Festivals of the Seasons
14. Easter and Whitsuntide II
11 April 1915, Dornach
The lecture today has been preceded by the representation of the Easter scene in Faust (the lecture was preceded by the Eurhythmic representation), that scene in which the Earth-Spirit appears to Faust. A week ago we were considering some features in Faust which are of the gravest importance for those who desire to draw nearer to the laws and life of the universe, in the light of Spiritual Science. My reason for taking this poetical creation of Goethe’s as the subject of my lectures (both on Easter Sunday and today) is not merely to give an explanation of Goethe’s Faust. It is because, while studying the series of artistic representations which pass before us in Faust, our minds are able to follow the evolution of the Faust-soul in the spiritual world, and can, so to speak, share in its experiences on the spiritual plane. The nature of our reflections upon this poetical creation will depend upon the extent to which we are able to view Faust from the standpoint of Spiritual Science.
As a matter of fact, Faust is the expression of Goethe’s own endeavour to penetrate into the spiritual world. But it is also an expression of that important turning-point in the history of modern times, when the great mind of Goethe strove to enter that same world into which we are striving to enter today by means of our Spiritual Science.
We were able to show in the last lecture that Goethe lived at a time in which it really was not yet possible to find the true path leading into the spiritual world, in a clear, consistent way. We were able to show that such truths as the true meaning of Lucifer and Ahriman only floated before Goethe’s mind as indistinct conceptions; a confused perception, as it were, of the spiritual world. And we were able to prove that both Lucifer and Ahriman were welded together in Mephistopheles. Also that in Mephistopheles Goethe had only a nebulous image before him, a figure which he could not clearly visualise in a spiritually-scientific manner. From this endeavour of Goethe’s, expressed as it is in Faust, we can realise with what earnestness, with what intense conscientiousness, with what a sense of responsibility, we should follow up every clue presented to us by Spiritual Science.
When a master-mind such as this meets with such tremendous difficulties in its endeavour to reach that goal towards which so many are striving today, we can certainly learn a great deal by the study of Goethe’s quest and Goethe’s warfare.
I wish that all students of the phenomena of Spiritual Science, even those who are only beginners, would study this document, and go through Goethe’s Faust over and over again. It is a document of the early dawn of Spiritual Science, before the Sun rose upon the first endeavours of that Science.
In my last lecture I showed how the riper knowledge of Goethe’s maturity was required to rescue his soul from the critical situation into which it had wandered in his youth. Goethe’s soul could not be satisfied with what could be conceived of the Universe by the brain and intellect alone. And what swirled and raged in his soul, in his endeavour to reach that fundamental spiritual basis of life, he put into the form of the striving Faust; who, however, is not a portrait of Goethe himself, though he represents, in an artistic setting, certain features in Goethe’s own struggle and certain sides of Goethe’s life. The scene with the appearance of the Earth-Spirit belongs to the earliest part of Faust. It is one of the scenes which Goethe wrote first of all.
In my last lecture I spoke of Faust in such a way that, should I be misunderstood (as I so often am), people might go away and say that I had described Faust as being incomplete as a work of art; that I had, in fact, criticised Faust very severely. And anybody who was particularly ingenious might say that I was a turn-coat in my views on Goethe; that at one time I was a great admirer of Goethe, but that I had now proved myself to be one of his detractors. Well, my dear friends, it should not be necessary for me to explain that I do not honour Goethe one whit less than ever I did, nor that he is still to me the greatest mind of modern times. But, however much a great personality may command our respect, this fact should never make us blind worshippers of his authority. We must always preserve a clear perception of what we ourselves believe to be the truth.
Faust has been put together—one might say patched together—at different times. And one might say that when Goethe wrote the earliest parts of Faust in 1770, he was really not capable of writing the later parts. It was necessary that before doing so he should arrive at maturity, that he should progress from an ardent desire to reach the spiritual worlds, to what we must term his ‘comprehension of Christianity.’ Goethe required all the mature experience of his riper years, so to manipulate his artistic conception, that Faust, the investigator of the spiritual world, is brought to a comprehension of the Easter Mystery, and receives back his life through the remembrance of it. This Faust actually takes up the Gospels and begins to translate the Gospel of St. John. We hear many people today say that they do not require Spiritual Science to resuscitate for them the inner truths of Christianity; that this Spiritual Science is quite unnecessary, because Christianity can always be understood by the truths proclaimed by every priest from his pulpit, and that faith alone, faith in Christianity, is of any avail... Well, compare such an attitude with the attitude of Goethe. Goethe, one of the very greatest minds, took years before he was sufficiently mature to understand the truths of Christianity. Now we can form an idea of the monstrous conceit, the terrible darkness in which mankind is imprisoned. Especially those, who babbling confusedly and conceitedly of the simplicity of their minds, waive aside that which they do not require—the substance of Spiritual Science—for which, according to their own ideas, they have no use.
