Rudolf Steiner Archive 

The Nature of Spiritual Science and Its Significance for the Present

Berlin, 20 October 1910

Already for several years, I attempted to hold talks about spiritual science here from this place during the winter months. In this winter, I want also to give a picture of facts of the spiritual world from this viewpoint in the series of the talks announced to you. We shall consider the big questions of existence, the relation of life and death, of sleeping and wakening, of the human soul and animal soul, of the human spirit and animal spirit, and of the spirit in the realm of plants. Then we want to consider the development of the human being through the different ages, through childhood, youth, and the later years, the interest of education in the main character of the human being. We will light up the spiritual life turning our look to the great individualities of the human development, to Zarathustra, Moses, Galilei, and Goethe. Using single examples, I want to show in which way spiritual science relates to the natural sciences: at the example of astronomy and geology. Then I want to explain what spiritual science can say about the riddle of life. A kind of orienting, general consideration preceded the considerations every year. I follow this custom also this year speaking about the meaning of the spiritual science, its significance, its nature, and its task within the different spiritual needs of the present.

One may be allowed to say that spiritual science (German: Geisteswissenschaft) is a rather unpopular thing even today in wide sections of the population. Indeed, one also speaks about “humanities” (German: Geisteswissenschaft) outside our spiritual science. One understands, for example, something by history that one calls humanities, and probably also by other fields of knowledge of the present. In another sense than one normally speaks of humanities, I want to speak here. If one speaks of “humanities” today and applies the term possibly to history, one admits in the utmost that beside the human observation, the sensory experience, and intellectual experience still certain big trends come into consideration. These are effective like forces in the stream of the world evolution and cause as it were the talents of the single peoples and states. One probably speaks also of general ideas in history and in the human life. He who reflects what is meant in such a case soon remembers that one appeals to abstract ideas speaking of the forces, of that which guides the human destinies. These are general ideas in certain respect to which the human intellectual capability can attain a relation of knowledge.

In another sense, one speaks about humanities here assuming a spiritual world as a world that is essential as the human world is essential within the physical existence. I want to show: if one exceeds with the human cognitive faculties what presents itself to the external sensory observation, the intellectual experience, and goes to the guiding forces of human existence and world existence generally, one does not come to abstractions, to sapless and feeble concepts. However, one comes to something essential, to something that is living, full of contents, spiritually impregnated existence as the nature of the human being is. One speaks about an existing spiritual world here. That is why spiritual science is no popular thing for the widest circles of our present cultural striving. It is still the least if one calls those who devote themselves to such spiritual-scientific research blabbers, dreamers, or daydreamers. It is even today something ordinary to say that everything that wants to be or to appear as a strict method, as real scientificity on this ground is a quite dubious thing.

Big, immense progress always exercised a suggestive effect on humanity also concerning thinking and feeling. The big progress of the general human life does not lie in the spiritual-scientific field, but rather in that field, of which humanity is rightly proud and on which it still sets big hopes for its further development. Until our days, this progress of the last centuries lies in the field that grows out of the natural sciences.

Imagine the immense theoretical progress of science which one has attained and will attain, and which big significance these scientific achievements have for the outer life, then one must say: the blessing of this scientific progress must exercise a suggestive power on the human beings. Thus, it has happened that this suggestive effect has expressed itself also to another side. If it had expressed itself only in such a way that above all the human mind felt something like a kind of worldly cult compared with this immense progress, who could even speak a single word against it? However, this suggestive power has also expressed itself in such a way that one does not only recognise the scientific research and the progress following from it for our time, but within wide sections of the population the faith originated that any knowledge of humanity can be gained only on scientific ground. Because one regards oneself as entitled to conclude from this faith that the spiritual-scientific method contradicts these scientific methods that it is impossible for that who is on scientific ground to speak generally of the investigation of a spiritual world, the prejudice is spread that spiritual science must be rejected compared to the entitled requirements of natural sciences. With this refusal, one hears very serious objections.

