14 December 1915, Berlin
We have devoted the recent lectures to considering from a certain point of view the life which runs its course behind the ordinary life which in normal circumstances, or to ordinary science, is embraced by our physical consciousness. Fundamentally all our considerations are directed to that life, which transpires beneath the threshold of ordinary consciousness. And we seek to characterise it from the most varied sides, as must be done in Spiritual Science.
A certain security is connected with the external physical perceptible reality, in that one beholds it. But physically, even for those who do not undergo the necessary training whereby they can themselves rise into the spiritual worlds, yet through illuminating these worlds from different sides which harmonise, a certain wisdom is created, and this may create a feeling of security.
Especial attention is drawn to the fact that man is not only in the world which he beholds with ordinary consciousness. Beneath the threshold of ordinary consciousness a life takes place which, unless one goes through the Portal of Initiation, is not grasped by the consciousness. This remains unknown to ordinary human life. Much takes place in the world with reference to the whole entity that comprises a human being; that which man knows while living in the physical body is merely one part of what really occurs; and all the efforts made to get into touch with the spiritual world, consist in trying to see something of the life which transpires beneath the threshold of ordinary consciousness. By means of a widening of this consciousness we try to cross the threshold and perceive that in which we really live, but which is not perceptible to our ordinary consciousness. As I have said, a certain adjustable threshold exists between the ordinary consciousness and that of which — and this expression has a certain meaning for us — we are unconsciously conscious.
In the last lecture I gave a very pointed example. A man proposes early in the morning to accomplish something that night. He lives, as it were, in the thought, that he will carry out his plan during the evening. At mid-day something occurs which prevents him from fulfilling his intention. To the ordinary consciousness this occurrence would seem to be an accident. But if one looks deeper into human life, one discovers wisdom in the so-called accident, but a wisdom that lies beneath the threshold of consciousness. One cannot really perceive this wisdom with the ordinary consciousness, but one very frequently discovers in such cases that if hindrance had not occurred at mid-day the man would perhaps have been brought into some disastrous situation through undertaking the proposed project during the evening. As I said, he might perhaps have broken his leg. But when one knows the connection, one discovers that wisdom lies in the entire occurrence: that the soul herself sought the obstacle and put it in the way, but with intentions lying beneath the threshold of consciousness. Now that is something which is still close to the ordinary consciousness, but it points below to a region to which man belongs; to which he belongs with the concealed parts of his being, those parts which, after he lays aside the physical body, go through the gate of death. This region belongs to that ruling consciousness, of which we spoke in the public lecture, as the beholder of the actions of our will. This spectator is really always present. He guides and conducts us, but the ordinary consciousness knows nothing of him, A great deal goes on in the intervals between the events which we perceive. In all this, especially in what takes place between the events of life, and in what transpires beneath the threshold of consciousness, there is prepared, as the living being is prepared in the egg, that which we shall be after we have passed through the gate of death. And now something on which we dwelt in our last consideration, must be brought into connection with much that should be well known to us from earlier lectures.
I have often pointed out how important and essential memory is for man, in so far as he stands here in physical consciousness, and that this memory should not be severed. We must remember back to a certain point in our physical experience, or at least have the power of tracing the continuity of our life. If this connecting thread is sundered, if we cannot remember definite events, so that at least we have the consciousness that we were in existence when these events took place, then a serious psychic illness appears, to which I have referred in a recent lecture. This memory forms part of our experience here in physical consciousness. But it is also, in a certain sense, a veil; it hides from us those events to which I am now referring, which lie behind the ordinary consciousness, and especially behind that veil woven by our continuous memory. Just think: we are first infants; then we traverse a period of consciousness which we do not recollect. Next comes the time to which we can always remember back in later life. This begins a continuous series of memories. At a certain time, either in the second, third, fourth year of life, or even later with some people, we must recollect becoming aware of the individual self, the Ego. When we thus look back into ourselves, our soul gaze meets this memory, and in so far as we are physical men here, we really live inwardly in these memories. We could not speak of ourselves as ‘I,’ unless we did retain this memory. Anyone who observes himself, recognises this. When he looks into himself, he really looks into the region of his memory. He regards, as it were, the tableau of his memories. Even although all we have experienced may not arise in our memory, yet we know that memories might arise, as far back as that point already described. We must presuppose that we have been consciously present with our Ego in all these memories, and have been able to retain them. If that were not so, the continuity of our Ego would be disturbed, and a soul disease would appear. But behind what we notice in memory there lies that which is seen with spiritual eyes and heard with spiritual ears. So that