In the scene of the Earth-Spirit we see how Goethe was occupied during his youth, in his thirties and during the last twenty years of his life. We gather from this Earth-Spirit scene and from the Faust monologue which precedes it, that Goethe had steeped himself in so-called occult-mystical literature. We see how he endeavoured by means of the knowledge gained from this literature, by meditation, by meditative exercises, to discover the spiritual world.
In the scene which we have witnessed today, we see Faust absorbed in meditation, by means of which he hopes to soar to the spiritual worlds. He discovered this meditation in an ancient occult mystical book, by one Nostradamus. In this book the author maintains that by use of this meditation a man can attain to a knowledge of the spiritual worlds. Let us endeavour to picture to ourselves the world into which Faust—and therefore Goethe also—desired to penetrate. Now when the human soul has been enabled to strengthen its inner power to such an extent that the soul and spirit are liberated from the human shell, free, that is, from the instrument of the physical body; when the soul has, to a certain extent, escaped from the physical body with all the powers of which the body is barely conscious during its usual, everyday life—then, when this occurs, a spiritual thread reaches out from the physical body: or, rather, not so much from the physical body enclosed in its limited physical form as from the physical life within it, with which man is still spiritually connected by means of this thread or ray going back from him to the physical life. In the life between death and rebirth a ray or stream of this spiritual life runs back through time and connects with our earthly experiences. There are descriptions of this in other lectures.
How will this physical existence affect the human soul, when it has escaped from the conditions of the instrument of the physical body? For the man who has escaped from the conditions of physical existence, his whole physical experience becomes, so to speak, an organ of the soul. All his physical experiences become, as it were, eyes and ears. The whole individual will become a sense-organ, a spiritual sense-organ—an organ, so to speak, of the whole earth, which looks out into cosmic space. In order that our eyes may perceive physical objects, we must be outside them; the eyes must be imbedded as a kind of independent organism enclosed in the socket which encircles it with its walls of bone. In the same way the ear must be shut off also. Again the whole physical apparatus of the brain is enclosed in the skull and shut off from the rest of the human body. The physical experiences of man must also be shut off, so that they become receptacles, sense-instruments, so to speak; so that the whole physical life of man becomes, in a sense, either an eye or an ear, by means of which the man who is outside his physical experiences can gaze out into the whole universe.
Now what is now experienced may be described as follows:—A man is suddenly plunged into the world described in my book Theosophy as the Soul World. This is the world into which man first enters when he passes through the experience of living with his now independent soul outside the body, and sees his own physical life as exterior to himself. In my course of lectures (Vienna, April, 1914) I described how man, even during his life between death. and a new birth, is in possession of a spiritual sense-organ which he derives from his previous earthly life and by means of which he is able to perceive the rest of the universe. That is to say, by having lived an earthly life, he is able to perceive the rest of the universe. We are able to find our friends in that world for a long time after death, until they move on to another world, which can even by Initiates only be reached by a later evolutionary condition of the soul. In this world into which we move on, many things will present themselves to the observer. It is only possible to relate isolated experiences about this world; and these must be collected from the various lectures which characterise this supersensible world. Above all, what strikes the soul most when it is freed from the body and passes on to a new world is that the stars seem to fade away. The soul now experiences an elemental world. It now moves with the currents of air, it is one with the warmth which suffuses the earth, it streams out with the rays of light. When the soul streams out with the light, it is no longer able to perceive exterior objects by means of that light. Therefore it seems to this soul that the sun and stars are extinguished and that the Moon with its fight has disappeared. The soul no longer leads an external existence, it has become part of the elemental world. And at the same time it becomes part of that life which is termed the root-force of historical events—the historical becoming. In this world it becomes possible to see what history brings to the life of mankind. By means of a further meditative evolution the soul can rise to a still higher experience. In this state not only will its own existence be a spiritual and psychic sense-organ, but the whole Earth becomes its sense-organ. Paradoxically, it may be said—only you must not misunderstand me—that now the human soul must pass on to an experience in which it becomes fused with that essence which contains the whole world within it. As before, during our earthly life, our eyes were set in our body, and as then we were accustomed to see with our eyes and hear with our ears, so now, by means of the whole Earth and its existence, we are able to view the entire universe. We then become aware, that all the teaching of the Natural Scientists about the Sun and stars is nothing but a materialistic dream. In the world previous to this state, the stars were already extinguished, and the Sun and the Moon had already disappeared. Now, however, we become aware that where we supposed the Sun to be, there is really a community of spirits. That wherever we thought we saw stars, there are, in reality, spiritual worlds.
