Truths and Errors of Spiritual Research
II. How Does One Disprove Spiritual Science?
19 March 1911, Prague
The title of the today's talk How Does One Disprove Theosophy? may appear strange at first. However, it seemed to me that it could be a good introduction to understand the theosophical or spiritual-scientific worldview to let our thoughts wander over this subject. If spiritual science wants to gain the hearts of many contemporaries, it is particularly necessary that it is not only a worldview but also that from this worldview and philosophy of life impulses originate which should give us strength, security, and hope for life.
Nothing is more dangerous for a worldview than fanaticism. This asserts itself just with the various worldviews; everybody knows this. If theosophy or spiritual science should give an impulse just in this direction, it has to be unfanatical, that means to understand its opponents and their objections completely. How easily does one regard an opponent as an illogical, maybe even as a bad person? Spiritual science should get itself into understanding the opponent and his reasons. It has every reason to do this. Indeed, it can satisfy some longings of life, but one must say on the other side, the way is rather far to the depths to recognise the validity of its assertions and teachings. The difficulties that face someone who wants to find the way conscientiously to theosophy from the everyday life are just the biggest ones.
Hence, I want to prepare the talk that I will hold on 25 March here and that shall introduce into the being of theosophy in positive way with a consideration of the possible and up to a certain degree entitled objections. However, to be able to speak about such objections, we have only to come to an agreement what theosophy — meant here — wants to be. Since it is sure that one cannot be successful with any theosophical book. Above all, I want to speak of theosophy as far as it claims to be taken seriously as science. What is now theosophy if we disregard everything that sticks to its heels in dilettantish way?
Theosophy wants to be a worldview that leads to the spiritual world. It wants to give scientific reasons of that view which states that behind everything that our senses say about the outside world that our mind engaged in the brain says about the outside world one can recognise a spiritual world. In this spiritual world, only the reasons of everything are that takes place in the sensory world and in the intellectual world.
With it, however, we would not differ as theosophists very much from supporters of this or that worldview. Since today more and more people, also of the outer science, are convinced that behind everything that the outer science can investigate something else is concealed that is unknown at first. Now it is not substantial for theosophy or spiritual science that one admits that something spiritual exists behind any physical, but the essentials are that the human being recognises to a certain degree and recognises in higher and higher measure — if he enables his own soul — what there is behind the physical world. Theosophy or spiritual science cannot agree with those who state that there are limits of human knowledge. — We have to confine ourselves, however, as human being to that which the senses recognise what methodical science can investigate. However, we can assume that one can extend these limits of human knowledge more and more, so that the human being develops his cognitive forces to be able to recognise worlds that are different from the world in which he is at first with his normal consciousness. From this viewpoint theosophy is inextricably connected with the requirement that the human being can develop spiritual senses, spiritual eyes and ears, higher organs, not higher physical organs, but higher spiritual-mental organs, so that for him at a certain time the great moment takes place. If this also happens on a higher level, nevertheless, you can compare it to the moment that a blind-born experiences if he can see after an operation. While before he had darkness around himself, now the world of light, of forms and colours presents itself to him. Thus, it is possible for every soul to experience the moment of awakening in another world, to behold different from in the world with the normal consciousness. In the characterised sense, one has to regard this new world as a higher, supersensible one.
Then theosophy shows the means to cause such a moment of awakening. About these means, I speak particularly in the next talk. Today I want only to outline the theosophical worldview.
Let us envisage the moment of falling asleep where all outer impressions stop, and where the reason that spreads out like a net about the sensory perception stops functioning. We may say, in such case the human being is in another form of existence; he can perceive nothing around himself if the impressions of the sensory world and the work of the reason stop. Of course, only the real experience can decide whether it is necessary that the human being always must get another condition if he receives no impressions of the sensory world which resembles the sleep, or whether there can also be another state. Only the experience of those can decide this who have gone through the intimate work of the soul by which they have developed such strong soul impulses so that something can happen to them that resembles the moment of falling asleep and, nevertheless, is radically different from it. It resembles falling asleep in this respect that all outer sensory impressions and intellectual activities stop. It is different because that who wants to become a spiritual researcher makes his soul active with exercises and gets such forces from its depth that he is not unconscious if he himself arbitrarily stops all outer sensory impressions and the intellectual activities, but he leads an inner conscious life. The soul orients itself, brings up abilities and forces from its depths of which the normal consciousness has no idea.
