How Can Mankind Find the Christ Again?
V. The Change in the Human Soul Constitution
28 December 1918, Dornach
In the present group of lectures I have wanted particularly to indicate that the entire constitution of the human soul is undergoing transformation. This becomes evident to anyone who observes the evolution of humanity carefully from a spiritual scientific point of view, of humanity even in historical times, which is what we have been chiefly considering. People's way of comprehending their conception of the world, their impulses to act: everything pertaining to the human soul-constitution is changing in such a way that the slightest idea of it is beyond the understanding of external science. For science works in this realm with utterly inadequate means. Yesterday we tried to show that especially what may be called the center of human soul-life, real ego-consciousness, appears to more intimate observation to have been entirely different in ancient times from the ego-consciousness of later epochs, and that again from our present. I tried to characterize these differences by saying that in ancient times, particularly the pre-Christian, man's consciousness of self still possessed elements of reality, while in our own era, which involves principally the development of the consciousness-soul, there is only a reflection of the true ego in what we consciously call our ego. I have referred to this fact in public lectures by saying that a man of our time, especially if he thinks he is a philosopher, does not arrive at the truth because he is confused by a philosophic maxim that plays a great role in today's world view, a role that is becoming disastrous, namely, the maxim “I think, therefore I am.” This Augustinian and Descartian maxim is not true for present-day man. The true form should now be: “I think, therefore I am not.” A human being in our time should be fully conscious of the fact that in all he includes in the word “I” or “I am,” in all he holds in his consciousness when he observes his inner soul-being, he possesses only a reflection. This reflection even includes all the concepts directly connected with his ego, concepts that must be worked through by his ego. As humanity of this present age we no longer have anything of reality in our inner soul-life. The reality, our true being, only shines into us — I explained yesterday how it shines in — and what we bear within us is merely the reflection. This fact will only become clear when we inquire into the science of initiation and observe the difference between the way a human being in ancient times could penetrate into the supersensible worlds on paths of supersensible training, and the way this is accomplished in our day. We will then be able to see that as we move on from the present into the future the paths into the supersensible world will be completely different from those of ancient times. This is especially what I wanted to make clear yesterday.
Some time ago I pointed to the objective fact underlying this whole evolution. I pointed out that if we ask what impulses, what forces are active in the evolution of the earth and the evolution of humanity, we learn that certain divine- spiritual Beings are active whom the Bible calls the Creators, the Elohim. (One could just as well take their title from another source.) We call them the Spirits of Form. I have shown, however, from various points of view that these Spirits of Form have to a certain extent — if I may use a trivial expression — finished playing their role on behalf of the most important concerns of mankind, and that other spiritual beings have taken it over.
Anyone with sufficient feeling for this fact that presents itself to supersensible research, namely, that the time- honored Gods, or God, must now be replaced in human consciousness by other impulses, will realize that indeed very much has happened in the evolution of mankind, even during historical times. Such an inner transformation of the whole human consciousness as is now taking place, and which will become more and more apparent, has certainly never occurred within historical times. As you know, I am not inclined to agree with the oft-repeated phrase: we live in a time of transition. I have often remarked that anyone can say of any time that one lives in an age of transition; and if he fancies the notion, he can consider the transition he has in mind the most important in world evolution. That is not the meaning intended in what I have said. Any time is a time of transition, but the important thing is to know what is in transition, what is undergoing metamorphosis. From other points of view other transitions may have been more significant; but for the inner soul-life of man the transition to which I am now referring, directed toward our immediate future, is the one most fraught with meaning of any in historical times.
