reason for these disagreeable events in the general karma of mankind.
Why does it have to be now, in our present age, that men receive a certain sum of spiritual truths? The question can be answered as follows.
Two things are possible. One is that a person has a certain feeling for spiritual truths and does not meet them with deaf ears, but rather takes them into his heart and his soul. That he becomes an anthroposophist, as it were, the way it is possible now to become an anthroposophist. Or it may happen that a person rejects spiritual truths, that he will say perhaps that all this is foolish, stupid nonsense; that it all comes out of the heads of a few foolish dreamers who would do better to take up something else.
When a person passes through the gate of death he does of course enter into the spiritual world. If someone were to say: ‘Do we only enter into the spiritual world if we acquire knowledge of that world in the time between birth and death?’ we might perhaps say to him: ‘Of course, a person who knows nothing of the spiritual world will also enter into it.’ But what it the difference between these two types of people? The difference is considerable. I am now always speaking only of our own time, for spiritual truths are individual. And if someone were to say in relation to what I described earlier: 'I assume Imaginations unable to come through will therefore always be transformed into a war of malice, like the one we have now?’ that would be the wrong view. At other times they may behave quite differently. Spiritual truths are always individual and what I am going to say now represents a truth that is individual to our time.
A person going through the gate of death without having made use of the opportunity to take in spiritual elements that exist in our time hands over his soul to the higher worlds on passing through the gate of death in almost the same state he received it when he went through birth to enter into physical existence. The higher worlds receive nothing from him but what they have given him on his incarnation. On the other hand, a person may make his own here on earth what it is possible to obtain from the spiritual world, not by mere faith, but by entering into the spiritual worlds in a living way. On his death he will not hand over his soul to the spiritual worlds the way he received it at birth. He will also hand over to the supersensible beings the concepts, ideas and feelings he has achieved here. These belong not only to him, they belong also to the supersensible beings. Any who do not bring these with them will, of course, also live into the spiritual world but make no contribution to human progress, and if people had always lived like that, or done so from a certain point of time, mankind would have remained as it was. There is progress, further development, and souls will always find something new on entering the earth in a new incarnation because they find opportunity to take in the particular mission of an age. In the final instance, a decision always has to be made as to whether we relate to the spiritual world or not. For instance, someone might say: ‘What do I care about the progress of mankind! What does the evolution of the earth matter to me? Let the earth come to a stop! I shall go on regardless.’ That is how a person may speak who has no real love, no interest in earthly progress. Any, however, who bear within them the love for human progress as their highest responsibility will be unable to choose that road. There is also freedom in this sphere. And souls will come to anthroposophy only through freedom and love for man's true progress and man's true good. So it is not possible either to become an anthroposophist out of mere egotism; in becoming one we contribute something to the progress which one otherwise withdraws from. One is active in love therefore — not merely for oneself but for something else.
This is something I hope will always shine through in all our discussions of the spiritual knowledge we are seeking: that this spiritual science is a living, active force. I am not talking about visions; I am talking of this science. Vision merely yields the results. I am speaking of the results coming alive in man. Spiritual science is something alive, something active, that takes up its abode in our souls, that is working and active in our souls.
I have often used the comparison that merely to speak of love — considering particularly the talking that goes on in the theosophical movement — is like standing in front of a stove and preaching that it shall grow hot, this being its duty as a stove. Even the best of sermons concerning its responsibilities as a stove will not make it grow hot. It will grow hot, however, if we put some wood in it and put a match to it. Basically that is how it is with all preaching of human love, and such preaching will prove hardly more successful when directed at men than a sermon directed at the stove, telling it to grow hot. Such preaching has been done at all times and the results can be seen. But anything that is not mere knowledge of the spiritual world, not mere idea, mere word, but is instead something alive, something active in the word, that is the wood we give to our soul, and it will burn if it is rightly taken in by the soul. This can be learned particularly from conflicts like the present one. There knowledge is set aflame, knowledge becomes love, for man is transformed by the spiritual life he has recognized in his depths, in his foundations. This profound transformation is indeed most uncomfortable for him; he rejects spiritual truth and would rather remain in Maya.
Basically, that is also the next reason for the often-heard statement that spiritual truths should not be offered too freely to the public. After all, these are not truths that act as neutrally as physics or chemistry when they are spoken, but truths towards which the human soul cannot maintain a wholly neutral attitude, having to either reject them or take them in. To take them in, however, the soul has to change in a certain way from what it is in ordinary physical life. So it is true that the world does get somewhat stirred up, excited, when the deeper spiritual truths are presented. Yet our age is ordained not to shrink from such excitement and really to go through this excitement. This will be the only way of preparing the ground for a new spiritual life, a spiritual life we must live towards, for we are now indeed at its starting point. And the signs of the times indicate that it is necessary to understand certain things. We may find many of the things that are happening in the outside world particularly in these days incomprehensible and senseless. Just try and take a number of things together. It is my task here, as it were, to speak to you in more intimate fashion than is possible in a public lecture. I have the task of formulating the things I said in my public lectures that were in the context of current events in such a way that they become effective truth; to formulate them in such a way that the words are the right ones for this our time. If you try and take a number of things together, you will see that one particular aim has been present all the time: to call forth ideas that are a little more the right ones, sentiments and feelings that are more the right ones, with regard also to current events, than those that come so easily and are so widespread.
