The Presence of the Dead
4. The Presence of the Dead in Our Life
25 May 1914, Paris
First of all, my dear friends, I want to say that I am very glad we are meeting here at this branch of the Anthroposophical Society today. I remember with great pleasure our meeting last year, and my greeting at the beginning of this lecture is as sincere and heartfelt as that memory. 1See Rudolf Steiner, Die Welt des Geistes und ihr Hereinragen in das physische Dasein, Vol. 150 in the Collected Works, (Dornach, Switzerland: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1972), lecture of May 5, 1913. There are no transcripts of the lectures of May 4 and 9, 1913, in Paris.
Today I want to talk about a subject closely connected with the core of our anthroposophical movement. All the results of our spiritual movement are based on research that may be called clairvoyant. While I have often emphasized that our heart, mind, and feelings are primarily affected by anthroposophical truths, we cannot ignore that these truths depend on clairvoyant research, which is an expression of a soul condition different from that of everyday life. It appears to lead us away from the things that seem so important to us in daily life, but in reality, clairvoyant research leads us right into the heart of truly human life.
Today, I do not want to speak about the paths to clairvoyant research since I have already described them in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment. 2Rudolf Steiner, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, repr., (Hudson, NY: Anthroposophic Press 1986). Rather, I would like to characterize the condition and mood of soul that develops as a consequence of this research.
Indeed we must bear in mind that if we follow the paths to clairvoyant research, we will feel completely different from our usual self. What happens to our soul when it becomes clairvoyant can be compared with our dreams, which are like surrogate clairvoyance. When we dream, we live in a world of images, which contains nothing of what we call “the sensation of touching an object outside us.” In our dreams there is usually nothing we can compare with normal ego consciousness. If any aspect of our ego does appear in our dreams, it seems to be separate from us, almost like another being outside us. We face our ego like a separate entity. Thus, we can speak of a doubling of the ego. However, in dreams we perceive only the part of ourselves that has separated, not the subjective ego. All statements apparently contradicting what I have just said can be traced to the fact that most people know of their dreams only from memory, and cannot remember that in the actual dream the subjective ego was extinguished.
The images of clairvoyant research resemble dreams because in both the sense of touch and the subjective ego are absent. A clairvoyant recalling his or her experiences must feel that the clairvoyant reality is permeable and, unlike physical objects, offers no resistance to touch. In the physical world we have ego awareness because we know: I am here, the object is outside me. However, in clairvoyant perception we are inside the object, not separated from what we perceive. Consequently, the individual objects are not fixed and distinct as physical ones, but are in continuous movement and transformation. Objects in the physical world are fixed because we can touch them and because they offer us boundaries, which objects of clairvoyant perception do not have. The same thing that causes our ego to fuse with the objects of clairvoyant perception also forces us to be very careful when we encounter what we call in the physical world another ego, another human being.
Let us first look at what happens when we encounter a person who has died through our clairvoyant faculties. Such an encounter can come about when the figure of the deceased approaches us in clairvoyant perception like a very vivid dream image, looking every bit as we remember the person looked in life. However, this is not the usual type of such encounters, but a rare exception.
Another possibility is that we clairvoyantly perceive a dead person who has taken on the form of either a living or another dead individual, and thus does not appear in his own form. The appearance of the deceased, then, is of very little relevance in identifying him. Perhaps we were particularly fond of another dead person or have a particularly close friendship with a living one; the deceased approaching us can then take on the form of either of those other individuals. In other words, we lack all the usual means of identifying the ego and appearance of a person in the physical world. It will help us find our way to remember that the appearance or form is not at all important; a being is meeting us in one form or another, and we need to note what this being does. If we take our time and carefully observe the image before us, we will realize that, based on everything we know about the individual in question, this person could not act the way he does in the clairvoyant sphere; his actions are totally out of character. We will often encounter a contradiction between the person appearing to us and his actions.
