23 April 1924, Dornach
I should like during these few days to say something rather especially for the friends who have come here to attend the Easter Course, 1Easter as a Chapter in the Mystery-Wisdom of Man. (on-line as: The Easter Festival in Relation to the Mysteries) Dornach, 19th–22nd April, 1924. and who have not heard much of what has connections. Those who were present at the lectures before Easter may find some repetitions but the circumstances make this inevitable.
I have been laying particular emphasis on the fact that study of the historical development of the life of mankind must lead on to study of the human being himself. All our endeavours aim in the direction of placing man at the centre of our study of the world. Two ends are attained thereby. Firstly, it is only in this way that the world can be studied as it truly is. For all that man sees spread around him in nature is only a part — gives as it were one picture of the world only: and to limit study of the world to this realm of nature is like studying a plant without looking beyond root, green leaf and stem, and ignoring flower and fruit. This kind of study can never reveal the whole plant. Imagine a creature that is always born at a particular time of the year, lives out its life during a period when the plant grows as far as the green leaves and no further, dies before the plant is in blossom and appears again only when roots and green leaves are there. — Such a creature would never have knowledge of the whole plant; it would regard the plant as something that has roots and leaves only.
The materialistic mind of to-day has got itself into a similar position as regards its approach to the world. It considers only the broad foundations of life, not what blossoms forth from the totality of earthly evolution and earthly existence — namely, man himself. The real way of approach must be to study nature in her full extent, but in such a way as all the time to realise that she must needs create man out of herself. We shall then see man as the microcosm he truly is, as the concentration of all that is to be found outspread in the far spaces of the cosmos.
As soon, however, as we study history from this point of view, we are no longer able to regard the human being as a resultant of the forces of history, as a single, self-contained being. We must take account of the fact that he passes through different earthly lives: one such life occurs at an earlier time and another at a later. This very fact places man at the centre of our studies, but now in his whole being, as an individuality. This is the one end that is attained when we look in this way at nature and at history.
The other is this. — The very fact of placing man at the centre of study, makes for humility. Lack of humility is due to nothing else than lack of knowledge. A penetrating, comprehensive knowledge of man in his connection with the events of the world and of history will certainly not lead to excessive self-esteem; far rather it will lead the human being to look at himself objectively. It is precisely when a man does not know himself that there rise up in him those feelings which have their source in the unknown regions of his being. Instinctive, emotional impulses make themselves felt. And it is these instinctive, emotional impulses, rooted as they are in the subconscious, that make for arrogance and pride. On the other hand, when consciousness penetrates farther and farther into those regions where man comes to know himself and to recognise how in the sequence of historical events he belongs to the whole wide universe — then, simply by virtue of an inner law, humility will unfold in him. The recognition of his place in universal existence invariably calls forth humility, never arrogance. All genuine study pursued in Anthroposophy has its ethical side, carries with it an ethical impulse.
Unlike modern materialism, Anthroposophy will not lead to a conception of life in which ethics and morality are a mere adjunct; ethics and morality emerge, as if inwardly impelled, from all genuine anthroposophical study.
I want now to show you by concrete examples, how the fruits of earlier epochs of history are carried over into later epochs through human beings themselves. A certain very striking example now to be given, is associated with Switzerland.
Our gaze falls upon a man who lived about a hundred years before the founding of Christianity. — I am relating to you what can be discovered through spiritual scientific investigation. — At this period in history we find a personality who is a kind of slave overseer in southern Europe.
We must not associate with a slave overseer of those times the feelings that the word immediately calls up in us now. Slavery was the general custom in days of antiquity, and at the time of which I am speaking it was essentially mild in form; the overseers were usually educated men. Indeed the teachers of important personages might well be slaves, who were often versed in the literary and scientific culture of the time. So you see, we must acquire sounder ideas about slavery — needless to say, without defending it in the least degree — when we are considering this aspect of the life of antiquity.