And as we look back upon our earthly existence we become aware that the teaching of the Natural Scientists is only a fantastic, materialistic dream. For what appeared to us as the stars or the Sun, is really in the spiritual world the seat of a spiritual community, in the same way as the Earth is the seat of a human community. But just as from a distant star it would not be possible to see any physical bodies, only the souls of men, just as little can one say that anything can interest us up there in the sphere of the stars which is not of a spiritual or soul nature. But what we do see may be described as the vapour of the earth atmosphere, which collides with what it meets. The physical eye cannot perceive what the star really is, it only sees the vapour which the Earth itself sheds out into the cosmic space. All that appears to us as the starry heavens is nothing but what is woven by the Earth itself out of its own substance, though that, certainly, is etheric substance. It is a curtain which the Earth draws before the reality beyond. When, however, the soul extends its life into this world, it learns that these imaginary material stars of which the Natural Scientists speak do not exist; that these stars are living beings, communities of living beings, which move to and fro soaring backwards and forwards in cosmic space, handing down gifts from the upper spheres to the lower, and again passing up gifts above from below.
Into the Whole how all things weave,
One in another work and live!
What heavenly forces up and down are ranging,
The golden buckets interchanging...
Forces, but now in the sense in which we speak of the primal forces,
With wafted benison winging,
From heaven through the Earth are springing,
All through the All harmonious ringing!
When this is read in its spiritual meaning, we have approximately that world into which the soul’s life now extends.
Now, my dear friends, let us try and ascertain how far Faust, at the time in which he is represented to us, had shared in the experiences which I have just been describing. He had opened an old book, written by one who had described an ancient perception by means of symbols, and had given the sign of the macrocosm. But Faust is naturally not in a position to transport himself with his soul into those spheres, where the wisdoms unfold their great occurrences in the universe. Faust is not in a position to soar so high. He only sees the symbol inscribed by one who had visited these regions—the symbol of the macrocosm. But a dream, a dim presentiment is aroused, that this symbol means something. Just suppose you had never heard anything about Spiritual Science and that the symbol lay before you, arousing a feeling that once someone had seen something that you also wanted to see. There you have the situation of Faust’s soul. Next imagine that something in these symbols which are really the signs of the Zodiac, the signs of the elements, the signs of the planets, stirs some chord in your imagination so deeply, that involuntarily the words, ‘A glorious pageant,’ fall from your lips. This, however, brings you back to earth, for now you perceive that the symbols in the book are mere imagination. Alas! ‘A pageant merely.’
So, after all, it is only an imaginary pageant, and you are brought down to earth. The symbol has not led you any further. On the contrary, it has thrown you back, for it has aroused the feeling that it is indeed the spirit world that lies before you, but nowhere can you find an entrance.
Thou boundless Nature, where shall I grasp thee clearly?
Where you, ye breasts, founts of all life that fail not,
At which both Heaven and Earth are nursed?
For you the withered breast doth thirst.
What else is this but the feeling of incorporation? Incorporation with the elements, with light, with air, with the subordinate world I Faust had penetrated into the spiritual world, but has now fallen back into that world which I have already described, as the nearest supersensible world:—the world of light and air-existence. This is clearly indicated in the lines:
Ye well, ye slake, I faint, yet ye avail not.
Faust has sunk back into himself again. Back from the spiritual into the elemental world. But, as yet, he is not in a position to recognise even this. Then in search for help, he opens the book and there sees the symbol of the Earth-Spirit. This sign was also transcribed by one who had known this nether-world, the elemental world, as his own. Faust now feels himself there too. He has a sort of sensation of having entered it.
How otherwise upon me works this sign!
Why? Faust feels its influence, because he has turned aside from the light of the senses and experiences something of existence in this world.
It is of this he speaks when he says:
My powers I feel already higher.
That is, what is experienced when one lives in the Warmth and Light:
I glow, as if with new-made wine.
Imagine yourself experiencing the warmth in your soul, that you live and move in the world as part of the waves of heat:
Full-steeled to tread the world I feel my mettle.
One really seems to move in and to form part of the elements. As I said before, the earth-life becomes an organ of sense; just as formerly the eye and the ear perceived and heard in themselves, so now one feels the Earth to be the sense-organ of the soul.
To whirl round the world with the storm, 1This is the literal rendering of the German in the passage.
when the soul is one with the waves of the air.
Clouds gather overhead
The moon withdraws her light.
No wonder! I have already described how the stars and Moon are extinguished, and why. For Faust the light disappears, because he becomes part of the light itself.
Vapours arise! Red lightnings quiver
About my head!
