Cosmogony, Freedom, Altruism
III. Fundamental Impulses in History
12 October 1919, Dornach
What I have said during these evenings has been directed to showing, from the most various points of view, that that aspect of events which is generally accepted as the history of mankind is, in many respects, a superficial one. How, for an understanding of the present condition of affairs, it is peculiarly necessary that we should not be led into any illusions as to this superficial way of regarding mankind's historic evolution in these latter days. We must not on any account assume that what holds good, and what I am about to say, of the more or less final phase of the historic evolution covered by the Fifth post-Atlantean age, — that that holds good for the whole course of human history. We must have no such ideas. For this final phase, however, what I am about to say holds good
From the socialist side, it is always being pointed out that the whole course of human history is, in actual reality, to be traced in economic processes alone, — in the processes of industrial life, in the class-warfare that has resulted from the processes of economic life. And on the foundation of this economic matter-of-fact world, as a sort of superstructure upon it, are supposed to have grown up all those developments that we see in the way of Law, Moral Conventions, and especially spiritual life, including, of course, Art, Religion, Science, etc. As applied to the whole course of human history that is, of course, nonsense. One cannot but ask oneself: What has led to this nonsensical idea? V/hat has led to such a nonsensical idea is that, as a matter of fact, and in respect of this particular last phase of human evolution in our own modern times, the thing has a basis of truth in it. Amongst the events which ushered in this modern age we have to note those changes in our earthly evolution that I mentioned yesterday, which were brought about by the discovery of America, by the discovery of the sea-route to the East Indies. But, besides this, the latest phase of mankind's evolution must be marked by us as that of the great spiritual upheaval which was accomplished at the beginning of the modern age, and which we call The Reformation.
The time has come, my dear friends, when this Reformation, too, must be recognised for what it really was. And when one goes further into all that we were leading up to yesterday, and acquires a deeper view of history, not a merely superficial one, then, indeed, one finds that what is in appearance a spiritual transition at the beginning of the modern age — the Reformation — really rests, rests solidly, upon something that Is, after all, at bottom, economic in character. And it is just from a perception of this economic basis lying at the root of the Reformation, and from seeing nothing else, that the socialist view arose, that all historic evolution has been simply the outcome of class-warfare and of economic conditions.
If we examine, not by the light of illusion, but by the light of truth, what took place and the things that underwent a metamorphosis through the Reformation at the beginning of the modern period of historical development, we can but say: A tremendous shifting of status undoubtedly took place with considerable rapidity at this time, when the modern age was beginning. The way in which the shifting of the population took place was this; that the land and soil in Western Europe, particularly, were, before the Reformation set in, possessed by different peoples from those who possessed it afterwards. For those people who before the Reformation were the leaders, and on whom the social structure more or less depended, lost their position through the Reformation. All landed property before the Reformation was, to a much greater extent than is commonly supposed, dependent on the lordship of the priesthood, and in all manner of ways. Before the Reformation, the lordship of the priests was remarkably powerful in determining the character, for instance, of economic conditions. Those who possessed landed estates possessed them to a very large extent as a sort of agents and under an obligation of some sort or another in connection with the offices of the Church.
Now, if one examines the actual course of history from a perhaps not very idealistic but therefore all the more truthful point of view, one finds that, with the Reformation, the old estates of the Church and Spiritual Orders were torn from those who held them, and transferred to the temporal lords. This was very largely the case in England. It was also very largely the case in Germany, — in what later on was Germany. In what later was Germany, many of the territorial Princes went over to the Reformation. But this was not Invariably, — not to put it too aggressively, — this was by no means invariably out of zeal for Luther or the other Reformers; it was a hungering for the estates of the Church, a craving to secularise the estates of the Church. Any number of estates that belonged to the spiritual power in the Middle Ages passed actually over to the temporal, the territorial princes. In England, it happened that a large number of those who had possessed land and holdings were dispossessed, evicted, and they emigrated to America. A large number of the American settlers — the point was alluded to yesterday in a different connection — were the evicted holders of landed property.
Economic conditions, then, played a leading part in the metamorphosis which went on under modern historic evolution, and which is commonly called the Reformation. On the face of it, the thing was like this: — Openly, people say that a new spirit must find Its way into men's hearts, that under the old church administration the temporal and spiritual have become too closely combined, that a more spiritual road to Christ must be sought, etc, etc. Whilst deeper down, less obviously on the surface, a shifting of economic strata is taking place through the transference of estates from spiritual to worldly owners.
