Things in Past and Present in the Spirit of Man
II. Deeper Secrets of Man's Soul-Spiritual Nature
7 March 1916, Berlin
Today I would like to return to much of that which I said in previous lectures and I would like to amplify, in the first place, certain ideas about the inner being of man, about the soul spiritual nature of man. You know that we speak in the first place of that particular member of the inner human being which we designate with an abstract expression as the ether body. Whereas the physical body of man is perceptible for the external senses to external science which is bound to the intellect and its observation, we know that the ether body is something of a super-sensible nature. Furthermore, we speak of the next member of human nature as the so-called astral body. We remember how often we have emphasized the fact that one cannot say that the inner being of man is completely unknown to us. Indeed, man perceives within his bodily existence in the physical world, he perceives his thinking, his feeling and his willing. He experiences it inwardly and he experiences this thinking, feeling and willing as being radiated through by his “I”. One can say that man inwardly perceives this thinking, feeling and willing. However one cannot say that you can actually perceive your astral body. Also one cannot say that you really perceive your “I”, because this “I” — and we have brought this to your attention in the course of these lectures — this “I” of which man speaks falls back into unconsciousness with every sleep and is actually only a reflection of the real “I”. Therefore, in a certain sense, it can he concluded also that this “I” with this thinking, feeling and willing, is in a similar way only an expression, a manifestation of the actual inner being of man, just as with the physical body what you have is a manifestation, an expression of the spiritual nature of that which we designate as the etheric body.
Now, man is obviously happy when, in reference to any given domain of knowledge, he has such a very tightly fit division which he can neatly preserve. Therefore people are so happy when they know that man consists of physical body, ether body, astral body and ego. However, in the man — and I want to emphasize this — all you have with these four expressions are just four words, nothing more than four expressions. And when you advance to real contemplation, then you must, in a certain sense, always pass beyond the borders which are so easily established by these expressions. you speak in a general way, to be sure you may say: Thinking, feeling and willing proceed in the astral body. However that is really only a one-sided abstract way in which the fact of thinking exhausts itself. Just as we as human beings stand in the first place within the physical world, so, to be sure, the impulse to the thinking which exist in the astral body is that impulse which proceeds from the “I”. However, the thinking develops itself as a thought only through the fact that we have the mobile ether body. Our whole thinking would remain unconscious to us as physical human beings if the astral body did not send its impulses into the ether body and the ether body in its mobility would be unable to take up the thought impulses of the astral body. And every thought again would simply just pass over in a transitory way without having the possibility of a memory if we did not have a physical body. You cannot say the physical body is the carrier of the memory. No. The carrier of the memory is the ether body. However, for us human beings, if our thinking were to merely flow along just as dreams flow along and if it were not possible to have it engraved in the physical materiality of the physical body, then our thoughts here in the physical body can assert themselves through the fact that we have this physical body. Thus you see how this thinking is actually a very complicated process. It has its impulses in the astral body, actually already in the “I”. These impulses continue themselves as forces in the ether body, call forth the thoughts, and the thoughts in their turn engrave their tracks into the physical body. And through the fact that they are imprinted, you can always fetch them out of the memory again during the physical life.
Now, just consider — and we have often spoken about this situation — what the memory actually represents for man here in the physical body. As you know, man has experiences. He works these experiences over; then he goes away from these experiences. There comes a time when such experiences relate themselves to the human being as if we knew nothing about them, as if we no longer stood in relationship to them. However, there again comes the time when we are able to fetch the thought experiences out of our inner being. That which we have already experienced is present for us again in in the form of memory. Now, in the first place, man must believe the following. This process of memory belongs to him; it belongs to his soul. When we as human beings walk through the streets and associate in society, someone outside of us with external physical sense organs cannot really know what is hidden within us as our memories, that is, he cannot know what sort of experiences we have had. We carry these in our soul. I might say the sheaths of the physical body are so arranged that they cover over our soul for us. It is as if true physical body is a mantle which hides our soul and in which we can preserve these memories. They belong to us and they work in us through our whole life. We make the outside world into our own inner world. Then we carry this external world in the form of memories with us through existence. We carry these memories as our own possession.
