Cosmic and Human Metamorphoses
IV. Morality, As A Germinating Force
27 February 1917, Berlin
On the occasion of our last lecture, I spoke to you of the three meetings which the human soul has with the regions pertaining to the Spiritual world. I shall have to say a few more things as to these, which will give me the opportunity of answering a question asked at the end of the last public lecture at the Architectural Hall, regarding the forces which bring over the karma, the external destiny, from a former incarnation. I have been told that this is very difficult to understand. In the course of these lectures I will return to this subject; but it is preferable to do so after having discussed a few points which may perhaps help to make the question better understood. Today, however, in order to make the question of the three meetings with the Spiritual world still clearer, I intend to insert, by way of episode, something that it seems to me important to discuss just at the present time.
When we consider the ideas and concepts which have found their way into the souls of people of all grades of education as the result of the Spiritual development of the last century, we observe how strongly its influence tended to cause people to consider the evolution of the world and man's place in it, solely according to the standard of Natural Science and its ideas. There are of course plenty of people still living today who do not believe their attitude of mind and soul to have been formed by the concepts of Natural Science. These people do not however observe the deeper foundations upon which their minds were formed; they do not know that the ideas of Natural Science have just slipped in a one-sided way, not only determining their thoughts but even in a certain way their feelings. A man who today reflects along the lines laid down for everyone in the ordinary educational centres, whose mind and disposition have been formed in accordance with them, and whose ideas are based upon what is taught there, cannot possibly feel the true connection between what we call the world of morality, of moral feeling, and the world of external facts. If, in accordance with the ideas of our times, we ponder on the way in which the earth and indeed the whole firmament is supposed to have developed and may come to its final end, we are thinking along the lines of purely external facts, perceptible to the senses. Just think of the deep significance to the souls of men, of the existence of the so-called Kant-Laplace theory of the creation of the world, according to which the earth and the whole heavens arose from a purely material cosmic mist (for it is represented as purely material) and were then formed in accordance with purely earthly physical and chemical laws, developed further according to these laws, and, so it is believed, will also come to an end through these same laws. A condition will some day come about in which the whole world will mechanically come to an end, just as it came into being.
Of course, as I said before, there are people today who do not allow themselves to think of it in this way. That, however, is not the point; it is not the ideas that we form that signify, but the attitude of mind which gives rise to these ideas. The conception I have just alluded to is a purely materialistic one; one of those of which Hermann Grimm says, that a piece of carrion round which circles a hungry dog is a more attractive sight than the construction of the world according to the Kant-Laplace theory. Yet it arose and developed; nay, more: to the great majority of men who study it, it even appears illuminating. Few there are who, like Hermann Grimm, ask how future generations will be able to account for the arising of this mad idea in our age; they will wonder that such a delusion could have ever seemed illuminating to so many. There are but a few people who have the soundness of mind to put the question thus, and those who do are simply considered more or less wrong-headed. But, as I said, the point is not so much the ideas in themselves, as the impulse and frame of mind which made them possible. These conceptions came as the result of certain attitudes of mind; yet, though they came from learned men and were given out by them, most people still believe that the world did not originate in any such mechanical impulse, but that Divine impulses must have played a part in its creation. Still it remains a fact that such conceptions were possible. It was possible for the attitude of men's minds, their disposition of soul, to take on such a form that a purely mechanical idea of the origin of the world was conceived. That signifies that at the bottom of men's souls there is the tendency to form conceptions of a materialistic nature. This tendency is not only to be found among the unlearned, and others who believe in this idea, it exists in the widest circles among all kinds of people, yet most people today are still rather shy of becoming followers of Haeckel, picturing everything Spiritual in a material form. They lack the necessary courage for this. They still admit of something Spiritual; but do not give the matter further thought. If the above mentioned concept holds good, there can then only be room for the Spiritual and especially for the moral, in a certain sense. For just consider: — If the world really came into being as the Kant-Laplace theory believes, and only comes to its end through physical forces, dragging all men down to the grave with it, together with all their ideas, feelings and impulses of will, what