The Mystery of Death
8. The War as an Illness Process — Central Europe and the Slavic East — The Dead as Helpers of Human Progress
9 May 1915, Vienna
Our spiritual-scientific world view may not only turn to the development and advance of the individual souls, but above all it has also to help really to gain additional points of view for the observation of life. In our time it has to suggest itself to us in particular to gain such additional points of view for the judgement of life. Indeed, it is a big and also important task for the individual human being to help himself by that which he can gain as the fruit of the spiritual-scientific self-education. Only because the individual human beings really help themselves, can they co-operate in the development of humankind generally. But our attention should be directed not only to that, but we really should be able to feel as supporters of the anthroposophical world view the big events of our time from a high point of view, from a really spiritual point of view. We should be able to transport ourselves to a higher standpoint judging the events. Today some points of view just with reference to the big events of our time may be given, because our present meeting takes place in these destiny-burdened times.
We start from something that is near to us as human beings. Human beings have illnesses at certain times. One considers illnesses normally as that which damages our organism which penetrates our organism like an enemy. Such a general point of view is not always justified. Indeed, there are symptoms which must be judged from this point of view where as it were the illness comes like an enemy into our organism. But that is not always the case. In most cases, the illness is something completely different. The illness is not the enemy in most cases, but just the friend of the organism. That what is the enemy of the organism precedes the illness in most cases, it develops in the human being, before the externally visible illness breaks out. There are forces opposing each other in the organism, and the illness, which breaks out at any time, is the attempt of the organism to save itself from the forces opposing each other which were not noticed before.
Illness is often the beginning work of the organism to induce the healing. The illness is that which the organism undertakes to fight against the hostile influence which precedes the illness. The illness is the last form of the process, but it signifies the battle of the good juices of the organism against that which is lurking there at the bottom. Only if we look at the most illnesses in such a way, do we get the correct understanding of the illness process. Hence, the illness points to the fact that something has taken action, before the illness broke out, that should come out of the organism. If some phenomena of life are seen in the right light, you understand quite easily what I said. The causes may be in the most different areas. What it concerns, this is that which I have just suggested: the fact that we have to look at the illnesses as something that the organism defends itself against things which should be driven out.
I do not believe that there is a comparison which holds really as true as the comparison of such a sum of significant, deeply intervening events, as we experience them now since the beginning of August 1914 over a big part of the earth, with an illness process of the human evolution. Just this must strike us that these military events are actually an illness process. But wrong would it be to believe that we cope with it if we simply understand this illness process in the wrong sense as just many an illness process is understood: as if it is the enemy of the organism. The cause goes ahead of the illness process. It can strike us in our time particularly how little people are inclined in the present to take into consideration such a truth which must prove itself as immediately clear to somebody who takes up the spiritual-scientific world view not only in his reason, but also in his feeling.
We had to experience a lot of infinitely painful things just in the course of the last nine months — painful concerning the human ability of judgement. Is it not that way, actually, if one reads the literature, which is read mostly and is spread by the most different countries of the earth, is it not as if the people who judge about these events suppose that in July 1914, actually, history has begun? This was the saddest experience in which we had to take part beside all the other painful things that the people, setting the tone or rather giving articles, and making the public opinion, know basically nothing about the origin of the events and look only at the nearest. The infinite discussions, these invalid discussions came into being from that. Where is the cause of the present military conflicts? Over and over again one has asked: does this have the guilt? Does that have the guilt? — And so on. Always one hardly went back further than up to July, at most June 1914. I mention that because it is a characteristic feature of our materialistic time. One thinks usually that materialism only manages a materialistic way of thinking, a materialistic world view. This is not the case. Materialism manages not only this, but it also manages shortsightedness; materialism manages mental laziness, manages lack of insight. The materialistic way of thinking leads to the fact that one can prove everything and believe everything. It really belongs to that self-education which anthroposophy must give us to see that somebody who stops in the area of materialism can prove everything and believe everything.
I take a simple example. When one had something to say about the spiritual-scientific world view during the last years, somebody here or there believed to have to assert his view compared to the spiritual-scientific world view. One could often hear: Kant has already proved by his philosophy that the human being has limits of knowledge, and that one cannot get where the spiritual-scientific world view wants to attain knowledge. — Then the very interesting matters were stated by which Kant should have proved that one cannot penetrate to the spiritual world with human cognition. If one still went on representing spiritual science, then the people came and believed: he denies everything that Kant has proved. Of course, such a thing contained a little bit of the assertion: this man must be an especially foolish person, because he strictly denies proven matters.
