The Supersensible Human Being
Berlin, 18 April 1918
Because one has to consider the supersensible human being as the core of the human being, it is quite natural that the knowledge of the supersensible human being is human self-knowledge. However, with this human self-knowledge you face a very strange paradox. On the one side, you face the necessity of understanding the human being as a supersensible being; on the other side, any usual cognitive ability is bound to the sensory appearance. What he grasps with his reason is also bound to the sensory appearance. One could say without thinking, self-knowledge demands the view of the human being with cognitive abilities that are far away from his consciousness at first. In so far as the human being becomes aware of himself as a supersensible being, he has to acknowledge in a certain sense that everything that he performs in life arises from his supersensible being. On the other side, one could say, everything that appears in his consciousness appears sensorily “veiled” in a somewhat improper sense. Hence, one misunderstands spiritual-scientific research and speaking about the supersensible so easily and so often. Since the today's considerations will show that one cannot approach the true nature of the human being with the usual abilities of the everyday consciousness. Yes, one has even to say that that kind of knowledge which has developed so greatly on scientific basis rather misleads concerning the self-knowledge than to lead this self-knowledge in the right way. Since just if the well-schooled scientific way of thinking approaches the human self-knowledge, one notices that it can fail too easily. We want to take an example as starting point.
In the very interesting booklet The Subconscious Self and Its Relation to Education and Health by Louis Waldstein (1853-1915) is talk of various things that also strike the scientist if he gets to know the human life in its development in the different relations. We have spoken in a former talk about the revelations of the unconscious, of the subconscious. The example that I want to bring in is that of a naturalist, and the way in which he speaks about that is completely scientific. The author of this booklet wants to point to a certain place how this subconscious being plays a peculiar, vague role. Waldstein chooses the following example. He says, I stood before the shop-window of a bookstore. Because I am a naturalist, I just looked at a book about mollusks. At this moment when I saw this book, I started smiling to myself, and I was surprised why I did this, because a book about mollusks has nothing humorous. — He continues: I closed my eyes to investigate what maybe proceeded in my surroundings. When I turned the view away from the book, I heard the tones of a barrel organ quite soft in the distance. It played the melody of a song that one played when I danced my first quadrille. At that time, I did not care with which sympathies or antipathies I met this melody; since I was occupied very much to make my dance steps well arranged. At that time, I was not at all especially careful on what entered half my consciousness musically. Still the fact that I must smile standing before the book about mollusks after decades proves that the impression, which at that time that melody had done still, has continuing effects; and if I had not closed my eyes, but had been content with the astonishment, I would not have known then why I smiled standing before the book.
One realises how mysteriously such things have continuing effects in the subsoil of the soul life, how much generally exists in the human being that comes up only quite fantastically in the consciousness; one realises how difficult it is to get to real self-knowledge. Since to which danger do you expose yourself, if you want to practise introspection? To the danger that you have to deal with all possible completely blurred subconscious things which you have maybe taken up decades ago which have a lasting effect which work only in the deepest subsoil of the soul like a mood that comes up then and nuances what you now observe in yourself.
Waldstein and others bring in numerous such examples. You find those also in my book How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds?. Such examples are very suitable to be rather careful about introspection. Since even some people believe to get with introspection also to a real knowledge of the human being. Some people also believe while bringing up such memories from their subconsciousness that they do all possible clairvoyant discoveries.
Now one has to be careful also in another respect. You can realise, for example, that some who claim to figure this or that out by their supersensible knowledge of their inside express this supersensible knowledge in pictures which are got, for example, from telegraphs or railways or as the case may be. From it, one would see that the supersensible with its pictures had just to wait to appear, until the railways were invented. Someone who does not approach the supersensible research uncritically will also be able to know easily how frivolously one proceeds in this field now and again, and how it is really soothing that thorough scientific thinking points to the fact that such contents which somebody regards as revelation of higher worlds sometimes are nothing but what the person concerned has taken up once in any blurred way at a younger age
In my book I have pointed out that, actually, everything works on the human being and that sometimes in something that the one regards as an inspiration is nothing but the transformation of a shop sign at which he did not properly look when passing by in the street, but which penetrated only into his subconscious.
