Nature and Her Riddles in the Light of Spiritual Science
Berlin, 7 March 1918
The American science writer Carl Snyder (1869-1946) who has written a book (New Conceptions in Science, 1903) about the present scientific worldview speaks in almost mocking way about a talk, which Alfred Russell Wallace (1823-1913) held once. Wallace stated, although he was a naturalist, that after his view the human immortal soul has not only that significance which one can observe here in the life between birth and death, but that it extends with its hidden supersensible effect about the whole universe. Of course, a man like Carl Snyder can express himself from his more materialistic thinking about such a quotation only almost mockingly. Now one has to point out if one wants to envisage the cultural-historically interesting of this fact that Wallace got to those epoch-making ideas of evolution, even somewhat before Darwin, which Darwin popularised then. However, Wallace belongs to those who finally worked their way up to a view that just appears in such a quotation.
Indeed, Wallace tried to get a confirmation of his conviction by the experimental method of spiritism. You may say that this pursuit to find a confirmation of a truth that refers to the spiritual world with such experimental art is a fallacy, because in this case one has to ask: could the outer experimental method, the spiritistic one, offer anything to Wallace for his conviction of the everlasting, universal significance of the human soul? — Today I would like to note about this question only so much: someone who has a spiritual insight of a physical process, and knows which results an experiment can deliver, is clear in his mind that such an outer experiment — even if various things may happen which remind you of spiritual manifestations — cannot deliver more about the everlasting significance of a being than any other magnetic, electric or other experiment. What appears in the sensory world can only give some indication of the sensory world. With this attempt, Wallace was indeed in error. However, his conviction could not be generated or confirmed with such an outer observation. Someone who knows the human soul knows that such a conviction must rise from below from the depths of the human soul that the process that leads it to such a conviction must be spiritual and has nothing to do with outer experiments. That is why one has also to suppose that Wallace, although he stood firmly on scientific ground, pronounced a knowledge emerging from the unconscious, from the depths of his soul, which referred to this everlasting significance of the human soul.
Here I would like to remark the following only: somebody who tries to bring the will into his imagining so that it really proceeds under the influence of his will discovers something spiritual in the imagining. You have to say, the right method of meditation leads to the spirit in the usual imagining which is, otherwise, only a soul activity, as well as the naturalist finds in the sensation of hunger that expressed what forms the basis of hunger in the body as chemical or physical processes. Meditating means to let rest a very clear mental picture in the soul in which nothing subconscious, no memory is involved, so that you develop the power of imagining, of thinking as the contents of the mental picture. If you remain in such an activity over and over again, and feel the soul as it were in this activity of meditation, then something objective reveals itself gradually which does not depend on the own will. The own will can withdraw as it were from the activity of imagining, and you have lifted this activity as far into the consciousness as it is not lifted otherwise. You have thereby to begin the way to the spirit. You thereby get around to discovering that the spirit is involved in the imagining, while you tear the imagining away from the bodily more and more.
This is only one of the ways at first, which the spiritual researcher has to go; others are similar to it. The point is that the activity of the human soul becomes so strong that it really tears itself away from the bodily. If you practise the appropriate exercises, you become gradually able to say what is the spiritually active, actually, in the human soul. You do the important, internally stupefying discovery that you get with your thinking to a point where you notice: now I cannot come through with my habitual way of thinking. It is with the thinking just in such a way, as if you see a weight lying there and think wrongly at first that you can lift it, and notice after that hands and arms are too weak to lift it. Here in the outer life it is obvious that the physical organs are too weak. The spiritual researcher can meet something quite similar, transferred into the spiritual-mental, if he has brought the thinking by meditating to the point that it is spirit-filled. Then he feels that he cannot advance, he feels that the brain is not ready to grasp a spirit-filled thought that he wants to grasp now.
You must have experienced once how the brain or the body resists to properly appreciate the dependence of the usual consciousness on this body on one side, and to find out once on the other side that the body can be too weak to maintain a thought which is grasped in spirit. If you do such an experience that the body can be too weak, that the thought can be too strong, you know that there is something immediately experienceable spiritual that is independent of the body. Indeed, you get gradually to the immediate view of a spiritual world because you are with your soul activity beyond the physical body. You learn to recognise what it means to be fulfilled with the spirit in such a way as you are fulfilled, otherwise, in the usual imagining with bodily activity. You learn distinguish the soul life that is supported on the body and the soul life that is supported on the spirit.