then, apart from all else, would become of the whole moral order of the world? Suppose for a moment that the condition of the burial of all things came about: what good would it have been to have ever pronounced some things good and others evil? What would it avail to say this is right, and that is wrong? These would be nothing but forgotten ethical concepts, swept away as something which, if this idea of the world-order were correct, would not perhaps survive even in one single soul. In fact, the matter would stand thus: from purely mechanical causes, by physical and possibly chemical forces, the world came into being and by like means it will come to an end. By means of these forces phenomena appear like bubbles, produced by men. Among men themselves arise the moral ideas of right and wrong, of good and evil; but the whole world passes over into the stillness of the grave. All right and wrong, good and evil, is merely an illusion of man, and is forgotten and vanishes away when the world becomes ‘the grave.’ Thus the only thing that stands for the moral world-order is the feeling one has as long as the episode lasts, which extends from the first state to the last, that man requires such ideas for his common life; that man must form these moral ideals, though they can never take root in a purely mechanical world-order. The forces of nature — heat, electricity, and so on — intervene in the plan of nature, they make themselves felt therein; but the force of morality would, if the mechanical plan of the world were correct, only exist in the mind of man; it would not intervene in the natural order. It would not be like heat which expands bodies, or like light which illuminates them and makes them visible and permeates the world of space. For this moral force is present and soars as a great illusion over the mechanical world-order, and vanishes, dissolves away, when the world is transformed into the grave. People do not sufficiently carry these thoughts to their logical conclusion. Hence they are not on their guard against a mechanical world-order, but allow it to remain — not from kindness of heart, but rather from laziness. If they have a certain want in their hearts, they simply say: ‘Science does not demand that we should think deeply about this mechanical world-order, faith demands something else of us; so we put our faith side by side with science and just believe in something more than mechanical nature, we just believe what a certain inner demand of our hearts compels.’ That is very convenient! There is thus no need to rebel against what Herman Grimm, for instance, felt to be a mad idea of modern science. There need be no rebellion. But this attitude cannot be justified by one who really wishes to think his thoughts out to their conclusion.
It may be asked: What is the reason that people today live thus blindly in an impossible position, in which it is impossible to think logically? Why do they accept such a position? The reason is, strange as this may sound if one is not familiar with the thought and hears it for the first time, — the reason is that people have more or less forgotten, in the course of the last century, how to think truly of the Christ Mystery which must take its place in the very centre of the life of the age; they have forgotten how to think of it in its real, true sense. The way in which man thinks of the Christ Mystery in the newer age should be such that it rays into his whole thinking and feeling. The position which man has assumed to the Christ since the Mystery of Golgotha represents the standard of his whole collective ideas and sentiments. (I may perhaps have more to say on this subject in the near future). If he cannot look upon the Mystery of Christ as a true reality, he is unable to develop ideas and conceptions by which to gauge the views of the world held by others, ideas permeated by reality, and really capable of penetrating the truth.
That is what I wanted above all to make clear to you today. If a man really thinks in the way I have just illustrated, as most people of the present day do, whether consciously or not, the world is then divided on the one hand into the mechanical natural order, and on the other into the moral world order. Now to timid souls, who often believe themselves to be very courageous, the Christ-Mystery forms part of the purely moral world-order. This applies chiefly to those who see nothing more in the Christ-Mystery than the fact that at a particular time, a great, perhaps even the greatest Teacher of the Earth-world appeared, and that His teaching is the thing of greatest importance. Now, if Christ is only considered as the greatest Teacher of humanity, this view is in a sense quite compatible with the twofold division of the world into a natural order and a moral order. For, of course, even if the earth had formed itself as the mechanical world order represented, and is eventually to become the common grave of all things, it might still be possible for a great Teacher to arise who might accomplish much to make men better and to convert them. His teachings might have been sublime, but they would avail nothing when, at the end of all things, everything would be a grave; when even the teachings of Christ Himself would have disappeared, and there would not even be a remembrance of Him remaining in any living being. People do not like to think that; but their dislike would not alter the fact. If it be desired to believe absolutely in a merely mechanical world-order it would be impossible to avoid such thoughts as these.