With it, one points to an area of human life that one has to consider rather carefully and rather critically just by somebody who seriously wants to expand his research to the supersensible world. However, on the other side, all these memories, these subconscious images point to something else, it is as it were the side effect of something quite different. There I have to return more exactly to something that I have already mentioned here in the course of these talks: the relation between memory and the usual mental pictures. A very usual kind of thinking that has played a big role also in science, in particular in psychology, is that the human being has experiences while facing the outside world. These experiences evoke mental pictures in him. Now he has these mental pictures. After some time he “remembers.” Now one imagines this process very often in such a way, as if these mental pictures, which he had once and which he has somewhere in the subsoil of the soul, come up again as recollections in his consciousness. One thinks very often, more or less consciously or subconsciously, that that which appears in the recollection is nothing but the same mental picture which one had once, and which was down there anyhow and comes up again in the consciousness. However, someone who knows to practise real observation in this field has to regard this way of thinking as something rather childish and dilettantish.
Since if we face an outer phenomenon if we have an experience of the smallest or biggest kind, which evokes perception and mental pictures by the perception in us, this “activity” — I want to call it provisionally so — is accompanied by another activity of which we do not become aware usually. This activity is yet another one; it accompanies the conscious imagining activity and causes something in us that leads to memory. However, you have to observe properly. The most trivial observation in this area is that if you consider the difference of imagining, which can be completely easy, and memorising. Remember only what the young people who have to “cram” for an exam have to do, so that they have not only the mental picture, but also keep it in mind. There quite weird performances are carried out sometimes. Think of the play, which takes place between the human hands and the head if anybody has to cram something. Of course, that is only an outer sign of what I mean. But in truth it is in such a way that during the imagining activity another activity is still there which does not get to our consciousness and exercises an effect on our organism which consists of something quite different than of forming mental pictures. Later if we remember that again which we have imagined once, this mental picture completely originates anew. It originates as it were from the “sign,” from the “engram” — if I am allowed to use this expression — which that activity can exercise which accompanies the imagining activity on our organism. As we face the object of the outside world and form, inwards directed, our mental picture, we face our organs while remembering.
What happens there what is different from our imagining as the outer object is different from our mental picture is changed into the mental picture anew. Somebody who is able to observe the organisation of the human mind and its effectiveness knows that that which forms as a mental picture appears and disappears, while it is imagined. If anything is reminded, the mental picture has not slept down there and appears again, but from something quite different that happens below in the organism the mental picture is anew formed. What I want to show there is that we have to see something in that accompanying activity, which goes along with it, actually, in the subsoil of our conscious life and is connected with something that always emerges with the memories from our subconscious. As well as everything that appears in the world has its concomitants which appear like the caricature of the real now and again, is that which I have mentioned from the writing by Waldstein also such a concomitant of the quite normal regular way how the human being works in the memories. I would like to say, what proceeds subconsciously, so that the human being has a memory, appears in such things if it overflows or if anything remains indistinct or blurred like the sounds of a barrel organ that still generate an effect making Waldstein smile. That which is there rather conceals the things than that it explains them. Since the point is that it is a very normal activity, which is very necessary for the human being, namely that which forms the basis of the human memory. This is something that accompanies our whole conscious life perpetually, but we do not turn our attention upon this accompanying activity in the usual life. The accompanying activity is due to our organisation.
It is a kind of touchstone of the real supersensible research to consider such a thing like this accompanying activity forming memory. Since that which normally works in the subconscious can be changed into something conscious on the first level at first. Changing something unconscious into something conscious is one of the capacities that lead to the real investigation of the supersensible. What remains usually subconscious must be brought up in the consciousness. Thereby it already becomes different. The exercises, which I have described in my book, which one has to go through to put the soul in such a condition that it can face the supersensible, consist of many things. However, one can illustrate something elementary showing that this first elementary is related to a quite normal activity which remains, however, usually subconscious. One has to carry out the activity consciously which is carried out there unconsciously, but quite normally to form the memory. For that, it is necessary that you are able to refrain from that activity which causes the usual mental pictures bound to the senses. You must be able to withdraw as it were from this imagining. However, you are not able to do this if you cannot replace it with another kind of imagining. You attain this, while you focus on self-developed mental pictures that are easily understandable.