Then you can realise how the human being can become addicted to materialism by scientific views. Since one has to say this: on the way to the spirit the spiritual researcher can absolutely stop at materialism because he experiences that he is dependent with the usual consciousness on the body. If he is not able then to get to the real beholding of a supersensible consciousness being, then just the way to the spiritual puts him at the risk to become addicted to materialism. Someone who has never experienced this tremendous temptation to become addicted to materialism also does not stand with full energy in the spiritual world. Since you have to know on one side that this consciousness which accompanies us between birth and death is a soul activity, indeed, in its original force that it requires, however, the outer physical body in any smallest part of its activity, and that one can be detached from this connection with the physical body only for the purpose of spiritual research. Then there you discover that in this human being who lives between birth and death really a higher, spiritual-mental human being lives who goes through births and deaths. You get to know this spiritual-mental human being how he lives in an objective web of thoughts if he himself develops consciousness.
Certain mental pictures that natural sciences can approach only hypothetically gain a real significance. Certain riddles of nature approach the human soul in a new form. I will point here at first only to one riddle in nature that has prepared so much brainwork for the naturalists because they approach it only from the outside. I mean the ether that the naturalists search as a subtler element of physical existence. It is strange how just in such areas the naturalists to be taken seriously come close to spiritual science from the other side. For you could hear from a very significant physicist recently: if one wants to ascribe qualities to the ether, these may be, in any case, no material ones. Today a physicist already says this; that means he moves the ether into that world in which non-material existence is to be found. However, to the physicist like to the naturalist generally this ether must remain a hypothesis. He can conclude it from the other physical processes. However, if the human being as spiritual researcher treats his soul as I have indicated it, he gets around to perceiving the being of the ether in himself at first and to noticing that an etheric body, a supersensible body forms the basis of his physical body. To this supersensible body that is immediately related which arises by true introspection. The mental experience is substantially an interaction of that human being with the ether who pulls himself out of the body and who can live in the sea of thoughts. Only via the etheric, while the etheric works again on the physical body, the soul works on the physical body, too.
On one side, you discover this way that this etheric body that I have also called the body of formative forces in the magazine Das Reich forms the basis of the physical body and is an essential element of the higher human being.
On the other side: while you have strengthened your soul capacity that you can clearly perceive this etheric body, you get to know the subtle figure of the human being in the etheric and find out also that the human soul is richer than that what he experiences in his everyday self-consciousness. This everyday consciousness is bound to the body; hence, it shows only a part of the general spirituality. In this general spirituality, you submerge like in a sea of thoughts, and thus you experience what forms the spiritual basis of the human body at first. However, because you have left this human body, you also get to know the spiritual bases of the physical-sensory surroundings.
If you have advanced to this knowledge, something like an empirical fact appears that you cannot find any right sense in the search of the concealed beings of nature that you have to search another sense of this research. If you consider scientific research, you always find out, actually, that you do research in such a way, as if you had spread out that like a net before yourself which the observation of nature delivers, and then want to find something behind this net that is the essential basis of the externally observed, may it be in philosophical sense the “thing in itself” or the world of atoms. One always requires if one exceeds the only sensory facts that one can penetrate as it were this web of sensory facts. To the spiritual researcher who has got to know the spirit by immediate beholding seems such an aspiration to find a thing in itself or a world of atoms behind the sensory observation in such a way, as if anybody looks into a mirror, sees his picture and that of the surrounding objects in it and then breaks through the mirror to find out where from this picture comes.
He will convince himself that behind the mirror nothing is that causes anyhow what he sees in the mirror. If you get to know the spirit really, you discover that you get to nothing by the penetration behind the sensory world. If you want to search the cause of that which appears there in the mirror, you have to look before the mirror, you have to search it in the living together with the world. You have to penetrate vividly into the world with which you live together before the mirror. It is with the riddles of the nature this way. If you get to know in the described way in what way you stand in the spiritual world, you know: what you recognise as the spirit in which you live is also the cause of the natural phenomena. Only the outer human organisation is responsible that we see these natural phenomena like a reflection spread round ourselves. Thus, the spiritual research gets around to speaking about the spirit if it generally wants to speak about something essential behind the natural phenomena that it gets to know as that into which the soul enters if it frees itself from the body and gets to know its own everlasting nature in the spiritual world.
