Ancient Myths, Their Meaning and Connection with Evolution
Dornach 8th January 1918.
We will try to go more fundamentally into those matters connected with the question which has just been raised. The question was: What impulses of human life must enter especially into the consciousness of man today so that a counterweight may be created to the principle of heredity that prevails almost exclusively — whether in science or in general life? This extraordinarily important question, however, can only be approached slowly and gradually. It is, in fact, most deeply connected with the contrast that I wished to bring before your spiritual eyes in showing how one can look towards the old Egyptian inscription of Isis: ‘I am the All. I am the Past, the Present, the Future; no mortal has yet lifted my veil’ — and how on the other hand one can take into one's consciousness the words which from the present on into the future must be the complementary saying: ‘I am Man. I am the Past, I am the Present, I am the Future. Every mortal should lift my veil.’
Now above all one must realize that in the age when that saying arose in the Egyptian culture, it was still plain and clear that when one spoke of ‘immortal’ one spoke actually of man himself. In the Egyptian culture, however, the mystery as a principle of the Mysteries, was a deeply rooted principle. The Egyptian who was acquainted with his civilization knew that what lives as ‘immortal’ within the soul, must be awakened. Yes, contrary to our custom of today, the Egyptian, as too the Greek, at least the Greek thinking in the sense of Plato, really only considered a man to be a partaker of immortality, who had consciously grasped the spiritual world. You can read the proof of this in my ‘Christianity as Mystical Fact’ where I quoted the often harsh-sounding expressions of Plato for the difference between men who seek to grasp in the soul the impulse of the immortal, the spiritual impulse, and those men who disdain this, who neglect to do so. If you think this over, you will easily see that the saying on the Statue at Sais actually meant: He who will never seek to grasp the spiritual life of the soul cannot lift the veil of Isis; he however can lift it, who grasps the spiritual life, who therefore (in the Egyptian sense, today it sounds rather different) as ‘mortal’ makes himself ‘immortal’. There was no intention of saying that the human being as such cannot lift the veil of Isis, but only that one who binds himself exclusively to the mortal element, one who will not approach the immortal element, cannot lift the veil. Later on when the Egyptian culture fell more into decadence the saying drifted into quite a wrong interpretation. As the priests transformed the Mystery-principle into a power-principle, they actually sought to instill into the laity — not the priesthood — that they, the priests, were the ‘immortals’ and those who were not priests were the ‘mortals’. That is to say, all those standing outside the priesthood cannot raise the veil of Isis. One might say that in the decadent age of Egyptian culture this was the interpretation: ‘I am the All; I am the Past, the Present, the Future; only a priest can lift my veil.’ And the priests moreover called themselves the ‘immortals’ in that age of decadence.
The use of this expression then came to an end for men living on the physical plane; it is only still in use in the French Academy where, following the Egyptian priest principle, specially important persons are made ‘immortals’. (One is reminded of it at this time because Bergson, the Schelling and Schopenhauer plagiarist, is about to be raised to the rank of Immortal by the French Academy. Such things are left over from ages in which they were understood, and flow into times where the words, concepts and ideas are far removed from their source.)
There are many things that must be said in the course of these observations and it might easily be thought that their purpose is merely to blame our times. I have often emphasized that that is not the case. What is said here is said to characterize the times not to criticize them. Where, however, truth is to be spoken it cannot be expected that no mention will be made of things that have simply got to be seen through, whether for their emptiness or for their harmfulness. In fact one is fully justified in saying: ought it then to deserve censure if one follows a certain example — naturally at a great distance — an example that cannot be sufficiently followed? It is not related in the Gospel that Christ-Jesus went into the Temple and flattered the merchants; it is something else that we are told — that he overthrew the tables and so on! In order really to promote what must be promoted it is essential to indicate what, in accordance with the facts, must be censured if the age is to progress. The sentimentality of painting everything in glowing colours must not find entry into the human soul, nor even be blazoned forth as universal human love.