what I have already explained in public lectures is absolutely correct. When we look into the spiritual world, we use the same force which we otherwise employ in memory. That does not mean that we necessarily lose our memory on acquiring spiritual sight, but it does mean as already characterised in a public lecture, that it is not always possible to remember what we perceive spiritually, we cannot always take it in, for it to live in the memory; for we must always behold it over and over again and always behold it afresh. I have often said, for example, that if one gives a lecture on what one really sees in the spiritual world, one cannot do this from memory in the same way as one can speak of ordinary things, for one must bring it ever again out of the spiritual world. That which lives in the thought must be produced anew. Both the soul and the spirit must be active in such a case and must bring forth the things afresh. When the spiritual seer really looks into the spiritual world that which is usually the veil of memory becomes transparent, and he uses it to look through. He looks, as it were, through the force which otherwise fashions his memory, and looks into the spiritual world. If a student performs his occult exercises with strength and energy, he notices that in ordinary life he uses his power of thought to gain knowledge of the things and events of the world, with the support of the body as a physical instrument which enables him to form real conceptions of these things. The concept supported there by the activity of the physical body remains in us as a memory. When, however, we enter the spiritual world we must be continually active in order to call forth the concepts anew. When we reach the point which I characterised in the public lecture, where one can do nothing but wait until the secrets of the spiritual world reveal themselves — a ceaseless activity begins. But one must participate in this. Just as when drawing one has to be continually active, if one wishes to express anything through the drawing, similarly, when the spiritual world reveals itself, the imagination must actively co-operate. What it produces arises from the objective reality, but man must take part in this production of concepts. In this way we contact something which is continually active in man — in the two-fold man, of which I have already spoken — but which is concealed in us, which lives within our physical covering beneath the threshold of our ordinary physical consciousness. One connects oneself with this being. Then one notices the following: here in the physical world one is so united with it that one stands on a firm basis. One sees other things in the outer world and moves about among them. One enters into certain relations with other men, to whom one does this or that and from whom one suffers this or that. We spend the life which we embrace with the ordinary consciousness in the continuous comprehension of what we develop in this way, but behind it there lies another, a life following definite laws, which we do not perceive with the ordinary consciousness; in this life we share, when, between going to sleep and waking, we live in the astral body and Ego. Our consciousness is, however, then so lowered that we cannot perceive with ordinary senses what position we occupy in a spiritual world which pursues its own course, which continually lives around us, and while yet being super-sensible and invisible weaves itself into the sensible and visible.
Above all we must understand this world as spiritual, and not think of it as a duplicate, a simply more refined physical sensible world; we must conceive of it as spiritual. I have often drawn attention to the reason why just in our time there must be produced from out the fountain of all human knowledge, that which, as carried on by us, relates to the spiritual world. For truly, not only because of the facts which present themselves to the spiritual investigators who have to impart truths concerning the spiritual world, but from the whole course of our civilisation (I have drawn attention to this from various standpoints), it is evident that in humanity a certain longing is arising to open the soul to the hidden side of human life, and to learn something of it. I have already brought forward phenomena in scientific life and elsewhere, which show how this longing lives at the present time.
To-day I should like to add to our considerations a quite special example, from which we can see that already in our day there are people who to a certain extent touch on these secrets of existence. They divine and know something of these mysteries of existence, but for reasons which we shall presently examine closer, they do not wish to approach them in the manner practised by Spiritual Science. The easiest way to bring these things before people is to leave them more or less undecided, leaving, as it were, the door open, by saying: ‘You need not believe these things. You need not think of that world as real.’ In our time there are plenty of examples of this. I have given instances. I shall bring forward an especial case to-day in reference to this point. I shall introduce into our considerations a few remarks about a really extraordinary and significant novel of modern German literature. I might call it a pearl among German novels. It is called Hofrat Eysenhardt. It is really one of the best novels to be found in the more recent literature of Germany and in it, in a really wonderful manner, only one single individual is depicted: namely, Hofrat Eysenhardt himself. He lived in Vienna and became a lawyer, and later President of the local court. He became one of the greatest lawyers of his country. He was feared by all those who had anything to do with the law, and beloved by those associated with him, for he was a most distinguished criminologist. His eloquence was such that he could get anyone convicted who came within his clutches; during the trial he subjected him to a crossfire, and with a certain indifference to human life he was able so to harass his victim (one can use this expression here) that whatever happened, he was trapped. Thus this Hofrat Eysenhardt was, in his