Human Questions and Cosmic Answers
1. Sunlight and Moonlight, Eclipses and Man's Life of the Soul
25 June 1922, Dornach
It is exceedingly difficult for modern consciousness to see any relation between the soul and spirit of man and the purely material, physical world around him; and there is, indeed, some justification for the failure to understand Anthroposophy when it says that the soul and spirit of man — that is to say, the astral body and ego — leave the physical and etheric bodies and continue to exist outside them.
Where, then, are the astral body and ego? This is the question put to us by people who draw their knowledge from the materialistic consciousness of the present day. They naturally cannot conceive that an element of soul may find its place within the bounds of space. At most they can recognise that somewhere or other air exists and that space is pervaded with light — but the idea that soul and spirit exist in space is, for them, beyond the realm of possibility.
This impossibility is but a short way from that other impossibility of conceiving whither the soul and spirit pass when, at the moment of death, they leave the human body. True, modern man says he can “believe” in such things. The moment, however, he begins to make use of his own powers of thought, he finds himself immersed in endless conflicts. These conflicts cease when he strives upwards to Spiritual Science. But the ideas which have then to be assimilated are somewhat strange and unfamiliar to modern man, and he can approach them only slowly and by degrees. At this point let us turn to the consideration of certain facts of spiritual history which today are but little known in the outer world.
We know that the old traditional conceptions, which were incorporated later on into various religions and became matters of faith, may be traced back to primeval wisdom. We know that in ancient times there existed the Mystery centres which really fulfilled the functions alike of churches, places of learning and schools of art. These Mystery centres were the source of all the knowledge which flowed into the masses of the people, and of the impulses determining their activities.
In these centres the initiates dwelt — men who by dint of special training had attained to higher knowledge. As a result of the tests through which they had passed, they had entered into a definite relation with the cosmos — a relation which enabled them to learn, by giving heed to cosmic processes, to the progress of cosmic events, what they wished to know with regard to the world.
It is only the later, more or less corrupt forms of such an understanding that have been preserved for us in external history. You know that in Greek temples, where the oracles were given, certain individuals were wont to pass into a mediumistic condition, and when, at certain times, vapours rose out of the earth, these individuals fell into a state of consciousness which at the present day would be called “trance” by those who persist in maintaining a superficial attitude towards spiritual things. No true knowledge, no knowledge corresponding to reality can ever be attained through trance; everything is a confused jumble and has no foundation in fact. But in times when the old methods of entering into relationship with the cosmos had already deteriorated and become corrupt, people turned to the oracles as a last resource. And all that was revealed from this trance-like consciousness was looked upon as a revelation of the aims of the Divine-Spiritual Beings behind all cosmic processes. Men ordered their lives in accordance with the utterances of these oracles.
Now at the time when men turned to the oracles, they had already lost the faculties which had once been possessed by the initiates in the Mysteries. That was why they relied upon other and more external means for regulating their actions. I shall now try to make clear to you one of the ways by which, in very ancient times, those initiated into the Mysteries penetrated into the secrets of the universe, into secrets which expressed the purposes of the Divine-Spiritual Beings whose mission it is to direct and govern the phenomena of Nature. Such initiates, after they had undergone a long period of preparation during which they so worked upon their whole being that they were able to observe the more subtle life-processes, finally reached a point in their development when, gazing upon the rising sun, they entered into a definite mood. This was a practice to which the old initiate constantly applied himself. He tried to become spiritually receptive to all that took place at daybreak. When the sun was slowly rising above the horizon, a feeling of awe and intense inner devotion was called up in the soul of the initiate. It is difficult today to form any conception of this mood — it was a feeling of the deepest reverence combined with a yearning for knowledge.
A last echo of this mood can, I think, still reach us from the outer world when we read the wonderfully beautiful description of the rising sun by the German poet and writer, Johann Gottfried Herder. This description was, however, written more than a hundred years ago, and it differs from anything that might emanate from some of the insignificant modern poets. For Herder looks upon the sunrise as a symbol of all waking life — not only in Nature, but also in the human soul, in the human heart. The feeling of dawn within the human soul itself, as though the sun were rising from inner depths — this was wonderfully portrayed by Herder when he tried to show how the poetic mood entered into human evolution, and how this poetic feeling had once upon a time been quickened by all that man could experience when he looked at the rising sun.