Now, it would be a great mistake if one were to believe that this carrying of the memories through life really comprises the whole process. This is not the case. Darwin, for example, had the correct idea when he investigated to see if rain worms had a special task, and he discovered that rain worms are not there just to merely enjoy their existence but have the very important task of making the soil fruitful as they crawl through it. These are things which natural science certainly admits and this is a ground upon which natural science believes itself secure. Now, natural science, in so far as it does that, should not be criticized because it is really good when they enter into certain single details. However, the problem is that one builds world views upon such details. Obviously you must consider the saying about a man who digs for treasure and is happy when he finds rain worms. However, from the spiritual point of view one can ask the following: Was this activity through which man forms thoughts during his whole life and preserves them in his memory, has that any significance for the whole cosmos? Is this process of memorization only a process which occurs in ourselves? Now, the materialist says that obviously that is a process which only occurs in us. With death we put our physical body in the grave and then that which we have preserved in us as memory is obviously something which is rarely an extinguished thing. We are not going to enter into such a materialistic reply. We want to ask the question: Is our thinking process and memory process something quite different from that which occurs in our memory?
So it is. While we think, while we form thoughts and out of our experiences preserve these memories, during this time we occupy ourselves not only with our thoughts, but the whole world of the Third Hierarchy occupies themselves with our thoughts, the Hierarchies of the Angels, Archangels and Archai. When we think, we think not only for ourselves, we think and we preserve our thoughts in our inner being in order that a field of activity should be created for Angels, Archangels and Archai. Whereas we believe that our thoughts live only in us, actually the three spiritual Hierarchies occupy themselves with our thoughts. The very smallest of that which we propose with our thoughts is something which concerns us. Even when we have forgotten the thoughts, they are in us and we again call these thoughts out of our memory. Just as we as human beings occupy ourselves on earth with our machines or with eating and drinking, so do the Angels, Archangels and Archai occupy themselves with a web which is formed from our thoughts; they work continuously on our thoughts. It is thus only the side of the activity of the thoughts which is turned toward us that we know about. There is in addition another side and this other side of our thoughts so appears for spiritual perception that we can say the following. While our thoughts which we have in our inner being occupy themselves from outside, the above mentioned spiritual beings weave these thoughts so that we, when we achieve this knowledge, can say the following of ourselves. Our thought process is acutely not something unnecessary for the world. Our thought process is something not only for ourselves, but it stands within the whole world development and contributes to it so that something new can continuously be woven into the world development. If we were not born as single individuals, if we had no thoughts, if we had not preserved memories in us, then at our death, that portion which would have been able to be woven out of our thoughts, that which we ourselves do not weave, that would be lost for world development. And when we pass through the portal of death — the elementary process I have often described — we put aside our physical body and this is given over to the elements of the earth in various ways. Our ether body remains with for a short time. It represents itself to our inner being as a great life tableau which is in front of us. Everything of that which we otherwise remember, that which has gone on in a time continuum becomes as a mighty panorama all at once, a mighty life tableau placed around us. Then, however, our etheric being is separated from us. It is, as it were, drawn out of us.
Now, who does that? Indeed, that is done by the beings of the three Hierarchies we mentioned and they weave it gradually into the cosmic ether so that after our death this web of the cosmic ether consists of that which we during our life between birth and death have added to it, also that which was worked over by the beings of these next three Hierarchies. The new webbing is taken away from us and is interwoven with the whole cosmic all. Every human being has a knowledge of this when he passes through the portal of death, since, for the human being after he has passed the portal of death, something enters which can be described in no other way than as follows. Now, you must see that the ether body is separated from him; his etheric web has been interwoven into the universal cosmic ether. That which he has carried in himself all through his life is now outside, it is external. And that is important. That person who knows these things indicates it with a short phrase which one should call forth before the soul in a meditative way. It can be described through a very essential process by saying the following. The inner being becomes the external, which means that which we always have felt as our thought life becomes external world. Just as here we are surrounded by rivers, mountains, trees, clouds, stones and stars, so after our death something occurs which one can characterize in following way. That which during our physical life has lived in in us now has become a portion of the external world so that it can now be perceived by us.
