Knowledge of Soul and Spirit
16 April 1908, Berlin
We have to go far back in the human striving for a solution of the world riddles if we want to envisage the origin of both ideas that soon force themselves on the human being if he approaches the world riddles in a deeper sense, above all in a spiritual sense: the ideas of bad and good.
The human thinking will always try to rise to the mysterious forces that cause our development from the spiritual world. All the time we notice the attempt in the most different forms to relate the beneficial and progressive forces of life to the destroying forces, the reluctant ones, the impedient ones. However, the human being repeatedly faces the intimate relationship between both forces which exists for the precise observant in spite of the apparently strong contrast. We need to think only of Schiller's words about the fire already mentioned at another opportunity:
Benevolent is the fire's might
If man tames and watches it,
For what he builds, what he creates,
He owes to this heavenly power,
But terrible this heavenly power is,
If she, casting off her shackles,
Strides along on tracks her own
This free daughter of nature.
One could say, in such words lies the question that has to occupy us today and in the next talk. The question has dressed itself in the words hell and heaven at different times. One must not imagine at all that these words appear where they have that superstitious meaning which many followers of these ideas add to them, but also not less many of those who would like to fight against them today without knowing their deeper meaning.
If we look around only briefly, we see our question already arising in the ancient Persian culture where the realms of the good forces, of Ormuzd, and of the bad forces, of Ahriman, are sharply contrasted to each other. If we see how in a strange mental image the hating, the impedient forces mingle into the concealed forces which penetrate the world in the good sense and finally the light power is victorious, we have one of the great pictures before ourselves in which human imagination dresses our problem. From the Greek Tartaros up to the Nordic mythology a realm of the hell faces us; we hear names with which the concept “hell” is connected. It is that region in which all are condemned who did not die an honourable death in the physical world.
A peculiarity can strike us if we remember this legend of the hell. Let us follow it exactly, because one has to say from the start, in the dress of mythology a deeper wisdom is sometimes found than that is which is fathomed with abstractions in our time.
It is strange how the old Nordic mythology derives the present condition of the world from a cold nebulous “Niflheim,” the northern land that was foreign to the sun according to the Germanic idea in ancient time, and from another realm, “Muspelheim,” the warm realm. By the cooperation of both realms, the present condition of the earth originated. From the cold, nebulous Niflheim and not from the warm Muspelheim the most important forces serving now humanity were derived. There have first developed the higher forces underlying the today's culture. However, at the same time, — and this is the strange that touches our question in a miraculous way — it is said to us that Hel who receives the unworthy dead people is exiled by the gods to this nebulous home where those arrive who died of no honourable death. It is strange that the realm and the forces of the rise are brought together with the place and the personality who represents the force of death, of decay.
Approaching our times, we find those taking the mental picture of a world in which the evil is concentrated who want to explain our existence from the depths of the world existence. How magnificently and greatly Dante describes this world immediately at the beginning of his overpowering poem that shows the purification and development of the human being to the higher spiritual worlds! Again, a poet was urged to take these mental pictures to show the forces living in the human soul when Goethe wrote his Faust. Hence, he contrasted that what should lead Faust to the bright powers with the representative of the infernal powers, with Mephistopheles.
You can find many important remarks in Goethe's Faust that describe the peculiar relationship of Faust to Mephisto and of both to the world existence. I would like to mention two of them in this context in which Goethe puts both concepts strangely side by side and in a certain way reminiscent to the Nordic legend. The one quotation is that where Mephistopheles is called “a part of that force which, always willing evil, always produces good.” In a very intimate coherence with the whole world existence, the concepts of good and evil are put there. And another quotation of Goethe should not go unmentioned which on the one side leads us deeply into Goethe's soul, on the other side, however, also rather deeply into our problem; for it deals with the whole relation of the good powers in Faust to that what Mephisto, the evil, wants to attain with him. Very typically, Goethe lets Faust say the words when he should make the pact with Mephisto that determines under which conditions he belongs to Mephisto:
If I should ever say to any moment:
Tarry remain — you are so fair!
Then you may lay your fetters on me,
then I will gladly be destroyed!