If one takes this properly into consideration, it can be said on the one hand that we are now living in the materialistic age, to which is added abstraction in the sense we have come to know it, namely estrangement from reality; furthermore, all that must break into our age catastrophically is connected with this divorce from reality. On the other hand, however, it may also be said that compared with the various periods of post-Atlantean times — if we keep to these — our fifth period is in a certain respect and from certain aspects the greatest age, one that brings most of all to humanity, one that harbours within it immense possibilities for the evolution and existence of mankind. And precisely through what man develops very specially in this age as shadow-side of the spiritual life, he takes the way, and can, if he proceeds rightly, find the way into the spiritual world. In particular he can find the way to his true, his highest human goal. Evolutionary possibilities are in our time very great, greater from a certain aspect than they were in former phases of post-Atlantean evolution. In point of fact, something of immense significance occurred with the entry of this fifth post-Atlantean-period. We must transplant ourselves in a new way, my dear friends, into the connection of man with the whole universe, if we wish to give the right colouring, the right nuance of feeling to something we have often brought forward from various viewpoints. The clever ones in Philisterium, to be sure, call it ‘superstition’ if one speaks of a certain connection of man with concrete constellations of the cosmos. One must only understand this connection rightly. Superstition — what is superstition? The belief that the physical human being must in a certain way take his direction from the universe? We go by the clock, which we regulate from the position of the sun; every time we look at the clock we practise astrology. We have subconscious members of our human nature which take their direction from other constellations than those we go by when in physical life we set our clock by them. If things are understood rightly, talking of superstition has not the slightest sense, and so by way of illustration a portion of this World-Clock shall now be set before your soul. We will use it as a means of further studying the riddle that was first propounded.
Now when the time of the flooding of Atlantis, the submergence of Atlantis, which separates our post-Atlantean culture from the Atlantean culture, had passed by, the first post-Atlantean culture-epoch arose. This was a time which received its macrocosmic influence in such a way that the force which flowed through earthly life was the one which corresponds to the rising of the sun at the vernal equinox in the sign of Cancer. Thus we can say: when the sun entered the sign of Cancer at the vernal equinox the first post-Atlantean civilization began. We can actually call it the ‘Cancer-civilization’ — if the expression is not misunderstood. If we grasp things in their true light then we can say: when the sun rose in the Spring it stood in the sign of Cancer.
We have spoken in these observations of how there is always something in man which corresponds to what is out in the macrocosm. Cancer, the Crab, corresponds in man to the thorax. So that, speaking macrocosmically one can characterize this first, ancient Indian culture by saying that it took its course while the vernal equinox of the Sun was in Cancer. If one would characterize it microcosmically one can say: it took its course when man for his knowledge, perception and view of the world stood under the influence of those forces which are connected with what comes to expression in the Crab, in the envelopment of his chest, in his chest-cuirass. As physical human beings today we are not able to enter into a perceptive and sensitive relation with the world through the forces that are in our ‘crab’. We have no possibilities of this today. If man can develop the forces that have an intimate relationship to his thorax, if, as regards the forces of his thorax he is sensitive to all that goes on in nature and in human life, then it is as if he came into direct touch with the outer world, with all that approaches him as elemental world. If we only take the relation of man to man — in this we touch upon what underlay the original Indian culture — in that early time a man who met another felt through the sensitivity of his thorax, as it were, what was the nature of the other. He felt how the other man could be sympathetic to him, or more or less antipathetic. He met the other man and learnt to know him. As he breathed the air in his neighbourhood, he learnt to know him. Yes, indeed, my dear friends, in many respects to its advantage, modern mankind knows nothing of this! But in the neighbourhood of every human being man naturally breathes differently. For in every man's neighbourhood one shares the air out-breathed by the other. Modern men have become very insusceptible to these things. During the first post-Atlantean culture, the Cancer-culture, this insensitivity did not exist. A human being could be sympathetic, antipathetic through his breathing. The thorax moved differently when the person was sympathetic or antipathetic. And the thorax was sensitive enough to be aware of its own movements.
