14 February 1918, Munich
AT THE PRESENT time of severe trials it must be quite natural to anyone who has a heartfelt interest in the endeavors of anthroposophical spiritual science to reflect upon the relations existing between the fact that this spiritual-scientific movement started at the beginning of the twentieth century to send its impulses into the evolution of mankind and the other fact that mankind of the present age has been engulfed by catastrophic events. How catastrophic these events are for mankind has not yet been fully understood, for people are accustomed today to a life without the spirit. To live without the spirit, however, is to live superficially; and to live superficially causes human beings to sleep away the important impressions of the events taking place around them. To sleep through important events is a special characteristic of the human being of the present age. There are few people today who arrive at an adequate conception of the severity and incisiveness of present-day events. Most of them live from day to day. If an attempt is made to speak of a time which might come later, people — and in many instances precisely those upon whom matters depend — reject it most violently. If among its many tasks spiritual science succeeds in making the human soul more energetic, more awake, it will have fulfilled an important one for our present time. Spiritual-scientific concepts demand a greater exertion of thinking, a greater intensity of feeling than is employed in other concepts, particularly those current in our time.
It is important today to become acquainted with the concepts of spiritual research which can direct and guide us in the understanding of the present age in the most comprehensive sense. Today I shall develop some fundamental concepts upon which we shall build ideas in our next lecture which will throw light upon important factors of the present age. I shall proceed from more general thoughts, touching upon the personal in man, which, from a certain point of view, will furnish the foundation for our subsequent spiritual-scientific considerations.
My dear friends, in the course of our spiritual-scientific studies we must, again and again, emphasize the fact that a change in our state of consciousness runs through our life between birth or conception and death: the change between sleeping and waking. In a general sense, we know the difference between sleeping and waking; in a more intimate way, only spiritual-scientific perception is able to demonstrate to the human soul the true difference between sleeping and waking. In ordinary life we believe that we sleep from falling asleep until awakening, and that we are awake from awakening until falling asleep. But this is only an approximate truth. In reality, the boundary between sleeping and waking is incorrectly drawn. For the state of dull consciousness, which in many respects is unconsciousness, through which we pass as the sleep state extends into our day life; we are also within this state with a part of our being between awakening and falling asleep. We are by no means awake with our entire being between awakening and falling asleep; we are awake only with a part of it and another part continues to sleep even though we consider ourselves to be awake. We are always, in a certain respect, sleeping human beings. It is really so. We are really awake only in regard to our perception and our thinking. By perceiving the external world through our senses, by hearing, seeing, and perceiving. We are completely awake there. We are also awake, although to a lesser degree, in thinking, visualizing. When we form thoughts, when visualizations arise in us, when memories emerge out of the dark recesses of our soul life, we are awake in regard to the processes which we experience. We are awake in regard to the processes of perception and thinking.
You know, however, that besides perception and thinking, our soul life contains feeling and willing. In regard to feeling we are not awake, even though we believe we are. The degree, the intensity of consciousness we have while feeling equals the degree and intensity of consciousness we have while dreaming. And just as dreams arise as pictures out of the unconscious recesses of our souls, so do feelings arise as forces in us. In feeling we are awake to the same degree as in dreaming; the only difference is this: we carry our dreams over from sleep into ordinary waking consciousness, remembering them and thus distinguishing them from the waking state, while in the case of feelings all this takes place simultaneously. Feeling itself is being dreamt in us, but we accompany our feeling with our conceptions. Feeling is not within the conceptions, but we look from conceptions upon feeling just as we look back, after awakening, upon the dream. And since we do this, simultaneously in the case of feeling, we are not aware of the fact that we have only the conception of feeling in actual consciousness, while feeling itself remains in the dream region, like any dream.
And will itself, my dear friends! What do you know of the process occurring when you resolve to take hold of a book and your hand then actually seized the book? What do you know of that which takes place between your conscious thought: “I want to take hold of the book,” and the mysterious processes then occurring in your organism? We know what we think about willing, but willing itself remains unknown to us in ordinary consciousness. Whereas we “dream away” our feeling, we “sleep away” the actual, essential content of our willing.