You can compare it with bringing up the eyesight of the blind-born after he was operated. From the depths of the soul, we can bring up forces which work if, otherwise, unconsciousness had to occur, and which work now in such a way that they connect the soul with a spiritual world that as really exists for the human being as our sensory world exists. Thus, that which leads the spiritual researcher to his science is, indeed, something subjective at first, still the observations of those who have done this experience got to according results.
At first, we want only to describe what refers to the human being how he faces us immediately. The human being appears to the immediate consciousness as physical body at first, with everything that one can touch with hands, can see with the eyes. However, theosophy shows us that the nature of the human being is not exhausted in that which we perceive with the senses, but that the physical body is embedded in supersensible, higher members that one can investigate only in the just mentioned way. Then there we speak of the fact that everything that causes the life phenomena in the human being is due to a supersensible member, to the so-called “etheric body” or life body. We speak of this etheric body in such a way that it can appear to the spiritual eye as the colour appears to the physical eye that it is an outer, indeed, only supersensible spiritual reality.
We further speak of the fact that except this etheric body another supersensible member exists — do not take exception to the term, it should be only a technical term —, the astral body. We call “astral body” the supersensible bearer of that which we experience, otherwise, only in our inside as our passions, as joy and sorrow, as pains, but also as the whole imagining surging up and down. Then we distinguish beside the etheric body and the astral body still the next supersensible member; since as the human being has a physical body in common with the entire mineral realm, he has the etheric body in common with all living beings, and the astral body with the entire animal realm. However, the human being still has a fourth member for himself by which he is the crown of the earthly creation that we call the ego-body or the ego being which the other earthly beings do not have.
Thus, theosophy says that we understand the human being completely if we consider him as consisting of these four members. It also shows that with the human being if he falls asleep a separation of his members takes place, while in the bed the physical body and the etheric body remain, and the astral body and the ego are separated from these and ascend to a higher world. As long as the astral body and the ego are separated from the physical and etheric bodies, the human being is so organised that his consciousness remains dark. Hence, the unconsciousness of sleep. Only the physical body and the denser part of the etheric body are subject to the temporal decay, the human essence consists of the ego, the astral body, and a part of the etheric body. This essence cast off the outer cover of the physical body and a part of the etheric body at death and goes through a life under other conditions in the spiritual world.
Then theosophy speaks of the fact that life does not only run between birth and death, but that the spiritual essence of the human being goes through repeated lives on earth in a physical body, while the forces which belong to the human being reach from that life to the other. Everything that we take up in our life as experiences between birth and death because we learn, everything that we do, everything that we accomplish while we burden ourselves with guilt or merit: all that develops forces in our souls. It does not die when the human being dies but remains united with the human essence. After the essence of the human being has processed these forces in a spiritual life between death and a new birth, he builds up a new bodily existence according to his destiny, so that we have the results and effects of former lives in this life on earth. We have created our physical body by our essence so that it has this or that ability now, can do this or that.
We call this law of cause and effect, which puts us at this or that place, in these or those conditions which our destiny develops after the former lives with the Indian word — because we have no suitable term in the western literature — the law of karma. With our essence of which we are not aware at first in the normal life, we have prepared our destiny. The human being experiences successive lives on earth. One could say that he experiences the chain of life that points beyond time and proves the eternity of the human being.
With it, I have today abstained from proving these things and have stated the knowledge only sketchily which forms the most elementary level of the theosophical worldview. What one can bring forward as documents, as proofs of reincarnation and karma, I want to treat that in the next talk. Today I wanted only to point out that it is hard for the scientifically educated human being of the present to find access to the just characterised truths of theosophy.
