Rudolf Steiner Archive 

The Evil

Berlin, 15 January 1914

Today the very old question of the origin of the evil should occupy us. Although numerous human beings take the view that this question is no longer a question, the human being feels pressured into putting it repeatedly. Since this question does not approach him from theoretical-scientific viewpoints, it is rather a question that he meets wherever he goes because his life is just positioned in the good and in the evil. You can investigate the whole history of human thinking and contemplating on one side to convince yourself completely that our question was always a question of the deeper spirits. On the other side, you can study significant, excellent thinkers of the nineteenth century and our time, and you realise that even these thinkers stop philosophising and striving for knowledge just before this question. Thus, we want to consider spiritual science today as a basis from which one can maybe approach an answer to the riddle of the evil. I expressly say, “can approach,” since what I had often to emphasise must apply to this important question in particular that spiritual science does not only look at fields of existence which are not accessible to the outer science, but that it is also modest. Just in such a question, we can feel that it is easy to put the highest questions if one is as it were at the beginning of the quest for knowledge that, however, real quest for knowledge leads to show the first steps of the ways on which one can approach the solution of the big riddles of life gradually.

I would like to say something first that should make clear how drastically this question occupied the hearts and souls of significant thinkers for long times. We could go far back in the human development. However, we want only to point to thinkers of the last centuries before the establishment of Christianity in Greece, namely to the stoics, that strange group of thinkers. They based on the views of Socrates and Plato, who attempted to answer the question: how has the human being to behave who wants to position himself in life in such a way that it corresponds to the core of his being, as it were, to his predetermined determination? We can call this the basic question of the stoics. As an ideal for the human being who endeavoured to position himself in the universe according to his determination the ideal of the wise man appeared before the soul eyes of the stoic.

It would lead too far if I wanted to describe the ideal of the stoic wise man in detail, and how it is connected with the whole stoic world view. Nevertheless, I would like to emphasise at least that a consciousness faces us in stoicism that the human development works out the ego-consciousness more and more clearly. This ego with which the human being is capable to position himself in the world in complete clarity can be clouded, can deafen itself as it were, if the human being allows his emotions and passion to come in too much. It appeared to the stoic like a kind of spiritual faint if the human being allows his passions flooding the clarity of his ego. Hence, one should hold down passions and emotions in the human soul, should strive for rest and harmony. This frees the soul from the states of faint in the sense of the stoics.

You realise what I have often emphasised here that as the first steps on the way to the knowledge of the spiritual world one has to control the emotions and passions surging up and down which as it were cause the spiritual faints, and to pull the clarity of mental beholding out of the whole mental experience. The stoics had this in mind, too. I tried to work out just this side of the stoic view, which has been worked out in the history of philosophy only a little, in the new edition of my Worldviews and Approaches to Life in the Nineteenth Century (now: The History of Philosophy). Someone who overcomes his passions and emotions is the ideal of the stoic wise man. This wise man recognises that the evolution of the universe is fulfilled with wisdom, so that he has to dive his wisdom in the floods of the universal wisdom as it were. Whenever one asks how the human ego fits into the whole world order, then the other question arises: how can the wisdom of the world order and the pursuit of human wisdom be reconciled to the evil in the world?

The stoics also assumed something that one later called divine providence. How does the stoic reconcile himself to the evil compared with these requirements?

Something already appears with the stoic that one can also bring forward as justification of the evil even today, namely the necessity of human freedom. He said to himself, if the human being has to strive after the ideal of the wise man out of his freedom, the possibility must also be offered to him not to strive after it. However, with it, it must be possible that he can remain with his emotions and passions, which he has to leave, actually. Then he just submerges, the stoic imagined, into a realm that is not his realm at first that is, actually, a realm below his being. Accusing the wise world order that the human being can submerge into a realm that is below him would be as clever, as if one wanted to accuse the wise world order that there are realms of nature below the human being. The stoics knew that there is a realm into which the human being can submerge and which is away from his wisdom. However, it has to be his own choice that he can emerge from it.

One realises that the concept of many answers that remain before the gate of spiritual science relating to the meaning of the evil is already contained in the old stoic wisdom; and one cannot say that the later centuries have brought real progress concerning the recognition of the evil as such. We can realise this at once if we turn to an exceptionally significant man, Augustine. Augustine has also to contemplate about the meaning of the evil in the world, and he comes to the peculiar statement that the real evil does not at all exist, but that it is only the negation of the good. He thinks that a limited being cannot always carry out the good because of its weakness, the good limits itself; and one does not need to explain this limited good as something positive as little as one explains the shade which is caused by the light as something positive. If one hears Augustine talking about the evil that way, one maybe regards such an answer as naive compared to that what one can imagine today with a thinking that has already advanced for some centuries. However, we can recognise that one has not far advanced concerning this question if still during our days a scholar, Campbell (Reginald John C., 1857-1956, preacher), who has written the so-called New Theology (1907) gives the same answer exactly, and whose works and sermons have made a great stir in certain circles. He believes also that one cannot ask for the evil because it is nothing positive, but is something solely negative. We do not want to get involved with hair-splitting, philosophical deductions to disprove this view.

