Our bookstore now ships internationally. Free domestic shipping $50+ →

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

The Mystery of Death
GA 159

1. The Four Platonic Virtues and Their Relation to the Human Members. The Working of Spiritual Forces in the Physical World

31 January 1915, Zurich

Our spiritual science has the task to remove for our consciousness, for our whole soul-life, that abyss which arises for the external human consciousness between the physical world in which the human being spends the interval between birth and death, and the spiritual world in which the human being spends the other time of his whole life, the time between death and a new birth.

Such a sentence is for somebody living in spiritual science with all the fibres of his soul so familiar, so natural. It is only at a moment when I speak just today to you, a moment that is, you may probably say, especially sanctified. We have lost several of our dear friends and members by the grievous war events from the physical plane within a very short time and now we are about as it were to accompany two friends on their last way on earth. Here in Zurich, the cremation of the dear member Mrs. Colazza will take place at eleven o'clock who has left the physical plane this week, and we just have got the message that our dear friend Fritz Mitscher has left the physical plane close to Davos at five o'clock in the afternoon. In both members, dear souls go away from the physical plane. However, spiritual science shows us the way to understand that we do not lose such souls in a much higher sense than we could otherwise understand this but how we remain linked with them.

Since we are working in our movement, a bigger number of souls who belong to us have gone through the gate of death. Above all, I may say based on those sources from which spiritual-scientific cognition generally flows to us that these souls—according to their possibilities—have become loyal co-workers for us in the spiritual world. Under the full responsibility with which one says something that should be firmly backed up on the ground of spiritual science I am allowed to say, we have won supporters for our spiritual movement in them. Many have passed the gate of death, working within our spiritual movement, looking down on that which they are fond of in their love. In the time between birth and death, they have grown fond of the way of striving that we cultivate in our circle. Here in our society they themselves have left something that is on the way between death and a new birth.

Like nature is a world around us at which we look back, in the same way, we can look back at our physical life from that moment on which you can compare to the birth of the human being. Immediately after death, the human being goes through a state of sorts that you can compare with the embryonic life, with the life in the body of the mother, only that this life lasts only days after death. It is much shorter than the embryonic life in proportion to the physical life. Then that follows which you can compare with the entrance of the physical world, with the first gasp, what one may call waking up in the spiritual world. The soul perceives as it were that the will of the soul that has passed the gate of death is taken up by the beings of the higher hierarchies.

Here on earth, the human being, when he enters the physical world out of the body of the mother physically, is prepared first to take up the external air and then his senses awake bit by bit. After death, a moment comes when the soul feels: now my will, which was harnessed during the physical life by the borders of the physical body flows from me out into the universe. Moreover, this soul feels how this will is really taken up by the activity of the beings of the next higher hierarchy, the beings of the hierarchy of the angeloi. This is like doing the first gasp in the spiritual world and gradually growing into the spiritual surroundings, for this shows us spiritual experience.

I would like to speak about the destiny of those who have left the physical plane and gone from us in the course of the years. I would want to look at those who esteemed our spiritual movement and glance down on it as something about which they know that that in which they live is passed on the human souls also within the physical bodies. To be able to go back to the earthly in memory that is something that already belongs here in the physical world to the spiritual world. This purports for the human beings concerned who have gone through the gate of death an infinitely valuable, an infinitely important thing. When they flow completely into the current—which streams to them from the physical world which takes its spring from that which they have witnessed in our movement—like a tributary into a river, when the thoughts of those who loved them or were connected with them by natural bonds, then the community is much more intimate than it could otherwise be in our materialistic time. For it is founded on the spiritual connections.

Again, we may say, somebody who has gone early through the gate of death into the spiritual world appears to us, as if he had done this because of intimate love to our spiritual movement to be able to help with stronger forces from the spiritual world. With a great number of those who have gone from us, wonderfully clearest feelings live in their souls of the necessity of our spiritual movement. And for somebody who is capable to look into the spiritual world all dead souls are the spiritual heralds of our movement who now look down on the movement with which they were interlinked. They carry the spiritual slogans before us, while they are calling to us continually: we were convinced of the necessity of this movement, while we were combined with you. Now however, after we have entered the spiritual world, we know that we can and must assist in the time in which this movement is necessary.

