17 August 1918, Dornach
You will easily believe what very deep satisfaction it gives me to take up work again among you all on this building of ours. It is a fact that anyone coming into intimate contact with the whole aura of this building today would be able to receive the impression, as a result not only of deep reflection but also of quite superficial thought; that something connected with the most significant, the most weighty tasks of man's future is bound up with this building. And it goes without saying that after long, forced absence one is profoundly satisfied on finding oneself once more at this place where this building stands as a symbol of our cause.
To this I would add that particularly for me, my dear friends, it is a matter of infinite gratification every time I now return after long absence to be able to see how beautifully and significantly the work on the building has progressed through the active devotion of the workers. In these months of my recent absence in particular, when work has been carried out under such difficult conditions, part of the artistic work has gone forward in an unprecedented way; it has made progress in the spirit that should permeate the whole.
With deep pleasure too, I see, as a consequence of the spirit in our work, as consequence of all that is originating here, the real feeling of solidarity among many of our friends — the genuine feeling towards all that this building incorporates. What reveals itself to the soul when one lets this whole matter renew its effect upon one is that here we have a place with which is united such a true sentiment in a number of the friends of our spiritual movement, so sincere a sentiment that it promises a continuance of the best impulses in this movement for the future of mankind for which they are so necessary. In the work devoted to this building there is already something that could serve as a model for all that, in common with what we call today the Anthroposophical Society, is actually intended.
On the other hand, I have a strong feeling that what is favourable, what is so significantly good found here in our building, in the harmony of human work, and human feeling consists in this building being able through its objective nature to free what our movement wills from the subjective interests of individual men.
Concerning what we have just touched upon, my dear friends, there have been indeed, and still are, in all similar societies as well as in the Anthroposophical Society, certain remarkable views, that to be more exact, are remarkable illusions. A great deal is preached about selflessness and universal love between men; this is often, however, a mere mask for certain artful egoistic interests of individual human beings. It true that these individuals do not know that this is a question of mere egoistic interest; in face of their own consciousness they are innocent nevertheless, the fact remains.
The building itself, however, claims from a relatively large number of our friends a selfless devotion to something objective, to something standing out as a symbol of our cause, and free from all that is personal. And what is connected with our building can to that extent very well be, the model for what is sought in our Movement.
My dear friends! When, as today, we greet each other again, we need especially to dwell upon what if fruitful and all-embracing in the spiritual movement of ours. Meeting thus again, we need to reflect upon how earnestly we can believe that however it may happen — and the manner in which it does so depends upon how conditions take their course — man will never find his way out of the appalling blind alley into which he has come today until he decides in some way to seek a starting point for fruitful work, fruitful action, within a spiritual movement such as ours. We shall certainly not insist egoistically that the truth is to be found only in our small confined circle where it is recognised, through the very nature of the matter, that man has landed himself in the present terrible situation by neglecting his own spiritual substance. We should be able to recognise ourselves as men who are united in those ideas that alone can lead mankind out of this blind alley.
In the soul of modern men there is indeed very much that is not clear. When it has been possible to renew our knowledge here or there about the needs prevailing in our spiritual movement the following may be said on one hand: Yes indeed, the number of souls of those who are thirsting for spiritual life in our sense has very greatly increased. The longing for such spiritual life can well be said to have become infinitely greater; the attention given to our impulses has recently become undeniably greater, at least in those spheres that have been outwardly accessible to me in these last years and especially in recent months. It is not without meaning that I remark upon this distinct increase and strengthening of man's longing for the spiritual life. It is true that over against this strengthening and sharpening of the desire for spirit life there stands the terrible confusion from which the greater part of mankind is suffering. This terrible confusion among men comes about through the outworn ideas, or it would be better to say the outworn lack of ideas, the easy-going comfort where all keen vigorous thought concerned, the comfort that comes from the laxity, the indolence, with which during many decades, the thought-life on earth has been carried. This laxity, this laziness, leads souls astray in the present yearning after spiritual life. On the one hand, men are immersed in a genuine longing for spirituality, for strong supersensible impulses. On the other hand, these souls are fettered by the old powers that do not wish to withdraw from the scene of human activity, but should be able to see from this very activity how far they are removed from having any further place there. It might be said that one finds everywhere this dark impression, this impression of a cleft.