Through perception and thinking we learn to know a world around us which we designate as the physical-sense world; through feeling and willing we do not learn to know the world in which we exist as feeling and willing human beings. We are constantly in a super-sensible world; the forces of our feeling and willing originate in this super-sensible world, just as our perception and thinking originate in the physical world. We have no bodily organs for feeling and willing; we do have bodily organs for perception and thinking. Many physiologists believe that organs for feeling and willing exist; this shows that they do not know what they are talking about. Physiologists who really think do not believe this.
What I have described above is the ordered state in which we live between birth and death, a state in which we are awake in regard to perception and thinking, but asleep in regard to feeling and willing.
The condition is different between death and a new birth; it is reversed, in a certain sense. We begin then to be awake in regard to our feeling and willing, and we sleep away our perception, our thinking, although sleep is a different state in the world in which we then dwell with our souls. From what I have just stated you will see that the so-called dead are different from the so-called living in that the so-called living sleep away feeling and willing which constantly stream through their being; the dead stand within this feeling and willing. It will not be difficult for you to understand that the dead dwell in the same world in which we dwell as the so-called living. We are separated from the dead merely because we do not perceive the world in which they live and weave. The dead are always around us; we are surrounded also by those being who live without having physically incarnated. We only fail to perceive them.
You need only form the conception of a human being sleeping in a room: objects are around him, but he does not perceive them. The fact that something is not perceived is no proof that it is not there. In regard to the world of the dead we are in exactly the same position in which we are in regard to the world of physical beings while we sleep. We live in the same world with the dead and with the higher hierarchies: they are in our midst, but we are separated from them merely through the nature of our consciousness.
My dear friends, from this it follows that the human being perceives and understands only a part of that reality within which he actually exists. If the human being were to grasp full reality, his knowledge would be quite different from what it is today. This knowledge, then, would be comprised not only of the forces that come from the kingdom of nature known to us, but also of the forces of the higher spiritual beings and the forces that come from the realm of the so-called dead. Today these facts are considered extremely grotesque by the great majority of people. Yet, for ever wider circles of mankind and especially for those whose concern it is to be interested in the evolution and progress of human life these ideas should become a matter that must be penetrated by cognition. For right up to our time, more or less, the human being was guided by dark, unknown forces in regard to all that he cannot perceive in his surroundings. Guidance by these obscure, unknown forces has more or less ceased in our age. (We shall have to speak about this in our next lecture.) Today the human being must enter into conscious relationship with certain forces which reach over into our world from the realm of the so-called dead. — It will not be easy to make human beings conscious of these things to the degree that is necessary in order to put the real, the true in the place of the fantastic inadequateness which pervades our age and which has brought about such great catastrophes. In regard to this I should like to draw your attention to only one point, on fact:
Among the many so-called “scientific” courses there are historical studies. History is taught and studied in schools. But what is this history? Any well-informed person who is acquainted with the literature of earlier times knows that what today is called the science of history is not much more than a hundred years old. I do not want to say more about this. People consider and write history with the same thoughts and concepts they employ in external ordinary life when observing nature. But no one asks whether it is permissible to observe historical life in the same way one observes external nature. It is not permissible. For the historical life of mankind is governed by impulses which cannot be grasped with the concepts of our waking consciousness. Anyone who is really able to observe history knows that we are governed by impulses in historical life which, for ordinary consciousness, are only accessible to the dream state. Just as mankind dreams away the life of feeling, so it dreams away the impulses of history. If we attempt to observe the historical life of mankind with the concepts which are excellent for natural science, we cannot truly grasp it: we observe it only on its surface. What is it that is taught and studied as history in the schools? It is nothing more, in regard to real history, than the description of a corpse is in regard to the whole human being. History as it is taught today is the study of a corpse. The study of history must undergo a complete transformation. In the future it will only be possible to understand what works in history with inspired concepts, with inspiration. Then we shall have true history. Then we shall know what is in that governs mankind, what it is that works from historical life into social life.