This is something that those human beings will sense more and more who remain behind here on the physical plane. They have lost dear relatives and friends on the physical plane and just these words may be the deepest consolation to them to have here everything that attaches still a deeper connection between the souls, even if we are no longer able to interlink with those souls with physical eyes and physical words.

The spiritual movement in which we shall participate has to bring a lot. Today I would like to select a particular chapter from the various ones, which it should bring us. A time like ours when the external civilisation is completely based—in spite of the last echoes of the old religions—on the materialistic consciousness, such a time can also build up the impulses of moral life only , so that one takes the life between birth and death into consideration. Among the various matters, which will come by our spiritual movement, will be a new construction of the complete moral life, the complete virtue life of humanity. For people will learn to look at the moral life, at the life of virtue from a ken that goes beyond birth and death. It counts on the fact that the human soul goes through repeated earth-lives, and that the human soul, as well as one bears it in the life between physical birth and death, has gone through many lives and has to hope for future lives, which he has to experience. If we have extended our ken of one life to the successive earth-lives, a more comprehensive, more correct view of life will result, also a more correct and more comprehensive view of virtue and moral life.

If we speak of the human virtues, we can distinguish four such virtues first of which one can speak as it were in the usual style of speech among people. One virtue, as we will indicate later, is such a one which lives in the depths of the human soul of which one has to speak, however, as we will see, as little as possible for holy reasons. All other virtues, which exist in life and constitute the moral life, you can understand as special cases of the four virtues at which we want to look, those four virtues of which in particular antiquity has spoken a lot.

Plato, the great philosopher of ancient Greece, distinguished these four virtues because he could scoop his wisdom still from the echoes of the ancient mysteries. Among the echoes of the ancient mysteries, Plato could carry out the classification of the virtue better than the later philosophers or even those of our times where the knowledge of “mysteriosophy” stands so far apart and has become something chaotic.

The first virtue, which we have to consider when we are speaking of a moral life in this sense as it arises from a comprehensive cognition of the human nature, this is the virtue of wisdom (prudence). However, one has to understand this wisdom in a little deeper sense and concerning more to the ethical, to the moral philosophy than one normally does. We cannot say that wisdom is something that can simply approach as it were the human being. Even less is wisdom something that the human being can learn in the usual sense. It is even not easy to characterise what wisdom should mean to us with some words:

  • If we live through our life so that we allow that to have an effect on us which moves up in this life to us,

  • If we learn—induced by the different processes of life—from a process how we could have dealt with this or that more correctly, how we should have made the one or the other of our forces more skilful or stronger,

  • If we pay attention to everything that meets us in life and pay attention to the fact that if anything similar meets us a second time, we do not let touch us the second time as the first time, but feel taught.

  • And if we preserve the mood through life to be able to learn from life, and to consider everything that nature and life bring to us, so that we learn something, however, not only learn that we know something, but so that we become more and more better, more valuable internally,

Then we increase in wisdom, then our soul-life will become such that our experience has not passed us worthless.

In worthlessness life passes us if we have spent decades and judge anything that we have experienced later also as we have judged it in a younger age. If we spend our life that way, we are apart from wisdom the most. Karma may have caused it that we have become angry as young people, that we have badly judged this or that with the human beings. If we maintain this attitude, we have applied our life badly. Nevertheless, if we have judged in our youth disparagingly, we have it applied well if we judge at an older age not disparagingly, but in an understanding, forgiving way, if we try to understand. If we are so born that certain things have brought us in abrupt rage and we as old persons not always come to abrupt rage as young people, if our abrupt rage has left us by that which life has taught us and we have become milder, then we have applied life for the purposes of wisdom. If we were materialists in our youth, however, let have an effect of that which time wanted to say to us as revelations from the spiritual world, then we have applied our life for the purposes of wisdom. If we close our mind to the revelations of the spiritual world, we have not applied our life for the purposes of wisdom.

We can call that the application of life for the purposes of wisdom becoming enriched that way, getting a larger ken. Moreover, what spiritual science wants to give us is suitable to open us towards life becoming wiser in life. Wisdom is something that opposes human egoism most remarkably. Wisdom is something that always counts on the course of the world-events. That is why we can be taught by the course of the events of worldwide importance because we thereby leave the narrow judgment, which our ego is able to make. A wise human being cannot judge egoistically, because if one learns of the world, one learns to understand the world, one learns to let the world correct the own judgment, so that wisdom tears us out as it were from the narrow, limited ken and harmonises it. I could state many things that could deliver a description of wisdom to us bit by bit. We should not strive for a definition of such concepts, but we have to open our mind, so that we—also about wisdom—can become wiser and wiser.