It is not that way at all. The spiritual scientist does not deny at all that this is absolutely right what Kant has proved, it is clear that this is proved quite well. However, assume once that somebody would have strictly proved in the time in which the microscope was not yet invented, that there would be the smallest cells in the plant, but one could never find these because the human eyes were not able to see them. This could have been strictly proved, and the proof would be absolutely right, because the human eye, as well as it is arranged, could never penetrate to the organism of the plant up to these smallest cells. That is an absolutely right proof which can never be upset. However, life has developed this way that the microscope was invented, and that in spite of the strict proof people got the knowledge of the smallest cells. Only if once anyone understands that proofs are worthless for gaining the truth that proofs can be correct, but mean basically nothing special for the progress of the knowledge of truth, only then will one stand on the right ground. Then one knows: the proofs can be good, of course, but the proofs do not have the task to lead really to truth. Think only once of the comparison I have given, then you see that also, as absolutely strict the proof may be that the human visual ability does not reach to the cell, as strict can be the proof that human knowledge, as Kant says, does not reach to supersensible worlds.
The proofs were absolutely correct, but life goes beyond proofs. This is also something that is given to somebody on the path of spiritual research that he extends his ken and is really able to appeal to something different than to the human reason and its proofs. Who limits himself to materialistic ideas is really led to an uncontrollable confidence in proofs. If he has a proof in the pocket, he is generally convinced of the truth.
Spiritual research will just show us that anyone can prove the one and the other matter rather well that, however, proofs by reason have no significance for gaining real truth. That is why it is a concomitant of our materialistic time that people are enslaved by mental shortsightedness. If this mental shortsightedness is still infiltrated with passions, it comes about that we see today not only the European peoples fighting with arms, but feuding with each other. There anyone has to say all possible matters, and you cannot expect basically that one is able to persuade the other, not only during the war. If anybody believed that one day a neutral state could possibly choose between the allegations of two hostile states, he would have a naive confidence. Of course, one side can have its opinion and substantiates it by all kinds of proofs, but the other side will do the same. One gets insight only if one is involved in the deeper bases of the whole human evolution.
I tried already some years before the outbreak of this war to throw some light on it in the series of talks about the individual folk-souls and their effects on the individual human beings in the different European regions, how the individual nations face each other and that there really different forces hold sway over the different peoples. Today we want to complete that with a few other viewpoints.
Our materialistic time thinks too much in the abstract. Such a thing is not taken into consideration in our materialistic time at all that there is a real development in the life that the human being has to allow to be ripe that what is in him develops gradually to the real judgment. The human being — we know this and it is shown in detail in my essay Education of the Child in the Light of Spiritual Science — experiences such a development that during the first seven years his physical body, from the seventh up to the fourteenth years the etheric body develops in particular et cetera. This advancing development of the individual human being is taken into consideration a little, the parallel phenomenon, the synonymous phenomenon much less. The processes which take place within the individual nation's connections are directed and led — we all know this from spiritual science — by beings of the higher hierarchies. We speak of folk-souls, of folk-spirits in the true sense of the word. We know that, for example, the folk-soul of the Italian people inspires the sentient soul; the French folk-soul inspires the intellectual soul or mind-soul, that the inhabitants of the British islands are inspired by the consciousness-soul; in Central Europe the ego is inspired. I do not pass any value judgment on the individual nations, but I may only say that this is that way. The fact that, for example, an inspiration of the people that inhabit the British islands is based on the fact that it brings as nation everything into the world that is caused by inspiration of the consciousness-soul from the folk-soul. It is strange to which extent people become nervous in this field. When I emphasised here or there during the war what I had expressed in the mentioned series of talks, there were people who almost understood it like a kind of abuse of the British people that I said that it would have the task to inspire the consciousness-soul, while the German folk-soul has to inspire the human ego. As if one understood it as an insult when one says: salt is white, paprika is red. — It is a simple characterisation, the representation of a truth which exists, and one has to accept this as such a truth first of all. One manages that much better which prevails between the individual members of humankind if one looks at the characteristics of the individual peoples, and not, if one confuses everything, as the modern materialistic view does it.
Of course, the individual human being rises up above that which he gets from his folk-soul, and this is just the task of our anthroposophical society that it raises the individual human being out of the group-soul and raises him to the general humankind. But it remains that the individual human being, in so far as he stands in a people, is inspired by his folk-soul, that, for example, the Italian folk-soul speaks to the sentient soul, the French folk-soul to the intellectual soul or mind-soul, the British folk-soul to the consciousness-soul. We have to imagine that as it were the folk-soul is hovering over that which the individual human beings do in the single nations. But as we see that the human being develops already as we can say: the ego experiences a particular development in a certain time of life; we can also speak of a development of the folk-soul in relation to its people. Only this development is somewhat different from that of the individual human being.
