The Riddles in Goethe's Faust — Esoteric
Berlin, 12th March, 1909
In one of the versions, which Goethe wanted to give his Faust, Mephistopheles should walk before the forestage at the end of the third act. He has worn the mask of Phorkyas in this act and should drop his mask, descend from his cothurns and speak a kind of epilogue. It was intended as the stage direction says which has remained now without sense that should be pointed in this epilogue to how the last figure of Faust is to be understood. The words, which Mephistopheles should speak as a commentator, are not to be found in Faust; however, they have been preserved on a sheet in Goethe's legacy. In a certain amusing way Goethe tries to show through the mouth of Mephistopheles how, actually, the audience should position itself to his Faust.
These words are noteworthy, and in a certain respect, this talk should be given in this spirit. They go back to Euphorion who has been born in a ghostly way, jumps and hops immediately after his birth and says “a graceful word.” These words link in such a way:
Enough, you see him although it is much worse
Any such explanation, which is based on old tradition, is flatly refused. Against it, an explanation from the depths of spiritual life is just demanded. Hence, Mephistopheles says, “We also say it, and our deep sense will be the loyal student of the newer symbolism.”
Who delves into the second part of Faust knows that Goethe creatively uses the language in this poem, and that we are not allowed to object to anything that contradicts grammar apparently. Here in this sentence, it is expressly pronounced that someone who understands Faust in the sense of Goethe also sees something deeper hidden behind it. However, he refuses anything at the same time that is based on a study and could lead to any mere symbolic interpretation and the like. He demands that the interpretation of Faust should be performed by that body of loyal students who know such an experience of the spiritual, which we can call the experience in the sense of the newer spiritual science. “Of our deep sense,” “of the newer symbolism of loyal students” someone should be who comments Faust in the sense of Goethe. Therefore, this should be taken from the immediate spiritual life, and Goethe probably reveals here that he has put in something that enabled him not to refer to old symbols once again, but to form new, independent symbols of the immediate spiritual life. If one wants to compare the first part of Faust to the second part concerning the representation of the spiritual world, one may probably say that the first part shows something learnt in large part that approaches someone from without who has notions of the spiritual world. The first part of Faust contains learnt matters of the supersensible world.
The second part contains experiences, and who understands them knows that it can only be due to a personality who got to know the reality of the spiritual supersensible worlds, which are behind the physical world. Really, Goethe retained, so to speak, the thread of representation, even though something in the second part is so unlike the first part. What he had learnt there, he had experienced, had beheld in the second part. He was in the spiritual, in the supersensible worlds. He suggests it also enough in that which he lets Faust speak in the first part: I see from my notion that it is true what the sage speaks:
The spirit world is not sealed off —
Your mind is closed, your heart is dead!
Go, neophyte, and boldly bathe
Your mortal breast in roseate dawn!
Goethe can point to that where he himself can inform what someone beholds, who bathes “the mortal breast in roseate dawn” in order to wait for the rising spiritual sun. Indeed, we find a vigorous striving of the student Faust for this roseate dawn in the complete first part — this may probably have arisen from the yesterday's statements — but we also find suggested in no uncertain manner that the way is nowhere covered satisfactorily.
How does the second part begin? Is the instruction of the sage “to bathe the mortal breast in the roseate dawn” fulfilled in any respect? We find Faust “couched on grass and flowers, fatigued, restless, and endeavouring to sleep” surrounded by hovering spiritual beings. We find him lost in reverie, wrapped in sleep. Beings of the spiritual world deal with his mind that is transported from the physical world. It is greatly shown how Faust's soul develops to grow into the spiritual world. Then it is shown how Faust's soul really grows into the world, which is suggested to us as the spiritual world in the Prologue in Heaven in the first part. Goethe says from deep experience what one always said to the student in the Pythagorean schools that a mysterious world music sounds to someone who enters the spiritual world.
ancient rivalry with fellow spheres
It has to sound from the worlds of spiritual life that way, if these are described appropriately. It is not a poetic picture, no metaphor what is said there about the music of the spheres, but truth; and Goethe adheres to this truth, because Faust, carried away from physical existence, grows like an initiate into the world, from which it sounds that way. Hence, one says in the scene where at the beginning of the second part Faust is carried away to the spiritual world:
In these sounds we spirits hear
the new day already born.
Cavern portals grate and rattle,
rolling wheels of Phoebus clatter,
light arrives with deafening din!
Brasses blare, the trumpets peal,
eyes are blinking, ears astounded -
things unheard you must not hear.