Now here in the physical world everything that the human being has to live through in his conscious life has to use the tools of the external physical and etheric nature. We are as human beings between birth and death only when we are sleeping with our mental being—as far as it is ego and astral body—beyond our physical and etheric bodies. If we are in the conscious state, we use the tools of our physical and etheric bodies. As far as wisdom fills us, as we strive to live in our acting and thinking, in our feeling for the purposes of wisdom, we use those organs of our physical and etheric bodies, which are the most complete ones within our life on earth. We live in those organs, which have taken to their finishing the longest, which were already prepared during the Saturn, Sun, and Moon evolutions and have come as an inheritance in our life and to a certain conclusion.

I would like to give you from another side another concept from that which one can understand as almost perfect organs. Take our brain on one side. The brain is not yet the perfect organ, but we can call it, at least, perfect compared to other organs, because it has taken for its development longer than these other organs. Let us compare the brain with our middle body in which we have the hands. If we decide to do something with the hands, we have the thought: I stretch the hand, I take the vase, and I pull back the hand. What have I done there? I stretched not only the physical hand, but also the etheric one and the astral hand and a limb of my ego, but the physical hand has gone along with them.

When I am only thinking, only looking for thoughts, then the clairvoyant consciousness can see, as if some spiritual arms stick out of the head, but the physical brain remains in the husk. Exactly the same way as my etheric and astral hands belong to my physical ones, something etheric and astral also belongs to the brain. The brain cannot follow; however, the hands can follow. In times to come, the hands are also fixed, and we will only be able to move their astral parts. The hands are on the way to become what the brain is already today. In former times, during the old Sun and Moon evolutions, that which stretches itself out today from the brain and is only spiritual was still accompanied by the physical organ. The cranial cover only covers it, so that the physical brain in it is fixed during the earth development. The brain is an organ that has gone through more stadia of development.

The hands are on the way to become similar to the brain, because the whole human being is on the way to become a brain. There are organs, which are more complete, which have shut themselves off more from the development, and those which are less perfect. The perfect organs are used by that which we accomplish in wisdom. Our usual brain is, actually, only a tool for the lowest form of wisdom, for the earthly cleverness. However, the more we acquire wisdom, the less we are depended on our great brain, the more—the outer anatomy does not know that—the activities withdraw to our cerebellum, on that which our skull encloses as a little brain looking like a tree. We human beings, when we have become wise, when we are wisdom, are then really sitting under a “tree” that is our cerebellum and that in particular starts then unfolding its activity.

Imagine an especially wise human being stretching the organs of his wisdom like the branches of a tree in a powerful way. They have their origin in the cerebellum, this is sitting in the cranial cover, but the spiritual organs extend, and the human being is under the tree, the buddhi tree, in reality, in spiritual reality.

However, there we also see that what we do in wisdom is the most spiritual of us, or belongs at least to the most spiritual, because the organs already rest. If we do anything with the hand, we still must use a part of the forces for the movement of the hand. If we judge anything in wisdom, decide anything in wisdom, the organs remain quiet. There no force is used to the physical organ, there we are more spiritual, and those organs which we apply to the physical plane to live in wisdom are those to which we need to apply the least strength which are as it were already the perfect ones.

Hence, wisdom is something in the moral human life that lets the human being experience himself in a spiritual way. What the human being achieves in wisdom makes him able to reap the possibly biggest fruits from his former incarnations. Because we live in the spiritual realm in wisdom without straining the physical organs, we are most capable by the life of wisdom to make the acquisitions of former incarnations fruitful for this life, to get this wisdom from former incarnations.

For a person who does not want to become wise we have a good German term. We call him a Philistine. A Philistine is such a person who struggles against becoming wise, who wants to remain his whole life long as he is, who does not want to come to another judgment. A human being, however, who wants to become wise, is eager to get from the former incarnations what he has performed as work and stored in former incarnations. The wiser we become, the more we bring from former incarnations into the present one, and if we do not want to become wise, so that we allow leaving the wisdom of former incarnations unexploited, then there comes somebody who saws it off: Ahriman.