In addition to this ether body, we have the world of our astral body. This world of our astral body comes to our consciousness, in the first place, so that we feel it as thinking; we feel the world of the astral body as thinking. However, the thinking I have precisely characterized, indeed, sends its impulses down into the ether body so that the thinking itself cannot be conscious in the astral body. You can only become aware of feeling and willing in your astral body. You cannot be conscious of your thinking there, but you become aware of your thoughts in the ether body. It is very important that feeling and willing can become conscious for us, it has to go down into the ether body. Throughout our whole life we feel and we will, we foster feelings about certain experiences. These are processes in our astral body. That again is a very characteristic weaving, but now not just a web in thoughts as I have formerly described it but a web of perception, feeling and impulses toward willing. Higher beings also work in that which we have throughout our whole life as feeling and will impulses. Just as in our thinking beings of the Third Hierarchy work, so there work in our feeling and our will impulses the beings of the Second Hierarchy including the Thrones.
Just imagine how we stand in the world when we know these things how we feel ourselves inserted into the spiritual world. On the one side we say to ourselves: Man, you go through the world thinking, but your thinking in so far as it is turned to its inner side is only the one side of thinking. That which you think is substance for the work of the Angels, the Archangels, the Archai. In so far as we feel and will, we create substance for the Spirits of Form, the Spirits of Movement, the Spirits of Wisdom, the Thrones, or the Spirits of Will. Just as the human being cultivates the earth and works it over, he does not know that while he is working over the earth that it is only one side which is worked over, but on the other side actual processes are occurring which he does not know of with his normal consciousness. In a similar way, man believes that his feelings and his will impulses merely belong to him, but they are a field for the work of the indicated beings of the hierarchies.We are truly not merely physical body that only stands in connection with our environment, but we are also there as soul spiritual beings so this soul spiritual man can stand in connection with the environment. Normally one does not think about how our physical body belongs to our whole environment. But this is easy to work out.
In any given moment when you visualize yourself in a bodily way, you possess not only bones, blood, muscles and so on, but you also have a certain stream of air in yourself which you have breathed in and which you will soon breathe out. This belongs to you while you have breathed in; that was out of you in the previous moment, in the next moment it is again outside you. Just think of yourself without this stream of air. It is impossible to think in this way without realizing that you have this stream of air within you. It belongs to us, it is nonsense to think of the physical body as if it were only enclosed within the skin; whereas you are pointed to the fact that you live with the whole atmosphere environment. However, just as we through our physical body live with the atmosphere environment, with the warmth environment, so do we live with the environment of the Hierarchy of the Third Order through our thoughts and we live through our feelings and will impulses with the Beings of the Hierarchies of the Second Order and with the Spirits of Will. This is how we stand within the cosmic all.
Let us now turn our attention to passing through of the portal of death. We can then say the following. When man passes through the portal of death, we know that when his ether body is taken away from him, when the interweaving into the universal cosmic ether begins, then he has to live backwards three times as fast as he experienced during physical life between birth and death, in so far as during that period he perceives the effects of his experiences between birth and death. Thus, that which we have experienced in us during our physical life we do not perceive them just because we have perceived it here in physical life. We will perceive the feeling out of which we have executed an injury to someone else, not our feeling but that of the other person, that which we have lived through here in the physical life stands as a causative factor there and carries in itself the karma. We have not experienced the impression that our injury has made upon the other person's soul. We experience here, in the main, not that which our deeds, our actions, our thoughts have resulted in effects in the external world, we do not experience that here in the physical life, but we do experience that when we go through our backward vision in the time between death and a new birth. There we live through everything that is outside, not in the way it was experienced by us but in the way in which it was experienced by the external world with which we were in contact. Really everything which other human beings have perceived, have felt through our thoughts, through our words, we live through and because of this the external must become the inner in our new state of post mortem. Through this experience the effects of our thoughts, the effects of our deeds in life, the external effects now become inner which means something which we inwardly experience, something which is experienced by the spirit human being after death, because now he must live himself into that world in which he lived unconsciously during the time of his life.
In so far as he has an astral body, and the Spirits of the Second Hierarchy have worked upon his astral body, he must now live into that world in which his astral body gradually dissolves itself into the external, but now he experiences the external in an inward way, he really lives through it inwardly. He must learn between death and a new birth to work in that sphere in which the Spirits of the Second Hierarchy work, in which they prepare that which again can lead into a new incarnation. And, indeed, then we know that after the astral body has dissolved into the external world and man lives on further with his actual inner being in the time between death and a new birth.
