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Original Impulses for the Science of the Spirit
GA 96

XX. Three Ways of Being Personal

12 June 1907, Berlin

The Munich Congress,132Concerning this record of the lecture on 12 June 1907, based on poor-quality notes, see Rudolf Steiner's essay 'Der Kongress der Federation europäischer Sektionen der Theosophischen Gesellschaft in München' in Luzifer-Gnosis (GA 34), S. 590 ft".133Fourth Congress of the Federation of European Sections of the Theosophical Society, 18-21 May 1907 in Munich. See Steiner R. Rudolf Steiner, an Autobiography (GA 28), ch. 28; . Tr. R. Stebbing. New York: Rudolf Steiner Publications 1977; Occult Seals and Columns. London: Anthroposophical Publishing Co. 1924. being the fourth after Amsterdam, London and Paris, was intended to mark a certain milestone in our theosophical movement. A kind of connection is to be made between the different nations also for our theosophical cause in Europe. I am not intending to give an actual report on the congress today but just to offer a few comments for those who were unable to be there.

The congress was to show one thing, something I had been emphasizing many times with reference to our theosophical cause—it was to show that theosophy is not meant to be a personal matter of broodingly looking inward. It is meant to play a role in practical life, be concerned with education, come to be at home in all branches of practical life. Those who have deeper insight and understanding of the true impulses of theosophy will know, even today, what opportunities this theosophy will provide in the future. It will be the harmony between things we see [outside] and feel inwardly. Someone able to see into things more deeply will see a major reason for the scattiness [of today's people], disharmony between the situation as it is and the things theosophy aims at. Not only theosophists have felt this, but also other important figures, Richard Wagner, for instance...

In earlier times every door lock, every house, every structure was a structure of the soul. Soul stuff had flowed into it. In the old days a work of art was part of human feeling and thinking. The forms of Gothic churches were in accord with the mood of people who would often walk a long way to those churches. They had the soul mood of the people. The worshipper walking to the church would feel that those forms were like putting one's hands together in prayer, just as the ancient German [entering a grove] would feel [the movements of the trees] to be something like a putting the hands together in prayer. Everything was more familiar to people in those times. You can still see this most beautifully expressed in the works of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. The way a whole small village would come together in the church was a true expression of the inner life in that village. Whole ether streams would gather in the place where the church stood. The materialistic age has split everything apart. People don't realize this, being unable to take a clear look at life. A seer will know, however, that when you walk through a town today you'll see practically nothing but things for our stomachs or the latest fashions. Anyone able to trace the secret threads in life will also know what has brought our materialistic civilization to this split-apart state.

Health can come for the outside world if it becomes a reflection of our inmost moods of soul. We can't achieve complete perfection right away, but an example has been given in Munich. The spiritual scientific view of the world was brought to expression in the auditorium. The whole hall was in red. People are often quite wrong about the colour red, one should not fail to perceive the deeper significance of the colour. Human evolution involves ascending and descending movements. Look at the original peoples. Their natural world is green. And what do they love most? Red! An occultist knows that red has a special effect on a healthy soul. It releases active powers in that soul, powers that encourage one to act, powers that should move the soul from taking it too easy to making an effort, even if this is far from easy. A room intended to have a solemn, festive mood needs to be papered in red. Someone who uses red wall paper in his living room shows that he no longer has a feeling for solemn moods, taking the red colour down to an everyday level. Goethe wrote the most excellent words one can think of about these things: 'The effect of this colour is as unique as its nature. It gives an impression both of solemnity and dignity and of charm and graciousness. It does the former in its dark, dense form, the latter when bright and diluted. And so the dignity of old age and the charm of youth may garb themselves in one and the same colour.'134Zur Farbenlehre, Didaktischer Teil. Sechste Abteilung. Sinnlich-sittliche Wirkung der Farbe, 796.

Those are the moods which red creates, moods we are able to demonstrate using occult methods. Look at the countryside through a red glass and you'll get the impression: That's what it must look like on the day of judgement. Red makes us glad to see how far human beings have developed. Red is hostile to moods that hold us back, moods of sin.