This is now inward perception.
Down-wafted from the vaulted gloom
Lays hold on me I
Spirit conjured, that hovering near me art,
Ah! What a spasm racks my heart!
To novel emotions
All my senses are stirred with storm like the ocean’s.
Note how life in the elements is expressed here.
I feel thee draw my heart, with might unmeasured!
Thou must! Thou must! Though life stand on the hazard!
And now in the course of his meditation Faust pronounces the invocation ascribed to the sign of the Earth-Spirit. It is a meditative, suggestive mantram, and really leads to the sight of the Master of the spirits, into whose dominion we pass, when we enter the elemental world. But we note at once that Faust is not ready for this world—he feels, above all, that he is not prepared for this world. What is lacking? Self-knowledge! He must gain self-knowledge, which is truly the deepest knowledge of the world of which we form a part. The knowledge which must be gained if we would swim and move and travel and have our being in the elemental world. But of that which is individual in this world Faust has no cognisance.
This spirit-talk between Faust and the Earth-Spirit is very characteristic of the stage of maturity reached by Goethe at the time when he wrote this scene, which represents his own tremendous endeavours to penetrate the spiritual world.
Spirit: Who calls to me?
Faust shrinks back from the sound at once. Naturally, it is quite unlike anything that can be heard with the physical ears. It is not that the sound comes from a long way oS, but that the aspirant to spiritual heights must have become part of sound itself. So that sound there is something quite different from what it is heard upon this Earth. Totally different. It is the same with vision. Man no longer sees by means of the light, but having become incorporated with it he streams out with it. Everything appears quite different. Faust had desired to become a super-man. That is to say, he desired to enter the spiritual world. But now this spiritual world fills him with terror. By this meeting with the Earth-Spirit, Eaust realises that to gain entrance into the spiritual world he must become a very different being from what he was before, as man; that it is not possible to enter these worlds encumbered with the natural powers, sensations and passions. And, as he fell back the first time from the higher spiritual worlds into the elemental worlds, so now he falls back from the elemental world into his own perceptions, because he has still remained the same ego he was before. He had not developed a fitness for this elemental world into which the meditation ending in the incantation to the Earth-Spirit had introduced him. For one moment he had caught a glimpse of the beings who inhabit this world and of their nature. But the spirit says to him:—
Where art thou, Faust, whose clamour filled mine ear,
Thou, that didst press amain into my sphere?
I have already pointed out that this voice sounded from the sub-consciousness— that these words were spoken by that subconscious Faust whom the external Faust himself did not really know.
Say, is it thou, that by my breath surrounded,
In all Life’s utmost deeps confounded,
This ‘Thou’ stands for the ordinary Faust, while the striving, struggling Faust was the loftier individuality of Faust.
A timorous, writhing worm!
But the opposition in Faust is aroused. He determines to enter that world for which he is unfit.
Creature of Flame, thou shalt not daunt me!
'Tis I, 'tis Faust, thy peer I vaunt me!
Now he can hear how the spirits of the elemental world, into which he, Faust, has transferred himself, five in the history of mankind: how they live in what the races and civilisations accomplish on the earth: how they live in it all. And the secret of the Elemental World is spoken by the Earth-Spirit. He never speaks of ‘being,’ but only of ‘becoming,’ of the happenings.
Spirit: In floods of being, in actions storm,
Up and down I wave,
To and fro I flee,
Birth and the grave,
An infinite sea,
A changeful weaving,
An ardent living;
The ringing loom of Time is my care,
And I weave God’s living garment there.
Not in space or in time! (See the Hague lectures entitled “The Effect of Occult Development on the Bodies and Self of Man.”) This is the spirit that lives through history, so much Faust realises:—
Thou busy Spirit, that rangest unconfined
Round the wide world, how near I feel to thee.
Thou that rangest unconfined round the wide world! Thou who art the spirit belonging to the spirits of time! How near I feel to thee! So he says in his presumption. Then the spirit speaks through words of thunder as Faust describes them a little further on. Lake thunder indeed they strike upon his soul and dash him back to the ordinary earth in which he dwells, because he is not yet mature enough. Self-knowledge must be gained and then in the extended self become one with the universe, he must seek the spiritual world. As yet he cannot find it, hence the thunder tones of the Earth Spirit.
Thou'rt like the Spirit thou graspest with thy mind,
Thou’rt not like me!
Who then is this spirit whom Faust cannot understand? What spirit can Faust understand? He, made in the image of the Godhead, who cannot understand the Earth Spirit! How then can he proceed further in self-knowledge? What, then, is this human spirit like, whom Faust can understand?
(This Spirit here enters in dressing-gown and night-cap. The second Faust: Wagner!)
