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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Freedom - Immortality - Social Life
GA 72

V. The Activities of the Human Soul Forces and Their Connection with Man's Eternal Being

28 November 1917, Bern

Above all I ask you to consider both talks which I hold today and the day after tomorrow here, as a related whole. Although I will try to put any single talk across for itself, nevertheless, something can only be attained just with reference to the topic by the fact that the one talk lights up the other in a way and both become a whole.

I would like to compare the position of the anthroposophically oriented spiritual science that forms the basis of these talks in certain respect to an uninvited guest in a society. I compare the invited guests to the scientific directions approved presently, which are invited as it were already because people invite these different sciences with their needs, with that which the outer sense-perceptible world gives which life demands. Spiritual science appears even today within the cultural life in such a way, as if one had not just demanded it. However, towards an uninvited guest one becomes politer bit by bit if one notices that he has to bring something that one has lost. One has not known this before, and one notices this then only. This applies to anthroposophy, at least according to the belief of those few people who can become completely engrossed already today in what anthroposophy, actually, intends compared with the big tasks of humanity.

The human beings have possessed that which anthroposophy wants to bring to the culture of the present and the future for millennia in another way and they should gain it again with spiritual science. The human beings have owned this instinctively, from a certain instinctive soul quality, a sentient cognition of the soul and its secrets.

Only someone who is prejudiced to the history of mind can deny that humanity had to lose this instinctive knowledge as it had to lose the medieval view of the universe at a certain point of the historical development after which the earth rests in the centre and the sun and the stars move around it. As this spatial worldview had to be substituted by the heliocentric view, the old instinctive cognition of the everlasting in the soul had to give way to the big progress of natural sciences.

I believe that just that can appreciate the deep meaning of anthroposophy best of all who realises the big progress of scientific cognition for the progress of humanity and does not behave in a amateurish way to it, but recognises the scientific up to a certain degree. But just because humanity grasped the world with scientific methods and created a worldview from it, it is no longer dependent to search the mental instinctively as it used to be.

Scientifically one recognises only properly if one excludes any mental aspect from that field of nature, which one wants to investigate. In former times, the human being observed the natural phenomena, and he felt instinctively how by the natural phenomena something spiritual-mental spoke to him. He did not separate the natural phenomena from the spiritual-mental. Thus, he received something spiritual-mental with the facts and beings of nature at the same time.

The human being would never have reached the complete liberation of his being if he had not ascended to the scientific cognition. Natural sciences force the soul to get stronger forces from itself to enter into the spiritual world in a new way.

However, something very important begins arising against spiritual science straight away if the human being of the present tries to approach what spiritual science asserts. Nobody can understand it better than someone who lives just in spiritual science that presently spiritual science must still face all possible prejudices. What spiritual science wants to investigate is the everlasting in the human soul, the workings of the soul forces beyond birth and death what one summarises with the concept of immortality and of freedom about which every human being wants to know something.

The human being wants to know something about the objects that form the contents of spiritual science. However, at the same time if one speaks about the research methods, about the things that one has to carry out to penetrate into the referred area, one has to expect opposition even reluctance necessarily because one must not expect general understanding.

To the right understanding of spiritual science is an obstacle even today that those who would like to investigate that in the human soul what is behind the usual consciousness that they would prefer finding that with all kinds of unusual soul phenomena to which, actually, spiritual science has to point. That is why spiritual science is often confused with that what indeed can deliver exceptionally interesting, in particular scientific results, with that what gets out all kinds of somnambulistic, mediumistic soul conditions of the unconscious or subconscious life that escapes from the usual consciousness.

This confusion is fateful. but it will still last long because the human being can get by certain circumstances to somnambulistic or mediumistic conditions of consciousness in which the usual sense-perceptible world and the will do not help from which he brings up all kinds of that which people regard as strange and interesting. The strange is always interesting, especially if one can believe that—what is even right in a certain respect—thereby something announces itself that exceeds the usual experience between birth and death.

However, just true spiritual science shows that that which appears by unusual soul conditions, by somnambulism, by mediumship is much less significant to the human being than that which he grasps with his usual senses, and that which he can influence with his usual will. The latter is connected with the human being between birth and death. That, however, what appears by the intimated conditions is contained in a deeper, lower layer of the human nature than even the sense-perceptible world. This comes about because lower organic performances take place by which that what covers itself to the sensory life and the will comes to light. However, this cannot be the full, whole human, but only something that exists beneath the surface of the human, while true spiritual science wants to lead up the human being above the surface of the usual life, above that at which the human being aims in the everyday life and also in the usual science.

