The Occult Movement in the Nineteenth Century
25 October 1915, Dornach
If we are to enter more deeply into the matters which cannot fail to interest us at the present time, it is necessary to keep clearly in mind a certain aspect of human consciousness as it is today. Let us think of certain characteristics of this consciousness of which we have been speaking during the past weeks. This consciousness holds us within a domain shut off on the one side by the veil placed before us by the phenomena of nature through which, to begin with, our consciousness cannot penetrate, and on the other side, by the veil of our own life of soul, of our thinking, feeling and willing. The nature of our consciousness is such that when we look inwards, we are able to a certain extent to experience our thinking, feeling and willing in their human form, to experience them consciously. But again, we cannot penetrate behind the veil. Hence we can say: As regards the veil of the phenomena of nature on the one side, with the objective reality behind, our consciousness is directed towards a veil which, to begin with, may not be pierced. On the other side, there are the manifestations of the life of soul, behind which lies the subjective reality. We contemplate it but we cannot immediately break through the veil. Within these frontiers, within these two parallel lines, as it were, is our present consciousness, to which, when we look out through the sense-organs, the world of nature presents itself; when we look inwards, there is the world of soul. This is how the consciousness we have as human beings today, is organised.
We know that this consciousness differs from man's earlier consciousness with its heritage of ancient clairvoyance; but we know too that this inherited clairvoyance faded away and that our present consciousness, when functioning normally on the physical plane, is as described above.
The question may be asked: Why is it that our consciousness today is constituted as it is? The reason is that during the present cycle of evolution, as well as everything else that has been described, we have to develop the true relationship that should prevail between one human soul and another. Our present form of consciousness, therefore, has a very definite task.
During the earlier periods of Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon we lived in different states of consciousness, and in the future periods of Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan, our consciousness will again be different. We are gradually preparing for these different forms of consciousness. In our present cycle of evolution we have to develop in ourselves, through the way we relate ourselves to the world, the form of consciousness belonging to this cycle; and besides all that must be developed in connection with the moral life, there is also the fact that through this form of consciousness there can unfold the right relationship of one human soul to another, a relationship we had not acquired before the beginning of the Earth-period and without which, if we do not acquire it during the Earth-period, we shall not be able to maintain our existence during the periods of Jupiter, Venus and Vulcan.
In the periods of Old Saturn, Old Sun and Old Moon preceding the Earth-period, man had not, in this sense, acquired the right relationship to other men; in a certain sense he was too close to them. During the Old Moon period, conditions were still such that the will of one had a direct effect upon the other; the other felt, was affected by, the will of his fellow-being. Moreover, this process was regulated and guided by the Spirits of the higher Hierarchies.
Had this guidance by the Spirits of the higher Hierarchies continued, man would never have reached complete freedom in cosmic existence. The guidance had at some point to cease. Hence the necessity of a form of consciousness which as it were makes a frontier possible between one man and another. The fact is that on the one side our vision does not penetrate through nature, and on the other side the world of soul causes the relation of one soul to another to be such that a certain frontier is created between them. That this frontier exists is due to our present form of consciousness, a special characteristic of which is that what we actually experience are reflections, mirror-images. This, of course, applies also to relationships between man and man. Because, when we meet another human being we have in our present form of consciousness a mere reflection, we cannot approach him in so arbitrary a way that we pour the content of our consciousness into his soul. If, therefore, our consciousness is normally developed, this prevents us from coming unduly close to the consciousness of another. I might also put it like this: the forces of our consciousness and intelligence are so organised that we can neither exercise too great an influence upon the other man, nor can he exercise too great an influence upon us — because the fact that our own consciousness is mirrored, separates us from him.
This is a matter of very great importance for the understanding of human evolution. Whenever there is a defect in the normal consciousness, what happens is at once evident. Think of a person whose consciousness is not quite normal, who has a touch of what we have recently encountered in the form of “mystical eccentricity” — to use a rather harsh expression, but one that is often very apt. Suppose such a person is inclined to all sorts of fanciful delusions, based upon certain experiences which are abnormal in our day. You will always find that a person with abnormal consciousness of this kind has a far greater influence upon other souls than one with normal consciousness. To put it rather crudely, a person who is a little mad in one direction or another can have a far stronger influence upon his fellowmen than one who is normal; and by strengthening his consciousness, a normal man must protect himself from the influence of one who is abnormal. An abnormal man, as long as he is not recognised, is always a certain danger to his fellow-men, because they allow themselves to be too strongly influenced by him and because they are too ready to regard him as a rare, out-of-the-common phenomenon. Precisely where there are perforations in the mirror of consciousness, too strong an influence passes over through these perforations to the other person.