I say "easily understandable" mental pictures; this is exceptionally important. Self-chosen, self-developed, easily understandable mental pictures must be because just any subconscious, everything about which one cannot know to which blurred perception it is due must be removed. However, you never are sure — one sees this from this example — that this blurred, subconscious weaving of the soul life is blanked out if you do not focus on a mental picture which you can really figure out at the moment where you yourself have formed it, so that you know, any part of this mental picture has arisen from your immediate will which you have unfolded at this moment. “Self-chosen” does not mean of course “self-made;” you can get such mental pictures from an experienced spiritual researcher, and he is able to know best of all how they can be adapted to the individuality of the human being concerned. However, it matters that you intermingle the mental picture with the thoughts and experience in the soul that you have nothing in the soul but this mental picture. It also matters that these mental pictures occupy our consciousness if possible in very versatile way so that this mental picture is present in every atom, I would like to say. This is particularly fulfilled if you take such mental pictures in your consciousness that stimulate you to make the thoughts versatile.
A growing plant, for example, is a good mental picture; not staring at something resting, but at something that is in motion or that has any relations to each other. Thereby we are protected that our consciousness becomes idle while staring at the mental picture. Since it matters for the investigation of the supersensible world that everything that is done as preparation has to be done completely consciously from start to finish that in no way the consciousness is anyhow darkened. Hence, it belongs to the first requirements of the future spiritual researcher that he eliminates everything from that soul activity which should lead him to spiritual research — of course, not from the remaining life — that can decrease the consciousness anyhow. It is particularly important that in this living in easily understandable mental pictures, in this “meditating,” nothing prevails in the consciousness that may darken it. It is the first requirement that anything dreamy, all thoughts, arising from the inside, which one likes, are eliminated from the preparations of spiritual-scientific research. Furthermore, everything has to disappear that could anyhow darken the consciousness of percipience. What you want to aim at must not deal anyhow, for example, with staring a luminous point by which one could get to a certain hypnotic condition, or with that which some people even feel as a rather nice preparation: looking at a “crystal ball” and the like. The opposite of all suggestive or hypnotic conditions you have to exercise if you prepare yourself for spiritual research. You can learn from that: if you often hear from people who are also “followers” of spiritual science and say that you have to lose yourself if possible eliminating the own being to a dreamy “devotion,” then it is that “spiritual science” which may cause a lot of ease which does not at all lead, however, to the investigation of the supersensible world.
I have to draw attention sometimes to such things; since even people who want to be serious critics of spiritual research confuse it with its opposite. Even a critic (Max Dessoir, 1867-1947, German philosopher) who has made a great stir confuses this spiritual research with its opposite, and he describes them in Beyond the Soul (1917), with those phenomena which belong by no means to the spiritual world according to the methods of spiritual research. However, it is strange that just this critic brings in an example of his own soul life that he continued speaking for a while when he held a lecture and then only realised that he had continued speaking without his thoughts having gone along. You can be quite sure that such a lecturer has not understood any trace of that which I mean here with spiritual research.
Of course, you have to develop that further what I have given now, but it matters to emphasise the essentials. The essentials and important of that what you experience internally this way is the following:
While you evoke such mental pictures more and more in your soul and mind how the soul is active different than with the outer percipience, the big, important fact manifests itself to you from a certain point on that you are now inside such a soul activity which remains usually unaware and leads in the usual life to the formation of memory. You have pushed one level down as it were what you experience, otherwise, in the imagining. You have not considered what you experience, otherwise, in the imagining, and you have considered what accompanies this imagining else. You have pushed your whole ego-consciousness one level down where, otherwise, this is done what leads to memory, and you get to know this way what takes place usually perpetually below in the soul what you do not consider in the usual consciousness. I have repeatedly shown also here what the fact depends on that the human being is able to form memories. Everybody knows what it means to the human being if his memory power is disturbed pathologically for a time. You get to know a level of soul experience which represents something subconscious to the usual life, and which still cannot be denied, because it is there in its effects which, however, is a particular experience if you settle in that which you have woken by meditating.
This experience is a shaking one for someone who generally has a feeling of such things. You experience that you have reached that level where memory lives that you have approached something in your being that proceeds, otherwise, rather unconsciously that normally never enters even approximately in your consciousness by its nature. This memory-forming force is related to the formative force in us in a way. Since while the force of growth is far away from the usual imagining, it is near by the memory-forming force. Always something immediately grows together that is, otherwise, separated: the force of growth and the memory-forming force to a compound thing which you have in yourself and which you get to know this way. We carry this perpetually in ourselves.