When we want to understand something of this life between death and a new birth, we must make many points of view valid for ourselves. Our goal is not to be one-sided but to make various viewpoints valid so that gradually a comprehensive understanding of these processes can open themselves to us. Thus you must keep the following in view. Just as man through birth enters natural processes which around him in the mineral world, in the plant world, in the animal world, so he enters into a world where things are happening around him with the beings of the Hierarchies which we have mentioned. He is, as it were, enfolded into their activities and that which he has brought with him for them, they weave together so that it can become the foundation for his next incarnation.
You must realize that in this it is, I might say, very difficult to give our present age the correct concepts and ideas for reasons which I have often presented. The present age works precisely with the most reversed concepts in this realm. When a human being enters through birth into physical existence, he enters with certain characteristics. The present time speaks purely of heredity, and means physical heredity, and one speaks of this physical heredity in the following way. A man shows this or that characteristic. Therefore to find out where those characteristics come from, you must look for its ancestors. For example, there is a very industriously worked over book about Goethe, in which Goethe's characteristics are so presented that it has looked for one thing in this ancestor, another in that, one characteristic from a great-great grandmother, another from a great-great grandfather, and so on, as if everything that Goethe had had came to him through heredity. I have often said the following: When you say that the child has the qualities of his parents, it is just as wise a saying as a human being is wet when he falls into water and is then drawn out of it. Naturally he is wet from the water when he is taken out. In the same way he has the properties of his ancestors in him, because they have been led through his soul. There is no greater wisdom there either. Therefore to go back to causes is, for the logical aspect ultimately the most logical, because one can say the following: One wants to prove that the soul-spiritual properties come through heredity in so far as one shows that a genius like Goethe has the same characteristics which his ancestors had, but as we have said, it is no cleverer than the assertion that the man is wet after he has fallen into water.
Now, if you really want to prove that the properties of genius are
concerned with heredity, then you would have to show how the descendents
of a genius show the properties of the genius. In other words, if you
have to prove that genius can be transmitted by heredity, that would be
a proof. Look at Goethe's son. See if he has Goethe's genius. Now,
behind all this there is a much deeper process. Just imagine this
hypothesis, for example, just imagine that there are beings who are not
able to see human beings and just imagine that one of these beings who
cannot see the activity of man goes to Berlin and sees how watches are
being produced everywhere. This being obviously has to say to himself:
These watches produce themselves. And that is no wiser than people who
say that you do not need any additional explanations about how human
beings come into the world; that that occurs quite of itself in the
course of propagation in the generations. These ideas can only be held
by people who cannot see human beings, who cannot see that that which
occurs here in the physical world is only the external expression of an
activity which continuously flows down out of the spiritual world just
as the activity of the watchmakers flow into the watches. Therefore that
which precisely occurs here upon the earth, of which human beings in
their foolishness believe that they occur completely for themselves,
that is only an external physical process which is directed just as the
activity of making watches is a directing activity, so the moment which
I have called the Midnight Hour of Existence in my mystery dramas, from
that moment on which lies within the middle between death and a new
birth, there already begins that activity of the spiritual world, as it
were, of inclining itself into the physical in order after centuries to
lead the human being into physical existence. When man goes through
the portal of death, there is the activity of a working over of that
which the human being experienced in his last life which is exercised in
the spiritual world. All this occurs in the first half of the life
between death and a new birth. However, in the second half of the life
between death and a new birth,
the preparation for the next incarnation begins. And now the following can be said about the situation.