Then we had the seven column motifs for the time when buildings might also be erected for theosophy. The column motifs were taken from the teachings of the initiates, from very early times. In theosophy it will be possible to provide architecture with genuinely new column motifs. The old columns have really long ceased to mean something to people. The new ones relate to Saturn, Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury and Venus. The capitals reflect the laws. Between the columns we had put the seven seals of the Book of Revelation, in Rosicrucian style. The seal of the Grail appeared in public for the first time.

We can also build theosophy. We can build it in architectural forms, in education and in the social field. The Rosicrucian principle is to bring the spirit into the world, to do fruitful work for the soul. And it will also prove possible to elevate art to the mystery art which Richard Wagner longed for so much. An attempt has been made in Edouard Schuré's mystery play.135Das heilige Drama von Eleusis, reconstructed by Edouard Schuré, translated from the French by Marie von Sivers, cast in free rhythms by Rudolf Steiner. The premiere was given on 19 May 1907, at the Munich Congress. He sought to follow the mystery plays of old. The underlying intention was to let theosophy crystallize in the developing structure of the world. The programme was in a solemn and festive red, showing a black cross with roses wound around it against a blue background. Rosicrucianism takes the things given through Christianity forward into the future. The initials given on the programme reflected the underlying thoughts.136E.D.N. -1. C. M. - P. S. S. R. as the initial letters of the Rosicrucian words Ex deo nascimur. In Christo morimur. Per spiritum sanctum reviviscimus.

Today I would like to consider some questions that may come up in relation to this. First of all: How would it be if theosophy were to move across into the Rosicrucian stream and come wholly into its own within this? In this respect let us consider some ideas relating to theosophical ethics or morality. It is not a matter of saying: You must do or not do one thing or another. Theosophy has nothing to do with demands and commandments but with facts and narratives.

Let us take just one example of a fact in the astral world; it will immediately be apparent that there is no need to preach morality—which does not serve any purpose anyway, for admonitions and commandments cannot be the basis of genuine morality which comes only with the facts of higher life. If you hear occultists say that a lie is murder and suicide, this acts as an impulse with such moral power that it simply does not compare with the simple admonition: You must not lie. If we know what a lie is and what the truth is, if we know that everything leaves its mark in the realm of the spirit, the situation changes. A narrative which is in accord with the truth creates vital energies for further development. Untruths that are spoken strike at the truth and this reflects on the individual himself. Every lie that is told will later have to be felt by the teller himself. Lies are the greatest obstacles to further development. It is not for nothing that the devil is called the spirit of lies and obstacles. The explosive substance of a lie kills objectively and discharges itself against the individual who put it out into the world.

We have three terms for the personal: the personal, the impersonal, and the more-than-personal. There were human ancestors once who were higher than any animal but lower than the human being. They consisted of physical body, ether body and astral body. Then the I was added, and this creates the higher parts out of itself, so that essential human nature will be sevenfold.

The evolution of physical body, ether body and astral body continued through long periods of time. They thus made themselves ripe to receive I-awareness into themselves. Today, we'll consider the tendencies of the three lower bodies and the way in which they developed. The human being gradually became more and more able to gain self-awareness. This is only possible with the power of egoism, self-seeking, which may be divine or devilish. We should judge these terms not merely by how we feel about them but according to their true essence. Independence made it necessary for human beings to grow egoistical.

Developing egoism brought with it the form of—apparent—loss of conscious awareness we call death in our present human life. Death developed to the same degree as self-seeking evolved. In the very beginning human beings did not die. They were like a part that dried up and would then grow again, more or less the way a finger nail may drop off and grow again. Our present-day way of dying and being reborn came into existence so that we may have the potential for our present I-awareness. Egoism and death are two sides of the same thing. The higher aspect of human nature is such that it overcomes egoism, works to rise to the level of the divine and thus overcomes death. The more the individual develops the higher part in himself, the more does he develop awareness of his immortality. The moment someone has become egoistical, he has also become an individual person. Animals are not persons and that is because they have their I as a group soul that does not descend from the astral plane. The individual personality lets the three bodies—physical body, ether body and astral body—be shone through by the I. This may of course be in an unclear, shadowy way, and in that case the individual concerned is weak in his personal identity.