The usual consciousness does not suspect at all that the same force which accompanies the human being as force of growth, as formative force is — increased and refined — the same to which you appeal if you form memories. However, it is something compound. If you get to know the thing, it presents itself as something compound. Since you learn to distinguish that which is combined as force of growth and as memory-forming force; it is as it were a duality that co-operates as a unity. While you dwell on the thing, you discover: what you bring up as memory is, actually, subconscious knowledge, a deeper level of consciousness in which our usual ego does not live. However, this consciousness penetrates the force of growth.
The force of growth and the memory-forming force face each other closer than our conscious knowledge and the outer physical world. However, our conscious knowledge of the outer physical world is more distant from each other; we cannot build the bridge from the one to the other. That which we want to get from there, which we bring to mind by meditations, carries its own object in itself, but it is something that is related to our knowledge. We learn to figure a duality out. However, this duality appears, the further you advance in your soul life, very clear to the beholding consciousness. You behold the force of growth this way. You behold it — to use a good old quotation of Troxler (Ignaz Paul Vital T., 1780-1866, Swiss physician and philosopher) — as the true human corporeality compared with the physical corporeality. In our usual consciousness, we perceive the physical corporeality. This subconsciousness perceives this corporeality in us.
Do not misunderstand me, I have called this corporeality the body of formative forces in the magazine Das Reich. I called it the “etheric body” previously. Because certain people take exception to expressions, I have tried to come closer with the term to that which it concerns and I have called that which is closest to the physical body and accompanies our whole life as formative- forces the “body of formative forces.” One can call that which does not live in our usual consciousness which is always closer to this body of formative forces, and to which one gets by meditation the “astral body” for certain reasons; but one can also call it the “soul,” which works a level deeper than the usual consciousness.
As the chemist separates a compound substance into the different elements, or as the physicist splits the white sunlight into different colours, we have the nature of the human being divided into the physical body that one perceives with the outer senses, into the body of formative forces that is the first supersensible member of the human being, and into the astral body or soul that subconsciously knows about the work of the body of formative forces, but shines in the usual consciousness only in the memory pictures . From all that the real ego is separated which swims on this triple human being, which knows nothing about that which the soul knows about the bodily, which separates, however, from the soul and which then forms the usual consciousness, and which is spiritual. The fact that this ego-being must be separated as a particular member from the other members turns out only if you advance further with the recommended exercises. I have described how one puts self-formed, clear mental pictures into the soul. It is advantageous if one takes versatile mental pictures and tries to feel, to experience what can be just experienced resting in such mental pictures.
These are two things. The one is that you become aware that there is such a weaving and living in the human being as it is similar to the memory formation. The other is what you experience if you look internally at this experience. It is as if you proceed in such a way that you form the mental pictures on one side, the thinking on the other side, which becomes memory then. This is a particular experience. Someone who goes through it who trains himself as spiritual researcher in the real sense knows that this is a particular experience. Since an element stops from a certain moment on prevailing in this soul life, which, otherwise, is significant always for our soul life: the spatial element. If you reflect that in the usual consciousness almost only spatial images are available, then you realise how much the usual consciousness is dependent on space. This experience, which attaches itself to such mental pictures, as I have developed, causes gradually to know yourself lifted out of space and being in only temporal processes. This is like a significant progress of the human soul life: to know yourself in the tides of time, because this causes to figure the stream of time out really. I said, the whole results in recognising the relationship of the memory power with the forces of growth. You are put just in this.
Something else is still important. I said, it is a double: to have these mental pictures — and to pay particular attention on what you experience there, how you really experience the mental pictures becoming versatile, the living in time, since then you are with your ego in this imagining life.
You are not only in an imagining life, but also generally in a life, which is mixed with the real forces working in time. Then you have got at an ego-experience that is completely different from the usual ego-experience. Someone who knows the usual ego-experience by appropriate introspection knows how narrowly it is bound to the human corporeality, and I have described last time to which elements of the corporeality the ego is bound at first: that it concerns equilibrium relationships, so spatial relations. However, you cannot stay at this experience, but you properly get into the course of time.
Very few people regard anyhow what I have indicated now. Thus, some philosophers assume that our ego is that ego which remains in any experience from birth to death. However, this weird concept of the permanent usual ego as Bergson (Henri B., 1850-1941) designed it can be easily disproved. Every dreamless sleep disproves this assertion. This is why one is not able to build up something on the usual ego-experience if one wants to recognise the human being. However, one carries the ego--experience into the course of time.
If one carries the ego into the course of time if to the other experience of the mental subconscious and the memory-forming body this new ego-experience appears, then it does not count any more that every sleep interrupts this ego-experience, but then something else counts. Then turns out that with our ego-idea also the following is associated.