Then they can toll the passing bell,
your obligations then be ended —
the clock may stop, its hand may fall,
and time at last for me be over!
“If I should ever say to any moment: Tarry remain — you are so fair!” is an expression by which Goethe makes comprehensible to us that Mephistopheles has not understood it in its entirety. However, Faust knows that he can only fall for the infernal powers if he is placed in the position to say to the moment: “Tarry remain — you are so fair!”
I want to put this at the beginning of our today's consideration because it can show in which direction that is turned what occupies us today, on one side, from the world of legends, on the other side, from a deep human thinking, dressed in a poetic garment. Indeed, those who believe today to be able to build up a whole worldview from some pieced together concepts of the material world, very easily are ready with the concepts hell and heaven. They do not care about what we have put at the head of our consideration now. One simply says, we need only to go back the developmental way of the different religions and childish worldviews. Then we realise that either the peoples or some human beings invented something in their misery that one calls heaven and hell, partly to comfort the peoples for the grief which they suffer on earth, partly to encourage them by the fear of the hell to transform their selfish desires into the good.
Who talks in such a way knows nothing about the real motives by which one introduced such ideas like heaven and hell in the souls and hearts of the human beings.
Today we search an answer to this question not in any accidental observations, in any pictures, judgements and conclusions, but we want to gain mental pictures of what is to be said about this question.
We remember the talk about the topic Man, Woman and Child. We could speak there of the big development of the human being on earth and impart knowledge of various forces which are active in the human evolution. If we survey this human development in the sense of spiritual science, then we take the way up to attain a relationship to it as the spiritual-scientific viewer looks at the growing child approaching us from the first moments of its life and working out its forces and abilities more and more.
Someone who looks with the sight sharpened by spiritual science at this growing human being sees the abilities of the child developing from the rudiments in a lovely way. A materialistically minded science would like to make us believe that that what gradually works its way out so attractively is to be led back to the merely inherited attributes of the parents, grandparents or other ancestors. The word “inheritance” plays a big role concerning this question in this day and time. Often enough I drew your attention to the fact that spiritual science has to play a role which before not too long time — 300 years have not yet passed — a great scientist played, the Italian naturalist Francesco Redi (1626–1697). He first pronounced something that is common property of any unprofessional and academic knowledge today. At his time, it was not only an unprofessional faith, but also the faith of all naturalists that from something unliving, from river mud, not only lower animal beings but also earthworms, fish can originate. One believes today that these are only religious prejudices, which prevented the human being to lead back all things to a wholly mechanical world order. However, not only the few worldly scholars who lived at that time supposed that from something unliving life could originate, but also St. Augustine represented this view. You learn from this fact that it did not contradict the piety of St. Augustine at all to represent such a conception.
However, what contradicts such an assumption? A real, in the depths of the world existence going outer and inner observing, physical and not supersensible experience of the things. Physical and not supersensible experiences forced the quotation upon the human beings gradually which then Redi did: life can originate only from life.
In the same position in which in those days the naturalist Redi was — he escaped the destiny of Giordano Bruno (1544–1600, Italian monk and philosopher, burnt at the stake) only by the skin of the teeth —, is the modern spiritual science today. The sentence, which one denies today, is applied to the spiritual realm: the spiritual can originate only from spiritual. — We cannot lead back to physical processes what we see developing first from the dispositions of the embryo. We lead it back to the spiritual as we lead life back to life. Then the spiritual leads us back to a spiritual-mental. If we see this spiritual-mental dressed, as it were, in those attributes connected with the physical or the other covers of the human being, then we only lead this physical back to the entire line of inheritance that colours and shades the spiritual-mental abilities and peculiarities. If one wants to draw our attention repeatedly to the way in which the qualities sum up in the inheritance line gradually which appear then last with a descendant, we are not at all surprised from the viewpoint of spiritual science. It is a matter of course for us that in the bodies in which the spiritual germ appears the attributes of the physical inheritance appear. For, how do we look at this physical inheritance? We choose the following example:
We take a sprout of a plant and plant it in fertile soil with all possible substances that can well supply the plant. Then we plant the same sprout in another soil that contains small quantities of the substances, which the plant needs. The plants carry the qualities of the ground in themselves from which they have arisen. Thus, we see the plant unfolding what is its own deeper origin, we see its sprout, and on the other side that what this sprout developed and unfolded in which it is wrapped what appears as attached and filled from the ground from which the plant has arisen. Thus, the human being has arisen, like the plant from a former plant, from a spiritual-mental of prehistoric time. He has grown on a ground that was prepared in the line of inheritance, and this spiritual-mental germ contains qualities that it brings from the ground of the inheritance line. We are not surprised that the complete process is in such a way and presents itself for the external, physical world viewer in such a way that one can be addicted to the indicated mistakes. If it means, one should observe how in an especially gifted personality the qualities of the ancestors are added up and that a musician is descended from a family of musicians and a mathematician from a family of mathematicians, the spiritual scientist does not at all deny these things or show them in another light.
