The Destiny of Individuals and of Nations
9. The Sleeping-and-Waking Rhythm in the Context of Cosmic Evolution
9 March 1915, Berlin
Dear friends, once again, let us first of all remember those who are out there at the front, in the great arena of present-day events:
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.
And for those who because of those events have already gone through the gate of death:
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.
May the spirit we are seeking as we work towards spiritual knowledge, the spirit who has gone through the Mystery of Golgotha for the good of the earth, for the freedom and progress of man, be With you and the hard duties you have to perform.
A week ago we gave some consideration to imaginative meditation. We found as a result of our considerations that all insight or perception which is genuine perception of the supersensible worlds has to be won by considering the world in a way that is independent of the body. Our ordinary everyday perception has to make itself independent of the conditions imposed by the body, the senses, the nervous system, etc. Ordinary daytime consciousness is achieved when man's spirit and soul elements use the physical body as a tool. Spiritual perception consists in certain more subtle processes which involve man. Some discussion of these processes will form the first part of today's talk.
I said: ‘More subtle processes’. They are finer, more subtle, than the ordinary processes used for everyday perception, observation, apprehension, because man is only able to base himself on what is familiar to him in everyday life, and can only gradually rise to finer, more subtle processes. We should all be able to achieve the most satisfying, the greatest, knowledge of the spiritual world if there was an easy way of being in full conscious awareness for at least a fraction — just a small fraction, a minute if you lik— of the part of our life we spend between going to sleep and waking up again. (I am speaking of no mere dream-like consciousness but full conscious awareness.) Any form of initiation always consists in making conscious the part of us which during the night, when we are asleep, is unconscious and outside the body.
The process of attaining to genuine higher knowledge always consists in making conscious what otherwise remains in a state of sleep and unconsciousness between going to sleep and waking up again'
There is one part of the human being — and this may surprise you — one part of the physical human being that basically is always asleep. These are things one need not necessarily go into at the very beginning-of one's anthroposophical life — the finer points of spiritual science can only come to our attention gradually. When it is said that man is awake in the daytime and asleep at night we naturally assume his ego and astral body to be fully united with the physical and ether bodies during the day whilst having a separate existence outside the physical and ether bodies at night. It is only gradually that we progress from a rough outline of the facts established through spiritual science to more specific truths. Very generally speaking, it is correct that during sleep man's ego and astral body are outside his ether and physical bodies. There is however a part of the body that is asleep also between waking up and going to sleep, at least essentially so. Oddly enough this is the part of the human body we call the ‘head’. This is asleep when we are awake. You might well think the head to be the part that is most awake. In reality, however, it is the least awake part of us. In his thinking activity, and in head work altogether, man is awake. This is only possible, however, because even when we are awake the relationship of the ego and astral body to the head organs is such that they — that is the ego part of the head, the astral part of the head — cannot unite completely with the physical and ether part of the head. They always experience a life of their own outside the physical and ether part of the head. They always experience a life of their own outside the physical and ether parts of the head, as it were. A close union between the astral and the physical parts of the head occurs only when we have a headache. If we have a powerful headache, the astral, physical and ether parts of the head are very much united. We are least able to think when we have a headache. The reason is that the bond between the astral, physical and ether parts of the head is too strong. Our thinking, in which we are awake, and all other waking soul life bases on the fact that the ego and astral body of the head are in a way outside the head and therefore reflected, mirrored, in the physical and ether body of the head. Similarly we are only able to see ourselves in a mirror because we are outside it. It is this mirroring effect that provides the images for everyday consciousness. Those are mirror images we experience and take note of in everyday life. Living thus outside the head, with the head asleep and ego and astral activity reflected back by the hard skull, we are able to feel the inner ego and the inner astral body to be our own. In the other parts of the body ego and astral activity are still influencing the activity of the physical and ether bodies to a much greater extent. If the same held true for the head we would be conscious of the activity of digestive organs, and perhaps also rhythmical activity like that of the heart, In our heads—or perhaps not be conscious of them—and there could be no question of thinking activity. Thinking depends on activity being reflected, thrown back, and absorbed. The heart and other organs with the ability to absorb take in ego and astral body activity. The organs of the head do not absorb it but rather reflect it; the result is that it can be experienced in the inner soul.