This, then, is the spirit whom thou canst comprehend! Wagner. Him thou canst understand! Thou hast attained no higher than this: for all else that lives in thee is nought but obstinacy and passion.
Faust has advanced a step upon the road to self-knowledge. This is what is so peculiar in Goethe’s Faust, and it demonstrates the fine artistic perception of the master. The whole dramatic setting is, in fact, an illustration of the steps to self-knowledge.
As Mephistopheles illustrated one stage of self-knowledge gained by Faust, so also does the figure of Wagner. Wagner is really Faust himself. It would be perfectly correct if on the stage Faust were to be represented in accordance with this idea, and if the figure of Wagner in night-attire, from whom Faust recoils, were to be made to resemble Faust; if Wagner, in fact, were represented as a duplicate of Faust. Then people would understand at once why Wagner enters at this moment; what Wagner expresses is in reality what Faust has already grasped. Everything else that he has said has merely been empty rhetoric.
Faust believed that he could arrive at the deepest spiritual truths by reciting empty phrases, the real meaning of which he has never experienced in his soul. Now he acquires a piece of self-knowledge. Wagner speaks truth. Faust has never expressed the true innermost experiences of his soul. He has only been ‘reciting,’ ‘spouting.’
That is the truth. He has only been declaiming. And it is a piece of self-revelation for Faust to perceive that that is not the way to draw nearer to the Spirit of the World; at best he has only been reciting a Greek Tragedy. Many people desire, when they come in touch with Theosophy, to hold forth, to declaim about the deepest truths. This is too often only a sort of egotistical proclamation of the great truths, for their own benefit. In reality, they only wish to vapourise about themselves on this Theosophy, to make capital out of it, to surround themselves with a cloudy mist. With reference to the present day one must say that in many circles this certainly is the case. Many people are very interesting when they hold forth about their own views. In the olden days the priests were great at this; now, however, the comedians are even better, so that the priests might indeed learn something from them. If Faust would be content to speak from the true level of his understanding, he would utter the words spoken by his reflections:—Wagner. But his passions (due to the Luciferic influence) carry him away, and he proceeds and speaks, not from the convictions of his own true human soul, but from the Luciferic influence within him. It is the Lucifer in Faust that answers thus, to the Faust mirrored to us in Wagner.
‘Pardon—I heard your voice declaiming!’
‘Aye, marry, if your preacher be an actor,
As that from time to time well happen may.’
This scorn, this pride comes from the Luciferic influence in Faust. For if Faust were not so blinded by Lucifer, he would express the same sentiments as Wagner does, that is, if he could bring himself to confess what he is honestly capable of grasping with his understanding. The other is a faint foreshadowing of what Faust hopes to attain. But in this conversation with himself—for that is what it really is—Faust nevertheless makes a step forward. We do make a step forward in life, my dear friends, when we thus meet ourselves in others. We do not like to confess to ourselves that we possess certain characteristics, but when we see these in other people, we find it easier to study them. By this means, by the consideration of our own characteristics in the personality of another, we gain self-knowledge; even as Faust did in the personality of Wagner. Faust, however, had not yet advanced sufficiently to be able to say when Wagner had left him, ‘Yes! Truly that am I myself.’ If he had attained to complete mental illumination he would have said, ‘I am only a Wagner! Wagner is reflected in my brain!’
‘How is the head by hope not all forsaken,
That ever cleaves to stalest stuff, and when
With greedy hand he digs for treasures, then
Is overjoyed, if earth-worms he hath taken!’
For up to the present Faust has done nothing except seek for spirits, in the manner already described. In this encounter with Wagner, Faust acquires self-knowledge. Who was it that sent Wagner to Faust? It was the Earth- Spirit that sent him.
‘Thou’rt like the Spirit thou graspest with thy mind,
Thou’rt not like me!’
So now Faust is to see the spirit he resembles. He does not resemble the Earth-Spirit, the Lord of the World; but for once he shall see one of the figures which make up his personality. ‘There! Behold Wagner! This Wagner dwells in thee!’
But there is more in Faust than Wagner alone, there is also the Luciferic element, which strives against Wagner, viz., against Faust himself. Besides these there is yet another element.
If we look into the earliest edition of Faust, we find that the scenes immediately following that in which the Earth-Spirit appears, are missing. When the first edition appeared, the missing scenes were not written. Goethe was not ready to write them. The early edition ran thus: Conversation with Wagner, the students, Mephistopheles. Faust is sitting among his students and into this circle Mephistopheles enters. Goethe did not in reality know whether Mephistopheles was really Lucifer or Ahriman. If he had been acquainted with Spiritual Science he would have made Lucifer appear then.