Everything depends upon the fact being realised that in the Mystery of Golgotha something was accomplished which does not merely belong to the moral world-order, but to the whole collective cosmic order; something which belongs, not merely to the moral reality — which according to the mechanical world-order must be non-existent — but to the whole intensive reality. We shall be able to grasp what is really in question if we turn our thoughts once more to the Three Meetings which I mentioned in the last lecture, taking them in a different sense from that to which I then referred.
I told you that every time a person sleeps, in the intermediate state between his going to sleep and waking he meets Beings belonging to the Spiritual world, Beings of a like nature to his Spirit Self as we are accustomed to call it, Beings of the same substance and kind. This means that when a man wakes from sleep, he has had a meeting with a Spiritual being, and though he may be quite unconscious of having had this experience, yet he carries the after-effects into his outer physical life. Now what takes place in our soul during this daily meeting is in a certain way connected with the future of man. A man of today, unless he busies himself with Spiritual Science, knows very little as yet of what goes on in the depth of his soul during sleep. Dreams, which in ordinary life betray something of this, do indeed reveal something, but reveal it in such a way that the truth does not easily come to light. When a man wakes in a dream or out of a dream, or remembers a dream, this is mostly connected with ideas he had already acquired in his life, with reminiscences. These are however only the garments of what really lives in the dream or during sleep. When our dreams clothe themselves in pictures taken from our daily life, these are but the garments; for in dreams is revealed what actually takes place in the soul during sleep, and that is neither related to the past nor to the present, it is related to the future. In sleep are found the forces which in a human being can be compared to the germinal forces which develop in the plant for the production of a new one. As the plant grows it always develops the germinal forces for the new plant in the following year. These forces reach their height in forming the seed, in which they become visible. But as the plant grows, while it is growing, the germinal forces for the next plant are already there. In the same way the germinal forces; — whether for the next incarnation or even for the Jupiter-period -are present in man, and he chiefly forms these during his sleeping state. The forces then formed, my dear friends, are not immediately related to individual experiences, but rather to the basic forces of the next incarnation: they relate to the forces of the next incarnation. In sleep, a man works upon his germs for his next incarnation into the future. So that while he is asleep, he already lives in the future.
I do not wish to leave a too hazy impression in your minds in respect to this, so will at once say that in the sleeping state, the next incarnation is as the knowledge of the next day. We know from experience that when to-morrow comes the sun will rise and we know more or less how it will run its course, although we may not know what the weather will be or what separate events may affect our lives. In like way the soul is a prophet during our sleep, but a prophet who only knows of what is great and cosmic; not of the weather. If one were to suppose that the soul during sleep becomes aware of the details of the next incarnation, one would be falling into the same error as one who thought that because he knew that next Sunday the sun will surely rise and set, and knew certain universal facts as well, he could therefore predict the weather. This does not alter the fact that while we are asleep we do have to concern ourselves with the future. The forces which are of like nature with our Spirit-Self and that work on the forming of our future, meet us during our time of sleep.
Another, a further meeting — if I leave out the second — is the third meeting, of which I said in the last lecture that it only takes place once in the whole course of a man's life — in the middle of it. I said that when a man is in his thirties he meets with what may be called the Father-Principle, while he meets the Spirit-Principle every night. This meeting with the Father-Principle is of very great significance, for it must occur. You will remember I explained that even those who die before the age of thirty have this experience, only, if they live through the thirties it comes in the course of life, while when death is premature it occurs sooner. You know that, as the result of that meeting, man is enabled to impress the experiences of the present life so deeply into himself that they are able to work over into the next incarnation. Thus, that which is the meeting with the Father-Principle is connected with the earth-life of the next incarnation, whilst our meeting with the Spirit-Principle is for the whole future; it radiates over the whole of our future life, as well as over the life experienced between birth and a new birth.