During the night, between going to sleep and waking up, the whole ego and the whole astral body — again this is not entirely accurate but merely an approximation — but by far the greater part of the ego and astral body is outside the physical and ether bodies. Between going to sleep and waking up man is able to relate to a far greater part of his ego and astral body the way he relates to his head when awake. But the rest of the organism has not yet progressed as far as the head, it has not yet reached a point where it reflects the way the is able to reflect. Because of this, there can be no conscious awareness during sleep. Considering the way we move our hands we have to say to ourselves: ‘These hands, in so far as we are able to move them, have of course four elements to them — ego, astral body, ether body and physical body. All of these are present and active when we move our hands.’ Now imagine someone found himself in a position where his hands were tied to his body, tied in such a way that he could never move them, for they would be firmly attached to his body. Let us also assume this person had the gift of moving the ether body, or at least the astral body, of his hands independently whilst his physical hands remained immovable. This would have a highly significant result. He would be extending his astral or ether hands beyond his physical hands which are tied and immovable. We'll never go to the effort of actually executing this manoeuvre; when we move any of the astral or etheric parts of our hands we simply move our physical hands as well.
This is something we would find difficult to do in a natural way whilst on earth, yet in the course of evolution it will be achieved, though in a less crude fashion than just described. It will be achieved as mankind develops further in the course of earth evolution and grows towards Jupiter. Then his hands, his physical hands, will in fact become immovable. On Jupiter human beings will no longer have physical hands that are mobile organs, for they will be fixed. On the other hand their astral and ether hands will in part be able to move outside those physical hands. Only a trace of the physical hands will be left on Jupiter and they will be immobile; the astral or ether hands on the other hand will be able to move freely, like wings. As a result, Jupiter man will not merely think with his brain, for his fixed hands will enable him to reflect into the elements now united with his physical hands. His thinking will be much more alive, much more all-embracing. When a physical organ comes to rest, the spirit or soul element belonging to it will be liberated and able to develop spiritual and soul activity.
You see, it is the same with the brain. When we were still living on the Old Moon we had organs up here [the cranium] that moved like hands. These organs have become fixed. On the Old Moon we did not yet have a solid cranium; the organs now folded up to form the brain were then able to move like hands. Because of this, men living on the Old Moon were not yet able to think the way men do on earth. A clairvoyant assessing thought activity clearly perceives that in a human being who is awake the sleeping organs in his brain do indeed move like wings, the way I have described that astral and ether hands would move if our physical hands could be immobilized. It really happened that with the transition from the OW Moon to the earth state 'hands' were brought under control up here. They are still held fast by the solid skull and because of this the etheric and astral elements are free. Our organs need to be developed further. These hands cannot remain as they are when we develop to the Jupiter state — they will undergo a physical change, just as our brain underwent the change that made it an organ of reflection. This is a process we may consider one of natural evolution.
