4 May 1904, Berlin
I have often emphasised here that the theosophical movement cannot disabuse us of the immediate reality, of the duties and tasks that the day imposes on us in this time. Now it must become apparent whether this theosophical movement finds the right words if it concerns to give us an understanding of the great spiritual heroes who are, in the end, the creators of our culture and education. During these days, everybody who counts himself among the German education directs his thoughts upon one of our greatest spiritual heroes, on our Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805).
Hundred years separate us from his earthly decease. The last big celebration of Schiller, which was committed not only within Germany, but also in England, in America, in Austria, in Russia, was in 1859, on his hundredth birthday. It was interlinked with jamborees, with devoted words to the highest idealism of Schiller. These were words that were spoken over whole regions of the earth. There will be again jamborees which are celebrated during these days to honour of our great spiritual hero. However, as intimate and sincere and honest as the sounds were, which were spoken in those days in 1859, so intimate and devoted and completely spoken from the heart the words will not be that are spoken about Schiller today. Education and the national view about Schiller has substantially changed during the last fifty years. In the first half of the 19th century, Schiller's great ideals, the great portrayals of his dramas settled down, slowly and gradually It was an echo of that which Schiller himself had planted, an echo of that which he had sunk in the hearts and souls which flowed in enthusiastic words from the lips of the best of the German nation in those days. The most excellent men of this time have exerted their best to say what they had to say. There the brothers Ernst and Georg Curtius, the aesthete Vischer, the linguist Jacob Grimm, Karl Gutzkow and many others united. They joined in the big choir of Schiller celebrations and everywhere it sounded in such a way, as if one heard anything from Schiller himself, anything of that which Schiller himself had planted.
We have to acknowledge to ourselves that this changed in the last decades. The immediate interest in Schiller has decreased because Schiller's great ideals do no longer speak so familiarly and intimately to our contemporaries. Hence, it may be a substitute that we bear in mind clearly and vividly what Schiller can still be for our present and future. It behoves the theosophist above all to take the big theosophical basic questions up and to ask himself whether Schiller has to do anything with these theosophical basic questions. I hope that the course of this evening shows that it is not pure invention if we bring together Schiller and the theosophical movement, if we theosophists feel called in certain way to care for the remembrance of Schiller.
What is our basic question, what do we long for, what do we want to investigate and fathom? It is the big question to find the way to that which surrounds us as sense-perceptible objects and to that which is beyond the sensuous, as the spiritual, the super-sensible that lives in us and above us. This was also an early question which moved our Schiller. I cannot get involved in details. But I would like to show one thing, nevertheless, that Schiller's life and work was penetrated by this basic question: how is the physical with the psycho-spiritual, the super-sensible connected? Schiller wanted to solve this problem from the beginning of his life up to the heights of his work, even through his whole work, which is the artistic and philosophical expression of this question. At that time, he wrote a treatise after he had completed his study of medicine. This treatise, a kind of thesis, which he wrote with the departure from the Karlsschule (elite military academy) addresses the question: which is the interrelation between the sensuous nature of the human being and his spiritual nature?
Schiller treats in this work emphatically and nicely how the spirit is connected with the physical nature of the human being. Our time has already outdistanced what Schiller answers to this question; but that does not matter with such a great genius like Schiller. It matters how he engrossed his mind and how he put up with such things. Schiller understood this in such a way that there no conflict may be permitted between the sensuous and the spiritual. Thus he tried to subtly show how the spirit, how the soul of the human being works on the physical, that the physical is only an expression of the spirit living in the human beings.
Any gesture, any form and any verbal utterance is an expression of it. He investigates at first how the soul enjoys life in the body; then he investigates how the physical condition works on the mind. Briefly, the harmony between body and soul is the sense of this treatise. The end of the treatise is brilliant. There Schiller speaks of death in such a way, as if this is no completion of life, but only an event like other events of life. Death is no completion. He says already there: life causes death once; but life is not finished with it; the soul goes, after it has experienced the event of death, into other spheres to look at life from the other side. However, has the human being already sucked out all experience from life really at this moment? Schiller thinks that it might very well be possible that the life of the soul within the body appears as if we read in a book which we peruse, put aside and take in hand again after some time to understand it better. Then we put it aside again, after some time we take it in hand et etcetera to understand it better and better. He says to us with it: the soul lives not only once in the body, but like the human being takes a book in hand again and again, the soul returns repeatedly to a body to make new experiences in this world. It is the great idea of reincarnation, which Lessing had touched shortly before in his Education of the Human Race like in his literary will, and which Schiller also expresses now where he writes about the interrelation of the sensuous nature with the spiritual nature of the human being. At the very beginning, Schiller starts considering life from the highest point of view.