I have shown last time from which vague feeling this ego-idea appears. It has to be inspired as it were. It is not there in the dreamless sleep. How is it inspired? It is inspired when we approach our corporeality with our soul again. Our corporeality stimulates our ego in the usual consciousness from without. We collide in the usual consciousness with our body; this stimulates our ego-idea. This ego-idea must not be considered as something permanent. However, with that which I have portrayed as new ego-experience the situation is quite different. This lives in the tides of time, it is lifted out from space. This is just inspired, while the human being inspires the experience at one moment in time and not with the spatial collision with his corporeality, but in the collision with the experience of another moment in time. This ego-experience about which I have spoken now is identical with the fact that if I wake I collide in mysterious way with that moment in time at which I have fallen asleep. This forms the basis of the new ego-experience that we experience ourselves at different, at consecutive moments in time that we bridge the time, even if it is discontinuous if sleep disturbs it.
These are the essentials of this ego-experience. Because we immerse the ego in the soul, as far as this is related with the conditions of growth, thereby we immerse the ego itself in the conditions of growth. We advance to that in the ego, which accompanies us from birth to death; we penetrate into the continual stream of ego-experience. What philosophy only concludes else about which one only judges, this is experienced. One defends himself even against the fact that Eduard von Hartmann talks of the fact that if one wants to observe a feeling it is disturbed and changes.
If Eduard von Hartmann notices this, he just wants to exclude that the ego can live in this stream of time. He wants to prove just with it that for the ego-experience the stream of time gets lost to him. However, it does not get lost, but is just gained with it. Yes, someone who can practise introspection spiritual-scientifically knows that the ego-experience that is there at this moment interrelates with former moments in time.
Do not take it as tomfoolery or as boast, if I tell an own experience which seems to be very simple if it is experienced which shook me again recently. I finished a book in 1894 in which I pointed out wholly philosophically that the human thinking is already something spiritual: my Philosophy of Freedom. At that time, I was a young man of 33 years. Now recently the necessity has arisen to work through this book again, to go through everything again that penetrated my soul at that time and to observe at the same time how the ego-experiences of today relate to the quite same ego--experiences of those days.
If you succeed in realising how something similar appears in time while experiencing again and encountering the revived experiences as usually at awakening, then you can just realise with such an example how the ego is inspired exactly the same way as in the corporeality at awakening, while it meets something of it again that existed in the stream of time. Someone who cannot observe this does not imagine at all what he experiences if he does not have the ego in the stream of space, but if he is forced to think it according to the mental pictures in the Philosophy of Freedom that many people regard as “abstractions.” I call them the most concrete, most living mental pictures because the Philosophy of Freedom develops nothing but living concepts. This is the ego-experience due to the interrelation of the one moment in time with the other moment in time. There begins that what you can pictorially call the transition to the inner musical experience of the world. It is, as if you interrelate a tone of a melody to the other tones of the melody if not only this originates that the tone shakes the air as it were, experiences itself in space, but if a tone interrelates with the other tone. It is impossible actually to look different at the inner weaving and living of this highest member of the human being from to proceed to such a musical experience of the one moment of time through the other.
The whole human being is thereby divided into (1) the physical body, (2) the body of formative forces working in the memory, which spiritualises the body of formative forces like a subconscious knowledge, (3) the actual soul or astral body, and (4) the ego. Then we have tried to look at the supersensible, and with it you have the complete human being. With it, you also have the suggestion how you have to experience, so that you can directly behold the permanent in the human being. There is no interpretation or philosophical analysis of the usual ego useful; you have to carry this ego into another sphere, you have to experience it anew on quite different conditions. That ego which you experience this way is an ego that is independent from the spatial corporeality at the same time, and it can gradually perceive, while you continue your exercises, that in the tides of time which lives in the human being only temporally, not spatially.
If I am allowed to insert something for those who know of such things: one has pointed out in the present philosophy that one does not approach the soul if one wants to grasp it substantially, but only if one grasps it as a passage through a process. In particular, Wundt (Wilhelm W., 1832-1920, German psychologist and philosopher) pointed to that. However, Wundt pointed to the fact abstractly that one does not approach the soul if one considers it as a substance, but that one has to observe it in the living process.
