Knowledge of Soul and Spirit
14 May 1908, Berlin
In an equally difficult position like already last time, when I spoke about the concept of the “hell,” I am today where I want to summarise the different considerations and results of the winter talks in a consideration of the concept “heaven.”
We face a concept there the true meaning of which the faith of the different confessions have already largely lost even if these adhere to the concept due to an absolutely right and suitable spiritual instinct. At the same time, however, we face a concept that those people mock and reject in the strictest way who not only want to be regarded as leading in the today's spiritual currents but also are regarded as such by many people. The goal and contents of the deepest longing is enclosed for many human beings in the concept “heaven” even today; the basis of this concept forms the contents of the devoted faith of many souls. It is something that gives them comfort in the most difficult problems of life, while many people understand this concept as something in which the deepest superstition expresses itself. We only need to call our attention, just in our days, to spiritual phenomena much discussed in certain circles and we see very soon which immense obstacles stand in the way of understanding if people want to come to a pure, unprejudiced view of that what shall occupy us today.
Nobody needs to be surprised, and at least that who speaks about these matters in such a way as I want to speak today if a big part of that what I say is regarded as the model of empty speculative fiction and mystic daydreaming. In spite of that, just the today's consideration will show that it is very necessary just in our time to point again to the bases of such concepts as strongly as possible.
Many of you know a man with whose name some people connect the concept of real enlightenment, a man whose works made a great stir within the German cultural life just in the last time. Of course, it is abstruse to disparage the great service even in the slightest that this man has rendered to his narrower field of natural sciences. You have also realised in the other talks that my concern was just to talk about the spiritual-scientific research in accordance with the scientific results of the present and in full harmony with them. At different places one could listen to August Forel's (Auguste-Henri F., 1848–1931, Swiss myrmecologist, psychiatrist, philosopher) talk about Life and Death (1908). To someone who wants to inform himself only a little about how one can misunderstand thoroughly what spiritual science puts forth about these matters, I can only recommend to study this talk by Forel thoroughly. The viewpoints of spiritual science concerning such phenomena are explained in my magazine Lucifer-Gnosis where you also find something about the relation between spiritual science and natural sciences. Forel's talk about Life and Death is fulfilled with refusal, namely of a thorough refusal of this concept which is the contents of our talk today.
Immediately at the beginning of Forel's talk, our attention is called to the fact how someone who wants to establish a worldview from the wholly scientific facts gets to the following thoughts. There he says, the natural sciences have brought big progress to the human beings, they can illuminate the world edifice beyond the stars that are next to us in space. The natural sciences are able to look into the smallest parts of the cells of the living body, at least up to a certain degree. The natural sciences have succeeded in overcoming space and time in the field of technology to a certain degree. They achieve the most unbelievable things like wireless telegraphy and telephony over almost all continents. They have succeeded in demonstrating the components of the sun, of the moon, the stars etc. They have succeeded in liquefying the air. They have succeeded in showing how the single parts of the brain co-operate when the human being thinks, feels, and wills. Of course, everything up to a certain degree; but this degree is rightly called admirable.
However, the author of this talk continues: nevertheless, the natural sciences, in spite of their admirable results, nowhere discovered anything that one calls “paradise,” a spiritual world. Everything that humanity has dreamt of a heaven or hell originates from its imagination. The natural sciences have discovered nothing of them, in spite of their admirable results. — Then he boldly concludes as many people echo today: because the natural sciences have not found them, we must abandon all these concepts. We have to stand on the ground that nothing at all can be true that once people dreamt of an immortal essence in the human being that outlives the decay, which the natural sciences experience in such a miraculous way. — And then the consideration is attached like an outpour of feelings that, nevertheless, it is much nicer, greater and more tremendous to know that the human being, before he has come to this personal, individual existence, has lived completely only in his physical ancestors, and that he will keep on living in his physical descendants only. The entire existence is condensed in the physical world.
Then the author has a real outpour of emotions and says, is it not nicer that that which the human being has created is connected with his physical ancestors and keeps on working in the physical descendants, than that there is a world in which beings of all kinds outranking the human being are, a world in which angelic choirs are to be heard and the like? — He insinuates that it is unworthy of a scientifically thinking human being to adhere to a worldview that even in the least deals with such concepts.