Let us consider this further from a somewhat different point of view. When we call to mind clearly the soul-constitution in the time of ancient Greece, ancient Egypt, ancient Chaldea, it appears first of all not to have had a twofold structure as does the soul of present-day man. Perhaps we would better say that a twofold structure is now in preparation; indeed, it is in vigorous preparation, and can already be recognized in objective facts. What was formerly a mingling of soul-forces, so to speak, that worked together in the human soul, has been dividing since the fifteenth century. To a critical observer of human evolution this is quite evident. The conceptual life and the will-life were much more closely united in former times than they are now. They will separate more and more. The conceptual life, which is absolutely all we can lay hold of with our present consciousness (the ordinary, not the clairvoyant consciousness), is nothing more than a reflection of reality; and this life of conceptions also comprises all that we can grasp of our ego. On the other hand, we experience our will-life as in sleep. A man is as unconscious of what actually pulsates in his will as he is of events during sleep; but just as he knows that he has slept, in spite of knowing nothing about himself during sleep, so he knows about his will with his ordinary consciousness even though he sleeps through everything that he wills. If you have a white surface that reflects light, with some black spots on it that do not reflect the light, you see the black spots too, even though they do not reflect the light. Similarly, if you follow your life in retrospect, not only do you see your waking periods, but the periods of sleep appear in the course of your life as black spots. It is correct to say that you know nothing of yourself in sleep; but in a survey of your entire plane of consciousness the intervals of sleep may be said to appear as black spots. A person deceives himself if he thinks he knows more of his will than he does of his sleep. Man is conscious of his life of conceptions, and into this life of conceptions slip the black spots; these are the impulses of will. But man experiences these will-impulses as little as he experiences the sleep periods.
The will-life was less obscure to the consciousness of pre-Christian ancient times than it is today. Man was not so sound asleep with regard to his will; the instinctive will functioned, illuminated by the life of conceptions. On this account conceptions were not such pale reflections as they are today. Now we have on the one hand the conceptual life, which is only a reflection of reality, and on the other hand the will-life, which is a sort of sleep-condition punctuating our conscious life.
I said that what is contained in man's soul-constitution is also apparent objectively. Let us consider two phenomena that are extreme opposite poles. The rest of human life, so far as it is influenced by the human soul-constitution, resembles these phenomena. One of them is to be found today in the views which are especially developed in the so- called secret societies of the English-speaking peoples. (Such societies existing among other peoples, for instance, the Freemasons and similar organizations, depend entirely upon their original founding among the English-speaking peoples.) This is one extreme phenomenon. The other is to be found in the so-called Christian Church, wherever this has dogmas and rituals. These are two extreme, diametrically opposed phenomena.
There are other phenomena that are similar: for instance, what we call modern science resembles the secret-society view of the English-speaking peoples. Humanity is hardly aware that modern science is essentially similar to the views existing in these secret societies. I do not say influenced by them, but similar to them — for these things develop from different roots and then the trees become similar. It is the same with much that one finds in popular world conceptions. Today many people whose thinking does not conform to any kind of scientific world view have nonetheless similar aims. Among the scientific conceptions, philosophy alone — from an inner view — is still dependent upon the view of the Roman Catholic Church. Even the organization of man as body and soul, which philosophers regard today as unprejudiced science, is (as I have often stated) merely an outcome of the eighth Ecumenical Council of Constantinople, 14Council of Constantinople: 869 A.D. See Rudolf Steiner, Building Stones for an Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha, GA 175 (London, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1972). when the spirit was abolished by the Roman Catholic Church. Thus, “unprejudiced” philosophy is nothing but the elaboration of a Church Council resolution. There are individuals who do not look at things as they are painted by the universities of our time, but who really penetrate to the facts. To them, a philosophy that accepts this dualism of body and soul, and fails to stand for the true organization of man as body, soul, and spirit, is nothing but abstract superstition originating in that Church Council — unconsciously, of course. Now if you take these two opposite views, you may find them in modified form in science and in the popular world view—as the cold of the North Pole is modified in the Temperate Zone — but if the extremes are kept in mind, the matter will become perfectly clear. You see, the secret-society view of the English-speaking people, looking up to what it considers as underlying the whole cosmic process, emphasizes particularly the so-called Architect of the worlds, the great Master Builder of the worlds. These people picture to themselves in all sorts of symbols and rites the way the great Architects of all worlds work within the cosmic process. No one recognizes that this view persists as a ghost in modern science; but it does. It is a view tending to focus exclusively upon a mere reflection of the world, upon what is only a reflection of reality.