My dear friends, what I am stating here has a deep significance. People think they understand social-historical life. They do not understand it, because they want to grasp it with the ordinary concepts of daily waking life. This does not become evident when history is written, for little seems to depend upon whether or not the facts are actually true. I should like to give you an example of this: We learn from history books that America was discovered in 1492. Generally speaking, this is correct; but from what is thus written in history books we form the conception that prior to 1492 America was completely unknown, as far as we may go back in history. But this is not the case. America was unknown for only a few centuries. Still in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries there existed a lively traffic between Iceland, Ireland and America. Medical herbs and other goods were imported into Europe from America. For certain reasons connected with the inner karma of Europe and the early role of Ireland, Rome made every possible effort to cut Europe off from America so that America would be forgotten. This effort on the part of Rome was not detrimental to European conditions at the time; it was well meant.
I only intend to show by this example that a fact need not necessarily be a historical fact; that we may be completely ignorant historically regarding an important matter.
To have historical knowing or to be historically ignorant in regard to the social life of mankind is, on the other hand, of great importance. How often today do we hear people say: we must think thus and so about this or that event because history teaches thus and so. Take modern literature, especially present-day magazines and newspapers and you will see how often the phrase is employed: “History teaches thus and so,” The human being partly sleeps away the historical events in the midst of which he lives, but he nevertheless forms a judgment about them or one is inculcated in him. The phrase: “history teaches thus and so” is very frequently heard, and at the beginning of the war, important men states what history taught them concerning the duration of the war. It was the honest conviction of the so-called “clever people” that, according to the general social and economic conditions of the earth, the war could not last longer than from four to six months! The outcome of this prophecy was similar to that of another historical prophecy made by a much greater spirit, to be sure, but which was formed by the ordinary conceptions of ever-day consciousness. Such conceptions cannot lay hold of history, because history is dreamt away, even partly slept away. It can only be grasped with great concepts. When Friedrich von Schiller became professor of philosophy at the University of Jena, he delivered his world-famous inaugural speech about the study of history. This was shortly before the outbreak of the French Revolution. He stated his conviction derived from history but gained with ordinary concepts. I am not quoting literally, but the following is what Schiller, who certainly was not an insignificant personality, propounded as his conviction: History teaches that many quarrels and wars occurred in ancient times, and from what took place then we can expect disharmony among the European peoples in the future. They will, however, consider themselves members of a great family and will no longer tear each other to pieces. — thus Friedrich von Schiller. Shortly thereafter in 1789, the French Revolution broke out. All that befell the European family of peoples in the nineteenth century, and what is happening now, so many years later, has certainly annihilated the co-called historical judgment of Schiller in a most thorough fashion.
History will only teach us something if we are able to penetrate it with inspired concepts. For the historical life of mankind is influenced not only by the so-called living, but by the souls of the dead, by the spirits with whom the so-called dead live, just as we live with the beings of the animal, plant, and mineral realms. Mankind attaches great value to mere phrases. But it must wean itself from this habit. It can do so only if it acquires true concepts, concepts permeated with reality. A very important concept is that which shows us that we are separated from the so-called dead only through our consciousness which is a sleeping consciousness in regard to the world of feeling and willing in which the dead surround us. It is a sleeping consciousness similar to the consciousness in which we dwell between falling asleep and awakening as regards the physical objects around us.
Clairvoyant consciousness confirms, step by step, that which has been characterized here in general terms.
The question, however, may arise: How is it that the human being knows nothing about the world in which he lives, through which he passes with every step of his life? Well, my dear friends, the very way in which clairvoyant consciousness offers concrete enlightenment concerning the intercourse with the so-called dead is the living proof of the fact that for ordinary consciousness the world in which the dead live must remain unknown. I need only relate some of the characteristic traits of this intercourse with the so-called dead which may take place with developed clairvoyant consciousness, and you will see from this why we know nothing in ordinary life about this intercourse with the dead. It is possible — although it is, in a certain respect, a very delicate matter — still, it is possible that the world of the dead may lay itself open to awakened consciousness, that the world of the dead may be perceived by the human being, that he may enter into conscious relationship with the individual dead person. The human being must, however, acquire a completely different consciousness if he wishes to enter into an actual and secure relation with the dead person. He must acquire a consciousness which is completely different form the one employed in the physical world. Let me describe here a few characteristic traits.