The initiation process is a different one. Here, we take some mantric meditation or other and make it the centre of our thoughts, entering into it completely. When we do this it is really important that we do not make use of our physical organs in forming and holding the thought. We must withdraw from the physical body, the sphere of our physical senses, with this thought. We must hold on to this thought and have no help from the physical world as we meditate. In our ordinary everyday thinking activity we have the help of the physical body, of the physical world. We think when impressions reach us through the senses. This makes thinking a comfortable process — the world makes both a physical and an etheric impression on us and this provides support for our thinking. When we meditate we must go apart from all that is physical, and that includes all ideas or concepts. Entirely of our own free will we have to make a thought the centre of our conscious mind. As a result something very specific occurs, a process more subtle than the process of perception. We have to reach a point where we forget the rest of the world — as though the rest of the world were not there and nothing really existed in space and time except for the one thought. When we have reached the point where we are indifferent to the whole world, living only in that meditative thought, something occurs which physical science will never be able to demonstrate. This subtle process of meditation causes heat consumption — a very small amount of heat is used, is taken away. It is a process we cannot demonstrate by physical methods but consumption does take place. We may return to the subject on some other occasion. 48It appears that the theme was not taken up again in this form and that none of the audience returned to it either. For a consideration of the subject from a different point of view. sec the lectures given by Rudolf Steiner in Dornach on 17 December 1920 in Die Brücke zwischen der Weltgeistigkeit and dem Physischen des Menschen, GA 202 (Engl. The Bridge Between Universal Spirituality and the Physical Constitution of Man, trs. not mentioned: New York: Anthroposophic Press 1958) and on 13 January 1924 in Mysterienstätten des Mittelalters. GA 233a (Engl. Rosicrucianism and Modern Initiation, trs. Mary Adams. London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1965). We shall see then that it is possible to prove too to ordinary scientists, on the basis of processes everyone will be able to observe, that the process of meditation involves a subtle heat process and also a subtle light process.
We use up some of the light we have taken in; we consume light. There is something else we consume, but let us for the moment just consider the fact that we use up heat and light. These things we take in make happen what I spoke of a week ago, that something evolves which is very delicate and alive. When we are thinking in the ordinary everday way, something lives within us that leaves its imprint on the organism, triggering a process that also has to do with heat; it leaves its imprint and the process which takes place causes us to have memory. This, however, must not happen when we meditate. When we live in a pure thought or feeling content, separate from everything else, the heat, light, etc., we consume does not leave its imprint on the body, it leaves its imprint in the general ether. It triggers a process outside us. Dear friends, if you are seriously, genuinely meditating, you are impressing your thought form into the general ether; it will be there within it. And if you then look back on a meditation this will not be the usual way of remembering; You are looking back to something which has left its imprint in the cosmic ether.
It is important to take note of this. It is a subtle process and we perform it in such a way that it establishes a link between us and the etheric and astral world surrounding us. A person wjo develops only the ordinary everyday kind of perception and thinking is only involved with himself; it is a process that takes place entirely within us. On the other hand, someone taking up real, genuine meditation lives in a process that at the same time is also a cosmic process. Something goes on there, though it is exceedingly subtle. What happens is that a small amount of heat is used up during meditation. When heat is used up coolness develops; the general cosmic ether is cooled down when we meditate. Light is used up as well so that it is subdued; darkness arises, subdued light. The result is that when someone meditates in some place in the world and then goes away, he leaves behind in that place a very slight coolness and a very slight reduction in light. The general light state is subdued, has grown darker. A clairvoyant is always able to detect where someone has been meditating, genuinely going through the process of meditation. When the person leaves, a shadow image of him remains and this is also cooler than the surrounding area. A cool dark spectre is thus left in that place; we have engraved it there. In a very delicate and subtle way, something has been done in that place which we may very roughly compare with what happens on a photographic plate. A kind of spectre is produced. This is a process which takes place not only within man but as a cosmic reality; man makes himself part of the cosmos through this.
There is one thought human beings meditate on even if they are of not to meditation, if they know nothing whatsoever of any kind of nonphysical science. There is one thought human beings do meditate of on. It is seemjingly small, but of infinite importance in life: the thought of the I or ego. When we think of the I or ego we always think independently of the body. In so far as we have a relationship to the cosmos through our ego, certain things connected with the ego — even if people are not aware of this in life — are thought in such a way that they are like the branches of a tree, if I may put it like this. Certain thoughts, feelings, will impulses become like branches, or else like feelers mobile feelers. These will be grouped around the ego. All is life, therefore, the human being has trailing behind him what he is thinking as an ego, and this stretches out mobile feelers or tentacles in all directions. Man is always leaving a spectre-like jellyfish behind him, all through his life. This is a very real thing, for at one and the the same it contains everything a person has lived through — in so far he has thought and felt it with his ego. This remains. And when the human being has gone through the gate of death he will gradually learn to look back on what he has left behind. This makes it possible for a link to exist between what a human being experiences after death and what he has left behind.