There you have the one extreme, which takes into account only the reflection of reality and when it becomes a dogmatic world conception, it is really something entirely outside reality. That is why so much mischief can be done with these things; it is why rites and symbols, very seriously intended, or seriously proclaimed, can become a masquerade or mere ostentation. It is something a human being consciously enjoys; it gives him a lively sensation, just because it takes account of the present-day consciousness, the consciousness that is a reflection of reality, that contains the reflection of reality.
The other extreme is offered by the Church. It is radically different from the world-conception “nerve” of the secret-society view. What the Christian Church offers reckons with the other pole, the pole of the will, with those human impulses that enter the consciousness only as sleep does at night. It reckons with a reality, to be sure, but a reality that is slept through. That is the reason also for the curious development of the Christian churches, which consists in their having gradually resolved the very different concepts of ancient times into their so-called concept of faith. Anyone who knows how the followers of almost all Christian views constantly turn away from knowledge and toward faith will feel something of sleep in this practice of faith. Their desire is to prevent at all costs any clearly conscious illumination of what strives to enter the human soul from those regions where sleep also originates. Therefore, what I have described as the content of the ancient Gnosis was reduced in earlier centuries to completely abstract dogmas, which were not intended to be comprehended but only to be accepted. And in Protestantism, knowledge has been reduced to a mere subjective belief, which has its special characteristic in its being based on something that cannot be proved, something beyond the province of science. There you have the two extremes that developed in the human soul-constitution as they are now related to objective facts.
Now we may ask what really underlies this splitting of the human entity into two-poles: the conceptual life, which has become a mere reflection of images; and the will-life, which has been forced down into realms of unconsciousness where it is asleep? The underlying cause is this, that in the historical evolution of humanity the impulse for freedom is struggling upward in the development of the human being. Even freedom, dear friends, is a product of evolution! Earlier times were not ready to awaken humanity to a real impulse for freedom.
This present time in which we live can be characterized on the one hand as I have just indicated: by the fact that the Spirits of Personality are replacing the Spirits of Form. Subjectively the struggling forth from the human soul of the impulse for freedom accompanies this outer, objective fact of evolution. Whatever course events may be taking externally, however chaotic all outer happenings may become, still at the same time we have in the present and the near future the struggle of the human being, in this very age of the consciousness soul (in which we have been living since the fifteenth century) the struggle of the human being to win through to an experience of the impulse for freedom. An understanding of this impulse is being sought by modern humanity, and will be sought more and more.
But this impulse can only break out of the human soul if the soul is capable of it. In earlier times freedom in its full range was not possible, for the simple reason that before the age of the consciousness soul every impulse was instinctive. Man cannot be free if he can only take into his consciousness what plays in from an instinctively conscious reality. Modern science still reckons on this absence of freedom, on inner necessity, because it is ignorant of the fact that in our consciousness as it is developed today, in the only kind of consciousness that can be developed through modern science, no real impulses can exist. (The contemporary scientific concepts show this reflection-consciousness to the highest degree.) Nothing exists in our consciousness that springs from some reality of our own body, soul, or spirit. Reality exists in it, to be sure — especially if we develop what in my The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity I have called pure thought — but it only exists in reflection. As soon as you find yourself within a reality, you are impelled by it, for reality is something; even if it acts upon you quite feebly, it is an element of necessity, it constrains you, and you must follow it. This is not the case when a reflection works upon your soul, for a reflection contains no activity, no force; it is a mere image that does not urge the soul or compel it. In this age in which the consciousness tends to have reflections, the impulse for freedom can be developed at the same time. By anything else a man would be urged to do something; but when his conscious conceptions are images and nothing but images, which reflect a reality but are not the reality, there is no reality to oppress him. He is able in this age to develop his impulse for freedom. This is a mysterious fact that underlies the life of our present time. That people have become materialists in this age can be traced to their feeling, when they contemplate their inner life, that they find no reality there, only images. And, of course, everything else is sought in the sense-world. It is true that we can find no reality, either spiritual or physical, within our soul; we find only images. This was not always so; it is only true for our age. Our age is suited to develop materialism because it has become nonsensical to say, “I think, therefore I am.” We should say, ‘‘I think, therefore I am not.” That means that my thoughts are only images. In the act of conceiving myself in thinking, I am not, I am only an image. This being-an-image, however, is what gives me the possibility of developing freedom.