external life, a very remarkable man. He had not much talent for entering into psychic relations with other men. He was a kind of hermit with regard to human life; he laid great stress on being correct and blameless in external life; with his subordinates he exchanged but few words, but with his superiors he was not only friendly, but deeply courteous. I could bring forward many more characteristics; he was a model advocate. We need not enter now into his other qualities, they are wonderfully brought out in the novel, reflected in the statement of a subordinate, but we may go to the occasion when he was once chosen to conduct an important case against a notorious man named Markus Freund. This Markus Freund had already suffered punishment in a lesser degree for offences similar to the one of which he was now accused. But it never occurred to the examining magistrate who made the enquiry, that there was any possibility of bringing about a conviction on this occasion. Yet Hofrat Eysenhardt obtained one. And in a document which the Hofrat himself then drew up for a purpose which we shall presently disclose, he himself describes the manner in which Markus Freund behaved during and especially after his conviction. Let me read the passage: ‘This man, who possessed the strong family affections so characteristic of his race, had a special tenderness for a young grand-daughter, of whom he was never tired of speaking with his fellow prisoners. He could hardly await his release, which he confidently anticipated in spite of the severe suspicions laid on him, so much did he long to see the child again. Markus Freund obstinately denied everything, and in the preliminary trial before the magistrate was so well able to explain away each of the suspicious circumstances with a sagacity truly astounding, that the magistrate, a very efficient, although excessively soft-hearted man, was firmly convinced of Freund's innocence until the closing proceedings began, presided over by the person to whom this information refers.’ (Hofrat Eysenhardt writes that himself, he writes of himself in the third person.) Although Markus Freund even in the final trial exerted his sagacity to the utmost, and his advocate made a very beautiful and touching speech (of merit even according to the newspapers) yet the verdict was exactly the opposite to that expected by the magistrate, and perhaps by the defendant himself. Markus Freund was unanimously convicted by the jury and, as there were many previous convictions and aggravating conditions in his past, he was condemned to the severest penalty, twenty years' imprisonment. The person concerned (none other than Hofrat Eysenhardt himself) might well without presumption, regard this verdict as one of the greatest triumphs of his many years of criminal practice. For the jury would have been deceived by the truly bewildering sophistry of Markus Freund — although public feeling at that time was not favourable to men of his race — had not the President been able, by his superior eloquence to crumple this sophistry into nothing. ‘The effect of the verdict on the defendant was such’ (the Hofrat himself is still relating this) ‘that it required hardened nerves, accustomed to such outbreaks, not to be shaken as to the truth and justice of the sentence. First Markus Freund stammered a few incomprehensible words, probably in Hebrew. Then this bowed man, of barely middle height, drew himself up to his full height, so that he appeared huge, and lifted the heavy lids which usually almost covered his eyes — showing the blood-shot whites of his rolling eyes. And from his distorted mouth he rapidly hissed forth a stream of bitter curses and threats directed against the President. To repeat them here in the offensive jargon in which they were poured forth, would hardly harmonise with the respect due to the law. Only the first sentence may be quoted: “Mr. President! You know as well as I do myself that I am innocent;” and the last, “This shall be repaid to you. An eye for an eye, it shall be paid back to you. You shall see!” The rest of his speech was entirely fantastic and appeared, in so far as it had any sense at all, to amount to this: he, Markus Freund, had probed the noble President with his eyes to the very depths and discovered, that even though noble, the President was not aware of it, he was nevertheless of the same sort as himself; he the down-trodden, but this time, innocent Markus Freund. The officers immediately did their duty and seized the offender, to whom the President immediately awarded disciplinary punishment for his outburst. While the soldiers, each holding one of his waving arms, led the accused away, his fury broke out in weeping and sobbing. Even in the corridor one heard his dull moaning: my poor, poor little girl, you will never see your grandfather again. The jury were greatly distressed at this incident, and questioned the President through their foreman as to whether it would not be possible to try the case again immediately. Through their insufficient knowledge of the law they had not enough experience to know that outbursts of this kind occur more often with very hardened blameworthy criminals, than with innocent defendants, who really are much scarcer than the sensational minds of the public imagine. Less excusable was the fact that the above-mentioned soft-hearted Vice-President, who was present at the pronouncement of the sentence and its disagreeable sequel, took upon himself to say to the prosecutor, gently shaking his head, “Mr. President, I do not envy you your talent!”’
‘So Markus Freund was now imprisoned and the Hofrat lived on. But how he lived and what now happened he relates in his statement. We must presuppose that some considerable time has elapsed, and the accused had been a long time in prison. Now the following occurred: ‘Just as the person in question’ (the Hofrat relates this of himself) ‘had seen him at the moment when he uttered those threats and curses against him, with a face distorted with fury, precisely so did the long-forgotten Markus Freund come before his mind in the night between the 18th and 19th March, at 2 o'clock, when he suddenly awoke without cause.