However, it does not concern to visualise it only in the mental process by abstractions but to submerge with the own ego in the mental process and to experience it. Then one can gradually pursue this mental process also beyond those times in which it is busy in the spatial-physical. If you have learnt to let collide the experience of one moment in time with the other moment, then you can also gradually develop the ability in yourself to let collide the inner experience of the ego generally with the stream of time where the spatial-bodily-has only originated in the stream of heredity. Then the stream of time extends beyond the spatial-bodily, then you behold in the stream of time in which the ego weaves in the life before birth and in the life after death.
To somebody who experiences that which I have described now in principle something occurs internally that one can compare with the experience, which probably Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) might have had when he stood at the beginning of the modern scientific way of thinking and asserted this. The human beings up to Giordano Bruno looked at the cosmic space, saw the blue firmament and regarded it as a real border of space. It was significant that in Giordano Bruno's soul the idea appeared first: there is really nothing at all; only our view, only the conditions of our sense perception cause that we see a blue bowl there; in truth it extends to infinity, the blue firmament is only a border of our view. This also applies to the temporal. Birth or conception and death become the borders of the temporal firmament at which we look which our sense. What we regard as our world in which we live with our ego, with our supersensible human being, this is beyond this temporal firmament beyond death on one side, beyond birth or conception on the other side. Today we face this great leap forward of the human knowledge where in similar way as centuries ago the spatial illusion was removed the illusion is now removed that birth and death are borders beyond which one cannot get.
You have to do this leap. Then it opens the view of the real life of your supersensible being. However, you have to consider particularly: someone who wants to become a spiritual researcher as I have described here has to pursue with the highest critical introspection always what could keep him from coming objectively into this spiritual world. He can be very easily kept from it. It is advantageous not to use mental pictures for meditation, which evoke feelings and emotions. Somebody who uses mental pictures, which excite him very strongly, can deceive himself very easily. Hence, you should avoid for the preparation that religious impulses are brought in the exercises. Strange to say — it will be fine with some people — those mental pictures are the very best which touch us the least concerning our emotional life. If you become engrossed in geometry in such versatile mental pictures where the figures can accept different forms, or in such mental pictures, as I have shown them in the Philosophy of Freedom, then that furthers us in this field. With it, I do not want to say that spiritual-scientific research is not concerned with the religious life. However, it concerns that one gets to that religious internalization and deepening for which just spiritual science can also be the preparation best of all because one does not take it as starting point, but proceeds with very unemotional and incurious mental pictures on the way of research, and if you are in the spiritual world, the view which can already be a mighty help just for the religious deepening comes to you from this spiritual world. Thus, you have to use particular mental pictures, which are not associated with the griefs and concerns of human life and which you can easily understand. However, these never are the mental pictures, which excite us easily, because there everything imaginable appears from the subconscious in the soul. One has to exclude this subconscious above all.
You really penetrate into a spiritual experience this way where you can find that being in the human being only which lives in the freedom of will which lives in the immortal soul being. Every human being bears it in himself. However, you can recognise it only in such ways as I have described.
In the next talk, I want to go on talking from this point about the important questions of the human soul life: about the freedom of will and about the immortality of the soul. I want to show how one advances from the supersensible human being to a real conception of the life of this supersensible human being, of the life in the real perpetuity, and the life in the freedom of will. People have argued so much about freedom of will and immortality because one did not want to get involved with creating the necessary preparations first to enter the field of human experience which you have to enter if you want to gain a view of that from which only freedom of will originates, and in which only that rests which goes through births and deaths in the human being. You have to recognise first how in the human life the temporal runs during this life on earth. Then you also find the ways to get beyond this life on earth.
Such research can become fertile for the most important, most practical fields of life, for example, for education. One does not at all consider this field from the temporal experience of the soul, although one wants to make modern ideas fertile for it today. Someone who can look from one time of human experience to another finds a metamorphosing life in the soul life. He finds, for example: if he has grown old and looks back at former times and then at more distant times, and if he looks not only outwardly, but experiences it internally, then he notices how the inner mental object changes what originates from an object of the soul life at a moment in time.
One notices: what works in the childhood mainly as will what is expressed as wish works in the later life in the experience of life, works in the thinking. What we have later as fifty years old humans as experience of life is a transformed will life of our childhood. As the petal of the plant is a transformed green leaf in the sense of the Goethean metamorphosis outwardly, but as the leaf does not remain green, but becomes red with the rose, that changes which is wish with the child into experiences of life in the later age. And vice versa: what the child thinks changes into willpower in the later life. If you know this coherence, you can imagine how you can work on the child!