This talk can remind one of that which I heard one of the leaders of the modern progressive movement saying many years ago. This person said almost the following. The human being speaks of any supersensible heaven — and then he made clear that our earth is a ball which freely hovers in the space, and that it also applies to the other planets that the space is the heaven, and that the soul does not need to be in another heaven, because we are in heaven. Such persons do not understand much of the deep feelings out of which Schiller (Friedrich Schiller, 1759–1805, German poet) formed the all too justified dictum To the Astronomers:
Do not chat so much of nebulae and suns to me!
Is nature only great, because she gives you something to count?
Indeed, your object is the most elated one in space,
But, friends, the elated does not live in space.
From all these remarks, someone can recognise who has taken up something that was discussed in the course of these winter talks here which deep misunderstanding forms the basis of such things. It is a deep misunderstanding, and we can express this deep misunderstanding best of all saying: if spiritual science once spoke of that what these persons declare as superstition, daydreaming, as speculative fiction, then all these persons would be right. However, the fact is that the modern spiritual science is young and that its message has not yet come to a big part of humanity, above all not to those who speak in such a way, as I have indicated. These persons form mental pictures of the supersensible worlds that are only the outflow of their fantasy and their own daydreams. They fight against these things of their own daydreaming, their own fantasy. However, they also know nothing at all of that, what the true spiritual science has to say about these things. Thus, a big part of the enlightened people fights a battle against their self-created windmills like Don Quixote. Someone who understands this thoroughly will find in that what is said nothing but words, which are quite appropriate to battle the phantasm that these people have in mind. However, this has to do nothing with that what spiritual science understands by it. We could prove a weird logic in the course of these talks, namely where one refuses theosophy, apparently on the ground of the natural sciences, although one knows nothing of its contents. I want to inform of something only.
You know how deeply I appreciate Haeckel's (Ernst H., 1834–1919, German naturalist, philosopher) scientific works. However, what he brings forth as refusal of the ideas of heaven and hell that he himself has formed stands on weak logical feet. One can easily prove this weakness. It is rather nice for numerous persons who want to be enlightened if Haeckel says: “There is a faith of the old time that points to the heaven and asserts, there above lives God! Who speaks in such a way does not know that this “above” is somewhere else if the earth turns, and if it has completely turned round, one would have to point downward instead of upwards.” This seems to be rather appropriate. If you still want to become engrossed somewhat logically, his conclusions stand on no other feet, as if anybody wanted to state that one goes with the head down and not upwards if the earth has turned. The gentlemen start from the fallacy that it concerns spatial things, and not the relationship to the spiritual to the physical. I have to say all that repeatedly because just the object of our today's considerations is something very significant.
We go back to what I have said in the last talk. If we imbue ourselves with the spiritual-scientific attitude and turn to that what develops gradually from the growing up child, then we have the sensation that increases more and more to bright and clear knowledge that something appears in the increase, in the transformation of the childish body that gets its existence in this world, coming from the supersensible worlds. We attain the mental picture which spiritual science can completely ascertain that the essence of the human being entering the physical existence by conception and birth already existed before conception and birth, and that the physical body is the dress of the supersensible spiritual essence.
There we come to the question: where is that what enters the physical existence only by conception and birth? — We have also further explained the thought, and this has made us recognise that this physical existence of the human being is not the first, but that we have to speak of repeated earth-lives that the human being enters the physical existence repeatedly in the course of evolution. We have recognised the thought that that what the human being experiences in his life what he goes through in thinking, feeling and enjoyment, in love and desire, wish and action has not died down, but that the fruit remains and continues, and that the next earthly existence takes up this fruit of the former earth-life. If the child reveals its dispositions, abilities, and actions gradually, this represents the result of former earth-lives. The human being has struggled through many stages of existence, and what he has gone through in the former life has transformed itself into the germ and has become contents, so that his new life is more perfect, seems to be more complete than his preceding life.
This is the ascent of the human being. We speak in spiritual science of the fact that that of the human being entering by conception and birth in the physical existence and leaving it at death again is in the interim, between death and new birth, in a spiritual, supersensible world. We have discussed a part of the spiritual, supersensible world in the last talk about the “hell.” We have to discuss a big part today under the concept of the “heaven.” Thus, the heaven is in spiritual science not anything that is far away and dreamt of, anything transcendent, but it is something that is there where we are also. We have to answer the question now, why can the heaven, the supersensible existence be where we are also if the human beings do not perceive it with their physical eyes if it is true that the physical science that has achieved such big and tremendous progress could discover this paradise, this heaven nowhere?
