What was the Purpose of the Goetheanum
9 April 1923, Basel
The terrible catastrophe of last New Year's Eve, the destruction by fire of the Goetheanum, which will remain as a painful memory for the many who loved it, may provide occasion to connect today's thoughts about the anthroposophical knowledge and conception of the world with this Goetheanum. But a connection is all I have in view; for the lecture itself that I am to present to you is not to be essentially different in kind from those I have been permitted to give here in Basel, in this same hall, for many years past.
That dreadful calamity was just the occasion to bring to light what fantastic notions there are in the world linked with all that this Goetheanum in Dornach intended to do and all that was done in it. It is said that the most frightful superstitions were disseminated there, that all sorts of things inimical to religion were being practiced; and there is even talk of all kinds of spiritistic seances, of nebulous mystic performances, and so on.
In respect to all this, I should like today to answer, at least sketchily, the question: What is this Anthroposophy to which the Goetheanum was dedicated?
Many people were scandalized at the very name, “Goetheanum,” because they failed to consider the fundamental reason for this name, and how it is connected with all that is cultivated there as Anthroposophy.
For me, my dear friends, this Anthroposophy is the spontaneous result of my devotion for more than four decades to Goethe's world-conception, and to his whole activity. Of course if anyone studies Goethe's world-conception and what he did by considering only what is actually written in Goethe's works, and from that deduces logically, as it were, what may now be called Goethean, he will not find what gave occasion to call the Dornach Building the “Goetheanum,” But there is, I might say, a logic of thinking and a logic of life. And anyone who immerses himself in Goethe, not merely with a logic of thinking, but who takes up actively his impulse-filled suggestions, and tries to gain from them what can be gained — after so many decades have passed over humanity's evolution since Goethe's death — he will believe — no matter what he may think of the true value of Anthroposophy — that by means of the living stimuli of Goetheanism, if I may use the expression, this very Anthroposophy has been able to come into being through a logic of life, by experiencing what is in Goethe, and by developing his conclusions, in a modest way.
Now this Goetheanum was first called “Johannesbau” by those friends of the anthroposophical world-conception who made it possible to erect such a building. The name was in no way connected with the Evangelist, St, John; but the building was named — not by me but by others — for Johannes Thomasius, one of the figures in my Mystery Drama; because, above all, this Goetheanum was to be dedicated to the presentation of these Mystery Plays, besides the cultivation of all the rest of the anthroposophical world-view. But of course it was inevitable that this name, “Johannesbau,” should lead to the misunderstanding that it was meant for the author of St. John's Gospel.
Hence, I often said, I think even here in this place, in the course of the years in which the Goetheanum was being built, that for me this building is a Goetheanum; for I derived my world-view in a living way from Goethe. And then this name was officially given to the Building by friends of the cause. I have always regarded this as a sort of token of gratitude for what can be gained from Goethe, an act of homage to the towering personality of Goethe; not because it was supposed that what was originally given by Goethe would be cultivated in the best and most beautiful way in the Dornach Goetheanum, but because the anthroposophical world-view feels the deepest gratitude for what has come into the world through Goethe.
If, then, the name “Goetheanum” is taken as resulting from an act of homage, an act of gratitude, then no one, as I believe, can take exception to it. For the rest, it is quite comprehensible that anyone unacquainted with the anthroposophical world-view, when approaching the building on the Dornach hill, would be at first peculiarly affected by the two dove-tailed dome-structures, by the strange forms without and within, and so forth. But this building proceeded as an inner artistic consequence, from the anthroposophical world-view. Therefore, I shall be able to form the best connecting link with what the Building stood for, if I try first — today in a somewhat different way from the one I have employed here for many years — to answer the question: What is Anthroposophy?
To start with, Anthroposophy claims to be a knowledge of the spiritual world, which can fully take its place beside the magnificent natural science of our time. It aims to rank with natural science, not only as regards scientific conscientiousness, but it also requires that anyone who wishes, not merely to receive Anthroposophy into his mind, but to build it up, must, before all else, have gone through all the rigid and serious methods used today by natural science.
In all this the purpose of Anthroposophy is the complete opposite of what I have cited as the opinions of the world about it. With regard to these opinions, which I have given only in part, we can only be astonished that it is possible for ideas about anything to become fixed in the minds of the public, which are the exact opposite of what is really intended. For it can be flatly said that all I have mentioned as opinions of the world is not Anthroposophy, but that Anthroposophy purposes to be a serious knowledge of the spiritual world.
You well know, my dear friends, that today anything claiming to be knowledge of the spiritual world is regarded somewhat contemptuously, or at least with great doubt. The scientific education that mankind has enjoyed for the past three or four hundred years was of such a nature that in the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, the opinion came gradually to be held that, by means of the strict methods employed today by natural science, man can know what is presented to the senses in his environment, and also what the human intellect can deduce from sense-perception, with the help of its methods of experiment and observation. But on the other hand, knowledge of the spiritual is declined, by those very people who are firmly convinced that they stand on the strict basis of this natural-scientific world-view. For it is said, whether with a certain arrogance or with a certain despondency, that with regard to the spiritual there are barriers to man's knowledge, that with regard to the spirit man must be satisfied with concepts of belief.
Because of this there results a serious inner soul-discord for very many people who get their education from the natural science that is everywhere popularized today. The concepts of belief are handed down from ancient times. It is not known that they also correspond to concepts of knowledge which humanity attained at earlier stages, and that' these are still contained in the traditions, in what has been handed down. If they are accepted just as concepts of belief, then the soul is brought into contradiction with everything it takes in when it accepts what in our day is won for humanity and for practical life in such a rigorous way by the methods of natural science.