In Mephistopheles we have the other spirit sent by the Earth-Spirit to Faust. The Earth-Spirit has already sent Wagner, now he sends Mephistopheles, or, as we should say, Lucifer. Little by little Faust must learn what is really within him. The Earth Spirit sends to him Mephistopheles. ‘Behold! Another of the spirits whom thou canst comprehend. Try to understand the Luciferic element within thyself, instead of presuming all at once the Earth Spirit!’
That Goethe was uncertain about the matter appears from four lines in the original manuscript, which were omitted in the later edition. They occur in the original manuscript of 1775, after the scene in which Mephistopheles has shown Gretchen to Faust, and in which Faust is burning to make her acquaintance. There they stand, these four lines in the original manuscript, but they were omitted from the Fragment published in 1790.
After Faust has commanded Mephistopheles, who is really Lucifer—for Goethe confuses the two—to procure the jewels, he departs. And Mephistopheles, left alone, says, in the old manuscript,
‘You’d think he were a Prince’s son!
Had Lucifer a dozen such,
It would remunerate him much.
In the end his commission’s always won.’ 2Translation by E. K.
There it stands. There Mephistopheles gives himself the name of Lucifer. As I said before, these lines were omitted in the later editions. And what was the task which Goethe set himself, when in his mature old age he endeavoured to give expression to his real self in his Faust? Has task was, to show how man might attain to self-knowledge. In this first scene, which Goethe wrote in his youth, we see foreshadowed what we can read so clearly now and which is described in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and, its Attainment as the meeting with the Guardian of the Threshold. Here wo see how man discovers little by little the various elements of which he is composed and how they are distributed. This is shadowed forth in Faust. He discovers himself in Wagner and in Mephisto-Lucifer. By degrees he learns to know himself in his different parts, first as Wagner, then as Lucifer-Mephisto. But, as I said before, Goethe had to wait for maturity before he could fully understand, as far as it was possible for him to do so at the time in which he lived, the tremendous import of the Christ Impulse for humanity. Thus we see it was not till he was advanced in years that he endeavoured to finish the work he had begun as a young man. This early work described Faust’s struggles, up to the point when he meets himself face to face in the various reflections of himself which are presented to him, amongst which is the Luciferic reflection of himself. When Goethe had reached maturity he finished this work by bringing Faust into touch with the Impulse poured out by Christ into the aura of earthly evolution. The Christian symbols are then introduced. Therefore, in Faust we see a document, which relates how Goethe himself was brought to Christianity by occultism, that is to say, to the Christ-Impulse. And it shows that we too, today, are proceeding further along that selfsame road upon which Goethe, in his time, first struck out as a pioneer. In Goethe’s time it was only possible to attain to a foreshadowing of this. today, the time has come when it is possible for man by means of Spiritual Science to enter those spiritual regions, the goal towards which Goethe’s lifelong struggles were directed. today, Faust must be understood in a different way from that in which even Goethe himself understood it. Yes, the world progresses, my dear friends, and if we do not fully realise that fact, then we do not regard the world seriously enough. Such experiences as these, showing how man is composed of various parts, when he faces himself in his true being and in his Luciferic nature, such experiences always make for progress, however slight. When we have made some slight progress, as we can do by meditation, we must not think that we are in a position to command a view of the whole spiritual world. We can only advance by very slow degrees. There are two natures in Faust—the Wagner nature and that other—the nature which is always pressing forward. Goethe has worked this point out very beautifully in the revision which he made in his mature years. As soon as Faust had been led to Christianity, Goethe felt that he must show the working of the Wagner nature in him. That is why Faust and Wagner take that walk together on Easter Day. It is the struggle going on in Faust’s soul which is here dramatically represented to us under the guise of two distinct persons. The higher man in Faust strives to rise: the Wagner-nature holds him back. A spark of comprehension of the spiritual world has been enkindled in Faust, therefore, when the Poodle meets him he perceives more than the actual material Poodle. It is really something like a soul-force speaking in Faust in the conversation with Wagner:
‘Faust: Dost thou see yon black dog, ranging through shoot and stubble?
Wagner: I saw bim long ago; he struck me not !’ the least.
Faust: (the higher nature) Look at him narrowly! What mak’st thou of the beast?
Wagner-nature: A poodle, who like any poodle breathing, casts for the scent, strayed from his master’s heels.’
These words of Wagner are, in fact, objections or pretexts which Faust, in reality, is making to himself. Behind the visible, Faust is beginning to perceive the invisible. He has already become aware of its existence. It is a perception created by experiences, a spark from the spiritual world which has descended into him. And here we see how honest Goethe is and how loyal to his artistic principles; only we must understand him aright. Faust now feels the Luciferic in himself. As you know, the Luciferic is connected with stubbornness, with secret egoism. Faust takes this Luciferic attribute with him even when his very soul is permeated by the Christ Impulse. It is this Luciferic attribute in Faust which causes the Gospel of St. John which he wishes to translate, to appear to him as incomplete.