We find, then, a personality whose calling it is to be in charge of a number of slaves and to apportion their tasks. He is an extraordinarily lovable man, gentle and kind-hearted and when he is able to have his own way he does everything to make life easier for the slaves. In authority over him, however, is a rough, somewhat brutal personality. This man is, as we should say nowadays, his superior officer. And this superior officer is responsible for many things that arouse resentment and animosity in the slaves. When the personality of whom I am speaking — the slave overseer — passes through the gate of death, he is surrounded in the time between death and a new birth by all the souls who were thus united with him on earth, the souls of the slaves who had been in his charge. But as an individuality he is very strongly connected with the one who was his superior officer. The fact that he, as the slave overseer, was obliged to obey this superior officer — for in accordance with the prevailing customs of the time he always did obey him, though often very unwillingly — this fact established a strong karmic tie between them. But a deep karmic tie was also established by the relationship that had existed in the physical world between the overseer and the slaves, for in many respects he had been their teacher as well.
We must thus picture a further life unfolding between death and rebirth among all these individualities of whom I have spoken.
Afterwards, somewhere about the 9th century A.D., the individuality of the slave overseer is born again, in Central Europe, but now as a woman, and moreover, because of the prevailing karmic connection, as the wife of the former superior officer who reincarnated as a man. The two of them live together in a marital relationship that makes karmic compensation for the tie that had been established away back in the first century before the founding of Christianity, when they had lived as subordinate and superior officers respectively. The superior officer is now, in the 9th century A.D., in a commune in Central Europe where the inhabitants live on very intimate terms with one another; he holds some kind of official position in the commune, but he is everyone's servant and comes in for plenty of knocks and abuse.
Investigating the whole matter further, we find that the members of this rather extensive commune are the slaves who once had their tasks allotted to them in the way I told you. The superior officer has now become as it were the servant of them all, and has to experience the karmic fulfilment of many things which, through the instrumentality of the overseer, his brutality inflicted upon these people.
The wife of this man (she is the reincarnated overseer), suffers with a kind of silent resignation under all the impressions made by the ever-discontented superior officer in his new incarnation, and one can follow in detail how karmic destiny is here being fulfilled.
But we see, too, that this karma is by no means completely adjusted. A part only is adjusted, namely the karmic relationship between the slave overseer and his superior officer. This has been lived out and is essentially finished in the medieval incarnation in the 9th century; for the wife has paid off what her soul had experienced owing to the brutality of the man who had once been the superior officer and is now her husband.
This woman, the reincarnation of the former slave overseer, is born again, and what happens now is that the greater number of the souls who had once been slaves and had then come together again in the large commune — souls in whose destiny this individuality had twice played a part — came again as the children whose education this same individuality in his new incarnation has deeply at heart. For in this incarnation he comes as Pestalozzi. And we see how Pestalozzi's infinite humanitarianism, his enthusiasm for education in the 18th century, is the karmic fulfilment in relation to human beings with whom he had already twice been connected — the karmic fulfilment of the experiences and the sufferings of earlier incarnations.
What comes to view in single personalities can be clear and objectively intelligible to us only when we are able to see the present earthly life against the background of earlier earthly lives.
Traits that go back not merely to the previous incarnation, but often to the one before that, and even earlier, sometimes show themselves in a man. We see how what has been planted, as it were, in the single incarnations, works its way through with a certain inner, spiritual necessity, inasmuch as the human being lives not only through earthly lives but also through lives between death and a new birth.
In this connection, the study of a life of which I spoke to those of you who were in Dornach before Easter, is particularly striking and interesting — the life of Conrad Ferdinand Meyer.
Conrad Ferdinand Meyer presents a very special enigma to those who study the inner aspect of his life and at the same time greatly admire him as a poet. There is such wonderful harmony of form and style in his poems that we cannot help saying: what lives in Conrad Ferdinand Meyer always hovers a little above the earthly — in respect of the style and also in respect of the whole way of thinking and feeling. And if we steep ourselves in his writings we shall perceive how he is immersed in an element of spirit-and-soul that is always on the point of breaking away from the physical body. Study the nobler poems, also the prose-poems, of Conrad Ferdinand Meyer and you will say to yourselves: There is evidence of a perpetual urge to get right away from connection with the physical body. As you know, in his incarnation as Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, it was his lot to fall into pathological states, when the soul-and-spirit separated from the physical body to a high degree, so much so that insanity ensued, or at any rate conditions resembling insanity. And the strange thing is that his most beautiful works were produced during periods when the soul-and-spirit had loosened from the physical body.