What is won in this way cannot really be called the possession of a small group of educated people; rather, this special mode of thought derived from natural science has already penetrated the instruction of the primary grades of school. And we might even say that the condition of soul that results from natural science, if not natural science itself, has been spread everywhere, ever farther and farther, even into the most primitive, outermost human settlements. This brings it about that many people do not know that their soul-longing is for concepts about the spiritual world similar to those they have about the natural world; but this causes in many of them, nevertheless, a discord of soul which is expressed in all kinds of dissatisfactions with life. People feel a certain inner unrest and perplexity. With the concepts and feelings they have, they do not rightly know how to take their place in life. They ascribe the trouble to all sorts of things, but the real cause lies in what I have said.
People today long for real knowledge-concepts about the spiritual world, not for concepts of belief. Such knowledge-concepts are what Anthroposophy strives for; but in doing so it must, of course, vindicate an entirely different concept of knowledge from the one we are accustomed to today. And if I am to characterize this concept, I should like to do it by means of a sort of comparison, which is, however, more than a mere comparison, and is to lead directly to the way in which Anthroposophy strives to know the super-sensible-spiritual.
Let us think first of the strange world which each of you knows as the other side of human existence, as it were, the other side of human consciousness — let us think of the dream-world. Each of you can remember the variegated, diverse, colorful pictures that appear out of the dark depths of sleep. If you observe dreams from the waking state, you will find that these are connected in some way with what one is or does while awake. Even when at times they are prophetic dreams, which is by no means to be denied, they are nevertheless connected with what the dreamer has experienced — only a natural formative fantasy acts in the most extravagant way to metamorphose these experiences. In a different way such dreams are connected with the human bodily conditions; difficulty in breathing, rapid heart-action, disturbances in the organism, are experienced symbolically in dreams in many ways.
Let us imagine for a moment, merely to develop the thought that is needed here, that a person lived in this dream-world, that he had no other world; he would never be able to emerge from this world, but' would regard it as his reality. If through some kind of outer forces, the human life took its course exactly as it does now, that we went about in the cities and did our work, but did not consciously see this work, just always dreamed, then we human beings would regard the dream-world as the only reality, just as the dreamer in the moment of the dream regards his variously decked-out dream-world as his reality» Only when we wake up can we truly form a judgment, from the waking point of view, by means of the way we are then related to the world of our environment, about the real value and significance of the dream, While remaining in the dream, we can come to no such judgment. It is only possible from the point of view of the waking life to judge to what extent the dream is related to life-reminiscences, or to bodily conditions. To form a judgment about the dream, one must first wake up.
Now the human being lives also in his will, for it is particularly the will that, upon waking, is projected into the events of the outer sense-world; man lives now in the pictures which this sense-world transmits to his soul. We have no judgment whatever about the reality, except the feeling of being in the sense-world, the feeling of union with this sense-world; and from this point of view — I might say of insertion of the whole soul-being into this world by means of the body — we at first regard it as reality, and the deceptive pictures of the dream as not belonging to this reality.
But now, especially when anyone surveys all that the pictures of the outer sense-reality give to him, certainly at some time the question will appear: How is what he himself experiences within him as his soul-spirit-being related to the transformations and the variability of the outer sense-world?
The great questions of existence present themselves when a man compares what he sees in the outer sense-world with what he feels as his own being, in his thinking and feeling, his sensing and his willing, rising out of the depths of his humanness, — those great questions of existence which may perhaps be comprised in the one question: What value, as reality, has that which pertains to the soul? This then expands to questions of soul-immortality, of human freedom, and numberless others that spring up. For one will soon feel how entirely different the experience is when looking outward and receiving sense-impressions, from that of looking inward and having soul-experiences. And from such experiences the question must of necessity arises Is it perhaps possible, through some kind of second awakening, a higher awakening, to attain from a higher standpoint knowledge about sense-reality itself, in the same way that a man acquires from the sense-reality a judgment about the dream-world, when, as a matter of course, he awakes in the morning?
When a man is convinced that the imagination of the dream can be judged with regard to its value as reality, only from the standpoint of waking life, then he must strive to gain a point of view which can in turn reveal something about the value as reality, of the higher value, of sense-experience itself.
And now the great question concerning a knowledge of spirit may be put this way: Can we perhaps wake up in a higher sense from our everyday waking consciousness? and does' there result from such second waking a knowledge about the sense-world, just as from the sense-world comes knowledge about the dream?
Now we can, of course, have a feeling about it, but exact observation gives us certainty about how the dream works. When dreaming we feel that our whole soul-life is laid hold of by vague powers. At the moment of waking, we feel that we now have control of our physical body. We feel that the extravagant concepts of the dream are disciplined by the physical body. And the reason we feel that these dream-concepts are extravagant is that, when waking up or going to sleep, there is a moment ' when we do not have the physical body completely in hand. Can a higher, a second awakening, be brought about by conscious soul-activity, in the same way that we are wrenched out of the dream, out of sleep, by the forces of the organism itself?
This question can only be answered when we test, I might say in a higher sense, whether the soul finds forces within itself for such a higher awakening; and only by finding the answer to this can a different form of knowledge-concept be produced from that to which we are accustomed today, and which leads only to one's saying with regard to the spiritual world, “Ignorabimus,” “We shall not know.”
Now we shall have to turn first of all — and Anthroposophy proceeds in this way — to those soul-forces that we already have, and ask: Can something higher, still stronger, be developed out of these soul-forces, just as the waking soul-life is stronger than the dreaming life? We may reason that even this waking soul-life of the adult person has been gradually developed from the dreamy soul-life that we had at the beginning as very little children. If we had stopped with the soul-life that was ours during the first three years on earth, we should see the world in a sort of dream-form. We have grown out of this dream-form.
This may give courage, to begin with, to seek certain soul-forces which can be developed still further than the development achieved since earliest childhood. And anyone who deals with such a problem seriously will turn first to a soul-force concerning which even significant philosophers of the present admit, as a result of purely philosophic deliberation, that it points to a spiritual activity of man which is more or less independent of the body. This is our power of recollection, residing in the memory.
