The Question of Women's Rights
Hamburg, 17th November 1906
It may appear peculiar that spiritual science deals with such a topic like the question of women's rights, an urgent question that almost touches the issues of the day. For spiritual science commonly looks for the deepest riddles of the human existence and the world. One takes the view in many circles, which deal with spiritual science, or in such circles, which have heard something of the spirit of this worldview, that spiritual science is said to be something that does not care about the issues of the day, about the interests of the immediate life. One believes — namely the one reproaches that and the other credits it highly for it — that spiritual science should deal only with the big questions of the eternal that it should hover over the everyday events. One regards it as something impractical in the good and in the bad sense. However, if spiritual science should fulfil a task and mission in our time, it must intervene in that which moves the heart, and then it must be able to take a stand on those questions, which influence our everyday thinking and our everyday striving and hope. It must have a say in something that takes place in our time. Why should it not be that today the questions, which come as near to the human soul as the question of women's rights, which should occupy us today, why should it not be that a worldview assesses the big problems of existence? One often criticises spiritual science just for this rightly that it has not found the way to the real life praxis. Nothing would be more wrong, if spiritual science led more and more into an ascetic direction, in a direction hostile to life. On the contrary, it will prove itself establishing a real basis of the life praxis. It must not live in the cloud-cuckoo-land, it must not lose itself in mere abstractions, and it must have something to say to the present human beings.
Just as we have spoken here about the social question, we also want to speak about the question of the women's rights from the great cultural point of view, from the spiritual-scientific point of view. Of course, nobody should imagine that spiritual science speaks about the question of women's rights in the same way as the day-to-day politics or journalism. However, one must not believe that only that is practical which signifies a kind of parish-pump politics.
Somebody has always turned out to be a real practitioner who is able to look out at the immediate present. Who was the practitioner at that time when in the last century the postage stamp was invented and introduced in life which reshaped our whole system of communications, our whole social life since that time? It is somewhat more than fifty years ago. At that time, the idea of this institution whose practical relevance nobody doubts today did not come from a practitioner. The Englishman Hill (Rowland H., 1795-1879) was no postal practitioner. Someone who was a practitioner said these witty words: one cannot believe that this institution can cause such a big reversal in the system of communications; however, if it were the case, the post-office buildings would no longer be sufficient for the transportation of the letters.
Another example. When the first railway should be built from Berlin to Potsdam, the general postmaster Nagler (Karl Ferdinand Friedrich von N., 1770-1846) said, if people absolutely want to pour their money down the drain, they should prefer to do this directly. I let two stagecoaches drive daily, and nobody sits in them. — You know the other thing that happened in the Bavarian Medical Board: there one asked the learnt gentlemen because of unhealthy effects whether it is good for the nervous system if one builds railways. The gentlemen said that it would be impractical to the highest degree, because this would cause serious impairments of the nervous system.
This as an illustration of the relation of the practitioners, if it concerns the questions of the day, to those who look out with a more farsighted look at the future. The latter notorious idealists who are not stuck in that which is usual since time immemorial are the real practitioners. From this point of view, the spiritual-scientific worldview also appears as an engine for the practise of many questions and of ours. Hence, somebody who treats the questions from a higher point of view may accept such a reproach quietly and remember the other examples where people who believe to have the monopoly of practise judged in such a way.
Few people deny that the question of women's rights is one of the biggest questions of our present civilisation, because this has become a fact today. There are opponents of certain views in the question of women's rights, but nobody denies that it exists. Nevertheless, if we look back at times not so long ago, even important people regarded the question of women's rights as something fantastic, as something that had to be suppressed by any available means.
One example: I would like to remind you of the explanations of a significant man, the anatomist Albert (Eduard A., 1841-1900, Bohemian surgeon), who vehemently opposed the licensing of the women to the academic professions 25 years ago. He wanted to prove from the point of view of his anatomical-physiological science that it is impossible that women get licensing to the academic professions that they would be able to fill the medical profession one day. With the big authority of the physical science, one cannot be astonished at all that one gives those credit for a judgement, who were in the know of the human being because of their scientific views. Still recently, the witty pamphlet has appeared here in Germany, On the Physiological Mental Deficiency of the Woman. This pamphlet is due to a man who is, however, by no means a quite unimportant physiologist, Möbius (Paul Julius M., 1853-1907, neurologist), who has said some good things, who has not disgraced himself but his physiological science, while he made various important persons of the world-historical development of the last time like Goethe, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche appear as pathological phenomena. He did that so absurdly and radically that one would have to ask with every genius of the spiritual life: where is insanity in him, actually? — Goethe, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, they all are treated from the point of view of psychiatry, of the psychological pathology.