Schiller's first dramas have an intense effect on somebody who has a feeling heart for what is great in them. If we ask ourselves why Schiller's great thoughts flow into our hearts, then we get the answer that Schiller touches matters in his dramas which belong to the highest of humanity. The human being does not always need to understand and realise in the abstract what takes place in the poet's soul if he lonely forms the figures of imagination. But what lives there in the breast of the poet when he forms his figures, which move there on the stage, we see this already as young people in the theatre, or if we read the dramas. There flows in us what lives in the poet's soul. What lived in Schiller's soul at that time when he out-poured his young soul in his Robbers, in Fiesco, in Intrigue and Love. We must take him from the spiritual currents of the 18th century if we want to completely understand him.
Two spiritual currents existed which influenced the spiritual horizon of Europe at that time. A term of the French materialism calls one current. If we want to understand it, we have to see deeper into the development of the nations. What seethed in Schiller's soul has taken its origin in the striving and thinking of centuries. Approximately around the turn of the 15-th to the 16-th century the time begins when the human beings looked up at the stars in a new way. Copernicus, Kepler, Galilei, they are those who bring up a new age, an age in which one looks at the world differently than before. Something new crept into the human souls relying on the external senses.
Who wants to compare the difference of the old world view of the12th, 13th centuries with that which arose around the turn of the 16th century with Copernicus and later with Kepler must compare what plays in Dante's Divine Comedy with the world view of the 17th, 18th centuries. One may argue against the medieval world view as much as one likes. It can no longer be ours. But it had what the 18th century did no longer have: it arranged the world as a big harmony, and the human being was arranged in this divine world order as its centre, he himself belonged to this big harmony. All things were the outflow of the divine, of the creativity which was revered in faith, in particular that of Christianity. The superior was an object of faith. It had to hold and bear. And this had an effect down to the plants and minerals. The whole world was enclosed in a big harmony, and the human being felt existing in this harmony. He felt that he can be released growing together and being interwoven with this divine harmony. He rested in that which he felt as the world permeated by God, and he felt contented.
This changed and had to change in the time when the new world view got entrance in the minds when the world was permeated with the modern spirit of research. There one had gained an overview about the material. By means of philosophical and physiological research one had received an insight into the sensory world. One could not harmonise what one thought of the sensuous world with faith this way. Other concepts and other views took place. However, the human beings could not harmonise their new achievements with that which they thought and felt about the spirit.
One could not harmonise it with that which one had to believe about the sources of life according to the ancient traditions. Thus something came up in the French Revolution that one can express with the sentence:”the human being is a machine.” One had understood the substances, but one had lost the connection with the spirit. One felt the spiritual in oneself. However, one did not feel how the world is connected with it; one did no longer have this. The materialists created a new world view in which actually nothing but substances existed. Goethe was repelled by such views like Holbach's Systeme de la nature, he found it empty and dull. But this world view of Holbach (1723–1789) was got out of the scientific view. It mirrors the external truth. How should the human being face up to it now who has lost the spirit? He has lost the connection, he has lost the harmony which the medieval human being felt, the harmony between the soul and the material. Thus the best spirits of that time had to strive to find the connection again or were forced to choose between the spiritual and the sensuous.
This was, as we have seen, Schiller's basic question in his youth, this interrelation between ideal and reality, nature and spirit. But the trend had torn up a deep abyss between the spiritual and the sensuous, it pressed like a nightmare on his soul. How can one reconcile ideal and reality, nature and spirit? This was the question.
This abyss had been still torn open by another trend, which issued from Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778). Rousseau had rejected the culture modern at that time up to a certain degree. He had found that the human being alienated himself by this culture, that he has torn out himself from nature. He had alienated himself from nature not only by the world view; he also could no longer find the connection with the spring of life. Therefore, he had to long for the return to nature, and thus Rousseau establishes the principle that basically the culture diverts the human beings from the true harmonies of life, that it is a product of decline.