This is another fact revealed by outer phenomena to those who survey life, may I say, according to certain leitmotivs; but its truth will only be fully revealed when we again take up initiation science, true spiritual science. You must realize, however, that today whenever people are active in philosophic or scientific pursuits, they are living very much on concepts inherited from an earlier time.
This can be seen very clearly in one of the contrasting phenomena we were considering. You can observe how the secret-society ideas of the English-speaking peoples have spread over the earth; and you will find that in these secret societies what is ancient is emphasized with a certain partiality. The more the age of any rite or dogma in this realm can be played up, the more — pardon the expression — they lick their fingers with pleasure. And when someone wants especially to captivate people with some sort of occult science, he at least announces that it is Rosicrucian, or even Egyptian — but surely old; it must be something or other old. That corresponds pretty well to the fact that in those societies knowledge that has been obtained in the immediate present is not cultivated. (Some direct research is carried on, to be sure, but only according to the rules of ancient, antiquated occult science.) On the contrary, anything such as we do here — spiritual science acquired by working directly out of the impulses of the present — anything of this sort is opposed with might and main. Opposition to anything modern is the fixed tradition of these extreme phenomena. And — leaving aside Goetheanism, which is something entirely new — if one considers thoughtfully the customary, trivial natural science and its mode of conception, one knows that all the real concepts with which it works, even all ideas (not the single laws of nature, but the forms of the laws of nature) are, fundamentally, inherited concepts. The experiments contain something new, the observations also; but the concepts are new in no sense whatever: they are inherited. And when we call the attention of one or another scientist to this fact, they become really indignant, fearfully angry, and they deny this source of their concepts.
Whence, then, comes modern thought that fancies itself so enlightened? My dear friends, it is merely the child of an ancient religion! To be sure, the religious conceptions have been discarded. People no longer believe in Zeus or in Jahve — many not even in Christ — but the mode of thought from the age when Zeus, Jahve, Osiris, Ormuzd, were believed in, the manner of human thinking has remained. It is applied today to oxygen, hydrogen, electrons, ions, Herzian waves; the object makes no difference, the mode of thought is the same. Only through spiritual science can a new kind of thinking be employed for the supersensible world and for this world as well. As I have often said, Goethe provided an elementary beginning in natural science with his morphology, which consequently is also combatted by the antiquated views. With his physics too Goethe created a beginning, but the fruitfulness of that beginning is still hardly recognized. Thus people work with what is left over — which, of course, is comprehensible. For in an age when the consciousness is filled, not with elements of reality, but with only reflected images, it is unable, if it is thrown entirely on its own resources as ordinary, everyday consciousness, to acquire much in the way of content.