Think, my dear friends, how one then actually perceived! One was aware of the others, but one was aware of them through something that took place in oneself. One perceived the inner nature through a process that one experienced inwardly as something bodily. That was during the ‘Cancer-culture’; I have used the illustration of one human being meeting with another. But the whole world was regarded in the same way. Thus arose the world-conception of this first post-Atlantean culture-epoch. A man breathed differently when he beheld the sun, when he beheld the dawn, the spring, the autumn, and he formed his concepts accordingly. And as modern humanity forms its abstract, its straw-like abstract, not even straw, but paper-abstract concepts of sun, moon and stars, growth and thriving, of everything imaginable, so, in the first post-Atlantean period, the Cancer-culture, mankind formed concepts which were felt in this direct way, as a co-vibrating of one's own ‘Cancer’, one's own thorax.
One can therefore say: if this represents the path of the sun and here the sun in spring stands in Cancer, then this is the
time when the human being too is in the Cancer-culture. In a special way every such Zodiacal constellation is related to a particular planet, is to be regarded as belonging to it. (This arises from reasons which we can perhaps mention presently but which are indeed known to most of you.) Cancer is to be regarded as belonging particularly to the moon. Since the forces of the moon work in quite a special way when it stands in Cancer, one says: the moon has its home, its house, in Cancer, its forces are there, and there they come to development very particularly.
Now just as in the human being the thorax corresponds to Cancer, so does the sexual sphere correspond to the planetary moon. In fact one can say that whereas on the one hand man was so susceptible, so receptive and sensitive in the first post-Atlantean epoch, all intimate concepts of the post-Atlantean world-conception which have come to light are concerned, precisely in the first post-Atlantean epoch, with the sexual sphere. At that time this was right, for a naïveté then existed which in later, corrupt ages was no longer there.
Then the sun entered the Sign of Gemini, the Twins, at the Vernal Equinox. And then as long as the Vernal Equinox continued to be in Gemini, we have to do with the second post-Atlantean culture-epoch, the original Persian. A relation with the macrocosmic Gemini is shown microcosmically in all that concerns man's symmetry, especially the symmetric relationship of the right hand and the left. There are of course other instances of our being symmetrical, for instance we see things only singly, with our two eyes. This state of symmetry, this co-operation of the left and the right, which is shown in particular in the two hands and arms, this corresponds in the macrocosm to the Twins, to Gemini.
Now, that which man takes into his life through the forces of the Gemini-sphere, the forces of his symmetry, to make into his world-conception — just as what I earlier characterized was taken in through the thorax in the first post-Atlantean time — is less closely connected with the immediate surroundings. The fact of being symmetrical connects man more with what lies distant from the earth, with what is not terrestrial, but celestial, cosmic. Hence in this second post-Atlantean age the close connection with the direct elemental surroundings of earth withdraws, there appears the Zarathustra culture. This Zarathustra culture turned towards the cosmos and what is to be found there of the Gemini nature — on the one hand to the Light-nature, on the other hand to the Darkness nature; the Twins-nature, this is connected with the forces which man expresses through his symmetry.
Just as the Moon has its house in Cancer, so has Mercury its house in Gemini (see Diagram 2). And just as in the first post-Atlantean epoch the force of the sex-sphere helped man, as it were, to reach that intimate relation with the surrounding world of which we have spoken, so in this second post-Atlantean epoch help was given from the Mercury-sphere, the sphere connected with the forces of the lower body. On the one hand man's forces pass away from the earth into the outer universe, but in this, as it were, man is helped by something still much tinged with atavistic forces, namely, by what is connected with the forces of his vascular, his digestive system. Man has not really a digestive system just for digesting, it is at the same time an instrument of knowledge. These things have only been forgotten. And real judgment — not the sagacity I have discussed lately — real discernment, the really deeper gift of combination which stands in connection with the objects, this does not proceed from the head, but from the lower body, and was of service to this second post-Atlantean period.