In many places in connection with repeated lectures with lantern slides, I have talked a great deal with our members about the Group that will take the chief place in our building. It could be seen on the one hand what powerful impulses have actually entered those souls who, by reason of the conditions during past years, have not even had a glimpse of what is going on here. A new human understanding is already arising from the very way in which what is ahrimanic and what is luciferic has been thought out in connection with what belongs to the Christ and has been represented and revealed in our Group. It makes a deep impression on souls when they are approached by all that is thus given. On the other hand, however, my dear friends, we find everywhere the obstructive influences of what is widespread among men in the remnants of what is old, rotten, in their so called cultural life.
This could be seen particularly in what might be called in a real sense the humorous frame of mind with which the lectures were received that were given at the art centre of our friend Herr von Bernus in Munich, when I tried to show a large audience the inner impulses active here in our conception of art. That did indeed arouse interest in people to an extraordinary degree, for I held lectures of this kind in Munich in February and in May and had to give each of them twice. Herr von Bernus assured me there were so many enquiries that I should have been able to give four times over each of the public lectures dealing with the principles of my conception of art, as they have found expression in the building here. Interest was certainly there, but it goes without saying one could find less reason to be pleased in the agreement shown with what was said by the critic of a Munich newspaper, which might be called a showing of teeth though politely and humorously. It was particularly facetious since inner resentment made itself felt against what could not be understood. It was all — not spoken, — but spat out, if you forgive the inelegant expression. And it was shown up by the very interest aroused by the matter where honesty and sincerity spoke in opposition to what was otherwise noticeable in this artistic centre (that is Munich, it goes without saying; it is a well-known fact). Thus was shown how in this centre of artistic activity the most intelligible as well as the unintelligible stuff was talked... It is just in this sort of discrepancy that we get an example of how today the two streams of which I have been speaking are present, and how we need to stand consciously within what is essential and important, towards which we must struggle for the sake of the world and its future.
I am certainly not saying all this because when our matters have publicity anywhere I would strive for what is called a “good press” for the moment we had a “ good press” I should think there must be something wrong, something of ours must have been untrue.
All these things are suitable for calling up in us a consciousness that it is very necessary for us to take a decided stand on the grounds of our cause. For nothing could promote greater confusion among us than our wishing to make any kind of compromise with — well with what the external world would consider it right for us to do. In what we do it is only towards the principles for which we stand that must look for guidance.
Another example of what we have been discussing, less directly connected with our cause, nevertheless connected inwardly, is the recent increasing interest shown in the most varied places for Eurhythmy. And when we who were present remember how Eurhythmy was received particularly in one place, where it had scarcely been seen before, it was partly something entirely new to the audience, namely in Hamburg, we have really to remember this reception with the deepest satisfaction. The significance of the impulses going out from even an affair of that kind was especially evident in Hamburg. People were there who to all intents and purposes were witnessing a proper performance of Eurhythmy for the first time. And the possibility will yet arise perhaps for Eurhythmy to be performed publicly. It is just at this juncture, however, that we must stand on the very firmest ground with our cause and do nothing that is not entirely consistent with it.Otherwise, my dear friends, it would soon be seen that, from a certain point of view, it must not be thought that I shall yield when some particular matter is in question that depends upon me. Most of you already know that where no principle is concerned, when some purely human affair comes to the fore, it goes without saying that I am always in it all with best of you. When it is a question, however, of approaching the boundary where any principle whatever has to be forsworn — even in the smallest degree — I shall show myself inflexible. Therefore, at the present time, when so much dancing can be seen — for there is dancing everywhere, it is quite dreadful, if you live in a town any night you join in a dance evening — when there is show-dancing everywhere, if it should be thought (I do not say all this without good reason; although I do not specify any particular instance, I have good reason to speak) if it should be thought that by giving public performances of Eurhythmy, we meant to identify ourselves with any kind of journalistic stunt to put forward some kind of claim for attention, then I should take precautions against this in the most determined manner. A feeling for what is in good taste must be forthcoming solely out of our cause.