Nobody other than Ahriman likes it more that we do not become wiser. We have the strength. We have attained a lot in the former incarnations, even more than we believe, even more in the times in which we have gone through the ancient clairvoyant states. Everybody could become much wiser than he becomes. Nobody is allowed to use as an excuse that he could not bring a lot with him. Becoming wise means that we bring the acquisitions of former incarnations to the fore, so that they completely fill us in this incarnation.

Another virtue is that which we can call with a word that is hard to form, actually, the courage-like virtue (fortitude). It is of such a disposition that it remains not passive towards life, but is inclined to apply the forces. The courage-like virtue comes, as you may say, from the heart. You can say of somebody who has this virtue in everyday life: he has the heart in the right place.—And this is a good expression for that if we are able to withdraw not cowardly from the matters that life requires from us, but if we are able to take in hand ourselves, knowing to intervene where it is necessary. If we are inclined to put our activity in movement in such way, briefly if we are brave—the term “brave” is also good for this virtue,—then we have this virtue of the brave life. You could also say, this virtue, which is connected with a sound mind life, which generates fortitude at the right moment, whose absence causes the cowardice in life. Of course, one can practice this virtue in the course of physical life only by certain organs. The organs to which the physical and the etheric hearts belong are not as perfect as those are, which serve wisdom. These organs are still on the way to change, and change in future.

There is a great difference between the brain and the heart concerning their cosmic development. Assuming that a human being goes through the gate of death and passes the life between death and a new birth. His brain is generally a product of the gods. Forces that completely disappear when he goes through the gate of death penetrate the brain. In the next life then the brain is anew built up completely, also its internal forces, not only the material. So also, the forces are anew built up. This is not the case with the heart. With the heart the matter so far is that the physical heart does not continue, however, the forces last that are active in the physical heart. These forces go back to the astral and ego and remain between death and a new birth. The same forces knocking in our heart are also knocking next time in our new incarnation. What works in the brain has disappeared; it does not come out in the next incarnation. However, the forces that flash across the heart are there also in the next incarnation again. If we look into a head, we can say, in it, there work the invisible forces that construct the brain. However, when the human being has gone through the gate of death, these forces are handed over to the universe. If we hear, however, the heartbeat of a human being, we hear spiritual forces, which exist not only in this incarnation, but will also live in the next incarnation, passing death and new birth.

The folk soul had a wonderful premonition of such things. Hence, it puts so much value on the feeling of the heartbeat, not because one appreciates the physical heartbeat so much, but because we look at something that last much longer when we consider the heartbeat of a human being. If we have the virtue of courage, we can only use one part of certain forces for this courage-like. We must use the other part for the organs that serve as tools for the courage-like. We must still use a piece of the forces for these organs. If we do not have the courage-like, we do not develop the virtue of fortitude, we lose our self-control, we withdraw cowardly from life, we leave ourselves to the gravity of our being, and then we cannot invigorate those forces, which must help to realise the virtue of fortitude, the courage-like.

While we stand there cowardly in life, the forces also remain inactive which should flash across our heart. They are a sowing for Lucifer. He takes hold of them, and we do not have them in the next life. Cowardice in life means to deliver a quantity of forces to Lucifer that are missing for us when we want to build up our hearts in our next incarnation that are, actually, the organs, the tools of the courage-like. We come into the world with defective, unqualified organs.

The third virtue that counts to the most incomplete organs, which take on forms only in future, to which they now contain the germ only, is that which one can call calmness or temperance. You may call it also, in certain shading, the moderate life. Then we have three virtues: wisdom (prudence), courage (fortitude), temperance. You could call temperance also moderation .

One can be impulsive now in the most different way. One can be impulsive because one eats or drinks too much. This is the lowest kind of impulsiveness. There the astral completely sinks into the bodily desire, and we completely enjoy life in our body. If, however, we control our desire, if we almost order the body what he has to do or not, then we are temperate, one can also say moderate. Then we keep by such moderation those forces in the correct order which should help that we do not deliver the concerning organs to Lucifer in the next incarnation. Since we deliver the forces to Lucifer, which we spend to a passionate life. Most badly when the passions transport us into a state of drunkenness, when we feel well with dozing.