Now this is connected with a fact whose roots stretch wide into the history of general evolution; and we can only understand these particular isolated facts of modern history when we glance back over a somewhat wider range of human evolution. We have only to glance back at that phase of human evolution which we term the Egypto-Chaldean age, which, as you know, ended in the middle of the 8th century before Christ, from which point the Graeco-Latin age began, lasting down to about the middle of the 15th century.
If we go back to the ancient Egyptian, the ancient Chaldean civilisation, — well there, we have as ruling powers quite a different type from what became the ruling powers later on. People nowadays take little account of the great upheavals that have come about in the course of historic growth. The powers that were peculiarly the ruling ones in that early age — the age that ended about the middle of the 8th century before Christ — were the sort of people who, in the traditional language of Spiritual Science, one would call “Initiates.” The Egyptian Pharaohs were, down to a certain date, invariably persons who were initiated. They were initiated into the secrets of cosmology, and regarded what they had to do on earth in the light of this cosmology When one says a thing of this sort to the modern man, he finds a certain difficulty in understanding it, for the simple reason that the modern man, from his own special mode of consciousness, thinks to himself: “It is all very well, but, after all, those Pharaohs, and the Chaldean initiates, too, — or so-called initiates — did a great many things that were highly reprehensible.” Well, one might, of course, argue that modern rulers, who are not initiates, also do a great many things that are hardly in accordance with the highest moral standards, — but that, here, would be obviously away from the point. One must, however, point out that in the world that lies beyond the senses the gods are not all good ones, but that there are also gods whose action is in every way contrary to men's interests, as commonly understood. So, one is by no means entitled to believe that anyone who is a real initiate must necessarily act from virtuous motives. And in speaking, as I am doing now, of the Pharaohs as Initiates, all that it must be understood to mean is that they acted on impulses inspired from the spiritual world. That these impulse's might often be very bad ones will be contested by nobody who has become in our sense acquainted with all the many divine, spiritual powers that lie behind the world of sense, — powers of a supersensible nature. But the true initiate, — he who could receive into his will, not merely receive into his consciousness, but into his will, what divine spiritual powers bestowed upon him, — he was in truth the ruler, down to the middle of the 8th century before Christ. Then began the age when, if one actually divests it of all the various illusions that pervade popular history, — when one may say that the real ruler was the Priest. The temporal ruler, — even when he was a Charlemagne — was always more or less dependent on the priesthood. Priest-rule was, to a much greater extent than is commonly supposed, even in the middle-ages of European civilisation, the really determining element. It entered into everything, it made itself felt everywhere, and was for the social structure also the element which, above all others, was the determining one. And the people who possessed land and estates held them to a very large extent of the Priesthood. Such regular soldiers as there were in old days, before the middle of the 8th century B.C., were troops in the service of the Initiates. Such regular soldiers as there were in the 4th post-Atlantean age, in the Graeco-Latin age down to the middle of the 15th century, were, taken as a whole, mercenaries of the priest-lords. And all enterprises, too, such as the Crusades, were, as a whole essentially military expeditions undertaken, if I may so express it, on behalf of the ruling priesthood. In one way and another, everything that was done had some connection with the rule of the priesthood.
We may say, then, that in the Egypto-Chaldean age, the Rulers were of the Initiate type; from the middle of the 8th pre-Christian century down to the middle of the 15th century the rulers were of the Priest type. From this time on, the type that was really the ruling one for actual historic developments was the Economic man. The economic man was the one who ruled. It does not really matter by what name he was called. The farther on one goes in the history of mankind, the less do names matter. The thing that gave a man a sort of basis for domination was that he was in a position to play a part in the world of finance and industry. Just as the essential feature about the Priest and the Initiate of old days was that these respective types of ruler could intervene in economic affairs, — only they did so from higher motives, — so now the man of the economic type of modern times was able to intervene in practically every detail of the social fabric.
Yes, but along with that, there goes something else besides, something that I have already indicated in connection with the Initiate type of ruler. The Initiate type of ruler works through his will, receiving into his will the motive-forces of the higher worlds. With the Priest type, this is no longer the case. It was not, at bottom, the spiritual life that was realised in the priest type, but the intellectual life. And accordingly, in that civilisation where the priest type were markedly predominant, the markedly predominant, the essential element is the intellectual one.