Try, for instance, to hold on to the fact that in my first public lecture I endeavoured to show how the German people at heart really had a very strong inclination towards peace, towards peaceful progress, and how it really is quite accurate to say: the German people as such did not want the war. Though if we listen to our left and to our right we find they all say, they all stress: ‘We did not want the war!’ The French did not want the war. The English did not want the war. They had to go to war for 'moral reasons'. But those moral reasons were produced in just eighteen hours! They all stress they did not want the war. Let us hold fast to that — there is a lot of truth in it, a great deal of truth — and consider what I did when I said: the German people did not want the war. I did not follow this with the conclusion: this means the other side did want it. Instead, I said quite expressly in that first lecture that at most we could raise a question, the question as to who could have prevented the war. And there I pointed to the Russian East, for they could have prevented the war.
I have drawn special attention to the fact that the right answer depends on the right question being asked. If someone insists he did not want the war this does not necessarily mean the other person did want it. It is possible that both did not want it and yet it came about. Leaving aside the peculiar situation of Russia, we are basically able to say that the war really had not been wanted or intended — what we call ‘intend’ on the physical plane. This war arose with elemental necessity out of opposing forces; quite incomprehensibly out of forces in elemental opposition. Basically, it has never before happened in world history that an event popped up as though out of a box within such a few days. This has shown that whatever takes place in external events arises from spiritual contexts and presents itself as something physical.
From this point of view the events of today may serve as a lesson, to show mankind that we will never get the right answer by asking: ‘Did he do it?’ or ‘Did another do it?’ Instead you have to accept the premise that something else has been involved as well; you will have to make the effort and go somewhat deeper. Only then will we learn to speak of events in the right way.
There is yet another reason why it will be necessary to go to the effort of taking a deeper view of things. We are now experiencing how the world appears divided against itself. People are not yet able to do other than always blame another person. The time will come when the deeper truths relating to karma will have entered into the hearts and minds of men. Then this way of blaming the other for whatever has to be lived through will no longer exist. Then people will know that every nation is, in its karma, living through the things it has to live through for its own sake. A nation will be aware of the necessity to gain strength in battle — not because of another but for its own sake — to progress; the other is in a certain way only the agent. This will focus attention on the karma of folk souls. And seen from a higher point of view, the statement: ‘I am standing here and the other is standing there. It is his fault. He is responsible for my having to go through these events, these struggles. It is his doing’ is like a man of fifty looking at a child. The child is young, he is old; when the child did not yet exist he was not yet old, and as the child grows he is getting old. It is then as though he were to say: ‘It is the child's fault that I am getting old; for if the child were not to grow and get older I also would not get old!’ But the child can merely make him aware of getting old.
This is what we must take note of. Every nation has to experience whatever it does experience out of its karma, even the most serious of events. Do not say that such a truth, when it enters into the hearts and minds of men, will be something comfortless that enters into their hearts and minds. Instead, it will lead to a heroic view of life, a courageous view of life, a view of life that encompasses evolution. Once men are able to hold such a view of life it will appear to them as a waste of energy always to seek the fault in another and always to carry on to the usual conclusion. They will call upon the energies that can help them onward. They will learn to identify with their destiny in every sphere. We have seen, in my public lecture, that this destiny, generally seen as something external, can only be properly grasped when we surrender to this destiny. And it is the same with the karma of a nation. When love comes to earth then this attitude will arise among men.
Again, as on former occasions, I would appeal to you, dear friends, who have dedicated yourselves to a spiritual movement, to consider that in future it will be necessary to fill the mental horizon we live in not merely with the kind of thoughts that existed before, but to fill it with new thoughts. These, however, can only be thoughts arising from the spiritual world. It will not be immaterial whether or not a number of people send up thoughts into the spiritual world like those deriving from such considerations as have been presented today. In deciding to meditate on these truths you will help the events that are to happen in the future to happen in the right way, for the good of man. You are anything but inactive with regard to human progress if you meditate on the thoughts the present time calls for in order that man may truly progress. Let us hope that a good many of us succeed in doing spiritual work side by side with the work that is done with blood and death; spiritual work which consists in filling the World with the right thoughts, with thoughts that relate to the mission of age. We shall then be able to feel that these are the true thoughts of love. Looking for a quotation, many people have been reaching for the popular volume by Buechmann these days to find the right phrase and quoted the words of old Heraclitus, according to which war is the ‘father of all things’. 16Heraclitus (c. 540–480 BC), Greek philosopher of Ephesus: Fragment B53 in H. Diels Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, Vol. I. Heraclitus was right in saying this and those who quote him are also right. Yet a father on his own cannot produce a child. The child has to have a mother. As war is the father, so anything achieved in peace-filled work is the mother. Unless the father is to remain sterile, there has to be a mother. And she in turn will have to come from the hearts and minds of those who understand the mission of our time in the spirit and know how to come to love out of understanding.
That is what I want to put into your souls in today's gathering, so that in keeping with the demands made in the present day our spiritual science shall not serve merely to satisfy our curiosity or thirst fa: knowledge but give us the right living energies, energies that we develop to make them a true comfort in the sorrows our time is bringing. True comfort does not result in weakness but leads to strength, courage to be active — spiritually active or physically active, but in any case active. Over and over again we have to remember how important it is in our time for a number of people to feel the free impulse to enter more deeply into the spirit. For this in itself means that progress is made not by the individual but by the whole of mankind.
And in this attitude of mind let us in conclusion return once more to the thoughts we are sending forth, in the way I have indicated, to those who are at the front.
Out of courage shown in battle,
Out of the blood shed in war,
Out of the grief of those who are left,
Out of the people's deeds of sacrifice
Spirit fruits will come to grow
If souls with knowledge of the spirit
Turn their mind to spirit realms.