Still more intensely was the mystery of the sunrise felt by a man such as Jacob Boehme, whose first work was called, as you know, Aurora, or the Coming of Dawn. And the following words from Goethe's Faust: “Up, Scholar, away with weariness — bathe thy breast in the morning red,” are not unconnected with the secrets of the dawn.
The farther we go back in the history of human evolution, the more wonderful do we find the moods that were awakened in the human soul at the moment of sunrise, when the first rays of the morning sun carried down on their waves the pulsating, quickening light of the cosmos. And in the centres of the Mysteries, the old initiates, when they had prepared themselves in a definite way, were able, just at this moment of sunrise, to put their most solemn and sacred questions to the cosmic spirits, and to send these questions, rising from the depths of their hearts, far out into cosmic space.
Such an initiate said to himself: “When the sun sends the first rays of light down upon the earth, that is the best time for man to send his questions out into the wide spaces of the cosmos.” And so the old initiates poured out into cosmic distances the riddles which filled their souls and hearts. They did not, however, look for answers in the trivial way that we are used to in our physical science; they entered into a mood in which they said: “We have now given over our riddles and our questions to universal space. These questions rest now in the cosmos; they have been received by the gods.”
People may think as they like about such things. They were as I have described them; such were the practices in ancient times. Then the initiates waited, and again at night-time they made their hearts ready. But now they did not give themselves up to a questioning mood; they made themselves receptive, and in a devotional mood they stood awaiting the rays of the full moon as it rose above the horizon. They felt that now they would receive an answer from the cosmos. In the older Mysteries this was a very usual procedure. At certain times, questions and riddles were sent out into cosmic space, and the answers were sent back to earth by the gods through the rays of light from the full moon.
In this way man communed with the cosmos. He was not then so proud that he turned over certain questions in his head, as a modern philosopher might do, and then immediately expected an answer. He was not so conceited as to believe that he could sit down with a piece of paper in front of him, and by means of the human brain alone solve the great riddles of existence. Rather did he believe that he must hold counsel with the divine-spiritual powers working and weaving in the cosmos if he were to discover the answers to cosmic riddles. For he knew: “Outside me, in the cosmos, I do not find merely the content of my ordinary sense-perceptions. A spiritual element is everywhere living, working and weaving. And at the moment when the rays of the sun penetrate to me, I can myself send out to meet them the whole content of my will.” This secret has been completely lost to modern research. At one time, however, such things were understood by man and lived in him as true knowledge and wisdom. In Europe, one of the last to reserve this tradition was Julian the Apostate. He was imprudent enough to take these things seriously, and as a result he fell a victim to his enemies.
Nowadays men describe the sun by saying that it sends its rays down upon the earth. The old initiate would have said: “That is only the physical aspect. The spiritual truth is that men live upon the earth and upon the earth they develop their will, and while the rays of the sun pour down from the heavens upon the earth, man can send his will out into the direction of the sun — far out into cosmic space.” On the waves of the will which as it were streams out from the earth towards the sun, the old initiates sent forth their questions into the cosmos. And while a man of today says: “There on the other side is the moon, and the moon sends its rays down upon the earth” — the old initiate said: “That again is only the physical aspect. The truth is that thoughts are brought down to the earth on the waves of the moonlight.” Thus the old initiate entrusted his questions to the rays of will which stream up, from the earth towards the sun, and he received the answers from the rays of thought which come down to the earth from the moon.
Modern science knows only one side of the picture. The scientist sees only the physical properties of sun and moon. The old initiate said: “While the sun continually sends its light down upon the earth, the earth sends its rays of will — the combined will-forces of all the human beings living on earth — into the cosmos. And when man allows the light of the moon to shine upon him, rays of thought are sent down to him from out of the cosmos.”
The human organism has undergone many changes. Anyone, therefore, who is today seeking super-sensible knowledge cannot proceed in the old way. Man's power of understanding is cruder than it was in ancient times. It is true, of course, that even today the rays of his will stream out into the cosmos. But he no longer feels that the rays of his will could carry his questions out into the cosmos; they no longer burn within him, as once they did. He has become too intellectual, and the intellect cools the intensity of all questions. We have very little feeling or the insatiable yearning which once existed in man for knowledge of the most sacred riddles of the universe. We are no longer passionately eager for knowledge; we are merely inquisitive and would like to know everything as quickly as possible without taking the trouble really to understand the world around us.