If we allow our feelings to accompany these actions, ignoring the individual's appearance, we will get a sense in the depths of our soul telling us what being we are actually dealing with. Let me repeat that we are guided by a feeling that rises up from the depths of our soul, for that is very important. The individual's appearance in the clairvoyant sphere seems to resemble a physical figure but can be as different from the being really present as the signs for the word “house” are from the actual house. Since we can read, we do not concentrate on the signs that make up the word “house” and do not describe the shape of the letters, but instead we get right to the concept “house.” In the same way, we learn in true clairvoyance to move from the figure we perceive to the actual being. That is why we speak of reading the occult script, in the true sense of the word. That is, we move inwardly and actively from the vision to the reality it expresses just as written words express a reality.
How can we develop this ability to go beyond the appearance, the immediate vision? We do so, above all, by looking at new ideas and concepts we will need if we want to understand the clairvoyant sphere — new, that is, in contrast to the ideas we use in the physical world.
In the physical world we look at an object or a being and say, quite rightly, I perceive that being, that object. We perceive the plant, mineral, and animal kingdoms, the realm of physical human beings, as well as clouds, mountains, rivers, stars, sun, and moon. The feeling expressed in the words “I perceive” undergoes a transformation when we enter the clairvoyant sphere.
Let me try to explain this with an analogy, though it may sound simplistic. If you were a plant, how would you relate to people perceiving you? If this plant had consciousness and could speak, it would have to say: People look at me, I am perceived by them. Of course, we say: I perceive the plant, but at its level of consciousness, the plant would have to say that it was perceived by human beings. It is this feeling of being perceived, being looked at, we must acquire in relation to the beings of the clairvoyant sphere. For example, concerning the beings of the first hierarchy, the angels, we must be aware that strictly speaking it is not correct to say “I perceive an angel,” but we have to say “I feel an angel perceiving me.”
Based on our Copernican world view, we know full well that the sun does not move. Nevertheless, we say that it rises and moves across the sky, thus contradicting our better knowledge. Similarly, in everyday language we can say that we see an angel. But that is not the truth. We would actually have to say that we feel ourselves seen or perceived by an angel. If we said we experience the being of an angel or of a dead person and can feel it, we would speak the truth from the clairvoyant point of view.
Perhaps an example from clairvoyant observation will help you understand this. More than ten years ago, at the beginning of our work with spiritual science, a dear friend of ours worked with us for a short time. 3Steiner here refers to the actress Maria von Strauch-Spettini, 1847–1904. See Lecture Two, note 7. This individual possessed not only enthusiasm for what we could give her in the early stages of spiritual science, but also a profound artistic sensitivity and understanding. One could not help but love this person, a love that may well be described as objective because of her qualities. Having worked with us for a relatively short time and having learned a great deal about the results of spiritual science, she left the physical world. There is no need to go into the next four or five years after her death, so let me get directly to what happened after that. In 1909, we presented our mystery plays in Munich, preceded, to our great delight, by Children of Lucifer by our highly respected friend Edouard Schuré. 4Edouard Schuré, French writer. His play Children of Lucifer was performed in German in Munich on August 22, 1909, under Rudolf Steiner's direction. See Steiner The East in the Light of the West and Schuré, Children of Lucifer, both in one volume, (Blauvelt NY: Spiritual Science Library, 1986). Whatever you may think about the way the plays were produced then and later, we had to present them the way we did. The circumstances under which we had to work on the performances were such that we needed an impulse from the spiritual world, an impulse that also included the artistic aspect we wanted to incorporate. Now, I can assure you that even at that time, in 1909, and even more so in later years, I always felt a specific spiritual impulse as I was working on the arrangements for the performances.
You see, when we have work to do in the physical world, we need not only intellect and skills but also the strength of our muscles. Our muscles objectively help us; they are given to us, unlike the intellectual capacities we ourselves dwell in. Now, in dealing with matters of the spirit we need forces from the spiritual world to combine with our own, just as we need the strength of our muscles for physical action. In the case I mentioned, the impulse from the individual who had left the physical world in 1904 entered more and more into our artistic work on the Munich plays. To describe what happened, I would have to say the impulses from this individual came down from the spirit plane and flowed into my intentions, into my work. She was the patron of our work.