However, I have also drawn your attention to the fact that every human being can really attain the full view of the supersensible world and the heaven. In the essays How Does One Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds?, I have pointed to the methods, by which the human being penetrates into the supersensible world. Today it should be indicated only briefly, what it depends on. You have only to visualise repeatedly what it means to perceive this sensuous-physical world around you. You have read certainly that the completely developed human ear developed from an indifferent organ. Look at the primitive organs of the animals, consider that round these imperfect animals the world of the tones, the physical harmonies, the melodies and the world of the other sounds exist. Remember what was necessary for the fine arrangement of a human organ up to its today's height, so that the human being could become acquainted with the field of the tones surrounding him. You can also look at the other organs in the same way.
Look at the eye how it developed gradually so far, that the wonderful world of the light and the colours can light up. As much of our surroundings exists as our organs are able to perceive these surroundings. Would the organs of the human being be on a less perfect stage — imagine the human auditory organ on an imperfect stage — what would be a world of the sounds, the harmonies and melodies for such beings with undeveloped hearing? A world that they could not perceive, a “transcendent” world! As this relates to the sensuous human being in the world, the spiritual world relates to that what one usually calls world. And as well as imperfect beings with imperfect senses have developed to bigger perfection and have attained new fields of their perception, the today's human being can also develop as the human being of the prehistoric time was able. In all details the methods are given by which the human forces and abilities can be raised to a higher level. It occurs to nobody, to call “heaven” what Forel refused. Spiritual science only says this: if the human being has the renunciation, the energy, and perseverance to develop the ability slumbering today in him, he perceives the spiritual worlds. — One understands by the spiritual world what lies inside of every human being. If he develops the organs, the transcendent world also becomes his surrounding world as the world of the tones becomes a perceptible world. This happens to such an extent more and more, the more the physical organ is perfected.
However, no one is allowed to imagine that this development is something similar as the present methods of development of a physical sense. This would be a misunderstanding. One can be easily asked as a spiritual scientist, how does this sixth sense form? — The human beings possibly imagine that it must grow out like an eye from the organism. However, the higher, supersensible senses are not of that kind. They relate to our physical senses quite different. I characterise briefly how these higher senses — the word does not well meet their being, but never mind — relate to the physical senses. The way of development by which the human being raises himself to the supersensible worlds is not an exterior, tumultuous, but an inner, intimate one. What the human being has to experience, so that the spiritual world shines into his present existence, happens in all silence and subtlety. The three basic forces of the soul, thinking, feeling and willing, are capable of a higher development. If we briefly ask ourselves, what the human being has to do with thinking, feeling and willing if he wants to become a citizen of the supersensible world, the heavenly world, already within this existence, we get the answer that this is a fine, subtle work. You can read up in my magazine, starting from number thirteen, how the human being settles in a world cultivating his world of thinking, feeling, and willing in particular.
Remember everything that penetrates our souls from the morning to the evening when our consciousness sinks in an uncertain darkness. Consider how different it would be in our soul if we lived not in our time and at this place of Central Europe but hundred years ago and at another place of our earth. Then we understand how much of that what flows through the human soul from the morning to the evening is the result of the outside world changing permanently. Subtract what flows through the soul, try to remove everything that is given by the age, by the place, and all thoughts from the soul, which anyhow go back to place and time, and ask how much then is left of such contents. All thoughts, feelings, and will actions that flow through the soul and are determined by place and time are inappropriate for a higher spiritual development, for the experience of a supersensible world. Do not understand these things in such a way, as if I want to say anything against the life of the human being at that place where he is positioned. However, he must find so much time to tower completely above that what faces his soul in the everyday life. He must dedicate himself, even if only for minutes, to such thoughts and feelings that are independent of place and time that are everlasting. Such thoughts and feelings are given. They are there; they are developed with that who has gone through the training of the higher spiritual life. If the human being lets such thoughts of eternity live in his soul repeatedly, then they are effective forces in his soul that awake the slumbering abilities.