If one goes deeper into these matters, they all fall in a category that is characterised by the example of a famous naturalist who wanted to deduce the minor talent of the woman from the lower weight of the female brain some time ago. It is no fable: the man stated that the size of the mind depends on the size of the brain, and that on average women have smaller brains than men have. It really happened that one applied the method of this scholar to him. One weighed his brain after his death, and it came to light that he had just an abnormally small brain, a much smaller brain than those women had whom he had just regarded as inferior because of their lower cerebral weight. It would be somewhat malicious if one tried to examine such a pamphlet once from the psycho-pathological point of view, like this about the physiological mental deficiency of the woman, and if one tried to use the result against the concerning author as against the professor Bischoff (Theodor von B., 1807-1882, physician, biologist).
Thus, you see that the question of women's rights does not exactly testify that those were very judicious who opposed it. The question of women's rights is much more comprehensive than the question of the licensing of the women to the learned professions, than the educational question of the women; the question of women's rights encloses an economic, social, and psychological aspect and still some other matters. However, just the educational question of the women has shown wonderful fruits in the facts. Almost all theoretical judgements have been disproved by the practise in this field.
Bit by bit the women have ground out the licensing of the most professions against the opinions of the men's world, to those of the lawyers, doctors, philologists et cetera. The women took up these professions under substantially more unfavourable conditions than the men. One must only take into consideration, under which unfavourable conditions the women recently have approached the universities. It is easy with the normal pre-educational background; however, the women came with an insufficient preparatory training. They have overcome all difficulties in a large part not only with tremendous diligence but also with comprehensive abilities. They were in no way inferior to the men, concerning sobriety or diligence, or the mental abilities, so that the practise has solved this matter completely differently than some people theoretically imagined twenty to thirty years ago. Various professors, led by their prejudices, denied the women the access to the universities. Today many women with completed professional training know what life is about and they are as judicious and reasonable as the men are.
However, this only lights up the external situation, and it just shows us that we have to look deeper into the human being, into the being of the woman if we want to understand the whole matter. For there is nobody today who is not touched anyhow by the importance of this question. Even if the woman has ground out the licensing to the learned professions, also to numerous other occupations, even if in practice a big part of the question of women's rights is solved: if we want to advance consciously and reasonably, if we want to discuss this question in all directions, we have to look deeper into the human being.
What has one not spoken about the difference between man and woman! You can read it already everywhere in short overviews how differently one assessed the difference between man and woman and how one wanted to form a view about this question from these assessments. A lot has been written about the psychological aspect of the question of women's rights. There is no better book about this aspect, as far as a non-theosophist has written it, than that of a spirited woman who is generally active in the present literature: To Critics of Femininity by Rosa Mayreder (1858-1938, Austrian author, feminist). You can find the judgements somewhere else, let only some of them pass by. There we have a man Lombroso (Cesare L., 1835-1909, Italian physician, criminologist). He characterises the woman in such a way: her feeling of devotion and dependence is in the centre of her mental character. George Egerton (pen name of Mary Chavelita Dunne Bright, 1859-1945, feminist) says that any woman, considering a man impartially, looks at him as a big child and that just from that her domineering nature comes, so that the domineering nature moves into the centre of the woman's soul more and more. A great naturalist, Virchow (Rudolf V., 1821-1902), says that, if one studies the woman externally physiologically, one finds gentleness, mildness, and calmness at the bottom of her being. Havelock Ellis (1859-1939, physician), a good expert of the matter as well, says that the characteristic of the female soul is a choleric temperament, initiative, and bravado. Möbius finds the characteristic of the woman's mind in conservatism. Being conservative is the real life element of the woman's soul. Let us confront that with the judgement of an old, good soul expert, Hippel (Theodor Gottlieb H., 1741-1796, author, On Improving the Status of Women, 1792). He says that the woman is the real revolutionist of humanity. Go to the people, there you find a quite peculiar, but quite popular judgement about the relation between reason, passion, and soul with man and woman. On the other side, have a look at Nietzsche's judgement. He says that the woman preferably has reason, the man soul and passion. Compare this with the popular judgement, it is just the opposite.