Now when we try to investigate the karmic connections running through the life of Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, we are driven into a kind of confusion. We cannot immediately find our bearings. We are led, first, to the 6th century A.D., and then again we are thrown back into the 19th, into the Conrad Ferdinand Meyer incarnation. The very circumstances we are observing, mislead us. I want you to realise the extraordinary difficulty of a genuine search for knowledge in this domain. If you are satisfied with phantasy, then it is naturally easy, for you can make things fit in as you like. For one who is not satisfied with phantasy but carries his investigation to the point where he can rely upon the faculties of his own soul not to play him false — for him it is no easy matter, especially when he is investigating these things in connection with an individuality as complex as that of Conrad Ferdinand Meyer. In investigating karmic connections through a number of earthly lives it is no great help to look at the particularly outstanding characteristics. What strikes you most forcibly in a man, what you see at once when you meet him or learn of him in history — these characteristics are, for the most part, the outcome of his earthly environment. A man as he confronts us is a product of his earthly environment to a far greater extent than is generally believed. He takes in through education what is present in his earthly environment. It is the more intangible, more intimate traits of a man which taken quite concretely, lead back through the life between death and a new birth into former earthly lives.
In these investigations it may be more important to observe a man's gestures or some habitual mannerism than to consider what he has achieved perhaps as a figure of renown. The mannerisms of a person, or the way he will invariably answer you — not so much what he answers but how he answers — whether, for example, his first tendency is always to be negative and only when he has no other alternative, to agree, or whether again in quite a good-humoured way he is rather boastful ... these are the kind of traits that are important and if we pay special attention to them they become the centre of our observations and disclose a great deal. One observes, for instance, how a man stretches out his hand to take hold of things; one makes an objective picture of it and then works upon it in the manner of an artist; and at length one finds that it is no longer the mere gesture that one is contemplating, but around the gesture the figure of another human being takes shape.
The following may happen. — There are men who have a habit, let us say, of making a certain movement of the arms. I have known men who simply could not begin to do anything without first folding their arms. If one visualises such a gesture quite objectively, but with inner, artistic feeling, so that it stands before one as a plastic, pliable form, then one's attention is directed away from the man who is actually making the gesture. But the gesture does not remain as it is; it grows into another figure which is an indication, at least, of something in the previous incarnation or in the one before that. It may well be that the gesture is now used in connection with something that was not present at all in the previous incarnation — let us say it is a gesture used in picking up a book, or some similar action. Nevertheless, it is for gestures and habits of this kind that we must have an eye if we are to keep on the right track.
Now in the case of an individuality like Conrad Ferdinand Meyer, the point of significance is that while he is creating his poems there is always a tendency to a loosening of the soul-and-spirit from the physical body. There we have a starting-point but at the same time a point where we may easily go astray.
We are led, as I told you, to the 6th century A.D. We have the feeling: that is where he belongs. And moreover we find a personality who lived in Italy, who experienced a very varied destiny in that incarnation in Italy, who indeed lived a kind of double existence. On the one side he was devoted with the greatest enthusiasm to an art that has almost disappeared in this later age, but was then in its prime; it is only in the remaining examples of mosaics that we are still able to glimpse this highly developed art. And the individuality to whom we are first impelled, lived in this milieu of art in Italy at the end of the 5th and the beginning of the 6th century A.D. — That is what presents itself, to begin with.
But now this whole picture is obscured, and again we are thrown back to Conrad Ferdinand Meyer. The darkness that obscures vision of the man of the 6th century now overshadows the picture of Conrad Ferdinand Meyer in the 19th; and we are compelled to look very closely into what Conrad Ferdinand Meyer does in the 19th century.