We develop the right feelings toward the dead if we become aware that their spiritual gaze — if I may use that expression — and their powers focus on us; they look at us, act in us, and add to our strength.
To experience such a spiritual fact in the right way, we need to develop a very specific type of selflessness and a capacity for love. That is why I stressed that one could love that person objectively, as it were, because of her qualities; one had to love her because she was as she was. A subjective love, a love arising out of personal needs, can easily be egotistical and can potentially keep us from finding the right relationship to such a dead individual. The difference between the right love, the selfless love we have for such a person, and selfish love becomes perfectly obvious in clairvoyant experience.
Let us assume such a person would want to help us after her death, but we cannot develop true selfless love for her. Her spiritual gaze, her spiritual will streaming toward us would then be like a burning sensation, causing a piercing, burning feeling in our soul. If we can feel and maintain a selfless love, this stream, her spiritual gaze as it were, flows into our soul like a feeling of warm mildness and pours itself into our thoughts, imagination, feeling, and willing. It is out of this feeling that we recognize who the dead person is and not on the basis of his or her appearance, because the dead may manifest in the guise of a person we feel close to at the moment. The form in which the beings of the higher world appear to us — and after death we are all beings of a higher, spiritual world — depends on our subjective nature, on what we habitually see, think, and feel. The reality is what we feel for the being manifest before us, how we receive what comes to us from this being. Regardless of what Joan of Arc said about the appearance of the higher beings in her visions, the occultist who is able to investigate these things knows that it was always the genius of the French nation who stood behind them. 5Joan of Arc, 1412–1431, French national heroine and saint.
I described how we can feel the gaze of spiritual beings resting upon us and their will flowing into our souls. To learn this is analogous to learning to read on the physical plane. Those who merely want to describe their visions would be like people describing the shape of the letters on a page rather than their meaning. This shows you how easy it is to have preconceived notions about the experiences in the spiritual realm. Naturally, it seems most obvious to attach great importance to the description of what the vision looked like. However, what really matters is what lies behind the veil of perception and is expressed in the images of the vision.
Thus, in the course of occult development, the soul immerses itself in specific moods and inner states different from those of our everyday life. We have entered the world of the hierarchy of angels and the hierarchy, or we could also say hierarchies, of the dead as soon as our occult exercises have brought us to the stage where the sense of touch characteristic of the physical world no longer exists, and where a person's appearance is no longer characteristic of the I concerned. Then our thinking changes and we no longer have thoughts in the sense we have them here in the physical world. In that world, every thought takes on the form of an elemental being. In the physical world, our thoughts can agree or contradict each other. In this other world we enter, thoughts encounter other thoughts as real beings, either loving or hating each other. We begin to feel our way into a world of many thought beings. And in those living thought beings, we really feel what we usually call “life.” Here life and thinking are united, whereas they are completely separate in the physical world.
When we speak on the physical plane and tell our thoughts to someone, we have the feeling that our thoughts come from our soul, that we have to remember them at this particular moment. Speaking as a true occultist and not someone who just tells his experiences from memory, we will feel that our thoughts arise as living beings. We must be glad if we are blessed at the right moment with the approach of a thought as a real being.
When you express your thoughts in the physical world, for example, as a lecturer, you will find it easier to give a talk for the thirtieth time than you did the first time. If, however, you speak as an occultist, thoughts always have to approach you and then depart again. Just as someone paying you the thirtieth visit had to make his way to you thirty times, the living thought we express for the thirtieth time has to come to us thirty times as it did the first time; our memory is of absolutely no use here.