Since for everybody who can think impartially and without prejudice this answer of the mere negativity of the evil stands on the same ground as the answer which somebody would give asking, what is cold? Cold is only something negative, namely the absence of heat. Therefore, one cannot speak about it as about something positive. However, if one puts no winter coat on, when it is cold, one feels this negative as something positive! By this picture, it may completely become clear how little one manages with that not profound answer, which also great philosophers of the nineteenth century gave, that the evil is nothing positive. It may be possible that one deals with nothing positive; but these “non-positive” is just as negative as, for example, the cold compared with the heat.

Now one could also bring in a group of other thinkers who come close to that what spiritual science has to say. One could bring in, for example, Plotinus (~204-270), the Neoplatonist, who lived in the post-Christian time and was still based on the principles of Plato; and with him one has a big number of other thinkers at the same time who contemplated about the evil in the world. They tried to realise the following. Something spiritual and something material-physical created the human being. By submerging in the matter, he takes share of the qualities of the matter, which obstructs the activity of the spirit from the start. In this submerging of the spirit in the matter, just the origin of the evil is to be found in the human life; but the origin of the evil is also to be found in the outer world.

A remark may explain which I do not want to suppress because it brings our situation to mind that such a view satisfied not only single thinkers in that regard but is widespread. I want to refer to a thinker from another region, to the significant Japanese thinker Nakae Toju (1605-1678), the disciple of the Chinese thinker Wang-Yangming (1472-1529). For him all world experiences consist of two things, one would like to say, of two beings. He looks up at the one being like to the spiritual in which the human being participates; he calls this being Ri. Then he looks at the bodily of the human being, which participates in everything material which builds it up; he calls this being Ki. All beings originate from the special composition of Ri and Ki. Humanity participates for this Eastern thinker in the Ri as in the Ki. However, because the human soul must submerge with its Ri in the Ki, the will faces it coming out of the Ki and with the will the desire also appears. With it, the human soul is involved in the will and desire during life, and, with it, it faces the possibility of the evil. This Eastern thinker is not far away from that what one has tried to show in the times of Neoplatonism as the origin of the evil, namely the entanglement of the human being in the matter. We see later that it is important to point once to this way to answer the question of the origin of the evil with the entanglement of the human being in the matter. We find this view widespread.

A significant thinker of the nineteenth century, Hermann Lotze (1817-1881), tried to deal with the evil. I would like to show the main thoughts of his thinking briefly. He says to himself that one cannot deny the evil. How has one tried to answer the question of the evil? One said, for example, that the evil must be there in life; since only because the human soul struggles out of the evil one can educate it. Because Lotze does not belong to the atheists, but assumes a God interweaving in the world, he asks, how have I to position myself to the evil in terms of the educational idea? One must suppose that God needed the evil to work out the human beings and to encourage them to use their souls independently. This could only happen, while they themselves did this inner work, while they themselves experienced this inner state that consists in working out of the evil, and thereby learn to recognise their true being and value self-consciously. Lotze objects at the same time that someone who gives such an answer does not regard the animal realm in which the evil faces us in the broadest sense. Cruelty faces us everywhere in the animal realm; everything faces us that, taken into the human life, can become the most dreadful vices! Who can speak about education in the animal realm that one cannot apply there?

That is why Lotze rejects the idea of education. In particular, he draws the attention to the fact that this educational idea would contradict the omnipotence of his God; since only then one needs to work out the better in a being from the evil if one has given the evil first. However, this would contradict the omnipotence of God. That is why Lotze says then, maybe one must take more into consideration those who think that the evil is not connected with the omnipotence of God, with the will of a conscious being. However, it is connected with that what exists in the world, as for example the fact that the three corners of a triangle amount together to 180° is connected with a triangle. If God wanted to create a world, he had to act on that what is true without Him, that evil is connected with any world that He wanted to create. He had to create evil if He generally wanted to create a world. Lotze objects that we limit that above all what one can assume as the work of a divine being in the world. Since if one considers the world, one must say that according to the most general laws, according to the mental pictures of the world phenomena one can have, one could very well imagine a world without evil. If one looks at the world, one must say that the evil offends real freedom; it must be caused just by the arbitrariness, by the freedom of the divine being.