Our attention is then drawn to the fact that his tale Der Heilige (The Saint), deals with Thomas à Becket, the Chancellor of Henry II of England. We feel that here is something of peculiar importance. And we also have the feeling that the impression received from the earlier incarnation has driven us up against this particular deed of Conrad Ferdinand Meyer. But now again we are driven back into the 6th century, and can find there no explanation of this. And so we are thrown to and fro between the two incarnations, the problematic one in the 6th century and the Conrad Ferdinand Meyer incarnation — until it dawns upon us that the story of Thomas à Becket as told in history, came up in Conrad Ferdinand Meyer's mind owing to a certain similarity with an experience he had himself undergone in the 6th century, when he went to England from Italy as a member of a Catholic mission sent by Pope Gregory. There we have the second aspect of Conrad Ferdinand Meyer in his previous incarnation. On the one side he was an enthusiastic devotee of the art that subsequently took the form of mosaic. — Hence his talent for form, in all its aspects. On the other side, however, he was an impassioned advocate of Catholicism, and for this reason accompanied the mission. The members of this mission founded Canterbury, where the bishopric was then established.
The individuality who afterwards lived in the 19th century as Conrad Ferdinand Meyer was murdered by an Anglo-Saxon courtier, in circumstances that are extraordinarily interesting. There was something of legal subtlety and craftiness, albeit still in the rough, about the events connected at that time with the murder.
You know very well, my dear friends, how even in ordinary life the sound of something remains with you. You may once have heard a name without paying any particular attention to it ... but later on a whole association of ideas is called up in your mind when this name is mentioned. In a similar way, through the peculiar circumstances of this man's connection with what later became the archbishopric of Canterbury — the town of Canterbury, as I said, was founded by the mission of which he was a member — these experiences lived on, lived on, actually, in the sound of the name Canterbury. In the Conrad Ferdinand Meyer incarnation the sound of this name — Canterbury — came to life again, and by association of ideas his attention was called to Thomas à Becket, (the Lord Chancellor of Canterbury under Henry Plantagenet) who was treacherously murdered. At first, Thomas à Becket was a favourite of Henry II, but was afterwards murdered, virtually through the instigation of the King, because he would not agree to certain measures.
These two destinies, alike in some respects and unlike in others, brought it about that Conrad Ferdinand Meyer transposed, as it were, into quite different figures taken from history, what he had himself experienced in an earlier incarnation in the 6th century — experienced in his own body, far from what was at that time his native land. Just think how interesting this is! Once we have grasped it, we are no longer driven hither and thither between the two incarnations. And then, because again in the 19th century, Conrad Ferdinand Meyer has a kind of double nature, we see how his soul-and-spirit easily separates from the physical. Because he has this double nature, the place of his own, actual experiences is taken by another experience in some respects similar to it ... just as pictures often change in the play of human imagination. In a man's ordinary imagination during an earthly life, the picture changes in such a way that imagination weaves in freedom; in the course of many earthly lives it may be that some historical event which is connected with the person in question as a picture only, takes the place of the actual event.
Now this individuality whose experience in an earlier life worked on through two lives between death and rebirth and then came to expression in the story Thomas à Becket, the Saint, — this individuality had had another intermediate earthly life as a woman at the time of the Thirty Years' War. We have only to envisage the chaos prevailing all over Central Europe during the Thirty Years' War and it will not be difficult to understand the feelings and emotions of an impressionable, sensitive woman living in the midst of the chaos as the wife of a pedantic, narrow-minded man. Wearying of life in the country that was afterwards Germany, he emigrated to Graubünden in Switzerland, where he left the care of house and home to his wife, while he spent his time sullenly loafing about. His wife, however, had opportunity to observe many, many things. The wider historical perspective, no less than the curious local conditions at Graubünden, worked upon her; the experiences she underwent, experiences that were always coloured by her life with the bourgeois, commonplace husband, again sank down into the foundations of the individuality, and lived on through the life between death and a new birth. And the experiences of the wife at the time of the Thirty Years' War are imaginatively transformed in Conrad Ferdinand Meyer's tale, Jürg Jenatsch.