Indeed, these unusual conditions have something bewitching; since because the human being gets to conditions that are connected even more with his bodily life than the sensory life, and in particular because such things excite curiosity, he experiences something in such conditions that can make him happy. The attitude towards life that sticks then to the inner organs also works on the observer; he believes that he faces something real that he experiences with a human being whom he himself has changed.

Against it, the spiritual researcher leads to the everlasting that outreaches birth and death. Indeed, he has also to refer to the change of the usual human nature. He has to refer to the fact that one cannot investigate the everlasting with the senses, also not within the usual will sphere while he describes what the human soul has to experience so that it disengages itself from the body, so that it can observe the mental not only with the body but also with the soul. Then he describes conditions, which the human being of the usual consciousness feels as if standing before an abyss. Hence, he seems dreamy, fantastic above all. However, if the spiritual researcher speaks of his research results, he is dependent on leading the soul itself. That is why that which he brings forward has to take another way than if one discusses something scientifically. If one discusses something scientific, one describes first: this is done and that is done, or this is there, that is there, and then one adds his intellectual performance, his mental pictures, and combinations, tries to find out laws of that what is there and so forth. One links that which the soul has to do of its own accord to something that already exists.

The spiritual researcher has almost to reverse this way. This seems so paradoxical at first that someone who cannot come on the thing says, yes, the spiritual researcher states only that the things are in such a way; but he delivers no proofs.—Now, his proofs just consist of the fact that he shows how the soul has first to go through the performances that are purely mental, and then he can approach the spiritual process, the objective. While the usual science has the process first and adds afterwards what the soul does, the spiritual researcher has to do that on his own terms, has to leave the soul alone to its own resources.

Then the soul brings out such abilities with which this and that appears as a spiritual fact to the human being. The most substantial proofs arise while one shows the ways which spiritual research has to take.

In former years I have explained some details of the ways which the soul has to take, so that it really awakes to the beholding consciousness which one can also call spiritual eye, spiritual ear with a Goethean term, so that one beholds the spiritual really. I have explained that the human being evokes that with pure soul exercises in his soul, which the body causes while organising eyes, ears of its own accord, and how then one can figure out the spiritual with such spiritual organs. For details, I refer to my books: How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds? and Occult Science.. An Outline. However, I would like to put forth something fundamental only just with reference to the way of spiritual research and would like to say something about how the spiritual researcher gets his facts about which we will still have to speak then.

For that who cannot deal intimately with those soul exercises to find the everlasting in himself and in other beings that comfort stops, admittedly, which one has if one simply puts the human being in unusual, mediumistic, or somnambulistic conditions. When the human being approaches unpreparedly what is demanded in the soul exercises, his interest stops. So that one may say that everybody is interested in the objects, which spiritual research wants to recognise, but less in the methods.

What the spiritual researcher has to do to penetrate into the real spiritual world is not as interesting as the experiences of a somnambulistic person or a medium for the outer observer at first. No, one may already say, as paradoxical as it sounds: that what the soul has to carry out investigating its everlasting spiritual values causes indifference or aversion at first. One will realise at first that the soul exercises are performed maybe first because of curiosity by this or by that, but then one regards them as simple and soon as boring. First, it is fear of the strange—in particular, if the human being notices that he comes to the edge of the spiritual world. The human being gives up penetrating into this world because he has fear of the strange. He does not become aware of this fear; but the unaware fear is not less a fear. Then aversion and hatred assert themselves. These are quite explicable phenomena. Hence, overcoming is necessary. Someone has to experience an own soul drama who really penetrates with his soul into the spiritual world. One may say, if there are still human beings who penetrate at first without further ado, if they are interested in the boring of spiritual exercises, it is because that what is quite boring becomes interesting because of its boringness at last.

With such exercises—while one strengthens the thoughts and gives the feelings and the will another direction than they have in the usual life and the usual science—the soul recognises really how it uses the body to cause the memories of the usual consciousness to live in the usual existence. In principle, I want today to emphasise something that can appear as first with the spiritual researcher, as the way to the inner mental experiment, which can then open the door into the spiritual world. The further course of my discussions will already show that that is more or less justified which I tell there.