If you express an idea on the physical level and someone is sitting in a corner thinking, “I don't like that nonsense, I hate it,” you will not be particularly bothered by it. You have prepared your ideas and present them regardless of the positive or negative thoughts of someone in the audience. But if as an esotericist you let thoughts approach you, they could be delayed and kept away by someone who hates them or who hates the speaker. And the forces blocking that thought must be overcome because we are dealing with living beings and not merely with abstract ideas.
These two examples show that as soon as we enter the sphere of clairvoyance, we are immersed in living and weaving thoughts. It is as if these thoughts are no longer subjective and as if you yourself are no longer within yourself, as if you are living outside in the wide world. When you are in this world of living and weaving thoughts, you are in the hierarchy of angels. And just as our physical world is everywhere filled with air, the world of the hierarchy of angels is filled with the mild warmth I spoke about earlier that the beings of this hierarchy pour out. When our inner development has brought us to the stage where we can live in this spiritual atmosphere of streaming mildness, we feel the spiritual eyes of the hierarchy of angels resting on our souls.
Now, in our earthly life, we have certain ideals and think about them
abstractly. As we think of them, we feel obligated to pursue these
ideals. In the clairvoyant sphere, however, there are no abstract
ideals. There ideals are living beings of the hierarchy of angels and
flow through spiritual space, looking at us with warmth.
In the physical world, we may have ideals, know them well, and yet we may not do anything to apply them. Our emotions, and perhaps passions, can tempt us to shirk them. However, if we knowingly ignore an ideal in the clairvoyant sphere, we feel the spiritual gaze of a being of the hierarchy of angels directed at us with reproach, and this reproach burns. In the spiritual world, ignoring an ideal is thus a reality, and a being of the hierarchy of angels reproaches us. Their gaze makes us feel the reproach; it is the reproach we feel.
You see, learning to develop a real feeling for ideals is one way of entering the world of the hierarchy of angels. Limiting our consciousness to the physical plane may lead us to think that nothing will happen if we are too lazy to act on our ideals. However, we can learn to feel that if we do not act on an ideal, then, regardless of other consequences, the world becomes different from what it would have been had we followed our ideal. We are on the way to the hierarchy of angels when we begin to see that not acting on our ideals is something real, and when we can transform this insight into a genuine feeling. Transforming and vitalizing our feelings allows our souls to grow into the higher worlds.
Through continued esoteric training, we can rise to an even higher level, that of the hierarchy of archangels. If we ignore the angels, we feel reproach. With the archangels we feel reproach as well as a real effect on our being. The strength and power of the archangels works through our I when we live in their world.
For example, a few months ago we lost a very dear friend when he left the physical plane. A profound poet, he had quickly found his way into the anthroposophical world view in the last five years, and the feelings it evoked in him are beautifully reflected in his recent poetry. 6Morgenstern, see Lecture Two, note 8. From the time he joined us, and even before that, he had been struggling with an infirm and deteriorating body. The more his body deteriorated, the more his soul was filled with poetry that reflected our world view. Only a short time has elapsed since his death, and so one cannot yet say that this individual possesses a clearly existing consciousness. Nevertheless, the first stages of his development in the existence after death can be seen. The astral body, now separated from the physical and living in the spiritual world, reveals the most wonderful tableaux of cosmic development as we understand it in spiritual science. Having left the deteriorated physical body, the astral body has become so illuminated, comparatively speaking, that it can present the clairvoyant observer with a complete picture of cosmic evolution.
Let me use an analogy to explain what I mean. We can love nature and admire it, and still appreciate a beautiful painting that recreates what we have seen in nature. Similarly, we can be uplifted when what we have seen in the clairvoyant sphere lights up again, as a cosmic painting, so to speak, in an astral body of a person who has died. The astral body of our departed friend reveals after death what it absorbed, at first unconsciously but later also consciously, in the course of his anthroposophical development when the beings of the hierarchy of archangels worked actively on the poetical transformation of his anthroposophical thoughts and ideas.
