Donate books to help fund our work. Learn more→

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Things in Past and Present in the Spirit of Man
GA 167

X. The Value of Truth

16 May 1916, Berlin

It is possible for us to imagine that the whole process of the spiritual development of Central Europe during the last centuries could have proceeded differently from the way it did. When one has the view that something which has occurred in the world could have also occurred differently, that is not a rejection to the comprehensive law of Karma, since the law of Karma does not exclude the existence of freedom in the world. Fatalists who represent everything which has occurred in the world as having had to occur in so far as external sense observation is concerned, follow a line of approach which cannot be followed by those who as students of spiritual science are familiar with the law of Karma on the one hand and on the other are familiar with that which occurs in the external world. Something of a spiritual element always occurs at the same time as that which occurs in the external world. Both streams proceed together and the law of Karma applies to both streams, so that it is actually quite valid that things could proceed in a different form in the external world from which it manifests there and nevertheless that which is necessary could occur.

Now I am just presenting this is a preliminary way, but I am going to develop this theme further. I want to mention another process of the spiritual development of Central Europe which occurred, that aspect of spiritual development which depends upon knowledge could have proceeded differently as viewed by external observation from the way it did proceed. It is certain, my dear friends, that in most circles Schiller and Goethe are looked up to very much in recent times; Fichte also has begun to be reverenced. Many people who look up to Goethe and Schiller do it without really having made the effort to investigate what they have written about their ideas. The whole spiritual development of the 19th century could have proceeded in such a way that people actually could have taken up into themselves the total world conception of Goethe, Schiller and these around them. However things did not work out that way.

How did it happen that things were different? What would have happened had those sleeping germs which appeared in the great period of classical knowledge at the turning of the 18th and 19th century, what would have happened had these germs really developed themselves in a living way? Spiritual science would have been produced in a straight line from these germs. This is what I want to demonstrate in my book which should appear very shortly and will carry the title The Riddle of The Human Being, The Thinking, the Perceptions And The Thought Of German and Austrian Personalities. Why had that which exists in germinal form in the Goethe, Schiller world conception not been taken up? It was not taken up because man had fear for the following reasons. Spiritual science to be sure demands a much more fundamental, a much more intensive thinking than most of today's learned people are able to bring up and it is the fear of these difficult concepts and ideas which represent the reasons for the resistance factors. The way in which people today are actually looking up to Goethe and Schiller, is done so as to cloud over their ideas much more than to clarify them. This difficulty of understanding the ideas of Goethe and Schiller existed even in Jena when the spirit of Goethe dominated, when Schiller taught, when Fichte taught, when Schlegel taught, when Schelling taught, all those personalities of whom we have spoken this past winter and of whom I am going to refer to in this book which will appear very shortly. You can find much in Schlegel and Fichte, Goethe and Schiller which harmonizes with our spiritual science. However, it is possible to take extracts out of context from these people's works, and then represent them in such a way that as to make their ideas appear foolish; and this has been done by a number of people. All this clouds over the essential elements in these personalities.

In a similar way, people have difficulty in trying to understand that which ought to be understood in our present age in reference to the Mystery of Golgotha. You know from my lectures that in order to understand the phenomenon of Christ Jesus, we must be able to call up in our minds three worlds. We have, for example, the Jesus Child who carries the individuality of the great Zarathustra. He lives in that body until his 12th year, then leaves it and goes into the body of the other Jesus Child in which a soul dwelt which did not participate in the whole earth development, but had been left behind in the earth soul substance in so far as that part remains above while the other part descended into the human body. And this other part that remained above then entered into that body which was born in the second Mary as the second Jesus Child. I have brought to your attention the fact that spiritual scientific knowledge shows that this Jesus Child actually was able to speak immediately after his birth; when he was born, he said what he really was.