On the other hand, how were the religious conceptions acquired? It is childish to suppose that the ancient theologians thought up the contents of the Old Testament, or more recent theologians those of the New Testament, in the way present-day philosophers turn out their inherited concepts. That is a childish way of thinking. What stands in the Old Testament and the New Testament, and in the other religious books of the various peoples, came from supersensible visions, but only from the very ancient supersensible visions. It was all revealed through supersensible knowledge; and as the revelations were accepted from the supersensible world, the thought-forms were accepted too. So that today a good zoologist or a good surgeon is — unconsciously — using the thought-forms, the kind of concepts, that the seer of the Old Testament or New Testament had gained in his way by his own effort. And from the visions he obtained, the seer also developed his mode of forming concepts. Naturally it angers people today when we say to them: Even though you are zoologists, or physiologists, and certainly work in a different field, you are nevertheless using the thought-forms that originated from the visions of the ancient prophets or the evangelists. In the course of the last four hundred years, since the rise of Copernicanism and Galileism, very few new concepts have been acquired, and still less concept-forms of any sort, or trends of thought. The little that has been gained is precisely what provides the foundation for again finding supersensible paths of knowledge — through the real, anthroposophically oriented science of the spirit. Therefore, as early as the eighties of the last century I indicated clearly in my introduction to Goethe's Morphology — and I had the words printed in italics — that I considered Goethe the Kepler and Copernicus of organic science. I intended in this way to point out the path that leads directly into supersensible realms, and that starts from the good elementary foundation which he created. Thus the kind of thoughts that continue to haunt human heads today came from ancient vision, that is, from atavistic supersensible perception. During this entire evolution of human consciousness the Creators of old, the Spirits of Form, were active; they revealed themselves to the supersensible consciousness. Now it is no longer these Spirits who are revealed to one who stands within the modern life of spirit: it is the Spirits of Personality.
You may ask, what is the difference? This is shown precisely in initiation science. The modern spiritual scientist is still someone very strange to the popular consciousness, even to the general scientific consciousness, because the latter contains only a spark of Galileism, Copernicanism and Goetheanism, and even that in very elementary form, for it is still commonly dominated by the mode of thought of the ancient seers. It was the Spirits of Form who had furnished the ancient visions, who then brought to life in man the conceptions that were active in the ancient religions and even in Christianity up to the present time. These Spirits of Form, whom we call Creators, manifested themselves, to begin with, in imaginations that arose in man involuntarily. That was their initial mode of revelation; then out of the imaginations grew the conceptions of all the ancient religions. You know that imagination is the first stage of supersensible knowledge, then comes inspiration, and then intuition. All those who wanted to reach supersensible knowledge in the ancient sense started from imaginations; they had to find their way to the Spirits of Form.
Today the way has to be found to the Spirits of Personality. Here, then, is a tremendous difference. For the Spirits of Personality do not give imaginations to whoever wants them: a man must work them out himself; he must go to meet the Spirits of Personality. It was not necessary to go to meet the Spirits of Form. Formerly a man could be what one may call favored by divine grace, because the Spirits of Form gave him their imaginations in the form of visions. Many still seek this path today, because it is easier — but it is only attainable now in a pathological condition. Mankind has evolved, and what was psychological in earlier times is pathological now. Everything in the nature of visions, everything that depends upon involuntary imaginations, is pathological in our time and pushes a man down below his normal level. What is demanded today of anyone who wishes to push forward to initiation science, or actually to initiate vision, is that he shall develop his imaginations in full consciousness. For the Spirits of Personality will not give him imaginations; he must bring the imaginations to them. And something else occurs today. When you develop, when you elaborate valid imaginations, then you meet the Spirits of Personality on your supersensible path of knowledge, and you find the power to verify your imaginations, to bring them to objectivity for yourself.