We take, for example, the Italian people. There we have this people and the folk-soul belonging to this people. The folk-soul is a being of the supersensible world; it is affiliated to the world of the higher hierarchies. It inspires the sentient soul, and this always happens, as long as the people live, the Italian people, because we speak of this people, but it inspires the sentient soul in the different times in the most different way. There are times in which the folk-souls inspire the members of the single nations, so that this inspiration happens as it were on the level of the soul. The folk-soul floats in higher regions of spirit and its inspiration happens in such a way that it inspires the soul qualities only. Then there are times when the folk-souls float further down and make stronger demands on the single members of the peoples when they inspire them so strongly that not only the human being gets them in his soul qualities, but where they work so effectively that the human being becomes dependent on the folk-soul concerning his bodily qualities. As long as people are influenced by the folk-soul in such a way that it inspires the psycho-spiritual qualities, the type of the people is not coined so deeply. The forces of the folk-soul do not work there, so that the whole human being is seized up to the blood. Then a time comes when one can infer already from the kind how the human being looks out of his eyes, from the facial features how the folk-soul is working. It is revealed that the folk-soul has sunk deeply; it makes forceful demands on the whole human being.
Such a deep impression took place with the Italian people approximately in the middle of the 16th century, about 1550. Then again the folk-soul floated back as it were, and thenceforward that is passed on the descendants. You can say: the most intensive being together of the Italian people with their folk-soul was about 1550. At this time, the Italian folk-soul sank the deepest, this people of the Italian peninsula got their most distinctive character. If we go back to the time before 1550, we see that their character is not as strongly coined as from 1550 on. Then only the typical begins what we know as Italianità. The Italian folk-soul, so to speak, entered into marriage with the sentient soul of the individual human being, who belongs to the Italian people.
For the French people — I do not talk about the single human being who can rise up above the people — the similar point in time entered when the folk-soul sank the deepest and penetrated the people completely, about 1600, in the beginning of the 17th century. At this time, the folk-soul completely seized the intellectual soul or mind-soul.
For the British people the point in time entered in the middle of the 17th century, about 1650. Only then the British people got their exterior British expression.
If you know such matters, something will be explicable to you, because you can now put the question differently: how is it with Shakespeare in England? — Shakespeare worked in England, before the British folk-soul worked most intensively on the English people. That is why he is not understood in England substantially. As everybody knows, there are issues in which everything that does not correspond completely to the taste of the governesses is eradicated. Very often Shakespeare is extremely moralised. We know that the deepest understanding of Shakespeare was caused not in England, but in the Central European spiritual development.
Now you will ask: when did the folk-soul touch the members of the Central European people? — However, the case is somewhat different, because this folk-soul descends and ascends repeatedly. And thus we have in the time, when the boon legend world of Parzival, of the Grail originated, such a descent of the folk-soul which combines with the individual souls, then it ascends again and after that a next descending takes place in the time between 1750 and 1830. The Central European life is then touched by its folk-soul the deepest. Since that time the folk-soul is ascending. Thus you see that it is quite comprehensible that Jacob Böhme (1575–1624) lived in a time in which he could get little from the German folk-soul. There was not the time when the folk-soul combined with the individual souls of the people. Hence, Jacob Böhme is, although he is called the “Teutonic philosopher.” a person who is chronologically independent of his folk-soul; he stands as it were like an uprooted human being there, like an everlasting phenomenon within his time. If we take Lessing, Schiller, Goethe, these are also German philosophers, they are completely rooted in the German folk-soul. This is just the typical feature of these philosophers living in the time between 1750 and 1830 that they are completely rooted in the folk-soul.
You see that it does not depend only on the fact that one knows: with the Italian people the folk-soul works on the sentient soul, with the French people the folk-soul works on the intellectual soul, with the British people the folk-soul works on the consciousness-soul, with the Central European nation the folk-soul works on the ego. One has also to know that this happens at certain points in time. The events which happen become historically explicable only if one knows such matters really. That nonsense which is done as science where one gets the documents and enumerates the events successively and says that one has to derive one matter from the other, however, this nonsense of the historians does not lead to a real history, to an understanding of the human evolution, but just only, so to speak, to a falsification of that which exists and works in human history.
If one sees how differently that works on the individual peoples — I could still characterise other peoples — which forces drive these peoples, then one sees the conflicting matters which are there. And one sees that the events of today really did not happen only during the last years, but were prepared for centuries.