The scientific method, one says, is such a one whose research results, whose knowledge can be checked by every human being at any time, and that for the production of this knowledge, of these research results no subjective feeling, sympathy or antipathy, longing or desire are allowed to come into the picture. Nothing is allowed to interfere from the requirement that one would like to have this result so or so; the human element must exclude itself from the research and let the objectivity of the things speak if it concerns results of scientific research.

Spiritual science cannot put up this demand just like that. To someone who regards this demand as generally valid it is a sufficient reason to reject spiritual science that it cannot satisfy this demand. Why is this the case? The natural sciences have the objects of their research round the human being. They start from that what can be put before every human being what every human being can think about it with the physical-scientific methods, if he is led before the thing. It is apparently completely irrelevant with which requirement the human being approaches what presents itself in his surroundings. It is just that what expresses itself in the general demand: physical-scientific knowledge must be able to be checked by any human being at any time. The true spiritual science cannot go forward at all, as the natural sciences obtain their results. It cannot say at first, it is necessary that any human being can check the results at any time. Since it must assume that these research results are obtained because the human being does not consider his inside as anything solid, anything concluded that he does not regard his subjective being as anything ready, but says to himself: my subjective being is nothing concluded, is nothing ready, it can be developed; the soul life can be deepened. The soul life can run so that that what one finds if one turns the senses to the outer world and applies the mind to what the senses say is only a base of other soul experiences. Other soul experiences arise if the soul becomes engrossed in itself, if it regards the immediate life experience only as a starting point and then struggles with forces slumbering in it at first. These forces can be got out, however, through the stages of existence that one cannot regard in such a way that one could check them with an outer eye.

What the spiritual researcher must experience for the preparation of his studies is an inner struggle of the soul that is completely independent of that what the human being has in himself. If one demands from science generally that the human being should add nothing to the results that face him outside, then it could not be talk of spiritual science at all. However, he who reflects a little and asks himself: which is the most important part of the demands which are asserted there for spiritual science, could say to himself that its results are valid for any human being that they are not subject to the personal arbitrariness, and are significant for all human beings.

This is the characteristic of everything scientific that it does not only apply to somebody whom the objects of science face, but that — if the objects have been investigated — this can lead to knowledge that can be valid for all human beings.

If it were true that that what I have characterised in such a way as a development of the human being were only subjective, applied only to the one or the other person, and that only a personal faith were due to it, one could not speak of spiritual science really. It will still become apparent, however, in this winter that this inner life of the human being, the struggle of the soul can develop from the forces that slumber at first but can awake and guide him from experience to experience, and that this soul life can still ascend to a stage, where his experiences have a particular peculiarity.

Considering the human life as it happens inside of the human soul, it is a quite personal one at first, for the one this way, for the other that way. Someone who has a healthy self-reflection can realise with this or that what surges up in his soul as sympathy or antipathy what has as it were a personal touch only, that this and how this is the case. However, the inner experience leads to a certain point where just a methodically achieved, pure self-knowledge, uninfluenced by anything personal, must say to itself, the personal has just been cast off, forms a special area. However, then one comes to a certain point where for the inner experience, for the supersensible experience arbitrariness stops exactly the same way as it stops if one faces these or those sense-perceptible phenomena, and where one can also not think as one wants but must think according to the object. Thus, the human being also comes internally, emotionally to a certain sphere, to a certain area where he clearly realises that his personal subjectivity does no longer speak but that now not sense-perceptible but supersensible beings and forces speak for which his individuality has just as little significance as for that which the outer sensory objects say. However, one has to attain this knowledge if one wants to be entitled to call the statements of the spiritual world “science.” These winter talks shall be again a proof that we are permitted to call the considerations about the investigation of the spiritual world science.