In our present age only lovers like to dream in the moonlight! Men of learning would deem it frightful superstition if they were asked to believe that answers to the most burning riddles of existence could be brought down to them by the rays of the moon. For modern man, the world is utterly bereft of the spirit, and he understands nothing of the spirit which reveals itself everywhere in the world; or, if he speaks of the spirit he does so in a vague, pantheistic sense, with no concrete knowledge of how, for instance, the rays of the will are related to the rays of the sun, how human forms of thinking are related to the light coming from the moon.
By means of an initiation suited to modern times, however, we are enabled to enter once more into relationship with the cosmos and with the spirit of the universe. The only difference is that the modern intellect has to do it in another way. The preparatory exercises leading to initiation are described in my books, particularly in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment The purpose of such exercises is to bring the man of today to a point at which it is possible for him really to receive answers to his questions — not merely in his modern pride to turn the questions over in his head, and expect answers to arise from his own brain. The latter method may indeed result in exceedingly clever ideas; but mere “cleverness” can never lead to true answers to the riddles of life. This continual turmoil in his head shuts man off from the universe.
The modern initiate must also ask questions, but he must have patience and not expect to receive the answers immediately. The modern initiate gradually reaches a stage in his development at which he no longer merely observes the outer world in order to satisfy his curiosity with the impressions received through his eyes, ears and other senses. True, he receives external impressions by means of his senses, but while he observes just as definitely, just as intimately as others, all that is around him — the flowers, the sun, moon, stars, other human beings, plants and animals — while he turns his senses in all directions, and allows all these external impressions to flow through and into him, he sends out to meet them a current of force from his own being. And it is this force which represents the question he wants to ask.
Such a man looks, maybe, at a beautiful flower. He does not, however, look at it merely passively, but fixes his gaze upon its yellow colour, and allows yellow to make an impression upon him, At the same time he sends his question out towards the yellow of the flower; he plunges the questions and riddles of existence into the colour yellow, or perhaps into the rosy colour of the sunrise or into some other perception. He does not render up all the questions of his heart to one particular impression — as, for example, to the impression of the rising sun — but he pours them out into each and all of his sense-perceptions. Were he now to expect to receive his answers from these sense-perceptions themselves, it would be just as if an old initiate had sent his problems out towards the sunrise and had then expected the answers to come from the sun, instead of waiting, as we know he did, until the time of the full moon. The old initiate had to wait at least fourteen days; for it was at the time of the new moon that he put his questions to the rising sun, and he received his answers only when the moon was full.
A modern philosopher would hardly be prepared to wait as long as fourteen days. By that time he would expect his book to be in the hands of the printers; or, let us say, he would have expected this before it became so difficult to find a publisher! Today, however, he must again learn to have patience. When a man delivers his questions over to the impressions of his senses, when he allows these questions to be plunged in all manner of things, he must not expect that these same sense-impressions will immediately bring him anything in the nature of a revelation. He must wait — and this is easy for him if he has carried out the preparatory exercises for a long enough time — wait often for a long, long while, until at last all that he has rendered up to the world outside rises up within him in the form of an answer. Should you throw out questions at random, in a haphazard kind of way, you might perhaps receive fortuitous answers of a kind — answers which might afford certain people a measure of egotistical satisfaction — but of one thing you may be sure: they would not be real answers. You must cast your problems into flower and ocean, into the great vault of heaven and its stars, into everything which comes to you as an impression from without — and you must then wait until sooner or later the answers emerge from your innermost being. You have not got to wait for exactly fourteen days; it is not for you to determine, as the old initiates were able to do, the duration of the period. You have merely to wait until the right moment comes, the moment when all that was previously external impression becomes inward experience, and the answer rings from your own inner being
The whole art of spiritual investigation, of investigation of the cosmos, consists in being able to wait, in not imagining that answers will be immediately forthcoming. It follows also, as a matter of course, that definite questions must be put if answers are to be obtained. Should you enquire from those who have already obtained true knowledge, as this is understood in the sense of modern initiation, you will hear the same thing from them all. Such a man may perhaps tell you the following story: “When I was thirty-five years old I became aware of this or that great problem of existence, and all that I had experienced in connection with it entered profoundly into my being. At that time I entrusted this problem to some particular impression which came to me from the outer world; and when I was fifty years old the solution to the problem arose from within me.”
In days of old, the initiates placed their questions within the womb of space in order that out of space they might be born again. The solar element passed through a lunar metamorphosis. Today the riddles that man would fain unravel, all that he fain would learn in converse with spiritual Beings, must first be laid by him within the stream of time. The cosmic element must appear once more, born out of the human soul after a period of time determined by the cosmic powers themselves. But it is necessary for man to reach a point where he is able to feel and know when a divine, cosmic answer stirs within him, and to distinguish between such an answer and one that is merely human.