Now we want to discuss some of the possible serious objections that those persons can do who have only developed their worldview from the concepts and mental pictures of the present. For these persons it is exceptionally difficult at first to familiarise themselves generally with the idea that the soul can develop “spiritual senses” — if I may use this contradictory expression.
Let us assume that a person has done inner exercises, has tried to develop the willpower in such a way that he can imagine something if no outer impressions are there; that he has internalised himself so that he believes, even if he perceives nothing with the eyes and ears, that he sees and hears something. Why — somebody may ask — should one accept this generally as something entitled? — One has nothing at all to argue against the fact that a person gets by certain inner exercises to such experiences that have a certain liveliness, maybe even a higher liveliness than the outer sensory impressions and everything that our reason can attain. However — an opponent may say — does one not know illusions, hallucinations? Does one not know self-deceptions? Do not those swear who are subject to such self-deceptions and who are mentally ill that everything that they see is real that everything that they hear are real voices and regard them as real? Why should the visions that are artificially caused by soul exercises have another objective value? — We have to answer this at first
Spiritual science takes the view that they are not pathological states, but something that one attains by “artificial” soul exercises. What I have said now, is actually trivial. However, it does not matter that such a statement is more or less trivial or brilliant, but it matters what it releases in our souls how we position ourselves to it with our belief and our convictions. There one has to say, the conscientious researcher of truth has many reasons to speak about soul experiences this way, and we understand that serious research rejects them. We need only to imagine how evident it is for the human being of the present that serious scientific research could only have beneficial effects after all similar tendencies had been forced back as such which also seem to exist in spiritual science.
There we need only to go back to ancient times. Then we could prove how everywhere — even until the Middle Ages — in that which the human being perceived with his senses which he could investigate with the methods of his reason something was mixed that the human being believed to experience with inner mystic knowledge and how the sense percepts were interwoven with the inner experiences. You need only to look with the experienced eye into any natural-historical book of the Middle Ages. You see very odd fantastic animals there, and you soon recognise that any knowledge and view of that time were based on the fact that the human beings saw that inexactly which they had seen and then imagined it with that which they experienced in their souls. In what way did one overcome these deceits? — With the exact science that rests upon the experiences of the senses and on that which these senses teach our reason by observation and by experiment. We have sure scientific results only, since we have such a research by which every human being can check the results at any time. Today the human being is right if he wants to check everything.
Only spiritual science or theosophy can argue something against it. We look back at the times of the aurora of natural sciences, at a person like Kepler. In his mind not only those outer laws of the celestial mechanics lived which we can study today as Kepler's laws, but also a real spiritual-scientific view of the harmony of the universe. From the spiritual penetration of the universe he got his laws of the celestial mechanics only. There the spiritual scientist can say, look how fertile it is if we turn the spiritual-scientific view to Kepler. Nevertheless, Kepler's laws almost prove a spiritual world. Nevertheless, Kepler can persuade us of a spiritual world.
An opponent may say now, just with such a spirit like Kepler you can realise that he had, nevertheless, some weaknesses. With him, you could convince yourself how bad it is for the scientific security if in his soul such a thing lives like a certain mystic contemplation of the cosmic relations; since there you come again to the medieval mysticism and with it close to rather doubtful spiritual operations as, for example, astrology is with all its outgrowths.
This arose just because one developed the idea of the general celestial harmony in abstract way and said, nevertheless, there must be a connection of the big world of the macrocosm and of that which happens in the single human being. Then the medieval astrology arose from it. Now, however, astrology has a rather doubtful aspect. Nothing stirs up the human egoism as strong as just astrology if future events should be forecast using the constellations of the stars. If the human being wants to know them beforehand, it always has an egoistic reason. Kepler knew this and it distressed him very much that he had to cast a horoscope of a lord on order of his prince. In a letter to a friend, Kepler informs of his pain when he had to forecast particular things for a high personality. In this case, he said, it would be bad to inform the personality concerned of something and it would be better if this person did not know it because he would develop, otherwise, no care and no energy. — In another case he said, one had to call the person's attention to the possibility that a misfortune could approach.