We could still state other things that Lotze and other thinkers said about the problem and riddle of the evil. I want to draw your attention only to that what Lotze achieves in the end because this is important for us later. Lotze turns against the German philosopher Leibniz (Gottfried Wilhelm L., 1646-1716) who wrote a Theodicy (1710), a justification of God towards the evil, and who represented the view that this world, even if it contains a lot of evil, is still the most possible one of the worlds. Since if it were not the most possible one, Leibniz thinks, either God must not have known the most possible world this offends against His omniscience; or He did not want to create it this offends against His infinite goodness; or He was not able to create it this offends against His omnipotence. Leibniz now says, because one cannot offend in thinking against these three principles of God, one must suppose that the world is the optimal one. Lotze objects to it that one cannot speak of the omnipotence of God in any case, if one regards the world as an outflow of God in which evil prevails. Hence, one must say, Lotze means that Leibniz limited the omnipotence of God and purchased thereby the doctrine of the optimal world of all.

Lotze means now, there is still a way out. One has to say that order and harmony become manifest everywhere if one considers the universe; only in detail one realises evil. There Lotze asks, what, however, can one think of a view, actually, which depends on the view of the human beings? What can one think of a world where order and harmony prevail which one can admire and which shows evil everywhere? Then Lotze means and this is the point of his explanations to which we want to tend -, nevertheless, one should rather say one thing: the evil is in the world. It must be wise that the evil is there as the good; we can only not realise this wisdom. So we are forced to assume a limit of our knowledge towards the evil. Nevertheless, there must be wisdom that is not the human wisdom, Lotze thinks, which we cannot get and which justifies the evil. Therefore, Lotze moves the wise understanding of the evil into an unknown world of wisdom.

I expressly have done these for many people more or less pedantic discussions. For they show us with which weapons one has tried to approach the understanding of the evil and how one had to confess to oneself repeatedly that these weapons are blunt compared with a riddle which meets us in life wherever we go, yes, as Lotze says, they are totally inappropriate.

There are other thinkers, who wanted to go farther than Plotinus did and to fathom the undergrounds of existence still deeper. That is only possible if one develops the soul to attain higher cognitive faculties. Such a thinker is Jacob Böhme (1575-1624). However, there one approaches a spirit of the sixteenth, seventeenth centuries into which many people do not want to penetrate in our time, although one considers him again as an odd man. Jacob Böhme tried to penetrate into the depths of the world and its phenomena up to that point where he felt something rising like a kind of theosophy, a kind of concept of God in his inside. He tried then to make clear to himself how one has to pursue the evil down to the deepest undergrounds of the world that the evil is not only something negative, but is rooted as it were in the undergrounds of the existence of the world and the human being. Jacob Böhme considers the divine being in such a way that in it, as he says one must only get used to his mode of expression “Schiedlichkeit” (~ quality of becoming different) must appear. A being that as it were lets its activity only flow into the world could never get to the conception of itself. One would like to say, this activity had to stumble against something.

In microcosm, we perceive any morning with awakening what Jacob Boehme includes in his imagination. When we wake up, we can unfold our spiritual-mental activity from our spiritual-mental into unlimited spaces. There we touch our surroundings with our spiritual-mental activity. Because we touch our surroundings, we become aware of ourselves. The human being becomes aware of himself generally only in the physical world, while he stumbles against the things so to speak. The divine being can be such a being that stumbles against others. It must confront with its opponent, or as Jacob Böhme expresses himself in many turns, it confronts its “yes” with its “no.” It must limit its activity flowing into the infinite in itself. It has to become different in itself, must create an opposition to itself in a certain point of its activity as it were. The divine being creates its opponent, so that it can become aware of itself. By the participation of a creatural being, Jacob Böhme thinks, not only in that what pours out of the divine being, but what the divine being must create necessarily as its opponent, the evil originates, generally all evils of the world originate. The divine being creates its opponent to become aware of itself. There one cannot yet speak of the evil, but only of the necessary conditions of the self-awareness of the divine. However, while something creatural originates, and while this creatural embeds itself not only in the flowing life, but participates in the opponent, the evil originates.

This view is not satisfactory to someone who attempts to penetrate into the mysteries of existence spiritual-scientifically. I have only stated it to show to which depths a thoughtful thinker goes investigating the origin of the evil in the world. Thus, I could bring in many examples how one tries to approach the riddles of evil without receiving any conclusive answer.