In Asia, in the East, it is not the intellectual which is the essential thing, but the spiritual life. For even what we still have as civilisation there to-day, fallen as it is very greatly into decay, yet it is still the relics of what once was the civilisation of Initiate of what was a spiritual civilisation. When the religious impulse of the East was transplanted to Europe, it became merged in the intellectualist conception of the priesthood. From the initiation into the real facts, into the spiritual world, they produced — Theology, an intellectual extract of the facts of the spiritual world. But this priest type, which intellectually boiled down the facts of the spiritual world and made them known in an intellectual form, so all that the people really got was an intellectualised religious element, they were in their turn again replaced in the strict meaning of that term, at the beginning of the modern age, by the economic type of man. One can show in detail in many cases exactly how this economic type of man came to be top. I shall come to that presently. Now the question naturally arises: How does it come about that the course of historic evolution undergoes such considerable changes? How does it really happen? Well, at the bottom of that, again, there is something which makes it necessary for one not to rest content with a surface view of historic life, but to go deeper down. If one studies history at all, — what passes as history, — one sees at once that the historians are writing on the assumption, as I said before, that the psychic evolution of man has undergone no very great fundamental change whatever in the course of history. In the view of the materialist thinkers, there was once a time when the ape, or a creature like an ape, wandered about the earth; and then, through all sorts of accidents, though of course very slowly, — science relies a great deal on length of time nowadays, — this ape-like creature developed into — Man. But, once there, man has remained practically unaltered, according to them, in all that relates to his state of consciousness, to the condition of his soul. A modern man thinks of the ancient Egyptian as being perhaps rather more of a child, because he was not yet so “clever,” he did not know so much as the man of to-day; but in the general constitution of his soul, the modern man pictures the ancient Egyptian as being pretty much the same as himself. And yet, if we go back to the time before the 8th century B.C., the constitution of man's soul then was quite, quite different from what it was later on, after the middle of the 8th century B.C. If one takes the soul of the man of to-day, in its present conformation, and knows no other, one can really form no picture to oneself of what went on in the soul of the sort of man who lived actually before the 8th century B.C.
The people of that time were of such a kind as still to be in living connection with their previous incarnation. These people were so constituted, — unless, indeed, they belonged to one of the Hebraic tongues, when it was different, — but if they belonged to any of the wide-spread heathen nations, so-called “heathen nations,” then, for them, everything that went on in their souls was the outcome of previous incarnations, of previous lives upon earth. And they were distinctly conscious that what was going on in their souls was the spiritual fruits of the spiritual worlds. For people such as this, no doubt whatever existed that what was the principal part of themselves was not inherited from their father and mother, but had come down out of spiritual worlds and united itself with the part which came to them from their father and mother. The constitution of these peoples souls was one which rested entirely on a spiritual form of civilisation. Hence it was possible for social life, as it existed amongst them, to be guided and directed by their Initiates, by those who were to a certain degree initiated into spiritual things in a real, actual way, not intellectually through their thoughts. In those days, when one talked to anyone and spoke of spiritual facts, one was speaking of things with which he was quite familiar. Everybody, in fact, pictured himself as a centaur. His physical body he looked upon as having undoubtedly come about through transmission in the flesh; but, on top of all that, was what had come down out of the spiritual world. Everybody knew that. Everybody looked on himself as a sort of centaur.
Then came the age that began with the 8th century before Christ, — roughly speaking, with the foundation of Rome. In that age, — it Is a fact that we have already considered from other points of view, — in that age the spiritual contact of the real actual kind was lost. People, however, still retained through their Intelligence a kind of spiritual touch with the world of spirit. Man, indeed, no longer pictured himself actually as a centaur, as though a higher spiritual being came down from above and settled upon something else that was inherited through the blood; still, he was clearly conscious that his intelligence, his world of thought, was not dependent on his blood, not dependent on his physical body, but that it had a spiritual origin.
One cannot, for instance, properly understand that great philosopher, Aristotle, unless one knows that Aristotle, in calling the highest part of the human soul “Diagnosticon,” was clearly conscious that this, the highest part of the human soul, which is an intellectual part, has been rained down from the worlds of soul and spirit. Aristotle knew that quite well; indeed, everybody, even down into the early times of Christianity, knew this quite well. This consciousness, that the human intelligence is of a divine spiritual origin, this consciousness was not lost until the 4th century after Christ. It was in the 4th century after Christ that men first really ceased to believe that the power of thought they bear within them comes from above, and is rained down upon them at their birth out of the worlds of soul and spirit. It was a great change, that, in men's souls. If we look back at the first, second and third Christian centuries, we find the men of that time able to say to themselves: Of course, I was born of father and mother, but I know, — not merely, I have puzzled it out, but I know, just as I know that my eye sees the light, so I know that my intelligence comes from the gods. It was an immediate consciousness that people then possessed, just like the consciousness aroused by a direct perception.