If you live with your experience in the present moment or in the present day, you are not at all able to approach the everlasting of your soul. The spiritual researcher notices at first that the soul can perceive independently of the body; that means that the human being is always extremely dependent in his everyday life on a certain present. You always use the body to experience that what you experience. One may say, if you experience something present, that what is in the present round us, you are excluded from your mental experience, as well as you are excluded from the experience of the day if you are in the deep, dreamless sleep. As weird and paradoxical as it sounds, the human being oversleeps the everlasting in his soul in his usual sensory life and will. Sleep extends far into the day life.

How this? It is as follows: somebody who develops the ability of introspection—it has to be developed first, it does not exist in the usual consciousness just like that—realises that he cannot generally bring that into the soul which he has experienced today or yesterday so that he can understand it in the light of the eternal. Our body is always involved in our experiences. Not before an experience has passed for two to three days, it has got such condition in the soul that one recognises its real mental nature. Before, that which grasps this mental is still interspersed in us with the impulses originating from the inner body so that we are unable to grasp any experience in such a way as it lives only in the soul as a soul. Hence, we must renounce to check that which we experience in the present for its mental content. But the peculiar comes to light if now anything bodily is away and the thing is memory only, we can no longer recall the real active interest so directly which the soul has taken in the experience.

We can remember the experience, but we cannot have this experience as a present one. However, without settling down in something that has freed itself from us two to three days ago in such a way that we experience it as vividly as a present event, we cannot at all approach the everlasting. However, someone is mistaken very much if he believes that something that dates back two to three or more days or years and is remembered could be experienced as a present event. It has not only faded, but above all that immediate internal activity which the soul unfolds at a present event, cannot develop if it faces the past event. The soul oversleeps its own activity as regards the past experience. The past experience emerges as a picture. However, that what one experiences in the present does not emerge with it. However, this must be woken. You can develop that which you have to experience there towards any event or experience dating far back if you succeed in doing that.

If you are not a spiritual researcher by chance, you proceed best of all in such a way that you do not consider the memories dating far back, but those of the last two to three days because you reach that most likely what is to be reached. It is the best if you choose such an event, which you have experienced to lead to the everlasting in the soul. The usual experiences do not at all carry out this. Hence, the spiritual researcher is obliged to carry out that what one calls exercises of thinking, of feeling while he concentrates, for example, upon a thought much longer than one does in the usual experience. Thereby you are able to experience something mental already in the beginning, sooner than, otherwise, people experience it. Then you can look back at the events dating back two to three days with the usual memory.

Hence, let us be clear of the matter: after some time the spiritual researcher gets around to look at that what the last two to three days have brought him as experiences to look like at a tableau. This is necessary. What you have experienced there during the last two to three days in which you will feel everywhere if you have practised the necessary introspection how there bodily organs still help. Indeed, the memories of these two to three days can proceed like in a moment if you are used to living in the mental, so that you face a picture of these two to three days. However, during these two to three days it is not in such a way that you have the soul detached from the bodily before yourself, but the bodily experience influences its everywhere. It is only like a quick active memory that is spread about these two to three days.

It becomes different with reference to the event that dates back two to three days. If you have enabled yourself—after you have surveyed the two to three days in such a way as I have described it—to live through this event as a present one, you live in something mental.

You realise that I describe nothing abstract, no figments, but that what the soul carries out with itself to get away at first for a certain time from that what you cannot only experience mentally and to come back to something that can be experienced mentally now. However, you have to strengthen the soul life; so that you can settle in something that dates back two to three days.

Then you know what these two to three days signify in the inner mental experience. Thereby you recognise something that you can recognise only this way. You recognise that that which we go through mentally in the present detaches itself from the body, spiritualises itself and has been really spiritualised only after two to three days.

However, then it rests for the usual consciousness in such darkness that the human being oversleeps it if he has not prepared himself to live in it. If he has prepared himself, he knows that he is now with his creative soul, with that what his soul has not experienced, otherwise: he lives in a purely spiritual-mental experience.

Of course, one can search that for experiences dating back even farther; but then one has to survey everything with his memory that has taken place up to this experience like in a tableau. This is much more difficult of course. Not before one has traced back this one by one and can retain so much strength in the soul to experience that what appears then, one knows by immediate experience: now you have seized in your soul what is only mental what does not at all appear in the usual consciousness. There even memory does not work in such a way that something would appear so vivid that one experiences it mentally. The body is always involved when the memories are brought to light. The retentiveness is bound to the bodily at first, even if one does not owe it to the bodily.