For spiritual science, the matter is in such a way: there are large periods, within which our spiritual-mental arises repeatedly. We speak in the spiritual research of repeated earth-lives, while we say that our spiritual-mental existence points us back to former lives in which the spiritual germs of the current life were prepared. Everything that we now contain and that we now gain develops in future time and has its effect. This spiritual-mental germ has nothing to do with that what reproduces in the physical line. If the human being enters the existence, this spiritual-mental germ enters the physical body, and the forces that are handed down in the family build up the physical body, which he inhabits. Thus, a duality is really assembled in the human being one of which, the spiritual-mental, goes back to an only spiritual evolution line, while the other, the physical one goes back to the inherited line of evolution. Inheritance and reincarnation are both things, which intermingle here, as it arises from any reasonable consideration.
Nevertheless, one says then, realise that in one ancestor these qualities exist and in another those qualities. At last, these qualities accumulate and become Goethe or Beethoven. The genii normally appear at the end of a long line. Let us consider this sentence once: the genius appears at the end of a line of generations. — It is weird that the genius is led back to inheritance because it has a body that is organised for the genius. If the Bernoullis (famous Swiss family of mathematicians and scientists) become mathematicians repeatedly, it is obvious that they need special bodies. It is not miraculous that if the spiritual-mental germ disappears in an inheritance line, in that what is the ground for the mathematical head, he also brings these qualities. On the other hand, does it surprise one that anybody who dives in the water comes out wet? Thus, it is also natural that if anybody is born out of a family he carries the qualities of the family in himself.
It is something natural that the cited sentence can really mean something completely trivial. However, when would it have to appear that the genius itself is inheritable? If it stood at the beginning and not at the end of a line of generations! If it stands at the end, it is a proof of the fact that just the ingenious qualities are not transmitted! It is already a weird kind of arguing if one says that one realises that the qualities are transmitted, and if one asserts that the genius stands at the end of a line. A healthy logic can only say that the reincarnating genius cannot transmit the spiritual qualities; since, otherwise, it would have to stand at the beginning of the generation line. We come there to two developmental lines, a spiritual one, and a physical one. If one does not accept this, one also does not manage with the healthy logic.
We see a child that went through another life centuries ago developing and using those qualities which present themselves to it now. We see the child entering life that way. How do we see the human being leaving life? We have already pointed to this. Now we want to look at the events that occur if that what has entered the physical existence by birth leaves it again, while it walks through the gate of death. There we must not only consider death, but something that we already mentioned in the last consideration, the alternating states of sleeping and waking, and the alternating states of life and death.
We know from the last consideration that if the human being sinks in the dreamless sleep certain members of his being separate from the real human inside, the innermost being, his essence. We distinguish in such a sleeping human being in the sense of the spiritual science what lies, so to speak, in the bed, from this essence. In the bed lies the physical body that is handed over at death to the earthly elements. However, if the human being lies in the bed, the physical body is not in such a way as it is when it is handed over to the earth. The physical body is there still infiltrated by the etheric body or life body. The physical body lives, the vital functions are maintained, so that in the bed there lie the physical body and the etheric body or life body. However, the bearer of joy and sorrow is lifted out, it is the bearer of any sensory sensation surging up and down during the day like heat and cold, smell and taste, and it is the bearer of the whole life of thought and imaging, starting from the instincts and passions up to the moral ideals. All that sinks in an uncertain darkness with sleep. However, this also appears again in the morning like light streaming inside. It is the light of the consciousness.
