The Destiny of Individuals and of Nations
4. The Nature of the Christ Impulse and the Michaelic Sprit Serving It — I
17 January 1915, Berlin
Dear friends, as on other occasions when I have been able to speak to you since the serious events of the present time took their beginning, let our thoughts go out at this moment to those who are at the front offering their souls and their bodies in sacrifice for the tremendous demands made in our time and having to take up, with the whole of their physical existence, the challenge of the time:
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 the spirit who has gone through the Mystery of Golgotha, the spirit we have long been seeking in our movement, may he be with You and guide you to the goals that you have to seek.
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.
My particular intention with the words I spoke here on the last occasion was to let a truth flow into your minds, a truth to be found through spiritual science, that the great and serious events in life really enable us to see how outward appearances have to be regarded in the light that comes to us from spiritual science. It is only then that they will no longer appear to us as Maya, the great illusion, but in their profound truth. This is not to say that these outward appearances in themselves are Maya or illusion — that is an erroneous view people often pick up from a philosophy with a more oriental orientation — but that our senses and our intellect err in the interpretation, in their comprehension, of outer events unless we illumine those external events with the light that comes to us from an understanding of the spiritual world.
Today I want to take certain individual facts that have already been touched on during the years of our anthroposophical work and present them in a perspective that is somehow in accord with our time.
We are fully conversant with the thought that since the Mystery of Golgotha intervened in events on earth, the impulses, the forces and entities that have gone through this Mystery of Golgotha have played an active role, as living forces, in all that happened in human evolution on earth. In other words, and to put it more concretely, I want to say: In all major events, in all the important and essential things that have happened, the Christ impulse has been active through those who are his servants, his spiritual helpers. At the present time the term Christianity is generally understood to cover only what men have been able to comprehend. But, as I stressed on many occasions, what has come into the world through Christianity is so great, so tremendous, that human reason, the human intellect, is in no position, or has not been in a position to the present moment, really to grasp even the most elementary aspects of the powers of the Christ impulse. If Christ had worked only on the basis of what men have been able to grasp of him, he would have been able to achieve little. But what matters is not what has entered into mankind through human reason and understanding, what concept men have been able to form of the Christ, but rather the fact that he has been present since the Mystery of Golgotha, active right among men and in their ways of doing things. It is not a question of how far men have understood him but that he has been present as a living entity and has entered wholly into all significant events in evolution.
Of course, our spiritual science enables us to grasp only a little of the profundity of the Christ impulse even today. Future times will come to understand and see more and more. There is no reason to feel pride in such understanding of the Christ impulse as we have so far achieved. Spiritual science will grasp a little more today than it has been possible to grasp of the Christ in the past. In past times people were able only to reflect on the Christ by using the means available through external intellect, external reason, external research. Now we have spiritual science as well, and with this we see into the supersensible worlds, and out of the supersensible worlds we are able to provide many answers concerning the significance of the Mystery of Golgotha. Immediate comprehension of what the Christ is, and what the spiritual powers are that serve him as folk souls and the like, has been least possible for the peoples living in regions where the Christ still had to enter, as it were. Yet the Christ impulse had to come in, for instance in the Roman world. And there is one particular example which we have already considered in another context that will be the best way of demonstrating how the Christ is at work as a living power, directing his spiritual servants when events have to be brought about that are essential in evolution, to bring real progress for mankind.
The event I mean is one I should like to mention again. It happened in AD 312 that the man through whom Christianity became the official state religion, Constantine, 16Heraclitus (c. 540–480 BC), Greek philosopher of Ephesus: Fragment B53 in H. Diels Fragmente der Vorsokratiker, Vol. I. son of Constantinus Chlorus, entered the field with his army against Maxentius, then the ruler of Rome. Of course, if one considers those two armies facing each other one would have to say that the situation was the worst possible for Constantine, his army being five times smaller than that of Maxentius. It is possible to imagine, however, that considering the state of the art of war at the time, both armies had a number of outstanding generals. Yet what mattered particularly at that time was not the the skill of men but that opportunity was given for the ongoing Christ impulse to influence mankind in a way commensurate with the needs of the time.