That person who is born has ancestors; ancestors again have ancestors; these ancestors have ancestors. Just see how far this goes when you go through 30 generations. However, if you go through 30 generations, you will find that in many people, as it were, there already is the tendency which ultimately leads to the fact that man A is brought together with woman B and then they bring another human being into existence. And if the whole thing did not so occur through 30 generations, if the people had not married, A not coming together with B, therefore that human being who descends into a physical incarnation would not have ultimately been produced. From the whole working together of many people which finally peaks into two, the single individuality of the human being has been a participation in the spiritual world. Thus when we see that the son has the characteristic of his father, of his mother and then again the father's and mother's characteristics are led back to grandfathers and grandmothers and great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers and so on, that is because there has previously been an influence exerted on these great-great-grandparents through 30 generations by that individuality who then later on after many centuries wants to be born and this has all been determined according to the plan to find himself as a human being through the generations. All that is a participating activity and the fact that you have similar inherited characteristics emanates from the fact that through the generations that power works down through the spiritual world which finally comes to appearance in a certain human being. This individuality already works in a father, a mother, a grandfather, a grandmother, a great-grandfather, a great-grandmother, and ultimately one gets the qualities which come to expression. It is not the physical stream which makes the inheritance, but the physical stream is inserted in this way through inheritance. Therefore, precisely the reverse of that which the so-called natural scientific view maintains, is true. In order that Goethe ultimately comes to appearance through Johann Casper Goethe and his Frau Eiya, Beings of the Second Hierarchy have worked through 30 generations in such a way that Goethe could ultimately be produced. Naturally this applies not only for genius but for eveiy single human being.
Now, you can say that this is difficult to imagine, and you could also ask yourself how is this compatable with human freedom when we have already been determined 30 generations before we descend. I know it is very complicated, but you must remember that this is complicated for the normal consciousness which has been apportioned to you during your earth existence. You will remember that what we are dealing with is not only the individual himself, but the individual in community with the Spirits of Form, with the Spirits of Motion, and so on, and so it is worked out in such a way that freedom is not influenced. Naturally this works in such a way that it corresponds to the working of these Higher Hierarchies. The situation is just like that.
There is worked together that which we are able to give over as thoughts to the cosmic ether with that which we express during our earth existence in our feeling life and in our will life. Therefore Spiritual Science is not supposed to be a totality of knowledge, but above all it should be capable of bringing forth a certain soul mood. I have attempted to indicate this soul mood in the first part of my second mystery play, in the meeting between Capaius and Benedictus, when the goal is that man as a complete human being lives here upon the earth. In order that that can happen, Gods and Gods, Spirits and Spirits work together so that the human being is a goal for Gods and Gods, Spirits and Spirits. This feeling, I might say, the thankfulness, the gratitude to the spiritual universe, this feeling to know ourselves in the spiritual universe must flow into our souls through spiritual science. This must become as natural for us as it is natural for us to know about the connections with the physical world.
Science today has advanced so far that everyone is aware of the fact that man cannot just live on his own resources but needs the atmosphere, that he is a menber of the whole environment. When he is hungry or thirsty, then he notices that the external world is necessary in a physical way for his existence, that he stands within the external world, within a universal process. However, man also stands in a universal process in the spiritual world. When he thinks he stands within Angels, Archangels, Archai, and in so far as he feels and he wills, he then stands in a spiritual connection with the next higher Hierarchy. Just as the air stretches itself into man's physical body in so far as his physical nature is concerned, so the spiritual aspect of the activity of the so-called Hierarchies works in his soul.
Quite often you get a materialist raising the objection: Indeed, it may be true that a spiritual world does exist, but it does not help us to know anything about this spiritual world even when you tell us that thinking, feeling and willing stand in connection with the Higher Hierarchies. It does not matter, because in order to think we do not need to know about these Higher Hierarchies. We already think in the world without knowing anything about them. Man believes, thank God. If he had to wait until he knew about the breathing process in a theoretical way before breathing, then he also would not be able to think unless he knew about the breathing process. You think without knowing anything about these Higher Hierarchies. However, let us present a counter question. Can you really think without one having that? At the present time you see that people work with the inheritance of the ancient times; they work with that which they have inherited and they are still inventing machines from that. All this is an inheritance of an earlier age. Much of what we accomplish today is a result of what we have inherited in the past.
Recently we were in Hamburg and saw a picture done in the 13th, 14th
century by Master Bertram and I want to tell you something about this
picture. Let us go back to the biblical story of the fall into sin which
we in spiritual science call Luciferic temptation. When a painter in our
modern age paints the fall into sin, so he would paint Adam and Eve on
either side of the tree and then, naturally, a serpent on the tree.