We look at the East, at the area of the Russian culture. The characteristic of the Russian culture is that it can develop when once the point in time can enter when the Russian folk-soul combines with the spirit-self — I already expressed this in the mentioned series of talks. A time has to come in which this characteristic of the European East is only revealed. This will be completely different from the development in the West or in the middle of Europe. Provisionally, however, it is quite explicable that that which is allotted to the Russian culture is not there at all, but that the Russian culture has such a relationship — like the individual human being — to the spirit-self that it turns always upwards. The single member of the Russian people and even profound Russian philosophers do not speak as one speaks of the biggest matters in Central Europe, but they speak quite differently.
We find something tremendously typical. What is the most characteristic of this Central European cultural life? You all know that there was a time of the great mystics in which Master Eckhart, John Tauler and others worked. They all sought for the divine in the human souls. They tried to find the God in their chests, in their souls, “the little spark in the soul,” as Master Eckhart expressed it. They said: therein something must be where the divinity is immediately present. Thus that striving originated through which the ego wanted to be united with its divinity in itself. This divinity wanted to be won by hard efforts; the divinity wanted to be won by the developing human being. This runs as a trait through the whole Central European being. Imagine which infinitely deep emotion it is when Angelus Silesius (1624–1677) who, I may say, stands internationally on the ground of the Central European culture and cultural life, says in one of his nice sayings The Cherubinic Wanderer: if I die, not I die, but God dies in me. — Imagine how infinitely deep this is. For he, who said this, seized the idea of immortality vividly, because he felt: if death happens in the individual human being, — because the human being is filled with God — this phenomenon of death is no phenomenon of the human being, but of God, and because God cannot die, death can be only a delusion. Death cannot mean destruction of life. He knows that an immortal soul exists and says: if I die, not I die, but God dies in me. — It is a tremendously deep sensation which lives in Angelus Silesius. This is a result of the fact that the inspiration takes place in the ego.
If the inspiration takes place in the sentient soul, it can happen what took place by Giordano Bruno. The monk got into the spirit with everything what he found with Copernicus, felt the whole world animated. Read a line of Giordano Bruno, and you find verified that he, in so far as he has grown out of the Italian people, just proves the fact that there the folk-soul inspires the sentient soul.
Cartesius, Descartes (1596–1650), is born almost in the characterised point of the French development, when the French folk-soul combined so surely with the French people. Read a page by Cartesius, the French philosopher, you find that he confirms on each page what spiritual science finds: the fact that there the inspiration of the folk-soul works on the intellectual soul.
Read Locke (1632–1704) or Hume (1711–1776) or another English philosopher, up to Mill (John Stuart Mill, 1806–1873) and Spencer (Herbert Spencer, 1820–1903), everywhere inspiration of the consciousness-soul.
Read Fichte (Johann Gottlieb Fichte, 1762–1814) in his struggle in the ego itself, then you have the inspiration of the ego by the folk-soul. This is just the characteristic that this Central European folk-soul is experienced in the ego, and that, hence, the ego is the actually striving force, this ego with all its power, with all its mistakes, with all its wrong tracks and also with all its conscious efforts. If this Central European human being should find the way to Christ, he wants to bear Him in his own soul.
Try once to look for the idea to experience the Christ or a God internally in the Russian cultural life, if it is not taken over externally by the west-European civilisation. You cannot find it at all. There one expects everywhere that a historical event happens really, so that it takes place, as Solovyov (Vladimir Solovyov, 1853–1900) says, as a “miracle.” The Russian cultural life is very much inclined to behold the resurrection of Christ in the supersensible realm, to revere the working of an inspiring power externally, as if the human being is beneath it, as if the inspiration moves over humankind like a cloud, not as if it enters into the human ego. This intimate being together of the ego with its God, or also, if it concerns Christ, with Christ, this desire that Christ is born in the soul is to be found only in Central Europe. If once the East-European culture develops as it is commensurate, again a kind of group-soul will appear because that culture will be founded which floats above the human beings. This kind of group-soul is only on a higher level than the old group-soul was. At the time being, we must find it quite natural that one speaks everywhere in that way, as the Russian philosopher does, about something that floats like the spiritual world above the human world. However, he can never approach that world as intimately as the Central European human being wants to approach with his ego the divine that flows and weaves through the world.
When I often spoke of the fact that the divinity flows through the world and weaves and surges, then that is out of the sentient world of the Central European human being and would not at all be understood by any other European people in the same way as it can be taken up by the Central European feeling nature. This is the typical, the characteristic of the Central European people.
