Thinking and Willing as Two Poles of Human Soul-Life
This lecture is the 11th of 13 lectures given by Rudolf Steiner at Dornach, Switzerland in June and July of 1921. The series of lectures is entitled: Human Evolution, Cosmic Soul, Cosmic Spirit - I. This lecture was translated from a shorthand report, unrevised by the lecturer, by an unknown translator, and first published in English in the periodical, Anthroposophical Movement, Volume VIII, No. 4 in 1931.
15 July 1921
My lecture to-day will contain certain truths which will be of use to us again later, and which will help us in the course of the next few days to pursue our ideas further and to develop them in a definite direction. When we turn our attention to the life of the soul we may say that at the one pole of this soul-life lies the thought element, at the other pole the will element, and between these two the element of feeling, that which in ordinary life we call feeling, qualities of the heart, and so on. Naturally, however, what actually takes place in the life of the soul during the waking state is never entirely one-sided; thinking is not present by itself, nor willing by itself, there is always a mutual relationship and interplay between them. Let us suppose that we maintain a completely passive attitude towards life, so that we can say that our will does not function outwardly at all. We must nevertheless be aware that if, during such a period of outer quiescence, we think, an element of will reigns in the thoughts that we unfold. Will holds sway in the sphere of our thinking in that we correct one thought with another. Hence even if we are apparently absorbed in contemplation, in pure thought, a certain will element prevails, at any rate inwardly. On the other hand, unless we are actually raving, or given to walking in our sleep, we cannot be active in our will without allowing our will impulses to be permeated by thoughts. Thoughts always interpenetrate our will-activity, so that in this connection we may say: in the life of the soul the forces of the will are never separated off; they never exist for themselves alone. But the qualities that are never completely sundered from one another, that have no separate existence, may nevertheless be traced back to a different origin. And in this case the one pole of our soul-life, thinking, has a completely different origin from our life of will.
Even if we limit our observation to the affairs of everyday life we shall find that thinking always bears reference to something that is already there; it takes certain presuppositions for granted. Thinking is for the most part reflection. Even when we think ahead, as it were, when we decide to undertake something which we afterwards carry out by means of our will, even then experience lies at the back of such thinking, and we are guided by it. Thus this kind of thinking also is in a certain sense meditative or reflective.
The will cannot be influenced by what is already there. This would obviously entail a perpetual losing of the race. The will can be guided solely by that which is to come, by what lies in the future. Feeling stands mid-way between the two. Our thoughts are accompanied by feelings. Thoughts delight us, repel us. Feeling imbues our will impulses with life, and stands mid-way between thinking and willing.
Even in ordinary life there is some indication that this is the case, and so it is also in the great universe. And in this connection we must say: that which determines our thinking, that which enables us to think and creates in us the possibility of thought, all that we owe to our life before birth, before conception. Fundamentally speaking, the faculty of thought which man develops in himself is already present in germ in any little child we may happen to meet. Only, — as you know from other lectures I have given — the child makes use of thought as a means of building up his body. ... Particularly during the first seven years of his life, up to the time of the change of teeth, the child makes use of thought-forces to guide him in the building up of his physical body. From then on these forces gradually emerge as actual thought-forces; but they are present in man from the moment he enters upon his physical, earthly life.
That which develops into the forces of will has, in the case of the young child, very little connection with the power of thought. To an unprejudiced observation this is obvious. Watch the sprawling movements of a child during the first weeks of his life and you will certainly say: The child has first won for himself the power of making these sprawling, chaotic movements through the fact that his soul and spirit are clothed from the physical outer world with physical bodily substance. In this physical bodily substance which we gradually develop from the time of conception and birth lie the forces of the will, and the development of child-life consists really in this, that gradually the will is taken hold of by the thought-forces which we bring with us through birth into physical existence. Watch and see how, to begin with, the child moves his limbs quite meaninglessly, purely out of the activity of the physical body, and how, little by little, as one might say, thoughts enter into these movements so that they become imbued with meaning. Thus there is a pressing, a pushing of thinking into the forces of the will, forces which live absolutely and complete in the physical covering which enwraps the human being when he is born, indeed from the moment of conception. The life of the will is therein contained.