Where we lose our temperance, we always deliver forces to Lucifer. He takes these forces, but with them, he also takes the forces from us we need for the respiratory and the digestive organs. We return then with bad respiratory and digestive organs if we do not practice the virtue of moderation. Those who like to be captivated by their life of passions, who dedicate themselves to their passionate life, are the candidates for the decadent people of the future, for those people of the future who will suffer from all possible shortcomings of their physical bodies.

You can say this virtue of moderation is depending on the most incomplete organs of the human beings, on the organs, which are in the initial stage of their evolution, which must transform themselves still quite substantially. If we look at our digestive organs and on that which is connected with them, we have to apply the ego, the astral body, the etheric body and the physical body to set the organs in motion. If we go over to the organs that are the tools for courage, then the matter is quite different. There we stay outside with our ego more or less, in that we move freely, and only our astral and our etheric go into the physical. If we come to the virtues which wisdom encloses, there we keep the ego and the astral body free outside. Since, while we become wiser and wiser, we organise the astral body, we get hold of the astral body. This is the essential part that we—becoming wiser—transform the astral to the spirit-self, and only the etheric coalesces with the physical. In the brain, the etheric is only combined with the physical. Moreover, while—concerning the remaining body—we are connected in the waking state very strongly at least with the astral, with the physical organ; we maintain the condition for the brain in which we are most in sleep. Hence, we need the physical sleep for the brain most. Being awake, we are with our ego and our astral body beyond the brain, and then they must make the greatest efforts in themselves, without having any support in the external organ.

Thus, we find a connection between our human being and the virtues. We can call wisdom a virtue that is attached to the human being as a spiritual being, where he is freely active with his ego and astral body and has in his physical and etheric organs only a kind of support. We can call courage as a virtue, where the human being is free only with his ego and has in the astral, etheric, and physical bodies his supports. Finally, we can speak of temperance where we become free with our ego-germ, where we are bound with our ego to the astral, etheric, and physical bodies and work our way out of this restraint with the help of our ego.

Then, however, the next virtue is the most spiritual one. This most spiritual virtue is as it were with the whole human being in a certain relation. The human being has capacities that we lose early, which we have only in the first years of childhood. I have already mentioned that several times. When we enter the physical plane we do not have the same position, which we need for our human dignity: we creep on all fours. I have drawn your attention carefully to the fact that we bring us only by means of our own strength in the correct position and stand up. We also develop by the forces, which go into speech. Briefly, in the first years of our life we develop forces, which direct us basically—be careful of the expression—into the position that we have as real human beings in the world. We do not come into the world, so that we are “correctly” put into the world. We creep. However, we are correctly put in it, if we turn the head to the stars. This corresponds to internal forces.

We lose these forces in later life. They do not appear any more. Nothing more appears which intervenes in similar way so energetically in the human life like learning to walk and the straight standing position. We become tired more and more as to our upright position. If we start early in the morning living with our brain, we become tired when we have accomplished the day, we have the need of sleep. That which raises us in childhood if we are tired remains quite tired during the whole life and goes into flabbiness. In our later life, we do no longer exercise such a thing like standing up in childhood.

Moreover, how are we directed into life when we learn speaking? Even if we learn speaking, directing forces help us. However, the same forces that we apply in the earliest infancy do not get lost to us during our later life. They remain to us, only they are connected with a virtue, with the virtue that is connected with the right or correct, with the virtue of the all-embracing justice, the fourth virtue. The same force that we use as a child if we stand up from a creeping being lives in us if we have the virtue of justice, the fourth of Plato's virtues.

Who really practices the virtue of justice, puts every thing, every being to the right place, comes out of his shell and goes into the others. That is living in the all-embracing justice. Living in wisdom means to reap the best fruits from the forces that we have stored in former incarnations. Moreover, when we had to point there already to that which was allotted to us in former incarnations, where still divine forces permeated us, we must point out it in the case of justice even more: we come from the universe. We practice justice if we unfold the forces by which we are connected with the whole universe, but in spiritual relation. Justice is the measure how a human being is connected with the divine. Injustice is, virtually, like the atheist, like somebody who has lost his divine origin. We slander God, the God Whom we stem from if we do wrong to any person.