Thus in the soul of Conrad Ferdinand Meyer we have something that has gathered together out of the details of former incarnations. As a man of letters, Conrad Ferdinand Meyer seems to be an individuality complete in itself, for he is an artist with very definite and fixed characteristics. But in point of fact it is this that actually causes confusion, because one's attention is immediately directed away from these very definite characteristics to the elusive, double nature of the man.
Those who have eyes only for Conrad Ferdinand Meyer the poet, the famous author of all these works, will never come to know anything of his earlier lives. We have to look through the poet to the man; and then, in the background of the picture, there appear the figures of the earlier incarnations.
Paradoxical as it will seem to the modern mind, the only way in which human life can be understood in its deeper aspect is to centre our study of the course of world-events around observation of man himself in history. And man cannot be taken as belonging to one age of time only, as living in one earthly life only. In considering man, we must realise how the individuality passes from one earthly life to another, and how in the interval between death and a new birth he works upon and transforms that which has taken its course more in the subconscious realm of earthly life but for all that is connected with the actual shaping of the destiny. For the shaping of destiny takes place, not in the clear consciousness of the intellect, but in what weaves in the subconscious.
Let me now give you another example of how things work over in history through human individualities themselves.
In the first century A.D., about a hundred years after the founding of Christianity, we have an exceedingly significant Roman writer in the person of Tacitus. In all his work, and very particularly in his ‘Germania’, Tacitus proves himself a master of a concise, clear-cut style; he arrays the facts of history and geographical details in wonderfully rounded sentences with a genuinely epigrammatic ring. We may also remember how he, a man of wide culture, who knew everything considered worth knowing at that time — a hundred years after the founding of Christianity — makes no more than a passing allusion to Christ, mentioning Him as someone whom the Jews crucified but saying that this was of no great importance. Yet in point of fact, Tacitus is one of the greatest Romans.
Tacitus had a friend, the personality known in history as Pliny the Younger, himself the author of a number of letters and an ardent admirer of Tacitus.
To begin with, let us consider Pliny the Younger. He passes through the gate of death, through the life between death and a new birth, and is born again in the 11th century as a Countess of Tuscany in Italy, who is married to a Prince of Central Europe. The Prince has been robbed of his lands by Henry the Black of the Frankish-Salic dynasty and wants to secure for himself an estate in Italy. This Countess Beatrix owns the Castle of Canossa where, later on, Henry IV, the successor of Henry III the Black, was forced to make his famous penance to Pope Gregory.
Now this Countess Beatrix is an extraordinarily alert and active personality, taking keen interest in all the conditions and circumstances of the time. Indeed she cannot help being interested, for Henry III who had driven her husband, Gottfried, out of Alsace into Italy before his marriage to her, continued his persecution. Henry is a man of ruthless energy, who overthrows the Princes and Chieftains in his neighbourhood one after the other, does whatever he has a mind to do, and is not content when he has persecuted someone once, but does it a second time, when the victim has established himself somewhere else. — As I said, he was a man of ruthless vigour, a ‘great’ man in the medieval style of greatness. And when Gottfried had established himself in Tuscany, Henry was not content with having driven him out but proceeded to take the Countess back with him to Germany.
All these happenings gave the Countess an opportunity of forming a penetrating view of conditions in Italy, as well as of those in Germany. In her we have a person who is strongly representative of the time in which she lives, a woman of keen observation, vitality and energy, combined with largeness of heart and breadth of vision.
When, later on, Henry IV was forced to go on his journey of penance to Canossa, Beatrix's daughter Mathilde had become the owner of the Castle. Mathilde was on excellent terms with her mother whose qualities she had inherited, and was, in fact, the more gifted of the two. They were splendid women who because of all that had happened under Henry III and Henry IV, took a profound interest in the history of the times.