So that, speaking from a more or less schematic point of view, we might portray man in some such words as these: Man brings his thought-life with him when he descends from the spiritual world. He incorporates his willing life into the bodily substance which is given to him by his parents. The forces of will which express themselves chaotically are situated in the body. Here too are to be found the thought-forces which to begin with serve as regulating forces whose function it is to permeate the incarnated will in the right way with spirit.
We become aware of these will forces when we pass through death and enter into the spiritual world. There, however, they are in the highest degree ordered and controlled. We carry them with us through the gate of death into the spiritual life. The thought-forces which we bring with us out of the super-sensible life into earthly life we lose in the course of this earthly life.
In the case of human beings who die prematurely things are somewhat different. At the moment however we are speaking of normal human beings. Such people, those for instance who live to be more than fifty years old, have as a rule already lost the original thought-forces they brought with them from an earlier life, and they have preserved the directing forces of the will, which can then be carried over beyond death into the life upon which we enter when we pass through the gate of death.
One can certainly take for granted that thought has its own place within each one of us, although indeed when a man has passed the age of fifty he has usually lost his power of thinking.
In a certain sense this is absolutely true to-day in the case of the large majority of people who take no interest in the things of the spirit. I suggest that you should one day really start from this point and make a record of how many fundamentally original thoughts and ideas at the present time proceed from persons who are more than fifty years old! As a rule the thoughts of such people can be traced back to their earlier years. These thoughts have gone on automatically; they were once imprinted into the body, and the body has gone on automatically in its turn. The body is indeed a picture of the thought-life, and the human being, in accordance with the law of inertia, ambles on and on in the same old habits of thought. Today it is hardly possible to escape from this ambling on in the same old groove of thought if one does not, in the course of one's life, absorb thoughts which are of a spiritual nature, which are similar to those thought-forces in the midst of which we were placed before our birth. It is an actual fact that the time is rapidly approaching when old people will become sheer automata if they do not accustom themselves to receiving thought-forces coming from the spiritual worlds. Naturally people can continue to think in a more or less automatic way. It can appear as though they really were thinking. In reality, however, unless man is laid hold of by those youthful elements which proceed from thoughts given to him by Spiritual Science, such thinking is only an automatic continuation of movement in those organs in which thoughts have previously been embedded. This taking in of thoughts arising out of Spiritual Science is in no sense merely theorising, for such thoughts penetrate into the depths of human life.
Now you will see that this whole question gains special significance when we take into account the relationship existing between man and nature. By the term “Nature” I am now including everything which surrounds us and works upon our senses, everything to which we are subjected from waking until sleeping. All this one can observe in the following way. One can allow to pass before one's eyes, — I am speaking now of spiritual eyes, — everything that one sees. We call it the tapestry of the senses. I will draw it diagrammatically as follows: Here we have everything that one sees, hears, perceives as warmth, as the colours of nature, and so on. (I have drawn an eye as a symbol of all that can be sensed in this way). There is, however, something behind this tapestry of the senses. The physicist, or people generally who accept the modern world-conception, say: Behind this tapestry are atoms, and these atoms whirl round and round, and then — well then, they just go on whirling. In reality there is no tapestry of the senses, but somehow or other in the eye, or in the brain, or somewhere else, these atoms call up the impression of colour, sound, and so on. Now I would ask you to think a little about this tapestry of the senses, quite without prejudice, and without starting off with the illusion that you can prove the existence of this mighty army of atoms, which are marshalled by the militaristic thought of the chemists in such a way that, let us say, Sergeant C. stands here, then two Privates, O., O., and then still another Private called X, so that we have ranged up in militaristic style: Ether, Atoms and so on. Now if, as I have just said, you do not give way to this illusion, but hold fast to reality, you will know that this tapestry of the senses is spread out before us, that there outside are the sense-qualities, and that the faculty by means of which I am able to comprehend with my consciousness what is contained in such sense-qualities is that to which we give the name of thinking. In reality thought and nothing else lies behind this tapestry of the senses. In other words, thought and thought alone lies behind everything which we have in the physical world. That these thoughts are carried by beings is something about which I shall have more to say later. The point is that it is only by means of thought that we can penetrate into what lies at the back of the content of our consciousness. The power of thinking, however, we bring with us from our life before birth, from our life before physical conception. Why is it that we are able to penetrate behind the tapestry of the senses by means of this power?