Then came the third; this was the age when the sun at the Vernal Equinox entered Taurus, the Bull. The forces which descend from the universe when the Sun at the Spring equinox stands in Taurus are connected microcosmically in man with all that concerns the region of the larynx, the forces of the larynx. Hence in this third post-Atlantean epoch the Egypto-Chaldean, the human being developed, as his special organ of knowledge, all that concerned the forces of the larynx. The feeling of relationship between the word and the object, particularly the things out in the universe, was an especially strong one in the third post-Atlantean time. Today in the age of abstractions one cannot form much idea of the intimate relation of what men knew of the cosmos through his larynx.
Again, the force which corresponds to Taurus was assisted through Venus, which has its house in the Bull (see Diagram 2). This corresponds in the microcosm, in man, to forces which lie between the regions of the heart and the stomach. In this way, however, what the third post-Atlantean epoch knew as the Cosmic-word, was intimately linked with man, inasmuch as he understood it through the Venus-forces which were in his own being.
Then came the Greco-Latin time, the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. The sun entered Aries, the Ram, at the Vernal Equinox. This corresponds to the head-region in man, the region of the brow, the upper head, the actual head-region. The time began in which man mainly sought to grasp the world through understanding and this relationship to the world brought him thoughts. Head-knowing is quite different from the earlier forms of knowing. In this epoch head-knowledge came to especial prominence. But in spite of the fact that the human head is a true copy of the macrocosm, precisely because in a physical sense it is this true copy, in a spiritual sense it is really of very little value. Forgive the remark — as physical head, the human head is not of very much value. And when man depends upon his head, he can really arrive at nothing else than a Thought-Culture. And so the Greco-Latin time, which as we have seen from other aspects laid special stress on the head, and brought man thus into a special relation with the universe, gradually evolved into an actual Head- and Thought-Civilization which ran its course and came to its end. So that from the 15th century onwards, as I pointed out yesterday, people no longer knew how to connect thinking with reality. This head-civilization, this Aries-culture, however, meant that observation of the universe was taken into the human being. And as regards the physical world it was the most perfected and complete. It is only what developed from it as a decadent condition that became materialistic. Man in this Aries-civilization formed a special relation to the surrounding world precisely through his head. It is particularly difficult today to understand the Greek culture — that of the Romans became more philistine and commonplace — when one does not realize, for instance, that the Greek had a different perception of concepts and ideas. I have dealt with this in my >The Riddles of Philosophy.
It was full of significance for this age that Mars has its house in Aries. The forces of Mars are those again, but in a different way, that are connected with man's head-nature. So that Mars, who at the same time gives man aggressive forces, particularly offered support to all that he developed as a relation to the surrounding world through his head-nature. In the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, which begins in the 8th century B.C. and ends in the 15th century A.D., those conditions were developed which one can describe as a Mars-civilization. The configuration of the different social structures spread over the earth arose in this age essentially through a Mars-culture, a warlike culture. Wars nowadays are behind the times. Although they may be more terrible than formerly, yet they are stragglers, out of date. We shall be speaking of this immediately.
Now the head of man with all its forces, purely as physical thinking-instrument, as instrument for physical thoughts, is an image of the starry heavens. Therefore thoughts in this fourth post-Atlantean time had still something macrocosmic in them, thoughts were not yet bound up with the earth. But think of the great revolution that now comes with the 15th century when the Aries-culture passes over to the Pisces (the Fishes) Culture. What the Pisces forces have become in the macrocosm are the forces in man that are connected with the feet. There is a transition from head to feet; the swing-over is an immense one. I was therefore able to say that if you went back with understanding into the time before the 14th century and read the alchemical and other writings so much despised today, you would see what deep, what vast insight there then existed into cosmic mysteries. But the whole human culture — human forces too — made a complete revolution. What man had formerly received from the heavens, he now received from the earth. This is what is shown us from the celestial constellations as the great swing-over that had been accomplished for man. And this is connected with the beginning of the material, the materialistic age. Thoughts lose their power, thoughts can easily become empty phrase in these times.