An opponent may say, with Kepler the tendency of a doubtful morality also exists when he says, one must help in a way if one can determine the destiny of the human being from the spiritual world, one must not say the truth everywhere only, one has to consider whether the truth is good or harmful. Briefly, you can see with Kepler himself that a neighbouring area of spiritual science, astrology, just goes to the bad. Tragically can be experienced just with Kepler how a way that leads on one side to the highest areas of spiritual life can lead on the other side to the biggest superstition. Kepler himself had to fight with the crassest superstition of the Middle Ages to save his mother from the stake because she was charged to be a witch. Here we stand in a point where we can close the chain completely between beholding into the spiritual world and the crassest superstition. Who does not know how easily people who want to get to know the spiritual world also want to do this comfortably today and rather want to call the spirits in a doubtful spiritistic way and to make them manifest, than to rise by spiritual development into the spiritual world. Thus, an opponent may say, we see a proof with Kepler how the theosophical way of thinking can lead as the astrological one into doubtful areas. We could bring in many examples. We want to point only to an example that can be characteristic for others.
Someone who studied Hegel thoroughly, as I did, is also allowed to say the following: Hegel strove for a worldview that is independent of every sensory view. As long as one remains generally in a kind of blurred pan-theism, one can discuss about the authorisation of single things. However, if one pretends to know anything about the special constitution of that which arises from the supersensible world, then one has to be controlled by the facts. Now one of the areas which spiritual research enters first is the area of numbers and their harmony laws. Some philosophers have accepted such laws, Hegel too. Hegel tried to prove that a certain number rule forms the basis of our planetary system, and that according to this number rule we can know that our solar system must have so and so many planets, and that these move in certain distances. So Hegel meant, by reflection one must be able to control the planetary system. Hence, he supplied evidence that according to the number rules only so and so many planets are possible and except these no other planets were possible. Nevertheless, the planet Neptune was discovered later.
We could bring in many such examples, because they are knitted after the just characterised pattern. One just realises with it that not only the experiences are a source of evidence for the today's science, but that also a healthy control [must be there by the facts]. Where science accepts hypotheses, it accepts something only if the experience confirms the theories. Now the opponents of theosophy may say, science has positioned itself on a healthy ground; and now spiritual science comes and wants to mix something in science that comes from quite different sources, from a higher beholding, from karma laws and the like.
The spiritual researcher will maybe say, yes, but you could approach me so far that you admit that which I claim, for example, the teaching of karma and repeated lives on earth, as something that one calls a useful working hypothesis in science. — At that time when the so-called oscillation theory of the light originated, no one saw in it something else than “ether oscillations.” You can argue a lot against it; the whole theory was an invented system. One said, if we suppose that a world ether penetrates all material processes that everything is in motion, then these oscillations must take place according to the mathematically computable rules in such a way that this and that arises. — Then [the calculations] also turned out to be correct in the experience, for example, with light, heat et cetera. One calls this a useful working hypothesis if one says, this hypothesis even avails us to discover new facts; even if the hypothesis is wrong in itself, nevertheless, it led us just to the true.
Nevertheless, accept the ideas of karma or reincarnation as a working hypothesis, the spiritual researcher could say to the opponents of theosophy. Now against it one could argue: where it concerns so essential and important things that intervene so deeply in life, one cannot get involved with the possibility that the outer life can be explained if one does certain hypothetical requirements. Someone who has looked around a little more thoroughly in the logic knows that one can conclude correctly even from wrong requirements. Theosophy could be quite wrong, even if one supposes that the ideas of karma and reincarnation are right. The conclusions could be right concerning the outer life — even if the requirements were wrong. — However, a strict, succinct logic could say; with it, the theosophical ideas are rejected as useful working hypotheses.