Thus in the present epoch of evolution we acquire our particular form of consciousness in order that the right relationship of one human soul to another in the world may be established.
Now, from all that has been said in these lectures, the following is clear: on yonder side of the veil of nature lies the Ahrimanic world with all the beings I have described; on yonder side of the veil of the life of soul lies the Luciferic world with all the characteristic features I have described. Man is, as it were, shut in between the Ahrimanic world and the Luciferic world. If he pierces only a little behind the veil of nature, he cannot help becoming acquainted with the Ahrimanic world. If he pierces a little behind the veil of the life of soul, he will inevitably become acquainted with the Luciferic world.
We have behind us a certain epoch during which man was safeguarded against making too great an advance towards the one side or the other. But we are now living in a time of transition, when human souls needs must advance towards the one side or the other. This must inevitably happen, for again it is demanded by the present phase of man's evolution.
As you know, we are now living in the age of the development of the Consciousness or Spiritual Soul and moving towards that of the development of the Spirit-Self. Such development has a long preparation behind it. When, in the Sixth post-Atlantean epoch of culture, the Spirit-Self is fully developed, man's life of soul will be different in very many respects from what it is today. The human intellect will have a much more objective power than is the case now. Mankind is already approaching this more objective intellectual life. Evidences may be seen on every hand and I have spoken of the matter in many lectures. A life of soul is approaching of which it may be said that the intellect will be outspread as a power to which men must submit — as a power working objectively in a realm outside the souls of men.
We are still living in times when many human beings are safeguarded against this objective power by a strong, assertive individuality. But this protection will be less and less possible the nearer we come to the Sixth post-Atlantean epoch. A time will actually come when phenomena now only in the initial stages will be far, far more strongly in evidence. Even now, one who knows how to assess happenings in the world can form a true judgment in regard to this phenomenon. It is well known, for example, that writers in certain newspapers and periodicals are very far from saying only what springs from their own souls. They represent the intelligence of certain circles, an objective intelligence which rides rough-shod and of which they are only the speaking trumpets. It is extremely important to keep this in mind, for it is a phenomenon which will become more and more prevalent.
Now there is a very definite prospect ahead. When the intelligence of certain people is objectivised — and it has been so objectivised ever since public literature has existed — it becomes more and more possible for Ahriman to take possession of the intelligence of men. That is a prospect which Spiritual Science must place before us, for it is Ahriman's constant and fiercest endeavour to strangle men's individual intelligence and appropriate it for himself, so that it may pass into his power and be used to serve his own purposes. I have told you that there is a mysterious connection between the higher forces of intelligence in the beings who serve Ahriman and the forces of man's lower nature. Ahriman's perpetual endeavour is to appropriate the intelligence of human beings and not allow them to realise what they can achieve through their own intelligence. Think of the last conversation between Benedictus and Ahriman in the Mystery Play The Soul's Awakening. Before Ahriman disappears, he says:
“It is now time for me to haste away
From his environment, for whensoe'er
His sight can think me as I truly am,
He will begin to fashion in his thought
Part of the power which slowly killeth me.”
A profound secret is contained here, a secret of which every student of Spiritual Science should be aware. Men must strive as time goes on to keep their intelligence under their own individual control, to keep unceasing watch over it. This is essential, and it is well that man should know with what enticing and powerful words Ahriman approaches him, trying to wring his intelligence from him.
More and more it will behove men to be alert to such moments. For Ahriman takes full advantage of moments when, in full waking life, a man falls into a state of vertigo or dizziness, into a kind of twilight consciousness, when he feels not quite securely anchored in the physical world and begins to yield himself to the whirl of the universe, when he does not stand firmly and steadily on his own feet as an individuality. These are the moments when it behoves him to be on his guard, for it is then that Ahriman easily gets the upper hand. The best way in which we can protect ourselves is to develop clear, exact thinking, not simply skimming over things in thought as is the general custom today. We should go even farther and try to avoid colloquialisms and current catchwords, for directly we use such words which come, not from thought but from habits of speech, we are not exercising thinking — even if only for a very short time. These are particularly dangerous moments because they are not heeded. We should really be careful to avoid using words behind which there is not sufficient reflection. Such self-training, precisely in these intimate details, should be undertaken by those who are in earnest about the tasks of the age. After all that has been said in these lectures it will not be difficult for you to realise what is necessary.
But Lucifer, too, endeavours by way of the will to bring man into a condition where he does not act out of well-considered impulses, but out of impulses springing merely from temperament and inclination. Here again, Lucifer takes hold and makes us his prey. And it is easiest for him to find his prey when a large number of people give way to such impulses which surge in the dark foundations of the life of soul without rising into the sphere of the individual will. If impulses springing from temperament and vague inclinations bring us into connection with groups of human beings in such a way that we feel ourselves part and parcel of a group, we are at once caught into a whirl in which the judgment of the individual will is wrested from us; and it must not be wrested from us, for if it is, Lucifer gains too great a power over us. We must strive for objectivity in this respect.