It is possible to see how much of the Christ impulse could be understood at the time, how much of that Christ impulse human hearts had been able to absorb in the state of consciousness then prevailing if we consider what happened a few decades later around Rome and out of Rome. Julian the Apostate 17Constantine I (the Great) (274 –337), Roman emperor 306-337 (sole ruler from 323). Victory over Maxentius at Pons Milvius, a bridge crossing the Tiber to the north of Rome, in 312. See also the lecture given by Rudolf Steiner at Dornach on 30 January 1915 in Wege der geistigen Erkenntnis und der Erneuerung künstlerischer Weltanschauung (GA 161). fought Christianity out of honest conviction, on the basis of what could be gleaned from human knowledge in those times. Anyone considering the way Julian and his followers fought Christianity can say to himself: ‘There is no doubt that as far as human knowledge was concerned, Julian and his followers were very advanced for their time; they were much more enlightened in this respect than the Christians of their day, although they had reverted to worship of the old gods.’ They stood for what might be considered to represent human knowledge at that time. Yet in AD 312 it was not the stand of human knowledge that determined the issue; it was rather that the potential had to be there for the Christ and his servants to intervene in the historical evolution of mankind. However much Maxentius and his army were able to rely on the skills of their generals and on anything else human knowledge and human wisdom may have achieved at that time, if nothing else had happened, then, undoubtedly, something destined to emerge at that time would not have emerged. And what did happen?
What happened was the following. The continuing Christ impulse flowed into soul activities that were not within men's consciousness, into activities men were not aware of. And it did indeed guide men in such a way that what had to come about did come about. The battle between Constantine and Maxentius was fought by the Red Rock, the Saxa Rubra, on 28 October 312. It was decided not by human skill, but — and enlightened minds may refuse to accept this as much as they like — by dreams; that is by what is generally called ‘dreams’, though they are not just dreams to us. For through their dreams there entered into the souls of the two army leaders what could not enter into them out of human reason. Maxentius had a dream before the battle that he would have to leave his city. He consulted the Sibylline Oracle and was told that he would achieve what was to happen if he dared to join battle outside the city and not within it. It was the most unwise thing he could have done, particularly as his army was so much more powerful than Constantine's. He should have known that anything received from the higher worlds first had to be interpreted and that the oracle would mislead him. Constantine in his turn was told in a dream that he would win if he led his troops into battle under the sign of Christ. He acted accordingly. What had entered into the souls of these men by the roundabout route of a dream became deed, and as a result the world was greatly changed at that time. We need only reflect a little to be able to say: What would have become of the Western world if supersensible powers had not taken a hand in events in a way that is indeed perfectly apparent.
Let us now look at those events in more details. At the time souls had incarnated in the West and South of Europe who were destined to be bearers of Christianity. Even the most enlightened souls were unable to become bearers of the Christ impulse at the time by using their minds, their intellect, because the time for this had not come. They had to find the way to Christianity through what had been created around them, externally. We may say they assumed Christianity like a garment. Their deeper nature was not greatly affected by it. They became serving members rather than receiving the Christ impulse into their innermost being. Fundamentally speaking, that was to hold true for the best souls in the western parts of Europe for a long time to come, into the 8th and 9th centuries and beyond. They needed to assume Christianity as a garment, to wear this garment of Christianity in such a way that they wore it in their ether bodies and not in their astral bodies. You can judge what it means when I say they bore Christianity in the ether body. It means they assumed it in such a way that they were Christians when awake but were unable to take their Christianity with them when outside their physical and ether bodies. The way they went through the gate of death also was such that we can say: they were able to look down from the realm through which man has to pass between death and rebirth, look down at what they had been in their last earth life. But one thing that was not immediately possible for them at the time was to take the Christian impulses arising from their former life into their future life. They wore Christianity more as a garment.
Because of something I will come to shortly, let us hold on to this way in which the souls accepted Christianity in their outward lives and the way Christianity was not part of what souls were able to take with them through the spiritual world, when passing through the gate of death, to prepare for a new life on earth. Let us remember that these souls were only able to enter into a new earth life having forgotten Christianity. For we do not in a later earth life remember what we merely wore as a garment in our former life. If it were otherwise our children would not have to learn Greek again at grammar school, for many of them did once incarnate in Greece. They have no memory of their Greek incarnation, however, and therefore have to learn Greek again. Those souls who had incarnated in the West of Europe were unable to carry their Christianity through the life they had to go through between death and rebirth because they had not integrated these impulses inwardly with their ego and astral body. That was the particular way in which those souls lived on into later incarnations. Let us remember this and now move on to another fact, one I have also mentioned before.