We could talk a lot that way and register those judgements on one side, which attribute all passive, all weak qualities to the woman, on the other side those judgements, which just say the opposite. Nevertheless, certainty is lacking if so different judgements are possible.
Also the natural sciences have dealt a lot with the question and they are held in high esteem. However, also the statements of the naturalists contradict themselves concerning the real basic character of the woman. If we go over from the naturalists and psychologists to the history of civilisation and adhere to that which is always said: the man is the actually creative one, the woman is more the companion, the reproducing one, then such a judgement, would be impaired by the fact that one considers too short an interval. One needs only to look around a little bit with those peoples who show old cultural leftovers, or with primitive tribes, and one needs only to pursue the developmental history of humanity, then one sees that there were times and that there are even today such peoples where the woman participates in the male workings most eminently.
Briefly speaking, the assessments fluctuate in every direction. It must appear even more conspicuous to us that the woman of a nation differs from the man of the same nation much less than the woman of this nation from the woman of another nation. We can conclude from this that we are not allowed to say: man and woman, but that beside the gender character possibly something may be that is much more important in the human society than the gender character and that is independent of this gender character. Just if one looks impartially at the human being, one can normally differentiate what is necessarily connected with the relations of the genders and what goes beyond these relations and points to quite different regions. Indeed, a materialistic view of the world and the human being which at first only sees the palpable and obvious, sees the big physiological differences of man and woman, of course. Somebody, who is stuck in this materialistic view, simply overlooks what is much bigger and more drastic than the gender differences; he overlooks the individuality that goes beyond the gender, beyond that which is dependent on the gender. It must be the task of a worldview directed to the spirit to consider the human being correctly.
Before we consider the question of women's rights from this point of view, we want to present something to us of that which the question of women's rights constitutes today. One speaks of a question of women's rights in the general, but also this is an impossible generalisation like the concept of the woman. One should not speak, actually, of the question of women's rights in the general, because this question changes according to the different social classes of humanity. Does the same question of women's rights exist possibly in the lower classes, in the classes of the labourers, as in the educated ones? The lower classes, the real labourers, strive with all available means for getting the women from the factory and from the trade to give them to the family. The higher classes strive for exactly the opposite. They strive for the possibility that the women in the families get the possibility to work in the public life. This is something of the social aspect of the question of women's rights.
Of course, the general social question of women's rights exists besides which demands the same rights for the women in political and cultural respect as the men have them. People have the view today that one speaks, actually, of matters that would have to result from the nature of humanity itself. However, one does not think that the life of humanity changes much faster than at the first glance. A man who dealt from his political point of view also with the question of women's rights, Naumann (Friedrich N., 1860-1919, Protestant pastor and liberal politician), endeavoured once to study the negotiations of the St. Paul's Church of 1848 concerning this matter in which many human rights were discussed. One debated the natural rights of the human beings back and forth. However, he could nowhere find that these rights should be applied to men and women in the same way. This crossed nobody's mind. The question of women's rights came to this direction only in the second half of the 19th century. Hence, it probably seems justified to put the other question: where from does it result that this aspect of the question of women's rights has only been rolled up in our time? — Let us realise this completely.
One shows the question of women's rights from the male and female view in such a way, as if only now the woman must get a significant influence on all areas of life. In certain respects, the arguments reveal a big short-sightedness, because you must ask yourselves, did the women not have any influence in former times? Were they always enslaved beings only? It would be a lack of knowledge if one wanted to argue that way. Let us look at the Renaissance age and consult one of the most common books, Burckhardt's (Jacob B., 1818-1897, Swiss historian of art) book about the Renaissance (The Civilisation of the Renaissance in Italy, 1860). There we see which deep influence the women had got, for example, on the whole spiritual life of Italy, how the women stood in the foreground of this spiritual life, how they were equal to the men and played great roles. Finally, would one have spoken about the women's lack of influence in the first half of the 19th century compared with such a personality as Rahel Varnhagen (1771-1833, writer) was? She would have been highly surprised that one raises such a subject. She would not have understood at all how one gets around to thinking in such a way.
But many a man who exercises his general voting right today or even debates in the parliament and delivers long speeches is really a mere nobody if one considers the whole cultural process which the above-mentioned woman caused. Who studies the spiritual life of the first half of the 19th century and sees, which influence this woman had on the men of the 19th century is no longer tempted to say that the woman was a being without influence at that time. The matter is simply based on the fact that the views have changed. At that time, one did not believe that one needs a general voting right that one has to debate in the parliaments that one has to study at the university to have great influence on the cultural process. One had other views in any direction. I do not say that with a conservative intention, but as evidence of the fact that the whole question is a product of our present civilisation and can be put only today as it is put, and can be put only in all areas of life today, not only in the field of education, of the higher spiritual education.