Let us picture to ourselves what exists in our ordinary memory. Of course this memory is not a force with which immediately to penetrate into the super-sensible, spiritual worlds. Above all, we know that this memory is only in perfect order when we can bring to expression in the corporeal what is in the soul. But nevertheless, there is something peculiar here. Among our recollections appear pictures of experiences which were perhaps decades in the past. Something experienced in our relation to the sense-world and to ordinary people appears in varying pictures — according to one's organization — which are really very similar to dream-pictures, only more disciplined. And if our memory is good, there comes today from the soul-depths a living knowledge of what occurred years ago, and is not now before us in sense-reality. This is expressed in a very popular way, of course; but we must start from a definite point of view. So we may say: There are images in the memory which portray inwardly something which was, indeed, once present, something experienced, which is not now present.
And so the question may arise which is still vague at first, and naturally acquires significance only when one can answer it — but we shall see that it can be answered. It is this: Is it possible for anyone, by soul-spiritual work, to acquire a further soul-force, a transformation as it were of the memory-force, whereby he pictures not only what is no longer present, though it once was, but whereby he depicts something which does not exist in the earth-life at all, either through sense-perceptions or any intellectual combinations? This can be decided only by serious inner soul-work; and this soul-work consists of an inner education of the essential element of memory; namely, the capacity for imagining.
How, then, do representations come about? and how is the activity of representation accomplished in ordinary life? Well, outer things make an impression upon us. First, we have sense-perceptions; then from these sense-perceptions we form our concepts, which we carry in the memory. And we know that a certain force is required when we wish to call up a memory-concept of something witnessed in earlier years in which we were involved. But we know too that man surrenders passively to the outer world, in order to have true concepts of this outer world, to bring nothing fantastic into the pictures of it. And this passive self-surrender, assisted besides by all possible experimental methods, is right for natural science. But we can do something more than this with the conceptual life. We can try to take up with inner activity concepts of any content whatsoever — only their content must be easily survey-able, so as not to work suggestively; an idea that is difficult to survey, such as one brought up from the depths of the soul, may easily work suggestively, We now try to ponder with inner activity upon such a concept, so that we surrender ourselves again and again with our whole soul-life to this thought,
I have minutely described what I might call the technique of such surrender to an active living in representation, in my books, “Knowledge of the Higher Worlds” and “Occult Science;” here I want to sketch the principle involved. If anyone devotes himself again and again to the content of an idea, quite independently of the outer meaning of the concepts he employs inwardly, upon which he inwardly rests, with which he unites himself, to which he allows his whole being to open — if anyone surrenders himself in this way to such an idea, he will gradually notice that in this inner work, in the thinking and representation, a notable aliveness is developed, an aliveness which one must first come to know before an opinion can be formed about it. But when anyone does come to know it, he begins to think somewhat as follows: A muscle we continue to use becomes stronger; in exactly the same way the thinking force of our soul-life is strengthened, if we do not surrender passively to the impressions of the outer world, but work inwardly; if in this way we again and again bring the soul-life inwardly and livingly into a certain condition with regard to an idea.
In this way we finally reach the point where the thinking — which otherwise appears shadowy, even in memory-pictures, and exhausts itself just in the mere presentation of pictures — is filled with a soul-spiritual content, just as in life we feel that we are filled with the breath, with the circulating blood. Life-force, if I may speak in this way, streams into thinking that has thus become active.
Truly, real Anthroposophy, as spirit-knowledge, is based upon intimate, inner methods of the soul, not upon any sort of necromancy? it is based upon the changing of the soul-forces of knowledge by the soul itself, making them into something different. And anyone who strengthens his thinking more and more in this way comes at last — it may be even years later — to a very special experience, an experience that may be described as follows: When we call to mind only outer objects or outer actions, we dive down to a certain depth of the soul-life, and from this depth we must then draw up the recollections. But when we actively work on our thinking in the way I have described, we finally come to the point where we know that with this thinking life we go farther down than the power of recollection reaches.
It is an important experience when we have reached the point of observing the recollections as at a certain level to which we dive down in the ordinary consciousness, and from which we bring up memory-concepts; and then when we glimpse that deeper down in the soul-life there is another level to which we have now penetrated, and from which, with our strengthened thinking, we can draw up concepts that are not the same as those to which we first submitted ourselves, but are entirely different. And while we can represent in recollections what was once present in the human life, but is no longer present, so we now learn that when we draw from this deeper level, we come to concepts that are beyond anything one otherwise ever has in life.
Through this gate of knowledge we have now penetrated into the spiritual world; and the first experience that results is this: we get a really tableau-like retrospect of our whole earth-life up to the present. We might say that in a flash — that is a somewhat extreme statement, but it is almost so — our earth-life up to this moment lies spread out in mighty pictures before the consciousness, with time changed into space, as it were. But these pictures are truly different from those we should get if we were to sit down and draw forth in recollection all that can be drawn out of our life, and should get continuous pictures of this earth-life almost to the time of our birth. This tableau is intrinsically different from the one described before. You see, in ordinary recollections the concepts are passively formed, and contain altogether not much more than our impressions from the outer world. For example, in recollections we call to mind how we met some one, the effect someone had upon us, how a friendship was formed; or again, we experience the effect upon us of some natural occurrence, what we experienced of pleasure or suffering from it, or from the influence of some one, and so on.