At that time, the question of the spiritual, of the ideal had faced up the greatest of the contemporaries in new form: why should it not be there if they looked at life? In the time in which one felt the ideal of life so much, one had to feel the conflict twice if one looked at the real life as it had developed, and then at that which there was in the human society. Schiller's teens were in this time. All that towered up; and Schiller had to feel that as disharmony. His youth dramas originated from this mood. Back to the ideal! Which is the right social existence which is decreed to us in a divine world order? These are the feelings which lived in Schiller's youth, which he expressed then in his dramas, in the Robbers, in particular, however, also in the court dramas; we feel them if we take in the great drama Don Carlos. We have seen how the young doctor Schiller put the basic question of the interrelation between the sensuous and the spirit, and that he put it as a poet before his contemporaries.
After the hard trials which he was exposed to on account of his youth dramas he was invited by the father of the freedom poet Körner (Christian Gottfried K., 1756–1831) who did everything to support the cultural life. Körner's fine philosophical education brought Schiller to philosophy, and now the question arose philosophically before Schiller's mind anew: how can the interrelation of the sensuous with the spirit be found again? What was spoken in those days in Dresden between Schiller and Körner (1785–1787) and which great ideas were exchanged is reflected in Schiller's philosophical letters. Indeed, these may be somewhat immature compared with Schiller's later works. What is immature, however, for Schiller, is still very ripe for many other people and is important for us because it can show us how Schiller has struggled up to the highest heights of thinking and imagination.
These philosophical letters, The Theosophy of Julius, represent the correspondence between Julius and Raphael; Schiller as Julius, Körner as Raphael. The world of the 18-th century faces us there. Nice sentences are in this philosophy, sentences like those which Paracelsus expressed as his world view. In the sense of Paracelsus that of the whole outside world is shown to us which the divine creativity accomplished in the most different realms of nature: minerals, plants, animals with capacities of the most varied kind are spread out over nature. The human being is like a big summary, like a world like an encyclopaedia repeats everything once again in itself that is otherwise scattered. A microcosm, a little world in a macrocosm, a big world! Like hieroglyphics, Schiller says, is that which is contained in the different realms of nature. The human being stands there as the summit of the whole nature, so that he combines in himself and expresses on a higher level what is poured out in the whole nature. Paracelsus expressed the same thought largely and nicely: all beings of nature are like the letters of a word, and, if we read them, nature represents her being, a word results which presents itself in the human being. Schiller expresses this lively and emotionally in his philosophical letters. It is so lively to him that the hieroglyphics speak vividly for themselves in nature. I see, Schiller says, the chrysalises outside in nature which change to the butterflies. The chrysalis does not perish, it shows a metamorphosis; this is a guarantee to me that also the human soul changes in similar way. Thus the butterfly is a guarantee of human immortality to me.
In the most marvellous way the thoughts of the mind associate themselves in nature with the thought which Schiller studies as that which lives in the human soul. Then he struggles up to the view that the force of love lives not only in the human being, but finds expression in certain stages all over the world, in the mineral, in the plant, in the animal, and in the human being. Love expresses itself in the forces of nature and most purely in the human being. Schiller phrases that in a way which reminds of the great mystics of the Middle Ages. He calls what he pronounced that way the Theosophy of Julius. At it he developed up to his later approaches to life. His whole lifestyle, his whole striving is nothing else than a big self-education, and in this sense Schiller is a practical theosophist. Theosophy is basically nothing else than self-education of the soul, perpetual work on the soul and its further development to the higher levels of existence. The theosophist is convinced that he can behold higher and higher things the higher he develops. Who accustoms himself only to sensuality can see the sensuous only; who is trained for the psycho-spiritual sees soul and spirit around himself. We have to become spirit and divine first, then we can recognise something divine. The Pythagoreans already said this in their secret schools that way, and Goethe also said it in accordance with an old mystic:
Unless the eyes were like the sun,
How could we see the light?
Unless God's own force lived in us,
How could delight us the divine?
But we must develop the forces and capacities which are in us. Thus Schiller tries to educate himself throughout his whole life.