Being in the earth state we must first of all reach the point in meditation where our organs are held fast through the will; the ability to meditate properly depends on really freeing our thinking, feeling and emotions as we meditate, so that the body is not involved. The result is that we are capable of such powerful inner concentration that we are able to choose what does and does not become engraved, leaving a photographic impression as it were, in the cosmic ether. Something we need to stress again and again is that real, genuine meditation is a very real process, an absolutely genuine process.
If we consider that the human being leaves this behind — that, fundamentally speaking, all his experiences are contained in what he leaves behind and that it remains — we will, of course, realize that when the human being has gone through the time between death and new birth and comes down to earth again he will still find in the cosmic ether what he previously left there. Here we see in real terms how karma comes about. For the spectre of himself which man has produced will now influence him and in conjunction with his later life give rise to what will be his karma.
Such insights can only be gained slowly and gradually. A real process is taking place, one that goes beyond us, having an effect on the cosmos, and because of this the person meditating gets the feeling that meditating is something different from the usual kind of thinking activity. With the latter we have the feeling that it is we ourselves who put the thoughts together, taking one with the other; it is we ourselves who make the decisions. Meditating, we gradually get the feeling: It is not just you yourself who is meditating, for something is going on of which you are indeed part, but it also takes place outside you, as something that has happened and remains. That is the feeling which should arise. If I throw a fragile object across the room I have the feeling that what happens is not only what went on before it flew through the air but also something that followed, once the object has become separate from me. In the same way meditation gives rise to the feeling: It is not just you who is thinking. You fan thoughts into flame but they then whirl away, they whirl and exist in their own right. You are then no longer their master for they enter into a life and identity of their own.
When we thus feel ourselves to be within the atmosphere in which our thoughts are active and have a life of their own as if those thoughts actually moved through our brain in waves — when we begin to feel this we come to feel certain and sure that we are within a spiritual world, that we are merely one element weaving within all that is weaving there. It is important that we really achieve such stillness, such inner calm, in our meditation that we achieve the significant feeling: ‘It is not you alone who is doing this; it is being done. You have started to set these waves in motion but now they spread around you. They have a life of their own in which you are merely the centre.’
So you see, my friends, that it is an experience which actually leads to recognition of the spiritual world. It is an experience we have to wait for, possessing our souls in patience. It is extraordinarily important, yet it needs patience, persistence and self-denial to wait for it. This one experience will be enough to make us fully convinced that the spiritual world does objectively exist.
You will be able to see from what has been said here that a state of alternation between waking and sleeping really is a general necessity. We are asleep and awake here in the way that is familiar to us. We sleep and awake so that our brain, which is active throughout the day, shall also be able to immerse itself in that part of us which by day takes care of the organs and at night is outside us, always remaining unconscious. This rhythm between sleeping and waking has to take place; we have seen that it also takes place in the great process of cosmic evolution. Now our brain is really asleep, to enable us to think, and our hands are awake — that is our whole relationship to our hands is free, awake, whereas we do not move them in sleep. On the Old Moon we were quite awake as far as the brain is concerned but we have since learned to sleep; we have been able to evolve into thinkers on earth because we have learned to let the brain sleep. On the Old Moon the brain was still awake, but here it has achieved the ability to sleep. Because of this man is able to think. The mid-body will learn to sleep on Jupiter and thinking will then become a wider experience. That is how the state of alternation between sleep and waking undergoes its evolution. It is, however, quite a general state which may be found in all kinds of different areas. We may say that wherever we look it is apparent that a state of alternation between waking and sleeping is essential. Let me give you a rather peculiar example, one that is peculiar yet may have special meaning for us at the present time.