Try to familiarise yourselves with the thought to which I have just referred. Try to formulate the question clearly, basing it on what has already been indicated and what we have already considered from many points of view. Why is it that we succeed in getting behind the tapestry of our senses with our thoughts if these same thoughts have their origin in our life before birth? The answer is simple. Because at the back of this tapestry something is to be found which does not belong to the present, but to the past. The past lies under the surface of the tapestry of the senses, and we only behold it aright when we recognise it as belonging to the past. The past works down into the present, and out of the past springs up that which becomes visible to us in the present. Imagine a meadow decked with flowers. You see the grass as the green carpet, you see the gay beauty of the blossoms. That is the present. But all this grows out of the past, and if you think your way through it then you have, not an atomic present, but in very truth a past which is related to that which can be traced back to the past in your own being also.
When we begin to think about these things it is interesting to find that it is not the present which is revealed to us by the outer world, but the past. What is the present? The present has no logical structure. A sunbeam falls upon some plant. There it shines; a few minutes later its direction changes and its light shines somewhere else. The picture never remains the same for a moment. The present is of such a nature that we cannot understand it by means of purely mathematically constructed thoughts. What we are able to understand by means of such thoughts is the past which continues on into the present.
This it is which can reveal itself to man as a great and significant truth: If you think, if you spin a web of logical thought, you are, broadly speaking, reflecting upon that which is past. He who grasps this idea will no longer seek for wonders in the past. For in so far as the past is interwoven with the present, the present must inevitably be a product of the past. Let us suppose that yesterday you ate some cherries. That is a past action. You cannot undo it because it belongs to the past. If, however, cherries had the propensity of making a sign or mark somewhere or other before disappearing into your mouth, then this sign would remain. You could not alter it. If yesterday, when you were eating cherries, each cherry had inscribed its past into your mouth, and then someone had come along and wanted to erase five of these marks, — well, it might be possible to do so, but the fact would in no way be altered thereby. Just as little can you perform any kind of miracle with regard to natural phenomena, for they are all the outcome of what is past. And everything that we can grasp by an understanding of natural law is already past, it no longer belongs to the present. The present is always in a state of flux, and can only be fathomed by means of pictures. You must take up a position from which these pictures can work upon you. You must, as it were, see the shadows in their proper proportion. You can construct shadows, but you will get from them only circumscribed shadow pictures. If a physical object shines it produces a shadow. That the shadow really arises in this way can only be verified by giving oneself up to a study of the picture. So that one can say: Even in ordinary life that which is circumscribed and limited, in other words, logical thinking, is related to the past. And Imagination is related to the present. With regard to the present man is always gifted with Imagination.
Just think how it would be if you wanted to live logically in the present! To live according to the laws of logic means that each concept is induced by the one which went before, it means that one passes systematically from one concept to the next. Now place yourselves in imagination in some definite situation in life; visualise an actual event. Is the following event logically connected with it? Can you logically deduce this event from the preceding one? When you survey life in this way do not its pictures seem dream-like in their nature? The present is similar to a dream, except for the fact that the past is mixed in with the present, and so brings it about that this present runs an ordered and logical course. And if you try to bring some premonition of the future into the present, indeed if you merely try and think of what you intend to accomplish in the future, such thinking deals with what is absolutely intangible. What you will experience this evening does not stand before you as a picture, but as something still more immaterial. At the most it exists in you as Inspiration. Inspiration is connected with the future.