These are the forces which live there in the individual peoples facing each other, which time and again are in competition, which must discharge by force as clouds discharge and cause flashes and thunderstorms.
Do we not hear, one could say now, a word sounding in the East of Europe which was as it were something like a slogan and should work thus, as if the culture of Eastern Europe should begin now to extend over the little valuable Western Europe, to overflow it? Do we not see that the Pan Slavists, the Pan-Slavism 1was originally a scientific term for the relationship of the Slavic languages. The idea of nationality of the Slavophils led to the demand to unite all the Slavic peoples under Russian dominion. appeared, especially also appeared in spirits like Dostoyevsky (Fyodor Mikailovitch Dostoyevsky, 1821–1881) and similar people, with the particular points of his program as there was said: you West-Europeans altogether, you have a decadent culture that must be replaced by East Europe. — Then a whole theory was built up, a theory which culminated above all in the fact that one said: in the West everything has become decadent; this must be replaced by the fresh forces of the East. We have the really orthodox religion against which we do not fight, but we have just accepted it like the cloud of the folk-soul floating above the human beings et cetera. Then sagacious theories were built up, very sagacious theories, which the principles, which the intentions of the old Slavism could already be, that from the East the truth must now spread out over Central Europe and Western Europe.
I said that the single human being can rise up above his people. Such an individual being was Solovyov in a certain field, the great Russian philosopher. Although one also notices with him in each line that he writes as a Russian, nevertheless, he rises up above his people. In the first time of his life, Solovyov was a Pan-Slavist. But he has more exactly concerned himself with that which the Pan-Slavists and Slavophils 2several Russian philosophers of the 19th century who stood up for the emancipation of the Russian culture in contrast to the “Westernisers.” put up as a kind of national philosophy, national world view. What did Solovyov, the Russian, find? He asked himself: is there already the real Russian being in the present? May it be included already in those who represent Pan-Slavism and Slavophilism? — And lo and behold, he did not rest, until he came on the right thing. What did he find? He checked the statements of the Slavophils to whom he had belonged before, he tackled them, and there he found that a big part of the forms of thinking, the statements, the intentions is got from the French philosopher de Maistre 3Joseph-Marie Comte de Maistre (1753–1821) stood up for absolutism and the feudal form of society. He regarded Catholicism and the papal primacy as foundations of the national and social life friendly to the Jesuits, who was the great teacher of the Slavophils concerning their world view. Solovyov himself proved that Slavophilism does not grow on own ground, but originates from de Maistre. He proved even more. He discovered a German book of the 19th century which was forgotten for long time and which nobody knows in Germany. The Slavophils copied whole parts of that book in their literature. What a peculiar phenomenon appeared? One believes that something comes from the East, whereas it is a purely western import. It came over from the West and was then sent back to the western people again. The western people were confronted with their own thought-forms because own thought-forms do not yet exist in the East.
If anyone tackles the matters exactly, it is confirmed everywhere what spiritual science has to say. So that one already deals with something while rolling from the East that is still elementary, with something that will find its development when it takes up that as affectionately which has developed in Central Europe as this Central Europe took up the Greek and Latin cultural achievements from the South. Because development of humankind takes place, so that the following condition takes up the previous one. What I could characterise in the public lecture as the Faustic way of thinking of Central Europe by the words: there was a year 1770 — Goethe felt it as a Faustic striving when he said:
I've studied, to my regret,
Philosophy, Law, Medicine,
and — what is worst — Theology
from end to end with diligence.
Yet here I am, a wretched fool
and still no wiser than before
Faust I, verses 354–359
There a very rich German cultural life came about, a most intensive striving. But if Goethe had written his Faust forty years later, indeed he would not have started: “I've studied now, to my regret, Philosophy ...” et cetera, and I have now become a wise man, — but he would have written exactly his Faust like in 1770. This vivid striving comes from the inspiration of the folk-soul in the ego, from that intimate being together of the ego with the folk-soul. This is a basic characteristic of the Central European spiritual culture. And the East European culture has to combine with it affectionately, it must take up it. What had to flow into Central Europe was received once from the southern culture, was taken up. Now, however, it is not different when from the East the elementary wave of development rolls, as if the pupil is furious with his teacher because he should learn something from him and wants to thrash him, therefore. It is a somewhat trivial comparison, but, nevertheless, it is a comparison which exactly applies to the matter. Human masses of quite different internal forces of development live in Europe together. These different forces of development must compete with each other; they must assert themselves in different way. The reluctant forces developed for a long time. If one looks at the details, one finds that they express everywhere what spiritual science has to say.