Again, when there is some deviation from the sphere of normal consciousness, these are moments favourable for Lucifer. Very radical symptoms may appear, but there are also more intimate phenomena, when, for instance, we allow our actions to be determined by obscure feelings of affiliation and the like. The more flagrant, more radical, deviations of consciousness are those where the will becomes defective or so weak that a man can do no other than surrender himself entirely to his life of soul with what amounts to the exclusion of his will.
Modern psychiatrists have adopted certain technical terms for these particularly radical phenomena. For example, they speak of “imperative” or “insistent” ideas (Zwangsvorstellungen) 1Note by translator: According to Baldwin's Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, the more commonly-known term “fixed idea” would not be the correct translation here. The expression “imperative” or “insistent” idea approximates more closely to the example given by Dr. Steiner.. These ideas arise in people whose consciousness is not adjusted in the way that is right and proper for the physical plane. If due strength of will is lacking, ideas arise which a man cannot expel from his consciousness — imperative or insistent ideas, as they are called.
I will give an example that has actually been observed in clinics. — A man once saw another who had a cancerous tumour in the face; he saw the tumour and as he was a man of very weak will, he has believed ever since that cancer germs are everywhere; he is convinced that these germs are present wherever he goes. In other words, his will is not strong enough to drive down into the subconsciousness the idea once aroused in him. That is a particular instance of an imperative or insistent idea. But the same kind of thing makes its appearance in very diverse forms among people whose will is not sufficiently developed, and then it is easy for Lucifer to get power over them. Another aberration of consciousness has been called by modern psychiatrists “a morbid fear of touch” (Berührungsfurcht). The sign of this condition is that people in whom the will is insufficiently developed shrink from every contact with other human beings or objects; they are frightened of being touched by others or by objects. The “morbid fear of touch” is another technical term used in modern psychiatry.
Many other such aberrations of consciousness could be mentioned. These very aberrations show what the normal state of our consciousness should be on the physical plane. But we are now living at a time when certain beings must inevitably become known to us, on the one side beings who are behind the veil of nature, and on the other, behind the veil of the world of soul. If these beings are not made known, the further evolution of mankind will be endangered. If the connection of Ahriman and Lucifer with human evolution is not perceived, danger lies ahead. For it is just when they are not perceived that they can operate most effectively. As an example of the way in which Ahriman works, I will relate an anecdote which presents the unqualified truth.—
To a village there once came a stranger who was an acquaintance of the burgomaster. He arrived on horseback and rode into the village. This was an interesting event for the villagers and they ran out into the street to watch him. He put his horse in the burgomaster's stable and stayed in his house from the Saturday evening over the Sunday. On the Monday he wanted to take his departure, and asked for his horse. The burgomaster said: “You came here on foot; you had no horse.” — To every protest the burgomaster replied: “You had no horse.” Finally he said: “Very well, then, we will ask the people in the village; they must have seen you when you arrived.” Thereupon he called the people together and asked them whether they had not seen the man arrive on foot, and they all said, “Yes”. When everyone had affirmed this, the burgomaster said: “Now swear to me, all of you, that this man came on foot.” And everyone swore that it was so. The man was therefore obliged to leave the village on foot, without his horse. After a short time the burgomaster rode after him, bringing his horse. At this, the man exclaimed: “What was the purpose of this comedy?” To which the burgomaster replied: “I only wanted to present my community to you!”
Naturally, Ahriman was at the bottom of this and he acted effectively as an objective power. The anecdote is “truer than true”, for the same thing is happening among us continually. The whole of human life tends to increase the number of people who swear to the non-existence of the horse.
We must therefore see to it that we have the greatest possible exactitude of consciousness, for that alone is fitting for our present earthly life. If you take all that can be found in my books, Occult Science, The Threshold of the Spiritual World, A Road to Self-Knowledge, in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. How is it achieved? as well as in many Lecture-Courses, you will find that the paths have been indicated whereby men may penetrate behind nature and behind the world of soul in the proper way and with the requisite preparation. The paths are described by which men can penetrate behind the scenes of existence in the right way. But the subjective strivings of very many persons do not, in reality, aim at reaching the goal to be desired. In those books it is clearly indicated that one who wishes to penetrate into the other world must transcend the normal form of consciousness. If the indications given are faithfully followed, it will be clear that one must emerge from the normal consciousness into a different form of consciousness.