We know that the time we live in now, the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, began mainly around the 15th-16th centuries. That was the time when preparation was to be made for the European world for elements that were predominantly to lead to the development of the spiritual soul. That is really what our fifth epoch of civilization is about. Whatever had to be achieved there had to be achieved with regard to the fact that in the external aspect of earth life, too, conditions were arising on earth that were particularly favourable for the evolution of the spiritual soul — the soul able to develop by directing itself towards material earth life, the external facts of physical existence. That had to take its beginning and it did take its beginning. We merely need to recall how horizons expanded in Europe as the great discoveries were made and with everything they brought with them. The spiritual soul, therefore, had to develop primarily under the influence of the material world. We merely need to think of one thing, and again reference has already been made to this: the evolution and development of the spiritual soul is the special mission, the one-sided mission, of that which belongs to the sphere Of the British folk soul. Considering all the details, one could hardly imagine anything proceeding more according to plan than the way the British folk soul was directed towards these material roles in life. This was definitely predestined in the evolution of mankind.
Let us imagine, for instance, that during the 15th century England had been deflected from its propensity for those regions of the earth towards which it had been directed as the vast lands outside Europe were discovered, and that the British folk soul had instead experienced large territorial gains on the Continent of Europe. Let us imagine that the map of Europe had been changed to this effect. Then it would have been impossible in the first place to achieve what had to be achieved in the sphere of material civilization and, secondly, to achieve what had to be achieved in Europe by developing the inner life. This inner development proceeded specifically from that point onwards, overcoming all kinds of obstacles, with a role played also by Protestantism which in turn was influenced in many ways by German mysticism. Intervening in the process of evolution the Christ impulse had to ensure that the British Isles were kept away from the region where souls still had to be prepared to become outward, external bearers of the Christ impulse.
The Christ impulse had to flow into the deeds done on the Continent of Europe. It had to act in such a way that it achieved a great deal more than could come about through mankind, through the arts and skills of man. And what happened?
The marvellous thing happened that a poor shepherd girl from Orleans, Joan of Arc, [16 January 1412–30 May 1431] did everything those who were very advanced for their time had not been able to do. At that time it was indeed the Christ impulse acting in Joan of Arc, through its Michaelic servants, that prevented a possible merging of France and England, causing England to be forced back onto its island. And this achieved two things: first, France continued to have a free hand in Europe. This can be seen if we study the history of France over the following centuries — the essential element of the French spirit was able to influence European culture entirely without hindrance. The second thing which was achieved was that England was given its domain outside the continent of Europe. This deed, brought in through Joan of Arc, was a blessing not only for the French but also for the English, compelling them to take up their domain.
If we consider this in connection with what is implied by the advance of the Christ impulse on earth, the deed of Joan of Arc achieved something about which the following may be said: The degree to which she understood those things in a genuine human intellectual way was as good as zero compared to the deed which has given the map of Europe its present form. Events had to take that course so that the Christ impulse could spread in the right way. There we see the living Christ erupting into historical events out of the subterranean depths of human nature. That is not the Christ men think they know, for the Christ impulse may be seen in two ways. On the one hand we may ask ourselves: What did the people of that time understand of the Christ impulse? If we open our history books and study the history of mankind we find that over the centuries theologians were in dispute, defending or contending all kinds of theories, attempting to show how human freedom, the Holy Trinity and other things should be understood. So we see countless theologians fighting each other, acknowledging each other as orthodox theologians or else accusing each other of heresy. We observe how Christian doctrine spread entirely in accord with the situation as it was at the time. That is one side of it. But it is not the thing that matters, just as now it does not matter what people are able to do with their ordinary intellect. What matters is that the Christ lives among men, unseen but a living entity, and is able to stream up from depths beyond our perception and enter into the deeds of men. And he has done so at a point where there was indeed simply no need for him to come in through the human intellect, through a reasoning mind, but where he was able to come in through the soul of a girl of simple mind, through the soul of the Maid of Orleans. And when he came in like this, what was the attitude of those who were able to grasp Christianity in form of the orthodox doctrine? Well, they found they had to burn the girl who bore the Christ impulse at the stake. It has taken some time for official doctrine to take a different view. There may have been a point to it where official doctrine is concerned, but canonizing Joan of Arc is not exactly the right response to the events of that time.