Then read up the immense transformation if the human being dedicates himself to the thought of eternity with strictly prescribed methods if he knows to live in subtle way with such eternity thoughts. I describe this for the thought life at first. Who may deny that there are such thoughts? The human thoughts, as they are today, which special nature do they have? They have the nature that the human being lives with them most intimately, since, what lives more intimately in our soul than our thoughts and mental pictures?
However, these thoughts and mental pictures, as far as they refer to the external world, are the most ineffective, the most passive in relation to this “real” world of the trivial. But a deep wisdom is concealed in it if one says, for example, may anybody adhere to his figures ever so much which express the thought of a bridge, the thought of a bridge in all details may be quite correct — the thought may be right, however, the bridge is not there. The thought is the most intimate that lives in the soul. However, in this world in which we spend the physical existence the thought is the most ineffective. It has an inner existence. However, when the human being starts — he must start with patience — dedicating a quite low part of his time at least to the thoughts of eternity, he learns to come to know something he would not have dreamt of. He gets to know a world that is different concerning the thought from our physical world. If in our physical world the thought is the most intimate and, nevertheless, at the same time the most ineffective, the most passive, we are introduced by a training in thoughts of eternity which we experience in the physical life, in a world in which the thought itself is creative. That is the point. Then another world starts living around the human being. He learns to know from his experience: if we see in the physical world, we see the light; it flows from the sun; we see the plants withering and dying if we take away the light from them; we see the light working creatively on the plants. The thought becomes such strength, which flows through the space, which is reality, as only a sensuous thing can be reality, for that who penetrates by the training into the supersensible world. The thought that has an ineffective existence in the darkness of the inside is recognised due to the training as something that flows through the space creatively that is much more real than the sunlight.
The human being notices now if this light of the thought about which he then speaks as a real world which spreads out around him, flows into his soul that is animated by creative forces as the physical plant is penetrated by the sunlight. Thereby we learn how the space that is round us is filled with a reality that the human being, as long as he does not have the necessary abilities, cannot perceive, as well as somebody who has no ears does not perceive tones. However, there are also certain feelings in the supersensible world that originate different from the feelings of the everyday, usual life. How do the feelings of the everyday life come into being? The human being turns his attention to an object. He likes it. The feeling of desire ascends in him. The feeling of desire appears by means of the external object. We feel elated because of the impression of a nice outside world, we feel full with revulsion if we face something ugly in the outside world. Thus, the feelings surge up and down in the human soul. Spiritual science has to lead the human being deeper into the true, real.
If the human being wants to awake the inner abilities of the supersensible world, he must make himself able for the feelings that are not stimulated by the outside. By a method, he settles down into a feeling world where the feelings surge up and down in him, without needing the external sensation. The feelings that are stimulated by the outside can be woken in the human being by the perception of the outer things. If he learns to develop particular feelings in himself, the excitement of such feelings works as a force that awakes slumbering abilities again. He knows now from experience what the initiate can see: the world of the light is active in the spiritual world as in the physical world. It tiers itself also in the spiritual in manifold colours as the physical light; he knows that there is a world in which the spiritual colour lives. We call it the astral world. It puts itself in this physical world for the human being who wakes the abilities and forces slumbering in himself if he develops a feeling of a particular kind more and more only by spiritual experience, which is not stimulated within the sensuous world by any outer sensation. Who is able to wake this feeling of love, an innermost experience, has attained the connection with the spiritual world.
Then still another world is added to the described element. To the colours, still another world is added. The love that the physical objects produce can never lead to the spiritual. That love which is satisfied, even if the object of this love only exists in the spiritual, that love which remains in the deep inner experience is a creative force for a higher kind of elements which penetrate the spiritual space. This love is the real love. The preliminary stage of it is that which the artist feels in his creating. He has it only if he produces spiritual works from his soul. That love transforms the before dumb and colour-filled spiritual space of light into a world of tones, a world speaks to us in spiritual tones.