In the physical world we have certain habits in our relation to another human being. If I speak to someone here on the physical plane, ask him something, communicate something to him, I am conscious of the fact that the speech proceeds from my soul, through my speech organs, and passes over to him. I am conscious of the fact that I speak. I am conscious of this fact also in regard to external perception. And if this other human being here on the physical plane answers me or communicates something to me, then I hear his words, his words sound out to me.
This is not the case in fully conscious intercourse with the dead. (In half-conscious intercourse the matter is somewhat different, but I am speaking here of fully conscious intercourse.) In fully conscious intercourse with the dead matters are reversed. They are quite different from what we expect. When I confront the dead person, he speaks in his soul what I intend to ask him or what I wish to communicate to him: this sounds out to me from him. And what he intends to say to me sounds out of my own soul. We have to become accustomed to this, my dear friends. We must accustom ourselves to hearing what the other person says as sounding out of the spiritual outer world. This is so different from everything we are accustomed to experience here in the physical world that it does not occur to us at all to take any stand in regard to it. For just consider the following: At one time or another in life something speaks within your soul. You certainly will ascribe it to yourself. The human being is in certain respects egotistical, and if something arises within his soul he is inclined to ascribe it to his own imagination, to his own genius. We only learn to recognize through clairvoyant consciousness that much that arises in our souls is in truth told us by the dead. The realm of the dead constantly plays into our will, into our feeling. Something arises in us which we may call a good idea: in truth it is a communication from the dead. We also are unfamiliar with the other aspect of the matter and pay no attention to what may appear, out of the grey spiritual environment, as if it were our own thoughts surrounding us. If a human being can be sufficiently objective in regard to his own thoughts to experience them as if they were hovering around him, then the dead understand these thoughts.
It is true that the human being, even in ordinary consciousness, is in connection with the dead, but he does not become aware of it because he is not able to interpret the facts which I have just described. For we must realize that besides sleeping, waking and dreaming, we have two other states of consciousness. We have two other, extraordinarily important states of consciousness, but we pay not attention to them in ordinary life. We fail to pay attention to them for a certain reason which you will appreciate at once when I name these two states of consciousness: we have the state of falling asleep and the state of waking up. They are of short duration and pass so quickly that we pay no attention to their content. But the most important things occur at the moment of falling asleep and the moment of waking up. If we learn to know the real nature of these two moments, we all, in a certain respect, acquire the right concepts concerning the relationship of the human being to the world in which the dead co-exist with us.
Man is constantly in connection with the world of the dead, and this connection is especially vivid at the moment of falling asleep and the moment of waking up. Clairvoyant consciousness shows that at the moment of falling asleep the human being is especially fitted to ask questions of the dead, give information to the dead; in general, to turn to the dead. At the moment of waking up the human being is especially fitted to receive communications, messages from the dead. He receives them rapidly and since he wakes up directly afterwards, they pass him by quickly and the tumult of waking life drowns them out. Not so long ago, more primitive people in their atavistic state knew these facts and they hinted at them; but under the influence of our materialistic culture such things perish even in remote regions. Anyone who grew up among the old peasants in rural districts knows that one of their fundamental rules was that on awakening in the morning one should remain quiet for a moment and refrain from looking out of the window into the light. These people tried to protect what worked upon the soul at the moment of waking from the rush and turmoil of waking life; they tried to remain quiet for a moment in their darkened room and not look out of the window immediately upon awaking.
It is not too difficult to observe that the moments of waking up and of falling asleep are of a quite special character. But in order to become aware of such things we need a certain wakefulness of thinking. Wakefulness of thinking is a faculty which has never been lacking to such an extent as it is today. I could give you grotesque examples of this. Let me quote one of the banal examples that permeate every-day life and can be met at every turn, as it were.