This is a real example of how the Christ intervened in human evolution through his servants. As I said, he acted through his Michaelic spirit in the case of the Maid of Orleans. He intervened as a living entity, not merely through whatever men were able to understand of him. This particular example also shows something else, however. Christianity did exist. The people who were there around the Maid of Orleans, as it were, did call themselves Christians. Their Christianity did mean something to them. But all we can say about their understanding is: He whom you seek is not here, 19See Matthew 28:6; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:5,6. and the one who is here is not the one you seek, for you do not know him.
It must be clearly understood, however, that it was essential for Christ evolution to proceed within the evolution of Europe also in the form of an external garment. Souls were part of this development that were able to assume Christianity exactly as such an outer garment, who were able to wear it on the outside as it were. They were souls trailing behind, souls that had been incarnated there earlier and still did not take the Christ into their ego, merely into the ether body. The great difference between Joan of Arc and the others was that she had taken the Christ impulse into the very depths of her astral body and was acting for the Christ impulse out of the deepest forces of her astral body. This is one of the points where we can gain a clear understanding of something that really must become clear to us: the difference between the progressive evolution of nations and the progressive evolution of individual human personalities.
If we consider the French as they are today, for example, it is of course true that a number of individual human personalities exist within the French nation. These individual personalities were not, of course, part of the nation in their previous incarnation, part of a nation that had assumed the outer garment of Christianity there in the West of Europe. It was because a number of people had to assume Christianity as an outer garment in the West of Europe that they were in a condition on passing through the gate of death that necessitated their being united with Christianity in their astral body and ego in their next life, under different conditions. It was because they had been incarnated in the West of Europe that the necessity arose for them to have their next incarnation somewhere else. It is indeed very uncommon — note that I am saying uncommon, though it does not always have to be so — that a soul belongs to the same community on earth through a number of consecutive incarnations. Souls pass from one earthly community to another.
We have one example, however — and I am saying this without wishing to rouse sympathies or antipathies, and with no intention of flattering anyone — we have one example of souls actually assuming the same nationality a number of times. That is the case with the people of Central Europe. These Central European people include many souls that are incarnated among them today and have also been incarnated in the Germanic tribes in the past. This is a fact we are able to trace. It cannot always be fully explained with the means now available in occult science, but it exists nevertheless. A fact like that presented in last Thursday's public lecture on The Ancient Germanic Soul and the German Spirit, 20Lecture given on 14 January 1915 ‘Die germanische Seele und der deutsche Geist vom Gesichtspunkte der Geisteswissenschaft’ (GA 64). for example, is illumined when we know that souls make repeated appearances within the Central European community. The fact is that cultural epochs were cut short within this particular community.
We only have to realize what it means that there was an epoch at the dawn of Germanic culture when the writers of the German poem the Nibelungenlied lived, or Walther von der Vogelweide (German lyric poet, minnesinger, c. 1170–12301 and others. And we need to realize that later there was a' time when a new flowering of German culture began and the first had been completely forgotten. For when Goethe was young nothing was known, as it were, of the first flowering of Germanic culture. It is because the souls return to the same community that it was necessary to forget what had gone before, so that the souls would find something new on their return and could not pick up the threads of what remained from earlier times. It has not happened with any other people that a metamorphosis was gone through, as it were, the way it happened in the case of the Central European people: from the height that had been reached in the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries to that later height that came about the time between the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th centuries and which we may hope will continue. There is no continuous line from the first to the second of these periods, and this can only be explained once we know that souls do return particularly in this culture. It is possible that another deeply moving fact I have already mentioned to you is also connected with this, the fact that it was noted how the Central European fighters of the present continue the struggle once they have gone through the gate of death, that soon after they have passed through the gate of death it is possible to see how they continue to join the struggle. This fact can raise wonderful hopes for the future, because one can see how not only the living, in the physical sense living, but also the dead, those who have died, are making their contribution to events.
Let us now pose the question: What is the situation with souls that were incarnated in Western Europe at the time when Christianity was assumed like an outer garment, that is in the 6th, 7th 8th and 9th centuries, and accepted Christianity there, or also under the Romans, though they were not yet able to unite it with their astral body and their ego? What is the situation with those souls?