Now the laws with which this meeting, that we experience only once in a life, are interwoven, they do not pertain to the earth: they are laws which have remained in the earth-evolution just as they were at the time of the moon-evolution. On the physical side they are connected with our physical descent, and with everything which physical heredity signifies. This physical heredity is indeed only one side of the matter; there are Spiritual laws behind, as I have already explained. So that everything that comes to pass regarding the meeting with the Father Principle, points back to the past; it is the legacy of the past; it points back to the moon-evolution, to earlier incarnations, while that which takes place during sleep points to the future. Just as what takes place during sleep forms the germ for the future, so that which comes about as a result of men being born as the descendants of their ancestors, carrying over from former incarnations what is necessary should be brought over; all that has remained over from the past. Both these — what relates to the future and to the past — are in a sense striving outside the natural order. The peasant still goes to sleep at sunset and rises at dawn; but as man progresses in so-called civilisation, he tears himself free from the order of nature. One meets persons in cities — though they may not be very numerous — who go to bed in the morning and arise at night. Man is freeing himself from the mere order of nature, the development of his free will makes it possible for him to do so. Thus in a sense, because he is preparing for a future which is not yet here, he is torn away from the order of nature. When he carries the past into the present, especially the past connected with the moon, he is also torn loose from the order of nature. Nobody can prove the necessity according to the universal laws of nature, that John Smith should be born in 1914; such an event is not ruled by necessity as is the rising of the sun or other natural occurrences, but by the natural order of the moon. During the moon-period everything was like the order of our birth on earth.
Man is however entirely subject to the order of nature as regards what is of immediate significance to the present, to his earth existence. Whereas, as regards the Father-Principle he bears the past within him, and as regards the Spirit-Principle the future — with respect to that meeting of which I have said that it occurs in the course of the year and which is now connected with the meeting with Christ — man is connected with the order of nature. If he were not, the consequence would be that Christmas might by one person be celebrated in December and by another in March, and so on; but although different nations have different designations for the Festival of Christmas, there is everywhere some kind of festivity in the latter days of December which always bears some relation to the meeting I referred to. Thus with respect to this meeting which is inserted into the course of the year, man, for the very reason that this is his present, is in direct connection with the order of nature; while with respect to the past and the future he has become free from it, and has indeed been free from it for thousands of years.
In the olden times man joined in the order of nature both as regards the past and the future. In the Germanic countries, for instance, birth was regulated in olden times in accordance with the order of nature. Birth, which was then regulated by the Mysteries, might only take place at a stated time of the year. Thus it was inserted into the order of nature. In olden times, long before the Christian Era, conception and birth were regulated in the Germanic countries by that of which only a faint echo has been preserved in the Myth of the worship of Hertha. In those days her worship comprised no less than the following. When Hertha descended in her chariot and drew near to men, that was the time of conception; after she had withdrawn, this might no longer take place. This was so strictly adhered to that anyone not born within the appointed season was considered lacking in honour, because his human existence was not in harmony with the order of nature. Birth and conception were just as much adapted to the course of nature in olden times as sleeping and waking, for in those days people slept when the sun had set and woke at dawn. These things have now become displaced; but the central event which is adapted to the course of the year cannot be displaced. By means of this, through its harmony with the order of nature, something is retained and must be so retained in the human soul.