The content of the tableau, as I have described it, attained by strengthened, invigorated thinking, is this: A man sees himself — the way he approached another person, as a result of his temperamental qualities, or of his own character, or the desire, or the love, he had. While mere recollection gives to a man what is brought to him from outside, this memory-tableau brings to the fore what he himself has contributed to the experience, what has come out of himself. In the ordinary recollection, let us say of a natural occurrence, he has before him what this occurrence brought of pain or pleasure, that is, the effect upon him of the outer world. In the memory-tableau it would be rather his longing to be in whatever region of the earth he had this experience. The part a man himself has taken in an occurrence is what he experiences in the memory-tableau, In short, I might say that this total impression a man has of his life is diverted from the outer world, and that it contains all his activity during life. One really sees himself as a second person. When anyone has this memory-tableau, he has little impression of his physical space-body; but he feels himself within all that he has experienced, and he feels at the same time that it is all a flowing, etheric world, so to speak. And with this flowing, etheric world, which contains his own life in mighty pictures as in an onward-flowing stream, one learns at the same time that the moving etheric world of his own existence is connected with the universal etheric world. When as physical human being with his physical senses, a man confronts the outer world, he feels that he is enclosed within his skin. He feels other things as outer things. He feels a strong contrast between subject and object, to express it philosophically. This is not the case when, with strengthened thinking, one enters into what I may call the fluctuating world of the second man, of the time-man, in contrast to the corporeal, physical space-man.
We can really speak of a time-body, for a man becomes aware simultaneously of his whole previous life, and he feels this previous earth-life as moving in a universal world, like unto itself. He can say, that to the solid, dense, physical world is added a more rarified world, in which one has spent his life in flowing movement. Only now does he come to know what an etheric world is, and what man himself is as second man, as second human being in this etheric world. But with all this one has reached only the first stage of super-sensible knowledge.
It is only because one feels himself to be a spirit-soul being in a spirit-soul world that he knows from direct perception, as it were, that the whole world is interpenetrated and interwoven by a spirit-soul substantiality, which man also holds within himself, But as yet he knows no more than this. And most of all, he does not yet know of another spirit-soul world besides that one which unites him as earth-man with the surrounding etheric world.
But now we can go farther. If a man has acquired this ability to experience himself in the etheric realm, to experience the etheric world along with himself, then he can rise to another kind of development of the soul-forces.
This consists in bringing about in the soul what I might call the opposite process to the one first characterized. First we try to make the thinking inwardly very active, very much alive, so that, instead of passive thinking, we have within an active flow of forces, surging and weaving. Now we must try with the same inner force of free will to suppress again the freely soaring thought that we have put into the soul.
In the soul-exercises to which I am alluding, everything that I describe for you must be done in the same way that the mathematician works out his problems; so that it is all carried out with complete self-possession, with nothing whatever in it of false mysticism, of fantasy, even of suggestion, or anything of the kind. The exercises must be performed in the soul with the same objective coldness with which a geometric problem is solved — for the warmth and enthusiasm come not from the method, but from the results. Nevertheless, we experience the following: that when we acquire this strengthened thinking, it is difficult to dispel the representations we get by it, especially those of the previous life, with which we can be completely engrossed if we want to dwell on them. But we must develop in us the strength to disperse the images again, just as we can call them forth, by our own activity. In other words, we must acquire the faculty to extinguish in our consciousness all thinking and imagining, after having first most actively kindled it. Even extinguishing of ordinary concepts is very difficult, but this is relatively easy in comparison with the obliterating of those concepts that have been set up in the soul by spiritual activity.
Therefore this obliteration means something entirely different. And if one succeeds, again through long practice — but these exercises can be done along with the others, so that both capacities appear simultaneously — if one succeeds in producing these strong, active processes of thought in his consciousness, and then in obliterating them again, something comes over the soul that I might call the inner silence of the soul — for we must have expressions for these things you know. There is no knowledge whatever of this inner silence in the consciousness of the ordinary life.
Of the two things needed by the spiritual researcher who wants to make research in the anthroposophical way, the first is the strengthened conceptual life, the strengthened thought-life, by means of which he comes to self-knowledge in the way indicated; the other is that he must cultivate a completely empty consciousness; in which all the thinking, feeling and willing, otherwise in the soul, is silenced — but silenced only after this soul-activity has been enhanced to the highest degree. Then this silence of soul is something quite special. It represents the second stage, as it were, of spirit-knowledge; and I can describe it somewhat as follows:
Let us imagine that we are in a great city where there is a terrific uproar, and we become quite deafened by it. We leave the city, and when we have walked for some time, we still hear the roar behind us, but the noise has already become somewhat less, and the farther we go the quieter it becomes. If we finally reach the stillness of the forest, it may be that all about us will be quiet. We have experienced the whole range from raging noise to outer silence. But now I can go farther. This will not take place in outer reality, of course, but the concept is an entirely real one, when we come to what I have just designated as silence of the soul, I will for once use a very trivial comparison: We may have a certain wealth and keep spending it; we have less and less and finally nothing at all. Then our wealth is zero. But we can go still farther; we can go into debt; then we have less than nothing. We know from mathematics that one can have less than nothing.
Well, it can be the same with quiet, with silence. From the noise of the world complete silence can be restored, equal to zero. This can even become less; it can become more silent than the silence that equals zero, more and more silent, negative silence, negative quiet. And that is really the case when the strengthened soul-life is blotted out, when the silence in the soul becomes deeper than zero silence, if I may express it so. A quiet is established in the soul-life that tends toward the minus side, a stillness that is deeper than the mere silence of the ordinary consciousness.
And when we have penetrated to this silence, when the soul feels that it is removed from the world — not only when the world around it is still, but when the soul feels that the world-quiet can only equal zero, but that the soul itself is in a deeper silence than the silence of the world — then, when this negative silence sets in, the spiritual world begins to speak, really to speak, from the other side of existence.