Thus, one must say, spiritual science is founded on that what the human soul can investigate if it has come in its inner struggle and experience to a point where the personal does no longer have a say in the case of the considerations of the spiritual world, but where it lets the spiritual world say its peculiarities. If one compares spiritual science to the natural sciences, some people maybe say, then, however, spiritual science lacks the important characteristic that it can make a persuasive impression on all human beings, which the natural sciences have. Since one has the consciousness, wherever scientific results appear, even if you had not investigated and seen them yourself, you would be able to do it if you went to the observatory or to the laboratory and used the telescope and the microscope and you would recognise them in the same way as someone who imparted them to you. He could say: if in the way of spiritual science the proof is an inner one, and the soul struggles with itself, until it says: now you give nothing of your personality to that what the objects say to you, — nevertheless, it is a single struggle. One would have to say to someone who attains certain results this way, or whom the spiritual-scientific researcher informs of these results: these results remain an unknown land to me, until I myself ascend to the same point!

Also this — this will still appear to us — is a wrong objection. Indeed, this lonesome struggle of the human soul, this uncovering of forces slumbering in the human soul is necessary in order to reach the spiritual world where it speaks objectively to us. However, the spiritual world is in such a way: after the spiritual-scientific results have been informed, the results are effective.

What someone, proved by spiritual-scientific research, communicates to his fellow men can be checked by everybody again, in a certain sense, however, not in such a way that one can see in the laboratory what the other has found, but in such a way that one can accept it. For in every soul a sense of impartial truth, a healthy logic, a healthy reasonableness lives. If the results of the spiritual research are dressed in healthy logic, in that what speaks as our healthy sense of truth, then in every soul or at least in every impartial soul a string can sound or resonate with the informing soul. One can say, any soul has the disposition — even if it has not still dedicated itself to the lonesome struggle — to take up by an impartial logic and by a healthy sense of truth what spiritual science informs. Even if one has to admit that also within the spiritual-scientific movement the communications of spiritual research are not always accepted with this healthy sense of truth and healthy logic, but this is a lack of every spiritual movement. However, in principle, this is right what I have said. In principle, one should even consider that it must lead to mistakes about mistakes if one accepts light-heartedly and with blind faith what is often brought as spiritual science to humanity today. Who really stands on the ground of spiritual science feels strictly obliged to inform logically and reasonably what he has to say, so that one can really check with a healthy sense of truth and with any logic. - Thus, we have explained the being of spiritual science showing how one has to find its results.

Only this science can prove that there is such an objective fact of the spirit. However, I want to call attention to the fact that this science just leads to the real contents of the spiritual world, to contents that are fulfilled vividly with such essentiality as for example a human being is fulfilled with essentiality. From this viewpoint, spiritual science gets clear about the fact that at last a spiritual world forms the basis of any physical-sensuous existence that the human being as well as all the other things is born and developed out of this spiritual world. It states also that behind the sense-perceptible world, behind the physical outer existence the region of the spiritual world extends. If now spiritual science goes over gradually to showing from its observations how it looks in this spiritual world how the spiritual world underlies our sense-perceptible world, then the aversion just arises in many circles as it was characterised at the beginning of this talk. In wide circles of the present, spiritual science is a quite unpopular thing. It is difficult by no means to understand that spiritual science still meets an immense opposition today. It is a matter of course because that what is incorporated as something new to the cultural life like spiritual science was always forced back in a certain respect like all small and big achievements of humanity. However, because there are many mental pictures, which the human being gets from the scientific observation, which cause just the necessity that someone who believes to stand completely on the ground of natural sciences is involved in nothing but contradictions if he hears what spiritual science says. Someone who stands on the ground of spiritual science does not doubt at all that with a certain right hundreds upon hundreds of disproofs of this spiritual science can be brought up.