It is of big significance not to be held by scientific prejudices from looking at the relation that arises to the observer of the spirit. It is that what arises in such a way only brought up from the soul, while the soul submerges in the spiritual world. What can be brought up from the soul itself can be also rejected if this soul has prejudices. What should become a soul property can be taken away from the soul, while prejudices cloud the free view of the spiritual environment. The fact that somebody gets around to admitting such a thing depends on whether he does not develop opposite scientific prejudices in his soul. He who thinks in such a way that our physical-sensory world is the producer of the usual consciousness — that is true and spiritual research also confirms it —, and who possibly leads back this physical-sensory world in Kant-Laplace way to a mere primeval nebula, for him this speculative scientific worldview can become such a suggestion that it takes away the possibility from him completely to progress to the spirit.
Maybe just because the scientific worldview has worked in the course of the last centuries so suggestively on humanity, humanity is less inclined to want any spiritual view. Indeed, from that what I have shown you see that you can advance to the being of nature only if you advance to the spirit. Since you find it then also as the essential in nature. However, you find not only generally that the spirit forms the basis of the natural phenomena, but you find this also in detail. That is why spiritual research cannot be represented in a readily comprehensible worldview, but it is to be represented gradually and slowly like any other science.
If you learn to look at this etheric part of the human being that is integrated in the physical-sensory body, then this etheric human being is of quite different nature. Indeed, it is supersensible, it is similar to the mental, it is between the material and the mental, but it is not as differentiated as the physical body is. The physical body has the senses separated out of itself. The etheric body is not divided in this way, but while it faces the etheric world, it forms, stimulated by that which it faces, in such a way that the spiritual eyes, the spiritual ears are generated only if anything should be perceived in the spiritual world. Thus, one discovers another inner agility of this body of formative forces. One discovers above all that the body of formative forces is not dependent on the immediate physical surroundings. One finds out gradually that this etheric body is dependent from the whole universe, so that for it the vertical or horizontal directions mean something. It means something for it whether it is within the light mass that goes out from the sun or under the influence of the earth mass if it is in darkness, and so on.
One notices that this etheric body is on a level where it is even more dependent on the whole universe, while the physical human body has this developmental state already behind itself and is now immediately dependent from the earth. It is a more ideal dependence on a more enclosing whole which this body of formative forces has than that of the physical-sensory body. Thus, one discovers the strange truth that the inner human being is a supersensible, spiritual being that creates its image here in the physical body that, however, this supersensible is on a higher level in certain respect than the physical-sensory, is still on a former developmental level.
It arises immediately that the human being as a spiritual researcher says to himself, in you something lives that outranks, indeed, the whole outer nature because it is just spiritual-mental. However, as something spiritual-mental it is more imperfect than the outer physical, as something spiritual-mental it will be differentiated only in a later developmental state as the sensory-physical of the human being already is.
Hence, if you want to find the spiritual-mental in an image in the physical life, you have to search it in the world of the lower organisms. The lower forms of the organisms appear in such a way that you say to yourself, they develop that materially what the human being develops mental-spiritually on a higher level. You see, the things are not as simple as the scientific view regards them. This inner agility and firmness of the formative forces of the etheric body by which it follows the vertical or the horizontal directions and directs his organs, or follows the light, or the gravity, and directs his organs correspondingly, this inner characteristic of the etheric body has to do nothing with the speculation about the outer physical existence. Now one would have to state, after one has convinced himself that this supersensible body has the qualities which I have just described, that just with the lower living beings something similarly undifferentiated would have to be found. It would have to turn out that they are mental-spiritually lower, indeed, than the mental-spiritual of the human being, that they are similar, however, in their physical configuration not to the physical body of the human being, but to his etheric body. Now it is strange that the further natural sciences progress with their quite different methods, they can give the best evidence of that which spiritual science has to require. That is the course that spiritual science says first that one has to find the material image of that in nature which is discovered in the supersensible world.
Now you can just find a tip to very interesting scientific investigations in such a research context as it corresponds to the more materialist disposition of a man like Snyder, as Jacques Loeb (1859-1924, American physiologist) did, for example, who played a big role in all kinds of monistic unions in Europe once.