If we take Lotze's confession up, we can say that he takes the view that a wisdom must be somewhere that justifies this evil. Nevertheless, the human cognitive faculties are limited; the human being cannot penetrate into this wisdom. Do we not face the popular prejudice of our time to accept the human cognitive faculties in such a way as it is and not to remember at all that it can develop to look into other worlds and not in the world of the only sensory and of the reason connected with it? Perhaps it just turns out that such significant questions like that of the origin of evil one did not answer because one was reluctant to exceed this knowledge and to attain another knowledge. We have often spoken of the possibility that the human soul frees itself from its physical nature that it can really carry out that spiritual chemistry which just detaches the spiritual-mental in the human being from the bodily as the outer chemistry detaches the hydrogen from the water.

We have spoken of it: if the human being detaches his spiritual-mental from the bodily, so that he rises in the spiritual and faces his physical nature with his spiritual-mental, then, however, he is able to look into the depths of the world due to the immediate experience, not inside but outside his body. He can look into them as far as they are accessible to this knowledge. There we may ask ourselves, what faces us if we try to go this way of spiritual research? Which experiences does one attain if one goes this way in order to share in extrasensory worlds? We are interested now in particular how the evil relates to this way. We need only to look at the everyday evil. There the spiritual-scientific fact becomes apparent that everything, at which the spiritual researcher must look back as at something evil, yes, only at something imperfect in life, puts the biggest obstructions in his way. The biggest obstructions come from the imperfect. With it, I do not want to say that possibly the arrogant teaching results that the spiritual researcher considers himself as a perfect human being. This should not at all be said with it.

However, I have to repeat what I have once emphasised very urgently: that the way of spiritual research is a martyrdom in certain sense, just because you look back at your life with all its imperfections at the moment, when you come out of the bodily with the spiritual-mental and share in the spiritual world. Then you know that you carry these imperfections with you as the comet carries its tail. You have to compensate them in the later life. Now you look at that about which you have slid over by now without becoming aware of them. You know what lies ahead you.

This tragic looking at that what you are in the usual life sticks to you if you search the way into the spiritual world. If it does not stick to you, it is not the right way into the spiritual world. Indeed, one has to say that a certain seriousness of life begins, if one enters in the spiritual world. Even if you attain nothing else, you attain one thing: you see the own evil and imperfections with infinite clearness. Thus, one would like to say that one gets a knowledge of imperfection and evil already with the very first steps in the spiritual world.

Where from does this originate? If one investigates closer, where from this originates, one finds the characteristic, so to speak, of all human evil. In my last writing The Threshold of the Spiritual World, I tried to point just to this characteristic of the evil, as far as it arises from the human being. Nevertheless, the common characteristic of any evil is nothing but egoism. — If I wanted to prove this in detail what I want to explain now, I would have to speak for many hours; but I only want to put it, and everybody may pursue the lines of thought I have touched only. I pursue them also in the next talk where I speak about The Moral Basis of Human Life. Every human evil originates from egoism.

We may pursue all human imperfections and the human evil from the least mistake up to the most horrible crimes, may it come more from the soul or more from the physical nature, the common characteristic, egoism, is everywhere. We find the real meaning of the evil in the human egoism; and we overcome all imperfections and the evil struggling against egoism. One has contemplated a lot about these or those ethical principles; however, just this becomes apparent investigating them deeper that egoism is the common basis of all human evils. Thus, one can say that the human being works his way out of the evil here in the physical world, the more he overcomes egoism.

Now beside this result another depressing matter faces us. What has you to develop if you want to find the way into the spiritual worlds?

If you take together everything that I have stated in the course of these talks about soul exercises, which one has to carry out in order to come into the spiritual world, you realise that they result in strengthening certain soul qualities. That which appears now in the physical world as egoism must be strengthened, must be intensified if the human being ascends to the spiritual world. Since only the soul, which strengthens the forces that are rooted in its ego ascends to the spiritual worlds. Just that must be strengthened on the way into in the spiritual worlds which the human being must cast off who wants to appropriate moral principles for the physical world. A significant mystic said:

If the rose decorates itself,

It decorates the garden, too.

This is correct indeed within certain borders. Nevertheless, in the human life egoism would also still appear if the human soul considered itself as a rose only which decorates itself. However, this applies completely to the spiritual world. In the spiritual world that exists in a higher measure what is included in this saying. If the soul ascends to the spiritual world, it is a serving member, the more it has gained strength in itself and has worked out what is in its inner wealth. As one cannot use an instrument that is not perfect, the soul cannot use itself, which has not got out everything of its ego that is in it.