What then is the whole purpose of man's earthly evolution? That man should adapt himself to the earth and take the earth-conditions into himself; that he should carry into his future evolution what the earth has been able to give him, not in any one incarnation alone, but in the whole sum of his incarnations on earth. That then is the purpose of the earth evolution. This purpose can however only be fulfilled through man's to some extent forgetting during his sojourn on earth, his connection with the cosmic and heavenly powers. This he has learnt to do. We know indeed that in olden times man possessed an atavistic clairvoyance, and into that the heavenly powers could work; man was still connected with them; the kingdom of heaven in a sense extended into the human heart. This had to become different so that man might develop his free will. In order that he might become related to the earth he had to have nothing more of the kingdom of heaven in his vision, in his direct perception. This however is the reason that at the time of his closest relation to the earth, in the fifth epoch in which we are living now man became materialistic. Materialism is only the most complete, the most extreme expression of man's relation to the earth, and if nothing else had happened this would have brought about his complete and utter subjection to the earth. He would have had to become related to it and gradually share in its destiny; he would have had to follow the same path as the earth is herself pursuing; he would have been entirely dovetailed into the earth's evolution, — unless something else had occurred. He would have been obliged to tear himself away, as it were, from the cosmos together with the earth, and to unite his destiny completely with that of the earth. That however was not planned for mankind, something else was intended. On the one hand man was to unite himself in the proper way with the earth; on the other, although through his nature he was to become related to the earth, yet messages were to come down to him from the Spiritual world which would raise him once again above the earth. This bringing down of the Heavenly Message came about through the Mystery of Golgotha. Therefore the Being Who went through the Mystery of Golgotha had to take on human nature as well as that of a Heavenly Being. This means that we must think of Christ Jesus not merely as One, who although the Highest, entered human evolution and developed therein; but as One Who possessed a heavenly nature, Who not only taught and propagated doctrine but brought into the earth that which came from Heaven. That is why it is important to understand what the Baptism in Jordan really is; it is not merely a moral action — I do not say it is not a moral action, but it is not that alone. It is also a real action. Something took place then which is just as much a reality as the happenings of nature. If I warm a thing by some warmth-giving means, the warmth passes over into that which is warmed. In like manner did the Christ-Being pass into Jesus of Nazareth at the Baptism by John. That is most certainly in the highest degree a moral action; but it is also a reality in the course of nature, just as real as the phenomena of nature. The important thing is that it should be understood that this is nothing originating in rationalistic conceptions, which always accord merely with the mechanical, physical or chemical course of nature; but something which as idea, is just as much an actual fact as the laws of nature, or indeed the forces of nature.
Once this has been grasped, other ideas will become more real than they are at present. We will not now enter into a discussion on alchemy, but remember that what the old alchemist had in view was that his conceptions should not remain mere ideas, but that they should result in something. (Whether he was justified or not is a not the point for the moment, that may perhaps be the subject of another lecture.) When he burnt incense while holding his conception in mind or giving voice to it, he tried to put sufficient force into it to compel the smoke of the incense to take on form. He sought for such ideas as have the power of affecting the external realities of nature, ideas that do not merely remain within the egoistic part of man but can intervene in the realities of nature. Why did he do this? Because he still had the idea that something occurred at the Mystery of Golgotha which intervened in the course of nature: that was just as real a fact to him as a fact of nature. You see upon this rests a very significant difference which began in the second half of the Middle Ages, towards our own fifth age which followed the Graeco-Latin epoch. At the time of the crusades, in the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth, and indeed in the sixteenth century, there were some special natures, principally women, who devoted themselves so deeply to mysticism, that the inner experience resulting therefrom was felt by them as a spiritual marriage, whether with Christ or another. Many ascetic nuns celebrated mystical marriages. I will not enter into the nature of these inner mystic unions today; but something took place in their inner being which could afterwards only be expressed in words. In a sense it was something that subsisted in the ideas, feelings and also the words in which these were clothed. In contrast to this, Valentine Andrea, as the result of certain conceptions and Spiritual connections, wrote his Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreuz. This chymical — or, as we should say today, chemical-marriage is also a human experience, but when you go into the matter you find that this does not only apply to a soul-experience but to something not merely expressed in words, but which grips the whole man; it is not merely put into the world as a soul experience, for it was a real occurrence, an event of nature, in which a man accomplishes something like a natural process. Valentine Andrea in The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosenkreuz, meant to express something that was more permeated with reality than the merely mystical marriage of Mechthild of Magdeburg, who was a mystic. The mystical marriage of the nuns only accomplished something for the subjective nature of man; by the chymical marriage a man gave himself to the world. Through this, something was accomplished for the whole world; just as something is accomplished for the whole world by the processes of nature. This is again to be taken in a truly Christian sense. Those who thought more real thoughts, longed for concepts through which they could better lay hold of reality, even if only in the one-sided way of the old alchemists — concepts through which they could better grasp reality, ideas in fact which were really connected with reality. The age of materialism has at present thrown a veil over such concepts; and those who today believe they think aright about reality are living in greater illusion than these despised men at the time of the old alchemists, who strove for concepts which should help them to master it.