Thus, you see the human being developing gradually to another world. Here is nothing else than a real continuation of that what also exists in the natural existence of the human being, in the natural events. As the ears have arisen from indifferent vesicles and thereby the world of the physical tones originated from the toneless, that world arises from the uncertain which I have just described. Those do not speak of these worlds who fight against wind mills as I have mentioned at the beginning of the talk. He who says, the heavens were nowhere found, does not know that he has to search them not anywhere else; for the heaven is where we are. It only matters that one does not adhere to the assertion: what I cannot perceive does not exist, and if another states that there is something that I cannot perceive, he is a fool, a dreamer, or a swindler. — This sentence is the logically wrongest sentence that there is at all, because nobody is allowed to assert that the border of his percipience is also the border of existence. Otherwise, the dumb one could regard the entire world of tones, of harmonies and melodies as daydreaming and fantasy.
If one speaks in spiritual science of the heaven, one speaks of it in this way as I have did. One has also not spoken different in the primary sources of the confessions when one still understood them. In this visible world, a non-sensuous world exists, as for the dumb human being the world of the tones.
We ask ourselves now, why does the human being not perceive this supersensible world in his present developmental state? He does not perceive it, because just the sense-perception which was a necessity of the human development, spreads like a cover, a veil about the supersensible world. I did not mean it different when I described what someone has to experience who aims at the supersensible world. He must lift out himself from the sense-perceptible world; he has to quieten the sensuous world for a while. Then he comes to that what is behind this sensuous world, and then he perceives how the sensuous world spreads out like a cover about the supersensible one. He who towers above his body in the true sense can perceive what is behind this veil.
We must know for what one uses the forces in the usual human life, which can become abilities to enter the supersensible world. One cannot understand this different than if one considers the fact of the matter: what is, actually, the physical world, what is the most imperfect physical body, and what is the perfect physical body which faces us as human body? All physical beings are creations of the spirit. The spiritual forms the basis of any physical thing. We have emphasised this in manifold way in the course of these talks repeatedly. As the ice hardens from the water, any physical hardens from the spiritual. It is as it were a compression of the spirit. Look at the physical ear of the present human being. What does form the basis of this physical thing? Spiritual creativity forms the basis of it! The tone that lives as a physical tone in our surroundings is something that belongs to the physical world and has the spiritual tone behind itself. In the same world that flows to our physical ear, we hear the physical tone, and in the same world, the supersensible spiritual tone lives. What is the spiritual tone? This spiritual tone is the creator of our ear just as the spiritual light, concealed in the physical light, is the creator of our eye. Therefore, Goethe says who pronounced so many deep spiritual truths: “The eye is formed in the light for the light.” The force that flows out from the sun to us, which enables our eye to see the objects in their borders in the light-filled space also contains those beings that have formed the wonderful construction of the eye. Thus, what the eye sees and the ear hears would mean the same as penetrating into what is behind them, rising to the spiritual forces. In a certain case, we do it already, looking at the young child developing its abilities gradually in the physical body. We see these abilities appearing from a world concealed behind the sensuous world, we see them dashing into matter and creating an existence in the matter for themselves.
We go back to spiritual science and ask ourselves, where was this being before it has accepted a physical existence by conception and birth, where was it between its last death and its last birth? It was not in a dreamt spiritual world but in the same world in which we are too. The only difference between this being, before it enters the material existence by conception and birth consists of the following. Before birth, this being consists of such elements that one can only behold if the just described spiritual abilities are developed. It is invisible, as long as this supersensible ability is not developed. As for anybody the water is not visible, as long as it is liquid, but becomes visible, as soon as it freezes, the human being becomes invisible if he becomes like water — and visible if he “freezes,” that is he becomes physical.
Thus, we speak of two conditions of the human being, of a state between death and new birth, only visible to the spiritual senses, and of a state in which he has woven a dress around himself, so that he is visible for the physical senses. Thus, we realise that the human being is connected in the interim between death and new birth with the creative forces flowing through the space. Someone who develops his supersensible abilities gets to know them as the heavenly forces already here. The human being is connected with these creative forces. Here in the physical world he lives with the physical forces, with the physical tones, with the physical light; in the spiritual world, he lives in the spiritual-creative behind the tone, behind the light. He lives in a world that is different from the physical world. Here in the physical world, the eye sees by the light. In the spiritual world, the human being perceives what has created his eye.