Grotesque as it may seem to modern man with his materialistic
thinking, the things spiritual science can teach achieve real meaning
for life if the concrete facts are considered. People still think
reference to repeated earth lives is a matter of mere fantasies produced
by a handful of foolish dreamers. The idea is one that is not accepted,
though it is once again considered excusable to make reference to it in
view of the fact that in an hour of weakness even the great Lessing
accepted the idea of repeated earth lives. 21Gotthold Ephraim Lessing: Die Erziehung des
Menschengeschlecthtes (1780) paragraph 98:
‘Why should I not return as often as I am sent to gain new knowledge, new skills? Do I carry off so much at one go that it is not worth the effort to return?’ Yet if we take the findings made in occult research seriously we cease to be fools begging the forgiveness of greatly enlightened folk. It will be necessary for us to consider some of the things arising from occult research in detail, for that will be the only way of throwing light on something which otherwise has to remain a great illusion.
It is a strange thing that a great many souls that lived to the west of us towards the end of the Roman epoch, when Christianity was slowly gaining influence, finally becoming the established church, now come from the East, as souls growing up in the East, souls now among Russia's fighters. I said we must remember the fact I referred to earlier. For among the people killed in the East, those who are fighting there and being taken prisoners, are souls who towards the end of the Roman epoch lived in the western part of Europe. They now come towards us from the East, people who in those past times allowed the Christian faith to flow into their ether bodies and now, in a civilization that is relatively speaking at a lower level, take Christianity into their souls in a waking state and do so in such a way, due to the peculiarities of life in the East, that they have an emotional, instinctive bond with it. They are thus linking themselves to the Christ impulse in their astral bodies, doing now what they had been unable to achieve in their previous incarnations. This is a very strange fact brought to light by occult research in the present day. Many facts that deeply move the soul may come within the occult horizon triggered by the events of our time and this is one among them. What, then, can we learn from these facts?
We have to be clear about the following. We have to remember that is it part of the direct progress of the life of the spirit in Central Europe that the soul life of the German peoples is very consciously linked with the Christian faith, that it is taken upwards to the heights of a straight Christian culture. The streams, the paths, leading to this have been most marvelously laid out in advance over centuries. We see it all taking shape. It is specifically when we look at our own age with all its errors and mistakes that we see how the seed is there in Central European culture, how preparations have been made and no effort spared in the German folk spirit, the folk soul of the German-speaking peoples, so that now the Christ impulse may be taken hold of in conscious awareness.
That is a fact of infinitely greater importance than the 15th century event when Joan of Arc had to save France because that country had an important mission at that time. We therefore have before us the significant fact that the German spirit is called upon to take in the Christ impulse more and more consciously in future, take it in with the elements that have come into the life of the spirit in German countries and do so in a state of full waking consciousness. This Christ impulse had to announce itself in what went on at subconscious level over the centuries, as we have consistently shown. In the future it will have to unite with souls in such a way that there will be people — and in Central Europe there will have to be such souls — who in full awareness unite also their ego and astral body with the Christ impulse, exerting the powers of their conscious mind and not only the powers inherent in their physical and ether bodies. We can see efforts being made among the best. Let us take the best of them all: Goethe. We may quote Goethe as an outstanding example, but all souls have the potential within them, so long as they strive for it, however darkly.
Goethe showed Faust, the representative of mankind, to be striving
for the highest. 22See
Rudolf Steiner, Geisteswissenschafiliche Erläuterringen zu
Goethes ‘Faust’ (Vol. I ‘Faust, der strebende
Mensch’; Vol. 2 ‘Das Faust-Problem’ (GA 272 and 273).