‘Thus the Hofrat suddenly wakes up in the night between the 18th and 19th of March, at 2 o'clock, and has the impression in his mind that Markus Freund was standing before him.
‘And while he lay motionless, as in a trance, the above-mentioned events recapitulated themselves in imagination with lightning speed. He was not clearly conscious whether in the intervening years he had thought much about the occurrence or not. Both alternatives appeared equally correct to him at that moment, for horror weakened his power of thought.
‘Thus Hofrat Eysenhardt woke up in the middle of sleep, was forced to think of Markus Freund and to recapitulate what had happened, but he did not know whether he had previously often thought of it or not. ‘While he lay thus with throbbing heart, an impulse arose immediately to light the candle on the table, but he could not. (He could not move his hands). It was as if something gently tapped at the bedroom door, or rather a timorous scratching, as if a little dog was begging to be let in. Involuntarily the question formed itself: “Who is there?” There was no answer, nor did the door open, but nevertheless he had a feeling that something slipped in. The floor creaked slightly, the sound passing across the room from the door to the bed, as if this invisible something came nearer, and finally stood close to him. Anyhow he had the indescribable feeling of a strange presence, and not of an indefinite, unknown presence, but it seemed to him as if this “something” must be that Markus Freund, the sudden recollection of whom had roused him out of a deep sleep. He even felt as if this invisible presence bent over his face. Now, whether he fell asleep again without being aware of it and dreamed, and — as you know — the dreams and the people of whom one dreams are frequently confused with one another, or whether certain exaggerated ideas of Schopenhauer as to the secret identity of all individuals stirred in him as the after effects of what he had been reading during the last few days, at any rate the senseless thought flashed through his mind that he and Markus Freund were fundamentally one and the same person. And as if in confirmation of this idea, silly as it was and contrary to all logic, he repeated, whether merely inwardly, or outwardly and audibly, he knew not, the above-mentioned curses and threats of Markus Freund as far as he could remember them, and indeed with the horror-struck feeling that each curse was now beginning to fulfil itself. Now whether, as was not impossible, he had fallen asleep and dreamed, certain it is that he awoke with this terrible impression and lit the candle. The clock registered ten minutes past two. Everything in the room was as before, although furniture, walls, and pictures appeared strange to him, and he had to drink a glass of water and wait a little while to recover himself and realise where he was.’
He relates all this himself and says, that first he had this vision, as we may call it. Now, this made such an impression on him that he was driven to go immediately — though still somewhat shaken — to the Court, and look up the documents relating to Markus Freund. But he was not able to do so; something else occurred — Hofrat Eysenhardt had always been a quiet, open-minded man, and he merely relates what happened to him. We shall shortly see why he relates it. Indeed, he considers himself somewhat ridiculous and unworthy to have yielded to it.
‘In vain did he tell himself how absurd and ridiculous his conduct was. His former iron will was in this respect weakened, and remained so. It barely sufficed to conceal from his colleagues the inner torments which were always present with him. One morning, passing a group of legal officials who were engaged in heated conversation in a dark corridor, he thought he heard the name of Markus Freund.’
One day when he went to the Court-house, he really lacked the courage to again take up these documents, but in passing a corridor where several people were conversing he heard the name of Markus Freund.
‘Now, as this man and his name had gradually become a fixed idea in his mind, and never gave him any rest, he regarded a self-deception as not unlikely, and he stopped and asked the gentleman of whom they had been speaking? “Of Markus Freund, of your Markus Freund, Herr Hofrat, don't you remember him?” answered one of the gentlemen, who happened to be the soft-hearted magistrate who at the time had made that rash remark. “Of Markus Freund? Why? What has happened to him?” He could hardly breathe. “Why he is dead. By the grace of God the poor devil is now free,” the soft-hearted one answered. “Dead? When?” “Oh, he died in the night between the 18th and 19th of March, at 2 o'clock.”’
Thus the story relates that Hofrat Eysenhardt had convicted Markus Freund, who was imprisoned for a long time. During the night between the 18th and 19th of March, Eysenhardt wakes up, sees Freund in his thoughts, and then has a vision of his appearance. He is terribly frightened, wants to look up the documents, but allows several weeks to pass. Finally, he overhears a conversation, whereby he learns that Markus Freund died at the very time he appeared to him, creeping into his room like a little dog.