A new stage of his self-development is his aesthetic letters, About the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters. They are a jewel in our German cultural life. Only somebody can feel what mysteriously pours out between and from the words also from Schiller's later dramas who knows these aesthetic letters; they are like a heart- balm. Who has concerned himself a little with the lofty spiritual, educational ideal, which lives in his aesthetic letters, has to say: we have to call these aesthetic letters a book for the people. Only when in our schools not only Plato, not only Cicero, but Schiller's aesthetic letters are equally studied by the young people, one will recognise that something distinct and ingenious lives in them. What lives in the aesthetic letters becomes productive first if the teachers of our secondary schools are permeated with this spiritual life, if they let pour in something of that which Schiller wanted to bring up giving us this marvellous work. In the modern philosophical works you do not find any reference to these aesthetic letters. However, they are more significant than a lot that has been performed by the pundits of philosophy, because they appeal to the core of the human being and want to raise this core a stage higher.
Again, it is the big question which faces Schiller in the beginning of the nineties of the 18th century. He puts the question now in such a way: the human being is subjected, on one side, to the sensuous hardships, the sensuous desires and passions. He is subjected to their necessities, he follows them, he is a slave of the impulses, desires and passions. The logical necessity stands on the other side: you have to think in a certain way. The moral necessity stands on the other side, too: you must submit to certain duties. The intellectual education is logically necessary. The moral necessity demands something else that exceeds the modern view. Logic gives us no freedom, we must submit to it; also the duty gives us no freedom, we must submit to it. The human being is put between logical necessity and the needs of nature. If he follows the one or the other, he is not free, a slave. But he should become free.
The question of freedom faces Schiller's soul, as deeply as it was never possibly put and treated in the whole German cultural life. Kant had also brought up this question shortly before. Schiller has never been a Kantian, at least he overcame Kantianism soon. During the wording of these letters he was no longer on Kant's point of view. Kant speaks of the duty so that the duty becomes a moral imperative. “Duty, you lofty and great name. You have nothing popular or mellifluous in yourself but you request submission, … you establish a law... in front of it all propensities fall silent if they counteract secretly against it...” Kant demands submission to the categorical imperative. However, Schiller renounced this Kantian view of duty. He says: “with pleasure I serve the friends, however, I do it, unfortunately, with propensity” and not with that which kills propensity which even kills love. Kant demands that we act from duty, from the categorical imperative.
Schiller wants harmony between both, a harmony between propensity and passion on the one hand and duty and logic on the other side. He finds it at first in the view of beauty. The working of beauty becomes a big universal music and he expressed this: ”Only through beauty's morning gate you enter the land of knowing.” If we have a piece of art, the spiritual shines through it. The piece of art does not appear to us as an iron necessity, but as a semblance that expresses the ideal, the spiritual to us. Spirit and sensuality are balanced in beauty. As to Schiller, spirit and sensuality must also be balanced in the human being. Where the human being is between these two conditions, where he depends neither on the natural necessity nor on the logic one, but where he lives in the condition which Schiller calls the aesthetic one, passion is overcome.
He got down the spirit to himself, he purified sensuality with beauty; and thus the human being has the impulse and the desire to do voluntarily what the categorical imperative has demanded. Then morality is something in the human being that has become flesh and blood in him, so that the impulses and desires themselves show the spiritual. Spirit and sensuality have penetrated the aesthetic human being that way, spirit and sensuality have interpenetrated in the human being because he likes what he has to do. What slumbers in the human being has to be awakened. This is Schiller's ideal. Also concerning the society, the human beings are forced by the natural needs or by the rational state to live together according to external laws. The aesthetic society is in between where love accomplishes what every human being longs for and what is imposed on him by his innermost propensity. In the aesthetic society, the human beings freely co-operate, there they do not need the external laws. They themselves are the expression of the laws according to which the human beings have to live together. Schiller describes this society where the human beings live together in love and in mutual propensity and do voluntarily what they should and have to do.
I could only outline the thoughts of Schiller's aesthetic letters in a few words. But they have an effect only if they are not read and studied, but if they accompany the human being like a meditation book through the whole life, so that he wants to become as Schiller wanted to become. At that time, the time had not yet come. It has come today where one can notice the large extent of a society which founds the interrelation of human beings on love as its first principle. At that time, Schiller tried to penetrate such a knowledge and such a living together. Schiller wanted to educate the human beings with his art at least, so that they become ripe once because his time was not ripe to create the free human beings in a free society. It is sad how little just these most intimate thoughts and feelings of Schiller have found entrance in the educational life which would have to be filled completely with them, which should be a summary of them.