Engl. GA 272 in part translated and published in different books and
journals: GA 273. The Problem of Faust in R Series of typescript
lecture courses at Rudolf Steiner Library, London. In Part
2 of the play he transports him to Greek civilization to share the
experience of nations, guiding him into this in such a way that Faust
has a significant experience of the future when he desires to wrest land
from the sea and establish something that to him lies in the far distant
future. And where does Goethe take Faust in the end? Goethe himself once
expressed it like this in conversation with Eckermann: he had to make
use of the vivid images of Christianity 23See J. P. Eckermann, Gespräche mit Goethe
in den letzten Jahren seines Lebens, 6 June 1831:
‘And of course you'll admit that the conclusion, where the soul which has been saved is taken upwards, was very difficult to do. With something so noumenal, scarely to be intuited, I could so easily have ended up in vagueness, but I used the sharply defined figures and concepts of the Christian church to give my poetic intentions the much needed form and consistency.’ to show Faust ascending into the spiritual world. And if you consider the profoundly beautiful picture of Faust's soul being received by the Mater gloriosa. you see it as the opposite image to that which led Raphael [1483–1520] to paint his famous Sistine Madonna, where the virgin mother is bringing the soul down. In the last scene of Faust we see the virgin mother upwards. That is the birth of the soul in death. And so we see a deeply inward striving arising from the human spirit in full conscious awareness. It is striving always to gain all that can be gained from Christianity in such a way that it may be borne through the gate of death and into the life man is going to live through in the new earth life that will follow preparation between death and rebirth. What we see there in Goethe himself is a character trait of the German people. It can give an indication as to the mission given to human beings. The mission is, and we can present this very clearly to our souls, that true benefit for the progress of mankind will arise only if within a certain group of people a harmonious relationship is established between Central Europe and Eastern Europe.
It is possible to visualize Eastern Europe expanding westwards, across Central Europe, by brute force. It is possible to visualize this happening. That, however, would be equivalent to a situation where Joan of Arc had not done her deed in the 15th century and England had annexed France in those days. If it had come to that, and I state this emphatically, something would have come about that would not only have brought calamity to France but would have meant calamity also for England. And if German culture were now to suffer through what may come from the East, this would be to the detriment not only of German culture but also of the East. The worst that can happen to the East is that it might expand for a time and have an adverse effect on German culture. For as I said, the souls formerly incarnated in Western Europe or on the Italian peninsula and now growing up in the East unite with the Christ impulse as though instinctively, in the unconscious depths of the astral body. Yet the Christ impulse that is to grow within them can never arise through linear progression of the instinctive element that lives in their souls under the name of orthodox catholicism which, on the whole, is Byzantine of course, for this is a name not an impulse. It is just as impossible for this to evolve into what it is predestined to become as it is impossible for a woman without a man to have a child. What is preparing in the East can only come to something if Central Europe strongly and consciously — that is in a state of full awareness — unites the force of the human ego and human powers of insight with the Christ impulse' out of what souls are striving for out of egoic nature.
What has to come about for the civilization and culture of the future will only come about if the German folk spirit finds souls that transplant the Christ impulse into their astral body and ego the way it can indeed be implanted there in a state of full conscious awareness' It has to come about through harmony being established, by uniting with that which is consciously achieved in Central Europe — more and more consciously.
This will need not just one or two centuries, but a very long time. The time needed will be so long that we may reckon on about two thousand years, I would say, counting from the year 1400. Adding two thousand years to 1400 we get the approximate time when something will emerge in the evolution of the earth that has had its seeds in the German life of the spirit, ever since there has been such a life of the spirit. We therefore realize that we have to consider a future lying not just centuries ahead but more than a thousand years. And the mission of the Central European, the German folk spirit, a mission already before us, is that there will have to be more and more of that nurturing of the life in the spirit through which men take op in conscious awareness — right into the astral body and ego — a comprehension of the Christ impulse that in earlier times moved through the peoples of Europe as a living but unconscious impulse. Once evolution takes this course then the East, too, will gradually, by twining upwards, reach the level reached in Central Europe because of what is already inherent there. That is the intention of the cosmic intelligence. We only interpret the intention of the cosmic intelligence rightly when we say to ourselves: It would be the greatest misfortune also for the East of Europe to harm the very spiritual power it needs to use as a support in twining upwards, a power the East should indeed revere, revere in friendship, foster and cherish. It will have to come to this. For the moment the East is very far indeed from achieving this. The very best of them still fall far short. Short-sightedly. they still refuse to accept what Central European culture in particular is able to give.