The most elementary course for the spiritual researcher today will usually be to seek imaginations from the soundest results of modern knowledge. I have pointed out that modern science is the best preparation for spiritual research, because it offers the possibility of rising to fruitful pictorial concepts, especially if it is carried on in the Goethean sense. Of course anyone can invent images that are merely fantastic; one can patch together all sorts of stuff into arbitrary imaginations. The images one makes must first be verified by the approach of the Spirits of Personality bringing inspirations and intuitions. These are really received from the Spirits of Personality. One knows with certainty that one is in communication with those Spirits, who reveal themselves to present-day humanity from remote depths of spirit; but they will remain unproductive for one unless one brings a language to them. They keep the imaginations for themselves. Earlier, the Spirits of Form placed imaginations before a person who had supersensible vision; but the Spirits of Personality keep them in their possession, and one must come to an understanding with those Spirits — just as one would with another human being with whom one should be having thoughts in common and interchange of these thoughts. One should have free converse in the same way with the Spirits of Personality. The entire inner structure of spiritual life has been changed. The involuntary character which was the basis of the ancient revelations has been transformed into an impulse which is experienced in free activity. Someone who is not superficial, who wants to find out what really can occur, will become aware as he follows world events today (perhaps at first from something quite superficial) that a new world-plan is seeking to be realized, that behind outer events something is trying to take place spiritually. This may be sensed from world- happenings, but thoughts about it are still very vague.
Especially in social life many people may have the feeling that something is trying to be realized, something wills to happen. But if one wishes to understand what it is that wills to occur, he must approach it with something that only he himself can bring to it. What I have indicated as one kind of social impulse that is needed — but only one kind, because it is not a program, but reality — has been learnt in this way. I can say, therefore, that it is not something thought out, or fashioned from some ideal (what is called an ideal today), but it is a conception of something that presses to be realized, and that will be realized. One can only put it into concepts if one has first acquired the ability to form imaginations, and then has had them verified, proved, confirmed by the Spirits of Personality who are weaving the new world-plan.
This present-day development demands of us that we strip away all that is out of date in current science, and really find our way into new thought-forms, so that in them we may reach not antiquated visions, but imaginations built up with all our will, which we may then offer to the objective process of the spiritual world and receive back verified. This is so completely, so radically different from all earlier methods of gaining supersensible knowledge that the numerous individuals who depend upon the earlier methods resist it with all their might. For something is demanded of persons seeking to gain supersensible knowledge, something that is radical, primal, elementary, that intends to penetrate to sources, something that must be reconciled with all that is, consciously or unconsciously, antiquated. That is the reason why the spiritual science presented here attaches so little value to all that is traditional. These traditional things are certainly worthy of respect, but the fact remains that we stand at the turning-point of human evolution; and we must fully recognize that the traditional is obsolete, and that something new must be won. Hence, in a spiritual science that takes today's conditions into account, there can be no thought of faith in the old sense, nor any inclination toward the so-called Master Builder of all worlds. For both pertain only to external consciousness. When one attains a consciousness that is outside the body and outside the course of life, that is really in the spiritual world, then will and conceptions flow together again into one reality. And what was mere architecture, mere form—lifeless forms and lifeless symbols—receives inner life. Empty, obscure faith becomes knowledge, concrete self-transforming knowledge. The two unite and become a living thing. This is what must be experienced by humanity. The ancient symbols and ancient rites must be felt to be out of date. The whole earlier mode of thought must be felt as something antiquated; and the rigid forms in that mode of thought must be given life.
Just think how much use is still made today of those antiquated concepts! Certainly something useful can be done with them in many fields; but humanity would become stiff and paralyzed and withered if our antiquated ideas did not yield to something else, something containing inner life. We can no longer continue to work under the symbol of world-architecture, with rigid forms, traditional symbols, traditional dogmas. Something must bring mankind and the world together, and it must be a spontaneous, living thing.
