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Riddles of the World
GA 54

II. Our International Situation. War, Peace and Spiritual Science

12 October 1905, Berlin

Spiritual research cannot interfere in the immediate problems of the day. Besides, the confidence must also not arise that the spiritual knowledge should be anything that floats above all reality and would have to do nothing with the life praxis. We do not want to state the events, which turn up the world directly today, in which way one treats the current events, and we do not want to belong to those who want to be blind and deaf to that which moves the human hearts immediately what concerns us directly. Between these two cliffs, the spiritual researcher has always to find the way, so that he is never merged in the opinions and the views of the everyday life. On the other side, he is never allowed to be involved in mere empty abstractions or to be addicted to authorities. I said that repeatedly from this place: spiritual science has to make us directly practical, much more practical than normally the pragmatists think. However, it should make us practical leading us in the deeply succumbing forces of life and clarify us about the things that they direct our actions in harmony with the big universal laws. Only then, one can achieve anything in the world and intervene in the activities of the world if one does it in accordance with the big universal laws.

After this premise, let me point to a few facts at first that should solely show us the importance and actuality of our questions.

Perhaps, you remember the fact that 24 August 1898 the authorised representative of the czar (Nicholas II) sent a circular to the foreign representatives accredited in Petersburg. In this circular you find, among other things, the following words, “The maintenance of the general peace and a possible lowering of the excessive armaments which press on all nations constitute an ideal in the present situation of the whole world to which the efforts of all governments should be directed.

The human and highly noble-minded striving of His Majesty, the Emperor, my elated lord, is completely dedicated to this task. In the conviction that this elated final goal corresponds to the most essential interests and the entitled wishes of all governments the imperial government believes that the present moment is extremely favourable to search for the most effective means on the way of international consultation, in order to ensure the benefits of a true and durable peace and to set an objective, above all, to the progressive development of the present armaments.”

Moreover, you find the following words in this document: “Because the financial loads increase and impair the national well-being, work and capital are headed off in great part from their natural determination and are consumed unproductively. Hundreds of millions are used to acquire dreadful destruction machines which are considered today as the last word of science and are condemned already tomorrow to lose any value as a result of any new discovery in these fields ... Because the armaments of every power grow to such an extent, they correspond less and less to the purpose which the concerning government has proposed to itself.” The document closes with the proposal that a conference with God's help should be an auspicious sign of the next century.

Certainly this manifesto arises from an intention. The last events teach us how this intention could come true. This intention is not quite new, because we can go back even centuries, and there we find a prince, Henry IV of France, in the 16th, 17th centuries, who stimulated the idea of such a general peace conference. Seven of sixteen countries were won when Heinrich IV was murdered. Nobody continued his work. If we were interested in it, we could probably trace back the intentions still much farther.

This is one range of facts. The other is this: the Hague peace conference took place. You all know the name of the meritorious person who pursues her ideal with a rare devotion and with a rare skill, the name of Bertha von Suttner (1853-1914, Austrian novelist and pacifist). A year after the Hague peace conference, she tried to collect the acts for a book in which she registered the partly nice and marvellous speeches. She prefaced the book. I ask to take into consideration that one year had passed, after Bertha von Suttner could have seen in this work of the peace conference. She already anticipated the results, after one year had passed. In the meantime, in the diametrical contrast to it, we had the bloody Transvaal war (1899-1902) with rejected mediation, and today we have war again (Russo-Japanese War 1904-1905).

Looking around in the world today, we see the struggle of many noble human beings for the idea of peace, the love for a global peace already in the hearts of high-minded idealists, and, nevertheless, so much blood has hardly flowed in other times on our earth as now. It is this a serious, very serious affair for everybody who also deals with the big mental problems. On the one hand, we have the dedicated apostles of peace with their activity. We have the excellent achievements of Bertha von Suttner, who was able to portray the frightfulness of fight and war with rare grandeur. However, we do not forget that we also have the reverse. If we do not forget that also many are among our judicious fellow-men who assure us, on the other side, again and again that they consider the fight as necessary for the progress, as something that steels the forces. Only in the fight against the opposition, the forces would grow. The researcher who has attracted so many thinkers (Ernst Haeckel), how often has he pronounced that he wishes the powerful war and that only the powerful war can further the forces in nature. Maybe he has not pronounced it so radically, but many people think that way.