With it, I have shown that by a particular carefully prepared experience the mental in the human being is discovered. If one has discovered the mental, one knows: this mental is in you. One knows: if one has the possibility to approach this same mental again, then it is there. Since one knows that this mental is independent of any sense-perceptible. The sense-perceptible plays a part only until one discovers this fact. Now this mental has become independent of the sense-perceptible, also of the will.

Then you know: what you have grasped there has the quality of duration; it is that what the human being carries through death. This is the everlasting of the human being. Now you know why this everlasting escapes from the usual consciousness because this everyday consciousness experiences that only like the deep sleep what does not develop with the help of the body.

One may say, such a thing is the first level of the life of the mental that gives a direct view of the mental not only conceptually. One faces the beholding consciousness that goes through the gate of death. Then one knows that the human being does not depend with this mental on the present; one knows that this mental has permanence by itself and that it causes that what the human being beholds now.

If now the spiritual researcher describes that which happens with death, he does not describe it out of imagination, but while he continues that which I have explained just now. He knows: the mental, while it gets rid of the bodily, needs two to three days of retrospect, before it enters into its own being. Thus, he gets to know in his soul what the human being experiences mentally at death. The soul still has a two to three days lasting retrospect, a life tableau; this retrospect disappears and the soul enters into the real astral area after two to three days, after it has become free of the bodily experience. In this area lives also the spiritual researcher during these two to three days if he carries out that inner experiment about which I have spoken.

You can find the suitable soul exercises in the cited writings How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds? and Occult Science. An Outline. Everybody can carry out these exercises, but that is not necessary. I have stressed over and over again that the spiritual researcher describes only what must be done to find the way to the spiritual-mental world; but it is not necessary that you yourself carry out these exercises if you want to convince yourself of the truth of that what spiritual research brings to light. The spiritual researcher himself has nothing for his everlasting from that what he attains with his exercises, but he has something for his everlasting if he transforms what he beholds into the usual concepts of common sense. The common sense can understand that what he has to say if he transforms what he beholds in the spiritual world into concepts, into mental pictures.

That is why there must be such writings so that everybody can check that what the spiritual researcher says. Indeed, the objections that are made are very often not true. There one possibly says, if a spiritual researcher speaks of the fact that he can really behold into the spiritual world that he can observe the spiritual-mental of another person, then he should show that to us. We bring some persons to him who may know nothing of that what goes forward in the mental-spiritual of these persons, but he should observe these persons with his vision. Then he should do his statements. If these are true, we believe.

I have discussed this objection in my book The Riddles of the Soul. One has raised this objection repeatedly, although spiritual research gives everybody the possibility to investigate and says, this and that can be done; one can convince himself of all that what the spiritual researcher claims. Instead of convincing himself this way, one demands what must destroy any spiritual research. Since that what one should observe with the soul escapes constantly if any compulsion is used if that what it unfolds in forces from its own inside does not arise. One cannot do this with observing outer experiments; everybody can do it only towards himself. However, if he endeavours, he will come to the same to which the spiritual researcher comes. The outer experiment drives the abilities of the spiritual researcher away as life is driven away if one cuts an organism.

As odd as it sounds, it is in such a way. I have shown how the mental can be experienced. Of course, that is only a beginning. Such exercises must be repeated frequently.

One advances further and further, until there is a spiritual area with beings around you as before the sense-perceptible world is spread out. However, this spiritual conception has just special peculiarities. I still want to state some of them. One could believe at first if the spiritual researcher has an experience that it must relate to the human being as any other experience of the outer sense-perceptible world relates to him.

This does not hold true. It becomes apparent that if the spiritual researcher has such an experience he cannot bring it into the usual memory. As well as one has to exceed the usual memory, as I have shown it, for two to three days, one also comes out of memory if you enter into the spiritual world. You cannot incorporate something spiritual in your memory that you have beheld, so that you remember this spiritual experience. You have to elicit it always anew.

You have to understand this properly: if the spiritual researcher succeeds in transforming his experiences into mental pictures, into concepts, he has the concepts as the usual ones are; he can remember them, of course. Nevertheless, this is not the spiritual experience; it is its conceptual image. You can remember this. However, you cannot remember the spiritual experience. Spiritual experiences are facts that exist in the spiritual world. You can behold them, but they do not stick to your memory.