For what can men accomplish today with their concepts? In our age in particular we have some experience of what they can attain through these empty illusions; the husks of ideas are idols worshipped today, they have nothing to do with reality. For reality is only reached by man plunging down into it, not by forming any sort of ideas at will; yet the difference between unreal concepts and those which are permeated with reality, can be perceived in the ordinary things of the day, but most people do not recognise this. They are so absolutely satisfied with the mere shadow of ideas, having no reality. Suppose, for instance, someone today gets up and makes a speech in which perhaps he may say that a new age must come which is already manifesting, a completely new age in which every man will be measured according to his own worth alone, when he will be valued according to what he can do! Anyone today would admit that such words are in complete understanding with the times! But, my dear friends, as long as ideas are nothing but husks, however beautiful they may be, they are not permeated with reality. For it is not the point that one who is convinced that his own nephew happens to be the best man for the job should admit the principle that every man should be put in the place to which his powers are best adapted. It is not the ideas and concepts one may have that signify: what is required is that with those ideas one should penetrate the reality, and recognise it! It is very pleasant to have ideals and fine principles and often still pleasanter to give expression to them. But what is needed is that we should really plunge down into the reality, recognise it, and penetrate it. We are plunging more and more deeply into that which has brought about these sad times, if we continue to carry on this worshipping of the idols of the husks and shadows of ideas, if we do not learn to see that it is not of the slightest value to have ‘such beautiful ideas and conceptions,’ and to talk about them unless there is the will to get right down to the realities and recognise them. If we do that, we shall not only find the substance, but also the Spirit therein. It is the worshipping of idols, of the mere shadows and husks of ideas, which lead us away from the Spirit. It is the great misfortune of our age, that people are intoxicated with fine words. It is unchristian too; for the true basic principle of Christianity is that the Christ did not pour His teaching into Jesus of Nazareth but poured Himself in; which means that He so united Himself with earthly reality, was so drawn into the reality of the earth, that He thereby became the Living Message from the Cosmos.
The New Testament, my dear friends, if read aright, is the most wonderful means of education concerning reality; only the New Testament must little by little be put into our own language. The present translations do not now completely give the original meaning; but when the old meaning is put into the direct language of our day, the gospels will then be the very best means of bringing man ‘that power of thinking that is permeated with reality.’ For nowhere can thought-forms be found in them that could lead to the husks and shadows of ideas. We need but to grasp these things today in their deeper reality. It may sound almost trivial to speak of the intoxication of ideas, but this is so enormously prevalent today that the ideas and concepts themselves, however beautiful they may sound, are no longer the real point at issue: what is important is that the man who utters them should take his stand on reality. People find that difficult to understand today. Everything that comes out into the open is judged today by its content, and indeed by what is understood of that content. If this were not so, such documents, for instance, as the so-called Peace-Programme of President Wilson — which is entirely void of ideas, a husk, a mere conglomeration of the shadows of ideas — would never be taken as based on reality. Anyone having the power of discerning the reflections of ideas would know that this combination could at most only work by means of a certain absurdity, which might become a sort of reality. What is really needed is that people should try to find ideas and concepts really permeated with reality; this however pre-supposes in the seekers that they themselves should be profoundly imbued with reality and be selfless enough to connect themselves with that which lives and moves in reality. There is a great deal in the present day well calculated to lead people entirely away from the search for reality, but these things are not observed.