Is it not expressed so wonderfully, does not the wave of the European development crowd together in such a way that it is put symbolically before the whole humankind that in Central Europe the intimate living together of the ego with the spiritual world must be felt? That God is to be experienced in the “little spark in the soul,” that Christ is to be experienced in the “little spark in the soul?” Christ Himself must come to life in the human ego efficiently. That is why the whole development in Central Europe tends to the ego as in no other European language. “Ich” (ego) is “I-C-H.” Like a mighty symbol in the intimate interaction of that what can be the holiest to the soul stands there in Central Europe: I = I-CH — Jesus Christ. Christ Jesus and at the same time the human ego! The folk-soul is working that way, inspiring the people to express in typical words what the underlying facts are. I know very well that people laugh at such a thing, when I express that the folk-soul worked for centuries, so that the term “ich” has come about which is so typical, so symbolical. However, we let people laugh. Only few decades, and they will no longer laugh, but then they will regard it as more significant than what people call physical laws today.
What had an effect as a wave of development worked rather typically. Sometimes, the consciousness expresses a very small part of the truth only; but what works in the subconscious depths expresses itself much truer. We speak, for example, of “Germans” (Teutons, Germanic people). Words are formed by the active genius of language. A part of the inhabitants of Central Europe is called “Germans.” If a German speaks of “Germanic people” (Teutons), he counts the inhabitants of Germany, Austria, Holland, Scandinavia, but also the inhabitants of the British islands to them. He expands the word “German” about a wide area. However, the inhabitant of the British islands rejects this. He calls the German “German” only. He does not have the word German for himself. The German language embraces a much bigger circle. It is inclined to put the word into the service of selflessness; he not only is called “German,” he also encloses the others. The other, the Briton, rejects this. If you are once grasped by the creative genius of language, then you see something really wonderful in it. What people have in consciousness becomes maya, the big delusion. What exists in subconscious depths has a much truer effect. Something tremendously significant and deep expresses itself therein.
Compare now the rude way to look at the relations of the European peoples today with the way one has to go to work intimately to understand the European interplay of forces. Then only will you be able to see the devastation that the materialistic age caused in the human power of judgment. The fact that one started to think that matter carries and holds everything is not yet the worst, but that one has become shortsighted that one cannot look at the central issue, even does not do a step behind the veil which is woven as a maya over the truth, this is the actually bad.
Materialism well prepared what it intended. Also there the genius worked, only the genius who caused materialism as the highest leader is Ahriman. He had a powerful influence during the last centuries. I may still point briefly to a chapter to which one does not point with pleasure today. If it happens, one looks at it as a particular madness. One influences the human being the easiest, if one instills to him in his youth in his powers of imagination, in his soul what should grow up then in him. In the later life one cannot teach human beings anything thoroughly. Hence, Ahriman never would have, actually, better prospects to make the souls really materialistic, than when he instills in the youthful childish souls already that which works on in the subconsciousness. If in the time when the human being does not yet think intellectually already the materialistic forms of thinking are taken up, then people will learn to think thoroughly materialistically if materialism is already instilled in the children's souls. Ahriman did this in such a way that he inspired a writer of the materialistic age 4Daniel Defoe (1660–1731) wrote The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York (1719) with the idea of Robinson Crusoe. Who allows to take in Robinson sees the materialistic ideas of Robinson thoroughly working. It does not seem so, but the whole — as Robinson is constructed as he is driven in this adventurer's life in the external experience to everything, until even the religion grows up finally like cabbages on the fields — all that prepares the child's soul very well to the materialistic thinking. If you imagine that there were in a certain time — in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries — Bohemian, Portuguese, Hungarian versions of Robinson et cetera as imitations of Robinson Crusoe, one must say: the job was performed thoroughly, and the portion that the Robinson reading had in the education of materialism is enormous.
Compared with such a phenomenon one has to point to something different that the children should take up in their understandings for their later lives. These are the fairy tales which live in Central Europe, and particularly the fairy tales which the brothers Grimm 5Jacob Grimm (1785–1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786–1859) published their collection of fairy tales in 1810 for the first time. collected. This is a much better literature for the children than Robinson. And if one understands that which now happens between the European peoples in such a frightful, such a grievous and destiny-burdened way as an admonition to look at the way a little more exactly that developed in the subsoil of the events, at that which extends to himself in the present, then one will know above all, that it does not depend really on whether now a few German scholars send back their medals and certificates to England. If the admonition of the time is so strong that one recognises the materialistically inspired consciousness-soul of the British people in its significance, one also understands the significance of the Robinson reading and eradicates the whole Robinson once. Much more thoroughly, much more radically one will have to set to work if one is able to take into consideration the admonitions of our time correctly one day.