It is important to know this, for there is a tendency among most people, indeed among many of our friends too, not to leave the normal form of consciousness at any price but to remain in it and to bring the spiritual world into the ordinary consciousness: that is to say, not to let the Ego emerge but to bring the spiritual world into the Ego. It is knowledge of the spiritual world that should be brought into the ordinary consciousness, not the spiritual world itself. If you faithfully practise what is contained in the books mentioned, you will bring yourself into conditions through which you will experience the spiritual world, conditions through which experiences deriving from that world can be brought into the sphere of the normal consciousness. But there are many who do not want this; they want the experience to be actually in the normal consciousness; whereas it ought to originate from consciousness that is different from the normal and passes into the normal. Many of our friends, however, try to have visions in the normal consciousness, not something that is a reminiscence of a different kind of consciousness. If, however, you have visions in the normal consciousness, that is to say, if you do not really wish to develop a different kind of consciousness, but to keep consciousness in its ordinary form and yet look into the spiritual world, this means that you do not seriously wish to go beyond but to remain in the ordinary consciousness, expecting to see forms and figures there which look like those of the physical world. Many people try hard to see spirits or the activities of spirits, but they want to see them just as they see physical things. They want to see a spirit, but this spirit is expected to have the form of a man or a woman or perhaps a poodle, as these are seen in the physical world. In the other world, however, it is not like this. The process itself lies outside the ordinary consciousness and what enters into the consciousness is at most a picture, an image which appears afterwards. In short, we must not expect the spiritual world to be merely a kind of finer sense-world, nor that it will speak in human words, the only difference being that the words come from the spiritual world. Our friends are often only willing to listen in this way to voices which seem to speak to them; these voices are expected to be similar to those of the physical world, merely giving a different, subtler version of things of the physical world. These people would like to enter the spiritual world with the ordinary consciousness which belongs to the physical world only.
Actually, most of the visions or voices of which one is told are of the character just described. At all events, this much is certain: when we have such visions or hear such voices it is always easy for Lucifer and Ahriman to have an easy game with us; they lay hold of these experiences for themselves, for men are always prone to interpret them incorrectly. If such experiences are rightly interpreted, Lucifer and Ahriman gain nothing from them.
As you see, there are distinctions here which must be kept strictly in mind. We must be fully alive to the possibility that as soon as we bring something else into the ordinary consciousness which is in truth suitable only for the physical world, we come to Scylla and Charybdis — to Lucifer and Ahriman. We must learn to recognise Lucifer and Ahriman as real Powers in this connection. It is for this reason that such emphasis has been laid on the relationship between Ahriman and Lucifer, and the statue in the Goetheanum will be a true representation of this.
Now you might ask: If this is how things are, might it not after all be more sensible to act like the scientists who, although Ahriman is within what they say, are nevertheless unwilling to acknowledge his reality? Or might it perhaps be better to act like the Pastors of various religious communities? — for they present things in such a way that Lucifer is everywhere, but they will not admit it. They would regard it as sinful were anyone to realise that the door there is open for Lucifer. But a person who speaks to this effect today is not being very clever. To say that it is more sensible to act like the scientists and the Pastors of various religious communities would be the same as deliberately refraining from warning someone who has to cross a chasm for some distance on a narrow plank, that he is facing danger. It is obvious that he should be warned. Otherwise it would amount to saying: certainly the man may be in danger, but it is more sensible to say nothing to him about it. — Through knowing how things are — and they will have to be known — the danger becomes no greater and no less.
A time is coming when Ahriman will try to take possession of the intelligence and Lucifer of the will of men. This can be thwarted only if these things are recognised; and recognition can be brought about only by a spiritual-scientific Movement. It is remarkable to see what Ahriman and Lucifer do and yet are not observed. From this point of view it is interesting to study modern psychiatry. Modern psychiatry has actually recognised many things that are facts, but that it cannot interpret correctly because it takes no account of the approach of these spiritual Powers behind the veil. Modern psychiatry regards anything that is not absolutely normal in man, anything that deviates in the slightest degree from a certain average norm, as tending towards insanity. In numerous treatises the Maid of Orleans is held to have been merely an hysteric. Indeed, writings are accumulating in which Christ Jesus Himself is regarded as a not quite normal man. There are also writings which ascribe craziness to Goethe, and so on.
Here we have an unmistakable, but false, Ahrimanic science, a science which is at pains to show that although Goethe was in certain respects a moral genius, this was entirely due to the fact that he had an element of madness in his nature. Socrates, however, knew better; he spoke of his “daimon”, being well aware that his soul bordered on objective spiritual Powers. This was quite clear to him. But the modern psychiatrist sees fit to make out that there was an element of madness or something of the kind in Socrates too. Ahriman must be hidden at all costs — which is exactly what suits him! And the same applies to Lucifer.