Investigation of these personalities leads to this remarkable result: the Countess Beatrix is the reincarnated Pliny the Younger, and her daughter Mathilde is the reincarnated Tacitus. Thus Tacitus, a writer of history in olden times, is now an observer of history on a wide scale — (when a woman has greatness in her she is often wonderfully gifted as an observer) — and not only an observer but a direct participant in historical events. For Mathilde is actually the owner of Canossa, the scene of issues that were immensely decisive in the Middle Ages. We find the former Tacitus now as an observer of history.
A deep intimacy develops between these two — mother and daughter — and their former work in the field of authorship enables them to grasp historical events with great perspicacity; subconsciously and instinctively they become closely linked with the world-process, as it takes its course in nature as well as in history.
And now, still later on, the following takes place. — Pliny the Younger, who in the Middle Ages was the Countess Beatrix, is born again in the 19th century, in a milieu of romanticism. He absorbs this romanticism — one cannot exactly say with enthusiasm, but with aesthetic pleasure. He has on the one hand this love for the romantic, and on the other — due to his family connections — a rather academic style; he finds his way into an academic style of writing. It is not, however, in line with his character. He is always wanting to get out of it, always wanting to discard this style.
This personality (the reincarnated Pliny the Younger and the Countess Beatrix) happens on one occasion brought about by destiny, to be visiting a friend, and takes up a book lying on the table, an English book. He is fascinated by its style and at once feels: The style I have had up till now and that I owe to my family relationships, does not really belong to me. This is my style, this is the style I need. It is wonderful; I must acquire it at all costs.
As a writer he becomes an imitator of this style — I mean, of course, an artistic imitator in the best sense, not a pedantic one — an imitator of this style in the artistic, aesthetic sense of the word. And do you know, the book he opened at that moment, reading it right through as quickly as he possibly could and then afterwards reading everything he could find of the author's writings — this book was Emerson's Representative Men. And the person in question adopted its style, immediately translated two essays from it, conceived a deep veneration for the author, and was never content until he was able to meet him in real life.
This man, who really only now found himself, who for the first time found the style that belonged to him in his admiration for the other — this reincarnation of Pliny the Younger and of the Countess Beatrix, is none other than Herman Grimm. And in Emerson we have to do with the reincarnated Tacitus, the reincarnated Countess Mathilde.
When we observe Herman Grimm's admiration for Emerson, when we remember the way in which Herman Grimm encounters Emerson, we can find again the relationship of Pliny the Younger to Tacitus. In every sentence that Herman Grimm writes after this time, we can see the old relationship between Pliny the Younger and Tacitus emerging. And we see the admiration that Pliny the Younger had for Tacitus, nay more, the complete accord and understanding between them, coming out again in the admiration with which Herman Grimm looks up to Emerson.
And now for the first time we shall grasp wherein the essential greatness of Emerson's style consists, we shall perceive that what Tacitus displayed in his own way, Emerson again displays in his own special way. How does Emerson work? Those who visited Emerson discovered his way of working. There he was in a room; around him were several chairs, several tables. Books lay open everywhere and Emerson walked about among them. He would often read a sentence, imbibe it thoroughly and from it form his own magnificent, free-moving, epigrammatic sentences. That was how he worked. There you have an exact picture of Tacitus in life! Tacitus travels, takes hold of life everywhere; Emerson observes life in books. It all lives again!
And then there is this unconquerable desire in Herman Grimm to meet Emerson. Destiny leads him to Representative Men and he sees at once: this is how I must write, this is my true style. As I said, he had already acquired an academic style of writing from his uncle Jacob Grimm and his father Wilhelm Grimm, and he then abandons it. He is impelled by destiny to adopt a completely different style.
In Herman Grimm's writings we see how wide were his historical interests. He has an inner relationship of soul with Germany, combined with a deep interest in Italy. All this comes out in his writings.