If the spiritual researcher wants to repeat such a spiritual experience once again, then it is not enough that he simply exerts the strength again which he uses, otherwise, for a memory. But he has to induce the same internal soul performances again in himself, he has to carry out the same exactly that he has carried out to come to that experience. The fact that a spiritual experience does not imprint itself in the memory that one can experience it only again with those inner soul performances, is a proof of the fact that that which really lives in spirit has duration, cannot be destroyed by death. It has duration.

Hence, the independence of the mental-spiritual from the bodily is proved by how the spiritual researcher experiences. He would have to be persuaded immediately, that—as his sense perception ceases to be at death—also that would pass away at death which he has of the mental experience if he could remember it. Since also the forces of memory depend on the mortal body. One encounters the immortal only if one is beyond memory.

I would still like to bring in an odd experience that astonishes many people who practise soul exercises. If you carry out something in the everyday life repeatedly, you get a certain practice. You become able to do it better and better. Strangely enough, this is reverse compared with the spiritual experience: if one has a rather lively vision and one would want to get it a second and a third time, it is difficult and more and more difficult, and then one has to make stronger efforts. There is nothing of practice, nothing of habits; one has to exert himself stronger and stronger to get it again. The spiritual experience flees from us as it were if we had it once.

This surprises many people: if anybody has a spiritual experience for the first time, he has many reserve forces in himself that have slept up to now and are woken to the vision. He may possibly have a very lively spiritual experience. If he is not yet sufficiently prepared, and wants immediately to repeat it once again—before, he did it more with his reserve forces, more subconsciously than fully consciously—, then he is no longer able to do it, and he is maybe very unhappy about that because he wants to have the experience. He avoids the effort to get a bigger mental activity to cause this experience again.

Hence, you realise that just the reverse is true of that what is so important to us in the usual life. It cannot at all be talk of the fact that you obtain knowledge to repeat things if it concerns soul experiences. The soul experiences separate themselves more and more from the bodily and show their mental-spiritual characteristic.

Moreover, it is very necessary that you are prepared with your concepts and mental pictures for these spiritual experiences if you want to have them. You get into a certain spiritual vagueness that is not pathological, but is only a mental lack of clarity, which still leads to all kinds of illusions if you have a spiritual experience that you cannot grasp with concepts. You have to attempt everything to improve your comprehension, before you approach the spiritual experience. Exactly the same way as you need a developed eye to perceive colours, you need a mature imaginative power to be able to conceive what faces you spiritually.

The common sense can understand in all details what the spiritual researcher describes if one looks at life if one compares that what the spiritual researcher has to say with that what life presents every day.

You do not need to be a researcher and the researcher himself has only the fruits of his research if he can change his visions into usual comprehensible mental pictures which he informs to himself as he informs them to others. He has also to understand these mental pictures with his common sense. Thus, others can understand them too. The human being can have that which the occultist has from the results of spiritual research, without being himself a spiritual researcher. You need spiritual research only to convince yourself that the things are true.

However, one can argue a number of things against the practical significance of the spiritual-scientific results. While I discuss some spiritual-scientific results just with reference to this fact, I have to emphasise, of course, that this other way of spiritual research is taken into consideration. First, the preparation of the soul has to be done, and then one gets to the fact of the results. The researcher does not say, this is one way or the other, but, if one prepares the soul appropriately, one attains the spiritual facts that present themselves this way or the other.

The proofs are contained in the way of researching. Of course, I cannot put forth all these things in one talk to a T. Hence, it can be very comprehensible if one thinks that the spiritual researcher indicates, indeed, elementarily how the way is, then, however, he gives riddles that have nothing to do with facts. However, that is not true, but if the way is properly continued, one can do spiritual research with the same precision as one applies it in the outer research.

At first, I would like to refer to the statements of those people who approximately say the following repeatedly: why investigating that which is beyond death? Why investigating this everlasting in the human soul? If I die, I realise how the things are, I can quietly wait for this.

Nothing is wronger than this. Spiritual research shows if it meets the souls after death that they live in such surroundings as they have prepared them between birth and death for themselves. Here in the sense-perceptible world we live in the sensory surroundings. After death, we live in that spiritual of which we have become aware between birth and death. That what was not there for us between birth and death does not exist for us as an outside world after death. Our inside world becomes our outside world—this becomes a great law of spiritual knowledge—, as far as we have consciously recognised it not with vision but with that which our common sense has accepted from vision. We have only that as an outside world after death what we have had as an inside world between birth and death.