There you find a quite strange experiment cited — I do not talk of whether it is humane or inhuman whether it is moral or immoral to carry out such experiments; this comes less into question for “science.” The researcher Loeb took the substance of lower organisms, of hydroids, and cut out cubes of their substance arbitrarily. What happened? Upwards “feelers” grew in the head; downwards “feet” grew in such a way as the hydroids have them. No matter which form one cut out: upwards head and feelers grew, downwards feet. Now Loeb turned the substance, so that the feet were on top. There grew out a new head and feelers and downwards feet. There you have the quite undifferentiated; there you have that materially developed in the lower animal, in this case with the hydroids, what the spiritual researcher discovers on a higher level of existence for the human-mental in the body of formative forces. It is similar with another genus. One cuts with the razor at a certain place into the lower animal being; then there forms even a mouth with tentacles. There you still have the undifferentiated substance as an image of that what lives spiritual-mentally in the human being on a higher level. There you find the connection between that which was discovered in the spirit whose participant the human being is on a higher, supersensible level, and that which expresses itself on a lower level in the matter.
You see that the lower organic world is based on the fact that it retains that in the matter what the human being develops spiritual-mentally on a higher level because his higher developed organism can serve him as basis. You realise just there how spiritual science acts towards that what comes from natural sciences from the other side so that the spiritual and the natural meet in the middle. While you penetrate into such things, you get to know thoroughly that the usual consciousness does not hinder you from appreciating the everlasting, the immortal human soul.
Since you get to know the possibility that the human being lives not only in this form of consciousness but also in other forms of consciousness. If one does not know other forms of consciousness, one can also not attain any idea of the constitution of the human being when he passes the gate of death. However, if you learn to recognise by spiritual research that the usual consciousness is only one of various forms of consciousness, you also learn to recognise that already the sleep is another form of consciousness.
Then you open the way for yourself to penetrate into the spiritual-mental, while you take account of the eligible requirements of material research. Then you say to yourself, the further natural sciences advance, the more riddles they reveal, the more they urge to acknowledge the spirit and its science. They will acknowledge more and more that the usual consciousness needs something material of a lower level as basis, and that spirit and soul of the human being penetrate this lower element in supersensible way. Someone who does not figure this relation of spirit and nature out will be horrified about the unsubtle materialism if today a naturalist, namely with a certain right, says the following: what is, actually, the human cerebral mass? It is an organic matter, and the stimulation which appears in the usual consciousness with the help of this organic nervous substance is real nothing but a tendency of this organic matter to coagulate; and this coagulation of a phosphorous, fat-like substance which appears in our cerebral nervous system if we think, imagine, or perceive, can be compared with that which proceeds if, for example, a jelly prepared by the housewife becomes concrete by cooling.
There the naturalist gets gradually around to thinking rather vividly materially, to saying rather clearly to himself — and the scientific view heads to this rightly: while in the soul the most different processes happen, the natural basis of which is the tendency of the nervous mass to coagulate.
The spiritual researcher does not need to oppose this scientific approach what would be dilettantish because the legitimate scientific method must lead to such knowledge. However, while one recognises which simple material processes happen, while the spiritual-mental is active, one just thereby explains the independence of this spiritual-mental. You gradually find out for yourself not to think about the manifestations of nature as today, unfortunately, most people still think that they explain the essentiality of nature with some material bases, but one will recognise that the essential of nature is to be searched in the spiritual. While one figures this relation of the spiritual to the natural out, one recognises that the spiritual is active in nature everywhere, and that one has to look as it were at the physical facts like at the characters of a writing. If one describes them as characters, one does something right, but does not have something complete. You have to be able to read that what is expressed by the characters which are joined to words; you have to learn to read in nature, so that you understand the facts of nature gradually in such a way that you say to yourself: what the naturalists recognise leads rather to questions than to answers.
The answers can be given only if one figures the spiritual bases out. Today one expects just if a natural philosopher writes about things and processes of nature that he gives answers. You will be right if you say to yourself, what one observes in nature induces the human being to put questions; the answers must come from that what can be grasped only spiritually. Thus, we could point to the most common processes that the spiritual must give the human being the instinct to treat the physical facts in the right way as questions. An everyday fact is the succession of sleeping and waking. Very interesting scientific theories on the nature of sleep exist by Johann Crüger (biographical data not available, Outline of Psychology, 1887), Ludwig Strümpell (1812-1899, philosopher, psychologist, On the Nature and Origin of Dreams, 1877), Preyer (William Thierry P., 1841-1897, physiologist, On the Causes of Sleep, 1877) and many others whom I would like to ignore now.