Thirty-five years have now passed since I started interpreting Goethe, just in his spiritual-scientific task. I tried to show that in Goethe's theory of evolution a really great, spiritual theory of evolution is given. The time must come when that is seen in wider circles. For Goethe gave a great, tremendous and spiritual theory of evolution. This was hard to understand for the people. Then Darwin could work better in the materialistic age who gave that in a coarsened, materialistic way which Goethe gave in a fine, spiritual way as a theory of evolution. It was a thorough Anglicisation which seized Central Europe. Now imagine the tragedy which lies, actually, in the fact that the most English naturalist in Germany, Ernst Haeckel, who swore completely on Darwin, had to appear with his furious hatred about the English. When this war broke out, he was one of the first who sent back the received medals and certificates to England. To send back the English coloured Darwinism, he is probably too old, however, that would be the essential, the more important action.
The concerning matters are tremendously deep and important, and they are connected with the necessary spiritual deepening of our time. If one sees once that the Goethean theory of colours is infinitely deeper than the Newtonian theory of colours that the Goethean theory of evolution is infinitely deeper than Darwin's theory of evolution, then one finally becomes aware of that which the Central European cultural life involves, also with regard to such highest fields.
I will only arouse a sensation in your souls which admonitions the present grievous, destiny-burdened events must be to us. An admonition to work which should induce us to reflect that which is there in the Central European cultural life and which is as it were an obligation to get it out. I also meant this when I spoke yesterday in the public lecture 6The Human Destiny Seen in the Light of Spiritual Knowledge, Vienna, 8th May 1915, not yet published. about the fact that this Central European cultural life contains germs which must produce blossoms and fruits.
When we say time and again: the conscious soul-life takes place on the surface; however, beneath it there is something about which we have spoken during these days. Then we are also allowed to direct our thoughts to the fact that in the impulses of numerous human beings also in the present something lives that is quite different from that they are aware of. Do not believe that the human beings fight in the West and the East who have to defend the big Central European fortress only for that they are aware of in their consciousness. Look at the impulses above all which are unaware to many human beings who go through blood and death today. However, the impulses exist, and we should be able to get the sensation from spiritual science, — looking to the East and to the West — that in the impulses of those, who sacrifice their lives, something lives that the future has to bear only for the external experience, even if the fighters possibly have no premonition in their consciousness. Considering these events that way we can penetrate ourselves with the right feeling.
Take into account that many souls have gone through blood and death during these military events which cannot be compared with that which took place in the conscious history of humankind, and we imagine that these souls will look down on the death which was imposed to them by the big events of time. Imagine that for the purposes of what I said the day before yesterday the youthful etheric bodies permeate the spiritual atmosphere. Imagine that not only the souls, the individualities, are in the spiritual world, but that something useful of their young etheric bodies penetrates the spiritual atmosphere. Let us try to look at the admonitions which people should have, who are left here on the earth. Yes, the individual human being who has gone through the gate of death reminds us of the big tasks which are to be carried out in the European culture.
These admonitions must be heard. And people must be inclined to get recognising sensations of our conditions from the depth of the cultural life. If one feels once that way that everybody who remains today in the blossom of his years on the battlefield stands as an admonisher calling for the spiritualisation of humankind in the European culture, one will have properly understood it. One wants not only that from such sites as ours the abstract knowledge goes out: the human being consists of physical body, etheric body, astral body and ego, the human being goes through many incarnations, the human being has a karma and so on, — but one would want that the souls who take part in our spiritual-scientific life are roused in their internal depths to the sentient life which has just been suggested, to experience also that which the admonitions of the early deceased are in the next future. The nicest we can acquire to us as supporters of spiritual science is the vivid life which should go like a breath through those who count themselves to us. Not the knowledge, not the knowledge only, but this life, this life becoming reality.
In the last times, several members left us from the physical plane. Also a young co-worker, our dear Fritz Mitscher, died. I had, arranged by karma, the task to speak at the cremation in Basel. I had to speak certain words to the disappearing soul. Among various matters, I spoke to the soul that we are aware of the fact that he also remains as a co-worker, after he has gone through the gate of death. I had to speak this out of the consciousness that what invigorates us is not only a theory, but that it must fill our souls completely with life. Then, however, we must behave to those who have gone through the gate of death like to those who are here still in life. We must not be waiting to say to ourselves: human beings living in physical bodies are prevented by the most manifold circumstances from fully realising the spiritual life. Which inhibitions can we notice in this physical life on earth with the human beings if the really big tasks of development are involved — and have to be fulfilled then. But we can rely on the dead often better. This feeling that they are among us that a special mission can be transferred to them allowed me to speak the obituary for our friend Fritz Mitscher appropriately who has gone as an early deceased through the gate of death. What was said for him concerns many others who have gone through the gate of death. We regard them as our most important co-workers, and it will not be misunderstood if I say: even more than on the living we can rely on the dead with our spiritual work.