Our progress in our esoteric development can be called mystical, because it is initially the inner progress of the soul. We transform our ordinary personality and gradually reach a new state. This step-by-step growth of the soul is mystical progress because at first it is experienced inwardly. As soon as we can perceive the mildness looking down from the spiritual world, we are objectively in the world of the angels, which reveals itself to us. And as soon as we can recognize that real forces of strength and power enter into us, we are in the realm of the archangels. With each stage of inner mystical progress we have to enter another world.
However, if we fail to develop selflessness and reach the stage of living in the world of the angels while remaining selfish and unloving, then we carry the self intended for the physical world into their realm. Instead of feeling the mild gaze and will of the angels upon us, we feel that other spiritual powers are able to ascend through us. Instead of gazing at us from outside, they have been released by us, shall we say, from their underworld while we were raised to a higher world. Instead of being overshadowed, or rather illuminated, by the world of the angels, we experience the luciferic beings that emerge from us.
Then, if we reach the stage of mystical development allowing us to enter the world of the archangels — without, however, having first developed the wish to receive by grace the influences of the spiritual world, we carry our self up into their realm. As a result, instead of being strengthened and imbued with the power of the archangels, the beings of the ahrimanic world emerge from us and surround us.
At first glance, the idea that the world of Lucifer appears in the realm of the angels and the world of Ahriman in that of the archangels seems terrible. However, there is really nothing awful about this. Lucifer and Ahriman are in any case higher beings than we are. Lucifer can be described as an archangel left behind at an earlier stage of evolution, Ahriman as a spirit of personality also left behind at an earlier stage. The terrible thing is not that we encounter Lucifer and Ahriman, but that we encounter them without recognizing them for who they are. Encountering Lucifer in the world of the angels really means encountering the spirit of beauty, the spirit of freedom. But the all-important thing is that we recognize Lucifer and his hosts as soon as we enter the world of the angels. The same is true of Ahriman in the realm of the archangels. Lucifer and Ahriman unleashed in the higher worlds is terrible only if we do not recognize them as we release them, because then they control us without our knowledge. It is important that we face them consciously.
When we have advanced in our mystical development to the level of living in the world of the angels and want to continue there with really fruitful occultism, we have to look for Lucifer as soon as we expect the spiritual gaze of the angels to rest on us. Lucifer must be present — and if we cannot find him, he is within us. But it is very important that Lucifer is outside us in this realm, so that we can face him.
These facts about Lucifer and Ahriman, angels and archangels, explain the nature of revelation in the higher worlds. From our viewpoint in the physical world, we are easily led to believe that Lucifer and Ahriman are evil powers. But when we enter the higher world, this no longer has any meaning. In the clairvoyant sphere, Lucifer and Ahriman have to be present just as much as the angels and archangels. However, we do not perceive them the same way. We identify the angels and archangels not by their appearance, but we know the angels by the mildness that flows from them into us, and recognize the archangels by allowing their strength and power to flow into our feeling and will. Lucifer and Ahriman appear to us as figures, merely transposed into the spiritual world; we cannot touch them, but we can approach them as spiritual projections of the physical world. Clearly, it is important that we learn in our mystical clairvoyant development to see forms in the higher world and to be aware that we are seen, that a higher will focuses on us.
You see, higher development does not consist merely in acquiring clairvoyant faculties, but in developing a certain state of soul, a certain attitude or relationship to the beings of the higher world. This new attitude and state of soul must be developed hand in hand with the training of our clairvoyant faculties. In other words, we must learn not only to see in the spiritual world but also to read in it. Reading is not meant here in the narrow sense of a simple learning process, but as something we acquire through transforming our feelings and sensations. It is important to keep in mind that a split of our personality occurs when clairvoyance begins, and we reach a revelation of the higher worlds. Our earthly personality is left behind, and a new one is acquired on ascending into a higher world. And just as the beings of the higher hierarchies look at us in the higher world, so we perceive our own ordinary personality from a higher perspective. Our higher self discards the lower one and observes it. So, to make valid statements about the higher worlds we had better wait until we are able to say: That is you; the person you see in your clairvoyant vision is yourself. “That is you” on the higher level corresponds to “this is I” on the physical one.