He lives in the spiritual light, he lives in the spiritual world of tones, he lives in that what builds up his physical body with the help of birth and conception, he lives where our physical world is built up which spreads like a cover about the spiritual one. This cover flows into the spiritual world itself. The human consciousness flashes in another state. The only difference between the disembodied and the embodied human being is that the disembodied one lives in another state of consciousness, and that he perceives the creative forces. Now we understand what it means: the human being is taken up in a supersensible world at death. It is no dream world, no world of lower reality than our world; it is a world of denser and stronger intensity and reality, because in it the creative beings are for our physical world. Now we understand what works there between death and new birth.
We saw last time when we discussed the retarding forces that when the human being passes the gate of death a memory tableau of the entire last life appears before him. We saw that this tableau is taken up like an essence and remains with the human being for all following times. We saw him going through the kamaloka time, the time of purification. After he has gone through this purification, he becomes something that he has taken from the last life, something particular, and something new. We know that the human being going through the gate of death comes into the spiritual supersensible world. Regard it as a field, as a fertile ground and regard what he brings from the last life as a fruit of his thinking, feeling and willing, the fruit of the last life as a sprouting seedling. Thus, the fruit of the last life sprouts in the spiritual ground, and the human consciousness notices and perceives this sprouting, this developing of the germ of the last life.
Everything that the human beings have taken from the life of their time impregnates itself in this last fruit of life. Everything that approached the human being from the outside increases and grows like a germ. This becomes the world of perception and consciousness between death and new birth. One can make clear that to someone who cannot perceive the supersensible only by a comparison. With deeper contemplation, you understand the comparison. One rightly calls bliss what the human being feels unfolding the germ of the last life. It is the converse feeling of that what the human being can perceive if he feels the objects. Now he feels them unfolded, before they flow out; now, however, the being flows out and he is penetrated by a feeling which one can compare with that of a chicken hatching an egg. This bliss causes that the human being develops that in the spiritual what chains him to the physical birth what brings him in the physical existence. Because he has collected new experiences which he adds to the basic core, every life becomes — with the exception of the ways going up and down which must also be — more complete.
Thus, we must get clear about the fact that the state of consciousness is different from that in the supersensible world. By a comparison, we can still bring to our mind how the state of consciousness is different between the physical world and the supersensible world. Imagine a human being who listens to a symphony. He lets the tones approach him from the outside. He enjoys them. Imagine now, it would be possible that a human being creates this symphony spiritually without touching a text without sounding an instrument, that he creatively composes tone by tone of his own accord in spirit. As the perception of the former relates to that in which the symphony budded, the physical world relates to the perception in the supersensible. Hence, we must say, in order to perceive the heaven, the human being has to refrain from something that faces him spiritually in the physical world. As long as he has not refrained from that, he cannot behold.
However, the spiritual world does not appear to us as a world to which also the logical thinking could not rise. The human being normally argues only that he cannot perceive it.
Thus, the concept of the “heaven” gets a significance for the future human being again. It is no concept of a dream world in which we shall be. The creative consciousness is much brighter and more intense than in the physical world. Hence, we have to imagine the life, the consciousness of the human being in the creative world also as more intense than in the physical world.
How does the physical world relate to the supersensible world? It is a matter of course that the human being is interested in this relationship first. I would like to express this with the counter question: knows the human being anything in the supersensible world about those who are near and dear to him? Will that what happened here continue in any way? It will! You can understand this properly if you contemplate what I have just said making clear that an intimate coherence exists between the physical and the supersensible worlds. That which is laid here as a germ rises there and becomes fruit. Nothing in the world is without spiritual background.
In the physical world, the human being already works for the supraphysical world. An example: we assume that a mother is attached to her child with love. This love develops; one would like to say, on the physical basis at first. Then, however, this love changes into spiritual love. To such an extent, in which the love is transformed into a spiritual motherly love, the human being grows into the spiritual love. This love becomes truer in the spiritual. As the earthly cover drops from the human being, the physical-earthly drops from the spiritual being. The whole net that is woven from human soul to human soul exists already in the supersensible world. The spiritual, the essence of the human being settles in the supersensible world, and everything that the human being has tied on here in this physical world, is continued as something spiritual in the spiritual world. Everything that is connected here spiritually is found in full consciousness, in an even brighter consciousness again in the spiritual world. Depending on how it is found, a tie forms again with a new life, so that those who meet in often strange sympathy have to explain this to themselves that they themselves have spun it in former lives.