If you want to find out what went on in the cultural and literary life of the early 19th century you will of course look up a history of literature. This will tell you which poet was important and which was not; and the record will only go a certain way, for poets who were of no importance at all will not be mentioned. And so a person who knows anything at all will know which poets were important at the beginning or in the middle of the 19th century and which were not. They'll know that. Undoubtedly, there must also have been people who wrote poetry during the 19th century and yet are totally unknown to most if not all people today. I think you will agree that there must have been people of whom nothing at all is known today. But a time will come when the picture people have, say of literary life in the 19th century, will be different, completely different. Then a poet given many pages today will be given just half a page whilst another, who is not even mentioned today, will be given ten or twenty pages. Things are going to change. And, indeed, it will be necessary for thing to change quite profoundly. It is particularly when we consider that spiritual science is an element that now has to enter into the process of civilization, taking hold of human knowledge and entering into it everywhere, that we become aware of how men and women will have to change their approach and learn to think. Let me give you an instance.
I think you will agree that something new has to develop in place of present-day cognition, the process in which knowledge is on the whole obtained by giving validity only to whatever man gains by making use of his physical organisation. The new thing which must develop will give validity also to what may be gained by taking the path of spiritual initiation. Today the situation is such that a genuine scientist only considers valid, considers scientifically proven, what has been gained through a path of knowledge based on the instruments of the physical body. Everything else is considered a figment of the imagination. It may just be accepted as hypothesis, but even this is not allowed to go far or else the hypothesis will be called utter fantasy. So that is the situation today. But a time will have to come when validity attaches to insights gained on the path to spiritual knowledge, and, what is more, insights gained in the physical world are fully illumined and truly fathomed only through spiritual insights. That is how it will have to be.
Well, we are not merely speaking metaphorically but in completely real terms if we say we are now living in an age when men are asleep as far as the gaining of insight is concerned—or at least the majority of people are. Courtesy comes easy here, for we can exclude anyone with an interest in spiritual science — they are of course awake when it comes to the gaining of spiritual knowledge. The rest of mankind, then, is asleep when it comes to spiritual insight; they are sleepyheads. And our most highly esteemed science arises because they are really asleep. We are in an age when this genuine reality is being missed by a human race that is utterly and completely asleep. This has been in preparation for a long time and we might say that just as there is the going-to-sleep stage before we sleep so we are able to observe a kind of dream-state and a struggle against sleep when it comes to gaining spiritual insight. It slumbers sweetly. But it has not been easy to achieve this full sleep-state and a struggle against sleep is apparent in certain major events in the first half of the 19th century when some individuals still has a certain intuition, an inner experience dawning, of spiritual truths, of conditions in the spiritual world. As it progressed the 19th century really could do no other, in its desire to achieve those sweet slumbers, but forget poets who still had special knowledge of the spiritual world. They do not fit into this state of spiritual slumber.
I have once before spoken of the poet Julius Mosen whose Ritter Wahn (Sir Illusion) and also Ahasver clearly showed that Julius Mosen had a living relationship with the spiritual world. 49Mosen. Julius (1803–1867): Ritter Wahn published in 1831 (due to the interest created by Rudolf Steiner. a new edition was published by Der Kommende Tag AG, Stuttgart in 1921). Ahasver published in 1838. This knight called Ritter Wahn — taken from an earlier legend but given qualities by Julius Mosen which reveal his connection with the spiritual world — this Ritter Wahn is looking for the man on this earth who could tell him about conquering death. The main theme of Julius Mosen's poetic work Ritter Wahn is that Sir Illusion, that is a man in the ordinary state of knowledge, knowledge based on illusion, is looking for someone who is able to tell him how to get beyond the state of illusion connected with physical life. He holds the man able to give him that information in very high regard. Julius Mosen then described the way his knight intended to find the man who will tell him how to gain knowledge that does not depend on the physical body:
Henceforth through all the lands on earth I'll wander,
Eastward, wherever my valiant steed may go,
From king to castle through every land meander.
Until I find the man who will with surety say:
I can preserve your body from the reaper,
I can beat death and can his power stay.