Now remember when you were eight or thirteen or fifteen years old and try to reconstruct from your memory a small part of your life at that time. Try to recall as vividly as possible your thinking in those years. Then concentrate on your current feelings about the girl or boy you were at eight, thirteen, or fifteen. As soon as we move from the physical level to the higher world, the present moment we live in now becomes a memory of the kind we have just recalled. We look back at our current existence on the physical level and at what we may still become during the remainder of our physical life in the same way you look back to your experiences at eight, thirteen, or fifteen from your vantage point in the present moment.
Everything we consider part of ourselves on the physical level, such as our feelings, thoughts, ideas, and actions, becomes a memory as soon as we enter the higher world. We look down at the physical world and become a memory to ourselves when we live in the higher world. We have to keep our experiences in the higher worlds separate from those in the physical realm, just as we distinguish between our present situation and an earlier one. Imagine a person who is forty years old and vividly remembers the feelings and abilities he or she had as an eight-year-old boy or girl. For instance, the person might be reading a book now, at the age of forty, and all of a sudden he or she begins to relate to the book as an eight-year-old would. That would be a confusion of the two attitudes, the two states of soul, and is analogous to what happens when we confuse our state of soul on the physical level with what is required in the higher worlds.
Of course, this has nothing to do with the fact that every unbiased person can understand what I say about the higher worlds; in other words, we do not merely have to believe these descriptions, but we can understand them if we approach them without preconceived ideas. People may object that we cannot describe the higher worlds with concepts, thoughts, and ideas from the physical world because the former are completely different from the latter. This objection makes as much sense as saying that we cannot give people an idea of what we mean by writing h-o-u-s-e; for them to understand that concept, we have to bring them a house.
We talk about physical facts and objects by means totally independent of the object or fact. So we can also describe phenomena of the spiritual world with what we understand on the physical plane. However, we cannot understand the higher worlds with our everyday concepts and ideas, but need to acquire others and expand our thinking. People who honestly tell us about the higher world must also extend our concepts beyond our everyday life; they must give us concepts that are new and different and yet comprehensible on the physical plane.
People find it difficult to understand genuine spiritual science and serious esotericism because they are so reluctant to expand their concepts. They want to understand the higher world and its revelations with the ideas they already have and don't want to create new ones. When people in our materialistic age hear lectures on the spiritual world, they believe all too easily that the esoteric world can be understood simply by looking at it. They think the shapes there may be slightly more delicate and more nebulous than in the physical world, but similar nevertheless. It may seem inconvenient to some that the serious occultist is expected to do more than merely follow instructions on how to see angels. A change in thinking is necessary, and the concept “angel” must include that we are perceived by them, that their spiritual gaze is focused on us.
Mystical development, or ascending to the higher worlds, cannot be separated from enriching and giving greater scope to our ideas, feelings, and soul impulses. To understand the higher worlds, we must not let our life of ideas remain as impoverished as it is on the physical plane.
To provide esoteric help for this enrichment, we are constructing our modest building in Dornach in a completely new style. That building is, of course, nowhere near the ideal, but it is a humble beginning. After all, we have only limited means at our disposal, despite the fact that our friends have done everything within their power for this project.
The spiritual impulses behind the building styles that developed in the third, the fourth, and in the current fifth post-Atlantean epoch included the task of guiding humanity to knowledge of the physical world. For example, Egyptian architecture initiated this development with its succinct geometrical forms. Greco-Roman architecture is like a marriage of soul and spirit with etheric and physical body. Here soul and spirit on the one hand and etheric body and physical body on the other connect in a state of complete equilibrium. The rising, pointed arches of the Gothic style are the first architectural attempt to rise again from the physical into the spiritual world.