May those who believe to understand a poem only if they can say, one should accept such things of the poet as his pictures, which he creates in poetic licence, may they refuse to call these things realistic. The physical sun does not sound! The spiritual sun is behind the physical one, from which someone hears the sounds who settles down in the spiritual world. They are, indeed, spiritual, not physical sounds. Moreover, here we hear again how the sounds of millennia harmonise. At the passage of the sounding sun, someone who is able to pursue the development of the human spirit through the millennia is instinctively reminded of words, which were spoken millennia ago. Someone spoke these words who knew by his initiation that the physical sun is the expression of the sun spirit and the sun soul, as well as the physical human body is the expression of the human mind and the human soul, and who looked up at the spiritual sun and called it the great sun aura, Ahura Mazdao. We are reminded of Zarathustra, who spoke the great, tremendous words when he had looked at the sun this way, when the world was so spiritualised to him: I want to talk! Listen to me, you who strive for it from everywhere! Notice everything exactly, because He will be obvious! No longer should the false teacher spoil the world, who has announced bad faith with his tongue. I want to talk about the highest in the world what He has taught me, the great Ahura Mazdao. Who does not want to hear His words as I tell them will experience misery when the earth cycle is complete!
Before the spiritual sun rises in the soul, the student must have a bath in roseate dawn. Hence, the sage speaks, “Go, neophyte, and boldly bathe the mortal breast in roseate dawn!” Does the student Faust do this? After the spiritual beings had surrounded him and occupied themselves with him, while his soul was world-enraptured for a while, he wakes as a changed. The soul has entered the body, so that he has a premonition of the rising spiritual sun, having a bath in roseate dawn:
Life's pulses beat with fresh vitality
and gently greet the sky's first glimmering;
you also, Earth, have lasted out this night
and breathe new-quickened there below,
compassing me already with inchoate joy.
You rouse and stir a vigorous resolve
to strive henceforth towards being's highest form. —
But now the light of dawn unveils the world:
the woods resound with myriads of living voices;
everywhere valleys are filled with streaks of fog,
but still the heavens' brightness penetrates their depths,
and from the misty chasm where they slept
fresh-quickened boughs and branches have burst forth;
muted no more, colour on colour emerges in the dell
where trembling pearls drench every leaf and flower —
all that surrounds me forms a paradise!
Now Faust also feels awoken in that world in which he was placed during the rapture, and he bathes the earthly breast in roseate dawn. However, it is only the beginning of the way. He feels to be at the gate of initiation. Hence, he does not yet stand what appears there if the spiritual eye is exposed directly to the spiritual sun:
then there bursts forth from those eternal depths
excess of flame, and so we halt confounded;
our wish had been to light the torch of life —
instead, a very sea of fire engulfs us.
Hence, he sees the spiritual world, but as a symbol as we shall see soon:
I am content to have the sun behind me.
The cataract there storming through the cliff —
the more I watch it, the more is my delight.
From fall to fall it swirls, gushing forth
in streams that soon are many, many more,
into the air all loudly tossing spray and foam.
But see how, rising from this turbulence,
the rainbow forms its changing-unchanged arch,
now clearly drawn, now evanescent,
and casts cool, fragrant showers all about it.
Of human striving it's a perfect symbol —
ponder this well to understand more clearly
that what we have as life is many-hued reflection.
This is Faust, who bathes the mortal breast in roseate dawn to make himself ripe to behold the spiritual sun, which rises at initiation.
Now Faust should be placed into the big world with the gifts that he has received as a spiritual human being going to illumination. One could find strange that Faust is placed now to the imperial court, that all kinds of masks and jokes surround him. Nevertheless, these masks and jokes contain deep, deep truth and are important everywhere. It is not possible to penetrate into the meaning of this masquerade just today. It will anyhow be the destiny of this consideration to choose single moments of the whole contents of the second part. Otherwise, one would have to hold many talks if one wanted to illuminate everything. However, one can only say this about the whole contents of these masks: To that human being who surveys the human life with enlightened view certain words receive another meaning than they have, otherwise, in the outer, sober life. Such a human being who settles in the whole human development knows that such words like folk spirit, spirit of the times, are not mere abstractions. He beholds the true real beings in the spiritual world who correspond to that what one calls, otherwise, folk spirit, spirit of the times in the abstract.
Because Faust is illuminated, he realises, when he enters the big world where world destinies are determined by a court that in that what occurs supersensible forces are working. Outside in the sensuous world, one can observe single human beings and their laws only. In the spiritual world beings form the basis of all that. While the human beings believe that what they do results from their souls, that they make own decisions, beings of the supersensible world — folk spirits, spirits of the age and so on — penetrate the actions and thoughts of the human beings. The human beings believe to be free in their decisions, thoughts and concepts, but they are guided by that what exists behind the physical-sensuous world as spiritual beings. What the human beings call their mind and believe that it controls the course of times, it is at the same time the expression of spiritual beings standing behind it.
Thus, to Faust the whole masquerade which should signify something is the expression that one can recognise how in the course of the big events of worldwide importance forces are involved, coming from such beings, which Faust already got to know from Mephistopheles in the first part. The human beings are enclosed by such spiritual beings outranking them. Mephistopheles appears in the turn of the new time as a being who blows the invention of the paper money into the human intellect. Goethe shows the whole course of the matter with a certain superior humour: how such phenomena arise from the same spirit, from the same intellect, which is bound with the human being to the physical instrument of the brain if the spirit related to him who wants to only accept the sensuous inspires him. These phenomena control the world; however, they are significant only for the sensuous world. Thus, it is pointed to the deeper sense of the development just in this masquerade.