From this confrontation which leads us away from any phrase and leads us to the facts which should not be concealed we realise at first that this spiritual world faces the world of the physical-sensory in such a way that the latter compared with the first must have its own task. If the human being could live only in the spiritual world, he would be able to develop the inner abilities only; he could not develop those abilities that bring him together as altruist with other human beings, with the wide world. Just the physical world is the place where we should overcome egoism. We are obliged to altruism not without reason, but because we have to give egoism up thoroughly if I may use this trivial word.

The same takes place now that the spiritual researcher finds as determinative namely the strengthening of his soul for the ascent to the spiritual world; this is also determinative if the human being enters through the gate of death in natural way into that world which lies between death and a new birth. There we put ourselves in that world which just the spiritual researcher reaches by his soul development. Hence, we must bring those qualities into it, which strengthen the soul internally. If we go through the gate of death, we enter into a world in which it matters to make our ego as strong as possible. What we have to do in this world, we hear in the talk Between Death and Rebirth of the Human Being. Now I would like to point only to the fact that it matters in this spiritual world that the soul prepares the following lives on earth depending on what it has experienced in former lives. It has to occupy preferably with itself, as it corresponds to its destiny, in the spiritual world between death and the new birth.

If we consider the human soul that way, it appears to us from these two viewpoints as follows. It appears to us in its significance for the physical-sensory world in such a way that this is the big school for it where it can transform egoism into altruism, so that it becomes something for the whole world. The world between death and next birth is that in which the strengthened soul must live in itself and to which the soul would be just worthless if it entered weakly into this world.

What follows from these two traits of the soul? From that follows that the human being must take care not to apply that what is something excellent in one world, namely the rise of the soul, into the other world to something else than at most to reach the spiritual world. However, that must be evil and become worse, if the human being allows that what must enjoy life here in the physical-sensory world as his being to penetrate what serves him just in the spiritual realm as valuable preparation. Therefore, we have to be strong in the spiritual between death and new birth, in the strengthening of our ego so that we prepare such a physical-sensory existence that is very unselfish in the outer existence, in the actions and thoughts of the physical world. We must use our egoism in the spiritual world before our birth in order to work on ourselves in such a way that we become unselfish in the physical world, that is we become moral.

The most valuable is contained at this point for someone who wants to penetrate into the spiritual world. Indeed, it must become clear to him that he realises his evil and imperfections not without reason like his silhouette if he is in the spiritual world. This shows us that we must remain connected with the sensory world as our karma must bind us to the sensory world, until we have brought ourselves to the point where we can live not only alone but also with the whole world. It becomes apparent that it is bad to apply that immediately to the things of the outer life what is essential of spiritual progress, namely self-perfection. We are undeterred to search spiritual progress. This is rather our duty. Duty is for the human being the development that is law for all living beings. Nevertheless, it is bad to apply that immediately which is right for the spiritual development to the outer life. The outer physical life and its moral must place themselves necessarily like a second world beside that what the soul strives for if it wants to approach the spiritual world.

There is something like a contradiction. However, the world lives on such contradictions. I had to emphasise that just the ego must become stronger to penetrate into the spiritual world. However, if you wanted to develop egoism only with your spiritual development, you would not come far. That is, that you must already enter the spiritual world without egoism; respectively you cannot enter it without egoism everybody must confess that wistfully who comes to the spiritual world-, you must face everything selfish so objectively that you look at your selfish with which you are connected in the outer world. You must want to become an unselfish human being with the means of the physical life because you do no longer have the opportunity in the spiritual world to become unselfish because it depends there on the strengthening of the soul life. This is the only imaginary contradiction. We must live with the power of our inside in the spiritual world, even if we go through the gate of death into the spiritual world. However, we can attain this only by the altruistic life in the physical world. Altruism in the physical world is reflected as the right egoism increasing the value of the spiritual world.

We realise how difficult the concepts become if we approach the spiritual world. Now one also realises what it can concern in the human life.

We assume that a human being enters the physical existence by birth. In this case, that is when he sheathes the being, which he was in the spiritual world before birth or conception, with the physical body. Then it is possible that he impregnates his physical body wrongfully with the vitality of the spiritual world; that the spirit gets lost in the bodily, while it carries down into the physical world what is right in the spiritual world. Then that becomes bad in the physical world what is good in the spiritual world! This is a significant mystery of existence that the human being can carry down to the physical world what he needs to be a spiritual being, and that his highest, his best spiritual can even become the deepest aberration in the physical-sensory.

Why does the evil enter life, why is the so-called crime in the world?