Ordinarily, we ourselves as human beings interrupt the quiet of the world with our words projected into the air, When we have established in ourselves this quiet that is deeper than zero-quiet, this silence that is deeper than mere silence, the spiritual world begins to speak; but it is a language to which we must first become accustomed, a language utterly different from the language of words, a language formed in such a way that we gradually become accustomed to it by drawing upon our knowledge of the sense-world, of colors, of tones, in short, all that we know of the sense-world. We use this to describe the special impressions of the spiritual world according to our experiences of the sense-world,
I want to call attention to a few details. Suppose that in this inner silence of soul we get the impression of the presence of something out of the depths of spirit which attacks us aggressively, as it were, and excites us in a certain way. We know first of all that it is a spiritual experience, that the spiritual world is revealing itself. We compare this with an experience we have had in the sense-world, and learn that in the sense-world this experience has about the same effect upon us as the color yellow. In exactly the same way that we coin a word to express something in the sense-world, so now we take the yellow color to express this spiritual experience; or in another case we might take a tone to express it. As we use speech to talk about the things of the sense-world, so now we make use of sense-qualities and sense-impressions in speaking about what is spiritually received from the spiritual world in the silence of the soul.
This is the way to describe the spiritual world. I have described it in this way in my book “Theosophy” and in “Occult Science,” and the descriptions need only to be rightly understood. We must understand that for the silence of the soul there is a new language. While we have articulated speech for outward expression as human beings, something comes to us from the spiritual world which we must put into appropriate words, but it can be apprehended only in a subtle way, and must be translated into human speech by using words formed from sense-perception.
And when you have these experiences in the silence of the soul, you come to know that the world of invigorated thinking that you had at first is really only a picture, — a picture of what you see only now, for which you only now have a language, a picture by which you penetrated into the silence of the soul. The spiritual world now speaks to you through the silence of the soul. And now you are able also to efface this whole life-tableau, which you yourself have formed, which has brought the earth-life etherically before you, as by magic. This inner quiet of the soul appears now also in the personal life as you live it here on earth. The illusion of that ego which exists only in the physical body now ceases.
Anyone who holds too firmly to his ego, through a theoretical or a practical egotism, does not succeed in establishing this silence of soul in the presence of his own life-tableau. A man who combats theoretical and practical egotism comes to see that he first has this ego to enable him to make use of his body in the physical life, that the body gives him the possibility of saying “I” to himself. If he then passes from this corporeal sense of the ego into what I have described as the etheric world, where one flows together with the world, where the world is etherically united with one's own etheric being, he will no longer hold firmly to this ego. He will experience that of which this life-tableau, to which he has lifted himself, is a picture. He will experience his pre-earthly existence, in a spiritual world, before he descended through conception and birth into a physical human body,
Anthroposophy does not speak from philosophical speculations about the immortality, the eternity of the human' soul, but it tells how, through a special development of the soul-forces, one may struggle through to the vision of the soul-being before it descended to the earth. There actually appears now to the silenced soul a direct view of the soul as it dwells eternally in the world of spirit. As we look in recollection at what we have experienced on earth, as the past earth-life awakes in memory, so now, after we have learned in the soul-silence the language of the world of spirit, as I have described it, events appear that have not existed in the earth-life at all, events by which we have been prepared for this earth-life before we descended to it,
And now one looks upon what he was before he came down to the earth-life. As long as he was still beholding the life-tableau, he knew that he himself and the world are permeated and interpenetrated by moving, weaving spirit — though finer and more etheric, it is still a sort of nature-spirit, which he finds in the world and experiences as akin to himself. But now, when he looks into the pre-earthly existence, being united with what father and mother give at birth, he sees the unity of the moral world-order and the physical world-order. In this pre-earthly existence are all the forces that are prototypes of the forms produced during the physical earth-life. Here one sees that the spiritual forces reign and weave in the human body even in the physical earth-life. One marvels at the structure of the human brain as it gradually takes shape. One notices how undifferentiated this brain was when the child was born, what it became with the seventh year of life, about the time of the change of teeth. One turns his gaze upon the inner, plastic, formative forces; and does not stop short with the indefinite dictum about heredity.
We know that what the child works out in the first years of' life alone, in the plastic formation of the brain and the whole organism, is the after-effect, the imitation, of the far-reaching, universal events experienced in the spiritual world, where the soul was among spiritual beings, in just the same way that we live among the creatures of nature and human beings on earth. And one now comes to know that the spiritual world works into the physical earth-world, and that the after-effects of this pre-earthly existence are contained in all that is active in the inner organization of our being; one knows that he himself is a soul-spirit-being within the physical corporeal.
As we go farther, a third experience must be added to what I have already described, I have called attention to the necessity of first overcoming the illusion of the ego; one must overcome the ordinary, everyday, theoretical or practical egotism; and one must understand that this ego of our earth-life is bound up with the physical body, and comes to consciousness first of all in the sensations of the physical body. But there is something in the physical earth-life which, when I name it, may perhaps cause a little disturbance here and there in one's theory of knowledge, because it is usually not counted at all among the forces of knowledge, and it may be found distasteful to place it there. But it must be done nevertheless. And anyone who has come in the way described first to the invigoration of thought and then to soul-silence, will understand that it must be done. There must be added to these, as a third, a higher development, a more intensive development, of what exists in the ordinary life as love: love for people, love of nature, love of all our work, love for what we do. All the love that already exists in the usual life can be increased by doing away with theoretical and practical egotism in the way described. Love must be intensified, And when this love is increased, when the expanded love-force is joined to the strengthened thinking and the silence of soul, one comes to a third experience, Man comes now to the conscious laying hold of the true form of the ego, when he comes to know not only the pre-earthly existence, but when he now learns by means of this that an augmented love-force further energizes the other developed, strengthened forces of knowledge. He comes to an exact experience: All that has been won has nothing to do with the physical body; you experience yourself outside the physical body; you experience the world as it cannot be experienced through the body. Instead of natural phenomena you experience spiritual beings. You experience yourself, not as a natural being between birth and death, but as a spiritual being in a pre-earthly existence.