He is the one whom through eternity
I'll serve; these hands grown strong in war
Shall work for him, and wrestle mightily.
Sir Illusion thus wants to learn how knowledge can be attained that is not overcome by the body but itself overcomes the body, continuing through eternities. The longing for this was already there. And the knight then first of all fought the old man Ird, as Julius Mosen called him. This is something people did not understand, this word Ird. But if they could have read it in the original they would not have interpreted Ird as ‘death’, they way Rudolf von Gottschall did who was a professor of literature at Leipzig [1823–1909]. It should have been interpreted as ‘earth’ or ‘world’. So Sir Illusion first of all fought the old man Ird. He overcame him. We spoke of the spirit overcoming the earthly on the last occasion, of the spirit vanquishing earth, time and space. After this the knight overcame the old man Space and arrived at the gates of heaven, that is the spiritual world. He then developed a longing to return to earth because he had not lived life to the full. The whole of this beautiful poetic work tells us that there has been a man once before who wrestled with the problem of initiation, who knew something of the existence of such a problem of initiation. And in his Ahasver Julius Mosen presented a similar theme.
Another German poet who is quite frequently mentioned is Wilhelm Jordan [1819–1904]. Very little mention is made however of the work in which he presented himself at his most spiritual: Demiurgos. This appeared in the 1850s. It is quite a significant work, for in Demiurgos it is really shown how spiritual entities, spiritual powers that may be good or evil, approach man, enter into his soul and manifest here on earth with the help of human beings. So if we see a human being before us we have to remember: 'This person does of course consist of everything we know about, but something acts into him that comes from higher spiritual entities.' Demiurgos basically consists in a description of how man is connected with the spiritual world. In three handsome volumes Jordan shows how spiritual entities are influencing the soul of man.
That was the struggle against sleep, and after this, sleep took over completely. Those were people who still found in their dreams what mankind now has to strive for in spiritual science, emerging from the sweet slumber of purely external, positivist cognition. We must really see this as a process, the way human beings enter into spiritual dreams to end up in a state of idleness, in the sleep of idleness.
We may ask ourselves why there still was such a person as Julius Mosen, a man able to describe spiritual progress and depicting something of an initiation process in the travels of his knight. Where did such things come from? The answer is very strange. Julius Mosen fell ill and for much his life was almost totally paralyzed. What is the significance of such a paralysis? It means that the physical body dried up as it were, separating from the astral and ether bodies. Because of the paralysis the astral and the ether bodies were more free. In this case a disease process had brought about what we have to struggle for in the process of initiation. Such a disease process should not, of course, be seen as one of genuine cognition nor as something desirable to be brought on deliberately. Yet in an age that may be said to have been entering into a state of idleness, the cosmic order caused a man to be born on earth who had been given that particular relationship between his physical and his soul and spirit elements. So there he lay, paralyzed and unable to move his limbs but with a soul and spirit that were alive and active. It was his paralysis that made them free and able to enter into the spiritual world. Something initiation seeks to achieve in a healthy way was here brought about through illness. A man had to spend much of his life Paralyzed and unable to leave his bed, but his soul and spirit triumphed over his physical paralysis and rose in freedom. This is why that man was actually able to write works that strike us as being spiritual by nature. The same could also be achieved in a healthier way than in the case of Julius Mosen, though perhaps it would not have the same depth.
It was possible to achieve it in a healthier way. During the first half of the 19th century it was still possible for a poet to reveal the process of the culture and civilization of man in the course of history by letting shine through everywhere into the figures he describes the connection which exists between the spiritual worlds and man as he walks about on this earth. In the 1830s a beautiful poetic work appeared, Auffenberg's Alhambra. 50 von Auffenberg. Joseph (1798–1857). Alhambra, an epic work in dramatic form, appeared in 1828–1830 in 3 volumes Auffenberg is a spiritual poet and his Alhambra is a significant work. Thus we have three works — four if we count Ahasver — Ritter Wahn, Ahasver, Demiurgos and Alhambra. There is much more still to be said about such works which are not easy to get hold of nowadays. They show us that in this age everything to do with man's relationship to the spiritual world is fading away like a dream, as it were, in the face of the general materialistic slumber state. Before, mankind was open to things spiritual, though, of course, the people who are now describing the intellectual life of that time fail to mention the men who did have full awareness of the spiritual world. When someone writes a history of philosophy today he will also fail to mention anyone having awareness of the spiritual world, or no mention is made of the way the most outstanding figures were working in•; concord with the spiritual world.