Even within our spiritual-scientific movement, voices were being raised that it would be a weakness, almost a sin against the spirit of national strength if one objects anything against the war that has led to national honour, to national power. Today, in any case, the views in this area are confronted still harshly, very harshly. However, the Hague peace conference has brought one thing. It has brought the votes of a range of people who lead the public problems. A big range of the representatives of the states gave their consent in those days,—that the Hague conference could take place. One should believe that a thing that has found such an approval from such places had to be promising in the most eminent sense.

In order to be able to comment this spiritual-scientifically, we have to look a little deeper into the matters. If we pursue the question of peace as an ideal question as it has developed in the course of time, and pursue the facts of fight and quarrel, nevertheless, we must probably say that how this ideal of a general peace is pursued challenges our attention and an investigation. Many of those who practised the art of war are those in whose hearts pain and maybe even aversion of the results and effects of the war exist. Such matters induce us to ask, do the wars generally come from anything that can be eliminated by principles and views? Who looks deeper into the human souls, knows that two separate, completely different ways cause the war. One is that which we call power of judgement and reason that we call idealism, the other is the human desire, the human inclinations, the human sympathies, and antipathies. Some things would be different in the world if it were possible to regulate the desires, wishes and passions according to the principles of heart and mind without further ado. This is not possible, but the reverse has always been there in humanity up to now. For that which the passion wants, which the desire requires, the reason, even the heart creates a mask with its idealism.

If you pursue the history of the human evolution, you can put the question repeatedly, if you see lighting up principles or idealism here and there: which desires and passions are lurking in the background? If we consider this, it might be very well possible that one is not yet able to make use of the nicest principles in this question, then it could be that something else is necessary because simply the human passions, impulses and desires are not yet advanced enough to follow the idealism of the singles. You see that the question lies deeper, and we must grasp it deeper. We must really have a look at the human soul and its basic forces if we want to assess the whole thing correctly. The human being does not always see enough of his development. He often sees a small span of time only, and that is why an extensive worldview must open the look for us which, on the one side, leads deeply and allows us, on the other side, to overview the bigger periods, so that we get a judgment about the forces which have to lead us into the future.

Let us have a look once at the human soul, where we may study it in a point deeply and thoroughly. Today we have something that we could touch eight days ago, from another side. There we have a scientific theory, the so-called Darwinism. Within this scientific view, a concept plays a big role. One calls this concept the struggle for existence. At the sign of the struggle for existence, our natural sciences stood completely for decades, our whole view. The naturalists said, those beings in the world that survive in the struggle for existence best of all will remain and the others pass. So that we do not need to be surprised if those beings we have round ourselves are the best fitted ones, because they have developed through millions of years. The most efficient ones have survived; the unfit ones have declined.

The struggle for existence became the slogan of the researchers. Where from did this struggle come? It did not come from nature. Darwin himself, although he looks at it in a bigger style than his successors, took it from a view of Malthus (Thomas Robert M., 1766-1834), spreading about the human history, that view that the earth produces food in such a progression that this increase is much lower than the increase of population. Those who have dealt with these matters know that one says, the increase of food rises arithmetically, the increase of population geometrically. This causes a struggle for existence, a war of all against all.

Starting from it, Darwin also assumed the struggle for existence in the organic nature. This view does not correspond to a mere idea, but to the modern ways of life. This struggle for existence has become an actual reality as the general economic competition in the conditions of the single persons. One has seen this struggle for existence in the next nearness; one has regarded it as something natural in the human realm and has then accepted it in the natural sciences.

Ernst Haeckel, who has almost regarded war as a cultural lever, starts from such views. Struggle makes strong, the weak ones should decline. Civilisation demands that the weak ones perish.