If we get mental pictures only between birth and death that are associated with the outer sense-perceptible world, then such mental pictures form our surroundings after death. Because I would like to show that spiritual science attains concrete results, I do not want to shy away from pronouncing what many people regard as ridiculous even today, but the things must be pronounced. If we have attained mental pictures of the outer sense-perceptible world only, it is our inside world during the physical life and then it will be our outside world after death. This implicates that those souls, which have not attempted to realise that behind the sense-perceptible world the spiritual world is, are banished into the earthly-sensory sphere after death until they give up the belief that there is no spirit what is much more difficult after death. Hence, the souls that do not acquire this consciousness will be retained in the earth sphere after death. They can be found there by those who have taken the way to them with spiritual research.

What imprints even deeper on the soul is the following: one learns to recognise if one finds these souls that they have a beneficial effect in the earthly sphere only if they work on this earthly sphere with the body. Here in the earthly sphere the body puts us in the right relation to the surroundings. If we remain in the same surroundings after death, we work destroying. Then we are wrongly engaged. The real researcher knows: if the human beings believe here that destructive forces come by themselves and dissolve by themselves without any real reason, then these are the souls of those who have found no spiritual consciousness here and work then destroying into the life on earth.

If one has recognised once that the human being banishes himself to the earth and works destroying on the earthly conditions, then one has gained a concrete relationship of the human being to the spiritual world again. Then it becomes a cosmic duty not to confine himself on that what the outer physical life offers but what one finds out in such a way that the human being is convinced of the fact that he is connected with his everlasting essence with the spiritual world, which is round us as the sense-perceptible world is, save that the usual consciousness does not perceive it. This world is there, and one can perceive it if the consciousness awakes for this spiritual world.

I would still like to add the following: one learns gradually how that what is not accessible to natural sciences, like death, has entered into the area of research. While strictly speaking natural sciences have to do with that only what is advancing development, the spiritual researcher recognises the intervention of the declining development, the intervention of death in the evolution. He gets to know the role of death based on concrete facts.

We take our starting point from an example: we suppose that death has finished any human life by force, for example, by a boulder or by a shot. This is something inexplicable for the human being. If the spiritual researcher looks at this case and advances on and on in knowledge, he learns to recognise that not only this is the case what I have stated just now: in my present life I have my whole life, from birth up to now, save that that which dates back two to three days has already spiritualised itself. If the researcher advances further, and strengthens not only his thoughts with inner exercises but also his emotional life, so that the feelings that appear in the course of life are perceived so that he can compare the spiritual experience to a musical experience, to a tone, a sound, a noise.

If one experiences musically, one must be able to recognise the tone. Continuing such relations one learns to connect an experience that dates back, as I have described it, two to three days with another that maybe dates back seven to nine years. One can feel that consonous what is experienced in time what places itself as something mental beside duration, as I have described it. The human being experiences this musically, spoken comparatively, if he faces his experience this way. Then he can also extend this—regardless of the time between birth and death—not only to that which dates back two to three days or years, but to that what has happened before birth or conception. There he experiences himself as a spiritual-mental being, before he has descended and has united with a physical body. If he advances even further, he gets to a cognition that I want to characterise in the following description, he experiences himself in past lives on earth, and he experiences things, working from past lives on earth. If the human being has really attained the knowledge with which he experiences the mental immediately with which he can know how the mental lives in the duration, then a moment comes which intervenes deeply in life where the human being can say to himself, you have joined to the spiritual-mental. This is a karmic event!

I say much more with it than I can, actually, say. One does not need to become indifferent towards the remaining life. On the contrary, one can feel everything much subtler that can raise the human being above the usual life to the highest bliss. One can experience what ruins us deeply; one can participate in any destiny. The moment can still arrive that you say to yourself, stronger than any other stroke of fate works that in which the knowledge comes to life for us in such a way that we grasp the spiritual. Then this karmic experience of knowledge extends to our whole life, and we understand the remaining destiny. We understand that our former lives cause our present destiny. We meet former lives on earth, not in a reminiscent way, because one cannot directly remember spiritual experiences as such; but something appears that is much higher than memory: the view of the past.