Thus, we realise that our entire sensuous world is embedded in this supersensible, invisible world. As the human being is a citizen of the sensuous world between birth and death, he is a citizen of the supersensible world after death; he does only not know it in our time between birth and death.
We have shown the concept of the “hell” in the last consideration and the concept of the “heaven” today which contain all spiritual influence on the human being. Last time we have gone into the hardening forces, while that appears as the opposite what I have described today: the principle of development. Life advances from existence to existence, and the more is transformed by the last life into creative forces, the higher rises the next existence. While the human being wants to enjoy what he takes up in himself not only, but enjoying it he also wants to penetrate to that what transforms itself into spiritual forces, he is perpetually in the heavenly world. All that can help the human being is contents of the heavenly elements; all that restrains the progress is the contents of the infernal worlds.
Someone who wants to harmonise such a concept of the heaven with that what the natural sciences have performed can easily do it. He can harmonise it completely. Our contemporaries only do not want to get involved in these higher worlds. Our age is tired of the consideration of the supersensible world, and, hence, this age is very gullible toward those who put up the sentence: what I cannot perceive is not true, and if anybody asserts, it is true, he is a poor devil or a fool. — Too many people become believers of such an opinion in this age. Even if we also realise which big and immense progress our age has performed concerning the physical science, nevertheless, we also see on the other side how little the predominating part of our contemporaries is inclined to penetrate into the supersensible world. One means that the penetration in the supersensible world makes the human being weak and foreign towards the sensuous world. This is a prejudice. If anybody has a piece of iron and says: this iron has magnetic force; touch it with another iron and you have a magnet — another may come and say, nonsense! The piece of iron is good for hammering down nails. — These are the true daydreamers who take the sensuous, the practical only in such a way as that man who hammers down nails only with the magnet.
The realists, the monists, the utilitarians, and others are the true daydreamers. They know the forces of the physical world only and triumph if the immense progress is done by merely revealing the forces of the physical world. Spiritual science has to argue nothing at all against this physical world. However, it also knows that it is high time that the human beings learn again that in the physical the spiritual is concealed, and that just the human beings become dreamy when they close their spiritual eye to the spiritual world. Today true realists, apostles of reality are those who point to the spiritual forces! What do these truthful realists want? They want that the real forces slumbering behind the sensuous are introduced in this world that they settle down in our whole development that we do not only introduce the telegraph, the telephone and the railway, the usual forces but also the spiritual forces.
If anybody goes into these matters, he is still twitted today; he does not care this twitting. He knows that even the great naturalists found few followers once; also, those who tell something of the spiritual worlds have to find the ways just in the big world. Even if only few people can create telegraphs, telephones and railroads, the other can use them, nevertheless. However, everybody must gain the spiritual world on his own accord.
The great physicists Thomson (William T., first Baron Kelvin, 1824–1907, British physicist), Clausius (Robert C., 1822–1888, German physicist and mathematician) and others have their successors who can recognise the physical principles. One of the biggest physical principles is at the same time that what the human being pushes to the spiritual world. For those who have dealt a little with physics I say nothing unknown if I draw the attention to the fact that there is a principle of entropy, this is due to Carnot (Nicolas Léonard Sadi C., 1796–1832), the uncle of the French president (Marie François Sadi C., 1837–1894).
What does it mean? It pronounces one of the most certain principles, which we have in the physical world, namely how the physical forces of the world change into each other. Hit with the hand on the table and measure the effect on the table with a sensitive thermometer. You will find that the place has become warm. You see the heat of the railroad engine being transformed into locomotion and this again into heat. A big principle forms the basis of all that, the principle of entropy. From the consideration of the world, it becomes clear that this conversion of energy shows, nevertheless, a certain guideline, a certain sense. The entropy principle shows that all energy must change into heat at last, and this heat scatters in the space. Today one has proved by the physical principle that the earth, our physical world, once experiences the heat death. This principle exists. That has to deny this principle who asserts that in our world only physical forces are; for this would have to say if he recognised the principle: then everything is over.