This is clearly apparent to a clairvoyant. He sees a colourful aura around the individual which exactly reflects his moods, passions, feelings and sensations in currents and clouds of colour. If we were to go back to the time when the three bodies were only just ready to receive the human I, we would see an aura also for this creature which was not yet wholly human. This would, however, lack the yellow currents that reflect man's higher nature. Powerful personalities have an aura with powerful yellow radiation. Now you may be a powerful personality but not active; you feel things strongly inside but not be a man or woman of action. The aura will also show a lot of yellow. But if you are a woman or man of action, and your personality is actively influencing the world, the yellow will gradually change into a radiant red. An aura showing red radiance is the aura of someone who is active; but it must be radiant.

There is, however, a pitfall for personalities that want to be active. This is ambition, vanity. Strong natures are particularly prone to this. A clairvoyant sees it in their auras. Without ambition the yellow changes directly into red. If the individual is ambitious, the aura will contain a lot of orange. This pitfall must be avoided if the action is to be objective.

Weak personalities are more interested in being given things than in giving themselves and doing something. You will then see mainly blues, and if they are particularly indolent you see indigo. This is more an inner indolence than an outer one.

So you see how a strong or weak personality is reflected in the aura. People should overcome the personal element more and more and let the higher principle be active. This is why you hear such a lot about overcoming personal concerns and egoism. But this brings us to our main point. It is a question of whether we overcome the personal with the impersonal or the more-than-personal.

What does it mean, to overcome oneself with the impersonal? It means to weaken and force back the individual's powerful energies. That would mean being impersonal. More-than-personal would in some respect be the exact opposite of this. It would mean increasing the individual's energies, bringing out the powerful energies which a person has.

We find the I in the soul, and within it first of all the element of courage, but secondly also the soul's desirous and demanding qualities. Basically everything in the inner life goes back to these two things. And things receive different treatment there. This is due to the following. Human beings do not make enough of an effort to be open to higher things. They will develop, but it will be the lower principle which develops, with elements of courage and qualities of desire developing in a crude way. If they were simply to reduce this side of things, we'd have a civilization of the impersonal. Activity, which makes human beings human as they go out to be among others and do whatever they are capable of, will in a way always bring such individuals in collision with others. And they must experience collisions if they feel they are called on to do something.

We can also kill off our desires. This will make the personality colourless, however. Yet there's something else we can do, and that is to ennoble them. We need not reduce their strength. We can direct them towards higher objects. The personality need lose nothing of its strength then, though it will grow more noble and divine. We need not kill off desires, only transform them into finer and more noble desires. They can then come into their own with the same vehemence. An example. Think of a honky-tonk entertainment. Someone who does not go to it need not be an ascetic. He has merely transformed his lower desires into higher ones and so a honky-tonk would simply bore him.

This is an area where theosophy has been most misunderstood by theosophists. There can be no question of killing off the personal element. It needs to be helped to move up to something higher. Everything theosophy is able to give us will be needed for this. It is thus above all a matter of arousing interest in higher things. This does happen. People need not deaden their feelings for this, but direct them towards the higher, divine process of evolution, to the great realities in this world. If we direct our feelings towards these we will lose interest in the brutal side of life, yet our feelings will not be deadened but will grow rich, and the whole of our human nature will catch fire. If someone is fond of some nice roast pork, it is not a matter of getting rid of this feeling for roast pork but of transforming it. Our aim should be to metamorphose our feelings. The feelings which one individual has for the symphony of a meal are applied to a real symphony by another. If you preach overcoming desires and activity, you are preaching something impersonal. But if you show people the way in which they can direct their desires to things of the spirit, you point them towards things that are more than personal. And this more-than-personal must be the goal of the theosophical movement.