Have a look at the relation of man and woman in former times when still other economic conditions existed. Have a look at the farmer and his wife in former centuries. One cannot say that the farm woman had less rights than the farmer, or a lower sphere of activity. She had to care for a certain realm and he for another. The same applied to the craft. What has become, actually, the question of women's rights today in the working classes has originated because during the last centuries, and in particular in the last century our civilisation has become a decidedly male civilisation. The machine age is a product of the male civilisation, and simply the way of this civilisation limits the activity of the woman more than the former economic life limited it. The woman does not fit into the factory, and completely different calamities result from it compared with the conditions when she was occupied in the farmyard, at home or in the old craft as a manager or co-worker.
Also in relation to the learned professions, everything has changed in our whole life, in our view. The whole esteem of the learned professions has become another one. It is not yet long ago that that which one understands today as a learned profession was more or less a kind of a higher craft only. It was a way to be professionally active in the law, medicine, and it would not have crossed anybody's mind before relatively short time to derive a kind of religious worldview from that which medicine, law, natural sciences offered. It is the special science of that which is investigated in the laboratory, which has become bit by bit the domain of the men from which a higher worldview is attained. Against this, once religion and philosophy hovered like a spirit over all matters that were done in the faculties, and a higher education was only to be found in them.
The actually human, that which spoke to the soul, that which spoke about his longing for eternity, that which gave the human being strength and assurance in his life that was common to man and woman. This arose from another spring than from the laboratory or from the physiological investigation. One could come without any university education to the highest heights of philosophical and religious education. One was able to do this any time, also as a woman. Only because the materialistic age has made the so-called positive sciences with their so-called facts the basis of the higher problems, a train of the heart, a longing of the soul had to drive the woman to look herself into the secrets, which the microscope, the telescope, the investigations of physiology and biology reveal to us. As long as one did not think that anything about life and immortality could be decided by the microscope, as long as one knew that this truth must be taken from completely different sources, such a desire for scientific studies could not arise as it is today. We must hold this against ourselves that the direction of our time has produced this drive for the university education, and that generally the question of women's rights is put in the whole way of the civilisation of our time.
However, a movement almost disregarded up to now, the spiritual-scientific view, opposes everything that this new age has brought, that is founded on an only material base. The spiritual-scientific worldview has to solve the vital question and has to co-operate in all cultural currents and cultural attempts of the future. One cannot misjudge this worldview more than believing that it is nothing but the chimera of some daydreamers. It is the result of the spiritual research of those who know the needs and the longing of our time best of all and take it most seriously. Only those who want to know nothing about the needs of our time can keep off this eminently practical world movement intervening in all questions. Spiritual science is nothing that indulges in an infertile criticism, nothing conservative. It considers it as something beneficiary and reckons that materialism has appeared last century.
It was a necessity that the old religious feelings and traditions lost their validity compared with the claims of the natural sciences. Spiritual science understands how it happened that the physiologist and the biologist deny immortality even if he also does not concede it. That had to happen this way. However, humanity will never be able to live without looking up, without knowledge of the real supersensible spiritual things. A short time only one will be able to go on working as it has come about today with the specified science and with that which often comes from this direction as a religious result or non-result. However, the time will come when one feels that the springs of the spirit must be disclosed in life. Spiritual science is the outpost of this struggle for development of the real spiritual springs of humanity. On a much broader base spiritual science is able to tell humanity again about the being of the soul, about that which towers above the transient and passing. On a broader base than it ever was the case in the popular world, spiritual science will announce what gives assurance, strength, courage and perseverance in life what can light up those questions which occupy the everyday life and are to be solved not only from the material side.