It is even worse if one considers it epistemologically. There an opponent of theosophy may say, concerning knowledge it matters above all to investigate the objective validity. Now there is no possibility at all to distinguish truth and error of illusions, hallucinations and of any soul life generally than the control by experience. If one excludes experience and the soul life should proceed without [control by] experience, one gets into the area of absolute arbitrariness, of the uncontrollable. That means, a science that searches the principle of controllability has to consider the whole method of higher beholding as unjustified, and it has to agree with modern science that says, what one should consider as scientific, must be independent from all subjective experiences. It has to take place while we exclude everything that belongs to our soul life.
However, you say — the modern epistemologist may say to the spiritual scientist — that you want to remain just within your soul life and want to isolate it; that means that you enter an area which science has just excluded. Modern science has shown that it has found its sure results just because it has proceeded in such a way that it has excluded all subjective experiences. So one must say to the theosophists, do not mix anything into science that is warmed up old methods which one has overcome since the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth centuries.
Thus, the mood, the sensation of someone may speak who faces spiritual science with the attitude of our time. However, one can penetrate even deeper and ask, is there any possibility generally to state that that which a human being beholds who has attained a higher beholding has a meaning also for other human beings? — There, however, spiritual science says, this higher beholding is necessary to visit the supersensible world and to investigate its truths. However, if the truths of the supersensible world have been found and are told, then they can be understood with any impartial logic and any natural sense of truth. As well as every human being cannot go to the laboratory to inform himself of the methods of biology and zoology and other fields and can still accept the results of these researches, one can also accept and understand — spiritual science says — what is investigated in the supersensible world.
Now one could ask, is such an assertion of spiritual research entitled? It would be entitled only if that which the spiritual researcher has to say could be understood by us after the pattern which we have formed for understanding in the usual scientific world. There the spiritual researcher says, for example, our current life between birth and death is an effect that arises from the causes of former lives; the former lives reach into our current life. I experience that which I experience now as good luck or misfortune, as my abilities, as my forces, my hopes, and my life security because I caused them in former lives. I must learn to consider the present life as an effect of those reasons that I caused in former lives. Against it, the opponent may say, we have such things also in the outer world that the effects go back to causes and that we recognise that something former lives on as effect in something later. Let us take an example that plays a big role in modern natural sciences. There we have the law that a being briefly experiences all those forms in its embryonic development that certain animals worked through in the course of their evolution from imperfect levels to more perfect ones. We know that the human being goes through a level during his embryonic development — possibly, from the eighteenth day after conception on — which copies the fish shape; then later he goes through other forms, so that he grows up gradually into the forms in which he is born. From that, natural sciences conclude that the outer, physical human being has descended from the more imperfect living beings, and that the figure of the more imperfect living beings has a lasting effect in that which is the human being before birth. There we see those forms working which we see in the lineage. You, spiritual researcher, have to show us that really in the life of the human being, in his mind and soul and in his destiny something lives with which one can recognise the origin of the former causes, as well as one just recognises the lineage by the embryonic development of the human being in which he accepts the animal forms.
However, spiritual research can now show that one cannot explain the certain soul processes which are individual with every human being as a product of heredity that his innermost essence gives something else than that which is the lineage. If then one pursues how the human life develops how the human being grows up gradually, then one realises how forces and abilities appear step by step. Then one can already recognise with outer means that heredity does not only give that, not only the education at first, but also that it has worked its way out of that which exists with every single human being. This is added to the inherited, and this must originate — if one does not regard it as miracles — from other causes that one can only lead back to a spiritual-mental life that the human being has already experienced earlier. One can find the causes neither in heredity nor in education. Such a conclusion is possible. The spiritual researcher may say, I can make people understand what I know from the spiritual beholding by such a logic as I have characterised it now.