Now, in order to understand all that has been related, the conclusion of the novel is necessary. For this shows that the Hofrat was now urged by circumstances, and indeed by such circumstances that one could not have supposed would have this effect upon him. As President of an especially important trial of a case of espionage he was necessarily brought in connection with certain people. Now, in his connection with them and guided by a dim instinct, he is led to commit the very same offence of which he had convicted Markus Freund. And later, after he had been dragged by passion into crime, he had occasion to remember in a quite special manner the words spoken by Markus Freund after his trial: ‘This shall be repaid to you. An eye for an eye, you shall see.’ Thus something had lived beneath the threshold of the Hofrat's consciousness which was definitely connected with his previous deeds, and which was also connected in a remarkable and mysterious way with the fulfilment of what the dead man had threatened him with. Indeed, there is an even deeper connection. The author of the novel wrote in the first person, as though many of the things about Hofrat Eysenhardt had been related to him personally, and he writes that he had a conversation with one of his subordinates (this conversation occurs in the novel). And this subordinate, who was an extraordinary sagacious, philosophically inclined man, said: ‘This Hofrat was specially gifted with the power to penetrate to the depths of these things because he had a strong disposition towards them himself. And so he penetrates deepest into the cases which appeal to him most.’ That is related in the novel. Now, it is interesting that in the night of the 18th to the 18th of March, at 2 o'clock, the thought arises in the Hofrat, ‘You and this Markus Freund are practically identical.’ This unity, this uniting of the consciousness appears evident to his soul; he has an insight into a connection which lies beneath the threshold of ordinary life. This is revealed to him. Naturally it is not revealed to him in the same way as to others, for cases vary, but this disclosure comes to him. Now, it is interesting that the author of this novel has brought together all the materials possible to make the event comprehensible. And we must also recollect what this author mentions as preceding the vision which the Hofrat had during the night. The Hofrat was really a robust man; as has been said, many characteristics could be brought forward which show him to be a man who did not go soulfully through life, but was one who pursues his way with a sort of brutality, caused by a certain inner robustness. Only, as it were, through an outer symptom could this man, who had never been led astray and who was always sure of himself, become a wrong doer. The outer cause was this: he discovered a tooth had become loose and that he could easily remove it with his fingers. The thought then flashed through his head, ‘my life is now on the wane. Something has begun to decay.’ He could not get the thought out of his head: ‘In this way I shall lose my health, little by little.’ That would not have been so bad, the worst was that from that moment (only he did not notice it, but ruminated over his own decay, as he himself shows in his letters, wherein he describes himself in the third person), from that moment his memory began to fail. His memory was such a help in all his professional work that he develops a certain anxiety about life. He noticed that he could no longer remember certain things which formerly could be recalled so easily. Just consider how interesting it is that the novelist brings forward the possibility of developing a partial clairvoyance as the memory begins to decline. Then his memory becomes better again. He decides to record this, and remembers what his state had been. He, as a freethinker, cannot suppose otherwise than that all this was a part of a diseased condition. And he reflects: ‘thus I am really in danger of going mad.’ That conclusion would be natural in a freethinker. He is ashamed to seek advice and therefore he takes advantage of his position to write in the third person. He then places the document before a physician for mental diseases, as the case of some unknown person, and in that way he hoped to get medical advice. Thereby it happens that the novelist uses this document to impart something of the psychic life of this man.