It is a peculiar chance — some will understand it — that at the starting point of the theosophical movement a woman stood, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. One experienced the incredible example, just here, that a woman with the most comprehensive sense, with the most urgent power and with mental energy composed writings compared with which really everything that the intellectual culture has otherwise produced is a trifle. Believe nothing of that which you can read about so-called esoteric doctrines, which insights of the spiritual world you read possibly in Isis Unveiled or in the so-called Secret Doctrine by Blavatsky. Believe nothing of that, but consult the book and ask yourselves how many spirits of the present have known anything more powerful about so many matters than Blavatsky did. The two immense volumes of the Secret Doctrine give information about almost all fields of the spiritual life, about ancient cultures, ancient religions, about all possible branches of the natural sciences, about the social life, about astronomy, physiology. May that be wrong, which you read therein, but I ask you who is able to say even wrong things about all these fields proficiently and to show with it that he has familiarised himself emphatically with all that? You need not only consider the correctness, but also the comprehensiveness of the mind which you cannot deny, then you have the example of a woman who has shown not only in any branch of the intellectual culture, but in the whole spiritual life what the female mind can perform concerning a higher worldview. Even if one reads Max Müller's (1823-1900, Orientalist) religious-historical treatises and compares their contents with the comprehensive of the Secret Doctrine, one sees how much the latter towers over the first. Thus, it is a peculiar chance that a woman stands at the starting point of this theosophical movement. One may explain that just from those matters which have also shown us the question of women's rights as a birth from our present spiritual life.
If we look deeper into the spiritual development of the human beings, then that, which can, astonish us otherwise, may appear to us as a necessity in the history of thought. However, to be able to do this in fertile way, we have to go into the human nature briefly. We want to outline the human nature with a few brief strokes.
The spiritual-scientific research, theosophy, regards that which materialism and the everyday worldview know of the human being only as a part of the human being. I can only give you some outlines today, not daydreams, but matters that are as certain as mathematical judgements for the mathematicians. What the usual science knows of the human being is his physical body. This physical body has the same physical and chemical forces, principles, and substances, which one finds outdoors in the so-called lifeless nature. The forces that form the dead stone outdoors and the “life” in the stone are the same in the physical body of the human being.
However, the spiritual-scientific worldview still sees additional members of the human nature, at first the second member that the human being has together with all plants. Modern science already speaks speculating about something that spiritual science aims at, about a particular life principle, because the reasonable scientists have overcome the laws of materialism, which still applied to many people fifteen years ago. Nevertheless, the modern physical research will only extrapolate this second human member speculatively. However, the theosophical spiritual research refers to the testimony of those who have higher intuitive faculties who relate to the usual average human being as a sighted person relates to a blind one. It refers to the testimony of such persons who know this second human member as something real, as something that exists. Someone who knows nothing does not have the right to judge, as little as the blind person has a right to judge about colours.
Any talking of the limits of the human knowledge is nonsense. One should ask, is the human being not able to rise to a higher level of knowledge? May that not be real which one calls spiritual eyes and ears? There have always been human beings who developed certain slumbering abilities and who can thereby see more than others can. Their testimony must apply exactly the same way as the testimony of those who look through the microscope. How many people have seen what the evolution theory teaches? I would like to ask you, how many human beings have seen that about which they talk? How many people, for example, have clear proofs of the development of the human embryo? If they introspected, they would see what a belief controls them. If it is a justified belief, that belief is also justified, which rests on the testimony of the initiates who speak about their spiritual experience.
We speak of the second member of the human being. We find the same in the Christian religion with Paul, who called it spiritual body. We speak about the etheric or life body. A certain sum of chemical and physical forces would never crystallise to life if they were not formed in particular by that which penetrates every living body as a life body or etheric body. The human being has it in common with the whole plant and animal realms. However, a plant does not have impulses, desires, and passions. A plant feels no joy and sorrow, because one cannot speak of any sensation if one sees that a being only reacts to something external. One can speak of sensation only if the external stimulus is reflected inside, if it is there as an internal experience. This part of modern physiology, which speaks of a sensory body of the plant, only shows a tremendous dilettantism in the view of such concepts.
Where the animal life begins, where joy and sorrow, where impulses, desires and passions begin, one speaks of the third member of the human being, of the astral body. The human being has it in common with the whole animal realm. Now there is one thing that reaches within the human being beyond the animal realm and makes him the crown of creation. We realise it best considering it subtly.
There is a name within the German language, which differs from all other names. Everybody can say “table” to a table. However, one name cannot be applied that way. Nobody can say to me “I”, so that it would signify me. “I” can never sound to our ears if it signifies me. One felt this always as something essential. Even in the popular older religions, one found that there is an important point of the soul. Where the soul starts feeling the divine in itself, where it starts saying in this dialogue with itself to itself “I,” speaking with itself in such a way as from the outside cannot be spoken, there the divine being of the soul begins its development in the human being. The god in the human being announces himself there. The old Hebrew secret doctrine had felt this. Therefore, one called this name the inexpressible name of God that means, “I am the I-am.”