It was only after the fourth century that the feeling entered more and more into men's souls that up here, in this bony empty cavity, — for an empty cavity it is, as I have often had occasion to explain to you, — here, up here are seated the organs of intelligence, and this intelligence Is somehow connected with heredity, with blood-relation- ship. It was only during this period, when the transition was finally effected from a belief in the divine nature of the intelligence to a belief in its transmission along physical paths, — it was only then that what I may call the intellectualising of the religious impulse through the rule of the priesthood could be finally effected. And when the intellectualising process was very far advanced, and people had come to regard the intelligence as bound up solely with a man's bodily constitution, then it was all up with the rule of the priest, too. Priest-rule could only hold its ground so long as people could be made to understand the old traditions of the divinity of the intelligence. The economic type of man emerged at the moment, the epoch-making moment, when the belief in the divinity of the intelligence had vanished, and when man's feelings were leading him ever more and more to the belief that it was the physical man which is the actual vehicle, the organ for the evolution of thought. You should only know what a fight, priest-rule fought, and how it is still fighting even to-day. Anyone, for instance, who is acquainted with catholic theological literature, knows how priest- rule is still fighting — fighting with every conceivable philosophic argument — to maintain that the intelligence which has its seat in man is something additional that comes to him from without. Read any sort of catholic theological literature that you happen to come across, and you will find them no longer denying what, indeed, for the present- day man no longer admits of denial, that all the rest of his attributes are bound up with his bodily frame, but they cling fast to the intelligence as an exception, as something that is of a divine spiritual nature and has nothing to do with man's bodily frame. And yet, in the general consciousness of mankind it is not so. In respect of the general consciousness of mankind, a feeling has grown up ever more and more among men, a sense that it is our body, too, which enables us to think, which Is the basis of the intelligence as of other things. And so ever more and more man has arrived at a consciousness that he is really only a physical being. And it was only under the sort of spirituality which proceeds from regarding oneself as a merely physical being that it was possible for the economic type of man to make his way to the top.
And so there exist, you see, spiritual reasons deeper down for the economic type of man having come to the top. He has, however, come to the top, and in socialistic theories this fact has been handled and exploited to the disregard of all others. The business-man has been the ruling type ever since the Reformation; and from this you can see, too, what kind of spirit really is the ruling one in the various religious denominations that have come up since the Reformation Recognise quite clearly, without any illusions, what that spirit is, my dear friends: Temporal science is to permeate with its technique the whole of our external everyday life, and we do not mean to have the complete chain of this external science interrupted by all sorts of religious matter. Faith is to be kept very nicely in a special little box all to itself, and as far away from the external affairs of life as possible. Science, one thing, — a separate banking- account; Faith, another thing, — a separate banking-account, and they must never on any account be amalgamated. We want our faith; indeed, we want to be religious people, says the business type of man, — the more religious, the better, according to many of them; and one sees them going off very ostentatiously to church with their prayer-book under their arm. Oh, certainly! But then, that banking book, — religion must not intrude there, with that religion has nothing to do, except, perhaps, on the first page, where one always sees written in banking-books, “By the Grace of God,” but then that is only a little bit of blasphemy, of course. The complete chain must not be broken. Otherside [Otherwise?] people might perhaps find out that the Reformation was, in many respects, only a roundabout way of arriving at the secularisation and confiscation of Church estates and of claiming them for the temporal lord. Of course, if one were a German princeling, for instance, or an English lord, one could very well say: We are going to create a new historic epoch by taking away the land and estates from those who have hitherto held them. That is what the modern socialist says: We are going to expropriate the owners of landed property. But naturally people did not say that at the beginning of the new modern age; they did it, and threw a haze over it all with: We are founding a new religious faith. So people do not know their real reason for being religious; but it makes them feel comfortable to spread this illusion over the real grounds for their being so religious. That is how the economic type of man came up.