But now consider something else that is remarkable. As Venus has her house in Taurus, Mars his house in Aries, so in Pisces Jupiter has his house. And Jupiter is connected with the development of the human brow, forehead. Man can become great with this earth-culture in this fifth post-Atlantean epoch, precisely because in an independent human manner he can ennoble and grasp through the forces of his head that which was brought to him from the opposite side in earlier post-Atlantean periods. Hence Jupiter has to perform the same service to man in the fifth epoch as Mars had to perform in the fourth. And one could say that in a certain respect Mars was the rightful King of this world in the fourth post-Atlantean age. In the fifth he is not the rightful king of this world because nothing can really be attained through his forces in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch — in the sense of this fifth epoch. On the other hand what can make this epoch great must be brought about from the forces of the spiritual life, world-knowledge, world-conception. Man is shut off from the heavenly forces, he is confined in the materialistic period. But in this fifth post-Atlantean age he has the greatest possibility of making himself spiritual. No age has been so favourable to spirituality as this fifth epoch. Courage must only be found to drive the money-changers out of the Temple. Courage must be found to confront with the real, abstractions and things estranged from reality, to set against them full reality and therewith the spiritual reality.
Those who have read the constellations of the stars have also always known that certain help comes from particular planets for the various sections in the path of the sun. With a certain justification to each of these constellations — Moon-Cancer, Mercury-Gemini, Venus-Taurus, Mars-Aries, Jupiter-Pisces — have been assigned three decanates, as they are called. These three decanates represent those planets which have the mission, during a particular constellation, of very especially intervening in destiny, while the others are less active. Thus the decanates of the first post-Atlantean age, the Cancer-age, are Venus, Mercury, Moon; the decanates during the Gemini-age: Jupiter, Mars, Sun; the decanates during the Taurus-age: Mercury, Moon, Saturn; the decanates during the Aries-age: Mars, Sun, Venus. And the decanates during our age, the Pisces epoch, are very characteristically those forces which can serve us most, according to the celestial-clock: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars. Mars — here not in the same service as he had when he was in his house, when he went through Aries, but Mars now as representative power for human strength. But in the outer planets, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars you see what is connected with the human head, the human countenance, the human word-formation. Thus all that is connected with spirituality for this life between birth and death — we will speak next time of the other life between death and a new birth — is especially serviceable in this epoch. This epoch therefore is the one containing the greatest spiritual possibilities. In no age was it granted to men to do so much wrong as in this, since in none could one sin more deeply against the inner mission of the time. For if one lives with the age, then through the Jupiter force one transforms the force coming from the earth into a spiritually free humanity. And at one's disposal are the best, the finest powers of man which he develops between birth and death: the Saturn- Jupiter- and Mars-forces.
The World-Clock, my dear friends, stands favourably for this epoch, but this must give no occasion for fatalism.
This must not cause people to say: Well let's leave ourselves to World-destiny, everything is sure to be all right... rather is it to be the cause, if a man will — but he must will — of his finding endless possibilities just in our age. Only, meanwhile, men do not as yet will.
But it is always unfounded to say: Well, what can I do by myself? The world takes its course ... Certainly, my dear friends, such as we are now, the world does not pay much attention
to us today. But something else is the point. The point is that we are not to say, as the men of thirty-three years ago said — that they wouldn't bother themselves about anything! That is why things have become what they now are. The question in our time is that each for himself should begin to wish to escape from abstraction, to lay aside what is foreign to reality and so on, and to seek, each for himself, to approach the real and get beyond abstractions.