We must exactly distinguish something else within that what is lifted out at night from the human body, from the physical one and the etheric one: It is the human self-consciousness and its bearer, the human ego. We call the bearer of joy and sorrow, of instincts and passions, of sensuous sensations surging up and down the astral body, and the bearer of the self-consciousness, the fourth member of the human being, the ego. These both members, the ego-bearer and the bearer of desire and pain, are lifted out during the dreamless sleep from the physical and etheric bodies.
Why can you not perceive in that world? We have found the answer of this question in our talks; because of the present developmental stage of the human being, the ego and the astral body have no organs. The human being perceives his physical environment because he has organs, eyes, and ears. In the morning when the ego and the astral body disappear in the physical body and use these organs the human being perceives the surroundings. We have a four-membered being: a physical body, an etheric body, an astral body, and an ego-body. — This is the nature of the alternating states of waking and sleeping.
However, we want to imagine the moment of death now. We can do this, using what such a human being perceives who has applied the methods of initiation and has learnt to use the higher senses slumbering in the human being. In addition, a usual logic can realise this because these facts are portrayed in such a way that they can demonstrate the way of the human being through death. At death, something happens that only happens during the whole life between birth and death in special cases. During the whole life, the etheric body is united with the physical body. Only at death, it separates from it, and thereby the physical body becomes a corpse. Now it follows the merely physical-chemical forces from which it was wrested between birth and death because the etheric body worked in it.
This etheric body is a faithful fighter against the decay of the physical body during the whole life; for the physical body has the chemical and physical forces in itself. This becomes obvious if it is left to its own resources after death: it disintegrates, it is an impossible mixture. The etheric body separates from the physical body and remains together with the astral body and the ego for a while.
This coherence is of big importance. At the moment of death, a comprising painting of his life between birth and death faces the human being. It is, as if an immense panorama of this life which we have experienced stands before our souls. This view, a feeling of extension, of increasing accompanies this reminiscent picture. It is, as if the human being extended and on the inner side the pictures of the past life appeared like in a miraculous panorama.
Where from does this come? It originates because the etheric body is the bearer of memory. As long as it is in the physical body, it is bound to the physical body, and it can only survey what it has experienced in the physical body between birth and death. The physical body is an obstacle. Because the etheric body is an unclouded, pure bearer of memory, the entire past appears in one single picture after death. Some people who were almost drowning or fell off a rock and were close to death remember that the whole life stood before their souls at this moment. I could tell a lot to you, however, I only want to mention what you can read in a book to which I have pointed once. However, the criminal anthropologist Moritz Benedikt (1835–1920, Austrian neurologist), a man who would regard everything that was said here as the biggest nonsense and fantasy — this does not matter —, tells that when he was close to drowning his whole life faced him like a big painting. What happens in such a case? A spontaneous relaxation of the physical body and the etheric body happens which is removed immediately again. The result of this fact is that the commemorative contents of the whole life stand before the human soul for a quite short interval.
Thus, this reminiscent picture stands before the human soul first. Then the time comes in which the etheric body separates from the astral body and from the ego. However, there remains a rest of the etheric body that is connected with the human being, the essence of the last life. Imagine this extract, this life essence in such a way, as if you could summarise the contents of a thick book skilfully on one page, but in such a way that a human being could rebuild the contents of the book. A sort of such a life essence is attached to the human being for all future, after he has removed what he cannot use for his further development. We especially want to notice this. What is attached there to the human being for his future development is the fruit of the last life. Each life constitutes something like a page in the big book of life and all our earth-lives are put down in such a page. They are attached to our being. We take such a fruit from a life with us in all the coming ones. This fruit has a great significance for the further development of the human being.