Only as in brackets I would like to insert that I myself hold two talks in the next time at different places and also here once, so that clearness is brought in this question. The first of them reads: How Does One Disprove Theosophy? and the other: How Does One Found Theosophy? For a test, this should happen in order to show how that who stands on the ground of spiritual science can really gather everything that can be alleged as disproofs against spiritual science. Yes, I would like to say even more than that what has already been stated in this case that the disproofs of spiritual science, as one normally speaks today of disproofs, are not so particularly difficult in relation to its various results at all. It is easy to disprove the spiritual-scientific researches.

I would not like to compare these disproofs directly, but to make clear what I want to say, and go back to something that often strikes one if one reads works of certain philosophers about Hegel's philosophy. — I do not want to speak here about the importance of Hegel's philosophy about what is true and what is wrong; we want to leave this undecided. — There will be few people among the experts of Hegel, who do not recognise that Hegel is a significant spirit. In Hegel's writings, one finds a strange sentence that can make, so to speak, a deep impression on those who want to disprove Hegel light-heartedly. This sentence reads, “Everything real is reasonable!” Imagine which inner laughter such a sentence must cause in someone who disproves with pleasure! A philosopher should be great who speaks such nonsense: “Everything real is reasonable!” One needs only to cast a single glance at the world and sees how unreasonable this sentence is! There is an easy method to disprove the correctness of this sentence, and it consists in the fact that someone himself gets up to mischief. Since one can state then that it is certainly not reasonable.

Should the fact that a disproof becomes easy also lead to the fact that it is simply taken easy and is easily taken as important? This is another question, which answers itself maybe by the fact that one considers the following: should Hegel really have been so silly — one may relate to Hegel as one wants — that he would not have realised that this sentence is easily disproved? Should he have thought really that no one could get up to mischief? Should one not feel compelled to consider in which sense Hegel could have meant this sentence and that one does not meet what he meant with such a disproof at all?

In the same way, it may also be with many things of spiritual science. We go back to something concrete: spiritual science has to assume that the nervous system and the brain as the tools of thinking, imagination, feeling, and will-impulses are built by a spiritual. Brain and nervous system are tools of something essential that one cannot show in the sensory world, but that one has to investigate with the characterised methods of spiritual science. Spiritual science has to go back from that what science, resting on the sense-perceptible phenomena, knows to say about the brain and nervous system to something working in the human being mentally-spiritually that can no longer be investigated with the senses that can be investigated only on the inner ways of the soul. One can very easily now disprove what the spiritual research tells about something supersensible that forms the basis of the human brain.

One can say, all that you talk is only a product of the brain. If you do not realise this, consider once how the spiritual abilities rise in the evolution. With the lower animals, the spiritual abilities are still imperfect, with the higher animals and especially with the higher mammals they are quite significant and more perfect, and with the human being they are most complete because his brain has attained the biggest perfection. This shows that the spiritual life grows out of the brain. If you do not yet believe this, then turn once to someone who can show you how in certain cases of illness certain parts of the brain can become ineffective and the human being can no longer exercise certain abilities, so that, as it were, certain parts of the brain are demolished and the spiritual life is disabled. There you see how a sense-perceptible organ can demolish your spiritual life! Why do you still speak about the spiritual beings that should stand behind the sense-perceptible things?

One can make this objection very easily. The fact that it is done not from the scientific results, but from the suggestion which is formed for many people from certain scientific theories, must seem to us natural in the present. All that is connected with the fact that our time stands under the suggestive power of that opinion that one can only gain truth, knowledge if one directs the senses outwardly and ignites the reason by the gained observations. Even if — this must be said concerning spiritual science — these results deliver as many disproofs as possible, nevertheless, one can say that on the other side in our present a deep need, a deep longing exists for hearing something of those lands about which spiritual science knows to report something. A deep longing for it has developed at the same time and is alive with a group of human beings. With a big part of the human beings it slumbers, so to speak, under the surface of consciousness, however, it will appear more and more.