You see that we have here a really beautiful work of art, which indeed points to those elements of which we have to speak in Spiritual Science, just those elements of which one speaks when dealing with the connection between the power of memory and the perception into the spiritual worlds. The novelist accomplishes that beautifully by causing the memory to fail the moment certain ‘shreds’ of these secret connections become evident to the person in question. And the whole narrative is very extraordinary, for it is so constructed in its various parts that one sees that the author realises that there are such connections behind life. Only he clothes the knowledge in the form of a novel. The novel is very cleverly written, and could only be written by a philosophical mind. It is written by one who was for many years the Manager of the Hamburg Theatre, and who later became Manager of the Vienna Burg-Theatre. This novel is really not only one of the best he has written, but is one of the pearls of German fiction. Naturally I do not say this because it is written around a subject deeply interesting to us, but because none but a man of very fine perception could have such delicate observation in an apparently abnormal matter. What I have said as to the merit of this book is purely from an artistic standpoint. It is really so written that the reader has the consciousness: the author has written a novel, but he might just as well have written a biography of Hofrat Eysenhardt, so realistically does he write. And we see in such a novel that Berger must have known a man who really had such experiences in the course of his life. One cannot help saying: how natural it would be for such a man as Alfred Freiherr von Berger to approach the spiritual world so that through Spiritual Science he might learn to know the real connections. How infinitely important would it be for Berger to have studied Spiritual Science, so that he would have been able to say, for example, ‘What will Hofrat Eysenhardt have to experience in the time which immediately follows the passage through the gates of death, in what we have always called Kamaloka, after having caused an innocent man to be convicted?’ As I have told you: man then has to experience the effects of his deeds, and the significance which his deeds have for others in connection with whom they were committed. What the Hofrat had done at the trial afforded him a tremendous satisfaction at the time, especially his great power of oratory. He had great satisfaction, which he expressed by saying: ‘He regarded it as meritorious that he prevailed against the sophistry of the prisoner, and delivered a speech which urged the jury to convict him, although they regretted it immediately afterwards, when they saw the effect of their verdict on the accused.’ That is the thing as seen from this side of the Hofrat. From the side of Markus Freund it is a very different matter, here we see the effect of the sentence upon him. The effect of this on his soul the Hofrat has to experience in Kamaloka. And a reflection, a picture of this reveals itself in the very moment when Markus Freund himself goes through the gates of death. This so discloses itself to him that he now sees himself as identical, as one with this Markus Freund. He sees himself in Markus Freund. He feels himself also within him. We see that the Hofrat had a foretaste of Kamaloka. This is so powerful that he not only experiences what had happened previously, but something which is intimately connected with the whole matter transpires further in him beneath the threshold of his consciousness. Each single detail is of importance. I told you that he had lost his memory for a while, during which this part of the spiritual world unveiled itself to him. But now comes a time when he is endowed anew with a great natural power of memory. Memory reinstates itself in him again, when he tried the case of espionage. But in the course of this very trial he is driven to commit the same offence for which through his eloquence he had caused Markus Freund to be convicted. The force which formerly proceeded from memory was transformed into the force of instinct, and this drives him. He does not now see the connection which was subconsciously working between what he was now himself doing, and what he had ascribed to Markus Freund. This leads to the following: Hofrat Eysenhardt, when he sees what has happened to him, the very evening preceding the conclusion of the law suit in which he was to accomplish his greatest triumph, goes into his office ...'
Having entered his once, the key of which he had with him, he lit the two candles on the writing table, washed his hands, face, and hair; then changed his civilian attire for his uniform, and for a long time paced up and down. Then he opened the top drawer of his writing table and took from a parcel a new revolver and a packet of cartridges which he had probably bought at the worst time of his nervous breakdown. He carefully loaded every chamber, then took from the paper-rack a sheet of official paper and wrote the following:
“In the name of His Majesty the Kaiser! I have committed a serious offence and feel myself unworthy to exercise my office further, or to live any longer. I have condemned myself to the severest punishment, and in the next few minutes shall execute the same with my own hand. EYSENHARDT. Vienna, 10th June, 1901.”
Neither writing nor signature betrayed a trace of even the slightest nervousness. Next morning he was found dead.
A quite remarkable connection is described in this novel, and we must say that the author was well qualified to see the connection existing between that which transpires here in the ordinary consciousness and that which happens beneath the threshold of consciousness, that is, he could see the spiritual events in which man is entangled. Exoterically one only sees the happenings of the physical world: that the judge convicted Markus Freund, and so on. If that had not happened just at that time when the lawyer became confused and lost his memory, he would not have seen these threads of the spiritual world. They would not have revealed themselves to him; and all this would have remained subconscious. A novel such as this is sent out into the world from the following standpoint, so to speak. ‘There is certainly something behind life, which in certain special cases cannot but be recognised. But if one speaks of this people do not like it. It is uncomfortable to approach such realities. So it is related as a novel and then nobody need believe it; if it merely amuses people that is all right.’