Then economics have applied this struggle to the human world again. Thus, we have great theories within our economics, within our social theories which regard the struggle for existence as completely justified and as something that cannot be separated from the human evolution. One has further gone back on these things—not without prejudice, but with these principles—to primeval times, and there one tried to study the life of barbaric savage tribes. One believed to be able to eavesdrop on the human cultural development and believed to find the fiercest principle of war there.

Huxley (Thomas Henry H., 1825-1895, biologist) said, if we look at the nature of the animals, the struggle for existence resembles a gladiator fight, and this is a physical principle. If we look from the higher animals at the lower ones and if we get ourselves into the previous way of the world evolution, the world of facts teaches us everywhere that we live in a general struggle for existence.

You understand that this could be expressed and could be represented as a universal principle. Somebody who is clear in his mind knows that words are not pronounced which are not founded deep in the human soul says to himself that the whole soul constitution of our best men starts even today always from the view that struggle in the human race, even in the whole nature is justified.

Now you may say: but the researchers may have been quite humane persons who longed for peace, for balance and wished it in their deepest idealism. However, their profession, their science convinced them that it is not in such a way, and perhaps they wrote down their theory with a bleeding heart.—This would be an objection unless anything else had entered first. We are allowed to say that among all of those who believed to think scientifically and economically, the quoted theory was quite usual in whole Western Europe and Central Europe.

The view was quite usual that war and struggle are a physical principle from which one cannot escape. One had got rid of the old view of Rousseau (Jean-Jaques R., 1712-1778, philosopher) thoroughly—one believed—that only the human perversion has brought struggle and war, opposition and disharmony to the general peace of nature. This view of Rousseau was still spread at the end of the 18th century that if one looks into the life and activity of nature, which is still unaffected from the super civilisation of the human being, one sees harmony and peace then everywhere. Only the human being with his despotism and civilisation has brought fight and quarrel into the world.

This view of Rousseau still existed and the researchers assured us in the last third of the 19th century: yes, it would be nice if it were in such a way, but it is not the case. The facts teach us in another manner. Nevertheless, we ask ourselves seriously, has the feeling spoken or have the facts spoken? We could little argue if the facts spoke this way.

There a strange man appeared in 1880, a man who held a talk in the naturalists' meeting of 1880 in St. Petersburg in Russia, a talk that is of great importance for those who are thoroughly interested in this question. This man is the zoologist Kessler (Karl Fedorovich K., 1815-1881). He died shortly after. His talk dealt with the principle of mutual help in nature. For all those who deal with such matters seriously a quite new feature emerges from the research and scientific maturity that is stimulated by it. Here for the first time in the modern times facts of the whole nature were put together, which prove that all former theories of the struggle for existence do not comply with reality.

In this talk, the phenomenon is discussed and proven by facts that the animal species do not develop struggling for existence, but that there is a struggle for existence between two species only in exceptional cases, but not within the species. On the contrary, the individuals of a species help each other and those species survive whose individuals have a certain bent of mutual help. Not struggle, but mutual help grants long existence. One got a new point of view with it. However, modern research brought about because of a strange concatenation of circumstances that a personality that stands for the present on the most unbelievable point of view, Prince Kropotkin (Pyotr Alexeyevich K., 1842-1921, Russian anarchist, philosopher), has continued the matter. He could show with animals and tribes with an enormous sum of proven facts which significance this principle of mutual help has in nature and in the human life. I can recommend to everybody to study the German translation of this book (Mutual Aid; A Factor of Evolution, 1902). This book brings in a sum of concepts and ideas to the human being that are like a school for a spiritual attitude. Now, however, we understand these facts only correctly if we light up them esoterically if we penetrate these facts with the bases of spiritual science. I could demonstrate examples speaking quite distinctly; however, you can read them in the cited book. The principle of mutual help in nature means: those advance most of all who have developed this principle best.—The facts speak distinctly and will speak more and more distinctly for us.