In my talks on Schiller, which I have held in the “Free College,” I have explained how we have to understand Schiller concerning the present. I tried there to show the thoughts in coherent and comprehensive way. You can read up there in detail what I can only indicate today. In any Schiller's biography you can find basically only little of these intimacies of Schiller. But once a pedagogue, a sensitive, dear pedagogue concerned himself with the content of Schiller's aesthetic letters in nice letters. Deinhardt (Heinrich D., 1805-1867) was his name. I do not believe that you can still buy the book. All teachers, in particular of our secondary schools, had to purchase it. However, I believe, it was pulped. The man, who wrote it, could hardly achieve a poor tutor's place. He had the mishap to pick up a leg fracture; the consulted doctors said that the leg fracture could be cured, however, the man were too badly nourished. Thus he died as a result of this accident.
After Schiller had advanced to this point of his life that way, something very important occurred to him: an event took place that intervened deeply in his life and also in the life of our whole nation. It is an event which is very important generally for the whole modern spiritual life. This is the friendship between Schiller and Goethe. It was founded peculiarly. It was at a meeting of the “Society of Naturalists” in Jena. Schiller and Goethe visited a talk of a significant scientist, Batsch (Johann Karl B., 1761-1802, botanist). It happened that both went together out of the hall. Schiller said to Goethe: this is such a fragmented way to look at the natural beings; the spirit that lives in the whole nature is absent everywhere. Thus Schiller put his basic question again to Goethe. Goethe answered: there may probably be another way to look at nature.
Goethe had also pointed in his Faust to that where he says that somebody who searches in such a way expels the spirit, then he has the parts in his hands “however, unfortunately, the spirit band is absent.” Goethe had seen something in all plants that he calls the archetypal plant (Urpflanze), in the animals what he calls the archetypal animal. He saw what we call the etheric body and he drew this etheric body with a few characteristic lines before Schiller. He realised that something really living expresses itself in every plant. Schiller argued: “yes, however, this is no experience, this is an idea!” Goethe responded: “this can be very dear to me that I have ideas without knowing it, and even see them with my eyes.” Goethe was clear in his mind that it was nothing else than the being of the plant itself.
Schiller had now the task to attain the great and comprehensive view of Goethe. It is a fine letter, which I have mentioned already once; it contains the deepest psychology which generally exists and with which Schiller makes friends with Goethe. “For a long time and with always renewed admiration I have already observed the course of your mind although from considerable distance and the way, which you have marked for yourself. You search for the necessary of nature, but you search for it in the most difficult way, for any weaker strength will probably take good care not do that. You summarise the whole nature to get light about the single; you try to explain the individual in all its appearances. From the simple organisation you ascend step by step to the more intricate one to build, finally, the most intricate one of all, the human being, genetically from the materials of the whole nature. Because you recreate him in nature as it were, you try to penetrate his concealed techniques. A great and really heroic idea which shows well enough how much your mind holds together the whole wealth of its ideas in an admirable unity. You can never have hoped that your life will suffice to such a goal, but even to take such a way is more worth than to finish any other and you have chosen like Achilles in the Iliad between Phthia and immortality.
If you had been born as a Greek, or just as an Italian, and a choice nature and an idealising art had surrounded you already from the cradle, your way would be endlessly shortened, would maybe rendered quite superfluous. Then already in the first observation of the things you would have comprehended the form of the necessary, and with your first experiences the great style would have developed in you. Now, because you are born as a German, because your Greek mind was thrown into this northern creation, no other choice remained to you to become either a northern artist, or to give your imagination what reality refused to it to substitute with the help of mental capacity and to bear a Greece as it were from within on a rational way.” This is something that continued having an effect on Schiller as we will see immediately.
Schiller now returns again to poetry. What had a lasting effect faces us in his dramas. Greatly and comprehensively life faces us in Wallenstein. You do not need to believe that you find the thoughts which I develop now, if you read Schiller's dramas. But deeply inside they lie in his dramas, as well as the blood in our veins pulsates, without us seeing this blood in the veins. They pulsate in Schiller's dramas as blood of life. Something impersonal is mixed in the personal. Schiller said to himself: there must be something more comprehensive that goes beyond birth and death. He tried to understand which role the great transpersonal destiny plays in the personal. We have often mentioned this principle as the karma principle. In Wallenstein he describes the big destiny which crushes or raises the human being. Wallenstein tries to fathom it in the stars. Then, however, he realises again that he is drawn by the threads of destiny, that in our own breasts the stars of our destinies are shining. Schiller tries to poetically master the personal, the sensuous nature in connection with the divine in Wallenstein. It would be inartistic if we wanted to enjoy the drama with these thoughts. But the big impulse flows unconsciously into us which originates from this connection. We are raised and carried to that which pulsates through this drama. In each of the next dramas, Schiller tries to reach a higher level to educate himself and to raise the others with him.