However, before we can go into the significance of this life essence, we must closer consider the further course of the human being after death. After this life painting was there for a quite short interval, the human being experiences another time after death that we can characterise in the following way. The human being has his ego, his astral body, and the above-mentioned extract.
Let us take one of the usual experiences, the experience of a gourmet who enjoys a tasty dish. By which does the enjoyment come about? Somebody may attribute it only to the physical body. However, this would be absurd. Not the physical body, but the astral body is the bearer of desires, of joy and sorrow. The astral body has the enjoyment, and it develops the desire for the tasty dish. The physical body is an apparatus of physical materials, of physical and chemical forces. It delivers the tools that the astral body can satisfy these desires. This is the relation of the astral body to the physical body in life. The astral body cries for satisfying its desires, and the physical body delivers the tools, the palate, the tongue etc. by which it can satisfy its desires. What does now happen at death? The physical body is cast off and all instruments of satisfaction with it. The astral body, however, is there, and it is easy to realise that this astral body does not break of its hedonism, its desires automatically only because the physical tools are taken from it. The astral body keeps the desire, the addiction after death, although it lacks the physical tools by which it can satisfy it. The astral body develops the desire for tasty dishes etc., but there is no palate. On the other hand, it is, as if a human being suffers from burning thirst in surroundings where no water is far and wide. For no other reason it cannot satisfy the desire after death because it has no organs for it. Thus, it suffers pain because of the desire, until it has eradicated the desire root and branch by non-satisfaction.
This time of purification can appear to any possible degree. We take two human beings, the one is completely merged in the sensuous enjoyments, his life is filled with any possible enjoyment from the morning to the evening which one can have only in the physical world where the tools exist to its satisfaction. He identifies his whole inside with his physical body. A human being who identifies himself in such way with the physical body will have a more difficult existence after death than someone who already sees through the sensuous things what is spiritual-mental, supersensible. On the other side, take someone who beholds a nice scenery or enjoys a musical work. This human being can realise a manifestation of the spirit in the smallest, most unimportant things. One likes to choose the pleasure of a nice scenery or of a good composition as examples because the matter can be illustrated easier with it. Somebody who hears the riddles of the everlasting in the world rushing in the harmonies and melodies of a composition who can open his soul in a nice scenery to the spiritual harmonies and relations breaks away as a mental-spiritual being already in this life between birth and death from that what is bound to the physical. What shines through the physical, what is felt sounding through the physical is a possession that remains to us and which we have not to purify; for that what drops from us is only the outer garment. Contemplate once in your deepest inside how something makes known itself in the musical work that is purely spiritual. It is concealed in the sensuous manifestations and penetrates it by the means of the sensuous manifestation. That belongs to the spirit, to the soul, from which the human being does not need to break away after death.
Thus, you realise that there are degrees of that what one has to endure, and these degrees are determined by the fact how strongly the human being has identified himself with that what he only can experience and enjoy by his organs in the physical world.
There is now, so to speak, a perspective that needs not to be an immediate reality for the present human being because there is no one with whom the conditions come true to this perspective completely. Nevertheless, it exists. We take a human being who gives his ego completely up to that what only the physical body and its organs in connection with the physical outside world can enjoy and who has no interest in anything that forms the basis as spiritual-mental contents of this sensuous outside world. Briefly, we take a human being who looks only at the earth and identifies himself only with that what forms his body. What will be the result? We can recognise this if we investigate the riddles of the human being even more exactly.
We have to adhere if we want to do this to that what the human being takes as a life essence of his etheric body. What originates from this life essence? From this fruit of the preceding life, the human being builds up his next incarnation, the body of his next life. For that, what the human being develops gradually is a product of inheritance. However, this product of inheritance is elastic in certain way.