This must happen if the human being wants to investigate something like the violent death. You cannot investigate it if you look only at one life of a person. In this life, it appears like a chance. The violent death frightens. However, if one surveys the totality of his lives that are between birth and death and the intermediate times in the spiritual world that last much longer, then you realise that a violent death is a significant experience. The soul is snatched as it were from the physical life at one moment; it is internally endowed by the experience of something that comes from without with a particular power.

It is just a law of the spiritual world: the inside becomes outside if the soul enters into the spiritual world. An outer experience like a violent death becomes internal and appears as a force in the next life on earth.

Hence, if we find in a life on earth of a person that he could accomplish something special at a particular time that he gave his life a new direction, then it originates from a violent death in a former life. These forces that give life a new direction are now much investigated and described how human beings suddenly give their life a new direction. Such things lead back to violent deaths that must not be caused anyhow artificially, of course. Since a death which would be searched as a violent death would not be caused from the outside. Of course, one cannot wish that. The desire for such a violent death would be similar to the usual death, which is caused by the inside of the body. Nay, it would be not only similar but it would even move the person into another relation than the usual death.

The usual death that is caused in any age by the inside brings that with it for the next lives on earth what is more an evenly proceeding life as it is originally inherent from childhood and birth on. A violent death by suicide would impair the human being in a way that he could not manage his life in the next life. Already the desire must not appear in our life to look for a violent death anyhow. Spiritual science is not at all concerned with hostility towards life.

You realise that—because the effect of the soul forces is searched in specifically spiritual-scientific way—one gets to real single results which make the human life conceivable. Today I wanted to give some suggestions about that at first. I know, just if one does not talk in the abstract, one often encounters resistance, even mockery. This already begins if one demonstrates the methods of spiritual research. One evaluates these methods often as something that leads to no facts. Well, I would like to know whether these are not substantial facts intervening in life that I put forth only in two talks today and the day after tomorrow. What could be more substantial than this communication of the violent death and of the fact that one is doomed to play a destructive role after death if one has not assimilated certain spiritual images between birth and death?

If such things are stated, it does not need to be in such a way that that who tells them does not put them forward as fully valid facts, but that that who listens is not able to figure them out maybe in their factuality, so that they remain phrases to him.

Quite recently, I have held a talk about the same objects as today in a Swiss city. After a few days I received a polite letter from which I would like to bring something forward in order to show how the usual consciousness behaves to spiritual science.

At first, the person concerned says that that which I have brought forward did not at all work as a fact on him, but he writes, according to my modest subjective opinion, there was no trace of fact in this absurd teaching. In the centre of your spiritual research, the doctrine of reincarnation seems to be. If you have not yet found out with thirty years of study and research how ridiculous it would be if a human mind, after it has studied during its life on earth and has worked its way up, had to regress again to childhood and concepts would have to be explained again to it.

Such an objection is easily raised which is cancelled, however, for someone who knows the state of the mental as I have described it today. There one knows at the same time that the soul, after it has gone through many incarnations, can experience this life on earth repeatedly to enrich itself and in such a way that one could not go through certain things in old age that one realises in himself as lack if one discovers the mental really, but one has just to work through again from childhood on. Someone who surveys the human life knows how it extends beyond deaths and births, knows that it is as ridiculous to say, one does not want to go back again to childhood as it would be ridiculous to say, I have learnt French and German, why should I still learn Chinese in addition if people demand it from me?

These objections just show that the will does not exist to go along with these things. However, they would not be done unless a certain reluctance appeared against spiritual research.

This aversion is due to the following. The soul has to notice if one leads it to its own nature that it needs to go through many lives on earth. Itt does not have those perfect qualities in the later life on earth, because they originate from its very own being, but it has them from its cultural surroundings, they are not its real possession.

That is why the spiritual researcher has to describe this soul in its nakedness and that it has to go through repeated lives on earth. The human being gets angry if the things of the spiritual research are described because he suspects that the soul is not that what he would like to have.