Thus the real content of ancient initiation is still present, but in another form. It is, however, necessary to be quite clear about the following. If a man desires to penetrate into the great mysteries of existence, he must be able to enter into a spiritual relationship with spiritual Beings, with cosmic Beings. He must not remain a hermit in life, he must not try to settle everything to please himself in his own egotistical way. He must be willing to wait until the cosmos gives him the answer to those riddles and problems which he has himself sent out into cosmic space.
It is evident that if a man has once learnt to send the forces of his soul out into the cosmos and to receive cosmic forces into himself he is much better able to understand the mysteries of birth and death than he was before he had attained to such knowledge. When a man has begun to understand how the element of will inherent in the soul streams out towards the rays of the sun, how it streams into all the sense-impressions he receives from the outer world — he also begins to understand how his soul and spirit stream out into the universe on the waves of a spiritual element, of a cosmic element, when his physical body has fallen a victim to the forces of death. Moreover, he learns to understand how spirituality is brought back again to earth by the moon, by the moonlight. He realises that his highest thoughts are given back to him from cosmic space. For although in this present age thoughts rise up from within man's own being, it is, nevertheless, the lunar element in the human organism that generates the thoughts.
In addition to all this, a man who has had these experiences learns to measure the true significance of certain transitory phenomena which stand, as it were, midway between processes regarded as physical and cosmic in their nature, and those which are cosmic and spiritual. The man of today, owing largely to his materialistic education, describes everything from the physical point of view. He says: “An eclipse of the sun is due to the fact that the moon comes between the sun and the earth, cutting off the rays of the sun.” This is a physical explanation, built up from physical observation and as obvious as if we were to say: “Here is a light, and there an eye. If I place my hand in front of the eye, the light will be darkened.” As you see, it is a purely physical, spatial explanation, and that is as far as modern consciousness goes.
We must strive once more for a true knowledge of such phenomena. They are not of everyday occurrence, and on the comparatively rare occasions of their appearance they should be studied not only from their physical but also from their spiritual aspect.
At the time of a solar eclipse, for instance, something totally different takes place in the part of the earth affected from what is happening when there is no eclipse. When we know that on the one hand the rays of the sun penetrate down to the earth and on the other hand the forces or rays of will stream out to meet the sun, it is possible to form some idea of how a solar eclipse can affect these radiations of will which are altogether spiritual in their nature. The sunlight is blocked by the moon; that is a purely physical process. But physical matter — in this case the body of the moon — is no obstacle to the forces streaming out from the will. These forces radiate into the darkness, and there ensues a period of time, short though it may be, in which all that is of the nature of will upon the earth flows out into universal space in an abnormal way. It is different altogether from what takes place when there is no eclipse. Ordinarily, the physical sunlight unites with the radiations of will streaming towards it. When there is an eclipse, the forces of will flow unhindered into cosmic space.
The old initiates knew these things. They saw that at such a moment all the unbridled impulses and instincts of humanity surge out into the cosmos. And they gave their pupils the following explanation. They said: Under normal conditions the evil impulses of will which are sent out into the cosmos by human beings are, as it were, burned up and consumed by the rays of the sun, so that they can injure only man himself, but can do no universal harm. When, however, there is an eclipse of the sun, opportunity is given for the evil which is willed on earth to spread over the cosmos. An eclipse is a physical event behind which there lies a significant spiritual reality.
And again, when there is an eclipse of the moon, the man of today merely says: “Now the earth comes between the sun and the moon; hence we see the shadow cast upon the moon by the earth.” That is the physical explanation. But in this case also the old initiate knew that a spiritual reality was behind the physical fact. He knew that when there is an eclipse of the moon, thoughts stream through darkness down upon the earth; and that such thoughts have a closer relationship with the subconscious life than with the conscious life of the human being. The old initiates often made use of a certain simile when speaking to their pupils. It is, of course, necessary to translate their words into modern language, but this is the gist of what they said: “Visionaries and dreamers love to go for rambles by moonlight, when the moon is full. There are, however, certain people who have no wish to receive the good thoughts coming to them from the cosmos, but who, on the contrary, are desirous of getting hold of evil, diabolical thoughts. Such people will choose the moment of a lunar eclipse for their nocturnal wanderings.”