The science of the spirit is not intended to produce stay-at-homes and eccentrics but people who are active, going out into the world. How do we reach the more-than-personal, however? Not by eating into the personal, but by perceiving what is true, great and all-embracing. This is why it is not for nothing that we cultivate an eye for the great scheme of things in theosophy. This helps us to grow beyond trivial things and take things not in an impersonal way but in one that goes beyond being personal.

There is an area where we have a crossover experiment,137Testing two cross-over qualities that are inseparably bound up with one another. Either both are present or neither, so that one needs only search for one of them. The method goes back to Francis Bacon. as it were, to establish the difference between personal, impersonal and more-than-personal. When it comes to love, you may easily think that the feelings which someone has for someone else are impersonal. But this may be a long way off from anything more-than-personal. People fall into a strange illusion here. They confuse self love with love for someone else. Most people think they love someone else but are in fact loving themselves in the other person. Giving oneself up to someone else is merely something to satisfy our own egoism. The individual concerned is not aware of this, but basically it is just a roundabout way of satisfying one's egoism.

We do not exist in isolation but are part of a whole. A finger is lovingly part of the hand and the organism. It would die if it weren't. In the same way a person could never exist without the rest of humanity. The result of this is that people like people.

Love sometimes simply comes from poverty of soul, and poverty of soul always comes from powerful egoism. If someone says he can't live without another person, his own personality is impoverished, and he is looking for something that will make him more complete. He dresses it all up by saying: I am getting impersonal; I love the other person.

The most beautiful and selfless love shows itself when one does not need the other person and can also do without him. The individual's then loving someone not for his own sake but for the sake of that other person. This does of course mean one has to be able to discern the true value of someone, which can only be done by entering deeply into the world. The more of a theosophist you are, the more you will learn to enter into the inner essence of another individual. And you'll then be all the more sensitive of his value and not love him for egoistical reasons. If you go through the world like this, you'll also see that some people have one kind of egoism, and others another, each living according to the value of his egoism.

What is needed is higher development of the personality. Impersonal love based on weakness will always also involve suffering. Love that is more-than-personal bases on strength and perception of the other person. It can be a source of joy and satisfaction. Swinging to and fro between all kinds of different moods in one's love is always a sign that this love is masked egoism and comes from an impoverished personality. This is how we can best see the difference between impersonal and more-than-personal—by looking at love.

Someone to whom the science of the spirit has not given a foundation in his life has failed to understand it, for it is a source of inner satisfaction in life for the future. If materialism were to continue to gain the upper hand, and with it also egoism, which is part of it, humanity would fall more and more into the pessimism which represents the burned-out ashes of burned-out minds. If humanity takes up the science of the spirit, true cheerfulness will be restored to it, and this is at the same time also the source of health. Disharmony ultimately comes from egoism, and the higher human being spreads a cheerful, happy mood. The more the higher, the divine comes into its own, the more will human beings be in harmony. We should think more about how we can help the whole of humanity than about how the science of the spirit may help us in particular. We will find it easier and easier to discover the source of genuine cheerfulness and joy, youth eternal, the more we make ourselves familiar with the ethics of the more-than-personal.

Negation is definitely not the aim with theosophy, but rather affirmation. The impersonal signifies negation, the more-than-personal affirmation, weak though it may still be. This also shows us the mission which the science of the spirit is given out of the essential nature of humanity. 'You'll know it by its fruits,' by the way it makes people fit and effective in life, with faces that reflect inner harmony. The spirit never shows itself in a woebegone face. Even the pain someone has to go through is transformed in the thinker's face and appears in a more noble form; the expression of pain has been purified in the harmonious face of a thinker. A woebegone face indicates that egoism has not yet been overcome. The science of the spirit encourages us to turn to the world around us without losing ourselves in that world. It takes us beyond the personal, not by destroying the personality, making it impersonal, but by enhancing it so that it will be more than personal.