If we speak of a single animal species in spiritual science, we speak of it like of a single human individual. An animal species is to us the same in a lower field as in higher fields the single human individual is. I have said it already once here: you must make a fact clear to yourselves to understand which contrast is there between the human being and the whole animal realm. This contrast expresses itself in the sentence: the human being has a biography; the animal has no biography. With the animal, we are contented if we have described the type. With the human being, we say: father, grandfather, grandson, and son; with the lion, this does not differ in such a way that we should especially describe any single one. Indeed, I know that one can argue a lot; I know that somebody who loves a dog or a monkey believes to be able to write a biography of the dog or the monkey. However, a biography should not contain what the other can know about the being, but what the being itself has known. Self-consciousness belongs to a biography, and in this sense, only the human being has a biography. This corresponds to a description of the whole animal type or species. The external expression of this fact is that any animal group has a group-soul and that any individual human being has a soul in himself. I was also allowed to discuss here already that a hidden world is directly connected with our physical world, the astral world that does not consist of such objects and beings whom you can perceive with the senses but it is made out of the substance from which our passions and desires are made. If you check the human being, you can see: that he has led his soul down to the physical plane or to the physical world. In this physical world, there is no individual soul of the animal. However, you find an individual soul of the animal that is on the so-called astral plane, in the astral world hidden behind our physical world. The animal groups have individual souls in the astral world.

There we have the difference between the human being and the animal realm. If we ask ourselves now, what fights in reality if we pursue the struggle for existence in the animal realm?—Then we must say: in reality it is the astral struggle of the passions and desires behind this struggle that is fought out between the species in the animal realm. It is rooted in the species or group souls.—However, if there were a struggle for existence within an animal species, then it would be in such a way, as if the human soul fought against itself in its different parts. This is an important truth. It cannot be the rule that there is a struggle within an animal species, but the struggle for existence can only take place between the species. For the soul of the whole species is uniform, and because it is uniform, it must control the parts.

The mutual aid within the animal realm that we can study within the species is simply the expression of the uniform activity of the species or group soul. If you look at all the examples you find cited in the mentioned interesting book, then you get a good knowledge of how the group souls work. For example, if an individual of a certain cancer species is thrown on the back by chance, so that it cannot get up itself again, then a bigger number of cancers comes along and helps it up. This mutual support results from a common soul organ of the cancer species.

Study once the way how beetles support themselves to maintain or protect a common brood, to master a dead mouse etcetera, how they combine there, support themselves, carry out common work, then you see the group soul working. You can study this up to the highest animal species. It is true: somebody who has a sense of this activity of mutual aid with the animals gets an insight, a concept, a notion of the activity of the group souls, too. Just there he can appropriate the vision with the eyes of the spirit. There the eye becomes sun-like.

However, the human being has a group soul that has become individual. In every single human being such a group soul lives. Thus, the single human being is able to fight against any single other human being like an animal group soul fights against other group souls. Let us now have a look at the purpose of the fight, whether the fight is there for the sake of the fight in the world evolution. What has emerged from the struggle of the species? Those species have remained which mostly support themselves mutually, and those which are most warlike against themselves have perished. That is the natural principle. That is why we have to say that in the external nature the developmental progress consists in the fact that peace takes the place of struggle. Where nature has arrived at a certain point, at the big turning point, there is balance; there rules peace to which the whole struggle has developed.