Here again we approach a spiritual reality in a physical event. Today we must not absorb such teaching in its old form. Were we to do so, we should be led into superstition. But it is very necessary to reach a point at which we are able once more to perceive the spiritual which permeates all cosmic processes. Eclipses of the sun and moon, recurring as they do in the course of every year, may really be looked upon as “safety-valves.” A safety-valve is there to avert danger, to provide an outlet for something or other — steam, for instance — at the right moment. One of the safety-valves which makes its appearance in the cosmos and to which we give the name of a solar eclipse, serves the purpose of carrying out into space in a Luciferic way, the evil that spreads over the earth, in order that evil may work havoc in a wider, less concentrated sphere. The other safety-valve, the lunar eclipse, exists for the purpose of allowing the evil thoughts which are present in the cosmos to approach those human beings who are desirous of being possessed by them. In matters of this kind people do not, as a rule, act in full consciousness, but the facts are nevertheless real — just as real as the attraction of a magnet for small particles of iron. Such are the forces at work, in the cosmos — forces no less potent than the forces we analyse and investigate today in our chemical laboratories.
Man will not be able to free himself from the forces in his being which tend to drag him downwards until he develops in himself a certain feeling for spiritual concepts such as these. Then only will the path leading to a true comprehension of birth and death be opened up to humanity. And such a comprehension and understanding is sorely needed by humanity today, when men are plunged in spiritual darkness. We must learn again what it really signifies when the sun sends its light towards us. When the sunlight streams towards us, the surrounding space is made free for the passage of those souls who must leave their physical bodies and make their way out into universal space. When the sun sends its light down to earth, the earth sends human souls out into cosmic space, where these souls undergo many metamorphoses. Then, in a spiritual form, they approach the earth once more, passing in their descent through the sphere of the moon, and taking possession once again of a physical body which has been prepared for them in the stream of physical heredity. It will not be possible for us to enter into a right relationship with the universe until such time as we begin to feel and experience these things in a real and living way.
Today we learn astronomy, spectroscopy and so on. We learn how the rays of the sun penetrate down to earth, and we fondly imagine that there is nothing more to be said. We learn how the rays of the sun fall upon the moon, and from the moon are reflected back again to earth, and we look upon the moonlight in this way only, taking into consideration merely its physical aspect. By such means the intellect is brought into play. Intellectual knowledge cuts man off from the cosmos and tends to destroy inner activity of soul. This inner life of soul can be reawakened, but man must first win back for himself his spiritual relationship with the cosmos. This he will be able to do only when he is once more to say to himself: “A man has died. His soul is radiating out towards the sun. It streams out into the cosmos, traveling the path made for it by the rays of sunlight, until it comes into a region where space has an end, where one can no longer speak in terms of three dimensions, but where the three dimensions are merged into unity. In this region, beyond space and beyond time, many and various things happen: but later on, from the opposite direction, from the direction of the moon, of the moonlight, the soul returns once more and enters into a physical human body, is born again into earthly life.”
When man learns once more that the souls of the dead go out to meet the light rays of the sun, that the shining beams of the moon draw the young souls back again to earth, when he learns to feel concretely how natural processes and phenomena are everywhere permeated with spirit — then there will arise once more on earth a knowledge which is at the same time religion; a truly devotional knowledge. Knowledge that is based entirely upon materialism can never become religion. And religion that is founded on faith alone, that does not spring from the fountain of knowledge, can never be made to harmonise with all that man sees and observes in the universe around him. Today men still repeat certain prayers from ancient times. And if anyone maintains — as I have done in the booklet entitled “The Lord's Prayer” 1Anthroposophical Publishing Company. Second English edition. — that deep spiritual truths are concealed in these ancient prayers, the clever modern people say: That is mere visionary dreaming, mere fantasy. But it is not fantasy; it is based on knowledge of the fact that these prayers, which can be traced back to ancient times, and which tradition has preserved for humanity, have been conceived out of a profound understanding of cosmic processes. We must win back for ourselves once more a knowledge and an understanding that will enable us to call up in our souls a feeling akin to religion whenever we are confronted by great cosmic events. We must be able to say, with the men of old: “O sun, thou sendest towards me the rays of thy light. These rays form a pathway to me upon earth — and along this pathway, but moving in the other direction, the souls of human beings, the souls of the dead stream out into cosmic space.” And again: “O moon, thou shinest down with gentle radiance upon the earth from thy place in the heavens. And borne on the waves of thy gentle light from far cosmic spaces, are those souls who are on their way once more into earthly existence.”