The fact of the matter is that if one were simply to cultivate today what purports in certain occult Orders to be secret knowledge, with its accompanying symbolism, it would be very easy to deliver into the hands of Ahriman everything that has been pursued hitherto as occultism. And if the mysticism hitherto pursued were to be encouraged and cultivated in human beings, it would easily be delivered into the hands of Lucifer. The ship of Spiritual Science must be steered between these two dangers. This is extremely important. Spiritual Science must therefore be so constituted that neither mystical nor occult aberrations can take root.
I said yesterday that when man breaks through the veil of nature, he comes into a region where he encounters beings who have a will for destruction, and that this will for destruction is related to the human intellect. I have described what may become of a man who falls prey to these beings. This must not happen. I have also spoken of the fevered, ecstatic condition into which a person may fall in his spiritual life if he indulges in false mystical experiences. This too must be avoided.
I said in an earlier lecture that the esotericists among the occultists tried hard to compel men to apply their intellect to the deciphering of symbols, in order that they should not break through the veil in a wrongful way and become the victim of the Powers encountered in so terrible a form in these border regions. These beings can be held at bay if the intellect is employed in the way it is employed, for example, in deciphering the symbols. This was formerly the practice but it no longer meets the needs of the present time, nor is it a practicable method.
You will find that by the very manner in which Spiritual Science is presented, the aberration leading into the region of Ahriman is avoided in a different way. You must think here about something that is apt to crop up in the life of our own society. When one person or another is beginning to study Spiritual Science, the remark is very frequently to be heard: “I cannot grasp these things until I have seen them myself clairvoyantly, so I take them on trust.” I have emphasised over and over again that, rightly understood, this is not the case. At the present time human beings have sufficient intellectual capacity to understand everything that has been given out. The whole of Spiritual Science in the form it has been presented is within the grasp of the intellectual capacities existing in men at the present time. Spiritual Science cannot, it is true, be discovered by these capacities, but it can be understood. The intellectual capacities are there and can be roused into activity, and those who refuse to admit that it is so are in error. When what has been given in Spiritual Science is really worked upon by the intellect, the intellect is being employed in the right way and it is then impossible to enter into the Ahrimanic realm by an unlawful path. There are two eventualities only.— Either men make strenuous efforts to understand, in which case they are employing the intellect — which could well be misused by the Ahrimanic beings—in order to understand Spiritual Science, and then this intellect cannot be wrung from them. Whatever Ahriman may elect to do, he will never get hold of the intellect which men apply, either in the present age or in the future, to the study of Spiritual Science. Of that you may rest assured. If men make no attempt to understand Spiritual Science, they are not applying their intellect to it — but Spiritual Science cannot be blamed for that! Laziness alone is responsible.
The region of destructive spirits into which a man may come, is disclosed most clearly of all if a soul is observed at the moment of passing through the gate of death. Then these spiritual beings swirl forward in their hosts; nor is this surprising, for they are the spirits of destruction. To work at the destruction of the physical organism is their regular function. It is part of their handiwork — only they must not remain too long.
Men who have attained spiritual understanding keep these beings at bay. But these beings have a great deal of power over souls whose thinking is materialistic, who acquire no understanding of the spiritual world. Souls who disdain any attempt to acquire knowledge of the spiritual world have a great deal to suffer from Ahriman. The Greek myth has depicted this very graphically in the figure of Tantalus. The Gods placed food in front of him but out of his reach and then watched the torments he had to endure.
Many such figures can be seen in the world today. All of them are materialistic souls who have no desire to understand the spiritual world. They are like Tantalus, in the sense that after death, during the period of Kamaloka when they live through their life — for a third of its duration — in backward order, everything is snatched away from them. Again and again they have the feeling: to what purpose did I do this or that? For they see one of the spirits of destruction snatching it away, and then they realise that they really did it to no purpose! That, of course, is an illusion; but such souls suffer the torments of Tantalus because the spirits of destruction are all around them. They do not realise that the whole of earthly life from birth until death would be without purpose or meaning if it were not pervaded by the Spirits of the higher Hierarchies. But these souls cannot see the Spirits of the higher Hierarchies and so everything must seem to them to have been purposeless.
Spiritual Science avoids false occultism in that it applies the ever-increasing intellectual capacity now developing in humanity to the establishment of a science for which more intellect is required than hitherto. The nature of Spiritual Science inevitably demands greater intellectual effort than people have been accustomed to apply. Men like to delude themselves in this respect. Were they really to apply the intellectual capacity at their command today, they would understand Spiritual Science. Through the strong intellectual efforts that are necessary in Spiritual Science, Scylla is avoided and mastered on the one side. The spiritual scientist is well aware why people are disinclined to embark on the study of Spiritual Science. It is because they are too lazy to apply enough intellectual effort. That is why I spoke just now of laziness.