If a man has won this, and there is added to it a heightened, increased capacity of love, the possibility of dedicating himself, of surrendering himself with his whole body-free existence, to what he sees here, then there comes to him the knowledge of what exists within man in the immediate present, independent of the physical and even of the etheric body. He gets a direct view of what rests within him and goes through the gate of death into the post-earthly existence, when we enter again into a spiritual world. Because he comes to know what he is in a body-free state, he learns also of that which continues to exist, free of the body, when the physical body is laid aside at death.
You see the purpose of it all is to come to the perception of the eternity of the human soul. But in particular, one attains by means of it to the perception of the true ego, that ego which goes through birth and death, of which one cannot say that it dwells in the body, but that it rests in the body. One learns at the same time of the movement and activity of this ego in the pre-earthly existence in the spiritual world. One comes to know it in the same way that we know the human being here in the sense-physical existence through the sense of sight. Just as a man goes about here among the things of nature, among natural phenomena, among other people, so one learns to know, I might say, how the soul moves about in the pre-earthly existence in the spiritual world. But one learns also that the soul's movement and its relations there are dependent upon an earlier earth-life. I said that one learns of the oneness of the moral and the natural; one learns that in the pre-earthly existence man is permeated not only by spiritual but also by moral impulses, While one merely perceives, during the continuance of the etheric life-tableau, that spirit streams through the whole world, one now learns that in the pre-earthly existence there pulsated through our soul-spirit-being the moral impulses which appear in the memory during the physical life, and especially in the moral predispositions» One has now come to know the oneness of the moral and the physical world.
But now, in this moral-physical world (physical only in the pictures shining up into the spirit from the physical existence) — in this world experienced by the soul in the spiritual realm, one comes to know how the soul, as man's real ego, lives in the spiritual world in conformity with the previous existence. Truly when we come to spiritual vision and escape from the illusion of the ordinary ego, then we come to know how the ego has already passed through the spiritual world between death and a new birth; we learn how it comported itself, in conformity with its former earth-life, in this world endowed with moral impulses; and we learn that it is all carried into this earth-life as an inner determination of destiny. We see this expressed in the tendencies of a person, or in the special coloring of the desire which drives a man to one thing or another in the earth-life.
This does not encroach upon freedom. Freedom exists within certain limits, in just the same way that we are free, when we have built us a house, to occupy it or not; but we will occupy it because we have built it for ourselves for a certain reason. In the same way we are still free, even though we may know that there are impelling forces in our physical body which cause us to turn this way or that in life, or to live in one way or another. On the one hand we can regard this as a destiny that we have woven for ourselves out of earlier earth-lives, out of the world through which we have passed that contains not only spiritual but also moral laws. These have permeated what we were in a former life with definite spiritual impulses, and out of these have formed the destiny for our earth-life. But we notice also, when we look at what comes from the former earth-life, in the way described, that it is the eternal in the soul that has determined our earthly destiny» After we have passed through the gate of death, and have united what is of moral or soul-nature with our soul-being, in order to bring greater harmony into our relation with the demands of the moral world — we carry this into the world and come down again into a new earth-life, with what I might call the resulting total from what we were in life and what the spiritual world has made of us between death and a new birth.
So you see the really important thing is first to develop a certain perceptive faculty, with which one can look up into the spiritual world.
You must bear in mind, my dear friends, that not everyone has the gifts of a mathematician. It is very difficult for most people even to have these geometrical concepts, that are really to be formed only in the imagination. Geometry is not a spontaneous element of nature, but we understand nature by means of it. We must first produce geometry within ourselves, and by means of geometry we create the forms which will lead us into the structure of the lifeless world. With just such inner rigor do we produce inner vision, by developing strengthened thinking, silence of soul, and love which has become a force of knowledge, so that we may apprehend the living, the sentient, the self-conscious. In the same way that we apprehend the lifeless through mathematics, we come to an understanding apprehension of the living, the feeling, the self-conscious, when we proceed in a purely mathematical way, and develop a certain kind of vision with vigor and exactness.
So we may say that anyone who is serious about Anthroposophy pursues it as if he were required to give account of the use he makes of his forces of knowledge to the strictest mathematician. The forming of mathematical concepts is elementary Anthroposophy, if I may speak thus. And when anyone has learned to develop this self-creativeness of mathematics in order to apply it to the lifeless things of the world, he gets the impulse to develop further the kinds of knowledge which will lead to the vision I have described to you. We come to know that the lifeless world has a different content when we know it mathematically — mathematics is elementary Anthroposophy — and we know the living, sentient, self-conscious world when we study it with complete anthroposophical understanding.
Therefore, what in ordinary life is called clairvoyance, or anything of the kind, must not be confused with what we have in Anthroposophy for obtaining knowledge of the spiritual world. When we call this clairvoyance — and of course we can do so — we must mean exact clairvoyance, just as we speak of exact mathematics, in contrast with the mystical, confused clairvoyance, which is usually what anyone has in mind when this word is used.
Now you will perhaps have received the impression from my description that this is difficult. Yes, it is difficult] it is not easy. Hence, many people who presume to have an opinion about what goes on in Dornach do not try to understand what appears so difficult to them, but judge according to the trivial, confused clairvoyance. And then the result is all that I mentioned at the beginning of my lecture» But the Anthroposophy with which we are concerned is an exact kind of knowledge, which can actually be understood by anyone with sound human intelligence, just as anyone can understand a picture without himself being a painter. To get Anthroposophy one must be an anthroposophical researcher; to paint a picture one must be a painter; but everything I have described can be understood by anyone with good common sense, if only he does not himself put hindrances and obstructions in the way.