The consciousness that one is living out a spiritual life within one has gradually disappeared. That is the deeper-seated, spiritual root of the matter. If we go further hack still, before the third post-Atlantean age, which ended about the middle of the 8th pre-Christian century, — beginning in the 3rd to the 4th millennium B.C., we come again to a quite different conformation. Paradoxical as it may seem to the men of to-day, in the 4th or, 5th millennium B.C. there was not a man on earth who believed that what was transmitted from his father and mother was the essential part of him. At that time men were absolutely convinced that they were wholly, in respect of all essentials, descended from heaven, If I may so express it. That was men's rooted belief. They did not look on themselves as being of earthly origin; they looked on themselves as spiritual beings, sprung from a spiritual origin. And the period when men first began to feel themselves to be physical human beings in the body was designated by the Jews, “The Fall,” at the beginning of things, when Original Sin first overtook man. As a matter of fact, however, Original Sin has overtaken man more than once. It overtook him first at the beginning of the 3rd post-Atlantean age, when he ascribed one part of himself to his father and mother, to his blood, and merely believed that a spiritual something had come down on top of that. It overtook him for the second time when he began to regard his Intellectual part as more or less hereditary. That second “Fall” came about in the 4th century after Christ; for from that time on, intellectual capacity was regarded as something hereditary, as something bound up with the bodily nature. And there will be other “Falls” in the time to come.
Our task to-day is to return to spirituality by a different route. And, to do this, we must have the possibility, before anything else, of getting back to a spiritual form of intellectual life. We must have the possibility of attaching a sense to this existence on earth such that this sense itself is once more the revelation of a spiritual reality. Take, for instance, the things in my “Occult Science.” It cannot be said that the kind of intellectuality with which these are apprehended has a bodily origin; for it is not with the physical understanding that one arrives at what is there said about the universe and about man. It is a re-education of man back to that conception of his intellectual nature which is a spiritual one. And for this, modern mankind must first of all be willing to regain the faculty of looking on their Intellectual nature as something divinely spiritual. Then, Indeed, will it be possible to start on the road back to spiritualisation. It is a task upon which mankind must enter with full consciousness, — to return again to spiritualisation, and, first of all, to a thorough spiritualising of the intelligence. People must learn once more to think in such a way that their thought is permeated with spirituality. The best way to begin is by considering ethical concepts, and bringing them back to the moral imagination, to the moral intuitions, as I did in my “Philosophy of Freedom.” If in the moral sense one sees something which, as I expressed it in the “Philosophy of Freedom,” derives its impulses directly from the spiritual world, then that is a first beginning towards the spiritualisation of the intellect. I did this in my “Philosophy of Freedom” very cautiously and gently, for in the 19th century there was truly not much to be looked for as regards the spiritualising of anything. But this Is the road that will have to be taken.
The Economic type of man, who came up at the Reformation, regarded it as his special mission to make all intellectuality a matter merely of the body. What this business type of man really did during the Reformation period was to tear himself violently loose from the spiritual foundation of man's life on earth. One can see it illustrated in individual cases. At the beginning and during the first half of the 15th century, there was a man in England, Thomas Cromwell, — not Oliver Cromwell, but Thomas Cromwell, quite a different person, — who played a very important part in introducing the principles of the Reformation into England. There was one person, James I, who still made an effort to save the old dominion of the priesthood; and one best understands James I if one looks on him as a Conservator, — a man who was trying to conserve the rule of the priesthood. Only, his plans were thwarted by others. And amongst the people who came to the top at that time, and who were, so to speak, the earliest type of economic man, was Thomas Cromwell. It is impossible to understand Thomas Cromwell unless one recognises that he was one of those people who have a very short life between death and rebirth, before taking on a body here on earth again. And it is just those people who are unusually numerous among the ruling types coming to the top in modern times, who have had but a short life in the spiritual world before their present life here on earth.
As you know, I have often said here that one of the most significant phenomena in latter-day history is that for the ruling types it is the selection of the worst that takes place. You know that for years past I have taken occasion to tell you so repeatedly. Those who are, in reality, the rulers, the governors, are a selection of not the best. It has come about with the times that those who are really the best in this modern age have remained below, and those who have been selected for the top, for the leading positions, that is, are not infrequently anything but the best. Very often it has been a selection of the least fitted. And this selection of the least fitted has been founded, in so far as relates to their human nature, in the fact that they were fulfilling an earth-life which had only a very short space of time between the last life on earth and this one. It is a fact which one finds stamped upon many of the leading personages of modern times, that they have had a quick return to earth after a brief life in the spirit. In their preceding life between death and new birth they have received into them but little of spiritual impulse; but they are all the more impregnated with that which this earth alone can give. The Economic type, especially, have been men whose preceding spiritual life was a short one, who were permeated through and through with what the earth, as such, alone can give. I do not mean to say that there have not also In modern times been people who have passed a fairly long stage of time between death and birth and who are notable in modern times; but they have been thrust into the background. So the course of man's historic evolution fated it to be; such was the common karma of mankind.