Now, that which holds people off from the spiritual world is something of which they are not aware. The way into the spiritual world goes, as it were, in two directions. In the first we push aside the veil of nature and investigate that which lies behind the phenomena of external nature. In the second we push through the veil of our own soul life, and seek what lies behind that. The ordinary philosophers also seek to probe behind the basis of existence; they seek to solve the Cosmic riddle. But note — how do they do this? They either observe nature directly, or through experiments, and then think it over afterwards. But while one puzzles out these ideas acquired through the knowledge of nature, turning them over and over again in one's mind, and interlacing them, one does certainly arrive at a philosophy, but not at anything really connected with the true outer reality. We can never get behind the veil of existence by reflecting on that which presents itself in outer nature. I expressed this as follows, in a public lecture: ‘That which causes our eternal forces is active, in that it first produces in us the instrument with which we approach our ordinary consciousness.’ But if we are to build up our ordinary consciousness, we must use this instrument. When we enter the experience of ordinary consciousness, everything which the eternal forces make in us is already completed. Hence when through meditation we reach this stage we notice that we cannot penetrate the secrets of nature by means of reflection, but by quite different means. If, as I have described in my public lectures, we strengthen our thought through meditation, and the revelation of the spiritual world comes to us through grace, we then behold nature quite differently. Even human life itself has a different aspect then. We then approach nature, and while taking in any process or object or event that meets us, we have at the same time the consciousness, ‘Before you really see a rose, something else takes place.’ True, you first see the perception, the realisation; but that perception has first fashioned itself. Into the perception is inserted the spiritual; therein lies the memory, the memory of the previous thought. To get behind the secret in this way through spiritual research, that is the secret. The philosopher beholds the rose and then philosophises about it in his rejections. But he who wants to get behind the secret of the rose may not reflect, for if he does, nothing happens. He must behold the rose and be aware, that before it comes through to his sense consciousness, some process has already taken place. It appears to him as a memory which preceded the perception. The whole matter turns on this; that something like a memory transpires, which tells us: ‘I did this before I reached the sensible perception; so that as regards external nature a previous thinking has taken place although it remains subconscious, and then it is brought to the surface as a memory.’ One cannot penetrate the secrets of nature through afterthought, but through forethought. Just as little can one penetrate the secrets of that which fills the soul, in any other way than by really approaching that spectator, of whom I have often spoken. Note well, these are the ways by which we can enter the spiritual world to-day.
You will remember that in the novel a shred of the spiritual world reaches the perception of Hofrat Eysenhardt after he realised the processes of decay in himself, and this is a peculiar illustration of what I have brought forward in my lectures. When our thinking is so strengthened by our exercises that we can see the spiritual world, we are immediately confronted with the process of destruction, with that which is connected with death. The Mystics of all ages have expressed this by the phrase: ‘To approach the Gate of Death,’ that is, all that manifests as destruction in human life. And if we have really carried our meditation to that point where we attain the experience of Initiation, we experience this: ‘I stand at the Gate of Death. I know there is something in me which has prevailed since my birth or conception, which then concentrates itself and becomes the phenomenon of death, the confiscation of the physical body.’ One then makes reply: ‘But all that leads to death has come from the spiritual world. That which has come from the spiritual world has united itself with that which arises from the hereditary substance.’ We see a man standing here in the physical world and we say: ‘That which confronts us is his countenance, which speaks to us through his words, everything he does as physical man is the expression of what prepared itself in the spiritual world through his last death and birth. His soul being lives in this.’ And from the whole bearing of these considerations we can conclude: that part of the human soul which lives between death and rebirth attracts the forces out of the spiritual world in order to fashion man in this incarnation between birth and death, in order to build something which is just the man himself. And then it is really the case, that through meditating on the Will, there is evolved the germ which again goes through the gate of death, to prepare itself in the spiritual world for a next incarnation. Thus in man there lies this eternal process of growth. The psychic spiritual descends from the spiritual world and forms a man here, in whom arises, at first as a mere speck, that which now originates here in life as the germ, and this again goes through the gates of death in order to continue its evolution. So that when we have a man here, it is really evident that as he stands before us, he as man has been created from out of the spiritual world. With that provided by the parents there unites itself that which descends from the spiritual world. While he was in the spiritual world he was among the spiritual powers, just as here in the physical body he is among the forces of nature. He was among the spiritual forces, and with their help he prepared himself for this incarnation. When we see a man incarnate before us, it truly is as I have represented in the second Mystery Play, The Soul's Probation, that whole worlds of divine beings work in order to produce man. Between death and rebirth spiritual forces are operative in order to maintain man. Man here is the goal of certain spiritual forces which are active between death and rebirth. Now note: this leads to Spiritual Science, but it has always been known and brought to expression; for example, a man of note expressed what I have said over and over again, by saying: ‘Life in the human body is the ultimate aim of the Path of the Gods.’ He meant that when we are in the spiritual world, woven into the world of the Gods between death and rebirth, we prepare ourselves for our incarnation, for our body. That is the object of the Divine Path. He was unable, however to add the other sentence: ‘In the body a new beginning is prepared, which then again goes through death and leads to a new incarnation.’ This phrase, ‘The life in the body is the ultimate aim of the Divine Path,’ forms to a certain extent the leading motive of all the works written by Christoph Oetinger, a very noted man nearly a hundred years ago. He drew attention continually to the path that human knowledge and perception must take if it is to recognise these spiritual connections. What Anthroposophy really desires can already be found in the older Theosophists. But Oetinger wishes to present it in his own way. His editor uttered some beautiful words at the end of his preface, in 1847. He wanted to express that in former times men sought the spiritual path, but in their own way; but that the time would come, and was not far distant, in which that which one had really always sought, would be grasped with full scientific consciousness. His editor says: ‘The essential point is that when Theosophy becomes a real science and brings forth definite results, these will gradually become the universal conviction of humanity. Yet this rests in the bosom of the future, which we do not wish to anticipate.’ Thus spake Richard Rothe, the Heidelberg professor, in referring to the Theosophist, Christoph Oetinger, in November, 1847. What Spiritual Science strives for has already existed, but in another form. To-day it is necessary to find it in just the form most appropriate for our time. And as I have often said, ‘the thought of Natural Science has to-day reached a standpoint from which, out of the method of that science herself, the right scientific form must be sought for what lived in Theosophy of all times.’ And when Rothe, as the editor of Oetinger, says that what the latter implies ‘rests in the bosom of the future,’ we must remember that what in 1847 was the future has certainly matured into the present of our time. We are confronting time when we can prove — for it was but one example which I have brought before you to-day in the novel Hofrat Eysenhardt, by Alfred von Berger — that human souls are really ripe to approach the spiritual truths, but that they morally lack the courage to grasp them in reality.
I said that in two directions lies the path to the spiritual world, in which one can see behind the veil of nature. For those who are accustomed to think scientifically, and who merely have to raise their scientific thought to an inner instrument in the way described, why is it so difficult to make progress? Why? They say that there are limits to human knowledge! Ignorabimus! And why do they not wish to enter the spiritual world? Well, the reason for that lies beneath the threshold of their consciousness.
Within the sphere of consciousness so-called logical reasons are brought forward as to why man cannot enter the spiritual world. These arguments have long been known. But beneath these logical reasons is to be found the true inner reason: the fear of the spiritual world. This fear of the spiritual world holds people back, but they are not aware of it. If they could only acquaint themselves with the existence of this unconscious fear, and how everything that is brought forward in opposition is merely a mask, hiding the fear in its reality, they would become aware of many things. That is the one thing. The other is this: directly a man enters the spiritual world he is seized upon, just as we can grasp his thoughts here — he is seized by the Beings of the Higher Hierarchies. Man becomes, as it were, a thought in the spiritual world. Against this the soul inwardly struggles. It is frightened, terrified, and shrinks from being taken possession of by the spiritual world. Again a question of fear, a powerless terror of allowing itself to be laid hold of by the spiritual world, in the way in which at birth one is laid hold of by the physical forces. Thus, outer fear, and dread of a certain powerlessness to resist being seized by the spiritual world, this it is which holds men back from it. That is why they so often wish, as the author in this novel, to splash in the waves of the spiritual world, without — as I might say — binding themselves in any way. That is why they have not really the courage to draw too near to the spiritual world lest it should lay hold of them, as may truly happen through the inner experiments often described, just as the apprehension of the secrets of nature may come about through external experiments.
If to what has been said you apply what was brought forward in one of the public lectures concerning this connection between the forces of genius which appear in life, and premature death, brought about by man's body being taken from him, through a shell or some other cause on the battlefield — if, in connection with what has been said you remember that the forces of genius or of invention appear in man as the effect of those processes which occurred when he was deprived of his physical body, then there also you have something remaining beneath the threshold of consciousness. But in his courage, in the whole way in which a man offers himself up for some great event of the time, there lies an instinctive expression of something resting beneath the threshold of consciousness, and which is unable to reach his consciousness in its full significance. Nevertheless, in our time there is in human evolution an impulse to carry up to the threshold of consciousness what lies beneath it, so that man may know something of it. And when I point to the fact that even in the great events of our time, in all that transpires in full consciousness, especially in the events of this epoch, there lie significant subconscious processes — I mean this to be taken in the above-mentioned sense, for that which these events are inserting into the great connection of human will never be included in what the external historian can grasp of these present events. More than ever before does the subconscious play a part in the present happenings. And therefore the spiritual investigator is allowed to indicate that a time will come in the future when, in order to behold the present significant historical events in the right light of their Cosmic connections, we shall point to their spiritual background. With this in view the words with which we now always conclude will be more and more present to our souls: —
From the fighters' courage,
From the blood of battles,
From the mourners' suffering,
From the people's sacrifice,
There will ripen fruits of Spirit
If with consciousness the soul
Turns her thought to Spirit Realms.