All these investigations are very interesting, but they suffer above all from the fact that one does not know how to consider the basic facts that one can find only spiritual-scientifically that the alternating states of waking and sleeping really belong to the human life as the pendulum deflection. If you recognise that the human being is a natural being and spiritual being, you also recognise that he swings back and forth with his real self between the physical existence and the spiritual existence. In his awake life, he uses the physical body for the performances that he carries out with the usual consciousness. His physical body is more perfect because it has a longer development behind itself than his spiritual-mental being has which is on a higher level, but is more imperfect. Then he sleeps over with his spiritual-mental in another state of consciousness in which he is not yet able to perceive between birth and death in which he will only perceive when he has crossed the gate of death because he is different connected with the spiritual world without his physical body. This swinging back and forth is a fact that you have to regard as an inner necessity of life. Also in this respect, quite interesting scientific investigations are available. If you are able to go, for example, into some interesting explanations of memory and feelings which the Hungarian researcher Palágyi (Menihért P., 1859-1924, philosopher, physicist) did in his Lectures on Natural Philosophy: On the Basic Problems of Consciousness and Life (1908), you realise that also their natural sciences already approach that from the other side, what spiritual-science recognises. Indeed, I have to say that just the facts brought forward with reference to sleep research that are in the outer nature are not treated correctly as questions.
How does one treat them? A much-respected naturalist of Haeckel's school (Preyer) wrote in a popular writing also about sleep. He states like other naturalists, too, that sleep happens, because the human being is tired, sleep follows tiredness. This is quite right; we will further immediately go into the matter. However, to indicate that the human being can no longer activate his senses, this naturalist points to what must happen, actually, that the human being falls asleep. This respected naturalist states that the tiredness of the senses causes that the human being discontinues because the sensory life stops, until the sensory life has rejuvenated by self-controlling. One considers the human being as a wholly physical being. Therefore, he states the following: what do we do if we fall asleep? We try to lock out the sensory stimuli possibly. We cover the windows of our bedrooms with curtains, so that it is very dark, we lock out the auditory stimuli, so that it is noiseless around us. — He even points out that also the temperature does not let us fall asleep if it is too warm or too cold in the bedroom, and so on, briefly, he wants to show that, indeed, the causes of falling asleep are not to be found in swinging forth and back of life between body and spirit, but in the outer surroundings.
May one put this question correctly this way? Does one regard the outer scientific facts correctly? Then something would not happen, for example, that I have observed numerous cases in my life where people do not at all produce noiseless surroundings or the most possible darkness covering the windows with curtains and so on, but where they fell asleep in bright halls after five minutes, even if the speaker spoke loud. There are not the conditions that the naturalist demands, and sleep still happens, of course only with single persons.
It is just not the point that one has only right conditions complying with the facts, but that one can put these facts into the whole coherence to which they belong. If you know that the alternating states of waking and sleeping are based on the fact that the human being is thereby embedded in the spirit, and that he enjoys this body from without as long as he is not connected with the physical body, then you can also understand that you can exaggerate this enjoyment too. One gets to know the sleep as an independent, in itself founded demand on life, as another state of consciousness as it is which one has in the physical body. Now this state of consciousness has a certain significance for the physical body. You bring that in the physical body also which you experience enjoying from falling asleep up to awakening. Tiredness is thereby removed. This is quite right, but this is something different if anybody says, tiredness is the cause of sleep. It is something else to say, sleep removes tiredness, rather than, tiredness causes sleep. Indeed, if one considers the sleep spiritual-mentally, it may seem comprehensible that the human being longs for sleep if he is tired. There it is necessary to go over in the spiritual. However, tiredness does not cause sleep there but the desire to remove tiredness causes sleep.
You see that that is trend setting for the solution of the riddles of nature what you can find in the spiritual. I would like to bring in an example that I have already presented in the appendix of my last book The Riddles of the Soul. The point is that normally if one speaks about the connection of the soul life with the bodily life today one says almost generally that this soul life is connected only with the nervous life. Those listeners who have listened to me many a time know that I pass personal remarks only reluctantly.