Because the human being immerses his better nature not his bad one in the physical-bodily and develops those qualities, which are not part of the physical-bodily but just of the spiritual. Why can we human beings be bad? Because we can be spiritual beings! Because we have to develop those qualities as soon as we settle in the spiritual world which become bad if we apply them in the physical-sensory life. If you let those qualities as cruelty, insidiousness and other live out not in the physical world but in the spiritual world, then they are there the helping qualities perfecting us. The fact that the human being applies the spiritual wrongly in the sensory leads to his evil. If he could not get evil, he could not be a spiritual being. Since he must have the qualities that can make him bad; otherwise he would never be able to enter the spiritual world.

Perfection consists in the fact that the human being learns to realise that he must not apply the qualities, which make him a bad human being in the physical life. For as much as he applies them there, he divests himself of the strengthening soul qualities for the spiritual, as much he weakens himself for the spiritual world. There are these qualities on the right place. Thus, we realise how spiritual science shows that the evil points by its own nature to the fact that we must assume a spiritual-mental world beside the physical one. Since why the human cognitive faculties of men like Lotze or other thinkers do stop if they consider the sensory world and say that one does not penetrate into the origin of the evil? Because the cognitive capacity does not want to penetrate to the spiritual world and it cannot clear up it from the physical world because it is abuse of forces, which belong to the spiritual world! Small wonder that no philosopher who refrains from the spiritual world is able to find the nature of the evil in the physical-sensory world one day! If one is declined from the start to advance to another world in order to find the origin of the evil in it, one does not get knowledge of the evil in the outer world. We must just get clear about the fact that the evil originates in the human action because the human being places that what is something great and perfect into another world as it were where it is reversed into its opposite. However, if one considers the evil which is independent of the human beings in the world and which possibly controls the animal world, one must say:

Then we must just get clear about the fact that not only beings are there like the human beings who bring into another world what belongs to the spiritual world and is great there where it is misplaced; but there must also be other beings. The animal world shows us just that there must be spiritual beings except the human beings that carry their evil into that region where the human being cannot carry his evil. That is, we are at the same time compelled with the knowledge where the origin of the evil exists to acknowledge that not only the human being can place something imperfect into the world but also other beings can bring in imperfections. That is why it is comprehensible if the spiritual researcher says that the animal world is an embodiment of an invisible spiritual world; but in this spiritual world were there beings that have made the same before the human being what he makes now, while he involved the spiritual unjustifiably in the physical world. Any evil has originated from it in the animal world.

I wanted to explain today that those are wrong who believe that one can attribute the impulse of the evil to the matter because the soul is enmeshed in a material existence. No, the evil originates just from the spiritual qualities and from the spiritual scope of opportunity of the human being. We had to say to ourselves, where would wisdom be in the world order, which wanted to limit the human being to develop the good only in the sensory world and not the evil if it had to take the capability necessarily from him as we have seen to make progress in the spiritual world?

Because we are beings that belong to the physical world and the spiritual world at the same time, and not imperfection, but perfection is the spiritual law in us, we can swing like a pendulum to the one or the other side. For we are spiritual beings that can carry the spiritual into the physical world to realise it there as something bad, as other beings that maybe outrank the human being realised the evil while they carried into the sensory world what should only belong to the spiritual world.

I know very well that I say something of the origin of the evil with such a consideration that can make sense maybe only to few people that will settle, however, more and more in the human soul life. Since one will realise that one can only generally cope with the problems of the world if one thinks that a spiritual world is the basis of the physical one. The human being can cope with the perfections of the sensory world; however, he does not cope with the imperfections if he is not able to recognise to what extent this evil must be in the world. He realises that it must be in the world saying to himself: the evil is only misplaced in the physical world. If the qualities that the human being uses unjustifiably in the physical world and cause evil there were applied in the spiritual world, he would advance there.

I do not want to say that it is complete nonsense if anybody wanted to conclude from that what I have said, so you show that only the villain makes progress in the spiritual world. This would be a complete misunderstanding of that what I have said. Since only the qualities are bad because they are applied in the sensory world, while they change immediately if they are applied in the spiritual world. He who wanted to do such objection would resemble that who says, you state that it is quite good if the human being has the power to smash a clock? Indeed, it is good if he has this power; however, he does not need to apply the power to smash the clock. If he applies it to the welfare of humanity, it is a good power.

In this sense, one must say that the forces that the human being lets flow in the evil are bad only at this place; properly applied at the right place, they are good forces.

It deeply leads into the mysteries of human existence if one can say to himself, whereby does the human being become bad? Because he applies the forces at the wrong place, which are given to him for his perfection! Why is the evil in the world? Because the human being does not apply the forces that are given to him in a world that is not suitable for these forces.