Thus, we have two virtues, justice and wisdom, which point us back to that which we were in former times, in other incarnations, in the times when we ourselves were still in God's womb. In addition, we have two other virtues, the courageous-like life and the temperate life, which point us to later incarnations. The more forces we devote to them, the less we give Lucifer. We have seen how fortitude and temperance go into the organs and how thereby the organs are prepared for the next incarnation. In addition, moral life spreads over the future life if we are filled with spirituality. Two virtues shine over the former incarnations: wisdom and justice. However, fortitude and temperance shine over the future incarnations.

The time will come when the human being realises that he throws himself into Ahriman's jaws if he ignores justice and wisdom. He would throw to Lucifer what he possessed in former incarnations, what belonged to the divine world, by that which he accomplishes in impulsiveness or cowardice of life. We are missing the forces Lucifer has withdrawn from us for the construction of our body in the next life.

We cannot practice wisdom and justice without becoming unselfish, as already suggested. That human being can only be unjust who is egoistic. Only he who wants to remain unwise is egoistic. Wisdom and justice lead us beyond our egos and make us members of the whole humanity. Fortitude or the courage-like and temperance make us members of the whole organism of humanity in certain way. Only because we experience courage and temperance, that we spend our life with them we take care that we live with a stronger organisation in the future humankind. Then that we do not lose which we throw, otherwise, to Lucifer. Egoism changes automatically into selflessness if it is extended over the whole horizon of life, and the human being positions himself in the light of the fourth virtue. That will bring the spiritual wisdom of the human future extending on ethics and moral life. Then this will also flow into pedagogy. If you understand wisdom and justice, as I suggested it, you want to learn the whole life through. You will see that you have to learn only properly when you have your youth behind yourself. However, people now think that they, after they have youth behind themselves, do not need to learn anything more. The biggest and noblest fruits of art, the great poets of humankind get lost that way. They would merge in us the best if we study their works as old people. Reading Goethe's Iphigenia or Schiller's Tell, people normally think, we read this already at school.—However, this is not right; because you may not forget that these works have the best effects if you read them as old persons, because then they serve justice and wisdom.

On the other hand, the education of children will also bear particular fruits if you see the virtue of the courage-like and the virtue of temperance in the right light. You have to consider these virtues where you have to educate children individually, by the fact that you point out repeatedly to the children that they seize life bravely, that they do not shrink or withdraw from anything, and that they understand the life in temperance and moderation in order to become gradually free from their passions. You can achieve a lot for the education of children that way. We have to explain these matters more and more in the later course of our spiritual-scientific considerations.

Thus, we see how that which has laws in the moral life of humankind, otherwise, only for the external physical plane, for the life between birth and death is spread by the spiritual-scientific considerations over an infinitely wide horizon. It also is the same thing as it is with the remaining matters of spiritual science. Concerning the natural sciences, humankind had also to experience that its horizon was extended. Giordano Bruno1Giordano Bruno (1548–1600). According to his teachings our solar system is only one of countless worlds which are parts of an infinite universe Dell' infinito universo e mondi (London, 1584) points out the fact to the human beings that not only the earth does exist, but also that still many other worlds are there outside in space. Spiritual science points out to people that not only a life on earth exists, but that many lives on other earths exist. The human beings before Giordano Bruno believed that there was a border in the sky. Giordano Bruno drew attention to the fact that there is no border, that the blueness of the sky shows no border. Spiritual science shows that there is neither birth nor death, but that we put them into life because of our limits of conceiving.

Thus, the abyss between the physical and the spiritual is bridged. Thus are the matters that stand on spiritual-scientific ground for those who found a true monism. The so-called monists today make it easy for themselves with their monism. They take one part of the world and make it a unity, while they throw away the other half of the world. True monism originates from the fact that one allows to flow both halves into each other in the general sense. This happens by spiritual science. Not only that this originates in the consciousness, but also it must originate for our whole life. More and more we must get around to knowing really, if we look into the world: there is round us, in all that which lives and works, something supersensible, not only in that which our eye sees, but also in that which the mind can perceive which is bound to the brain. Everywhere are spiritual forces, behind every phenomenon, behind the phenomenon of the rainbow, behind the movement of the hand et cetera.