However, we are immediately led from the world, which lies before us and by which is shown us how supersensible forces are involved there, to the spiritual world. The court wishes, after it has been made rich, to be entertained also so that to it figures of bygone times are demonstrated. Paris and Helen should be conjured into existence from the past. Mephistopheles, who belongs to those powers of the spiritual world, which inspired the invention of paper money, cannot penetrate to those worlds from which the complete deeper human development arises. Faust bears the soul and the mind that can penetrate into these spiritual worlds.
For Faust is the student who bathed the mortal breast in roseate dawn, and it is shown to us how Faust has already experienced the first stage of clairvoyance, the stage which the clairvoyant experiences if he has brought the suitable exercises into effect on his soul. These are certain exercises of meditation, concentration and so on, which are given to him in spiritual-scientific symbols in which he becomes engrossed, and which transform the soul when it goes out of the physical and etheric bodies at night, so that it becomes clairvoyant in the spiritual world. What the student experiences there if he brings these exercises into effect, what is that?
The first stage of clairvoyance is something that can confuse the human being very much at first. We get clear about it best of all, where from this can come if we imagine what one sometimes also describes as the “dangers of initiation.” Who lives in the physical-sensuous world sees the things round himself in sharp contours. The things present themselves to him in space, and the soul finds purchase on the sharp contours which you find everywhere with which your soul fills dedicating itself to the sensuous appearance.
Imagine once for a moment that all objects, which are around you, become nebulous, lose their contours; the one penetrates into the other, everything wanders around like cloudscapes, metamorphoses. The clairvoyant human being enters this world after the first effects of the exercises. Since he reaches that which is behind the whole sensuous world, which forms the basis of all matter from which, however, the sensuous world is born, he comes to that stage where the spiritual world faces him first. Imagine how in the mountains the crystals form from their mother substances to their crystal forms and lines, the same almost applies if the clairvoyant human being comes into the spiritual world. At first, it appears bewildering if the student is not prepared enough. However, from the world which appears to him like a chaos the figures of the sensuous world grow out like the crystal forms from their mother substances. The human being experiences the spiritual world at first like the mother substances of the physical-sensuous world. He enters this world through the gate of death. Indeed, if the clairvoyant keeps on developing, the objects take on other steady forms that are streaked by those contours which are again in the spiritual world and through which the music of the spheres sounds. The clairvoyant experiences this after some time, but all that looks bewildering. However, the human being enters this world.
Should Helen and Paris bring up the picture, they must got it from this world. Only Faust, who has bathed his mortal breast in roseate dawn, who has found the entry in the spiritual world, is able to enter this world. Mephistopheles not; he is capable only of what the world of reason can accomplish. He gets to the key, which unlocks the spiritual world. However, Faust has the confidence, the assurance that he finds there what he searches: the everlasting, the permanent when the physical figure of the human being disintegrates in their elements at death.
Now it is marvellous and brilliant how Faust should descend to the spiritual world. However, already the introduction shows that that who describes this is familiar with the facts, also with the sensations and feelings, which overcome him who does not play with such matters, but really gets to know them. So magnificently everything faced Goethe's soul that is there of this sensuous world, when the seeds of initiation, discussed yesterday, came out by a particular event. He read a passage in Plutarch (46–120, Greek-Roman historian, biographer) where he describes how the city of Engyion wanted to ally itself with Carthage. Nicias, the friend of the Romans, should be arrested. However, he play-acts as a maniac. The Carthaginians want to seize him. There they hear the words from his mouth: “The mothers, the mothers pursue me!” This was a call, which one knew in antiquity only from a person who was removed from the physical world in a state of clairvoyance. One could consider Nicias either as a fool, as a maniac, or as a clairvoyant person. However, by what could one recognise this? By the fact that he spoke something that those knew who knew something of the spiritual worlds. In the sentence: “The mothers pursue me!” the Carthaginians recognise that he is not a maniac that he is an inspired man that he can say something from his own experience what one can know only from the spiritual world, and thus he escapes unscathed.
With the reading of this scene, something freed itself in Goethe's soul that was already put in him as a germ of initiation during his Frankfurt time. There he knew what it concerns if one enters the spiritual worlds. Hence, also the words which are put into Faust's mouth. Where Mephistopheles speaks of the “mothers,” Faust shudders. He knows what it concerns that he touches a holy, but a realm also, “to where no one has trod” who has not enough prepared himself for it. Indeed, Mephistopheles also knows about this realm that he should not enter it without preparation. Hence, the words: “you force me to reveal a higher mystery.” However, Faust has to descend to this realm to accomplish what he has to accomplish, to this realm where one sees what is usually steady and rigid in transformations of the everlasting existence. Here the spiritual sense beholds that behind the physical figures of the sensory world what penetrates into the sensory world to receive steady contours. Mephistopheles says then, characterising this realm, how it presents itself to everybody who enters it:
… From finitude
escape to realms where forms exist detached
where what has ceased to be can still afford delight.