I went into this already in my first public lecture here in Berlin. 5Lecture given on 29 October 1914 entitled ‘Goethes Geistesart in unsern schicksalsschweren Tagen und die deutsche Kultur’ in Aus schicksaltragender Zeit (GA 64). In The Dramatic Art of the Goethenaum I (tr. L. Dreher) London: Rudolf Steiner Publishing Co. 1936. Tonight you can see the deeper occult reasons behind what in the public lecture I was able only to put exoterically. in an extraneous way. This is of course something one always has to be careful about, to speak in terms close to the understanding of one's listeners in public lectures. The real impulses to say one thing and omit another, looking for the one context or the other, always have their occult reasons. At all events it is possible to see from what has been discussed today that when we look at things in an external way they present to us the great illusion, Maya. It is not that the outside world in itself is Maya. It is not. But we only gain understanding for it if we illumine it with the truths derived from the spiritual world. In the present case, the truths streaming from the spiritual world show that it is essential for Central Europe not to be overcome by Eastern Europe today, just as in 1429–1430 it was essential for France not to be overcome by England. It will of course be obvious, from what has been said, that for those in the East of Europe it is quite impossible to understand the crux of the matter and that, fundamentally speaking, this can be understood only in Central Europe. Surely this is understandable. In all humility, therefore, without any feeling of superiority, we must take on this mission, and we shall have to accept that it will be possible to misunderstand us. We must find that perfectly understandable. For what is preparing in the East will only be rightly understood in the East itself in time to come.
That is the one thing arising from what I have to say. The other is that we consider the great transition occurring in human evolution in our time exactly on a basis such as this. On previous occasions we have considered it from many different aspects. Now we consider it in such a way that we are able to see how the element which entered into man's evolution on earth through the Mystery of Golgotha needs to be understood in increasingly greater conscious awareness in our day, by those who are able to do so after this incarnation. In the days of Constantine or of Joan of Arc, for instance, it would have been impossible for the Christ impulse to bring about at a conscious level what it had to bring about at an unconscious level. But the time will have to come when it will be able to act at a fully conscious level. That is why we receive out of spiritual science what we are able to take into our soul in increasingly greater conscious awareness. Again it is possible to point to a particular fact — honestly, without getting worried about any sympathies or antipathies that may arise and with no intention of flattering anyone. After all, it is always better to base one's views on facts rather than on what they are so often based on today. For if we look out into the world a little bit we shall see that opinions really and truly are not always based on facts but on passion, on strong national feelings. Yet it is also possible to base the views that determine the attitude of the human mind on facts.
Anatole France 24Anatole France, Vie de la Jeanne d 'Arc (49th edn, 2 Vols.) Paris 1927. was a man who considered Joan of Arc from the rationalistic and materialistic point of view now current. In the cultural sphere of Germany it has been quite natural to understand Joan of Arc out of a supernatural context since Schiller's great deed. 25Friedrich Schiller, 3rd verse of the poem Das Mädchen von Orleans (The Maid of Orleans). There are people even in Germany today who think Schiller made a big mistake; but those are the literary historians and in their case that is understandable. After all, it is their function to 'understand' art and literature — which is why they are unable to understand it. No, the essential thing is for us to let arise before our eyes, from the depths of spiritual life as though glorified, the figure of which Schiller said: ‘The world indeed loves to blacken all that is radiant and drag down into the dust all that is sublime.’
And so it is indeed that acknowledgement of the fact that the Christ impulse intervened in a human individual in a situation not affecting our own nation can bring us the confidence to accept what I have put forward in my public lecture: that it is possible to perceive in the life of the spirit in Germany how it tends towards spirituality the way it has evolved, tends towards spiritual science. We can see that it is its special — though not exclusive — mission to take all that has been achieved and aimed for the life of the spirit in Germany and carry it upwards to perception and understanding of the spirit in the spirit. That is the mission of the German people. The other missions, being the same soul mission expressed in bodily form, as it were, have to serve it. What has to come to pass, out of cosmic wisdom, will come to pass. But, as I have said before, it will be necessary for the twilight we live in today to evolve into a true Sun-age for the future. To make this possible, there will have to be people in the future who have a connection with the spiritual worlds in order that the soil now being prepared with the blood and suffering of so many will not have been prepared in vain. The existence of souls capable of bearing within them their connection with the spiritual worlds justifies everything that happens, even the most horrific, terrible and fearsome, events, so that the Central European mission in spiritual life may be achieved. This, however, will depend on individual souls being able to get in touch with this spiritual life through their karma, and taking it wholly into themselves. Then, when the sun of peace is once again shining over the fields of Central Europe, they shall bear perception of things spiritual, a feeling for things spiritual, within them. Then the inclination developed in a few souls that are capable of this in their present incarnation will make it possible for that to happen which I want to condense in the following words. These words sum up all I wanted to put to you, so that we write the device into our souls under which souls will be able to grow in the right way towards the potential for the future that may arise out of these difficult times:
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.