However, here the personal is connected with the objective. Hence, I may say, just this problem to fix the relations of the spiritual-scientific with the scientific also externally has occupied me for thirty to thirty-five years for which I am able only now to find the right words; since spiritual research is not easier than the scientific one. What has arisen to me from spiritual research in the course of this time while perpetually considering and comparing the relevant scientific facts, has confirmed everywhere that one has to characterise the relations of mind and soul with the body unlike it often happens. Indeed rudiments are everywhere, so that I would not like to say that that what I have to pronounce here is original. However, today in this context natural sciences do not yet figure it out. It is the point that one can think soul and mind not only in a relation to a part of the body, to the nervous system, but that one has to imagine the whole spiritual-mental that enters the human body from the spiritual world at birth being connected with the whole body in the following way:
We can divide the spiritual-mental first into perceiving and imagining, secondly into feeling and thirdly into will impulses that materialise then in actions, so that the spiritual-mental as it appears in the usual consciousness consists of this tripartism. The spiritual-scientific facts cause not to relate the imagining, perceiving life to something else in the body than to the nervous system. It is interesting that Theodor Ziehen because he relates the emotions only to the nervous system has the expression “feeling tone” for the emotional life only, as if the emotions were not anything independent in the soul, as if they were only tones of imagining. He denies an independent will life all the more.
All these investigations are right if they relate only this part of the spiritual-mental, imagining and thinking, directly to the nervous system, to the brain. Indeed, natural sciences do not yet have concepts of these nervous processes generally because they do not consider them properly. I will speak about that in the talk on the Revelations of the Unconscious more thoroughly. Then, however, the emotional life is the second member of the spiritual-mental life. This emotional life is only indirectly related to the nervous system. It is directly related to the rhythmic life of blood circulation and respiration. If we pursue the nervous processes in ourselves, we have the bodily counter-image of perceiving and imagining. If we want to have a bodily counter-image of the emotional life, one has to envisage the rhythmical life as it happens in the interplay of respiration and blood circulation. Only because this rhythm approaches the nervous system it is generally possible that we also imagine our feelings. While we imagine our feelings, a direct relation of the emotional life with the imagining life comes about. However, there also a direct relation of that what forms the basis of the emotional life in the body as rhythm to the nervous system comes about.
I know very well that now because there is an experimental psychology this relation of life rhythm to the emotional life is already indicated. However, it is not indicated correctly because that direct relation of the emotional life to the rhythms of life is not searched as one searches, otherwise, the direct relation of imagining to the nervous system. I know well that one can argue much against that what I have stated. I would need a lot of time to refute these objections. They all can be refuted. I want to point only to one thing. Anybody could say, look at the musical-aesthetic feeling, it comes about just by perceiving, imagining. - Thus, one could put many rebuttals forward. These things are just very subtle, and of course, they may be apparently refuted very easily if one looks at them as one often does it today. The true process of the musical-aesthetic feeling is that that which happens in the rhythmic life approaches that — the psychologist knows how this happens — which happens in the brain, while the tones are heard, and that only while the tone settles in the rhythm of the whole body the musical sensation, the aesthetic enjoyment is caused.
A third element is the life in will impulses that materialise in actions. Just in such a way as imagining is connected with the nervous system, the emotional life is connected with the rhythms of respiration and blood circulation, the whole will life is attached to the metabolism. A metabolic process forms the basis of every will process. The things are confused only because everything in the human being interacts in a way, that, for example, the will is involved in the imagining, and thereby the metabolism is involved in the nervous system. However, one is allowed to relate that what happens there as metabolism to the imagining; quite different nervous processes form the basis of that, but one has always to relate it to the will.
Thus, one has related the whole spiritual-mental — thinking, feeling and willing — to the three life processes in the human organism. Since if one goes into the human organism, its whole life exhausts itself to nothing but nervous processes, rhythmical processes and metabolic processes. The whole body is directly connected with the whole spiritual-mental. One can confirm this connection with many facts that are already recognised scientifically that are not put correctly as questions and, hence, one does not find the way to spiritual beholding with them that can only bring order in the scientific riddles. If you familiarise yourself with that in current physiological books what is known in natural sciences and disregard the prejudices which are brought in theoretically, then that is highly confirmed scientifically everywhere what spiritual science has to say. However, natural sciences do not apply their methods comprehensively. They specialise. That is why one does not transfer that which one properly applies to one field to another field.