According to the Old Testament, the name signifies the announcement of the godhead in the human soul. Therefore, immense emotions and sensations penetrated the crowd when the priest announced this name of the godhead in the soul: Jahveh.
This is the fourth member in the human being where his external nature ends and his divinity begins. We have now seen how the human being is led as it were by external forces up to the “I”, the ego. There he stands, and from there he starts working in himself. This ego works down into the three other parts of the human being. Realise the difference between the human beings from this point of view. Compare a savage to a European average person, to a noble idealist, possibly Schiller (1759-1805, German poet) or Francis of Assisi (1181/1182-1226, Italian Catholic friar and preacher).
If the astral body is the bearer of desire and passion, we have to say, the astral body of the savage is surrounded by the powers of nature; however, the European average person has worked something into his astral body.
He says of certain passions and desires to himself: you are not allowed to follow them. — He has reshaped his astral body. Such a personality like Schiller transformed it even more, even more such a personality that is not related to the passions like Francis of Assisi who was completely purified and who was master of all impulses and desires in his astral body. Thus, you can say that the astral body of someone who worked on himself consists of two parts. One part is given by nature, by divinities; the other part is that which he himself has produced therein. We call this second part, transformed by the ego, the spirit self or manas.
Now there are matters that go deeper into the human nature where the ego works only in the astral body. As long as you tame your vices with the mere principles of morality or law, with logical principles, you work on your astral body. However, there are other cultural means, namely the religious impulses of humanity by which the ego works on itself. What comes from religion is a working engine of the spiritual life, is more than external principles of law and morality. If the ego works because of religious impulses, it works into the etheric body.
Also, if the ego is merged in the consideration of a piece of art and receives an inkling that behind the sensuous existence anything everlasting, anything concealed may be embodied, then the artistic image works not only in the astral body, but the human being improves and purifies the etheric body. If you were able to observe as practical occultist how an opera by Wagner (Richard W., 1813-1883, German composer) works on the different human members, it would persuade you that the vibrations of music deeply penetrate the etheric body.
The etheric body is also the bearer of everything that is more or less remaining in the human nature. You have to realise which difference is between the development of the etheric body and the astral body. Let us remember our own lives. Think about what you have learnt since your eighth year; this is very much. Consider the contents of your soul: principles, ideas et cetera. These are transformations of your astral bodies. Now think how little customs, temperaments, and abilities of most human beings change in general.
If anybody has a bad temper, this became apparent early on and has changed a little. If one was a forgetful child, he is a forgetful person even today. One can use a small example of this disparate development. This development behaves in such a way, as if the changes of the astral body are shown by the minute hand and the changes of the etheric body by the hour hand of the clock. What the human being changes in his etheric body, what the ego has made of the etheric body, one calls buddhi or — if one wants to use an English word — life spirit.
However, there is an even higher development, which the chela experiences, because one becomes another human being in the etheric body. If the usual human being learns, he learns with the astral body. If the student of the esoteric science learns, he becomes another human being. There his habits and his temperament must change. For this makes the difference that allows us to behold into other worlds. His etheric body is gradually transformed there.
It is the most difficult for the human being to learn to work into his physical body. One can also become master of the blood circulation; one can get influence on the nervous system, influence on the respiratory process et cetera. One can also learn that. If the human being is able to work into his physical body and learns to be connected with the universe, then he develops his atman. This is the highest human member, and because it is associated with the development of the respiratory process, one says atman (Sanskrit, German atmen = breathe). Then the spirit man is found in the physical human being.
Thus, we have seven human members, just as the rainbow has seven colours and the scale has seven tones. So the human being consists of the physical body, secondly of the etheric body, thirdly of the astral body, in fourth place of the ego, fifthly of manas, sixthly of buddhi, seventhly of atman. When the human being arrives at the highest level of development, when he makes his physical body, then we have the spirit man.
Concerning our today's question, we have to look closer at this being, at this nature of the human being. There a riddle of the relations between man and woman is solved out of the human nature in a peculiar way. Just esotericism or this intimate consideration of the human nature leads into the physical body, into the etheric body, into the astral body, into the ego and into that which the ego has made.