The opponent may respond, something enters into life that would not be miraculous if you only consulted all usual conditions. Someone who looks with scientific methods deeper into life knows which big influence just the very first childhood experiences have on our souls. They are forgotten, remain concealed in the soul, but at the suitable opportunity they emerge, and we could easily believe if we see them emerging later that none of them lead back to education, also not to heredity, one has to explain them as originating from a former life. However, we do this only because we do not mind how the first childhood experiences take hold in the soul and that they have a much bigger significance than everything does later.
Hence, the outer science may say, we are not yet so far to investigate the life of the child sufficiently to be able to say how for the soul of the child the experiences of the first years develop. We have to wait, until we get deeper and deeper into this area, then we can explain something about which you, spiritual researchers, state that it comes from former lives, by things which happen in quite natural way.
Yes, the opponent can still go on further. He may say, for example, even those human beings who get by soul exercises to a spiritual beholding have to express what they perceive in a higher world — only to be understood — in the forms, in the symbols of physical reality. It is very strange: those people who have become clairvoyant, so to speak, express — the opponent would state - themselves in each case quite different. Around the turn of the eighteenth, nineteenth centuries nobody beheld something in the spiritual world that referred, for example, to electricity or to railways; now they behold the things which refer to electricity or railways in the spiritual worlds. Who would not doubt that unconscious things interplay in the soul which are transformed in such a way that these illusory spiritual experiences appear. Nothing could justify the pretensions of those who speak of ways to spiritual, supersensible worlds. The more exactly one investigates, the more the ideas of former lives, of karma dissolve. One should point repeatedly just to the first childhood experiences if such things are brought forward like the karma idea.
Spiritual science may probably say now, let us assume that a parental couple has three, four children — every child is endowed with other characteristics. If everything should be rooted in heredity, nevertheless, one cannot understand why the children of a parental couple do not have the same qualities because they originate from the same father and the same mother. Just this shows us, some defenders of spiritual science probably say, that in that which the human being has received as inherited an individual being was born, and from it, the difference explains itself.
Against it, the opponent wants only to argue, nevertheless, that which is handed down is handed down from both parents or also from the ancestors. The different qualities [of the ancestors] intermingle. Why should not different mixtures appear with the children and thus the most different individualities? If one could look once into the complex structures of heredity — the opponent may say —, all pretensions of the spiritual researchers would have be silenced which take the viewpoint of reincarnation. If — to support the idea of reincarnation — the theosophical literature points out particularly that even twins show different qualities, the opponent could reply, everything that one can show in such a way with children of different ages applies particularly to twins.
Others say — to prove the teaching of reincarnation —, the human being shows conscience, moral responsibility in his essence. If you consider yourself responsible for an action that you do, nevertheless, you must be able to have another opinion of your actions than to have done it only. You have to ascribe another origin to the human being than only that from the lineage. Certain theosophical authors understand conscience, responsibility and the like in such a way that they are evidence of the individual essence that goes through various lives on earth.
One only needs to point to the fact that already astute investigators explained conscience and responsibility in such a way that the human being developed slowly and gradually within the human society. For one can easily show in the case of conscience, for example, that the human being notices that certain actions bring him certain disadvantages. In his mind, he connects the concepts of the action with the resulting disadvantage. This settles down in him, so that he concludes, in the end: you are not allowed to do this. — Imagine that changed into an impulse and this impulse is handed down, and then we have conscience with the following descendants. However — the opponent may argue — it is superficial if you assume an inner essence of the human being that goes through various lives on earth from the fact of conscience.
Seen from without many a thing could appear to that who does not exactly look in such a way, as if one cannot prove it. Just a spiritual researcher has to watch out for the difficulties that just conscientious people have if they want to approach spiritual science. Since what I have said today is just for such people an obstacle; they do not get over it.
If we go on and investigate how an opponent can put the question, how does spiritual science behave in the area of morality - then theosophy normally says, which moral impulse that gives the human being if he hears that his current life is caused by reasons which the human essence, that is he himself, put in a former life, and that he prepares the causes for the next life with that which he does now. How are the moral views of such a human being designed? The opponent could ask that way.