There shapes will crowd and swirl like clouds.
One cannot describe clearer what a real experience of the initiated human being is. “What has ceased to be” is found in this world if it is represented that way. In “the realms where forms exist detached,” that is in the realms where the things of the sensuous world do not exist which does not have such things, which is unbound from them. Faust should enter the realm where that exists which has ceased to be long-since. Moreover, if one reads “there shapes will crowd and swirl like clouds,” one recognises something extremely peculiar again. Imagine the entry into the extrasensory world like a gate. Before one enters it, one has to prepare the soul by worthy symbols. One of these symbols is taken just from the sight of the rising sun, and it complements the picture of bathing of the mortal breast in roseate dawn: the sun, which forms a peculiar triangle around it. The soul experiences this symbol and it experiences the aftermath of such a symbol if it has passed the gate, if it is in the spiritual world. Hence, this aftermath: “There shapes will crowd and swirl like clouds.” Any word would be a living proof of that which this scene should be; Faust entrance in the first stages of the supersensible world that is the imaginative world. When Goethe showed this, he did not depend to brew from old Indian or Egyptian what should be a portrayal of the spiritual world, but he could show his experience quite realistically; and he did this.
Then Faust brings up the glowing tripod at which the mothers sit at the springs of existence in the spiritual world. With it, Faust is able to conjure up Paris and Helen before the human beings, images of the spiritual world. It would lead too far to explain the important symbol of the glowing tripod. It concerns here showing that really a kind of initiation is described in the second part of Faust. However, how carefully and correctly Goethe proceeds, we realise this while he shows the way into the spiritual world, which only the worthy can go slowly and with resignation. He shows us that Faust is not yet worthy enough. That only is worthy to enter the spiritual world who has removed everything that is connected with the narrow personal so that wishes and desires no longer stir which come from this narrow personal. That is easy to say, but in truth, a lot is said. For there are normally not only one human life but also many human lives between what is aimed at and what should be accomplished by eradicating the personal wishes and desires.
Goethe shows conscientiously that Faust is not yet worthy. Desire awakes in him; he wants to embrace Helen from a personal desire. There disperses the whole, it has gone. He has sinned against the spiritual world. He cannot retain it. He must deeper penetrate into the spiritual world. Therefore, we see him going his way in the course of the second part. We see him “paralyzed by Helen,” in another state of consciousness, removed from the physical body, lost in sleep. There we see something taking action round him that comes from the sensuous world up to the supersensible one. That has to represent that now Faust experiences — because he is removed from the physical world again — something that can be experienced only with full consciousness in the supersensible world. It is the complete coming-into-being of the human being, which he must experience now. He must experience those tremendous events that happen behind the scenery of the physical world, so that he can really behold what he wants. Helen has to go up in the physical world again; she has to be reincarnated. Where he brings up the mere imaginative picture from the spiritual world, he collapses with the whole. He has to grasp deeper.
Now we see him overcoming the second stage. In this condition, we see, after he is recently removed from the physical body, his consciousness ascending bit by bit from the sensuous world to the supersensible one. This is carried out almost in a poetically masterly way. It is not becoming to admire reality, because this is simply explained with the fact that Goethe describes his second part of Faust from own experience. However, it is great how Goethe represents the secret of Helen's incarnation, also poetically.
Someone who knows the elementary truth of spiritual science knows that the human being, while he settles in our earthly world, brings an everlasting, spiritual part from quite different realms with him. This spiritual part combines with that which takes place physically below in the line of inheritance that is given by father and mother, which is taken from the physical-sensuous world. Overall — if we do not go more exactly into the nature of the human being, but characterise the different members of the human being — we can say that an everlasting and an earthly combine in us. An everlasting that goes from life to life that descends from the spiritual world to a physical embodiment — we call it spirit at first. That this spirit can combine with physical matter, an interlink must be; this intermediate link between the real body and the spirit is the soul in the spiritual-scientific sense. Thus, spirit, soul, and body combine in the human being.
Faust shall experience with his high consciousness how these members of the human nature combine. The spirit descends from spiritual spheres, surrounds itself bit by bit with that which it takes from the soul world, with his soul, and puts on the physical cover according to the principles of the physical world. If one knows the soul principle which we have often called astral body, one knows the intermediate member, which ties together, so to speak, spirit and body.
Faust finds the spirit in the realm of the mothers. He already knows where he has to search this spirit, where from it comes, if he proceeds to a new embodiment. However, he must still get to know how the tie is formed when the spirit comes into the physical world. Now it is represented in the peculiar scene how in the laboratory of Wagner “Homunculus” is created starting from the sensuous and touching at the border of the supersensible. Mephistopheles himself contributes to it, and it is said to us spiritedly that only Wagner produces the conditions that Homunculus originates. Thus, Homunculus, this peculiar thing, originates, while, so to speak, the spiritual world contributes.