You see my dear friends, we have sometimes also to remember, especially on meeting again, to conduct according to the standard of spiritual impulses the necessary direct activity resulting from the will. These spiritual impulses will have to fight against a great deal of what today we can no longer call prejudice, for things work too powerfully be described by such a weak term. I do not say in a conceited, egoistical way “We” have to fight, but these impulses will have to fight against many different things. Now over and over again we have to refer to the terrible malady of our age, that consists in lack of control where the life of thinking is concerned. For, rightly conceived, the life of thought is already a spiritual life. It is because men give so little heed to their life of thinking that they seldom find their way into the spiritual worlds.
There is one thing upon which I must repeatedly touch from the most varied sides, namely, what an appalling value is put today upon the mere content of thoughts. The content of thoughts, however, is what is of least importance! The content of thoughts — Look! a grain of wheat is a grain of wheat, this cannot be gainsaid. Even though a grain of wheat is a grain of wheat, however, when you put it into suitable, good, fruitful ground you get a juicy ear, and when you, put it into ground that is barren and stony, you get either nothing at all or a rotten ear. But each time you are dealing with a grain of wheat.
Let us speak of something other than a grain of wheat. Let us say instead of ‘grain of wheat ’, ‘idea of free man’ which is so much discussed today. Some will say ‘idea of free man’ is the ‘idea of free man.’ It is just the same as a grain of wheat is a grain of wheat. But there is a difference in whether ‘idea of free man’ flourishes in a heart, in soul where this heart and soul is fruitful ground, or whether the ‘idea of free man’, exactly the same idea with the same foundation, flourishes in Woodrow Wilson's head! It matters not in the least if a grain of wheat is sown in stony ground or right into the rock, and it is just true that all the so called beautiful ideas that we are given in the programmes of Woodrow Wilson signify nothing if they come out of his head. But this is something that modern man comes to understand with such infinite difficulty, for he holds the view that it is the content of a programme, the content of the idea, has as little significance as the germinating power of a grain of wheat before it is planted in fertile ground.
To think with reality! Man has the greatest need of this. And something else is connected with the present unreality in thinking namely, men are taken unawares by almost all that happens. Indeed one might ask when has that not occurred in these last years?. Men are surprised by everything, and they will go on being more and more surprised. But they will not have anything to do with what is really working in the world, and this today makes it impossible for them to bring any foresight to bear on their affairs.
Working merely with ideas, one can from any side base anything upon anything. If one works with the content of ideas alone it is actually possible to base everything on anything. This is also something it is necessary to see into increasingly and ever more deeply; it is necessary but there is little will for it.
Generally, when such things are spoken of, and examples of them given, one meets with no real response because the examples seem too grotesque. But our whole life of soul and spirit today fairly hums with these things that give so grotesque an impression on being brought to light — my dear friends, they buzz around us! I know that many of you may feel resentment if I give you a really outstanding idea as an example — I will, however, quote this instance.
Now it is a case here of a University professor, an old respected professor at a university, who lit on the fact that Goethe during his long life was attracted by various women. Yes, our professor came up against this idea and took upon himself the task of making a real study of both the life of Goethe and that of the spirits connected with him. And we see how he obviously makes it his business, in spite of not being professor at a European university, to go to work as thoroughly as a mid-European professor usually does, and he made to pass before his soul the whole procession of Goethe's ladies in their relation to Goethe. What did he discover? I can quote this for you almost in his very words.
He discovered that each woman Goethe loved momentarily during his life can be said to have been for him a kind of Belgium, the neutrality of which he violated and then bemoaned that his heart bled for having been obliged to assail shining innocence. Neither did he forget to assert, each time, like the German Chancellor, that this sphere of violated neutrality had deserved a better fate but that he, Goethe, could not do otherwise since his destiny and the rights of his spiritual life obliged him to sacrifice the loved one — yes, even to offer up the pain of his very heart on the altar of the duty he owed to his own immortal ego.