We can make this clearer by means of a simple illustration. For instance, when a man surveys the tapestry of the senses, — diagrammatically indicated here by the eye I have drawn on the board, — he perceives this tapestry in its ever-changing pictures. But now he comes and introduces law and order into these pictures. He creates a Natural Science out of the changing pictures of the sense world. He creates a specialised science. Think for a moment how you develop this Natural Science, or perhaps I should say, how this Natural Science is developed. The scientist makes experiments; as a thinking being he makes experiments. If you wish to develop a science based on logical thinking and dealing with all that is spread out before you as the tapestry of the senses, you cannot do it by drawing on the outer world for your logical thoughts. That is quite impossible. If thoughts, — and the laws of Nature must also be looked upon as thoughts, — if the laws of the external world emanated from this world: well, in that case it would be quite superfluous to learn about the external world, for then anyone, by just looking at the light for instance, would know as much about the laws underlying electricity and so on, as anybody else who had made a study of such things! In the same way, unless he has actually learned it, a man knows nothing of the relationship of a circle to its radius, etc., etc. Out of our own inner being we bring everything which we introduce into the outer world as thoughts. Yes, it is indeed as I have said, — that which we introduce into the outer world as thought emanates from our inmost being. In this connection we will consider the human being as a “head-man,” we will consider him from the point of view of his head organisation. He surveys the tapestry of the senses. Interwoven with this tapestry of the senses is all that we are able to acquire through the medium of thinking; and between this and what is contained in our own inner being there is a certain connection, a kind of sub-earthly connection. This is how it comes about that we draw forth from our inner being in the form of thought-life what we no longer perceive in the outer world owing to the fact that it has become part of us ourselves. This we incorporate into the outer world. Take counting for instance. There is no counting in the outer world. The laws underlying counting are contained in our own inner being. But that they are in accordance with truth depends upon the fact that between the potential qualities inherent in the outer world and our own earthly laws there is a sub-earthly connection going [on] below the surface, below the merely physical side of things. Hence we derive the laws of number from our own inner being, and these laws are in harmony with what exists outside us. But the way does not lie through our eyes, through our senses, but through our whole organism. All that we develop by virtue of our humanity is developed out of the whole human being. It is not true that we learn to comprehend Natural Law by means of the senses. We understand it with our whole human being.
These things must be borne in mind if one is anxious to gain a true picture of the relationship existing between man and his surroundings. We are continually living in a world of pictures, of imaginations; this will immediately become clear to you if you consider without prejudice the normal course of a dream. I grant you, the ordinary dream is usually very chaotic, but for this very reason it is more closely related to life than logical thinking. Let us take an extreme case. We will imagine a conversation taking place between reasonable human beings of the present day. One listens. One even takes part in the conversation. Try to recall a conversation of this kind which has lasted, let us say, for half-an-hour or so, and ask yourselves whether such a conversation has more connection with dreaming or with logical thinking. If you were to demand opportunity for the development of logical thinking in such a conversation, you would lay yourselves open to profound disappointment. The world of the present comes to meet us clothed in pictures, so that in a certain sense our life is one continuous dream. We have to introduce logic into life by our own individual effort. We acquire logic in our pre-natal existence, and only later bring it into connection with the things of this world. By so doing we become aware of the past as it exists in the things present. The present we comprehend by means of imaginations.