A few days ago I noticed an advertisement in a newspaper which filled about one eighth of the page. It advertised the wide-spread Memory Course of a man called Poehlmann. It stated that only by employing the method of Herr Poehlmann was it possible to gain influence over other people. No other method would do. I am not speaking now about whether it is permissible or not, whether it is right or wrong to try to “gain influence” over other people; this does not concern us at the moment. I am drawing your attention to the form of the advertisement. It stated: Certain people pretend to be able to gain influence over others by means of personal magnetism or by strengthening this or that force in human nature. It can easily be proved that these people do not speak the truth, for not one will be able to say that he succeeded through his personal influence in making Mr. Rothschild, or any other rich man, give him a million dollars. Since it is a proven fact that this did not occur — and it certainly would have been tried had there been a chance of success — it is also a proven fact that no influence may be gained over people by this method. Influence may only be gained on the path of science and education. — And then the method of Poehlmann is described.
Now we know that quite a number of people will become convinced through this advertisement that all other methods of trying to influence people are useless, for, has it not been proved that they were unable to influence Mr. Rothschild to leave them his millions? But how many people are there, you may ask yourselves, who read this advertisement and at once raise the objection: does this Poehlmann have students who succeeded in gaining Rothschild's millions? You need only ask yourselves to how many people this obvious thought will occur!
This is a trivial example, but an example which shows you how thinking fails to wake up in regard to what we read. I have chosen this example, first, because of its every-day character, and secondly, because it goes without saying that among those present there is nobody who would fail to observe that even this Poehlmann did not succeed in getting the millions. It is a foregone conclusion that all those who would be taken in by such an advertisement are not present here, and out of politeness I do not mention an example which could appeal to any of my present hearers! But what I want to say is that from morning to night, people read these things. It occurs in countless instances. They say: We pay not attention to them. Is that really so? The other day I read a speech in which the following sentence occurred: “Our relationship with a certain country is the core which must give the direction to our politics in the future.” Just imagine the construction of this thought: a “relationship' is a “core” which becomes a “direction”! People who think like this are in a position to do all kinds of things in life! But we do not notice the connections that exist between such crippled thinking and the public life.
It is necessary today to pay attention to this lack of wakefulness in thinking which is a mark of our culture. To have thoughts that can be carried out: this is the first demand if we wish to become aware of the revelations of the moments of going to sleep and of awakening.
I once listened to an address by a very famous professor of literature and history; it was his inaugural address and he tried his best. He formulated all kinds of literary-historical questions and at the conclusion he said: You see, gentlemen, I have led you into a forest of question marks. — I pictured it to myself: a forest of question marks? Just think: a forest of question marks!
Only he who is accustomed to carrying through the concepts which arise in him, that is, he who develops wakefulness in his thinking, is prepared to pay attention to such things as the moments of waking up and falling asleep. However, even though something is not perceived, it nevertheless exists. And the intercourse between the human being and the dead exists and is especially strong at the moment of falling asleep and at the moment of waking up. In reality, every human being poses countless questions and gives information to his beloved dead at the moment of falling asleep and receives messages and answers from them at the moment of waking up. This intercourse with the dead, however, may be cultivated in a certain way. We have previously described several ways of cultivating it; today we shall add the following:
There is a certain difference in regard to the thoughts which will lead us to a relation with a dead person at the moment of falling asleep; not every thought is equally suitable. Anyone who does not merely lead a sensual-egotistical life will, out of a healthy feeling, have the longing not to interrupt the relation which karma has brought him with certain personalities who have now passed through the portal of death. He certainly will frequently connect his thoughts with these personalities. And the thoughts which we connect with our conception of the departed personalities may produce an actual intercourse with the dead; even though we are unable to pay attention to what happens at the moment of falling asleep. Certain thoughts, however, are more favorable than others for such an intercourse. Abstract thoughts, thoughts which we form with a certain indifference, even perhaps only from a sense of duty, are little suited to pass over to the dead at the moment of falling asleep. But thoughts, concepts, which arise from the experience of a special interest which united us in life are well suited to pass over to the dead. If we remember the dead person in such a way that we do not merely think of him with abstract thoughts and cold concepts, but recall a moment when we grew warm at his side, when he told us something dear to our heart; if we remember the moments we have lived through with him in a community of feeling, and in a community of willing; if we remember the times we undertook and decided something together which we both valued and which led us to a common action — in short, something which made our hearts beat as one; if we recall vividly this mutual beating of our hearts: then all this colors our thought of the departed one so it is able to stream over to him at our next moment of falling asleep. It does not matter whether we have this thought at nine in the morning, at noon, or at two in the afternoon. We may have it at any time during the day: it will remain and stream over to the dead person at the moment of our falling asleep.