Now I could give you here many other ideas that come in this book. You might ask for, what purpose? But, my dear friends, there is very good reason. For you find this kind of idea all over the world. The ideas of modern men are like that! And it is not without reason that such ideas should show themselves in literature where the essence of human thinking appears. This conception is upheld by Santayana, a professor at Harvard University in America, a much esteemed Spaniard who is, however, completely Americanised. His book was written during this present catastrophe, or at least Boutroux has translated it into French during the war. Shortly before this Boutroux gave a lecture in Heidelberg in which he eulogised German Philosophy in the most flattering terms! The book is called The Errors of German Philosophy and is entirely characteristic of present-day thinking. The appearance of this book was certainly not just a casual event but is very characteristic of modern thought and compares man with what is very far removed from him, with the same facility we find in Professor Santayana when he compares Belgian neutrality with Goethe's treatment of various women. For, if you have eyes to see it, this kind of thinking meets you in every sphere of so-called modern science. It is a fact; you come across it everywhere.
Now it is just the task of the spiritual impulse to which our Anthroposophy is devoted, to make a stand against three fundamental evils in the present so-called culture of mankind. There is nothing for it but to fight against these fundamental evils. One fundamental evil shows itself in the sphere of thinking, another in the sphere of feeling and the third fundamental evil is seen in the sphere of the will.
In the sphere of thinking we have gradually reached the point where men can only think in the way the thinking takes its course when it is strictly bound up with the brain. But this thinking, so closely connected with the brain, this thinking that refuses to make a flight to the spiritual, is condemned in all circumstances to be narrow and confined. And the most significant symptom of present scientific thinking in particular is narrowness and limitation. In the field of his narrowness and limitation great things can certainly be done. It is done for example, in modern science. But the thought applied to science today has no need of genius, my dear friends! Thus, narrowness, limitation, is what must be striven against, especially in the intellectual sphere. Today I will simply give these things in outline, but later we shall be describing them more in detail.
In the sphere of feeling it is a question of men having gradually arrived at a certain philistinism — we can only call it so — philistinism, lack of generosity, and being bound to a certain confined circle. It is the chief characteristic mark of the philistine that he is incapable of being interested in the big affairs of the world. Village pump politicians are always philistines. Naturally, in the sphere of Spiritual Science this does not suffice, for here one cannot confine oneself to a narrow circle, we have to be interested in what is outside the earth, therefore in a very wide circle indeed. And people get quite annoyed at the mere suggestion that there should be a desire to know something about a circle wide enough to embrace Moon, Sun, Saturn. In all spheres, however, philistinism must soften into non-philistinism if Spiritual Science is to penetrate. Sometimes that is not convenient or comfortable, for it means facing up unreservedly to the matter. It demands a more unprejudiced facing up to the matter.
Recently an awkward thing happened in our midst — but I stopped it because otherwise perhaps — well, nothing actually happened but something could have happened. Now you will remember the Zurich lectures of last fear; among various examples I gave then of how Darwinism can be overcome through the growth of natural science itself, I pointed to the excellent book by Oskar Hertwig called Des Werden der Organismen (How Organisms come into Being). Here, and every time the opportunity occurred, I referred to this excellent book. Very soon after this work a shorter book appeared by this same Oskar Hertwig, in which the same Oskar Hertwig spoke about the social, the ethical and the political life. And I then thought to myself: it may happen that some of our members having heard me call Oskar Hertwig's book about organisms an outstanding book will assume that this second volume is excellent also, when it is actually a worthless book, a book written by a man who in this particular sphere — in the sphere of the social life, the ethical life and the political life — cannot put into shape a single orderly thought. I feared lest certain of our members might already have judged that since it came from Hertwig this book too would have some kind of merit. So I had to step in and again whenever I could seize the opportunity I availed myself of it to point out that I considered this second book of the author, who had previously written so well about natural science, to be the worthless and foolish effort of a man who had no ability to speak of the things of which he spoke here.