And man's modern life was played out under these conditions. It is really pitiful, how frequently a phenomenon it is in modern times to see men who in their inward natures are far superior, looking up to men who are far, far worse than themselves, as special authorities. It is a common phenomenon. And these revered authorities are truly not people who in any way represent picked men of the best type. The time has indeed come when people must stop so naively chanting the praises of modern civilisation, and examine the plain, unadorned facts. Men must acquire the habit of considering life not in its more superficial aspect, but of considering it according to the inner configuration of men's souls. And this is just one of the facts that has to be considered, that one has to distinguish between the kind of men whose life in the spirit, between birth and deaths is a comparatively long one, and those whose life in the spirit has been comparatively short. One must consider people from their spiritual aspect. It is only by thus considering people from their spiritual aspect, that it becomes possible with clear consciousness to bring order into the social structure. Any really deep understanding of what is socially requisite to-day will only be acquired when such an understanding is sought for in a groundwork of spiritual knowledge.
In the last three days, I have made it my task to show you in what way the civilisation of our times must be regarded in respect of the possibility for mankind's further evolution. Our earth, as an earth with all that is upon It, has already entered on its downward stage, on the stage of its decline. I have often told you that keen-sighted geologists themselves have already noted this fact. It is even now possible to demonstrate by purely external physical science, and according to the most exact geology, that the earth has already begun to crumble away, that the ascending phase of its evolution is at an end, and that the solid ground we tread on is actually breaking up beneath us. But it is not only the mineral kingdom of the earth that Is breaking up; all organic life that moves upon the earth is more or less in a state of decomposition, of falling away. The bodies of plants, of animals, of men, these, too, are no longer in their ascending stage of evolution, but are going downhill. Our physical organisation is not now what it was, for instance, before the fourth century after Christ, or what it was in the times of ancient Greece. Our organisation is a perishable one, and along with us the earth is in its decadence. V/hat Is physical about the earth is in its decadence. I called attention to this phenomenon for the first time some years ago in a lecture at Bonn; but as a rule, not sufficient importance is attached to these things. The bodies we live in are crumbling away. But, as a set-off against this, we must reflect:
Our bodies are crumbling away; but it is just out of these crumbling bodies of ours that what is spiritual can best develop, if only we give ourselves up to it. In the old bodies, you see, it was like this, supposing I make a diagram: Here is the body (Diagram I black) and, all through, the body is permeated with its spiritual element; here is the spiritual element, all over It like this (red).
Now to-day it is like this (diagram II): our body, if we draw it diagrammatically, Is crumbling away in many places. It is crumbling, it is falling away; and everywhere the spiritual element is spurting out of it, escaping from the body. If we only set ourselves to do so, we can inwardly within our souls lay hold everywhere of the spiritual element, because of this crumbling away of our bodies. But it is absolutely necessary that we should not rely upon the physical. It is, on the contrary, absolutely necessary for us, because of this, our crumbling condition, to turn to the spiritual. Everything physical is breaking up; everything physical on earth has begun to go to ruin, and one dare not rely any longer on the physical nature. The only thing we have to look to Is just what, to use a homely phrase, is spurting out from the spiritual soul-element, — spurting out because the physical element is in ruin.
There is one thing to be learnt from this, my dear friends. We are connected through our bodies with the physical conditions of the earth; and the earth's conditions express themselves socially in economic conditions. Now, as everything is crumbling away, as everything is in decadence, so also, in a certain respect, economic conditions are in a state of decadence; and only a fool could believe that It Is possible to-day to regenerate economic conditions simply by means o economic conditions alone. Anyone to-day who dreams of bringing about an economic paradise on earth by purely economic measures, is much the same as someone who has a corpse in front of him and believes that he can galvanise it back into life, wake it up again. So you can take all the theories that are based on pure economics to-day, listen to people telling you how the economic life can be adjusted so as to work by itself according to its own laws, listen to them telling you about the conditions under which production Is to be carried on, how the transition is to be effected from private ownership to communal ownership, etc., — it is all founded on the false belief that one can, regenerate the economic life out of the resources of the economic life itself. Whereas the truth is that in the economic life, as elsewhere, everything physical is of itself going to ruin.