One has thought a lot about Homunculus. However, the reflection and the speculation about these matters do not help. Only if one really scoops from spiritual science, one is able to interpret what Homunculus is. To those who spoke about it during the Middle Ages it was nothing else than a certain form of the astral body. One must not imagine this scene in the sensuous sphere, but in such a way that the whole scene must be imagined in the spiritual world. One must pursue the whole process as it were with Faust's state of consciousness. How Homunculus is then characterised in the following scenes, he really presents himself as the representative of the astral body.
He's well supplied with mental faculties,
This is the characteristic of the astral body; and Homunculus says about himself:
Since I am now alive, I also must be active.
He is an astral formation, which is not able to stand still which must enjoy life in perpetual activities. He must be led into such spheres where he can really combine spirit and body.
Now we see what Faust experiences, the incarnation, shown at the Classical Walpurgisnight. There all forces and beings are demonstrated that work behind the physical-sensuous world; and perpetually spirits are interwoven from the physical world, which have developed their souls so far that their souls have grown together with the spiritual world that they are aware also in the spiritual world at the same time.
Such figures are the Greek philosophers Anaxagoras (~510–428 BC) and Thales (~624–~546 BC). From them Homunculus wants to get to know how one can originate; how one — if one is spiritual — can get a physical figure. All those figures should help which are shown to us at this Classical Walpurgisnight, the figures of the realisation of the astral body that is ripe for the entry into sensuousness, in the physical world. If one were able to pursue all that, any term would prove in detail what is meant. From Proteus and Nereus, Homunculus wants to learn how he can penetrate into the physical world. It is shown to him how he is able to attach the elements of matter to himself, and how with him the spiritual qualities are, that means how the soul enters the physical-sensuous elements bit by bit by that which has happened in the realms of nature. It is shown how the soul has to go through the states of the mineral, plant, and animal realms again to become a human being:
you must begin out in the open sea!!
That is in the mineral. Then you must go through the plant realm. Goethe even invents the expression “gruneln” (~ become greenish) for that which does not exist, otherwise. He lets Homunculus say:
I like the way the air smells fresh and green!
It is suggested to him how he has to do the way until then where round him a physical body forms gradually. Finally the moment of love comes. Eros completes the whole. Thales advises:
Accede to this commendable request
For if Homunculus has entered into the physical world, he loses his qualities. The ego becomes his ruler:
just don't aspire to the higher classes,
Proteus says that. He means the astral body, which has not yet penetrated into the human realm.
The complete Goethean view of nature, of the relationship of all beings, of their metamorphosis from the imperfect to the perfect, appears here. The spirit can be only as a germ in the world at first. It must pour out itself in the matter, in the elements to assume a higher figure from them only. Homunculus shatters at Galatea's conch. He disintegrates in the elements. The moment is shown in miraculous way where really the astral body attaches a body of physical matter to itself and can now live as a human being.
These are experiences, which Faust goes through, while he is in another state of consciousness, in a state removed from the body. He becomes mature bit by bit to look at the secrets that are behind the physical-sensuous existence. Now he can behold what is no longer in existence, the spirit of Helen, facing him embodied. We have the third act of the second part of Faust, the reincarnation of Helen. Goethe mysteriously puts the idea of reincarnation, as he had to do it at that time: how from three realms mind, soul, and body combine to form a human being and we face the reincarnated Helen.
Of course, we have to realise that Goethe, while he is a poet, represents that in pictures what the clairvoyant consciousness experiences. Hence, we must not intervene with coarse criticism and ask, Is Helen really reincarnated now? We have to realise that a poet speaks about what he has experienced in the spiritual worlds. Thus, Faust is able to experience the harmony with what is no longer in existence, the connection with Helen, after he has overcome a new stage of life.
Now we see a being arising from the connection of the human soul with the spiritual when the soul has raised itself in higher worlds. This being lives as a child of the spirit not according to the principles of the sensuous world, but to the principles of the spiritual world: Euphorion. Just if we remember the sentences — discussed just now — of the intended epilogue of Mephistopheles-Phorkyas at the end of the third act, we understand what arises from the marriage of the high spirit with the sensory world if we know that Goethe put features of Byron, much revered by him, into Euphorion. Besides, he is allowed, because it concerns experiences in the spiritual world, to apply the principles of the spiritual world to it. Hence, Euphorion, just generated, is already born and leaps, moves and speaks spirited words.
Again, we see Goethe describing the entry in the spiritual world strictly and conscientiously. Faust is way beyond what he experiences in the supersensible worlds. Also there he is not yet free of the powers from which he must free himself if his soul has to combine completely with the spiritual world. He is not free of that which Mephistopheles mixes in these spiritual experiences. Faust is a mystic who, in the Helen-Euphorion scene, completely lives in the spiritual world. However, because he has not yet ascended the necessary stage, which makes him able to be accepted completely by the spiritual world, he loses what he can experience therein once again: Helen and Euphorion. He loses once again what he has acquired by his experience of the spiritual world. He has become able to settle in the spiritual world, Euphorion, the child of the spirit, which originates from the marriage between the human soul and the world spirit, but he loses it again.