Our Spiritual Science does not admit of one thing conveniently following from another, without each new fact being confronted and judged impartially. Spiritual Science demands from men actual proof of the concrete nature of every single case. Philistinism is something that will vanish when the impulse of Spiritual Science spreads. So much for the sphere of feeling.
And in the sphere of the will there is something that recently has particularly and in the widest sense taken hold of mankind, something I can only term lack of skill. As a rule, a man today is very able within the narrow circle of what he learns, but he is considerably inept about everything outside this circle. One comes across people who can't even sew on a button — that is only one example. There are men who are unable to sew on a button! Lack of skill in anything beyond a narrow circle is what is specially prevalent in the sphere of the will. Whoever takes what we call Spiritual Science with his whole soul, and not just with abstract thinking, will see that it makes a man more dexterous and fits him actually to spread his interest over a wider area, to extend his will over a wider world. Naturally it is just where this lack of skill is concerned that spiritual science is still too weak; but the more intensively we take it the more will it contend with unskillfulness.
This is what confronts the present-day acceptance of Spiritual Science with what might be called a trinity: narrowness in the intellectual sphere; philistinism, which means a lack of generosity, in the sphere of feeling; unskillfulness in the sphere of will.
And the three are loved nowadays even if loved unconsciously. Nothing in the world today is more loved than unskillfulness, philistinism and narrow-mindedness. Because they are loved it will not be easy for men to progress to the wide views to which they must come — to the way in which we must look at all that is connected with the names Ahriman and Lucifer. And it is just here that something important must understood today. For today among many other things there is an important transition from the luciferic to the ahrimanic. And as this transition is shown not simply elsewhere but also here in Switzerland one may well speak of it here. In this region the first has perhaps less significance owing to the very habits of the Swiss. The second, however, shows every prospect of attaining more importance precisely in this country. Where certain things are concerned mankind is indeed in a state of transition from faults that are luciferic to those that are ahrimanic, from luciferic impulses that run counter to human development to ahrimanic counter-impulses.
Now certain impulses of earlier days holding good in educational matters were of a thoroughly luciferic nature. Ambition and vanity were counted on in educational matters. (All of us when young, with the exception of the youngest among us, have known this quite well.) Perhaps this applies less to Switzerland but elsewhere it is pretty prevalent — this reckoning on ambition and vanity — orders, titles, and so on and so forth! Some people's whole career was based on the luciferic impulses of vanity and ambition, on the being worth more than other men. Just try to think back to how educational affairs were indeed built up on such luciferic impulses.
At the present time there is an endeavour to put ahrimanic impulses in the place of those that are luciferic. Today they hide themselves behind the elegant term “ability tests”. In the ahrimanic sphere this corresponds to what in the luciferic sphere was boasting about vanity and ambition even among children. Today there is an endeavour to seek out those the most gifted, or those who apart from that are most successful in class; out of these again individuals are taken. Among these gifted ones tests are made, intelligence tests, memory tests, perception tests and so on. This is something very suited to the Swiss disposition. And should the luciferic play a very small part here, the ahrimanic shows itself nicely in bud in the understanding for these ability tests. For these ability tests proceed from the intelligence, from science, from the present-day psychology of the learned. Then these gifted ones who are to be tested are made to sit down and are given the written words: murdered, looking-glass, the murderer's victim. And they sit there, poor lambs, in front of the three words murderer, looking-glass, the murderer's victim, and are supposed to look for a connecting link between them. One child finds that the murderer steals upon his victim, but the victim has a looking-glass in which the murderer is reflected so that the victim is able to save himself. So much for the first child. His gift of perception takes him as far as connecting the three words in this way.
Now comes another: — A murderer is creeping on his victim and sees himself in a looking-glass. His face appears to him in it as the face of somebody with a bad conscience, so he leaves his victim on account of seeing the reflection of his own face. That is the second child.
The third child makes yet another combination. A murderer comes creeping, he finds a mirror and falls against it so that the mirror falls down with a terrible noise, it makes a regular disturbance. The victim hears the noise and is in time to defend himself against the murderer.