In our time, one could almost say, one can already realise the advance towards the spiritual worlds in the undergrounds of the souls. A more precise and intimate look at the nineteenth century could teach this, for the time up to our present. There we face representatives of pessimism among the philosophers in the nineteenth century, of that worldview which just looks at the evil in the world, and concludes from it that one cannot regard this world as such which wants something else from the human being, than to bring it to conclusion. I want to point only to Schopenhauer or to Eduard von Hartmann who saw as it were the redemption of the human being in the fact that the single human being can find his welfare only in merging in the world process, but not in an aim granting personal satisfaction. However, I would like to point to something else, to the fact that the soul is captivated by materialism in our age and that in this age the biggest desolation must come into being towards the evil in the world. Since materialism rejects a spiritual world from which to us only the light shines that gives the evil its meaning. If this world is rejected, it is necessary that this world of the evil faces us in its futility hopelessly.-

Today I want to point not to Nietzsche (Friedrich N., 1844-1900), but to another spirit of the nineteenth century. From a certain viewpoint I would like to point to a tragic thinker of the nineteenth century, namely from the viewpoint that the human being, while he is placed in his time, necessarily must live with his time. This is the peculiar of our being that it meets with the being of the time. Thus, it was only natural in the last time that deeply inclined spirits were seized by that explanation of the world that wants to see the world existence only in the outer phenomena. But such spirits could not often harbour the illusion that one can go then uncomforted through the world if one must look at this world existence, at the evil and cannot look up at a spiritual world in which the evils justify themselves as we have seen.

A spirit who completely experienced, I would like to say, the tragedy of materialism, even though he did not become a materialist, was Philipp Mainländer (1841-1876, German poet and philosopher). One can call him a follower of Schopenhauer (Arthur Sch., 1788-1860) if one considers the matters externally. Mainländer came to a peculiar worldview. He was a deep spirit in a sense but a child of his time who could only look at the world materially. Materialism just captivated the best souls enormously one should not be mistaken about that. Yes, the human beings who do not care about this what the time and its spirit offer who live from day to day egoistically in a religious confession that has become dear to them once, the “most religious” people are the most egotistical sometimes in this point. They reject to exceed the things into which they have settled down, do not care about other things but only about known things. One can get the answer if one points to the tragedy of countless human beings repeatedly: does the old Christianity not satisfy the souls much better than your spiritual science? Those people put this question who do not go along with our time and rebel intolerantly against everything that should penetrate into our culture for the welfare of humanity.

Philipp Mainländer looked at that what our outer science, our time has to say from its materialistic viewpoint and there he could only find the world full of evils and the human being with bad tendencies. He could not deny that the pressure of this worldview is so strong that it prevents the soul from looking up to a spiritual world. Since we cannot conceal it, why today so few persons come to spiritual science. Because the pressure of the materialistic preconceptions is so strong that they darken the souls which cannot penetrate into the spiritual worlds. If one left the souls to their own resources and did not daze them with materialistic preconceptions, they would certainly come to spiritual science. However, the pressure is big, and only now one can say that the epoch has approached in which one can represent spiritual science before the people with a chance of success because the longing of the souls has become so strong that spiritual science must find an echo in the souls. In the second and third thirds of the nineteenth century, this echo could not exist. The pressure of materialism was so strong there that even a soul striving for the spirit so much was held down like that of Mainländer.

There he came to a peculiar view that one cannot at all find the spirit in the present world. Mainländer is a man who did not impress his contemporaries very much because the spirit of the nineteenth century, in spite of the big progress in material fields, was a superficial spirit. Nevertheless, Mainländer felt what the soul had to feel, even if he stood alone, because he was the wise man compared with those who ignored like in a spiritual faint that the souls were dissatisfied with a materialistic or monistic worldview. One does not need to read the thick volumes of The Philosophy of Redemption (1876) by Mainländer, but only the rather good booklet by Max Seiling (A New Messiah, 1888) to inform yourself of that what I say now.

Philipp Mainländer looked out in the world, and he could see it under the pressure of materialism only in such a way as it presents itself to the senses and the reason. Nevertheless, he had to assume a spiritual world. However, it is not there, he said to himself. One has to explain the sensory world by itself. Now he gets the view that the spiritual world preceded our world that a spiritual-divine existence was there that our soul was in a spiritual-divine existence that the divine existence went over from a former being into us, and that our world can only be there because God died, before this spiritual world died before us. Thus, Mainländer realises a spiritual world in our world; but he regards our world only as a corpse loaded with evils that can only be there to be handed over to its destruction, so that that what caused the decease of God and His spiritual world can enter its non-existence.