When we consider this imaginative life which continually surrounds us in the sense-world of the present, we cannot do otherwise than say: This imaginative life yields itself up to us. We ourselves do nothing towards it. Just think how great is the effort we have to make if we wish to acquire the faculty of logical thinking. In order to enjoy life, in order to observe life, there is no need for us to make the slightest effort. Everything is revealed to us in form of pictures. In this respect life is kind to us, for the events of the outer world are revealed pictorially to our picture consciousness. Nothing now remains but for us to acquire the faculty of making similar pictures, — but in this case through personal activity such as that which is called forth by thinking, — and to learn to understand and experience these pictures by means of inner effort similar to that which is associated with the process of thinking. Then not only does one see the present in the form of pictures, but this picture consciousness expands into the life before birth or before conception, and one perceives what took place before one was born. And when one gazes deeply into such pictures, then one's thinking itself becomes pictorial, and the pre-earthly life is no longer an abstraction but a reality. All we have to do is to accustom ourselves, — by the development of those faculties which are spoken of in my book Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment — all we have to do is to accustom ourselves to think in pictures, without these pictures yielding themselves up to us of their own accord as is the case in ordinary life. When we transmute this soul-life, in which in reality we are always living, and make it into a conscious life of our own, then we are able to look into the spiritual world and behold the why and the wherefore of the course of our own life.
To-day, nearly without exception, it is considered to be a sign of spirituality when anyone, — I have often spoken of this before, — thoroughly despises material life and says: I am striving towards the spirit. Matter lies far beneath me. In reality this is weakness; for only he can attain to a true life of the spirit who is not content with leaving matter beneath him, but who sees matter itself and the activities connected with matter as spirit, who recognises all matter as spirit, and all spirit in its manifestation as something inseparable from matter.
What I have just said becomes fraught with special significance when we turn our attention to thinking and willing. Speech at the most, speech which contains within itself a mysterious and secret genius, has something still to add to that which leads to knowledge in this particular sphere. When you consider the will and what is absolutely fundamental to the will in ordinary life, you know that it arises out of desire.
Let us take the crudest form of desire. What is it? Hunger. It follows, therefore, that what arises out of desire is also in a certain sense related to hunger. You will have gathered from what I have already tried to indicate to-day that thinking lies at the opposite pole. A certain relation will therefore be found to exist between thinking, and a condition which is diametrically opposed to desire. We can say: If we place desire at the back of the willing, then we must place repletion, satiety, not hunger, at the back of the thinking.
If we, as human beings, take our head-organisation and the rest of the organisation dependent upon it, then the facts are as follows: We perceive through the medium of our senses. And in that we perceive something is continually taken away from us; something enters into our inner being from outside. The ray of light which penetrates into our eye actually carries something away. A hole is bored in our own physical-substance. Previously physical matter was there. Now the ray of light has bored a hole. As a result hunger makes itself felt. This hunger must be satisfied. It is satisfied out of the organism itself, by nourishment present in the organism. In other words this hole is filled in with nourishment contained within us. Now suppose we have been thinking; we have made our perceptions into material for thought. While we are thinking we are filling out the holes created by our sense-perceptions, we are satisfying this hunger with what rises up, out of our own organism.
When we turn our attention to the head organisation it is extraordinarily interesting to observe how into the holes which arise through our ears and our eyes — holes — everywhere — through our susceptibility to warmth — holes everywhere — we insert matter coming from the rest of the organism. By means of his thinking man completely fills himself out; he fills out the holes which have been bored in the manner described.