To the man who understands, the Goethe commentators appear almost comic. They certainly follow him, even going so far as to attribute to the author himself the sayings he divides among his various characters. Faust does not yet understand the Gospel-Text. Otherwise he would have remained satisfied with the words, ‘In the Beginning was the Word.’ He hesitates, because he does not understand them. To the professors it seemed as if Faust did understand these words; but this is not the case. Faust does not understand them as yet. He can well perceive the ‘Might,’ the ‘Deed;’and he gauges the Gospel from the standpoint of his own rational understanding. This method now produces the exactly opposite effect; before, Faust was thrust back into the sensuous world, now, he is raised up into the spiritual world. In this case, his limitations have proved of use to him. When he writes ‘Thought’ and ‘Might’ and ‘Deed,’ he is raised up into the spiritual world, because there is then a spark of spiritual force in Faust’s soul. The spirits then appear, and Mephistopheles appears once more as the messenger from the Earth-Spirit... Mephistopheles, that shadowy figure, a combination of Lucifer and Ahriman.
Thus you see that in the endeavour of Faust to penetrate into the spiritual worlds we must recognise the struggle of Goethe himself,—and at the present time there is much for us to learn from this. Very much. My special task, both in this lecture and the last (the one delivered on Easter Sunday), has been to press home to you the fact, that a mind imbued with the desire to penetrate the hidden depths, finds it a hard matter to approach the Christ-Impulse, if that mind, fettered by its pride and arrogance, rests on its own strength alone, and will not accept what Spiritual Science is able to offer it. On the other hand, I wished to show in the example of Faust the might of that which entered the world with the Christ-Impulse. The time will come when men will learn to understand more and more perfectly the inner nature of the Christ-Impulse, by the help of Spiritual Science. The fact remains, that centuries after it was poured into the earthly evolution of man, something else appears in this human evolution that cannot be properly understood by man. But as soon as he begins to understand this something aright, by this very understanding ho will be brought to a deeper realisation of the Christ-Event. This is an illustration of what the Christ-Impulse really is, an illustration afforded by the history of the world for the earthly evolution of mankind.
As you know, six hundred years after the Christ-Impulse entered the evolution of mankind, a Prophet arose in a certain community, who at first rejected and denied the existence of all that the outpouring of the Christ-Impulse brought into human evolution. I refer to Mahomet. We really must not fall into the superstitions of the nineteenth century, those superstitions which explained, from the rationalistic standpoint, matters which can only be explained from the spiritual standpoint. To earnest students of Spiritual Science the words of a particularly learned man, when speaking of Mahomet, must indeed seem laughable. He speaks thus: Yes! He declared that angels came to him in the form of doves, and whispered into his ear. What they told him he transcribed later as the Koran!—But Mahomet, said the learned man, was an impostor. He had put into his ears a few grains of which doves are especially fond. Then the doves flew to him, and after having taken the grains they flew away again!—This was the sort of explanation given both within and without Christendom in the very learned nineteenth century.
The time will come when we shall really laugh at such explanations, although they may be fully able to satisfy the materialist. But we must take Mahomet more seriously. We must realise that what was working in his soul was indeed a relationship with the spiritual world, such as Goethe strove to discover for his Faust. But what did Mahomet feel? What did he discover? I am only able to touch upon this today, another time I will describe it in detail. What did Mahomet discover? Well! As you know, Mahomet strove after a world for which he had an expression, which is contained in the one word—‘God.’ The world to him was a Monon, a monotheistic expression of God. This world naturally contained nothing of the essence of Christianity. But Mahomet, all the same, did see into the spiritual world. He entered into that elemental world of which I spoke just now. He promised his followers that they too should enter this spiritual world after passing through the Gate of Death. But he could only describe to them that spiritual world which he himself had learnt to see. What kind of spiritual world is this of Mahomet? It is the Luciferic world which Mahomet describes to his followers as the goal to which they should strive to attain, and which appears to him to be Paradise. And if we come down from the abstract to the concrete, and consider the essence of the Islamic endeavour to reach the spiritual world, we shall recognise what Spiritual Science also proclaims. But this spiritual world of Mahomet is that over which Lucifer has dominion. This Luciferic world has been misinterpreted as Paradise, as that world towards which all human endeavour should be directed.