Then a strange call sounds from the deepness. Faust's condition is now in such a way as it is for a mystic who stumbled for a while, who had looked into the spiritual world and knows how it is therein. However, he could not remain in it and is suddenly thrown out into the things of the sensuous world: he feels his soul as the mother of that which he has born from the spiritual world. However, what he has born sinks again into the spiritual world, and it is there, as if it calls to the soul, which bears such a thing:
Mother, don't leave me here
down in the darkness, alone!
As if the human soul wants to go into the realm that has disappeared once again. Nothing but Helen's robes and veil are left to Faust. Someone who penetrates deeper into the sense of such matters knows what Goethe meant with “robes and veil.” It is that what is left to someone who had once beheld into the spiritual world and then had to leave it again. There is left to him what represents, actually, nothing but the abstraction, the ideas, which extend from epoch to epoch, what nothing else is than robes and veil of spiritual powers, which prevail from epoch to epoch.
Therefore, the mystic is thrown out again for a while and depends on his thinking as the spirited historian depends on his thinking and has robes and veil only everywhere which carry him from epoch to epoch. These ideas are not infertile. They are necessary for someone who is limited to the sensuous world. They are even valuable to someone who already has feeling and experience of the spiritual world. They appear dry and abstract with someone who is generally an abstract fellow. However, who is touched once by the spiritual world — even if he grasps these abstract ideas — they carry him through the world into another time where he can experience something again how the forces work in the big world.
Faust is placed again in that world which he has once experienced already at the court. Again, he sees the beings making themselves noticeable in whose actions the human beings are only embedded. Again, he sees supersensible threads originating, and the same power helping to spin the supersensible threads, which he knows as Mephistopheles. So he settles from the sensuous world in supersensible one, gets to know how those powers intertwine in our sensory world, which we see outdoors in the physical existence, how, so to speak, Mephistopheles leads the spirits behind the forces of nature to the battle field. He calls them “mountaineers.” The powers that are behind the sensuous world are shown, as if the mountains themselves involve their peoples in war. However, here a life proceeds which is on a lower level. This impact of a world that is below the human realm but that is guided by spiritual powers is vividly described here. Then it is vividly described how the historical powers that are real powers to the seer are involved. From the old armouries and junk rooms where the old helmets lie those beings go out about whom the abstract fellow would say, these are the historical ideas, — about which, however, someone who can behold in the spiritual world knows that they live in the spiritual worlds. We see there how Faust is led in his higher state of consciousness to the powers in history; we see the powers of history getting up and being led to the battle field. — Faust's consciousness should rise even higher. The whole world should appear spiritualised to him, all events which we see around ourselves, which the usual abstract fellow describes only with the intellect that is bound to a physical brain and believes to have done everything when he describes the outside. However, all that is bound, is directed and guided by supersensible beings and powers.
If the human being settles in the spiritual heights that way, he gets to know the whole power of that what should pull down him again into the sensuous world. He gets to know that in a strange way, which he not completely has to know once. Faust is experiencing that now. Here, Faust stands on an important point of his inner development. He should complete the way. Mephistopheles is involved in everything that he has seen by now. He can only become free from Mephistopheles, from those spiritual powers which tie the human being to the sensory world, and which do not want to release him if Mephistopheles faces him as the tempter. Where the world with its realms, nature, and history face Faust with their spirituality, he experiences something that shows without further ado out of which deepness Goethe has spoken. The tempter who wants to pull down the human being if he has already gone up a part of the way in the spiritual world approaches the human being and tries to teach him wrong emotions and sensations about that which he beholds in the supersensible world. It is magnificently shown how the tempter faces the human being! He also approached Christ, where the tempter promises all kingdoms of the world and their glory to Him.
Such a thing faces the human being who has settled in the spiritual world. The tempter promises the world with all its kingdoms and its glory to him. What does this mean? It means nothing else than he must not believe that anything of this world still belongs to his narrow-minded egoism. The fact that all personal selfish wishes and desires must have disappeared that the tempter must be overcome, Goethe suggests this really by Mephistopheles in such a way that it can be a touchstone of what he means:
But let me now return to clear and simple language.
Back here upon our earth, has nothing pleased you?
You've now surveyed, in measureless expanses,
the kingdoms of the world and all their glory. (Matthew 4)
One would like to say, for those who do not want to understand Goethe suggests just with these words once again what he intends in order to show this important stage of the spiritual becoming of the human being. Then Faust succeeds in overcoming the egoism of the personal wishes so far that he dedicates all his activities to the piece of land with which he has been enfeoffed. He does not want possession of this land, he does not want glory, nothing of all that, he only wants to work devotedly for other human beings and “share their autonomy on unencumbered soil.”
We must take these words in such a way that the personal egoism is gradually removed from the human soul. For nobody who has not overcome this personal egoism can reach the last stage, which Goethe still wants to describe really. Therefore, he describes Faust where like scales the covers of the human personal egoism fall off where Faust completely dedicates himself to the spiritual where all frippery of glory and external honour of the world is nothing to him. However, Faust has not yet overcome one thing. Again, we deeply look into Goethe's heart from the spiritual viewpoint when he describes what takes place further on.