On the other side, the pitfall of false mysticism must be avoided by ceasing to grovel within the purely inner life. This tendency to live and brood continually within one's own soul must be eliminated. The soul must come out of itself and look with eyes of love at the deeper connections manifesting in life outside.
The Mystery Plays were written in order to help people to perceive such connections — which can also be observed externally. Inner processes of the life of soul are portrayed in the Plays. If you learn to understand and perceive what is happening, for example to Capesius, how he passes on from one event to another, the weaving, creative activity there in evidence will help you to release your own inner life, to free it. This is also the essential function of our art. The purpose of our whole Building is that souls shall be set free from themselves and shall not lapse into false mysticism. It is necessary to keep this in mind for we shall thus also avoid the Charybdis of false mysticism.
Every effort we make to explain to ourselves the mysterious connections in the lives of human beings in the world outside protects us from false mysticism. If in this way we follow what happens to Capesius, we live in a weaving life of soul—but we are not huddled up within our own. We attain everything that the mystic attains, but in a different way. So you see, the ship of Spiritual Science must be steered with clear-sighted purpose between the two pitfalls. The teachings given must be of a nature whereby false occultism and false mysticism are both avoided.
It may truly be said that our Spiritual Science is in keeping with the needs and demands of the age. For this reason I have often been obliged to oppose any false simplification or popularisation of Spiritual Science which would do away with the need for strenuous thinking. Equally I have been obliged to oppose everything that tends towards ecstatic, egoistic mysticism, which is always an element of such precepts as: “in your own inmost being you find the reality, the Divine”— and so forth. For in this there is no desire to seek the Divine in outer life by following its phenomena with love and understanding.
I recently said to someone that Spiritual Science may be regarded as of eminently practical usefulness. I did not say this in order to boast about the merits of our Movement but merely in order to show that in it the positive can always be found. I said: even if people accept only what they can recognise, leaving aside what does not interest them, Spiritual Science can nevertheless be of the greatest usefulness. If you think of the way in which we have been working for fifteen years, you will realise that a host of truths belonging to the domains of natural science, art, the history of art and so forth, have been included in the purely spiritual-scientific teachings. Indeed, assuming for a moment that nothing at all of pure Spiritual Science had been given but only truths relating to natural science and art — even this by itself could be of practical use. But whatever is given in this way is given with purpose and deliberation, for thereby the human mind is induced to abandon fanciful speculation. And so in every way we have endeavoured so to form our Movement that it may go forward in the right and healthy way. From the very beginning it was conceived as a kind of organism. And thinking of it as such we may also say that it must grow and develop like an organism, like a human organism which about the seventh year gets its second teeth — and the organism must make use of these second teeth, of the individual teeth it then has at its disposal.
In earlier lectures I have shown why we had to link up with the Theosophical Movement, as we did in the year 1902 by founding the German Section. At the beginning, progress was possible because we developed entirely independently, as I have told you. But then, in the year 1909 (1902 + 7 = 19o9) it was also necessary to get second teeth. You will remember that those were the years when the Leadbeater affair threw everything into the melting-pot. The year 1916 is not far off. We shall then have the second seven years behind us. If with this second period of seven years behind us we think of our Movement as an organism, this organism will then have reached maturity; it must steer its own course and be able to achieve something by itself. After all that has been given, it ought to be possible for the work to go on effectively even without the teacher.
I have spoken to this effect on many occasions. Some time ago in Berlin I said that the “Gesellschaft für Theosophische Art and Kunst” 2This was the name of a project which did not continue. ought to be an organisation that leads a life of its own, apart from me. This trend will become more and more necessary. The danger that things go well only as long as something comes from me week after week, must be surmounted. We have now reached the years when the Society ought to be able to show that it can quietly continue to cultivate what has been given, to cultivate it as if I were no longer there.