Therefore, also Haeckel takes the view that this principle of entropy is nonsense because it contradicts his principle of matter. It is a physical principle that the things are transformed perpetually. A Russian physicist has proved in a writing how firmly founded just this principle is which shows the physical end of our present world. Just in this writing of Professor Chwolson (Orest Ch., 1852–1934, Russian physicist), the “twelfth commandment” was put up (Hegel, Haeckel, Kossuth and the Twelfth Commandment, 1906). You can realise there how competent a physicist can be in the physical field, just as you can also realise how unknowing such scholars can be concerning the spiritual fields. The “twelfth commandment” is “you should never write about anything that you do not understand.” Chwolson obeys it in his field where he speaks about physics, but he does not obey it in the spiritual field. Everything that he says concerning the physical is excellent; however, what he says concerning the spiritual matters is of little value and a big sin against the principle: “you should never write about anything that you do not understand.”
A passage follows that the stenographer did not write down apparently in which Rudolf Steiner probably explained that Chwolson did not understand Hegel. However, Rudolf Steiner admits that Chwolson is correct concerning his remarks about an article by Kossuth in a scientific magazine. Kossuth claims that the law of mass conservation is nothing else as the sentence: the whole is like the sum of its parts, and the principle of energy conservation is nothing else than the sentence: the cause is like the effect. — With reference to the discoveries of Lavoisier Rudolf Steiner continues:
Someone who knows something of the spiritual research knows what it means that one has shown that if substances combine chemically with each other the weight is that of the sum of the parts. If one says then: this law contains nothing else than the old mathematical law: the whole is equal to the sum of its parts, one would already have to get clear about the fact that it concerns only the weight of the whole that is equal to the sum of the weight of its parts. Kossuth just forgets that if one proceeds to the spiritual the law does not apply at all there. So short is the thinking. Chwolson says, Mr. Kossuth may only take his pocket watch and crush it in the mortar; then he can see whether the whole is equal to the sum of its parts. Goethe also already pronounced the thought that is often repeated:
To understand some living thing and to describe it,
the student starts by ridding it of its spirit,
he then holds all its parts within his hand,
except, alas!, for the spirit that bound them together.
(Faust, Verses 1936–1939)
The fewest people who believe to stand on the ground of certain facts know that the natural sciences are often nothing else than taking no account of the spiritual tie. On one side, we realise if we survey all the circumstances and connect them with that what I have stated about the supersensible world that in many human souls the longing lives to penetrate into the supersensible world. However, they suspect those details of which someone has to speak who really knows something of these matters. We see the longing for the supersensible world stirring; but we do not see the strength and the energy to penetrate into these supersensible worlds according to the instructions of spiritual science. On the other side, we have the facts in our time. We have a competent physical science in our time: Thomson, Clausius, and Carnot have found good successors. If the development advances in spiritual science in the same spirit, the researchers in the spiritual field will find also capable successors like Thomson, Clausius and Carnot have found. Then the result will be that from this humanity which has almost shut itself off today from the heavenly world, another arises which draws the strength of the supersensible world into the sensuous one. Spiritual science does not want to alienate the human being from the world but to make him strong, energetic, and vigorous for existence, while it enriches reality.
We only need to join two things, and this will fit together: in the same strict way as now in the physical science, a big part of the human beings will have the possibility to satisfy the need of their hearts out of the spiritual world. It is the task of spiritual science as a cultural stream to bring together these two spiritual streams, the satisfaction of the sensuous needs by the natural sciences and the satisfaction of the longing for the spiritual.
These talks are continued in the same sense in the next winter. We shall further pursue what has remained sketchy and penetrate deeper into it. The most enclosing, the most significant concept should be the object of the last talk. Indeed, a wisdom will once be there which can be a religion again, which can satisfy the deepest religious needs of the heart. There will come up a spiritual current that satisfies all needs of the logical thinking like the longing for the supersensible life. It is this longing to which spiritual science talks. If the way is found to that what exists in this anticipating, then wisdom flows out, it introduces in this supersensible world and flows into the human soul so that our culture experiences a spiritual rebirth that goes back to the fire, which lives in many people and wants to penetrate to the supersensible worlds. From this fire, the spiritual-scientific wisdom will penetrate into the supersensible world, because this is its true ideal.
It should be owed to the great ideal that wants to spark the wisdom of this supersensible by the fire of the enthusiasm for the supersensible; since this will always be the course of the spiritual culture that the light of wisdom develops from the fire of love and enthusiasm.