After all, take into consideration that plants as species struggle for existence against each other. However, consider how nicely and splendidly the plant and the animal realms support themselves mutually in their common developmental process: the animal inhales oxygen, the plant exhales oxygen. Thus, a peaceful universe is possible. What nature produces this way by its strength is determined for the human being that he produces it consciously from his individual nature. Step by step, the human being has advanced and step by step that has formed with him, which we recognise as the self-consciousness of our individual soul. We must look at our international situation in such a way that we envisage its previous development and trace its future trend. Go back to former times, and then you see group souls still in the human realm ruling first. They exist in little tribes and families; there we deal also with group souls of the human beings. The farther you look back in the world evolution, the more compact, the more uniform the human beings appear who are united that way. It is like a spirit that penetrated the ancient rural community that then became the primitive state. You could study that it was a completely different matter when Alexander the Great waged war with his hosts, from waging war today with human masses of more developed individual intentions. One must light up this properly. For this is the way of the progressive culture that the human beings become more and more individual, more independent and more conscious, more self-conscious. From groups, from common characteristics the human race has developed. Even as we have group souls that guide and direct the single animal species, the great group souls guide and direct the. The human being grows out of the guidance of the group soul more and more and becomes more and more independent by his progressive education. This independence implied that he is really—while he faced his fellow men in the groups more or less inimically—in a struggle for existence penetrating the whole humanity. This is our international situation, this is the destiny of our race in particular, and this is our immediate present.

Spiritual science distinguishes five successive races, consisting of seven sub-races, in the present world evolution at first. The first sub-race developed in ancient times, in the distant India. This sub-race was penetrated with a priest culture. This priest culture gave our present race the first impulses. It had come over from the Atlantean culture that was on that ground which forms the ground of the Atlantic now. This sub-race set the tone; then other sub-races followed, and now we are in the fifth. This is no division that is borrowed from anthropology or any race theory but a view that is discussed closer in the sixth talk of this series. The fifth sub-race furthered the distinct nature, the individual consciousness of the human being most notably. Christianity prepared the human being really to attain such an individual consciousness: the human being had to gain this self-consciousness. If we look back at the time before Christ when in ancient Egypt the huge pyramids were built, there an army of slaves did the work the difficulties and efforts of which no one has a right idea today. It was just a matter of course for these workers to build peacefully for the most time. They built because at that time the teaching of reincarnation and karma was a self-evident fact. No book says this to you, but this becomes clear to you bit by bit if you penetrate into spiritual science. Any slave who worked his hands raw and was in misery knew: this is a life of many lives, and I have what I suffer now to bear as a result of that which I prepared in my previous lives. However, if this is not the case, I experience the effect of the present life in a future life; he who orders me today was on the same point of view as I am today, or he will still be on it.

However, with this attitude, the whole self-conscious life on earth would never have developed, and the higher powers who guide the destiny of the human race in the large scale knew what they did when they atrophied the consciousness of reincarnation and karma for a while, for millenniums. This was the great previous development of Christianity that it atrophied the vision of a compensating Otherworld, and has drawn attention to the immense importance of the life on earth.

It may have gone too far in its radical realisation, but this had to happen, because the matters of the world do not develop according to the logic, but according to other principles. One has deduced eternal punishments from this life on earth; the tendency of development led to it if it is also illogical. Thus, humanity has learnt to be conscious of this one earth existence. Thereby the earth, this physical plane, became infinitely important to the human being. That had to become that way. Everything that happens in material respect could develop only from an attitude that is based on an education for this earth, apart from the ideas of reincarnation and karma. We see the result of this education: the human being has entirely settled in the physical plane. For the individual soul could only develop there, there it is separated, enclosed in this body and can look out only as an isolated special existence through its senses. With it, we have more and more of human rivalry, more and more of the effect of the special existence brought into the human race. We are not allowed to wonder that the human race is not ripe by a long stretch even today to eliminate the results of this education again.

We have seen that the present species of the animals developed to their perfection because of their mutual aid and that struggle was there only from species to species. However, if the human individuality is the same as the group soul of the animals, the human soul is only able to get a self-consciousness going through the same struggle as the animals outside in nature. As long as the human being does not yet have developed complete independence, the struggle will still last. However, the human being is appointed to consciously achieve what is there outside on the physical plane. Hence, it will lead him on the stages of consciousness to mutual aid and support because the human race is one single species. Only after the whole humanity has attained the peaceableness, as it is to be found in the animal realm, an entire, all-embracing peace will be. The struggle did not further the single animal species but mutual assistance and support. What lives as a group soul in the animal species as a single soul lives peacefully with itself, this is the uniform soul. Only the human individual soul is a particular one in this physical special being.