The last child is the most talented! The first only found the nearest combination of ideas; the second an obvious matter of morals; the third child found a very complicated connection of ideas, and this one is the most talented! — That is more or less how it is. When describing things briefly one naturally gives them a little colouring of one's own. But this is how the ability of children is henceforward going to be tested to find out who is the most talented.
One thing is certain, my dear friends — if the men who invent these methods would just think of the great people they revere, Helmholtz for instance, and so on, Newton and so on, these great ones would one and all, if given these tests, have been looked upon as the most untalented little rascals. Nothing would have come of it. For Helmholtz who is certainly considered by those who give these tests today as a very great physicist — as I think you will agree — was a hydrocephalic and not at all gifted in his youth, and so on and so forth.
What is it that people want to test? Simply the outer organism, entirely what may be counted as the physical instrument of man, what is purely ahrimanic in human nature. If ever the fruits of these ability tests are to come to anything, more ghastly thought-pictures will arise than those that have led to the present human catastrophe. When, however, one speaks today about anything that may lead to catastrophic events in perhaps a hundred years, this does not interest man. For we live now in this transition from a luciferic educational system to an educational system that is ahrimanic; and we must belong to those who understand how to see clearly into such matters:
Men must change what is active force for the future into forces of the present. For this is what is demanded from us today — to confront concrete reality in a true, genuine, unprejudiced way.
Here one may have very strange experiences. I do not remember if I have already mentioned here a very interesting experience of mine. There are writings of Woodrow Wilson's — one about “Freedom”, another just called “Literature”. These writings have been very much admired — are still very much admired. In the publication called “Literature” an interesting lecture appears again which Woodrow Wilson once gave about the historical evolution of America. And elsewhere, too, interesting lectures by Woodrow Wilson have been repeated having wide historic standpoints. And reading these writings I had an interesting experience. In them one finds isolated sentences which appeared to me extraordinarily familiar yet certainly not copied from anywhere — certainly not copied they nevertheless seemed to me wonderfully familiar. And the idea soon struck me that these sentences of Woodrow Wilson's might just well have been written by Herman Grimm, that quite a number of these sentences indeed are found word for word in Grimm. Herman Grimm I love; Woodrow Wilson — Well, you know by now that I do not exactly love him! Nevertheless I cannot on that account conceal the objective fact that where the content of the subject is concerned one could simply take over whole sentences from Herman Grimm's lectures and articles and transpose them into those of Wilson — and, vice versa, transpose sentences of Wilson's into the works of Herman Grimm. Here are two people who as far as the actual text is concerned are saying just the same thing. We have, however, to learn today that when two people say the same thing it is not the same! For the interesting fact meets us that Herman Grimm's sentences are personally striven for, bit by bit they are wrenched from the soul. The sentences of Woodrow Wilson that sound so similar come from a kind of characteristic frenzy. The man is possessed by a subconscious ego forcing these sentences into the conscious life.
Whoever can judge of such things realises that this is the point here! A grain of wheat is a grain of wheat: The difference, however, lies in where it is sown, in what kind of soil. There is a difference in whether an idea becomes so much part of a personality because he has striven for it bit by bit in his own particular way, or whether one gets the idea by being possessed by the subconscious, everything sounding out of a possessed subconscious, out of a consciousness that is possessed by the subconscious.
Thus it is a question today of understanding that the content of thoughts, the content of programmes, are not of importance — the important thing is the livingness of the life lived by mankind.