He who knows sees many sad things going on. For instance, that it should be possible at the present day for people to be impressed simply by a combination of words, by a number of speeches, which indeed are printed, but which, to one who does not go by mere words but by realities, are absolutely appalling. Speeches have been delivered by a highly honoured person of our day, who in his very first speech immediately takes up the attitude that man on one side of his nature, is absolutely related to the order of nature, and that the theologians are not acting aright if they do not leave the order of nature to the scientists who investigate it. The speeches go on to say that as regards the order of nature, man is simply a piece of machinery; but on this machinery depend the functions of the soul; what are then specified as functions include practically all the functions belonging to the soul. All these are then to be left to the Nature investigators! Nothing is left to comfort theology but the thought that all this has now been given over to Natural Science, and all we have to do is to make speeches — to talk! After that, of course one can only live on husks of words. Furthermore, the speeches are so composed that they lack continuity. (I shall come back to this subject in the coming lectures and go into it more fully.) If you look closely into the thought that is supposed to be connected with the one immediately preceding it, you will find that it cannot possibly be thought of as connected. The whole thing sounds very well, however! In the preface to certain lectures “On the Moulding of Life,” it is stated that they have been lately attended by thousands of people, and that certainly many thousands more feel the need to comfort their souls at this serious time by perusing them. These lectures were given by the celebrated theologian Hunzinger, and I believe are in the ‘Quelle-Meyer’ Library, under the name of Knowledge and Education. They are among the most dangerous literature of the day, because, although they sound enchanting, one's thought-life becomes simply confused, for the thoughts are disconnected and, if one strips off the fascinating words, are nothing but nonsense. Yet these lectures were very much praised, and no one noticed the confused thoughts in them or stopped to test them; everyone was charmed by the shadow-words.
Yes, the external reality entirely hangs together with that which man is ever developing. If he develops concepts void of reality, the reality itself becomes confused and then follow conditions such as we have today. It is no longer possible to judge things by what meets us today externally; we must form our opinions by studying what has been developing in the minds of men for years, or decades, perhaps even longer still. That is what must be gone into. The whole thing depends upon our not accepting the Christ from His teaching alone, but that we should look at the Mystery of Golgotha in its actuality, in its reality; that we should see that it was a Fact that Something super-earthly united itself with the earth in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. We shall then come to realise that morality is not merely something which fades and dies away, when the earth, and even the fabric of the heavens, shall become a grave; but that even though the present earth and the present heavens become a grave, yet, just as the present plants will become mere dust while in the present plant there is the germ of the next one, so there is the germ of the next world in this world of ours, and man is connected with this germ. Only this germ requires the connection with Christ that it may not fall into the grave with the earth, as a plant germ that has not been fructified falls into dust with the plant. The most real thought it is possible to hold, is that the present moral order of the world is the germinal force for the future order of nature. Morality is no mere worked-out thought; if permeated with reality it exists in the present as a germ for later external realities. But a conception of the world such as that of Kant-Laplace, of which Hermann Grimm says that a piece of carrion which attracts a hungry dog is a more appetising aspect, does not belong to that order of thought. The mechanical plan of the world can never penetrate to the thought that morality contains within it a force which is the germ of the natural, of the nature of the future. Why can it not do this? Because it must live in illusion. For just imagine, my dear friends: if the Mystery of Golgotha had not taken place, all would have been as in the Kant-Laplace theory. If you think away the Mystery of Golgotha from the earth, that theory would be correct. The earth had to reach such a condition that, left to itself, it must inevitably lead the human race into the desolation of the grave. Things had to take place as they have, that man might attain freedom through his relation to the earth. He will not sink into the grave, because at the critical moment the earth was fructified by Christ, because Christ descended, and because in Christ lies the opposing force to that which leads to the grave, namely, the germinal force whereby man can be borne up once more into the Spiritual world. That means that when the earth becomes a grave, when it fulfils its destiny according to the Kant-Laplace theory, the germ which is concealed within it must not be allowed to fall into decay, but must be carried on into the future. So that the Christian-moral plan of the world presupposes what Goethe calls ‘the higher nature in nature.’ We might say: A man who is able to think in the right way of the Mystery of Golgotha, as a reality, is also able to think thoughts and form concepts permeated with reality. This is necessary, this is what people must learn before all else. For in this fifth Post-Atlantean age they have either desired to form concepts which intoxicate them, or such as create blindness in them. The concepts which intoxicate are chiefly formed in the realms of religion; those which cause blindness chiefly in the domain of Natural Science. A conception like that of Kant, which, while admitting the purely natural ordering, placing the two worlds of knowledge and of faith side by side, has yet only the moral in view, — must result in intoxication. Concepts based on moral grounds are able to intoxicate, and the intoxication prevents one from seeing that one thus simply succumbs to the stillness of the grave, into which all the moral plans of the world have fallen, and perished. Or, again, such concepts as those of present-day Natural Science, National Economy, and — forgive the expression, which may be rather hard to swallow — even the political concepts of the day, may create blindness; for they are not formed in connection with a Spiritual conception of the world, but from the shreds of what are called actual (that is, actual in the physical sense), actual reality. Thus each man sees only as far as the end of his own nose, and blindly forms opinions upon what he can see with his eyes and grasp with mechanically acquired ideas, between birth and death; without having formed any concepts permeated with reality through being permeated by the Spiritual, by a grasp of Spiritual reality.