At the moment of waking up we may, in turn, receive answers, messages from the departed one. It does not necessarily have to be at the moment of waking up that this arises in our soul, since we may be unable to pay attention to it then; but in the course of the day something may arise in our soul in the form of a good idea, an inspiration, we might say, if we believe in such things. But also in regard to this certain conditions are more favorable, others less so. Under certain conditions it is easier for the dead to find access to our soul. The conditions are favorable if we have acquired a clear conception of the being of the departed one, if we were so deeply interested in his being that it really stood before our spiritual eye. You will ask: Why does he say that? I someone was close to us we certainly have a conception of his being! — I do not believe this at all, my dear friends. People pass one another in our time and know each other very, very little. This may not alienate us from the other being here in the physical world; but it alienates us from the being who dwells in the world of the dead. Here in the physical world there are numerous unconscious and subconscious forces and impulses which bring people close to one another, even though they do not want to learn to know each other. It is supposed to happen in life, as some of you probably have read, that people may be married for decades and yet have very little knowledge of one another! In such cases the impulses which bring these people together do not rest upon mutual knowledge. Life is permeated everywhere by subconscious or unconscious impulses. These subconscious impulses bind us together here on earth, but they do not bind us to the being who has passed through death before us. In order to effect such a connection it is necessary that we have received into our soul something through which the being of the departed one lives vividly in us. And the more vividly it lives in us, the easier it is for that being to have access to our soul; the easier it is for him to communicate with us.
This is what I wanted to tell you about the intercourse, constantly occurring, between the so-called living and the so-called dead. Every one of us is in constant intercourse with the so-called dead, but the reason we do not know it is that we are unable to observe sufficiently the moment of falling asleep, the moment of waking up. I have told you all this in order to give a more concrete form to your connection with the super-sensible world in which the dead dwell. This connection will take on a still more definite shape if we consider the following relationships:
The young die and the old die. The death of younger people is different from the death of older people in its relation to the living human beings they leave behind. Such things can only be discussed if it is possible to focus one's attention upon definite individual conditions in this field. I describe this not out of a general knowledge, but as a summary of what has actually occurred in definite individual cases. If clairvoyant consciousness observes what happens when children die, when young people leave their parents and family and pass through the portal of death, and if one learns to know how these souls live on, the knowledge which thus arises may be summarized in the following words:
The consciousness of these young people that have passed through the gate of death may be characterized by saying that they are not lost to the living; they remain here, they remain in the neighborhood, in the being of those they have left behind. For a long time these young people do not separate from those they have left behind; they remain within their sphere — The matter is different in the case of older people that have died. It is easiest to express these things epigrammatically. The souls of these human beings who have died in the later years of their lives do not lose, on their part, the souls of those who have stayed behind. Thus, while those who have remained behind do not lose the younger souls, the older people, after having passed through death's door, do not lose the souls of the living in spite of the latter's being here on earth. They take along with them, as it were, what they wish to have from us. It is easy for them to do so; while the souls of younger people can have what they need from us only if they remain more or less within the sphere of the survivors. And this is just what they do.