And with our willing the process is similar. Only in this case it works not from outside inwards, so that we are hollowed out, as it were, but from inside outwards. When we will, cavities arise in us on all sides. These must also be filled in with matter. So that we can say: We receive impressions of a negative character which create in us hollow cavities, cavities coming from without as well as from within, and into these cavities we insert our own substance. Of these activities the ones which affect us most intimately are those which delve into us from without, for they destroy in us everything appertaining to the earth. For in the moment of receiving the ray of light, in the moment of hearing a tone or a sound, we destroy our earthly existence. We re-act to this destructive process however, and fill ourselves out again with earthly substance. Thus our life is poised mid-way between the annihilation of earthly existence and the building up of earthly existence, in other words, between Lucifer and Ahriman. Lucifer is concerned with the attempt to make us into non-corporeal beings; he would fain lift us right out of earthly existence. Lucifer, if he could, would spiritualise us, or shall we say de-materialise us. But Ahriman is his opponent. Ahriman works in such a way that he continually fills in what is hollowed out by Lucifer. Ahriman is the indefatigable “refiller.” If you wished to give plastic expression to Lucifer and Ahriman you could do it very well by merging your material in such a way that the figure of Ahriman was continually pressing into the hollows and curves of Lucifer, as though desirous of turning him inside out. And because these hollows and cavities are actually present within us they must be pushed outwards, they must, as it were, be turned inside out. Ahriman and Lucifer are two opposing forces, and both work in the human being. Equilibrium lies between them. The result of Lucifer's persistent efforts at dematerialisation is: Materialisation. When we perceive: Lucifer. When we think over that which we have perceived: Ahriman. When we form ideas with regard to our desires and wishes: Lucifer. When we really bring our will-forces into play on the earth: Ahriman. Thus we stand midway between them both. Like a pendulum we swing first towards the one, then towards the other, and we must be quite clear on the following point. As human beings we are placed in the most intimate relationship with the Ahrimanic and Luciferic powers, and we learn to understand man only when we consider him in connection with these polar opposites.
By so doing we gain an outlook on life which does not rest simply and solely on an abstract spiritual conception, for such a conception is nothing but a nebulous mysticism. Neither does it rest on a purely materialistic conception, for everything which is material is at the same time spiritual. Everywhere we have to do with spirit. And we learn to understand matter in all its reality, matter as it actually exists, when we are able to perceive the spirit inherent within it.
I said that Imagination comes to us of itself in so far as the present is concerned. When we develop Imagination by special means we are able to look into the past. When we develop Inspiration we look into the future in a way not unlike the way in which we are able to reckon out when certain occurrences, such as a solar or lunar eclipse, for instance, will take place. That is to say, we do not perceive the details, but we do perceive, and that to a considerable extent, the great laws determining the future. And Intuition embraces all three: Present, Past and Future. As a matter of fact we are constantly subject to Intuition, only we sleep through it and so remain unconscious of it. When we sleep our Ego and astral body are right outside in the external world. And in this condition we unfold that intuitive activity which otherwise must be consciously developed as Intuition. Organised as he is at the present day, man is too weak to be conscious of his intuitive faculty. But he nevertheless exercises this faculty during the night. So that it is true to say: In the sleeping state man develops Intuition; in the waking state he develops logical thinking — up to a certain point of course. Between these two lie Inspiration and Imagination. When man passes over from the sleeping condition into waking life his Ego and astral body enter into the physical and etheric bodies. What he brings with him is Inspiration, to which I have drawn your attention in previous lectures. So that we can say: In the sleeping state man is a being of Intuition: waking he is a logical thinker; in the moment of waking he is endowed with Inspiration; when falling asleep he is filled with Imagination. From this you see that activities generally looked upon as belonging to higher spheres of knowledge are in no way foreign to ordinary life, but are actually present in ordinary life, requiring only to be raised up into consciousness for the development of a higher knowledge to become possible.
Moment of Waking
It must ever and again be pointed out that in the course of the last three or four hundred years external science has collected a vast number of purely material facts, and has succeeded in formulating these facts and discovering the laws upon which they are based. These facts must now once more be permeated with spirit. But it is good — if I may say so without sounding too paradoxical — it is good that materialism arose, for otherwise humanity would have fallen into a vague and nebulous condition. Man would gradually have lost all connection with earth existence. When in the fifteenth century the age of materialism dawned, man was in great danger of falling victim to Luciferic influences, and of becoming by degrees more and more “hollowed out.” Since that time Ahrimanic influences have made themselves felt. And during the last four or five centuries Ahrimanic influences have developed to an ever increasing extent. To-day these influences have become very strong, and there is a danger that they will overstep the mark if we do not oppose them with a force which will weaken them, if we do not confront them with spirit.