Does, for example, science understand the position of the magnetic needle physically in such a way that the directional forces work in the magnetic needle only? Rather science says rightly, the earth itself is a big magnet, the magnetic North Pole of the earth attracts one end of the magnet needle, the magnetic South Pole the other end. One puts the magnetic needle with its directional force in the whole universe. Imagine once if one transferred this on the organic science! In the organic science, one goes forward in such a way, as somebody would do who would look for the directional forces of the magnetic needle only in the magnetic needle. There one does embryology and observes how the egg of the chicken develops, one looks for its origin only in the chicken, or at most at its ancestors. If one transferred the physical method on embryology, one would recognise the developmental forces of the egg, of an embryo in the whole universe just like that. Spiritual science has to point to that.
It will show more and more that the scientific facts already confirm today what spiritual science has to say. How can somebody like Loeb cut the substance of hydroids, observe how there on one side head and feelers form, on the other side the feet and so on and completely disregard the fact that there a similar inner relation of the formative forces to the universe exists, as it exists with the magnetic needle to geomagnetism? How can one overlook that miraculous confirmation of the fact which is found spiritually in the spiritual-scientific area that that which lives in the human being in supersensible way as a body of formative forces is integrated in a similar way in the whole universe that thereby cosmic forces are led into the human nature, so that the human being lives, indeed, in the imperishable everlasting universe at the same time? However, it should be talk of it in the next talks where I speak about the everlasting nature of the human being and about the destiny of the soul after death.
It was my task today to show that spiritual science, while it leads to the spirit, also leads to the being of nature that it can really grasp the riddles of nature. Then one does not look back at a Kant-Laplace primeval nebula, but says to himself out of real spiritual knowledge: now you know what is connected in the human being with the whole universe what the higher being is in his wholly outer natural existence what forms the basis of the sensory body.
Now you have to trace back this body how it was in primeval times on that level on which today the spiritual-mental is to advance then to other developmental levels. I can only indicate this. However, it becomes obvious from the whole sense of the today's explanations that one gets around not to imagining the primeval Kant-Laplace nebula as the initial state of the earth, but something spiritual-mental, so that you recognise the transition of the earth and of the human being from the spiritual to the material. Thus, you do not get to the lifeless primeval Kant-Laplace nebula but to the spiritual-mental origin and to the spiritual-mental final state of the earth. You really combine with the outer existence, not hypothetically. You have to grasp thoughts in such a way that they are realistic.
I would like to point here to a very interesting lecture which Professor Dewar (Sir James D., 1842-1923, physicist and chemist) held at the beginning of this century. He calculates that after millions of years the state of the earth will be as follows: there at least a temperature of below 200 degrees centigrade would be; however, at this temperature quite different conditions prevail. Then the atmosphere of the earth will be liquefied. Then the current lighter gases form an air circulation, certain substances that are liquid today become solid as for example the milk. It becomes not only solid, but if it is exposed to light for a while, it will become luminescent. Hence, if one coats the walls with this lacto protein, one can read newspapers with this light! He also describes that one can no longer take photos because at this temperature the chemical forces of the beams of light will have got lost. Briefly, you could continue the picture completely after scientific methods rather well. The spiritual scientist who has learnt to think realistically knows where he has to stop with his thinking. Such research is just in such a way, as if you take any human organ, for example, the heart: you observe its changes for six to seven years and then you infer quite scientifically how the heart will have changed after 300 years. There you have the same method that Professor Dewar applies. While he extends the slow changes of our earth during a reasonable time to millions of years, he gets to the final state of the earth as one would get to a state of the human being after 300 years if one takes the change of an organ or of the total organism as basis during some years for the calculation without regarding the fact that the human being is dead then long since. Thus, the earth does no longer exist at the time, which Professor Dewar has calculated. One would like to ask who yet reads newspapers then at temperatures below 200 degrees centigrade, with these luminescent walls lacquered with lacto protein, which cows will give the solid milk and so on! Already a superficial consideration could point out if one has connected his thinking with reality that, as soon as one stops thinking with those thoughts that the physical reality gives, one has to proceed to the spiritual.