In The Maid of Orleans transpersonal forces play a role in the personal. In The Bride of Messina he tries to embody something similar going back to the old Greek drama. He attempts to bring in a choir and a lyrical element there. Not in the usual colloquial language, but in sublime language he wanted to show destinies, which rise above the only personal. Why Schiller tied in with the Greek drama? We must visualise the origin of the Greek drama itself. If we look back to the Greek drama behind Sophocles and Aeschylus, we come to the Greek mystery drama, to the original drama whose later development stages are those of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. In his book The Birth of the Tragedy from the Spirit of Music (1872) Nietzsche (1844–1900) tries to explore the origin of the drama. In the Homeric time, something was annually brought forward to the Greeks in great dramatic paintings that was at the same time religion, art and science truth, devoutness and beauty. What did this original drama thereby become? This original drama was not a drama which shows human destinies. It should show the godhead himself as the representative of humanity Dionysus. The god, who has descended from higher spheres, who embodies himself in the material substances, who ascends through the realms of nature to the human being to celebrate his redemption and resurrection in the human being. This path of the divine in the world was shaped most beautifully in the descent, in the resurrection and the ascension of the divine.
This original drama took place in manifold figures before the eyes of the Greek spectators. The Greek saw what he wanted to know about the world, what he should know as truth about the world, the triumph of the spiritual over the natural. Science was to him what was shown in these dramas, and it was shown to him in such a way that this presentation was associated with devoutness and could be a model of the human lifestyle. Art, religion and wisdom was that which happened before the spectators. The single actors spoke not in usual language, but in sublime language about the descent, the suffering and overcoming, about the resurrection and ascension of the spiritual. The choir reflected what happened there. It rendered what took place as a divine drama in the simple music of the past. From this homogeneous spring flows out what we know as art, as science, which became physical, and as religion, which emerged from these mysteries. Thus we look back at something that links art with truth and religious devoutness.
The great re-thinker of the Greek original drama, the French author Edouard Schuré (1841–1929), attempted in our time to rebuild this drama. You can read up this really ingenious rebuilding in The Holy Drama of Eleusis (Le drame sacré d'Eleusis). Engrossing his mind in this drama he got to the idea that it is a task of our time to renew the theatre of the soul and the self. In The Children of Lucifer (Les Enfants de Lucifer) he tries to create a modern work that connects self-observation and beauty, dramatic strength and truth content with each other. If you want to know anything about the drama of the future, you can get an idea of it in these pictures of The Children of Lucifer. The whole Wagner circle strives for nothing else than to show something transpersonal in the dramas. In Richard Wagner's dramas, we have the course from the personal to the transpersonal, to the mythical. Hence, Nietzsche also found the way to Wagner when he sought the birth of the tragedy in the original drama. Schiller had already tried in his Bride of Messina what the 19th century aimed at. In this drama, the spiritual is represented in sublime language, and the choir echoes the divine actions before us. He says in his exceptionally witty preface of the writing About the Use of the Choir in the Tragedy from which depths he wanted to bear a Greece in those days. This writing is again a pearl of German literature and aesthetics.
Schiller attempted the same that the 19th century wanted to enter the land of knowing through beauty's morning gate and to be a missionary of truth. With the drama Demetrius which he could not finish because death tore him away, with this drama he tried to understand the problems of the human self, with a clearness and so greatly and intensely that none of those who tried it could finish Demetrius because the great wealth of Schiller's ideas is not to be found with them.
How deeply he understands the self that lives in the human being! Demetrius thinks of himself because of certain signs that he is the real Russian successor to the throne. He does everything to attain what is due to him. At the moment when he is near to arrive at his goal everything collapses that had filled his self. He has now to be what he has made of himself merely by the strength of his inside. This self which was given to him does no longer exist; a self which should be his own action should arise. Demetrius should act out of it. The problem of the human personality is grasped grandiloquently like by no other dramatist of the world. Schiller had such a great thing in mind when death tore him away. In this drama, something lies that with those who could not put it in clear words will now find more response. What was built in the human hearts and in the depths of human souls gushed out again in 1859.