It is interesting to compare Ritter Wahn, a work pulsing With genuine spiritual life, and Jordan's Demiurgos which also contains something of spiritual life. Jordan was probably a healthy man; the spirit and soul element did not separate from the physical and ether bodies the way it did in the case of Mosen whose body was paralyzed. The consequence was that Jordan was only capable of producing a work such as his Demiurgos in his young years, when he was still more flexible, with an inner energy, elasticity and logic capable of grasping things relating to soul and spirit. Later he fell into the crude Darwinism which had come into intellectual life, and this found reflection in his Nibelungen and other works. This man therefore had to join the rest in succumbing to the lullaby of materialism. It is important for us to realize that it is the mission of our age to bring an insight into the intellectual process, the process of human evolution, which arises out of genuinely spiritual perception — an insight the universal spirit may be said to be pointing to in the tragic fate of Julius Mosen:
Man is no longer able to reach the spiritual world simply without his own volition'. There have been times in the past when this was Possible, where the purely natural constitution of man was such that spirit and soul elements, astral body and ether body, were freer and more independent of the physical body. That time has passed, however. In our present materialistic age — and for the rest of earth existence, in the course of which it will grow more and more intensive—man in his normal state will need a compact union between spirit-soul element and physical body. This, however, does not permit man to achieve some form of awareness of the spiritual world simply through natural circumstances. The reason why this has to be so is that the will must be given opportunity to be active. Imbued with the Power of spiritual science, man must be able to use inner will impulses, acting out of freedom, to separate the spirit-soul element from the Physical body during meditation, through concentration. To achieve spiritual insight the way people did in the past we would have to be sick, paralyzed, have our limbs paralyzed in the second half of our life. Our present organization would make this necessary. In the past it was not necessary. Then, man did not have to be paralyzed, for the union between astral body, ether body and physical body was such that people had clairvoyant vision. Today it could only be acieved through illness. What happened in the case of Julius Mosen has been put there more or less as visible evidence.
We really must use spiritual science to bring before our mind's eye the profound spiritual background to what shows itself in the world. At the same time we must come to see how the necessity which now exists for mankind gradually to accept spiritual science is intimately bound up with profound impulses in the history of the spirit. The necessity arises not from arbitrary choice of some individual but from the great cosmic spiritual evolution which has to take its course throughout the period of earth evolution. Man's mission and task is to enter more and more into genuinely spiritual experience as he moves towards the future, so that mankind does not dry up the way the whole of earthly civilization is drying up, and the spirit will truly be able to continue to live on this earth.
One of of many things capable of bringing such insight home to man is something I have spoken of a number of times: the fact that numerous people are now, within a relatively short span of time, bearing their soul principle upwards when they still have unused ether bodies which contain powers that could have gone on to provide for physical life for many years. Because they are now going through the gate of death due to the terrible historical events of our time they are taking their unused ether bodies up into the spiritual world. And these will be the people who in future will make a major contribution to spiritualizing human civilization. Apart from all else, these major events of our time are profoundly significant in human evolution because the creation of unused ether bodies can yield forces that stream out into earth evolution, forces that will be able to prove that the spiritual world is real.