To paint a picture one must be a painter; to judge it one must rely upon sound human nature. To build up Anthroposophy one must be a spiritual researcher; to understand Anthroposophy one need only meet the more or less well-given descriptions of it with his healthy, free human spirit, undisturbed by natural-scientific and other prejudices. But Anthroposophy is only in its beginning, and what I have perhaps not described very well today will be described better and better as time goes on; and then the time will come which has always arrived ultimately for anything new in humanity. How long it was before the Copernican world-view was accepted! It has nevertheless upset all concepts previously held. Today it is accepted as a matter of course, and is taught in the schools. What is considered by people today the quintessence of fantasy, of nonsense, perhaps madness, will later be a matter of course — just as it was with the Copernican world-theory. Anthroposophy can wait until it is a matter of course.
This Anthroposophy, above all else, was to be cultivated at the Dornach Goetheanum. Therefore — permit me to say this in conclusion — more than ten years ago friends of our cause conceived a plan to build an abode for this Anthroposophy, and commissioned me to carry out the plan — I was only the one to execute it — and this abode is the Goetheanum. If Anthroposophy were a theoretical world-conception, or even a mere idea of reform, what would have happened the moment the idea appeared to build a home for Anthroposophy? An architect would have been consulted who would simply have erected a building in antique, or Renaissance, in Gothic or rococo style, or something of the sort. But Anthroposophy does not work merely theoretically, merely as scientific knowledge; it passes over into the whole human being, lays claim to the whole human being. This is very soon noticed by the anthroposophical researcher.
You see when a man wants to think about outer nature, he needs his head, and if he wants to indulge in philosophic speculations, he needs it even more. What appears before the silent soul, as pertaining to the spiritual world, in the way I have described it to you, is something that appears more fleetingly. One needs presence of mind in order to take it in quickly; but one needs for it also his whole human being. The head is not enough. The whole human organization must be placed in the service of the spirit, in order to bring into the memory, into the recollection, what one sees spiritually without the body. To illustrate this, let me give a personal experience.
I have never been accustomed to prepare any lecture in just the way lectures are usually prepared; but it is my custom to experience spiritually the thoughts that appear necessary for a lecture, as one must also experience spiritually what one wishes to hold as the result of spiritual research. What is experienced in strengthened thinking and in the human soul must be conveyed into thought and for this mere head-thinking will not suffice. One must be united more intimately with the whole human being, if one wishes to express what has been experienced in the realm of spirit. There are various methods by which such experience can really be brought into the ordinary consciousness, so that it can be put into words. It is my custom, with pencil in hand, to write down, to formulate, either in words or in some kind of signs, all that comes to me from the spiritual world. Hence I have many cartloads of note-books, but I never look at them again. They exist, but their only purpose is to unite with the whole human being what is discovered in spirit, so that it is grasped not only with the head, so as to be communicated in words, but is experienced by the whole human being.
Anthroposophy does indeed lay hold of the whole human being, therefore it is in still another regard an expression of the Goethean world-conception. It is, to begin with, an expression of the Goethean world-conception, in that it was induced by Goethe's method of observing the metamorphoses, the transformations of life in the plant and animal world. In this Goethean mode of observation the thought is so alive that one can then try to strengthen it in the way I have described. But Goethe is also that personality who built the bridge from knowledge to art.
Out of his artistic conviction Goethe voiced this beautiful expression: Art is a manifestation of secret laws of nature which without art would never be revealed. This means that Goethe knew one lays hold in real knowledge of the ruling and weaving of spirit, and then implants this into substance, be it as sculptor or musician or painter. Goethe knew that artistic fantasy is a kind of arbitrary projection of what man can experience in its pure form in the spirit.
Any knowledge which, like Anthroposophy, is rooted thus in the life of the spirit, flows of itself into artistic creativeness. It comes into artistic activity, when one knows the human being in the way I have described, and sees how the pre-earthly forces work into the earthly-corporeal existence. Then one has the feeling that the human being cannot be comprehended with the mere intellect, merely in concepts. At a certain point abstract concepts must be allowed to pass over into artistic seeing, so that you feel: Man is created by nature as a work of art.
Of course this can easily be ridiculed, for nothing seems more dreadful to people nowadays than to hear anyone say that to know something it must be comprehended artistically. But people may declaim as long as they please about the need to be logical rather than artistic when something is to be understood — if nature works artistically, then man simply does not find out about it by logic. He must pass over to artistic seeing to learn the real secrets of nature.
This is what Goethe meant when he said: “Art is a manifestation of secret laws of nature which without art would never be revealed.” And this is what Goethe meant also when, after years of longing, he reached Italy and believed he had attained his ideal of art. He said: “When I behold these works of art, I have the notion that the Greeks in the creation of their works of art proceeded by the same laws according to which nature creates, and I am on the track of those laws.”
Goethe was a personality who always aimed to transpose into a work of art whatever was comprehended as knowledge in the soul. Because Anthroposophy is of this same conviction, it was not possible simply to go to an architect and say: Build us a dwelling-place for Anthroposophy — and it would then have been built in Renaissance or antique or rococo style; our building has to be based on an entirely different conception of life and of art.