This is an absolutely necessary thought. The teachings which have been given are of such a nature that if they now work in souls, a great deal can be done for which I am no longer needed. I am not saying that I will not remain, but the test will consist in my becoming more and more superfluous. It is absolutely essential to obviate the possibility — which actually exists — of our members not appreciating one another! For you can realise what ill service would be done to our cause if it were always being said: “He is the Director, and he must be followed”, or “He is the Director and he will see that such-and-such is done”. — That simply will not do. What would happen if one day I were no longer there? The Society would at once fall to pieces! We shall only attain what we ought to attain if, after fourteen years, we have really come to the point of having a life of our own which can in turn bring forth new life. This is not an impossibility if only we are mindful of our real aims. Certainly, there are some difficult years now, but we must surmount such difficulties. And a different value can be placed upon much that I myself have to contribute, if what I have now indicated is fulfilled. Difficulties of many kinds exist at the present time. There are certain things which cannot be said indiscriminately and during the last four days I should have liked to call together a small, restricted group of people in order to speak of matters of which I cannot speak before a whole audience. But I was obliged to abandon the idea because we are living in days when such an arrangement is not feasible. In order to see clearly, what I have been trying to present in these lectures must be kept well in mind. We must also try to understand the inner character of Spiritual Science and then it will be clear to us why on the one side we shall inevitably have opponents in the learned scientists who would like to base a view of the world upon their erudition and, on the other side, in those pastors who desire that what lies behind the everyday life of soul shall remain completely hidden.
We must hold faithfully to our teaching and also steep ourselves deeply in its contents. Let us remember, for example, how the Mystery of Golgotha has constituted the very core of our strivings, how it has been stressed that Christ entered into Jesus of Nazareth in the way so often described, coming from other spheres of consciousness into the sphere of consciousness proper for man's physical life on Earth. Christ-Jesus is a Power on Earth, living on in the earthly consciousness of men and in earthly happenings. For this reason the New Testament can be no natural science, for natural science — the science of what lies behind nature — must, if it makes for reality, go beyond our normal consciousness. Neither can the New Testament be Spiritual Science, for there, too, normal consciousness must have been transcended in the other direction. The marvellous greatness and significance of the New Testament lies precisely in the fact that it aspires neither to be Natural Science nor yet Spiritual Science — but for all that it must not be used to support polemics against Spiritual Science.
Here, however, we perceive the reasons why the representatives of one or another religious body will always rise up in arms against Spiritual Science! It is because they will never be willing to allow man to enter the world they so greatly fear. They are afraid that one day human beings will discover the eternal nature of the soul within them. They want people to realise that only what they already know lives eternally within them. I said yesterday that if a materialistic view of the world were to take root, if such a view alone prevailed and no Spiritual Science were to come into being, things would reach the point where men would be engulfed in scepticism and doubt, for something like an ocean would be created in which souls would inevitably drown. But if it is desired to hold men back lest they penetrate behind the veil of the world of soul, then the only thing to do is to keep them in a state of ignorance. Ignorance which would eventually suffocate men must inevitably spread if those who are often the representatives of religious communities today were to gain their ends. If the scientists were to win the day, human souls would be engulfed in an ocean of doubt; if the pastors of religion who think in the way described were to win the day, human souls would suffocate in an atmosphere of ignorance. The task devolving upon Spiritual Science is serious and grave and we must realise its gravity. We must regard ourselves as individuals who through their karma can be led to Spiritual Science in order that what they possess in the way of intellect and intuitive discernment may be placed at the disposal not actually of Spiritual Science, but of the general progress of humanity. And such progress is a dire necessity for the world.
We see, on the one side, how a materialistic view of the world is trying to get a firm foothold, and how nothing that offers resistance is of any avail! And on the other side we see how efforts are made to spread ignorance, how more and more is done to efface the truths relating to the spiritual world! Just think how every communication from the spiritual world is regarded with downright hatred by the representatives of certain religious communities!
I have given these lectures in order to indicate the direction of the path which must be taken by Spiritual Science, and to help you to realise the following. We must oppose the materialistic scientists, although they really cannot help acting as they do, for Ahriman has them in his power and wishes to hide from them the real motives underlying their activity. And we must oppose the othcrs too — although they again cannot act differently, because they are in the hands of Lucifer. The right way to work is to come to grips with what Spiritual Science can give us. Oh, if only there were a number of people who realised the uniqueness of Spiritual Science, that it must not be confused with other things! That in itself would be a great step forward.
One can also learn a great deal from mistakes, and pay attention to them from this point of view. That is more important than merely to criticise them, although criticism is also sometimes necessary. I said that — to put it in plain words — Ahriman is out to destroy man's intellect in the future; but he combines this with something else as well — because the beings who serve him are related, with their higher forces, to the lower forces in man and because he wants to establish an alliance between the higher and the lower forces. In the normal course, Ahriman has under his direction those things in the world which give rise to illnesses; we know that they too are unavoidable for they bring about death in the physical world. All destruction in the physical world is allotted to him. But the connection must be known and understood. If what is in the lower sphere is taken up into the higher, it is united with these beings of destruction and then man himself gives many opportunities to Ahriman and his hosts. And when he does so he will not fail to notice that certain lower parts of his organism begin to function as higher parts of the organism otherwise function.