The fact that the human being gets angry if the spiritual approaches him, I would like to link to a single phenomenon. I estimate the philosopher Richard Wahle (1867-1937) very much. I estimate Richard Wahle because he has succeeded in representing everything that the human being perceives with big astuteness uniquely in such a way that it completely appears as picture that is completely free of any spiritual. We still mix something spiritual in if we describe anything sense-perceptible. Richard Wahle drives any spiritual away from that what the senses perceive. This had to be done once, and it is interesting that it has been done once. It relates to that what we experience as world, in such a way, as if anybody faced a miraculous painting and wanted to describe nothing of that which it shows but the colour spots. If one does that with great astuteness towards the world phenomena, it is also a merit. Thus, the philosopher Richard Wahle achieved something particular in his later life. I have never heard or read someone more railing against philosophy and its futility—and I know the philosophical literature of the world quite well—, than Richard Wahle did in his books. If one exerts himself ever so much as a philosopher, the human being does not have more philosophy than an animal and differs only thereby from the animal that he believes to have to run up against the spiritual world anyhow and is not able to do that. Wahle still recently writes this way.

Richard Wahle rails against philosophy because he has expelled any spirit from the sense-perceptible, and has just approached the spirit with this negative way. Actually, nobody characterises certain things of the spiritual life better than Richard Wahle does, the despiser of spirit. Thus, he says: “How little space does the spirit assume in the universe! It is only like a puddle in which stars are reflected. If the combinations of the spirit formed a considerable part of the world, it would have to be ashamed of them; this would compromise the universe. Is it not funny that the universe is thought in such a way, as if our miserable mind formed the summit, because it would be better to forget it on the whole?”

This attitude appears if one approaches the spirit that is the most valuable to the human being. There are various reasons why this is that way; they will still face us the day after tomorrow. But I wanted to show the fact also with the help of a strange phenomenon of the present that that must be overcome at the border of the sense-perceptible world and spiritual world what retains the human being as fear at first, then even as hatred and as an aversion of penetrating this spiritual world.

One has still to add that many people who want to recognise the spirit are content above all if they can say, yes, we admit the spirit; the fact that there is spirit anyhow, we admit this because the human being always faces something hidden, something that he cannot investigate.—Indeed, people forgive that one talks about the spirit; however, they do not forgive the fact that one can penetrate into the spirit that one describes concrete facts and beings of this spiritual life.

All sorts of people refer to those who were after the spirit. Thus, we realise then that those who have rendered it impossible mostly with often rather astute investigations to get to spiritual science that they just refer to a spirit on whom that is based what I have managed in decades of own spiritual research. Since my spiritual research rests upon the healthy bases built by Goethe's worldview.

Goethe himself was not yet a spiritual researcher; the time of spiritual research had not yet come in those days. However, someone who delves into Goethe's worldview finds the elementary starting points in it on which one can build. If one builds on them, one is directly led to spiritual research. Hence, I would like to call spiritual research “Goetheanism” and the Dornach building “Goetheanum.”

Thus, the anthroposophically oriented spiritual science is the direct continuation of Goetheanism. If some people refer to Goethe because he rejected the spirit and called everything nature, one may already point out that, indeed, Goethe called the universe nature already in his young years in his famous prose hymn Nature, but he also said: “she has thought and is continuously reflecting.” If one says about the world being, it is reflecting, it thinks, one gives it spirit not only unconsciously but also consciously. Then it is unnecessary to struggle for words.

Spiritual science does certainly not involve words. Whether one calls that which one considers as universe nature or spirit, it does not matter but the fact matters that one understands it in its concreteness, in its inwardness. Besides, one can agree with Goethe if he does not want to put the unfathomable only as something unfathomable if he does not want to deny the human being the ability of penetrating into the unfathomable. There one needs only to point to that to which I have already pointed here: towards a meritorious researcher, Goethe expressed himself about this misunderstood Kantian principle of the unfathomable in nature. A great researcher said:


“No created mind penetrates

Into the being of nature.

Blissful is that to whom she shows

Her appearance only!”


Goethe answers:


O you Philistine!

Do not remind me

And my brothers and sisters

Of such a word.

We think: everywhere we are inside.

“Blissful is that to whom she shows

Her appearance only!”

I hear that repeatedly for sixty years,

I grumble about it, but covertly,

I say to myself thousand and thousand times:

She gives everything plenty and with pleasure;

Nature has neither kernel nor shell,

She is everything at the same time.

Examine yourself above all,

Whether you are kernel or shell.


Goethe pointed to the fact that the human being can be a kernel of nature; that means that he can grasp himself as something mental-spiritual to know himself in harmony with the mental-spiritual of the whole world that way. To point to it is the task of the anthroposophically oriented spiritual science to give the human being the conviction that he is not only spirit, but that he can recognise himself as spirit, can consciously live in the spiritual world.

About that, I continue speaking the day after tomorrow.