It must indeed make a deep impression upon our minds when we study the historical evolution of the world in the light of this important phenomenon. It must cause us to reflect deeply when we realise, as we proceed on our spiritual way, that a great Prophet appeared and promulgated the error that the Luciferic world was identical with Paradise. I do not wish such an idea to enter your minds as being merely an abstract truth. The effect of that upon the soul might be really shattering, if one dwelt upon it too much.
But now, my dear friends, what steps must the Mahometan take to enter his spiritual world? It would be interesting to count the numbers of those present today who have read all through the Koran I For it is no easy matter to read the whole Koran, with its endless repetitions, and its style, so wearisome to the Western mind. But there are Mahometans, who have read the Koran from beginning to end, no less than seventy thousand times! That means that the inspired word has been so impressed upon the soul that it becomes a living reality! If we Christians have nothing to learn from the contents of this religion, we can at least learn that the inner life of this community, marred as it is by spiritual error, is yet very different from ours, with all our spiritual enlightenment! The most a European does, is to read his Faust. When he has forgotten it he reads it again. Again he forgets it and reads it once more. But the individual who has read Faust even a hundred times would indeed be hard to find. This is quite easy to understand when we consider the Western methods of education up to the present time. For how would it be possible to read everything that has been printed by Western civilisation seventy thousand times? That is quite comprehensible. But we can learn one lesson. It is one thing simply to become acquainted with something important for the soul’s progress: but it is quite another thing to five with it and by constant repetition to make it part of oneself. This latter is an experience that must be understood and an understanding of this cannot be gained by following the methods of thought pursued by our Western nations. But we ought to ponder over these questions. Words such as have been spoken in these lectures have not been spoken merely for the sake of talking, but to arouse you to contemplation and reflection, to increase the sense of our responsibility to ourselves and to the world, in relation to the potential and inevitable future of Spiritual Science.
In many respects we are living in a difficult age. All the terrible outer events which surround us at the present day are but the outer signs of our whole difficult age. It is a mistake to regard this awful time as a disease, in the same way as we refer to any ordinary illness. For sickness is often a process of healing. The real disease has preceded the outward physical manifestation of sickness. So it is with this cataclysm of misery (the War) which is sweeping over the world. It was preceded by something unhealthy, and humanity has yet to fathom much lower depths than it has any desire even to perceive.
Oh, my dear friends! What a load of grief must weigh down the souls of those who contemplate our present time and its tasks! And when they consider the small amount of understanding which so many people bring to bear upon those tasks, the anguish of the soul becomes well-nigh intolerable! When we consider the opinions of men of today—how they think!—how they feel!—their attitude!—and when we remember that it is these thoughts, these feelings, this attitude which will crystallise into outward expression; and when we see how little men have already learnt from outward experience; when we contemplate all these things, truly the soul is filled with an immeasurable sorrow, which must often and often recur!
Can we really foretell the future? To take our most recent experiences: What has humanity learnt during these last few months of trial? Compare man’s opinions today with what they were eight months ago. What is the result? We find the same errors of judgment. The same outlook. Where men, eight months ago, believed themselves to be in the right, now, today, eight months later, after all these awful experiences, they still believe themselves to be in the right. They even assert that these terrible events have taken place with the express purpose of proving that they were right. I can never express the infinite pain with which one observes the lack of discrimination in mankind, the failure to perceive that this time should be considered as a time of probation, a time for gaining knowledge. But one may hope that at least those who come within the influence of Spiritual Science may learn something from these experiences if they will consider them in connection with a study of Faust.
Again and again would I impress upon the minds of all anthroposophical students, that intense earnestness and a pure and holy desire for truth must be inseparable from all anthroposophical studies. Any motive other than the honest desire for truth, in such a movement as ours, will take its revenge. Anything of which it is possible to say: ‘Pardon me, I heard you declaiming’ must be sternly repressed and striven against.
My dear friends! Is it not strange when we see the traditional Wagner upon the stage, to hear learned men, contemporary rationalists and philosophers jeering loudly at the conception of the true Wagner, instead of striking their breasts and recognising themselves in Wagner. The real Wagner reigns everywhere. He sits in the Master’s chair and in the laboratory. A great truth would be proclaimed in our scientific and philosophic literature if the greater number of authors would choose the pseudonym of ‘Wagner.’ For Wagner is the real author of all our contemporary philosophies.
I greatly fear that in the ranks of Spiritual Science, my dear friends, there are indeed many who have ample cause to smite the breast and by a stern self-examination to lay bare the secrets of their souls, so that they may discover how much of what they find there is mere ‘spouting’ and how much is reality and a pure desire for truth!
With this note of warning addressed to your hearts and to the innermost forces of your souls, I will close these observations, the continuation of which, owing to my enforced absence, will have to be postponed for some little time.