According to whether he is an Impressionist, Cubist, Expressionist or
any other ‘ist’, he would more or less paint this; he would
paint it beautifully. But he will paint a serpent looking like any
serpent which crawls in the grass; that is realism. But is it realism?
Is it actually not realism? I cannot imagine any simple woman being
deceived by such a serpent. We know from spiritual science that Lucifer
is a being who had remained behind at the Moon development. Lucifer,
during the Moon evolution, could not be seen with physical eyes such as
we have upon earth, so the serpent could not be something which could be
seen with the physical eye, not the serpent referred to in the Garden of
Eden. Lucifer had to be seen inwardly. When you study the human being
more accurately, you can see in every skeleton that it consists of two
portions. You have the skull and the spinal column attached to it with
the brain inside the skull and the spinal fluid in the spinal column,
and the rest of the human being is attached to it. You can consider the
human being only as being attached to it. You have the head like a
small cosmic sphere attached to the whole thing. You can also say: Thank
God that man through his own wisdom cannot contribute to this head
coming into existence through his birth. It would look very strange if
the anatomists and physiologists could contribute anything to produce
this wonderful structure of the human head. This human head comes into
existence between death and a new birth as in a large sphere which we
could compare with our blue heavenly sphere, that in which our karma is
woven and is an organization which as it goes towards incarnation,
becomes smaller and smaller and then unites itself with the mother. That
which then becomes our head is woven through by countless beings of
the Hierarchies out of the whole cosmic all. It is a wisdom of the most
immense magnitude, a wisdom which has embodied in it all the
experiences. Our head is an inheritance of the Saturn, Sun and Moon
incarnations. The earth with all its forces could not have been able to
produce this head. It is only possible to bring into existence that
which is added to the head, not the head with all its forces. The other
part of the human being, not the head with the spinal column, but that
which is attached to it actually is earth man. Now, how would a person
with inner vision try to represent Lucifer actually as a Moon being? One
would represent a human head and would attach something like a boned up
spinal column to it, something like a serpent; and that is how Master
Bertram in the 13th, 14th century presents Lucifer there on the tree
between Adam and Even. In the Hamburg Museum you can see the picture
represented just like that. So you see that the painter who painted this
picture has the living knowledge
of the configuration of Lucifer within him. You can also see that it was not so very long ago that we still had the ancient atavistic clairvoyance which has now been lost.
I would like to present the situation from another side in order that you will see the assertion of the materialist who says that you do not need to know anything that comes out of the spiritual world, that all you need to do is use your thinking and feeling just as we breathe in the atmosphere and take in food for our hunger and thirst. I have often talked about the very significant criminal anthropologist, Benedict. He was the first to investigate the brains of criminals, naturally, after their death. He analyzed these brains in order to see if he could find some connections between the structure of the brain and criminal qualities. Benedict found that they all have a common characteristic, namely, their rear head lobes were too short and did not completely cover up the small brain. Just imagine this: the common qulaities of the criminal brain is to have a too short rear head lobe just as the apes also have it, something which does not cover the small brain. Obviously this actually is a property of the physical body and so from that you can conclude that there are two types of people being born, those having a correct rear head lobe and those with too short lobes. Those who have a correct rear head lobe do not become criminals and those with too short rear head lobes must become criminals. From the standpoint of the materialistic world conception you cannot raise any objection against this knowledge, but then all talk about morality is nonsense. Can we really punish people when we have to say that they have to be criminals because they have too short rear head lobes. You can see how materialism and all that can come about from it can gradually degenerate. You must extinguish all sorts of spiritual aspects from the social, ethical and juristic life, otherwise we are living in a complete lie, because there can be no objection against the facts which have just been presented.
Now, let us see how we approach the situation. To be sure, there are those who have correct rear head lobes and those with too short rear head lobes. However, there is an ether body there which can be developed in a quite different way and is much more mobile than the physical body. Behind the rear head lobes of the physical body there are the rear head lobes of the ether body and the human beings of the future will have to learn to distinguish between children who have too short rear head lobes and those who have longer rear head lobes. The educators will have to know in what characteristics a short hind head lobe manifests itself in the earliest years of childhood. These children will have to be educated in such a way that the ether lobes can be correspondingly developed and so form a counter weight. Then through the fact that you have developed the ether lobes strongly, they will prevent the damage which the physical lobes can produce when they are too short. So we can see that if spiritual science does not enter into our civilization, then as a result of materialism, all morality, all ethics, all justice would be meaningless. The spiritual would be extinguished from mankind's experience.