The need for spiritual-scientific results will become bigger and bigger. This longing, this need for spiritual-scientific results occurs as an outgrowth beside the admiration, the devotion of the scientific achievements. Just because the scientific achievements must necessarily face the human being outwardly, like a counter-pole the longing for spiritual-scientific results emerges. Concerning that, we have reached another viewpoint in the nineteenth and our centuries than humanity had hundred years ago. If one wants to speak of the worth of the spiritual-scientific researches of the present, it is important to realise that a century ago even greater spirits did not yet feel the need of speaking of spiritual-scientific results in the way as this should happen today in the sense of this course of lectures. Because the great individualities have the greatest say for humanity, in certain sense they only express what the need of the whole time is, also of the minor individualities, such a thing can present itself clearly, if we look at the greater individualities.

There one can say rightly, such a human being like Goethe felt the need to express himself about spiritual-scientific results by no means a century ago as this happens today on the ground of spiritual science. Where the question arose to speak about something that lies beyond the sense-perceptible, Goethe referred also like so many human beings often to the fact that this should be a thing of faith but not of strict science. He also often said that strictly speaking the communication of generally valid results on this ground could be hardly very fertile if one person communicates them to the other.

We are so advanced in the course of a century concerning the whole development of humanity not only that Goethe lived in an age which had no telegraphs, phones, railways and no such prospects as they come up to the aeronautics; we also face results of the spiritual development which are different from those at Goethe's lifetime. You can see this in a concrete case. There is a nice conversation that Goethe had with a certain Falk (Johannes Daniel F., 1768-1826, poet) at the occasion of Wieland's death (Christoph W., 1733-1813, poet and writer). There he expressed himself about the fields that deal with that which goes beyond birth and death of the human being that is not frail with his sensuous cover, which is immortal. The immediate occasion of the death of Wieland, very respected by him, urged Goethe to express himself in popular way towards a person like Falk who met him with understanding. What he said there is extremely typical if we go into the question of the significance of the spiritual science for the present.

“You know for a long time that the ideas which are without a firm foundation in the sensory world do not convince me in spite of their remaining value because relating to nature I want to know and not to suppose and believe only. Concerning the personal continuation of our soul after death, it is like that: it does not at all contradict the long-term observations, which I have done of the state of our and all beings in nature; on the contrary, it arises from it with new strength of evidence. However, it is another issue how much of this personality deserves to continue, we must leave that to God. Provisionally, I want to note this only at first: I assume different classes and hierarchies of the primeval components of all beings, as it were, of the starting points of all phenomena in nature which I would like to call souls, because the ensoulment of the whole starts from these, or even monads — let us maintain this Leibniz expression! To express the simplicity of the simplest being, there would be no better one. Now some of these monads or starting points are — as experience shows — so small, so slight that they are suited at most only for a subordinated service and existence; others against it are strong and tremendous. Hence, the last capture everything into their circle that approaches them and transform it into a body, into a plant, into an animal, or even into something higher, into a star. They continue doing this, until the small or the big world whose intention lies spiritually in them also appears bodily. I would like to call the last only souls. It follows from this that there are world monads, world souls, like ant monads, ant souls, and that both in their origin even if they are not completely one, however, are related in their primeval being. Every sun, every planet carries a higher intention, a higher mission in itself, so that its developments must come about as regularly and according to the same law as the rosebush develops leaves, stalks and blossoms. You may call this an idea or a monad as you want, I also have nothing against it; it is enough that this intention exists invisibly and earlier than the visible development in nature...”