I have often compared the basic necessity here in a somewhat banal way with the relation of the nut-shell to the nut-kernel. The kernel of the nut, which we eat, is fashioned according to definite laws of form, but the shell is also made in accordance with the same laws. You cannot imagine a shell being fitted to the nut from the outside; the shell arises from the same laws of form as the kernel. So the forms of the outer visible building, what was painted in the domes, the sculpture placed in it, had to be fashioned as the shell, so to speak, of what was proclaimed within through the word, through art, spoken or sung. As the nut-shell to the nut, so this building had to be related to what was fostered within it. This was really the result not only of my conviction, but of that of many others. We have had eurythmy performances, the presentation of an art which has a special language in movement, in which the stage-picture consists of moving persons or moving groups? and the movements are not dance-movements, and not imitative movements, but an actual visible speech. We have developed here on the stage of the Goetheanum an expressive art of movement. The lines in which the human soul expresses itself harmonize in a beautiful way with the lines of the architraves, the lines of the capitals, the columns, with the whole form of the building, and with the paintings in it. What was cultivated within and the covering were one. When something was said from the platform, when what was learned in spiritual vision was put into words and sounded out into the audience-room, then what was spoken from the podium was the kernel which lived within. The artistic form had to correspond with the kernel. The style of the building in all its details had to come from the same impulse, from the same source as Anthroposophy itself. For Anthroposophy is not abstract, theoretical knowledge, but a comprehension of life, of the whole life. And therefore it becomes art quite spontaneously. It fulfils what Goethe said again: He who possesses science and art has also religion] he who possesses neither should have religion.
I might say, all that lived in the forms, all that may ever have been said or artistically presented in the Goetheanum, was intended to be comprised in a wood-carved group about 30 feet high, in which Christ, as the Representative of mankind, is portrayed in the Temptation by Ahriman and Lucifer.
This does not mean that Anthroposophy has anything to do with the forming of any kind of sect. Anthroposophy is far removed from hostile opposition to any religious conviction, or from any wish whatsoever to found a new religion. But Anthroposophy can show that real spiritual knowledge leads to the climax of religious development, to the Representative of humanity, Christ, to the incorporation of the Christ-God in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. It shows also how spirit-knowledge needs the picture of this central point of all earth-evolution, the picture of the Mystery of Golgotha. Quite certainly a man becomes religiously inclined through Anthroposophy, but Anthroposophy is not the founding of a religion.
What Anthroposophy wanted to offer artistically in the Goetheanum had to come from the same impulses from which the spoken word and the song proceed. It can even be said that when anyone stepped on the platform — I want to say this in all modesty — the forms of the columns, the whole form of the inner architecture, the inside sculpture and painting — all this was like an admonition to speak in a manner that would really approach the inner being of the listeners. It was like a continuous challenge to the speaker to put his word into this building in a worthy way.
To sum up: The building was to be an outer garment for Anthroposophy, which came wholly from the spirit of Anthroposophy, but was there for physical eyes to see» There was nothing symbolic, nothing allegorical. The whole building was created in its architecture, in its sculpture, in its painting, in everything connected with it, in such a way that what was livingly grasped in spirit-vision expressed itself, not in intellectual, symbolic forms; but living ideas and mobile thoughts about the spiritual world come to artistic expression in such a way as to be directly felt and seen. There was no symbol in the whole building, and if anyone maintains that the building had a symbolic meaning, he speaks as one who knows nothing about Anthroposophy.
And so the building was for the eye what Anthroposophy is to be for the soul of man. Anthroposophy has to be that kind of spirit which knows that a longing for the unveiling of the super-sensible vibrates and quivers through present humanity; that this humanity — made what it is by its scientific education, which intends to be generally popular, and already is to a certain extent — can no longer be satisfied with traditional concepts of belief; that concepts of knowledge must come, which tend upward to the spiritual world; and that unrest and dissatisfaction of soul result from the lack of such concepts of knowledge.
Anthroposophy wants to serve the present by providing in the right way what men need to take from this present into the near future. What Anthroposophy wants to be, invisibly, for human souls, the Goetheanum wanted to be, visibly, as vestment, as home. Had the Goetheanum been only a symbolic building, the pain at its loss would not have been so great, for then one could always bring it alive again in recollection. But the Goetheanum was not for mere remembrance. It was something intended to bring tidings from the spirit to the sense-world, and like any work of art, wanted to be manifested directly to the sense-world. Therefore with the burning of the Goetheanum, all that the Goetheanum wanted to be is lost.
But it has perhaps shown that Anthroposophy wants to be nothing one-sidedly theoretical, mere knowledge; it can be and must be a life-content in all realms. Hence, it had to build its abode in a style of its own. The Spirit, which Anthroposophy places before the soul, the Goetheanum wanted to place before the eyes. And Anthroposophy must place before the human soul what this soul really demands as the innermost need of the modern time; namely, a view, a knowledge, an artistic comprehension, of the spiritual world. Souls demand this because they feel more and more that only by experiencing the whole human destiny can they discover the complete human worth.
The Goetheanum could burn down. A catastrophe has swept it away. The pain of those who loved it is so great that it cannot be described. That structure which came from the same sources as Anthroposophy, and through it willed to serve mankind, had to be built for the sense-eye, had to be made of physical material. And as the human body itself, according to my description today, is the sense-image and the material effect of the eternal spiritual, but in death falls away, so that the spiritual can be developed in other forms, so also could that — permit me to close by comparing the Dornach misfortune with what happens in the usual course of the world — so could that be destroyed by flames which had to be made out of physical substance, in order to be seen by physical eyes. But Anthroposophy is built out of spirit, and only flames of spirit can touch this. Just as the human soul and spirit are victor over the physical when this is destroyed in death, so Anthroposophy feels alive, even though it has lost its Dornach home, the Goetheanum. It may be said that physical flames could destroy what had to be built of outer physical substance for the eye; but what Anthroposophy is to be for the further development of humanity is built of spirit. This will not be destroyed by the flames of the spiritual life, for these flames are not destroying flames; they are strengthening flames, flames that give more life than ever. And all that life which is to be revealed through Anthroposophy as life of knowledge of the higher world, must be tempered by the flames of the highest inspiration of the human being, his soul and his spirit. Then Anthroposophy will continuously evolve.
He who lives in this way in the spirit feels no less the pain caused by the passing away of the earthly, but he knows at the same time that surmounting all this depends upon the realization that the spirit will ever be victorious over matter, and in matter will be transformed ever anew.