One must approach from such far-lying concepts, my dear friends, if one is to develop the important subject that is to occupy us — discussion of, so to speak, the becoming older of man, the going-towards-death, just as much as the originating-from birth, the coming-from-birth. Whereas today, pedagogy, practical education of children, proceeds entirely from recognizing that the child is born and develops as child, the time must come in which the child learns what it means to become older. But these things cannot be so simply elucidated, and so one must bring the ideas from far away. For one can say:
In order to overcome that estrangement from reality which today is the signature of the time, above all it is necessary for men to develop the will to attentiveness, the will to set Jupiter in motion. Jupiter is precisely the force that makes a perpetual call on our attentiveness. Men are so happy today if they need not be attentive, if they can resemble the sleeping Isis — I have purposely spoken of the sleeping Isis! The greatest part of mankind is sleeping through this present time and feels itself very, very well in so doing, for men hammer out concepts and stop short at these, and will not develop attention. The important thing to do is to examine the relationships of life. And the difficult years in which we are living must above all get us away from what has weakened human civilization for so long — inattentiveness, absence of will — and make us look into world conditions. It is not enough, my dear friends, merely to skim lightly over things.
It might easily seem, for instance, that I have spoken again and again from all possible aspects of the harmfulness of Wilsonianism from some subjective urge. It is from no subjective urging, but it is actually necessary today to point the way from countless illusionary ideas into the direction in which attention must be unfolded. We learn by the events of the time; if we sharpen our attentiveness we learn precisely from the events of today an immense amount of what we need in order to understand the great impulses which solely and alone can lead mankind out of the calamities into which it has brought itself. One must put certain questions to oneself if one is to be attentive to things. It is not the point to have some general view of something, but how one sees it, how one is able to put questions regarding the outer world. Spiritual Science has also this practical significance, that it gives us the impulse of questioning, of putting questions.
You see, my dear friends, that one reads nowadays of the so-called Peace negotiations of Brest-Litowsk. You know that various people are taking part in them. The chief people from Russia taking part — to single that out — are Lenin, Trotsky, a certain Herr Joffe and a certain Herr Kameneff, whose real name is Rosenfeld. Trotsky's name is Bronstein; Joffe is a rich trader from Cherson. Those are the principal negotiators. It is not uninteresting — but even important perhaps — to turn one's attention to the fact that for Herr Rosenfeld-Kameneff, it is only what the outer exoteric world calls pure chance that his head is still upon his shoulders. His head could long since have been sundered from his shoulders. For in November 1914, all sorts of delegates were arrested in Russia. One read about it at the time and knew of it in other ways. These delegates were imprisoned because they were accused of friendship with Lenin, who was abroad in a place not far from here. They believed at that time in Russia that Lenin had said ‘Of all evils that can happen to Russia in this war the fall of Czardom is the least.’ And so a number of delegates who were known to have communications with Lenin through letters and so on, were indicted. But at that time it was impossible to get hold of them. To be sure, all sorts of patriotic, Russian patriotic, words were spoken. Words like these were spoken: ‘Over the heads and mangled bodies of our fighters, there are traitors who are in connection with the shameful Lenin in Switzerland’ — and so on. Then further proceedings took place in February 1915. Again a number of persons were accused, among them a certain Petrowski, among them also a certain Kameneff, alias Rosenfeld. Kameneff, in especial, counted among the accused at that time as the real Russian traitor-type, as a very particularly abominable fellow. And as the proceedings started, there was a general belief that it would not be long before his head ... would be off his shoulders. But Kameneff-Rosenfeld could bring forward proofs at that time that in all questions of the war, he had always taken a different stand from Lenin; so too, Petrowski; that they had no really serious friendship with Lenin. Kameneff-Rosenfeld could prove in particular that he had never wished for the victory of Germany, that a German victory could only be desired by un-Russian crafty comrades like Lenin with foreign interests, who, while they feel themselves too weak or too lazy, await the triumph of freedom from the sword of German generals. Those are the words that were spoken at these proceedings. And a certain Kerenski, who later played another role, was assigned to Messrs. Petrowski and Kameneff as counsel, advocate. He was the defender of Kameneff in that lawsuit, and he got him off. The charge against both Petrowski and Kameneff-Rosenfeld was of high-treason and treason against the country, but Kerenski could get them off and in his speech are to be found the fine words ‘The accused were very far from the plan to stab in the back those who are ready to die for the Fatherland, they resisted no other intrigue so strongly as the one proceeding from Lenin's secret confederacy.’ Owing to the fact that Kerenski's oratory and the other things that could be brought forward supplied proof that Petrowski and Kameneff had nothing in common with Lenin's views, they came out of it all with fairly sound skins. Petrowski is now the Minister of the Interior in the Government of Lenin and Kameneff is together with Herr Joffe the most important negotiator at Brest-Litowsk.