If anthroposophy is to be represented in a building the next step must be to bring to life the living and weaving thought patterns themselves, flowing, and pouring into space. Then we will see in physical form what Imagination and Inspiration reveal directly of the spiritual world. That is why the forms of the Dornach building are such that it is pointless to ask in materialist fashion what they symbolize and what their shapes stand for. They have to be taken on their own merit, since they are nothing more than immediate spiritual experiences poured out into spatial forms. We have attempted to transform everything that can be seen and experienced in the spirit into artistic form. So if people ask what a form stands for, they have misunderstood the building; for every form signifies only itself, just as our hands or head stand only for themselves and nothing else. Such a question also indicates a complete misunderstanding of our position in regard to occultism. We will be glad to leave behind the old theosophical nonsense of examining every fairy tale, every figure, and every myth for what it signifies and symbolizes.
All our forms really exist in the spiritual world and therefore express only themselves and nothing else. They are not symbols, but spiritual realities. You will not find a single pentagram throughout the building, no form of a pentagram, nothing to make you wonder what this or that form means. At most, there is one place where subtle forms could be interpreted as a pentagram, but so can every five-petaled flower. People may ask what our fourteen pillars mean, which are not shaped as pentagrams, but are five-sided for aesthetic reasons. They may wonder what the pillars supporting the cupolas mean besides representing spatial relations perceptible in the spiritual world. In reply we can only point out how materialistic our age is when even spiritual intentions must be clothed in materialist garments.
Our building will be understood if people stop asking what it symbolizes and instead think about what it is. They will understand our building when they realize it is better not to use any of the usual terms and the old verbal images to help our materialist age comprehend it. Spiritual science can at most be a synthesis of religions; unlike the ancient religions, it does not build temples, but rather a structure that expresses its innermost nature. This building can only be understood gradually, and only if we do not apply old words to this new development.
We know only too well that we can realize our intentions in Dornach only in the most modest, rudimentary way. But I ask only that you make a real effort to understand this humble beginning from the perspective and significance of our spiritual science. Try to understand what this simple beginning, paid for with considerable sacrifices, is aiming at. Any other attitude would be most disheartening.
Enough grand words and pompous phrases have been bandied about in the so-called occult movement. All we want is that even if our way of expressing things no longer exists fifty years from now, people will still say of our movement that it endeavored with every fiber to be totally sincere and honest. And the more modestly and simply, but thus perhaps the more objectively, we discuss what we wish to do, the better we serve our cause. Every word that is superfluous or returns to the old, convenient concepts does untold damage to what we are striving to achieve — please excuse me for saying this — honestly. If people understand us in this way, then perhaps the mood will arise that we need if we are really, in December at the earliest, to inaugurate our modest building without pomp and fuss. 7Due to complications and delays caused by World War I (1914–1918), the building neared completion only in 1920. The inauguration ceremony never took place because of the fire that destroyed the Goetheanum. A “provisional inauguration” took place on September 26, 1920, on the eve of the first event held in the building, the “first anthroposophical academic course,” which lasted from September 27 to October 16, 1920. The mood we need will be there only if we concentrate on our goals, even if we do not create a stir in our materialist age.
Please accept these words in the spirit of the serious intentions of our movement. They must fill our souls if this spiritual impulse is really to take root in our age. There is a real need for an honest spiritual movement that truly promotes the mystical life of the soul and allows revelations of the higher worlds to flow into this materialist age. Only when our friends understand this purpose and attitude of our spiritual movement, then and only then shall we be able to fulfill the task given us by the wise, guiding individualities in the spiritual world.
Based on what I have tried to explain today, I will speak to you the day after tomorrow about the progress in our understanding of Christ through the ages and about the position of our movement concerning the Christ. 8Rudolf Steiner, Vorstufen zum Mysterium von Golgotha, Vol. 152 in the Collected Works, (Dornach, Switzerland: Rudolf Steiner Verlag, 1964), Lecture of May 27, 1914.