My dear friends! We can teach materialistic philosophy, we can teach the philosophy of mere ideas; we can teach a science that is merely materialistic, and in this merely materialistic science become a most excellent European teacher, a credit to the university and a good citizen of the State. The type is not so rare, I fancy you can find them anywhere, these ornaments and lights of science, who at the same time are quite exemplary good citizens; one can well be this, my dear friends! But take some ideas, I should say an idea of a definite kind, let us take as a trivial idea the struggle for existence, for instance, or those ideas that are advocated by more peaceable people such as Oskar Hertwig, and so on, or ideas upheld by Spencer, Mill, Boutroux or Bergson who certainly are not wishing to press forward to the spiritual life, but are confined to the philosophy of mere ideas. But still more, take the materialistic ideas of science, take these ideas! It is true they might be able to spring up in the brain of the good subjects of the State. Very well. But, my dear friends, a grain of wheat is a grain of wheat; nevertheless it makes a difference whether it grows in soil that is fertile for it or in rocky soil, and it makes a difference whether these scientific ideas which can be striven for in Europe as a credit to science, and hold good in the universities, thrive in the brains of the university students, or whether they spring up in the brain of a man whose brother already as a young man at the end of the eighties was counted a shining light in science at the Petersburg laboratory... Such facts certainly like a flash of lightning illumine things that are working at the present time! Take this young man who was there in the Petersburg laboratory about the year already a shining light in science, full of productive ideas in chemistry with a medal — a very rare thing — distinguished by this special medal from all those working with him, and highly esteemed even as a young man — and suddenly he disappears! Even marked out by the university authorities — he is suddenly no longer there! In all manner of roundabout ways his colleagues have to find out that meanwhile he has been hanged for taking part in a conspiracy against the reactionary Alexander III. It makes a difference whether the same idea enters the brain of a worthy university professor of Western Europe, or the brain of the brother of the man who was hanged under such conditions. When it enters the brain of this brother it changes this brother into a Lenin — for the hanged mans brother is Lenin — then this idea becomes the driving force behind all that you now see in Eastern Europe.
Idea is idea, as grain of wheat is grain of wheat; one has, however, to realise whether something is the same idea that arises either in the brain of a university professor or in the brain of the brother of this man they hanged. We must have the will to see into the background of existence where lie the actual impulses behind events. And we must have the courage to reject all the empty nonsense about programmes, ideas, sciences, of those who believe in them. Something depends on what they uphold. This or that may be upheld according to its content, nevertheless it is of consequence in what sphere of actual life what is thus upheld lies, just as it is of consequence where the grain of wheat falls, whether in fertile or unfertile ground. In every sphere man must find the way out of the abstraction that in the present grave conditions is everywhere leading to illusion or to chaos; he must find the way to the reality that can be found in spirituality alone! And however long it be, this is the only road by which man can find his way out of the present confusion to what can bless and heal him.
This is what should be written on our hearts, my dear friends, something in which we can all be united. this is something with which we should greet each other in earnest, associating ourselves in this knowledge with what must be the cure for man's failings. For it is possible to cure them. But, my dear friends, this may not be done with quack remedies, they must be healed by something the lack of which has brought mankind into this chaos.
Leninism would never have taken hold of the East had not materialistic science — not always recognised as such — been taught in the West. For what has been produced in the East is the direct child of materialistic science. It is just a child of materialistic science. Through Karl Marx a changeling has arisen; the real child of materialistic science already exists in the East. But we must have the will really to see into these things.
This, my dear friends, is as it were the background against which our building is being erected. And individual men who work here at this building think about it quite apart from the ideas today affecting men in so many lands. We can well imagine that outside, in other countries, there may be people who consider that men are living here who keep aloof from what concerns the world and, as these people believe, should concern it. It is easy to imagine people looking reproachfully at this place. Those who have their whole heart and soul in this building need not worry themselves about being thus reproached. For even if this building does not perhaps fulfil its task, if it never reaches its goal, what works on the building, my dear friends, and what proceeds from those working with devotion on the building, is today the most important thing of all; it is what must rescue men from everything into which they have fallen. And when people outside believe that here men are working with no thought for the task of present-day mankind, the answer must be that here we are working on what is of supreme importance today, on what is preeminently essential, only others know nothing of it, it is something of which as yet they are ignorant. But the important point is that mankind will want to know something of what is happening here.
Once again let it be emphasised. It is not important whether this building attains its goal — although it would be good were it to do so. What is important is that this building should be worked upon out of certain ideas that men have discovered for this work. It is not the content of these ideas but the way in which they live that gives them their impulses for the future, whereas the ideas so many believe in today are simply and solely ideas that incline towards the grave, ideas of a former age which are passing into dissolution and are ripe for dissolution.