With every human being — this is a fact — the etheric body is dyadic, and the etheric body of the man as it lives among us presents itself with female qualities, and the etheric body of the woman with male qualities. Plenty of facts in our life are explained if we know that in the man something is of the female nature, and just that which we have discussed as dependent on the etheric body has more female nature with the man and more male nature with the woman. Hence, one can understand that certain traits can appear with the man. In truth, we never have in the physical material human being something else before us than a physical expression of a complete personality. The human soul builds the body as the magnet has two poles. It forms a male part and a female part, once one part as a physical body, the other time as an etheric body. Hence, the woman shows apparently male traits connected with the etheric body: devotion, bravery, and love; the man shows rather female traits sometimes. However, with reference to all traits which are connected more to the physical body the consequence of the gender appears in the external life.
Therefore, it must seem explicable that we have in every human being — if we want to look at him completely — an appearance before us with two parts, an open material one and a concealed one, the spiritual one. Somebody is only an entire human being who is able to connect inside a female nice character with external masculinity. The greatest spirits, in particular the mystics, always felt this in our past cultural life.
This is an important point. The man played a great role, because materialism pushed to the external civilisation. This external civilisation is a male civilisation because it should be a material civilisation. However, we have to be clear to ourselves that also in the world-historical evolution the culture epochs take turns, and that this one-sided male civilisation must find its complement by that which lives in every man. One felt this just in the time of the male civilisation. Hence, the mystics if they spoke about the deepest of their souls also called this soul something female. That is why everywhere you find the comparison of the soul with the woman receptive to the world, and on that, Goethe's saying is based in the Chorus Mysticus (Faust II):
All that is transitory
It is nonsense to interpret the saying trivially. In the sense of Goethe and of true mysticism one interprets it correctly saying, someone who has known something of noble spiritual culture has also pointed to the female character of the soul. Just from the male culture the saying originated, “the eternally-female draws us upwards.” Thus, one imagined the macrocosm, the universe, as male and the soul as female, which is fertilized by the universal wisdom.
What is this peculiar attitude, the logics, developing in the man for millennia? If we want to look into its depth, we have to see something female, the imagination, which the male principle has to fertilise.
Thus, we see the higher nature of the human being, if we consider what outgrows the gender difference. Man and woman have to regard their physical bodies as tools, which enable them to be active as a totality in the physical world in one or other direction. The more the human beings feel the spiritual in themselves, the more the body becomes the instrument, however, the more they also learn to understand the human being, if they look into the depth of the soul.
Indeed, this gives you no solution of the question of women's rights, but a perspective. You cannot solve this question with trends and ideals! You have to solve it in the reality, creating that soul image, that soul constitution, which makes it possible that man and woman understand each other from the view of the totality of human nature. As long as the human being is prejudiced in the material, a fertile consideration of the question of women's rights is not possible.
Therefore, you must not be surprised that in an age which has born the male culture the spiritual culture, which began in the theosophical movement, should almost be born from a woman. Thus, this theosophical or spiritual-scientific movement will turn out to be eminently practical. It will guide humanity to overcome the gender in itself and to rise to a point of view where spirit-self and atman are which are transpersonal and beyond the genders, the purely human. Theosophy does not speak about the general humanisation, but about the general human, so that it is recognised gradually. Thus, a similar consciousness awakes in the woman gradually as it has awoken in the man during the male culture.
As someone of those who have deeply spoken about the soul said: the eternally female draws us upwards, those will understand spiritual-scientifically who feel the other side of the human being as a woman in themselves. They speak about it in the correct practical sense, about the eternally-male in the female nature, and then true understanding and true mental solution of the question of women's rights is possible. For the external nature is a physiognomy of the soul life. We have nothing else in our external culture than that which the human beings have created what they have transformed in machines out of their impulses, in industrial matters, in the law. As the soul develops, the external institutions develop. However, an age that stuck to the external physiognomy wanted to build barriers between man and woman. An age which does no longer stick to the external, to the material but has the knowledge of the inside beyond the genders, wants to improve and embellish the sexual, without wanting to crawl away to the wasteland, to asceticism or to deny the sexual, and wants to live in that which is beyond the genders. Then one will understand what brings the true solution of the question of women's rights because it offers the true solution of the everlasting human question at the same time. One will no longer say when one speaks of things of the everyday life: the eternally female draws us up, one will also no longer say, the eternally male draws us upwards, one will say with deep understanding: the eternally-human draws us upwards.