Faust has become a human being free of egoism up to a certain degree. He has learnt what it means to say, “acts alone count — glory is nothing” (verse 10,188). He has learnt to say, I want to be active. My activity has to flow in the world; I want to have nothing as recompense for this activity! — However, it becomes apparent on a little field that egoism has not yet disappeared. An old little house on a hill in which an old couple, Philemon and Baucis, lives stands on his large estate. Compared with all other Faust's egoism has disappeared, compared with this little house not yet. There is the last remainder of egoism, which makes itself noticeable in his soul. What could he have from this raised place! He could stand there and survey the fruits of his activity with a glance, and enjoy his creations! This is the last egoism, the enjoyment of the sensuous view. The rest of ease in the sensuous view has remained to him. It still has to come out; it has to disappear. Nothing of desire and ease is allowed to remain in his soul that means of immediate devotion of the outer world with which egoism associates itself.
Again, we see Faust in touch with spiritual forces. At “midnight,” four grey women approach him. Three of them, Want, Debt and Distress are not able to harm him. Now something appears that belongs to the experiences of initiation. It is a mysterious connection between all that the human being can do out of egoism and that soul condition which is expressed with the word Care. That human being who is so far that he beholds free of egoism in the spiritual world has no care. Care is the concomitant of egoism. As little as anybody may believe that egoism has not yet disappeared if care exists, nevertheless, it is as true that on the long way full of renunciation in the spiritual world egoism must disappear completely. If the human being enters the spiritual world, and he still carries something of egoism into it, then there comes Care and appears in its destroying violence.
There we have something of the dangers of initiation. In the sensuous world, the benevolent powers of the spiritual world ensure that the power of Care cannot approach the human being. However, at the moment when the human being grows together with the spiritual world, when he gets to know forces which are active in the spiritual world, such things like care become destructive powers. One may have overcome some things with the keys, which lead into the spiritual world; the care creeps through all keyholes. If the human being has advanced enough, however, when he faces it courageously, the Care becomes a power, which still takes this last rest of egoism from him: Faust goes blind. Why? By the exchange of the last force of egoism still contained in him and the force of Care he goes blind. The last possibility of pleasure is taken away from Faust. It becomes darker and darker around him. Now his soul experiences that the last rest of egoism prevailed in itself when it allowed to destroy the little house from whose place he would have got selfish pleasure satisfied with the created.
”But in my inner being there is radiant light (verse 11,500).” Now Faust's soul belongs to those worlds, about which Care and all destructive elements, which tear the body, have no power. Now Faust is experiencing something that the neophyte experiences in the spiritual world. He participates his death, his interment as external events. He looks down from the spiritual world at the physical world and at everything that happens to him, like at another: now those powers, which are only in the physical world, are concerned with it.
To go into this in detail would take us too far afield if we wanted to show how Goethe allows the Lemures to appear that are only jointed together from tendons and bones, so that they carry no soul in themselves; they show the human being in the state when still no soul was in him. However, Faust himself is translated to the spiritual world. We see Mephistopheles fighting the last battle for Faust's soul, a meaningful, remarkable battle. If one wanted to analyse this battle in detail, one would see, what a deep expert of the spiritual world Goethe was.
There lies the dying Faust. Mephistopheles fights for the soul. He knows that from different parts of the body this soul can come out. Here those could learn a lot who learn from these or those manuals, how the soul leaves the body. Goethe is far advanced. He knows that the soul does not always leave the body at the same place. That depends on its developmental state at death. He knows that the soul, while it is in the body and receives a form corresponding to the body, can only have this form by means of the elastic force of love. Mephistopheles believes that Faust's soul is ripe for the realm of darkness. Then it can only assume the figure, which he calls a “loathsome worm.” If the soul is given away to its own forces, it can only have a figure, which is the expression of its virtues or bad habits. If Faust's soul were ripe for the realm of darkness, it would be shaped in such a way as Mephistopheles assumes it. However, it has developed, and it is translated because its virtues comply with the spiritual world, and is taken in possession by the spiritual worlds.
There we face those human beings first who are, so to speak, the links between the physical world and the spiritual world, who are as initiates in the physical world, and who rise up with their spirit to the spiritual world: they experience and behold the spiritual world. They are represented to us that way. Goethe speaks in his poem, which he titled Symbol how from the spiritual world two voices sound:
The voices of the spirits,
Goethe also remains here again in harmony with his knowledge. He shows the spirits who are not embodied in the sensuous world. First, however, he shows those to whom often the name of the “masters” is used who are embodied in the sensuous world. He represents them in the dress which was the nearest to him at that time, as Pater Ecstaticus, Pater Seraphicus and Pater Profundus. He said to Eckermann about them, “By the way, you will admit that the end where the saved soul goes upwards was to be done very hard, and that I could have lost myself very easily in the vague — with such supersensible matters which can hardly be imagined — if I had not given my poetic intentions a soothing limiting form and firmness with the aid of the sharply outlined Christian-ecclesiastical figures and images.” Who has listened to the talks on the Christian initiation here recognises how Goethe was initiated into these matters.