In certain sense, Goethe speaks at that time of that about which we shall often speak in these talks here: about the reincarnation of the human soul. He remarks: after all what he has formed as a view of the human world, animal world et cetera, and such a view would not contradict what he built up as science. One can now easily consider what Goethe's quotation means if one reflects that Goethe had made a discovery in 1784 which would be sufficient to keep his name until the most distant times, even if he had performed nothing else: the discovery of the so-called inter-maxillary in the upper jaw of the human being. There is in the upper jaw of the human being — as with the animals also — an intermediary bone. Just at that time, one denied this when Goethe entered the natural sciences. One looked only for externally discerning attributes where it concerned the differentiation of human being and animal, and had the opinion that the animals would have an intermediary bone in the upper jaw that would not exist with the human being. This differentiates the animal organisation from the human one. Goethe did not want to admit it, he could not believe that in this subordinated state the difference is to be given between human being and animal, and attempted with all available means to show that the human inter-maxillary grows together, indeed, already shortly after the birth, but exists as rudiment and is not absent with the human being. He succeeded in proving the fact that there is no outer difference between the human being and the animal.

From this starting point Goethe looked around in all fields of the natural sciences and knew the scientific way of thinking of his time very well. Yes, he was so far ahead of his time that today Darwinists who want to reinterpret Goethe in the sense of Darwin can allege: Goethe is a precursor of Darwin. Although Goethe is rooted in the scientificity of his time this way and goes beyond it, he can say, nevertheless, what he has formed as a view of the immortal part of the human being what is reminiscent of reincarnation and is compatible with his scientific ideas. What Goethe could say at that time, every human being could say to himself. Other researchers who tried to gain knowledge for life scientifically were in the same position.

It is typical for it that one refers on Haeckel's ground to a great action of Kant, to the foundations of the mechanical worldview by Kant, and to the General Natural History and Theory of the Sky or Attempt of the Constitution and the Mechanical Origin of the Whole World Edifice that Kant wrote in 1775. You need only to take the Reclam booklet (cheap edition) and to examine the end. Then you ask, how do those who stand on the ground of mere Haeckelism face Kant if he speaks of the immortality of the human soul where he speaks about the great secrets of the human soul, about the prospect of the habitability of other heavenly bodies and of the human soul living on on other planets? How do such followers of Haeckel position themselves to the possibility of the reincarnation of the human being as it appears in this writing by Kant? Today one refers to things so that one is surprised, if those who refer to Kant would have really read these things!

The things are quite different in the present from those one or one and a half centuries ago. At that time, the tendency prevailed that one spoke about the matters of the spiritual life in a certain way, which wanted to have nothing to do with science. Since one felt that one speaks there of something that does not contradict what science can claim. Everybody who opens himself to the science of that time feels if he takes up anything scientific only by the popular portrayals that he can speak like Goethe: the convictions which I have formed of a spiritual life may they be like a personal faith, however, they contradict in no point what is science today. The things have changed and become very difficult compared with science. One must consider that after Goethe's death the big discoveries of the human and animal cells by Schleiden (Matthias Jacob Sch., 1804-1881, botanist) and Schwann (Robert Sch., 1810-1882, physiologist) happened, and that an elementary organism presented itself to the senses first. What does one need to talk of a “life on other heavenly bodies” et cetera, if one can see the bodies building themselves up with an animal or a plant by cooperation of the wholly material, sense-perceptible cells?

Then there came the other immense achievements. We only need to consider the impact on the human thinking, when Kirchhoff (Gustav Robert K., 1827-1884, physicist) and Bunsen (Robert Wilhelm B., 1811-1899, chemist) brought the spectral analysis that extended the view of the human being to distant worlds. From this spectral analysis, one could conclude that the material existence, which we find on the earth, is the same also on the most distant heavenly bodies, so that one was allowed to speak of a unity of the material in the whole universe. Every day increases what can face us in this field. I could point to hundreds and hundreds of such things that worked revolutionary. That is why the conviction originated that one has to speak of the results of the scientific method in the following way, wait for what the scientific research has to say about the reasons of life, about the origin of the intellectual life from the brain activity, and do not talk of a spiritual world fantastically that should form the basis of all! -- One can understand this very easily.