If a man has a dread of really exact thinking and yet wishes to enter the spiritual world, well, he may succeed in doing so—he crosses the Threshold and lives in the realm of the powers of destruction. When he comes back again into his body, he has entered into an alliance with these destructive beings and knows nothing about it because he has not developed his own intellect in the right way. He will then feel these beings within him — and instead of thinking, instead of his ears hearing and his eyes seeing, all kinds of hidden powers in the lower organism begin to hear and to see. The body is no longer his own in the sense it was before. On coming back again into the body he finds it filled with all sorts of ingredients. It is something new to him.
This entry into one's own body as into something unfamiliar and containing unknown elements is an experience that may befall those who do not keep faithfully to the right path. For Ahriman strives to establish himself in the human body and to transform certain organs into organs of knowledge. Lucifer, however, incites his fiery spirits of will to take certain forces out of us in order to make these forces independent. And so if we cross the Threshold in the direction of Lucifer's realm and then come back into the body, we feel as if certain parts are hollow, as if something has been taken out of us. Ahriman adds something, because as he enters into us he fills the organs. Lucifer takes away organs, makes what was otherwise part of our own organism, independent of us.
This is one of the aims of Lucifer — to make independent what belongs to us. And that is why in the pursuit of unjustifiable mystical experiences it may so easily happen that mystics, by consolidating and brooding over their own inner life, prepare it for Lucifer who can then draw it out of them. It is really so: Lucifer approaches the human being and draws out something from his brain, namely, the intellect. The intellect is drawn out as part of the etheric brain or of the etheric heart, made independent, and then a man feels that part of him has become hollow and empty. This is actually an experience associated with intensely egotistic individuals who have reached a certain high level of development. It can be seen that certain parts of their forces have been detached and are then, as it were, outside them. Lucifer robs man of certain forces with which he then proceeds to work. This state of things must naturally be prevented and it is prevented by faithful adherence to the right path. It is, however, a Luciferic conception to imagine that something can be taken away from man and then utilised as though he has no longer any part in it — for example, if a man's teaching is stolen from him and then utilised in the world. There you have a hint of the domain where such things actually happen. A great deal can be learnt from an error — above all from the error that teaching can be separated from the teacher. By observing these facts one can learn more than by merely criticising them — justifiable though this may well be. It is not difficult to realise what danger there would be were this kind of thing to become more general in the future. And the danger actually exists!
On the other side man is approaching the danger that in the process of the independent development of the Spirit-Self, Ahriman may take possession of it. Already ncw, those who have an eye for such things perceive how men lose their independence and how Ahriman is actually guiding their hand when they write. That is the one side, and the other is that things are taken and utilised, and it is believed possible to separate them from their originator. But the legitimate and only right way will be for men to accept the guiding principles of Spiritual Science, whereby on the one side the illumination that is shed upon nature safeguards them when they break through its veil. A zoology, a botany, a science of agriculture based on the principles of Spiritual Science must be brought into being; everything, medicine too, must be enriched by these principles. But medicine can be rightly enriched only by those who are not afraid to pierce the veil of nature, to enter right into the Ahrimanic world where they must battle against the spirits of destruction. To discover what is health-bringing for man, one must enter the region of those spirits who destroy all human life, who bring about illness and death; for only in the realm where lie the deeper causes of illness and death can the remedies be found.
Similarly, one who wishes to learn what will be fruitful for the human soul, must not be afraid to battle with the Luciferic beings; he must preserve unshakable moral courage if he wishes to cross the Threshold, he must realise that he is entering a region of spiritual beings where his every thought will tend to produce in him a slight touch of vertigo because it is on the point of being wrested from him, because it is about to flit away and he must swiftly take hold of it lest it escape him. Nobody can penetrate into this region without calmly battling against everything which, when it is out of balance, leads the human being to unhealthy, subjective mysticism.
But Spiritual Science steers us in such a way that, if we understand it, we actually find the strength to combat the Ahrimanic forces of destruction wherever they may be at work. And when, as in the Mystery plays, we apply Spiritual Science to the onflowing development of human life, and to the unfolding life of nature when we portray the forces of nature in the forms of our pillars and architraves, and when we portray the higher secrets of existence by placing Christ over against Lucifer and Ahriman as in our statue, when we approach these things in such a way that the spiritual powers become objective realities to us, then, my dear friends, we find the strength which the mystic does not, as a rule, possess — the strength to battle against the Luciferic powers.
From this you will realise that Spiritual Science was from the outset obliged to take the form in which it has actually been presented, and that what it creates, in addition to its theoretical teachings, is also essentially part of it. Let us try more and more to make our thinking conform with the thinking proper to Spiritual Science, for not until we free ourselves from the prejudices current in the outside world can we have a rightful place in Spiritual Science.