It is possible to study these relationships in a way that will ascertain the facts I have just described. The study will, of course, have to be carried out with clairvoyant consciousness. If clairvoyant consciousness studies grief and the pain of separation, it will find that these are two completely different states. Human beings do not know this, but if one observes the grief, the sorrow in the soul of a person over a deceased child, one will find it something quite different from the grief and sorrow which may be observed if an older person has died. Although human beings do not know it, these inner soul states are fundamentally different.
It is a strange fact: If parents mourn a child that has died at an early age, this mourning, has it its actual content and deeper impulse, is only a reflection in the soul of the parents of what the child experiences. The child has remained here and what he feels penetrates into the souls of those who mourn him, calling forth an impulse. It is a pain of compassion; it is in reality the pain or sorrow of the child himself which the parents experience; of course, they ascribe it to themselves, but it is a compassionate grief. Do not misunderstand me, my dear friends; we must take the expression I am going to use in a reasonable sense, without attaching to it any secondary meaning. We might say: If a young person dies we are possessed by the pain from the departed one's soul life (—we are “possessed” in a normal fashion which is not detrimental), he lives on in us, and what expresses itself as pain in his life in us.
It is different when we mourn an older person who has left us. There a pain appears which is not the reflection of what lives in the departed one, for he is really able to receive what lives in our soul; he himself does not lose us. It is impossible for us to be possessed by his pain, by his feelings, for he has no longing to penetrate us with his feelings, for he has no longing to penetrate us with his feelings, because he draws us after him. He does not lose us. Therefore this pain, this mourning is an egotistical path, an egotistical mourning. This is not meant as a reproof, for such pain and mourning are justified; but it is necessary to differentiate between the two kinds of mourning.
After having thus spoken about mourning our departed ones and the way we continue to live with them, let us now proceed in our considerations to the dead themselves. Since the relation to a person that has died in youth is so different from the relation to a person that departed later in life, you will readily understand that there must be a difference in the way of commemorating them. In regard to a child we shall choose the right ritual, the right commemoration, we shall bear him in our memory in the right way, if we take into consideration that the child has remained with us, that he lives with us and that he loves to become familiar with that which we would have been able to impart to him, had he lived. Experience shows that children after their death long to find in the commemoration which we offer then, general human relationships; they long to find in the funeral service that which is of general interest and has little to do with special interests. Therefore, the Roman-Catholic funeral service is most suitable for children; it is a general ritual, valid for everyone in the same way. A child that has died would like to have a funeral service that is of a general human character, valid for everyone, and not for him alone.
The Protestant funeral service during which a speech is made, entering upon the special, individual life relationships of the departed one is most suitable for the commemoration of an older person who has died. And if we wish to foster the memory of an older departed person, it is best to cling to details of his life which were characteristic of him and to look in his special, individual life for the thought with which we celebrate his memory.
From this you see, my dear friends, that, properly considered, spiritual science cannot remain mere theory. It shows us something of the relationships which exist in the world from which we are separated merely through the fact that we dream away our feelings and sleep away our will impulses. It speaks of the worlds within which we exist with feeling and will. If we take hold of spiritual-scientific thoughts with sufficient intensity, with proper energy, they will not remain thoughts but will act upon feeling and will. — Just imagine the fruitful effect of these ideas upon life! Clergymen who do not adhere to mere abstract theology will be helped by these ideas in conducting funeral services in the proper way and with the proper tact.
This is not surprising; for the world of which spiritual science speaks is the real world in which our feelings and our will impulses live. Thus, what spiritual science is able to give works, in turn, upon feeling and will. It works upon feeling if we develop our feelings in regard to the dead. But it must also work upon the will impulses. We should pay special attention to this in our time. For, my dear friends, if we were to trace the will impulses of the human beings of the present day, we would not come upon very deep regions of the human soul. It is imperative today that men look for spiritual impulses for their external life. As I have already said, people still reject this. But they will have to learn it; for this age will become the great task master for the generation that must live through it, the task master to a much greater degree than has been the case so far.
We shall link our next lecture to the concepts I offered to you today, which were concerned with the individual personal element, and shall then speak about the conditions of our present age from a truly spiritual-scientific viewpoint.