Thus, the sight of the scientific has changed for the human power of persuasion. Goethe is in this respect really a predecessor of Darwin. Nevertheless, he rose according to the spirit of his time from his physical-scientific researches, from the development of the living beings from the imperfect to the perfect, to a wholly spiritual worldview that searches the supersensible, the spiritual behind everything sensuous. The human beings who go forward in the same way in our time believe that the scientific results urge to stop at that what these scientific results should be, and that every spiritual region originates from the sensuous background. The human being today cannot say in the same way as a century ago that that does not contradict the scientific results what he knows by his personal religious conviction or believes to know or has appropriated of the supersensible world, but it seems that it contradicts even very much. It seems not only to this or to that serious researcher of truth and striving human being in such a way.

If this is the case, we must say: for our present that persuasive power, the reasons of conviction which could be still presented a century ago or still later, without contradicting the external scientific results, are no longer immediately authoritative. Today it requires more serious impulses in order to maintain what is said about the supersensible world compared with the strict scientific results of science. We must be able to dress what we are authorised to believe about the spiritual world in the same way, to gain it in the same objective way, as the scientific results — only on other ground — can be attained. Only of a spiritual science which works with the same logic, with the same healthy sense of truth as the natural sciences one will feel that it can position itself beside the immensely advanced natural sciences. If one considers this, one understands in which sense spiritual science has become a necessity for our present. One also understands that this spiritual science can meet solely the longings of which I have spoken. And these longings exist because unconsciously works with many human souls what has just been characterised — just with the best seekers of truth and in a field where one does not anticipate it at all — if one quotes how the human thirst for knowledge strives out of that which one always said in the scientific field once.

Indeed, the mathematical field, the field of geometry seems to be confirmed concerning its application to the sensuous world. Who would like to believe, so to speak, light-heartedly that anybody can allege that the statements of mathematics, of geometry could be shaken anyhow? Nevertheless, it is typical that there were spirits in the course of the nineteenth century who have soared to invent geometries, mathematics purely mathematically, by strict mathematical investigations that do not apply to the sensuous world, but to quite different worlds. That means there were mathematically thinking people who felt that they could exceed what there has been up to now as mathematics and geometry and could invent a geometry that applies to another sensuous world! There are not only one, but also several such geometries. Mathematically trained people know something about the names Riemann (Bernhard R., 1826-1866), Lobatschewski (Nikolaus L., 1793-1856), Bolyai (Johann B., 1802-1860). We do not want to go into that closer, because it matters only that such a thing can originate from the human recognising. — There are, for example, geometries, which do not acknowledge the sentence: the three corners of a triangle amount to 180 degrees but for which the triangles have another quality, so that, for example, the three corners of a triangle are always less than 180 degrees. Another case: in our Euclidean geometry, one can draw only one parallel through a point to a given line. Geometries have been invented where one can draw endlessly many parallels through a point to another line. That is, there were spirits who felt urged not only to be keen on other worlds but also to invent geometries for them! This is very indicative that even in mathematical heads a longing prevailed to exceed what is in the immediately surrounding world.

I want still to state one thing only that our time needs something that one can obtain from spiritual science. It will turn out

  • That, indeed, the real spiritual-mental nature of the human being repeatedly appears in renewed lives on our earth,

  • That reincarnation is a similar fact in the spiritual-mental field as the theory of evolution on a subordinated stage for the animal realm,

  • That the human soul has developed through incarnations that it experienced during past lives, and experiences in future lives.

Indeed, the art of disproving will very vehemently oppose such things in the present. However, one can already state that the present has a deep need for such results that are connected with that by which the human being can orientate himself about his determination, his position to the outer world.

The human being has only started for short time to position himself properly as a historical being in the world evolution. This has happened by the external educational means. Think of the limited scope of view of the humanity of the fourteenth, fifteenth centuries, before the art of printing spread the educational means. Questions did not yet arise to the human heart like that: how can our soul face with satisfaction what we recognise as the historical progress? Here is the origin of a question that has become a question of the heart for many human beings today. The historical progress shows that new achievements, which are also valuable for the inner development of the soul that new facts enter the stream of the progressive humanity. There the human being must ask himself, what is the innermost nature of the human being? Were the human beings of the past condemned to have experienced their lives in a vague existence and not to take interest in the products of a later progress? What is the share of the human being of the successive developments of the human race?