Thus, spiritual science really delivers the ground from which a realistic approach emerges which is coming up to meet a healthy human thinking. It is still noteworthy how a healthy thinking is so designed which does not stand, indeed, on spiritual-scientific ground which faces, however, reality in healthy way, and how it relates to such thinking which is quite scientific which does not notice, however, that this scientificity stops at a certain point being in reality. As a sound feeling cannot defer to such scientific thinking, I would like to point to the explanations that Herman Grimm did about the Kant-Laplace theory, in his Goethe book, about the relation of this theory to Goethe's sound view. He says there:
“The great Laplace-Kant imagination of the origin and future fall of the globe had already gained ground in his youth. From the rotating primeval nebula, the central gas drop forms from which the earth originates that experiences all phases, as a solidifying ball, for unfathomable periods, included the episode of the habitation by human beings, to fall finally as a burnt-out slag into the sun. It is a long, but for the public comprehensible process for whose realisation no other outer intervention is required than the effort of any outer force to maintain the hot temperature of the sun.
One cannot imagine any more futile perspective for the future than that which should be forced upon us in this expectation as scientifically necessary today. A bone of a carrion around which a hungry dog creeps would be a refreshing appetising piece compared with this last excrement of creation as which our earth would become subject, in the end, to the sun again. It is the thirst for knowledge and a sign of ill imagination with which our generation accepts such things and believes them. Future scholars have to use a lot of astuteness to explain it as historical phenomenon.”
If anybody says such a thing to us, it is a given if it is a usual human being, a fool, if it is Herman Grimm, a witty person who was misled, however, just by his imagination and could not penetrate because of his imaginative idealism just into the strict, exact method of natural sciences. Well! However, in the end, someone who applies correct scientific methods still needs the possibility to recognise where he leaves reality with his thinking, which is taken from the completely physical processes, and where he has to enter into the spirit to remain in reality. Then he convinces himself that the biggest riddles of nature, the initial and final states of earth lead to the spiritual that one does not have to regard the Kant-Laplace primeval nebula, Dewar's state of congelation, but the spiritual-mental origin and goal are the opposite ends of the earthly development. This spiritual-mental-physical earth corresponds to the spiritual-mental-physical life of the human being at the same time.
Careful, serious naturalists already feel what spiritual science wants. However, there one is little inclined even today to deal with the things seriously. At Darwin's centenary a significant naturalist of the present, Julius Wiesner (1838-1916, Austrian botanist), wrote about the negative and positive aspects of Darwin's theory. Among the rest, you find a place in it about aberrations and the negative aspects of Darwin's theory that has evoked so much materialistic nuances in issues of worldview. Wiesner says the following: approximately the true naturalist is well aware of the borders of his scientific approach and knows that natural sciences can deliver, indeed, the stones of a worldview, however, never more than the stones. The picture is almost appropriate because one can explain it even further. Natural sciences really deliver stones only. If one takes stones, one cannot build a house with them. One has to take the laws of building a house from the outside, from the relation to gravity, from the relation to pressure, from everything that is not in the stones, the stones must comply with other laws. Indeed, then you realise that, while you have built the house according to the laws which are not in the stones themselves you have expressed something in the relations of pressure and gravity, of harmony of the house that can lead back you again to similar relations in nature from which the stones are quarried out. However, the house can only be built if you subject the stones to laws different from those, which are in themselves. Wiesner is completely right, natural sciences can deliver stones, but they must be subjected to laws different from those, which can be found in the sphere of physical existence. Where from the laws are taken with which spiritual science builds while it uses the scientific results investigating the spiritual life? Just in such a way as the architect has carried out the plan of the house and the house itself, just the spiritual scientist builds the worldview of natural sciences with that what refers to the spiritual in nature according to the laws which he has observed spiritually. As you can find something in the structure of the house that leads back to the structure of nature from which the stones are quarried out, we are again led back to nature by spiritual science. Spiritual science can lighten the physical life, but it must not believe, and natural sciences must also not believe that with the stones and their laws, with the immediate scientific results, a worldview can be developed for natural sciences.
The today's considerations might justify it that I summarise them at the end with the short quotation: it becomes obvious just if one observes and considers the riddles of nature correctly that natural sciences themselves lead to the spirit, and that in the consideration of the spirit also the elements are given to solve the riddles of nature. Thus, you can formulate as a mnemonic:
Nature cannot clarify itself but only the light that you attain in the spiritual world can lighten the processes and beings of nature. If you want to recognise nature, you have to take the way through the spirit. The spirit is the light that lights up its own being and can light up the riddles of nature on its own accord.