When anything is going to ruin of itself, then all one can do is to keep putting it right from time to time. That means that we want a remedy from this economic life, which of Itself is in a constant state of break-down, if the economic life were left to itself; if one did what Lenin and Trotsky want to do with it, it would be continually breaking down, continually falling sick. And therefore, one must have the remedy constantly at hand, too, as a counteractant to the economic life. That is, one must have, beside it, the independent spiritual life. If you have a sick man, or someone who is continually liable to fall sick, then, alongside, you must continually have the doctor. If you have an economic life which, owing to the earth's evolution, is constantly ripe for its fall, when left to itself, then you need to counteract it with the continually healing power of the spiritual life. That is the inward connection. It is part of a sound cosmogony that we should acquire an independent spiritual life. Without this independent spiritual life, to act as a perpetual source of healing wisdom, alongside an economic life that is constantly liable to break down, — without this, mankind will never get further. To attempt to regenerate the economic life out of its own resources is sheer folly. We must establish a healing source in the form of an independent spiritual life beside this economic life, and bridge them both over with the neutral Life of Rights. We shall never arrive at any adequate understanding of what is necessary in the present day, unless we have learnt to perceive that the earth's physical life is already sinking to ruin. It is because this is not perceived that there are so many people to-day who believe that the economic life can be regenerated by all sorts of remedies conjured up out of the life of economics itself. They do not exist. The only possibility that does exist is continuously and unceasingly to keep the economic life going by means of the independent spiritual life established alongside it. And only those can trace all the mysterious interweaving of these threads in our life who have learnt to read it by the light of a really modern cosmogony.
Just reflect how serious the whole situation is, how one must look on and see men rushing to destruction, if they still persist in believing that the economic life can be regenerated out of itself, — if they will not acknowledge and turn to that which is spurting forth from the crumbling physical world, which is able to stand alone and to be a continual source of healing. People ask: What is the remedy for revolutions? Well, when the downward forces have accumulated in cries in quantity sufficient to make a revolution, then the revolution comes. The only way to counteract revolution is continuously and unceasingly to apply the counteracting force. And unless a spiritual life is established as a continual healing force to withstand the economic life, then the economic life comes to a head and breaks out in revolutions.
It is high time, indeed, my dear friends, that the things we are here dealing with should be taken In all their gravity, in their full weight, and that people should not have the idea that Spiritual Science is a thing to play with. It will not be played with. You cannot dish up real Spiritual Science as a Sunday afternoon sermon. What people are used to making out of the old religious creeds, — taking all sorts of teachings about reincarnation and karma to regale themselves with in the privacy of their own souls, — that cannot be got out of this teaching, not if it is taken seriously. This teaching means to lay hold upon actual life. This teaching is bent upon becoming deeds, by the very force of what it is. And so it is not in accordance with some private personal whim that what is living within our Spiritual Science must now find expression in all manner of social ideas as well. It is really a matter of course. It is all part of the same thing. Naturally, anyone who talks of development and evolution in the modern natural-science sense, and has not a glimmering notion that Evolution is first an ascent and then a descent, will not be ready either to understand that we are living in a downward stage with respect to the earth's evolution; and such a person will take what is on its downward path, and try to wring from it forces for a regeneration, — That is no longer possible.
What I have, above all, had at heart in the course of these three lectures, my dear friends, is that you might see in all its extent and reality the deep seriousness of Spiritual Science and all that is connected with it. With the things of Spiritual Science there can be no playing. it can only be played with when it is watered down to all sorts of mystical, eclectic stuff, — then you can play with the things of Spiritual Science. Those people do very wrong who go and think that they can play with it, for all that. The things of Spiritual Science cannot be played with,
There is a great deal of opposition from various quarters to whit this Spiritual Science of Anthroposophy stands for. it will meet with opposition from almost all those people who want to play, to “mysticise,” I should like to call it, — who want to mysticise with the life of Spiritual Science, — “mysticism,” “mysticise”. Those people who want to mysticise will not, in the long run, get on very well with Spiritual Science, because they do not like to be reminded of the seriousness of life. That is why Spiritual Science has so many opponents. To-day, especially, there are numbers of opponents; and to-day, especially, there are numbers of opponents, turning out to oppose it from every sort of mysticising hole and corner. There is now to be a renewed attack made on this Spiritual Science on the ground that it is scientific in character, and that all genuine experiences of the spirit-worlds must come through direct spiritual communication, — that nothing of a scientific nature, no sort of scientific concept, must enter into it, and so forth; there is a fresh attack on foot from the corner where we have done a good bit of work, but which still keeps on pouring out a succession of slimy stuff, — mysticising stuff, in this very direction. Another book has appeared from the Munich quarter, — though possibly from different publishers, — which is at bottom intended as an attack of this sort, — mystical book, called “The Living God.”