He will say, such a human being will easily be persuaded to say about a not good action to himself, if I do it, I carry it into my next life and I myself get the punishment in my next life. — With such an impulse, he will omit certain actions. However, it is the most selfish impulse that there can be if the human being does the good because it brings effects in the next life which he wishes, and he refrains from the bad ones because they bring rather disagreeable and fatal effects. Hence, one appeals to the egoism of the human being if one refers him to the karma and says to him, by this or that action you cause bad effects in the next life! —
Where does remain there the great word that one acts morally if one does the good for the sake of the good? If anybody who believes in karma says to himself, I still do something that maybe brings disadvantage — then it brings an advantage in a later life, the good is not done in such a way for the sake of the good, but the human egoism is stirred up in the subtlest way. We take another case. We assume that a person believes that he experiences happiness or misfortune because he caused this in a former life to himself and he has to accept this without grumbling. — Such a disposition — so the opponent could say — turns out to be fatalism if the person ascribes everything that happens to his former actions. Instead of pulling himself up and intervening actively in life, he will rely simply on the principle: this you have let yourself in for that! Then this will cause that a theosophist if he is weak says, why should I pull myself up? My karma has made me weak; this has its good reasons in a former life. — In this way, a dreadful fatalism comes out. We can learn from it how the opponent can state egoism and fatalism as something that one can bring forward in the most substantial way against the theosophical principle of moral.
If we want to visualise now how theosophy has to work on the religious life, then we realise how leaders of the theosophical life define theosophy as a kind of religion of wisdom, as something that leads into the religious area from knowledge and cognition. Religion cannot exist without a spirit living in the world — no matter whether you imagine this spirit as many spirits or as one spirit. Without living spirit, that impetus of feelings and sensations cannot take place in the soul, which is necessary for a real religious life. This looking up at something spiritual — so the opponent could argue-, this devotion of an outer spirit which is the origin of the earthly events and the human destinies is clouded by the belief of a human individuality who goes from one life to the next. He has to come to terms with himself concerning the religious life; that means, to refer everything to himself. Thus, the heart cannot widen and the mind cannot open itself as it is, otherwise, the case if the human being not only looks into himself, but can also look up at something divine to which he belongs in which he has interest and with which he is in a living relationship.
If we want to summarise everything that one can argue against theosophy, an opponent could say, in moral and religious respects spiritual science leaves much to be desired. This appears in particular in the fact that people who are internally undisciplined or have a lax scientific conscience from the start, gradually develop quite strange impulses toward life. There one realises — and that applies to all followers of theosophy, — as it arises from observations — that people if they get involved with spiritual-scientific truths would lose the interest for the fresh, full life; one realises that they withdraw from the immediate problems of the outer world. They brood over that which has put them into life and even start despising the outer reality and feel fine only if they do no longer want anything from the outer world.
I want to speak only about that to which opponents of theosophy rightly could refer. They could point rightly to the fact that numerous theosophists with a more lax scientific truth feeling become useless for all performances which a strong, healthy life demands. For they do not stand in life, but are or become eccentrics; such people arise from theosophy! — The opponent could point to numerous examples. Furthermore, he could show how the lacking control by experience can become rather bad if the human being who wants to develop spiritual eyes, spiritual ears in himself has not developed a sense of truth and such an impulse of truth as the outer experience controls us. Then the spiritually beholding, the so-called clairvoyant human being loses the inner control that must be the more important if the outer control is absent. There it appears that a human being can get into untruthfulness — unaware at first — , into errors and finally into conscious untruthfulness, into lies whose consequences he does not figure out because he cannot distinguish illusion from truth.
Therefore, the need to behold into the spiritual world has to be founded on truth and morality. It turns out, why it could become such a big problem that, for example, Goethe expressed in his Faust. There Faust faces us, the typical human being, who wants to get into the spiritual world and to extend his individual life who, however, often has the possibility to stray, in spite of conscientious striving, and who says, after he has nearly completed his life: could I only remove magic from my path. — The confession of spiritual research can become so tragic.