Recently in my public lectues I spoke about a forgotten thinker, Karl Christian Plunk. I do not intend to defend everything which Karl Christian Plunk has written in a dogmatic way. However, I have showed you how he worked out of a very deep spiritual consciousness and that he had a certain spiritual world conception. He died in 1880. Very few people bothered about his books. In 1912 the book entitled A TESTAMENT OF A GERMAN by Karl Christian Plunk appeared,a wonderful book. Since he died in 1880, this book had to be written before that. In the first edition of my RIDDLES OF PHILOSOPHY which was entitled WORLD AND LIFE VIEW OF THE 19TH CENTURY, I had already pointed in the year 1900 to Karl Christian Plunk. Plunk actually was an Idealist; he really was a man who lived in the spiritual world and wanted to bring into existence that which inserts itself in the world from the spiritual. I could mention many other examples, however, I am just pointing to Karl Christian Plunk. (An extract from Plunk's book TESTAMENT OF A GERMAN written in 1880 is given in which he spoke of the present war ‘1914–1918’) In this book he refers to the fact that in the future war, Germany will have to defend herself in the West and the South; how on all sides the enemy has national jealousy against the Center. The people will be jealous of the success and growth of the culture of Germany. How many people who had a materialistic concept could have thought like that? Very few of them. Yet, these are the very people who call the people who have a spiritual feeling, idealists.
When a spiritual researcher says: Today people are alright, they can still continue to think, because they have an inheritance of the ancient type of thinking and are able to invent machines. However, human beings will come to a standstill before 50 years is over. They will not be able to discover anything more unless they decide to take spiritual influences up into their thinking. They will reach a dead end. They will have to go to the next stage which will be a development of a spiritual scientific point of view, then they will be able to have new discoveries. Today we have machines only because we have inherited the ancient thinking in our consciousness. We see that the time demands that we allow ourselves to become fructified from the spiritual world. And only this fructification will make it possible to be able to understand the spiritual facts as anthroposophical spiritual science gives us. And unless this happens, the great world tasks will not be solved. I have often mentioned the fact that we are living in a time when the second appearance of Christ will occur shortly, the Etheric Christ Being, that second appearance of Christ upon earth. However, it is necessary to have a preparation in order that this event does not go by unnoticed.
Just recently when I gave a lecture, two people came to me after the lecture and said that they are very surprised about what I was saying and they thought that they would not expect a Theosophist to speak the same way that I spoke. They thought Theosophists would speak differently, because they were pacifists. They forgot the fact that ever since pacifism arose, we have had the bloodiest wars. We talked about illnesses and I tried to explain that illness is the reaction of nature in order to make man healthy, that before the appearance of illness there are unnatural relationships and illness is an attempt to compensate for these unnatural relationships. The illness is necessary, because the unnatural relationships were there. You must see that in all circles of materialism, it leads to the unfruitfulness of thinking.
Spiritual scientific truths must work in our feeling, in our soul mood in a fructifying way and there must be a number of people in our age who can hold them true out of an inner conviction to that which is a necessity for world evolution, that which comes out of spiritual science. Then there will be what should be, then the Christ when He appears in His new form will find those people whom He needs; and that must be. When he appears in His etheric figure, and when someone says that he has experienced the Etheric Christ, then he must not be grasped as being an idiot. It is very necessary today to give mankind a strong push forward, a push which is able to overcome the materialism and its consequences, and this century needs it, needs it in order to take up a new form. And we have as the signs of fire for this goal of mankind today the significant bloody events all around us. We take up spiritual science so that the sacrifice of all those people who have died as a result of this will not have died in vain. If we take up spiritual science, then all that which has gone an around us as a sacrifice of these souls in this war, will be some sort of compensation for it and that will contribute towards the elevation of mankind. that must be, that is why we have to express this invocation again and again.
From the Courage of the fighters,
From the blood on fields of battle,
From the grief of the bereaved,
From the people's sacrifice:
There will ripen fruit of Spirit,
If souls will turn in consciousness
Towards the realm of Spirit.