At the beginning of our Christian era, for example, it was not yet true even of Christianity that its development was founded on something living. I have often called attention to the fact that those who first wrote about Christianity did so from the standpoint of the ancient Egypto-Chaldean science. Even the dates were not historically established. Festival dates, for instance, were determined astrologically, also the dates of the birth and death of Christ Jesus. The whole Apocalypse rests on astrology. The latter was alive in ancient times, but today it is dead, it is simply mathematical reckoning. It will only come to life again when things are comprehended with living insight: when, for instance, the birth-year of Christ Jesus is not figured out by the stars, but is seen with the vision that can be gained today in the way described. With that, things come to life. There is no life today in a calculation that determines whether some star is in opposition or in conjunction with another, and so on; but there is life when the nature of the opposition is experienced, when this is experienced livingly, inwardly — not simply externally through mathematics. In saying this, no particular objection is intended to external mathematics; it can even shed light on many things — darkness on many things, too! — but it has nothing to do with humanity's real, immediate necessity. Nor can these things be perpetuated in the old way; they would bring nothing but aridity and paralysis to the development of mankind. Of course, in judging such things people are influenced by the thought that although they themselves need not become seers — for just healthy commonsense can grasp spiritual science — yet even this kind of thinking can only be acquired with effort, while on the other hand they can easily adopt the ancient traditions and methods, and still more easily believe the church dogmas.
Now we come to a fact that we have treated repeatedly from various points of view: namely, the change that is taking place in the constitution of the human soul. It indicates on the one hand the streaming forth of the revelation of the Spirits of Personality; on the other hand, it indicates the liberation within the depths of men's souls of the impulse for freedom—a fact reflected now so urgently in the great demands mankind is raising. Today's social demands can only be understood if one is able to perceive this evolution in the constitution of the human soul. Call to mind a remark I made yesterday: that people are beginning — at least beginning, I said — to sense their true ego when they come in contact with other people. The man of old understood “Know thou thyself!” in the external world. For supersensible cognition it is different; but the man of ancient times, when speaking of his ego, had something real in the external world, the world in which the human being lives with his ordinary consciousness between birth and death. Modern man has only a reflection of his true ego; but something of his true ego shines into him when he comes in contact with other people. Another person who is connected with him karmically, or in any other way, gives him something real. To express it radically: it is characteristic of human beings of our present age to be inwardly hollow — and we should acknowledge it. If we practice life-retrospection honestly and faithfully, we find that the influences other people have had upon us are much more important than what we ourselves have supposedly acquired. Present-day man, of himself, gains extraordinarily little unless he obtains knowledge from supersensible sources. He need not be clairvoyant. A person is driven to daily social intercourse because actually he is only real in someone else, in his relation to another person. As we approach the sixth post-Atlantean epoch, of which embryonic impulses are now present in Russia, this fact will become so potent that a current axiom will be: No happiness is possible for one individual without the happiness of all — just as a single organ in man can only function if the whole functions. In the future this will be recognized as an axiom simply because it will be a fact of consciousness. We are still far from it — you may make your minds easy! — for a long time to come you will be able to consider your own personal happiness even though it may be built upon much human misery. But that is the direction in which humanity is developing. It is simply a fact, as when a man has a cold he must cough. He finds that unpleasant. Just so, a few thousand years from now, there will be unpleasant soul-conditions aroused when a man wishes as an individual to have any sort of happiness in the world without its being shared by others. This interdependence of mankind is inherent in human evolution, and is making itself felt today in the social demands. This is simply the direction in which the human soul is developing.
In earlier times when a man looked within, he could still find something real, even in the life between birth and death. Today, materialism is actually not unjustified in this life between birth and death if we observe man only outwardly; for what the ordinary consciousness can trace within the human being in his earthly life has only to do with material facts. Supersensible facts underlie these, but, as I said yesterday, they cease soon after birth and leave a man to take a material course until his death, when the supersensible struggles forth again. It is not from mere charlatanism that contemporary scientific research is materialistic, it is from taking into account instinctively the conditions actually existing in man today. But the people do not see beyond this life between birth and death. As soon as they begin someday to see beyond it, natural research will end as a matter of course.
Man must for once dive down into this purely material life, so that, independent of it, he may gain the spiritual. Thus, to understand what is pulsating in the most urgent demands of our time, it is absolutely necessary to look into this transformation of the human soul-constitution. And it is only possible to observe it when one is willing to do so through the science of initiation.