1859 caused a change in the whole modern education. Four works appeared by chance round this time. They influenced the basic attitude of our education. One of them is Darwin's On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life that brought a materialistic movement with it. The second work was also typical, in particular concerning Schiller if we remember his words which he called out to the astronomers: “do not chat to me so much about nebulas and suns! Is nature only great, because she gives you something to count? Admittedly, your object is the loftiest in space; but, friends, the elated does not live in space.” But it became possible to understand just this elated in space by a work about the spectral analysis which Kirchhoff (Robert K., 1824–1887, physicist) and Bunsen (Robert Wilhelm B., 1811–1899, physicist) published. The third work was again in a certain opposition to Schiller. Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801–1887) wrote in idealistic spirit: The Preliminaries of Aesthetics (1876). An aesthetics should be created “from below.” Schiller had started it stupendously “from above.” Fechner took the simple sensation as his starting point. The fourth work carried materialism into the social life. What Schiller wanted to found as society was moved under the point of view of the crassest materialism in the work by Karl Marx (1818–1883) A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859). All that crept in. These are things which were far from the immediate-intimate which Schiller poured in the hearts, honestly and sincerely. And now those who are exposed to the modern literature can no longer look at Schiller in such an idealistic way. Recently, in the last decade of the 19-th century, a man wrote a biography on Schiller who had grown together thoroughly with the aesthetic culture. The first word in it was: “I hated Schiller in my youth!” And only by his scholarly activity he was able to acknowledge Schiller's greatness.
Who can listen only a little to what floods in our time sees that there a certain internal coercion prevails. Time has changed. Nevertheless, perhaps some great, enthusiastic words and some nice festivity will be also connected with Schiller. But somebody who has a good ear will not hear anything that still moved through the minds and souls before half a century when we revered Schiller. We must understand it; we do not reproach those who have no connection with Schiller today. But with the immense dimension of Schiller's oeuvre we have to concede to us: he has to become a component of our cultural education again. The immediate present has to follow Schiller again. Why should a society striving for spiritual deepening like the Theosophical Society not take Schiller up? He is still the first pre-school of self-education if we want to reach the heights of spirit. We get to knowledge differently, if we experience him. We come to the spiritual, if we experience his Aesthetic Letters. We understand the Theosophical Society as an association of human beings, without taking into consideration nation, gender, origin and the like, as an association merely on the basis of pure human love.
In the course of his life, Schiller strove for the heights of spiritual being, and his dramas are basically nothing else than what wants to penetrate artistically into the highest fields of this spiritual being. What he sought was nothing else than to develop something everlasting and imperishable in the human soul. If we remember Goethe quite briefly again: with the word “entelechy“ he termed what lives in the soul as the imperishable what the human being develops in himself, acquires experiencing reality, and what he sends up as his eternal. Schiller calls this the forming figure. As to Schiller, this is the everlasting that lives in the soul that the soul develops constantly in itself, increases in itself and leads to the imperishable realms.
It is a victory which the figure gains over the transient corporeality in which the figure only acts. Schiller calls it the everlasting in the soul-life, and we are allowed, like Goethe, after Schiller had deceased, to stamp the words: “he was ours.” If we understand Schiller with living mind, we are allowed to imbue ourselves with that which lived in him with which he lives in the other world, which took up his best friendly and affectionately. We are also allowed as theosophists to celebrate that mysterious connection with him which we can celebrate as a Schiller festival. As well as the mystic unites with the spiritual of the world the human being unites with the great spiritual heroes of humanity. Everybody who strives for a spiritual world view should celebrate such a festival, a “unio mystica,” for himself, still beside the big Schiller jamborees. Nothing should be argued against these big festivals. However, only somebody who celebrates this intimate festival in his heart connecting him with Schiller intimately finds Schiller's work. Aspiring to spirit we find the way best if we make it like Schiller who educated himself all his life. He expressed it, and it sounds like a motto of the theosophical world view:
Only the body belongs to those powers
Which braid the dark fate;
But freely from any force of time,
As playmate of blessed beings,
Strolls above in the light's acres,
Divinely among gods the figure.