But in this connection it is necessary that man should develop the right feeling for the relation of spirit to matter. You may remember that there is a poem belonging to the old German culture called “Muspille,” a poem which was first found in a book dedicated to Ludwig the German in the ninth century, but which in reality goes back to very much earlier times. In this poem there is contained a purely Christian element. It describes the battle of Elias with Antichrist. But the manner in which this battle of Elias with Antichrist is described, the whole way in which the story is unfolded, reminds one of the old battles which took place between the inhabitants of Asgard and the inhabitants of Jötunheim, the inhabitants of the Kingdom of Giants. All that has been done is to change the Kingdom of the Asen into the Kingdom of Elias, and the Kingdom of the Giants into the Kingdom of the Antichrist.
The manner of thinking which we meet with here conceals the real truth less than the thinking of a later day. A more modern thinking speaks always of a duality, of good and evil, of God and the Devil, and so on. But this manner of thinking is of later development and no longer coincides with the thinking of earlier times. Those people who created the story of the battle between the Kingdom of the Gods and the Kingdom of the Giants did not see in the Gods an equivalent, they did not see the same as that which the Christian of to-day understands as the Kingdom of his God, but the thinking of an earlier, time placed Asgard above, for example Asgard the Realm of the Gods, and below was Jötunheim, the Realm of the Giants. Man himself was to be found in the middle region, in Mittelgard. This is the Germanic-European way of expressing what in ancient Persia was understood by Ormuzd and Ahriman. In our manner of speaking to-day we should say Lucifer and Ahriman. We ought in reality to speak of Ormuzd as Lucifer and not merely as the good God. And the error so frequently met with is this, that one understands this dualism in such a way that Ormuzd is looked upon as the good God, and his enemy Ahriman as the evil God. In reality the relationship is that of Lucifer to Ahriman. The region of Mittelgard is represented quite accurately in the time when this poem “Muspille” was written, for it was not said: Christ allows His Blood to stream down from above, but: Elias is there, it is he who allows his blood to stream down, and man is placed in the middle. Ideas belonging to the time when Ludwig the German apparently copied this poem into his book are truer than those of a later age, for later on things took a strange turn, and people no longer remembered the Trinity; that is to say, they looked upon the Upper Gods which are in Asgard, and the Lower Gods which are in the Realm of Ahriman, as being the All; they conceived the Upper, the Luciferic Gods as being the good Gods, and the others as being the evil Gods. That happened in later times. An earlier humanity still understood rightly the contrast between Ahriman and Lucifer, and therefore placed a being such as Elias, — Elias with his emotional prophecy, with all that he was at that time able to foretell in the Luciferic Realm, — because it was felt that Christ must be placed in the middle region, in Mittelgard.
We must go back to these concepts once more in full consciousness, otherwise, if we speak only of the duality between God and the Devil, we shall not be able to draw near again to the Trinity, — to the Gods, to the Ahrimanic Powers, and, mid-way between, to the Kingdom of Christ. Until we reach this stage we cannot arrive at a real understanding of the world. You must bear in mind how great a secret concerning the historical evolution of European humanity is contained in the fact that the Ormuzd of ancient times has been turned into the good God, whereas in reality he is a Luciferic Power, a God of Light. As though to make amends for this error humanity has gone to the other extreme, and has made Lucifer as bad as possible. Because people were not willing to give the name of Lucifer to Ormuzd they carried Lucifer over to Ahriman, and made a mix-up of the two, the after-effects of which are still to be seen in Goethe's character Mephistopheles. In Mephistopheles we have Lucifer and Ahriman mixed up together, as I have shown quite clearly in my little book: Goethe's Conception of the Soul. European humanity, the humanity of present-day civilisation, has become very greatly confused, and this confusion pervades all thinking. It can be put right by leading away from the conception of Duality, and entering once more into the conception of the Trinity, for what is dual leads finally to a condition in which man cannot live, for he must needs seek for a polarity in which he can find adjustment and balance. Christ stands there as the Balance between Lucifer and Ahriman, as the Balance between Ormuzd and Ahriman.
This is the subject that I wished to touch upon in my lecture, and that I shall amplify and carry further in the course of the next few days.