Against this question, one may object many things. Here should be talk of the fact only that, indeed, from a deep feeling of the human soul the question, the riddle originates: is it possible that today a human soul lives which cannot integrate achievements which are stamped on the stream of the human evolution in future because its life is enclosed between birth and death?

This question gets a basic meaning for the confessors of Christianity. He, who stands on the ground of a purified Christianity, differentiates the pre-Christian epoch and the post-Christian epoch in the evolution of humanity and speaks of the fact that a stream of new spiritual life flowed from the Christ event, which was not there earlier for the earthly humanity. There the question must arise for such a human being: what about the souls, which have lived before the Christ event, before the announcement of that which streamed out of the Christ event?

The human being can put such a question. Spiritual science answers to it not only theoretically, but in such a way that it is also adequate to him. For it shows that the same human beings who took up achievements of the pre-Christian time, are reincarnated, after the stream of the Christian development had begun, so that nobody can lose what enters the culture. Thus, something grows out of history for spiritual science that is not only abstract ideas, but spiritual science speaks of history as of something in which the human being is involved with his innermost being everywhere. Because the human horizon has expanded by the modern educational means, now one puts this question in another sense than a century ago when the scope of view of the human beings was more limited. A desire for answer exists which spiritual science can only satisfy.

If we take into consideration this — and we could continue speaking for hours that way and could bring in many examples that are indicative that spiritual science has significance for the present because the present must ask very much for its results -, then we get an idea of the significance of spiritual science for the present. All talks of this winter shall serve only to collect material from the most different sides to show the spiritual-scientific results and their significance for the human life, as for the satisfaction of the highest need of the human being generally.

I would only like to say at the end, today one of the most usual allegations against spiritual science is that one says, fortunately, the natural sciences have succeeded in getting a uniform principle to explain the world monistically. Spiritual science is almost a term that causes antipathies by itself in many people because it puts up a sort of dualism compared with this epistemologically beneficial monism!

One sins a lot with such catchwords. Is the principle explaining the universe uniformly broken because two currents co-operate in the universe, an outer one, and an inner one, which meet in the soul? Is it not allowed to assume that what approaches the soul from two sides — namely from the sensory experience on one side and from the spiritual-scientific research on the other side -, is still based on a uniform existence and appears only for the human view at first in two streams? Has one to take monism definitely superficially? If this were the case that the monistic principle would be thereby broken, then somebody may also state that the monistic principle is broken if he concedes that water consists of hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen and oxygen can still have a uniform origin even if they combine to water. The sensuous and the supersensible worlds can also have a uniform origin even if one is also forced by the facts of the natural sciences and spiritual science to say: in the human soul two streams unite, one of which from the sensory side, the other from the spiritual side. Then, indeed, one cannot show the uniform, the monon (the only), straight away, but it does not contradict the view of a monistic world. What appears from two sides that way attains the strength of the full reality only if we recognise it consisting of two currents. If we look at the outside world, we get a worldview by our senses and our reason that does not show its origin: the spirit. If we go the ways of the spiritual-scientific research and experience the impetus in our soul, we find the spirit. Matter and spirit meet in the soul. Joining spirit and matter within our soul delivers the true spiritual reality only!

Thus, you allow me to summarise the just said in the words, which give the same possibly in poetic form what all human beings felt at all times who impartially endeavoured to obtain a view of spirit and matter. Spiritual science relating to natural sciences teaches us to recognise that it is true:

The wealth of materials approaches the human sense
Mysteriously from the depths of the universe.
The spirit's word flows clarifying
In the soul's grounds from cosmic heights full of contents.
They meet in the human inside to reality full of wisdom.

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