It is necessary over and over again to point out what it is that our age so desperately needs. For even history itself in our age is often no more than the mere shadow of ideas. How frequently what Fichte said to the German people is proclaimed abroad today! What he really said, however, can only be understood if one studies his whole life, that life so profoundly rooted in reality! That is why I tried in my book, The Riddle of Man, to represent the personality of Fichte, as he afterwards became, showing how closely from his childhood up he was connected with reality. I should indeed be glad if such words as these — as to the need for our thoughts and concepts to be permeated with reality — were not only listened to superficially but profoundly grasped, taken in, and really absorbed. Then only will a free and open vision, a psychic vision, be acquired for what our age so badly needs. Everyone of us should have this open soul-vision. If we do not each make it a duty to think over the facts touched upon here, we are not paying sufficient attention to the traffic going on today in the shadows and husks of words, nor to the fact that everything tends to lead people either into intoxicating concepts or to such as make them blind.
I hope you will not take what has been said today as propagandism of any sort, but look upon it as expressing existing facts. A man certainly must and ought to live with his times and when anything is described, he should not look upon it as all that is to be said on the subject; he should learn to strike the balance. It is quite natural that the world today should be confronted with impulses leading entirely to materialism. That cannot be prevented, it is connected with the deep needs of the age. But a counterbalance must be established. One very prominent means of driving man into materialism is the cinematograph. It has not been observed from this standpoint; but there is no better school for materialism than the cinema. For what one sees there is not reality as men see it. Only an age which has so little idea of reality as this age of ours, which worships reality as an idol in a material sense, could believe that the cinema represents reality. Any other age would consider whether men really walk along the street as seen at the cinema; people would ask themselves whether what they saw at such a performance really corresponded to reality. Ask yourselves frankly and honourably, what is really most like what you see in the street: a picture painted by an artist, an immobile picture, or the dreadful sparkling pictures of the cinematograph. If you put the question to yourselves quite honourably, you will admit that what the artist reproduces in a state of rest is much more like what you see. Hence, while people are sitting at the cinema, what they see there does not make its way into the ordinary faculty of perception, it enters a deeper, more material stratum than we usually employ for our perception. A man becomes etherically goggle-eyed at the cinema; he develops eyes like those of a seal, only much larger, I mean larger etherically. This works in a materialising way, not only upon what he has in his consciousness, but upon his deepest sub-consciousness. Do not think I am abusing the cinematograph; I should like to say once more that it is quite natural it should exist, and it will attain far greater perfection as time goes on. That will be the road leading to materialism. But a counterbalance must be established, and that can only be created in the following way. With the search for reality which is being developed in the cinema, with this descent below sense-perception, man must at the same time develop an ascent above it, an ascent into Spiritual reality. Then the cinema will do him no harm, and he can see it as often as he likes. But unless the counterbalance is there, people will be led by such things as these, not to have their proper relation to the earth, but to become more and more closely related to it, until at last, they are entirely shut off from the Spiritual world.