If you fulfil every senseless wish of a child and induce it that it atomises its will in all directions, then you make it relatively idiotic early in later age because the atomised will cannot change into experience of life which expresses itself in a quiet life of thought later. — This metamorphosis of the inner life manifests itself to spiritual beholding as usually spatial relations manifest themselves. One also learns to recognise that one has to try to lead the thoughts of the child, so that it does not become a limp, weak human being later, but takes up such mental pictures that lead to a certain willpower. Someone who possibly believes that by suggestion of the will the will, and by suggestion of the life of thought the thoughts are strengthened is on a quite wrong track; he does not know the weaving and living of the supersensible human being. Here is a point — and we could bring in countless ones — where real penetrating into the reality of existence leads immediately to life praxis. Somebody who wants to stop at the outer reality resembles a person who has a horseshoe-shaped piece of iron before himself and says about it, this is a horseshoe-shaped piece of iron. However, another says to him, this is a magnet. The former means, I see nothing of it, I see a horseshoe only, and I want to shoe my horse with it. — He does not see the magnet. What can the other do who can add the invisible to reality!
Thus, the world is interspersed with something invisible. However, everywhere reality is fulfilled with a stream of existence that one only recognises if one gets a relation of the supersensible in the human being to the supersensible in the surrounding existence. The fact that many things make a particularly unreal impression in our time is due to the fact that the human beings believe to face the stream of reality immediately. This should be “a scientific view.” However, they do not realise what lives in the depths of reality. Hence, they cannot acknowledge that which weaves in the human life as something real. Someone who has a recognising sense for that which goes forward in the present who can compare subtler, more intimate events to the catastrophic events which have now become the human misfortune is reminded very much of how necessary it is just in our time that understanding of the supersensible relation of the human being to the world gains ground again in humanity. If you ask yourself how it has happened, actually, that this understanding is not there, then you can characterise it in the following way.
It is not there. Today people are regarded as especially clever, and those who are far away from reality are clever in certain respect. I can call a book in which, actually, from start to finish no tone of reality is included, and which contains the knowledge of the whole world, nevertheless, strictly speaking from its point of view, because it is a dictionary, a philosophical one: that by Fritz Mauthner (1849-1923, German author) which is an idol of knowledge not so much of the experts but of numerous laymen or — if I am not allowed to say this — “journalists.” However, someone who approaches this book with sense of reality can get a peculiar feeling. Start reading any article, read it to the end: you have turned around in a circle.
It is, as if you have looked at something that blinded you; then you turn around and look again. However, you get to nothing at all. You ask yourself with every article why it is written, actually? It is to everybody with sense of reality a torture to read this pretentious book. Nevertheless, it is a very clever book. I could praise the astuteness, the cleverness of this book; but a book has come about which reminds you with every article of the good Munchausen who wanted to pull himself out of a swamp on his own shock of hair. This book is also typical for many things that are thought in the present and are done for a long time, and what removes the human beings from reality, from the supersensible. However, in this supersensible the spiritual, the real is flowing. Why did the human being diverge from reality?
Nothing can face the real Christianity and the real piety more understanding than spiritual science. However, take the reality that is often associated with the development of the last two millennia, there you get stuck into the idea: you have to search the spirit beyond outer nature, have to consider the outer nature as something that you must avoid if you want to get to the spirit. Go back to the older centuries, and you realise that one withdraws from the outer nature and her secrets; one looks for other ways and does not look for the spirit that is spread out in nature. Then natural sciences came; other necessities appeared to the human consciousness concerning the concept of nature. However, the former centuries had made sure not to see the spirit in nature; one wanted to find it apart nature. Now she faced the human beings and she was divested of spirit. Now one investigated that nature which one had divested of spirit. This takes place since four to five centuries. Because one saw everything approaching the human being from this spirit-divested nature with a certain necessity, the human being was also divested of spirit. The spirit-divested nature became the vampire of the human spirit. Nature entered in science and her facts became irrefutable. I have often said that the human beings have to admire the results of natural sciences; but nature must not be considered as spirit-divested, otherwise, it becomes the vampire, and one can no longer find what lives in the human being as spirit. Then you find what the barrel organ plays. That which the barrel organ plays is below in the organic. There one grasps the organic life only, one side of life only, not the other side that we have taken as starting point today that already has the supersensible stream in the memory.