May monists or other thinkers smile at it more or less; however, someone who understands the human soul better knows that a worldview can become inner destiny of the soul that the whole soul can accept the nuance of the worldview. He knows what a human being had to experience who, like Mainländer, had to move the spiritual world into prehistory and could regard the present world only as the material leftover of it. Mainländer took this view in order to cope with the evils of this world. That he was more inside in his worldview than Schopenhauer or Nietzsche, than Bahnsen (Julius Friedrich August B., 1830-1881) or Eduard von Hartmann were, we can recognise when he had finished his Philosophy of Redemption. He got the idea: now your power is wanted without body, so that you promote that faster what appears to you as redemption of humanity than if you still use the body after the middle years of your life. Mainländer was very serious about his worldview. This becomes apparent by the fact that he drew the consequence, which Schopenhauer and others did not draw, and died by suicide out of conviction.

May philosophers and other people neglect such a human destiny, however, it is infinitely significant for our time because it shows us how the soul must live that faces the problem of the evil in the world and has no perspective of a world where spiritual light spreads out and lights up the meaning of the evil. It was necessary that the human soul developed the materialistic abilities for a while. One considers the spiritual life from a psycho-biological viewpoint in certain future, I would like to say, and understands that, only transferred to the spiritual, that applies to the human being which appears like in a physical image with animals on earth, for example.

Certain animals can starve long. For example, one can induce tadpoles by longer starving to change fast into frogs. Similar phenomena appear with certain fish with longer starving because then involutionary processes take place which they enable to carry out what they have to carry out; they starve, because they withdraw the forces with which they assimilate food, otherwise, in order to develop other shapes. One can apply this picture to the human soul. For centuries, it experienced a time where one always spoke of the “limits of knowledge.” Even many people who believe today to think spiritually are still given away completely to the materialistic mental pictures which one calls monistic today because one is ashamed of them -, and even philosophers are given away to the principle that the human knowledge must stop where it faces the biggest riddles. The abilities which led to that all had to be developed for a while; that is, humanity had to go through a time of spiritual starvation. This was the time of the emerging materialism. However, the forces, which were thereby restrained in the souls, induce the human soul according to a psychobiological principle to search the way to the spiritual worlds. You will realise that human brooding had to take on that form which appeared with Mainländer who could no longer find the spiritual world in the physical world because materialism took it away from him. He had to stop, hence, before the physical world, but committed the mistake to overlook the fact that that what is in our world gives us, nevertheless, the possibility to discover something in our soul that points to the future as the outer world points to the past.

Since one cannot deny that Mainländer was right in a sense that that what our world presents all around is the leftovers of an original development. Even the modern geologists must already admit that we are walking over a corpse. But what Mainländer could not yet show that we develop something in our inside at the same time, walking over a corpse, that is a seed of the future as that what is round us is a legacy of the past. While we look at that which spiritual science is for the single soul, that can revive in us at which Mainländer could not yet look, and, hence, had to despair.

Thus, we stand at the watershed of two ages, of materialism and of spiritual science. Perhaps nothing can prove to us so much in popular form that we have to approach the spiritual age of the future as this consideration of the evil. I have often said that one feels in harmony with the best spirits with such considerations.

Goethe said something in his Faust that shows how the human being can leave the spirit. He summarised paradigmatically in a nice saying how the human being has no contact with the spiritual world:

To understand some living thing and to describe it,

the student starts by ridding it of the spirit;

he then holds all its parts within in his hand

except, alas! For the spirit that bound them together.

This applies to any knowledge of the world. The destiny of humanity was to devote itself to the parts for some centuries. However, more and more one will feel it not only as a theoretical lack but also as a tragedy of the soul that the spiritual tie is absent. Therefore, the spiritual researcher must recognise everywhere in the souls today what the most souls do not yet know, namely the longing for the spiritual world. If one lights up something like the nature of the evil, one can maybe extend the Goethean quotation, while one takes the following as a summary.

Goethe thought that someone who wants to strive for a worldview, must not adhere only to the parts, but must also look at the spiritual tie. However, someone who approaches such significant vital matters as the riddle of the evil is allowed as a spiritual scientist to express his conviction emotionally:

He who does not solve the soul riddle

Stays in the wholly sensory light;

He who wants to understand life

Has to strive for spiritual heights.

We need your support!

We are a small nonprofit with the expenses of a large website. Your generous financial gifts make this venture possible. If you can't contribute now, please visit our Help Out page for additional ways to support our work in the future. Thank you!

External Links