The human being cannot be built up only by the attributes of the inheritance, but — as in an elastic corporeality — that works and weaves what he has brought from former lives. Thus, we see the incorporated fruits of the former life and of all former lives in a human being except the inherited attributes. If we ask ourselves, what does this entail if the human being lives from embodiment to embodiment in such a way? Then we can say, it is the way of perfection by the earth-lives. The human being entered his first life with forces that were primitive in relation to the forces that work with the most human beings today. When he entered his first incarnation, he had little mental power by which he could direct the mental to the physical and etheric bodies. Then he enjoyed the fruits of the first life, took the fruit of the first life and the result of it was that the next life could become a more perfect one. Because the human being can add the experiences of the following lives to those of the first life, he creates a more and more perfect, self-contained harmonious earth existence. Any new life appears to us on a higher level. However, you see two forces working into each other. You see, after the human being has passed the gate of death, the life essence, the forces of the former life that are preserved for the future, the forces which can make the human being more and more perfect. Thus, the power of the human being is increased from life to life.
However, when the ego leaves the physical body, you see the forces that chain him repeatedly to the past physical existence. Indeed, after death the human existence consists of advancing and of retarding forces.
Now look once again briefly at these retarding forces about which we have spoken, that from which the human being must break away after death root and branch. If nothing else were added, the human being would be only equipped with the fertile forces of his past life for the future existence. Indeed, the human being breaks away from all that what chains him, so to speak, to the former lives, he breaks away from all desires. However, he cannot break away from one thing. A rest remains. This rest is prepared between birth and death. It is not there when the human being enters life. After he has entered life, he grows into the physical world, and his adhering to the desire of the physical world is something that the human being causes only in the course of this life that he only draws in his being. Now we can form the mental picture that that what the human being draws gradually in his being is something that does not contribute to his further development that would make this further development even impossible if he were exposed solely to these forces. Because he brings that all in his life and because it can be taken up by life, it is the life between birth and death that brings the retarding forces in the human being.
On one side, there is the experience of life that we take as a fruit, and on the other side, it chains us to the physical world that we carry then continuously in ourselves. On the one side, it is that what wants to lift out of the embodiment, on the other side, it brings us repeatedly to this world, until we are so far that we have completely overcome everything that brings us together with the physical world at the end of our existence. Thus, the human being has a power permanently in himself that furthers him, and another that is a retarding one. We see the human existence consisting of advancing and of retarding, hampering forces.
You can see in detail how these advancing and hampering forces affect each other. Take the human eye; it is formed, as Goethe says, “in the light for the light.” If we had no eye, we would not see the light. However, if the light were not there, the eye would also not be. The light has developed the eye. Because the light creates the eye, it inhibits the development and the developmental stream, which has preceded. Because in the distant past the light worked on the human body, this eye was elicited from it. For that purpose, it had to retard the force only that would have been vitality in another direction. After long work of the other forces, the eye will be only ripe to become an organ that furthers the development again. Thus, you see at this example, that the retardations, the hampering forces, are substantially necessary.
Now we see how wonderfully wisely it is established in this human life, while on one side the forward pressing forces of evolution are there, and on the other side the repelling forces. These repelling forces chain the human being to the physical world, which give him the organs in the physical world between birth and death by which he acquires the strength for the progress again. If the hampering forces were not there, the human being would not enter the life between birth and death and would not grow into the covers through which the spiritual-mental appears to him. Now he works by the life that the hampering forces created. Thus, the human being owes the fruits of progress to the hampering forces.
There is a big riddle concealed that in life the progressive forces must co-operate with the hampering ones. Now it can happen that the human being balances the progressive forces and the hampering ones, or that he connects himself completely with the hampering forces that he grows together completely with the forces which are generated only in the physical body as means of progress, however, he regards them not as means, but as an end in itself. In this case, the spiritual-mental of the human being would break away from any progress. It would fall out and the time of kamaloka, the time of purification, which consists of the fact that the human being casts off what connects him in microcosm with the physical world, this time would become something absolute.
This faces us as an extreme. However, because the human being grows never together completely with the sensuous world because he is able to avoid this extreme perspective in his mental, in his inside, he escapes from the extreme. However, if he were in such a way that his interest never stuck to that what shines through as a spiritual-mental — this faces us as a perspective, however, it is not reached in this life —, then it would squeeze in the active forces of life. Then it would become obvious there that the human being would tear out himself from all spiritual-mental because he has grown together with the physical-sensuous world. We assume this case. Now the human being should be placed into the spiritual-mental world after death. He brings nothing for the spiritual-mental world but the invincible tendency to the physical-sensuous world. This reminiscent picture sticks to him and presses like a weight of lead. The human being gets the hardened material, converted into the spiritual, into the spiritual world. He is connected inseparably with the forces that detain and hamper any development and evolution. This is the idea of the infernal existence.