I am quoting these particular stories, my dear friends, and could relate hundreds and hundreds of similar ones! But it is very important to look at actualities; that is what I wished to say. And in order to get to know actualities one must observe the men who have to do with them — if indeed these things men are taking part in are actualities. It is vastly convenient to stand back and say: Yes, negotiations are going on at Brest-Litowsk between Russia and the Central Powers! That is abstraction, that is no actuality. One only approaches the real when one has the will to pay attention, to look really into the concrete. I wanted to bring the matter forward merely as an example to show that it is also necessary to study present-day history. Everyone today talks about current events, but how little is really known of the events of today, how little people actually know of what is going on, how little people even guess at what takes place; This is really astounding, and can only be understood through the unbelievable way in which our intelligence is trained. In fact our intelligence is trained in such a way that science misleads it on every hand to form judgments in the way I have described: If I have one coin, then I have one coin; if I have two coins, then I have none, I have nothing! If there is one tombstone of Till Eulenspiegel, then he can have lived; if, however, there are two tombstones with an owl and a looking-glass, then Till Eulenspiegel did not live! If I want to make an electricity experiment in the Physics classroom, I must carefully dry all the machines with warmed cloths so that nothing may be damp, for otherwise neither the ordinary electrical machine nor the inductive machine would obey me, nor anything else. But then immediately afterwards I relate: there out of the cloud — which in any case is thoroughly wet and which no Professor can have wiped with dry cloths — issues the lightning — and so could one go on. Have I not again and again given examples of how one person repeats what another says; no one examines it! Thus, for instance, one can very well hear: the fundamental principle of modern Physics is the conservation of energy, of force. That is to be traced back to Julius Robert Mayer. Although physicists and nature-researchers and other learned men proclaim him today a great hero, Julius Robert Mayer was once put in a lunatic asylum because he had published ‘absurd trash’, had claimed to have discovered a new principle. He was indeed really incarcerated in a lunatic asylum! The great credit due to Julius Robert Mayer has gone in particular to a University Rector, but I will not stress this further; it often comes up, as you know. What I will stress is this: again and again one sees ‘The Conservation of Energy — Julius Robert Mayer discovered it’. No one re-reads, but each one re-says what has been said. In Julius Robert Mayer's work nothing at all is stated in the form, in the definite form, in which the energy-principle is represented today, but it exists there in quite a different formulation, in fact in a reasonable formulation!
Another example may be considered which lies near our subject — Dr. Schmiedel has given me a magazine in which they support Goethe's ‘Farbenlehre’. Two learned gentlemen assert that Goethe knew nothing of the Fraunhofer lines: Dr. Schmiedel has put together four columns, purely of passages from Goethe in which he speaks of the Fraunhofer lines! But the learned gentry talk, pass judgment on the range of Goethe's optical knowledge, and let flow into such judgments — ‘he knew nothing of the Fraunhofer Lines.’ They tell people impudent falsehoods, for naturally today in this ‘authority-free’ time, what a ‘learned’ man says is just as much a gospel for a large number of people as for many, many politicians what Mr. Woodrow Wilson says is a gospel. Thus in our present time it means a good deal if someone simply states: Goethe did not know of the Fraunhofer lines! Nor does it help much to prove it to people; for soon a third person says it and then a fourth. For the inattention, the thoughtlessness with which people live today is indeed great, while the will to look at the concrete truth is not forthcoming. Mankind moreover is much too much inclined to take a lively interest in abstractions, to become enthusiastic through abstractions.
With this I have only introduced what is yet to occupy us — the important principle which must enter into the culture of our time, and our pedagogy, the principle of man's becoming old, the becoming old of his physical body, which is linked with the becoming young of his etheric body. Of this then we will speak next time in all detail.