These are things that go to show how the affairs of destiny work themselves out. And how is one led to perceive such things? One must first have an impression and then everything crystallizes around it. Thus we had first to envisage the picture of Herman Grimm opening Emerson's Representative Men. Now Herman Grimm used to read in a peculiar manner. He read a passage and then immediately drew back from what he had read: it was a gesture as though he were swallowing what he had read, sentence by sentence. And it was this inner gesture of swallowing sentence by sentence that made it possible to trace Herman Grimm to his earlier incarnation. In the case of Emerson it was the walking to and fro in front of the open books, as well as the rather stiff, half-Roman carriage of the man, as Herman Grimm saw him when they first met in Italy — it was these impressions that led one back from Emerson to Tacitus. Plasticity of vision is needed to follow up things of this kind.
My dear friends, I have given you here another example which should indicate how our study of history needs to be deepened. This deepening must really be evident among us as one of the fruits of the new impulse that should take effect in the Anthroposophical Society through the Christmas Foundation Meeting. We must in future go bravely and boldly forward to the study of far-reaching spiritual connections; we must have courage to reach a vantage-point for observation of these great spiritual connections. For this we shall need, above all, deep earnestness. Our life in Anthroposophy must be filled with earnestness.
And this earnestness will grow in the Anthroposophical Society if those who really want to do something in the Society give more and more thought to the contents of the News Sheet that is sent out every week into all circles of Anthroposophists as a supplement to the weekly periodical, Das Goetheanum. A picture is given there of how one may shape the life in the Groups in the sense and meaning of the Christmas Meeting, of what should be done in the members' meetings, how the teaching should be given and studied. The News Sheet is also intended to give a picture of what is happening among us. Its title is: ‘What is going on in the Anthroposophical Society’, and its aim is to bring into the whole Society a unity of thought, to spread a common atmosphere of thought over the thousands of Anthroposophists everywhere. When we live in such an atmosphere, when we understand what it means for all our thinking to be stimulated and directed by the ‘Leading Thoughts’, and when we understand how the Goetheanum will thus be placed in the centre as a concrete reality through the initiative of the esoteric Vorstand — I have emphasised again and again that we now have to do with a Vorstand which conceives its task to be the inauguration of an esoteric impulse — when we understand this truly, then that which has now to flow through the Anthroposophical Movement will be carried forward in the right way. For Anthroposophical Movement and Anthroposophical Society must become one. The Anthroposophical Society must make the whole cause of Anthroposophy its own.
And it is true to say that if once this ‘thinking in common’ is an active reality, then it can also become the bearer of comprehensive, far-reaching spiritual knowledge. A power will come to life in the Anthroposophical Society that really ought to be in it, for the recent developments of civilisation need to be given a tremendous turn if they are not to lead to a complete decline.
What is said concerning successive earthly lives of this or that individual may at first seem paradoxical, but if you look more closely, if you look into the progress made by the human beings of whom we have spoken in this connection, you will see that what is said is founded on reality; you will see that we are able to look into the weaving life of gods and men when with the eye of spirit we try in this way to apprehend the spiritual forces.
This, my dear friends, is what I would lay upon your hearts and souls. If you take with you this feeling, then this Easter Meeting will be like a revitalising of the Christmas Meeting; for if the Christmas Meeting is to work as it should, then all that has developed out of it must be the means of revitalising it, of bringing it to new life just as if it were present with us.
May many things grow out of the Christmas Meeting, in constant renewal! May many things grow out of it through the activity of courageous souls, souls who are fearless representatives of Anthroposophy. If our meetings result in strengthening courage in the souls of Anthroposophists, then there will grow what is needed in the Society as the body for the Anthroposophical soul: a courageous presentation to the world of the revelations of the Spirit vouchsafed in the age of Light that has now dawned after the end of Kali-Yuga; for these revelations are necessary for the further evolution of man. If we live in the consciousness of this we shall be inspired to work courageously. May this courage be strengthened by every meeting we hold. It can be so if we are able to take in all earnestness things that seem paradoxical and foolish to those who set the tone of thought in our day. But after all, it has often happened that the dominant tone of thought in one period was soon afterwards replaced by the very thing that was formerly suppressed. May a recognition of the true nature of history, and of how it is bound up with the onward flow of the lives of men, give courage for anthroposophical activity — the courage that is essential for the further progress of human civilisation.