However, we have to consider the human soul not only theoretically but also in the full life. There only the experience itself can give us the appropriate teachings. One may reason ever so much why our soul has this or that constitution if it wants to follow spiritual research — one can know for sure: theoretical sentences are the one side, mental impulses the other side. Everything may be theoretically quite logical, and the soul can stray, nevertheless, if it has not found security in itself. The opponents can rightly point to such a thing that exists in the most different forms. This can show us that we must not take objections easily because they are to be found easily.
You can find references in spiritual science or theosophy that an individual essence lives in the human being. One shows that only for the human being a biography is possible because only the human being has that characteristic, individual course of life that makes a biography possible. For the greatest as for the most unimportant human being, a biography is possible. We show the same interest for the single human being which we have for a genus of the animal realm. It is a superficial objection if anybody says, nevertheless, one could also write a biography of a dog or a cat. Indeed, one could do this. When I was a pupil, the teacher tormented us once to write the biography of our pen. One can transfer everything to everything, but one has to take the essentials of a thing into account. No spiritual researcher states that a dog or a cat cannot have a sum of individual qualities. One only says that we show the same interest, which we have as a human being for a single person, for the entire animal genus. Even the interest in an animal can be bigger than for a human being, but it is not the same interest. We consider every human being as an own type or genus.
A difference exists whether we face real opponents of theosophy or those who cannot overcome the difficulties that our whole thinking and feeling and our science give us. Today I wanted to tell such objections. Of course, we could go on talking until tomorrow morning, increase the objections, and go into details. I am aware that I have not even told the most important objections. I have only shown how one can consult epistemology, morality, religion and life security if one wants to deliver proofs against theosophy.
It is maybe the nicest result that can arise from spiritual science that one learns to practise true tolerance. One can have true tolerance only if one understands the various individualities, different thinking, and feeling. As long as we hear the proposed objections, they can stimulate us if we do not take them easily, but can find that which the opponent argues in ourselves. If we make, so to speak, a part of ourselves our opponent to cope with the entitled objections, then we practise theosophical tolerance.
In this characterised way, the spiritual researcher should always face all other objections that could be done from opposing side. The supporters as well as the opponents should consider facing the opponents with the counterpart of fanaticism that must be an impulse of the theosophical attitude so that you always ask yourself, which importance do their objections have? — Hence, no objection surprises the theosophist. Theosophy can advance only in right way if such an inner discussion can take place with every opponent.
The fact that this is a demand with which also our time struggles can appear if one believes repeatedly that the opponents could not estimate at all the weight and the importance of their objections. I have already pointed many a time to the viewpoint of Eduard von Hartmann that he represented especially in his Philosophy of the Unconscious which negative reception it had with his opponents, how he anonymously wrote a refutation that his opponents liked very much. Then he revealed that he had written the refutation himself and showed that he could very well do the same objections and nobody possesses the absolute truth.
However, the theosophists should not only know the objections [against theosophy], but it is also their duty as it were to deal with these objections. After we have today opened ourselves to these objections, we want to see in the next talk how this area appears from the other side from which we have shown the reverse more or less today. We want to see whether there are substantial reasons for the opponents if they state, leave us alone with your theosophy, because it is not only unscientific, but it also contradicts any higher morality, it founds inadequate ethics, it gives no life security, and it is religiously absolutely inadequate.
On the other hand, could anything be wrong that shows that all these objections are still wrong? However, we do not want to take these objections in such a way, as if we wanted to dismiss them simply as errors, but in such a way that we can learn from them. It is difficult for some contemporaries to find the way to theosophy. However, it could be also exemplary for some people who become light-hearted supporters of theosophy to confront themselves once with such difficulties. Since also the way to the stars could be rough, and it could be good unless we make ourselves too comfortable.
In the next talk, I show how the human being can familiarise himself with this world of the spiritual stars, and that he must not succumb to the objections characterised today but can overcome them.