Hence, the time of purification extends in the last perspective to that state where without understanding of the spiritual-mental world the ego has stuck to the wholly physical-sensuous and brings nothing but the understanding of the physical-sensuous. This understanding of the physical-sensuous is the infernal torture in the spiritual even if it also is an infinitely satisfying enjoyment in the sensuous existence. We try to understand the above-mentioned words of Faust now. If the infernal messenger wants to have him, what must be achieved? It must be achieved that Faust does not suck out the germ of further development from the moments of the bodily existence, but that he has to get stuck into it at these moments of the physical existence in such a way that he wants to retain them in his sensuousness. “If I should ever say to any moment: tarry remain — you are so fair!” Then you have me! The human being can make this pact with the infernal powers that he combines with these forces hampering the progress. However, we see at the same time that it was necessary that these hampering forces came into being in the human evolution.
We examine next time what the human being was at that time when he appeared in the physical body for the first time, and where from he brought it. Now we know that the human being consists of progressive and backward forces. If the human being had no hampering forces in those days when he entered the physical body for the first time, he would have remained in that spiritualised form in which he was before the incarnation. Because the hampering organs developed in him, the spirit penetrated the sensuous and could take the fruits of the sensuous, could get rich more and more. The progressive forces are those, which had to create the organs of progress only. They have to hamper a former development, so that a later development becomes possible. Nobody has the right to complain obstacles in life.
The conservative element is a benefit, as long as it is in the service of humanity; it becomes an impediment if it is made an end in itself. The same applies after life. The impediment is, considered in the service of the spirit, the highest bearer of progress. If one regards it, however, as an end in itself or uses it egoistically, then it is the germ of the hell. Thus, that from which all human faculties originate on earth can become an end in itself, a germ of the hell if the human being unites with it at an inopportune moment.
We now understand the Nordic legend. The spiritual germ of the current culture has arisen from Niflheim. It had to go through the old cultures, but it also had to go beyond them, while it took the fruits in the present incarnation. Those human beings who do not use the present incarnation in the spiritual-mental sense condemn themselves to be thrown back to a level which was beneficent in its kind at its time as means of progress but which now hampers. Thus, that which is a means of progress at its time becomes the infernal element if it survives in the human existence. The hell did not always control Niflheim. The good elements of the human being held on Niflheim up to the time when they have developed beyond this stage.
Thus, we really see bad and evil, infernal and heavenly forces working in the human life and flowing out from him as Schiller says it in the cited poem. The beneficent element becomes a consuming, hampering element if it is not used in the right way, — as well as the fire is beneficent if the human being controls it, while it can become “terrible,” if “it, casting off its shackles, strides along on tracks its own.” The infernal powers also appear, if they enter the human life “on tracks their own.”
We understand why the great spirits have thought or felt such deep connections, and thought and felt the same that spiritual science puts before our souls. We have recognised the infernal element as something that is necessary for our life; we will get to know that element even closer next time, which will give us light about the whole. We get to know the bright heaven in the light of true spiritual science. However, already from the today's talk we can see that it is right what Dante (D. Alighieri, ~1265–1321, Italian poet) pronounces in the last line of his song about the hell. Dante just also believed at first to have to look at the strong, hampering forces in life, before he formed a mental picture of those progressive forces in which all welfare and all human development is contained. We will also attain clues for the usual, everyday life if we can balance regression and progress properly. It will become obvious where the hampering forces threaten to become the infernal ones, and where they turn out to be beneficent, while they rise to the advancing powers. Dante describes it if he sees himself beguiled by the infernal powers under the guidance of Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro, 70–19 B.C., Roman poet), then he comes out as a victor over all hampering powers, and the luminous stars appear at the distant firmament to him whose soul “is swollen with pleasure.”