When one sees these things in the present day, in an age when the social situation is so critical, it shows how spiritual frivolity and cynicism of a spiritual kind have taken possession of men's lives. All that must be got rid of.
This is, indeed, the time when we must set ourselves in all seriousness to examine the most important question in life, and ask ourselves: What can we do, what can we do with all our might and main, to lay hold of those forces which are actually in accordance with the age?
My dear friends, here stands this Building of ours, here it stands, waiting for the world to take it seriously, with such seriousness as really to perceive that it has been built in the consciousness of a perishing age, and in order to receive and take up the spiritual essence out of this age as it falls. Here we must be swayed by no belief that it is possible to preserve what is old what is ripe to perish and fall away. The faith that must inspire us here is that out of the on-rushing ruin it is possible to save and bring forth the spiritual essence, — one which must be quite unlike the old. A little transformation of our civilisation cannot do it. We have to recognise, and boldly face the recognition, that it is only with the great impulses of civilisation that we can accomplish what will take mankind the necessary step forward towards the future. And we must take counsel with our own selves, how to find strength really to take up these new impulses. We must have courage to make plain to people, as well as we can, what is meant by the earth being in decadence, and that what has lasted on down into our days as civilisation, and which we have grown up with and become used to, — that this, too, is passing away in the ruin; but that out of this ruin we must rescue and bring forth a new spirituality, a spirituality that can be carried on with us into other worlds, when this earth has finally sunk and passed away.
To work with clear consciousness towards a regeneration of Art, of Science, of Freedom, that is a work that should centre round this Building. In erecting this Building an attempt has been made to bid in a sort of way, defiance to the Past, in the shapes and lines of it, and so forth. And in the same way, practically, we must have the courage to grasp all that can be got from the fact that the Building actually stands here. We shall never get right, my dear friends, if we go on clinging to little remedies. We shall only get right by resolutely and consciously keeping before men's eyes the necessity for a new form of spiritual civilisation, for that alone can be the true starting-point for a new form of social civilisation. For the social order cannot any longer be evolved out of the economic order, but only out of a spiritual element that shall have sunk into the economic one. And we must clearly realise that the Economic type of man is played out, and that another type must come to the top, — the type of man who is a World-man, one who is conscious that there lives within him not only what he has inherited through earthly descent, but who is conscious that there live within him, also, forces of the sun and the heaven of stars, forces of the world above the senses. In such forms as people can understand, we must bring this to their consciousness; and then alone shall we be doing something towards the real progress of mankind. By merely transmitting all sorts of mystical teachings we can do no good whatever. Our mysticism must be actual spiritual life — active spiritual life.
That is what I wanted to make you realise to-day. This Building at Dornach ought to be regarded as being, without undue pretensions, the actual starting-point for a great world — movement, a world-movement which Is altogether international, a world-movement which embraces every kind of branch of spiritual life. This Building at Dornach should be the starting-point from which -to cast off all fondness for what is perishing and to receive the impulse of that force which is making for an actual renewal of man's consciousness. If we could establish something of this sort in the world, which should form a starting-point from whence to take up the spiritual essence out of the ruin of the physical earth, — if we could say: We put up the Building at Dornach to be the monument of this starting-point, to attract people's eyes to our purpose there, — if only we could create something of this kind, then we should be fulfilling what lies in the very impulse of the Spiritual Science of Anthroposophy. But we need to summon up our energies and create what shall speak to mankind in actual facts, — speak by facts in such a way as to make them see: “Look! We are aiming here at something that lies in the direction of actual progressive evolution in human consciousness, in science and art as well as in religion.” If we are in a position to speak from positive facts in this way, then we shall accomplish far more than by trying to throw ourselves into all sorts of things at which other people are aiming. We should realise that what we have to aim at is a new thing. If we are able to do this, then we shall be accomplishing a worthy task. But there we must commune with our souls, my dear friends, and try to set our hands in this way to the task of Anthroposophy.
More on this subject, then, next Friday at 7 o'clock.