But that we can generally express such a thing, we have to stand quite vividly in that which our spiritual movement can give us. I rely on the fact that just the dead are now the most important co-workers for the spiritualisation of the future human culture on the external field in our destiny-burdened time. For this death is a great master at which those look back who have gone through the gate of death. Some people need a stronger teacher than life can be today. You can see this at various examples.
I would like to give an example — some other could be given. A spectacular article 7Wincenty Lutoslawski Rudolf Steiner's so-called Occult Science in Hochland October 1910, opposing against spiritual science, represented by me, appeared several years ago in a magazine which is published in South Germany, in the Hochland. This article caused a great sensation. It has made sense to many people because it was written by a quite famous philosopher. The editor of that magazine Hochland accepted this article. He supported, actually, as he thinks, such a view on this tricky spiritual science.
It does not depend really on defending oneself with external means against it. It is absolutely comprehensible that the quite clever people of the present consider spiritual science to be something foolish. But after the war had broken out, something different occurred. The editor of the mentioned magazine is a good German, a man feeling very German. Now the man whose article he accepted in those days has written letters to him, and this editor also has printed them, I may say, in his especially gifted “innocence” in the South German Monthly Magazine. Try once to read them, you will see that same philosopher venting his rage against the Central European spiritual culture so that the editor of the Hochland feels compelled to say: one can only find somebody, who thinks such matters, in madhouses in Central Europe. What an infinitely significant criticism. There is an editor of a South German magazine. This editor accepts an article which he considers to be authoritative to destroy spiritual science of which he says: this is a good article about spiritual science by a famous philosopher. — After some time the editor gets letters from the same man, who should be in a madhouse, as he says. So would one not have to continue, with the logic of life, and say: if the man is now a fool, he once was a fool, too, and the dear editor did only not realise in those days that he deals with a fool when he wrote against spiritual science. — This is logic of life. You cannot sometimes wait, until such logic of life works, but it already exists in our life. Thus you can sometimes experience something according to this prescription. In those days, the article appeared just against my spiritual science. People read him. People said: this is a famous philosopher and Platonist, he is especially clever. — The editor said to himself: if anybody who is so clever writes about spiritual science, this is a significant article. — Some time passes, and the same editor says: the man is a fool. — But he needed the proof in the just cited way. Such matters take place with the living human beings. Such people who have so little steady ground under their feet like that editor of the South German magazine need that they are taught by events which are given in much deeper sense by the life of the last times from the spiritual world than it is convenient.
Thus you understand when I return to that which I said just now: our time had many reluctant forces, and if we call the war an illness — we can do this, — this is an illness which was caused by something that took place long ago, and it is there to the recovery, so that something is eradicated that had to lead to the damage of the life of the whole culture gradually. If we call it illness in this sense, if we look at the illness as a defence, we understand this war and the destiny-burdened events of the present, understand it also in its significant hints and admonitions. We then experience it with all internal forces of our souls, so that we can surely take notice of those who have gone through the gate of death and look at the next future and really have learnt what they can inspire in the souls which they want to hear. That spiritual deepening which is necessary for the human welfare and progress in the next future must come into them.
If your souls can rightly take up that which I would like to say with these words, you are supporters of our spiritual-scientific world view in the right sense only now. If your souls can make the decision to become such souls which turn their attention to that which is murmured down from those who have gone through the gate of death because of the destiny-burdened events.
A connecting bridge between the living and the dead should be built by spiritual science just for the next future, a connecting line by which the inspiring elemental forces of those who have made the big sacrifices in our time are able to find their way to us.
That is why I wanted to stimulate sensations during these days, teaching to your souls. These sensations should be like sensations expecting that which is said to the souls by the effects of our destiny-burdened time. In this sense, I may close today again with the words that I already spoke here the day before yesterday that should have an effect like a mantram in our souls, so that our souls expect the inspiration which will come there from the dead who become particularly living in spirit:
From the courage of the fighters,
From the blood of the battles,
From the grief of the bereaved,
From the nation's sacrifices
Will grow up the fruits of spirit
If souls aware of spirit turn
Their senses to the spirit-land.