This is the great achievement of our soul which we obtain from the spiritual development that we really recognise the common soul that penetrates the whole human race. We do not receive it as an unaware present, but we have to get it consciously. It is the task of spiritual science to develop this uniform soul in the whole human race really. This expresses itself in our first principle: to found a brotherhood on the whole earth, without taking into consideration race, gender, skin colour etcetera. This is the recognition of the soul that is common to the whole humanity. The purification has to take place down to the passions, so that everybody understands that the same soul lives in the fellow man. In the physical, we are separated, in the mental we are a unity as the ego of humanity. However, only in the real life we can grasp and adapt this. Hence, it can be only has to foster the spiritual life that penetrates us with the common breath of this uniform soul. Not the present human beings with their principles, but the future ones who develop the consciousness of this common soul more and more establish the basis of a new race that is completely merged in mutual assistance. Hence, our first principle means a completely different thing than one usually says. We do not fight; we also do not fight against war or against anything else because struggle does not lead at all to higher development. From the struggle, every animal species has developed as a special race. Leave all struggle round us to the vicious ones who are not yet ripe enough to seek for that which the common soul of the human race finds in the spiritual life.

A real society of peace strives for spiritual knowledge, and the real peace movement is the spiritual-scientific movement. It is that peace movement as a peace movement can be in practice, because it aims at that which lives in the human being and progresses to future.

The spiritual life always developed from the East. The East was the area where the spiritual life was fostered. Here in the West was the area where the external material civilisation developed. Hence, one sees to the East as an area where the human beings are dreaming and sleeping. However, who knows what takes action in the souls of those whom we call dreaming or sleeping if they ascend to worlds that the western people do not know?—We have to get out of our material civilisation considering everything that is in the physical world round us. We have to ascend to the spiritual with everything that we have conquered on the physical plane. It is significant and not only symbolical that Darwinism still found Huxley as a representative who had to say from his western view: nature shows us that the apes struggled against each other, and it was the strongest who prevailed, while the slogan went out from the East: support, mutual aid consolidates our future. We have a particular task here in Central Europe. Nothing would avail us to be unilaterally English or unilaterally Oriental. We must combine the dawn of the East and the physical science of the West to a great harmony. Then we understand how the idea of the future is combined with the idea of the struggle for the special existence.

It is more than by chance that in that basic book of theosophy from which somebody who wants to get involved deeper in the spiritual life can find light on the path the second chapter ends meaningfully with a sentence that harmonises with this idea. You can read it not like a phrase in Light on the Path (1885, by Mabel Collins, 1851-1927, theosophical author), but because the spiritual development leads the human being to the knowledge of the common soul that settles in the single soul. At the same time, the nice words agree with which both chapters of Light on the Path close. Somebody who delves completely in this marvellous little book which fulfils the soul not only with the contents which make us internally devout and give the human being real clairvoyance because of the strength of the words sees the balance in detail if he lives through what he reads in every chapter. Then the last words light up in the soul: peace is with you. This will be finally imparted to the whole humanity by the mental power, which we look for and foster. Then the human genius bends over the human race spiritually whose principal words will be: peace is with you.—This opens the right perspective for us. There we have to speak not only of peace, not only establish peace as an ideal, conclude contracts, long for decisions of an arbitration panel, there we have to foster the spiritual life, then we cause the strength in ourselves that pours out over the whole humanity as a strength of mutual aid.

We do not fight; we do something else: we foster love, and we know that with this care of love the fight must disappear. We do not confront fight with fight. We confront fight with love, while we nourish and cherish it. This is something positive. We work on ourselves pouring out love and found a society, which is built on love. This is our ideal. We carry out an ancient saying in a Christian way if we penetrate this emotionally and vividly. A new Christianity or rather the original Christianity will awake for the new humanity. Buddha gave his people a saying that envisages such a care. However, Christianity also has such a care of love in even nicer words, if one understands them properly: you do not overcome fight with fight, or hatred with hatred but you really overcome fight and hatred only with love.