If you read up the series of talks2Christ and the Spiritual World: The Search for the Holy Grail, 6 lectures (Leipzig, 1913–1914), volume 149 of Steiner's Collected Works (Rudolf Steiner Press, 2008) I gave around the turn of the last year in Leipzig, you will find how the Christ Impulse was working on account of the Mystery of Golgotha, how Christ lives in the most important human matters, not only in that which the human beings have known. There they quarrelled, for example, about dogmas. While they quarrelled, however, the Christ Impulse kept on living and caused what should happen.

Let us take the figure of the Maid of Orleans3Jeanne d'Arc (1412–1431). In the development of Europe the simple shepherd girl appears. She appears strangely, so that in her soul not only those forces live which a human being has usually but that in this personality the Christ Impulse works and invigorates and bears her by His powerful impulse. She became as it were a representation of the Christ Impulse for her time. She was only able to do that, while the Christ Impulse had made hold of her.

You know that we celebrate Christmas in the time when the solar strength is the slightest, in the deepest darkness of the wintertime because we can be persuaded that the internal light, the spiritual light has its strongest intensity.

Old legends tell us that from Christmas up to the 6th January people experienced something quite particular because there the life on earth and the internal forces of the earth are the most concentrated. Indeed, those who are specially inclined experience the spiritual forces there in the forces of the earth. Countless legends tell us that. The best time for it is the thirteen days until the 6th January.

The Maid of Orleans spent these thirteen days in a particular condition, in a state when her soul was not yet receptive to the external world. Peculiar as it is, the time in which the Maid of Orleans was in the body of her mother ran off in the Christmas time in 1411. She was born, after she had spent the last thirteen days in the body of her mother, at the 6th January. Before she did the first gasp, before she saw the physical light with the physical eye, she experienced the earthly during thirteen days in the sleep, which the human being experiences, before he enters the physical world.

I point here to a tremendously significant fact that shows how the world is governed from the spiritual, how that which happens externally in the physical world is directed by the spiritual world, how the spiritual world flows under the physical.

Thus, we have to clear away the abyss between the physical and the spiritual more and more consciously by spiritual science in the present time. We do that for life in a field if we realise that just within our movement the forces of those exist who connected their souls and bodies during their earthly lives with our movement and went through the gate of death. If we look at the other bank of the stream, where they are active, and feel combined with them and turn our thoughts to them, then we do that out of full consciousness we have got from spiritual science. We know to be connected the liveliest with those who went through the gate of death, and we know them as the best forces among us. If we can do this or think, we look at life as a sowing field. Everywhere between that which we ourselves plant we see those plants in it which sprout up without our help. Then we can know: those to whom it is granted to be in the world of spirit, those with whom we feel linked, with whom we become one, place these plants.

A human brotherhood also with those who do no longer carry physical bodies will be the typical sign of this movement and of those who feel as members of this movement and belong to it in future. Other societies, only built on the earthly, will clear away some barriers between human beings. The barriers between the living and the dead will be cleared away by the movement more and more, which will unite human beings who want to be united in the sign of spiritual science. We all want to have this in our souls and just take up the typical as a remaining feeling that connects us with this movement that has become dear to us.

During the war, Rudolf Steiner spoke the following commemorative words before each lecture he held within the Anthroposophical Society in the countries affected by the war:

The first thoughts we cultivate now with our being together in our branches should be turned to the spirits who protect those who are on the fields where they have now to serve the great duties of time with blood and soul. We want to turn our petitions to the protecting spirits of these souls, that what we summon up in imploring love may radiate and unite with the power of the spirits who guard these souls on the fields of the events.

Spirits of your souls, active guardians,
May your wings bring
Our souls' imploring love
To the human beings entrusted to your care,
So that, united with your might,
Our entreaties might ray forth to help
The souls they lovingly seek.

In addition, for those who had already gone through the gate of death:

Spirits of your souls, active guardians,
May your wings bring
Our souls' imploring love
To the human beings in the spheres, entrusted to your care,
So that, united with your might,
Our entreaties may ray forth to help
The souls they lovingly seek.

The Spirit we have searched for all the years of our striving may radiate the power, which He has carried through the Mystery of Golgotha to you that you may have strength for accomplishing what the big duties of humanity demand from you. The Spirit Who has gone through the Mystery of Golgotha; the Spirit of Christ may be with you!