We know, however, that it would not help, dear friends, to have any number of suns in this world if men were unable to receive the light of the sun through their eyes. It is true, as Goethe has said, that if the eye were not of like kind with the sun it could never see the sun. 51Goethe: Zahme Xenien III. Just as the sun would be shining in vain if there were no eyes to take in its light, so organs will have to come to life out of the souls of men which will really be able to take in the spiritual life which is streaming down from the cosmos and the world where men live between death and new birth, a world which also contains those unused ether bodies. Thus the great sacrifice brought in war must join into the spiritual cosmic sphere; it has to be taken up by human souls receptive for things of the spirit. And it would be a dreadful thing if the only science to survive were to be the one that now considers itself to be the one and only one, a science which does nothing but record the facts perceptible to the outer senses, using them to make intellectual judgements. If science merely repeats what is also there without science, it cannot form a link with divine and spiritual reality. This is something only possible for elements awakening in the human soul that truly go beyond sensory perception. These will be able to unite with the spiritual reality so that the process of earth evolution itself will remain spiritual, alive in the spirit. Any progress for mankind depends on the spiritual entering into the process of human soul development, and the decision as to whether something is true or false can only be made out of the spirit. Today, people think they can decide one thing or another, prove one thing or another, without the spirit; yet the final authority when it comes to making decisions relating also to sense-perceptible truths is living spiritual experience.
When the old experience of the spirit vanished during the first half of the 19th century, evidence was again given, one might say, of what the spirit could bring about in certain people, to demonstrate the non-nature of scientific argumentation concerned only with external, sense-perceptible things. A man who wrote under the name of Dr Mises' did a great deal at that time to show that everything, but everything, can be proved, and that the opposite can also be proved, so that the final authority still lies in the relationship to spiritual life. This man had seen many things happen in science, in medical science — he was a member of the medical profession — he saw new drugs coming up all the time for one disease or another. He lived at a time, for instance, when people started to prescribe iodine for the treatment of goitre. It was a time when this remedy was much celebrated, when people wanted to demonstrate — this was in the 1820s — what a valuable remedy iodine was. So one day Dr. Mises sat down and demonstrated that one could easily prove, using all the scientific principles, that Iodine was an excellent thing. the reason being that the moon consisted of iodine, as could be clearly proven. 52Fechner, Gustar Theodor (1801–1887): Beweis, dass der Mond aus Jodin besteht 2nd edn. Leipzig 1932. [Jodin appears to be a spoof word made up by Dr Fechner — it could perhaps be rendered into English as ‘iodene’. (Translator)] And he provided irrefutable evidence in support of this. His intention was to show that it is possible to prove anything we want to prove. And we certainly can. The intellect, which is bound to the brain, really is able to prove yes or no with regard to simply everything. It is almost always the case that some scientific view or other comes to the fore and the opposite comes up at another time; people are able to prove something just as well as the other side is able to disprove it. Anything where we do not have the yes-no wave surging up and down in such Ahrimanic fashion, anything which is real progress in a human evolution which is good and divine, bases on the spiritual.
We must be clear in our minds that the present age has produced its own characteristic cultural features on the basis of being the age when nonphysical science is asleep, and because slumber of the mind has spread to an extraordinary degree over all the things that tend to be regarded as science. This slumber of the mind is necessary. I am not being critical, but merely stating a fact. With all due regard it has to be said, to be emphasized, that it was necessary for the whole of science to go to sleep for a time as far as the spiritual world Was concerned. Now, however, the time has come when there must be an awakening, new vitality, in spiritual life, and we can sense the longing for this which exists everywhere. This, dear friends, will provide the foundation for the feeling that must bring us to life now, in these pain-racked times. We may only be able to have a faint notion that it is possible for man to find the way to the spiritual world, but because we have the feeling we must look for this way. We must seek a way in which our spiritual thoughts can meet with what is streaming down from those unused ether bodies. And a time will come when we shall really be able to look back on these days which are so full of pain and laden with destiny and do so from a certain spiritual elevation. This spiritual elevation will come when more and more people find impulses for spiritual science out of the genuine content of life awareness within them.
I have always from the depths of my soul given you a final thought here in this place in recent times, and this is something which will then come true. Let us make it our hope, a hope anyone who is connected with spiritual science can and indeed should cherish in days like these which are laden with fate.
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.