So Faust's soul lives through the regions through which such souls already have lived, have grown into the spiritual world and are active in it that also are active to bring the souls to the spiritual world. Then we see Goethe making his profession, so to speak, which characterises him as a relative of that spiritual-scientific current about which I have often talked here, above all in the talk Where and How Does One find the Spirit?, where an example was given how the human being settles in the spiritual world. It is the black cross with the red roses. Forces wake up in the soul, if the human being dedicates himself to it, to this rose cross where the black cross symbolises the descent to the sensuous world and the red roses the emergence in the spiritual world. It represents what the words say in the abstract:
And so long as you don't have it,
Goethe knew what the human being attains by the spiritual understanding, by the force of the red roses and he confesses to it: the roses fall down from the spiritual world, because the immortal of Faust is accepted. We see how Goethe really shows the way of the human soul into the spiritual world.
I could only outline something. For it is somewhat peculiar with this Goethean Faust: it becomes deeper and deeper, the more one grows into it, and there one gets to know really, what Goethe can be to humanity. One gets to know what once Goethe will become for humanity if anthroposophy illuminates the esoteric poem of Goethe where he speaks about his own experiences in the spiritual world. Goethe showed realistically what he knows as facts of the spiritual world. A realistic poem is this second part of Faust, however, sealed to those who do not know that the spiritual worlds are realities. We do not have symbols, but only the poetic disguise of quite realistically shown but supersensible events; of those supersensible events that the soul experiences if it becomes one with the world, which is its original home. If it feels in such knowledge that is not abstract, not a coalescence with the sensuous observations or intellectual abstractions, but that is a real fact of the spiritual world.
Of course, one will be removed from the understanding of Goethe's Faust still for a long time, because one has to recognise the language of Faust if one wants to enter it. One can take Faust comments by Faust comments: the words are not even interpreted by usually quite clever people. — When Wagner sees in the retort the Homunculus emerging, he says — you can read in Faust comments what the words should mean which Wagner speaks there:
works! the moving mass grows clearer,
I speak as wrong as all those people have spoken since Goethe, who thought that Wagner has the conviction that the Homunculus originates: Wagner's conviction (German: Überzeugung) gets the more certain! — The interpreters of Faust believe to be able to exhaust the whole deepness of Faust with such triviality! Of course, our age, which also uses a term coined by Goethe, the “superman (German: Übermensch),” without understanding its deeper sense, could not interpret these words different.
However, the true sense is this: what is generated in the physical world is a conception (German: Zeugung); what is generated here in the astral world is a super-conception (German: Überzeugung), a conception in the supersensible worlds. However, one just must learn to read Goethe only, where he appears, like all great spirits, as a wordsmith. Then one can fathom the whole seriousness from which Faust originated. Then one no longer commits the triviality to understand the last words of Faust in the sense that the “eternally female” (“woman, eternally, shows us the way”) is something that is connected with the female in the sensory world. The eternally female is that soul force which can be fertilised from the spiritual world and, hence, grows together in its clairvoyant and magic actions with the spiritual world. What can be fertilised there, the eternally female is in any human being, which moves him up to the eternal spheres. Goethe described this development of the eternally female to the spiritual worlds in his Faust.
If we look around in the physical world, we look at everything correctly that faces us there if we regard it not as true reality but as a symbol of the eternal. The soul experiences this eternal if it passes the gates of the spiritual world. There it experiences what can be indicated with sensuous words, if one puts these sensuous words in a particular way. Goethe expressed himself also about that once, and with it he said something like a serious warning to all those who want to persist in an abstract opinion about this or that. Like a serious monition to humanity, Goethe expressed in two poems that if anybody says anything out of the spiritual world he could express it in opposite views. In the first poem, he says:
The Eternal is constantly astir in all things:
(From The One and the All)
While he expresses the thought of his philosophy of the eternally fluent, he says in the next poem:
being can crumble into nothingness!
While one shows the opposite thoughts for the sensuous world as reflections of the supersensible world, one cannot describe the supersensible world as the sensuous one. The sensuous words are always inadequate if they are used in the particular sense.
Therefore, we see how Goethe, just while he depicts from the most different sides what is “indescribable,” allows it to be done before the eyes of the spirit. What is “unachievable” for the sensuous world is accessible to the spiritual view if the soul itself trains in that part which is to be developed by the forces which can be given by spiritual science. Not without reason Goethe lets that opus, in which he has demonstrated the most marvellous and richest of his experiences, end in the “Chorus mysticus” in which, however, also nothing at all is to be interpreted trivially. Since he suggests in this Chorus mysticus how that is done what is not to be described by sensuous words if one uses reflecting depiction how the soul is drawn upwards by its eternally female force to the spiritual world.
All that is transitory
Thus, Goethe could speak about the way into the spiritual world. Thus, he could speak about the soul forces which — if they are developed — lead the human being into the spiritual world.