That is how we can find again the connection between the light and radiance of the outer world and all that lives and weaves in the inner being of man himself. We shall then no longer say thoughtlessly: “Man is surrounded by the physical universe and he can form no conception of what will become of his soul, when, separated from the body, it passes out into this purely material universe.” On the contrary, we shall know that while the piercing rays of the sun make their way through space, they are all the time working towards the forces streaming out from the human will, and preparing a pathway for them. We shall recognise also that the moon does not shed its gently undulating light over the earth without aim or purpose, but that a spiritual element surges and streams through space, borne on the waves of the moon-beams.
When once perceptions such as these enter into our consciousness, we shall no longer be able to look with indifference on a plant, let us say, when it is bathed in the light of the early morning sun. For at such a moment very special processes are taking place in the plant. It is then that the juices in the plant are carried up by its delicate vessels into blossom and leaf. It is then that the rays of the sun, as they fall upon the plant, make way for the forces of will coming from the earth. And it is not only the juices described by our modern scientists which stream through the plant at such a moment; those forces of will which have their seat in the depths of the earth, stream upwards also from the root of the plant into its flower. And in the evening, when leaves and petals close, when the rays of the sun no longer prepare a pathway for the emanations of will streaming upwards from the earth, the inner activity of the plant ceases for a time, and its life rests.
The plant, however, is also exposed to the gentle light of the moon. The moonlight does not cast its spell on lovers only — it has an influence too on the sleeping plant. Interwoven with the moonlight, cosmic thought streams down into the plant and works within it.
Thus in the plant-world we learn to look for the combined forces of “earthly will” and “cosmic thought.” And we study the form of many different plants in order to discover how far each one is woven out of “cosmic thought” and of “earthly will.” And when we learn how spiritual, healing forces spring up from these cosmic thoughts, and from this earthly will, the healing properties of plants make themselves known to us, and we learn to see in the plant the medicinal herb. But it is only when one has attained to an intimate knowledge of cosmic processes that it becomes possible to recognise the remedial potentialities of the several plants.
We must win this knowledge afresh. We must reach the point, when we can understand how the human head is actually moulded in the image of the earth herself. In the human embryo it is the head which first takes shape. It is moulded in the likeness of the earth, and the rest of the body is joined on to it. When the human head is bathed in light, and the sunlight penetrates it, then that which in the human head is analogous to “earthly” will shines out into the cosmos with a living power.
If, now, we consider a plant whose root contains the forces of “earthly will” in marked degree, we can be sure that the root of such a plant seeks continually to evade the light of the sun; and we can be equally sure that it is specially subject to the influence of the moonlight, which, feebly though its rays seem to us to shine down upon the earth, nevertheless penetrates right through to the roots of the plants.
If, by burning the root of such a plant, we bring to it the element of light, and if we preserve the ashes thus obtained and make a powder out of them, then we have the means to prove how such a powder is able, by virtue of the cosmic processes inherent within it, to work upon the human head, for the forces of will in the head are similar in their nature to the forces of will in the earth. The point is that we should learn to fathom the connection which everywhere exists between matter and spirit — a connection which does not differ whether we are dealing with the smallest particle of matter or the greatest mass. Then we shall be able to do something which at present holds good only for mathematics; we shall be able to apply to the whole realm of nature truths which first come to us as purely spiritual apprehensions.
A cube, we know, is made up of six squares. Such a thing can be spun out of thought; it is a thought-picture. In salt, in ordinary cooking-salt, we find the cube again in nature herself, and here we discover the connection between a spiritual principle — something “thought out” — and a material substance in outer nature. But I ask you: — What does the average man of today know of the degree in which spiritual forces — cosmic forces of thinking, earthly forces of will — are present in the root of any particular plant? And yet the process is the same as that which we carry out today, albeit in the most abstract manner possible, when we first conceive of the cube, and then proceed to find it again in ordinary salt.
What we do today only when we are thinking in terms of mathematics, we must learn to do again with everything that comes within the range of the human soul. The study of mathematics does not, as a rule, give rise to a devout, religious attitude of mind. Such a man as Novalis could, it is true, be rapt in devotion when given up to the study of mathematics. For Novalis, the science of mathematics was a great and beautiful poem. But one comes across few people who enter into a devout mood of soul when studying mathematics!
When, however, we go a step farther, when we conjure up the spirit from the depths of man's being and bear this spirit out into the cosmos, where of course it already is (one merely learns to recognise it again) — then science becomes permeated with religion; harmony between religion and science is once again achieved.