This Jesus Child now grows with the soul of Zarathustra from the 12th year, then in the 30th year the Christ Individuality incarnated Itself in him and lived in this body. This body has been prepared by the great spirit of Zarathustra also prepared by that soul which did not participate in earth evolution but was left behind at the particular time when the earth had not yet achieved its present materiality. The Christ Individuality lives for three years in this body. So you see that we must call up three worlds into our cognition in order to understand this great mystery of human evolution, the Mystery of Golgotha. The highest spiritual worlds out of which the Christ descended; that world which was there before an earth existed, and that world through which human beings develop, to which Zarathustra belongs in his incarnations. So we have the higher worlds in which Christ lived and the world in which Zarathustra lived, Zarathustra who experienced it all in a human incarnation.

When the outside world became aware of these ideas which I have expressed, they did not like it; they were very, very fearful about it. They called them unchristian ideas and said: Let us not have those ideas, just have faith in the sort of Christ that we teach about from the New Testament. They are not satisfied when we go to them and say: Yes, we believe everything that you believe, but in addition to that we believe some more things. They do not like that. You can see that they are not interested in knowledge; all they are interested in is expanding their power and their influence. Anything that shows that they do not have the complete knowledge is a threat against their power. Therefore they would rather reject it than examine it. So we see on the one side that we are attacked by official Christianity and also on the other side we do not receive understanding from the intellectual scientific people of our age.

You know, for example, that in Occult Science and other books, we talk about the fact that our earth developed itself out of an ancient Moon existence. What today we call the mineral kingdom was not present in that ancient Moon existence. This mineral kingdom only gradually crystallized itself out. We have in us, as human beings, the animal qualities, the plant qualities and we also have the mineral kingdom in us. We are permeated by the mineral kingdom and this enables us to be perceptible to the senses. If we look back into the ancient Moon period we have the predecessors of our present human beings there; those people who were not permeated by a mineral kingdom. Just read in my Occult Science how this Moon existence appeared, this Moon existence in which the mineral kingdom was not present. You read how everything was a soft, almost watery substance, and how that which sort of grew out of the water looked like spongy fungus material. Thus you must also assume that you were swimming in water which developed on the Moon. When you realize that situation, you will be able to understand that there was a quite different kind of perception living in the human being on the Moon evolution.

One could also perceive the sounds of the Music of the Spheres on the Moon, the echoing and waving of the Music of the Spheres. You had these sounds outside and they continued to work down into the water. There was an apparatus in us from which our present larynx has been formed and this apparatus which had at that time harmonized sympathetically, it co-operated, it vibrated in harmony with that which was sounding in the old water. We had a certain swimming-moon brain in the old water in which all these sounds harmonized sympathetically. You can just imagine that all the Music which was weaving through the cosmic ocean would transform itself into pictures of imagination through an apparatus out of which our present larynx has developed; and these pictures of imagination would appear in the ancient Moon dream consciousness. But today the Music of the Spheres is silent. Our larynx has developed which is surrounded by the lungs that which was taken up in the Moon Sphere Music and our brain is now enclosed in a solid sheath. However, you have a reminder of the ancient Moon situation when you know that our brain actually swims in fluid. You know, for example, that the brain has a weight of 1350 grams and if that were allowed to rest on the veins it would crush them. We already know from Archimedes' Law how the weight is lightened and therefore does not crush the veins in the brain. So you see the brain is still in the position in which it was upon the ancient Moon. In its present form it is an imitation except that there has been a transformation as a result of what has been developed according to the earth laws. Nevertheless the communication with the external world is still there.

When we breathe in, then we lift up the diaphragm. Now, through the fact that the diaphragm lifts itself up, it sort of presses on the whole vein system and on the ganglian system, and as a result of that, that which has gathered itself together as liquid in the spinal canal is pushed up into the brain. Therefore when you breathe in, liquid rises up out of the spinal canal into the brain and when you breathe out the diaphragm goes down and then the fluid descends out of the brain into the spinal column. So you see that we are continuously in connection with the wave movement which occurs in our relationship in our environment. With every out-breathing, the brain water sinks down, with every in-breathing it rises up. You have a rising up and a descending of the brain fluid and the brain swims within that.

You have the complicated process through which man today is more now than he was upon the ancient Moon, who today as a human being, not as a mechanical tool, is in the position not only to have imaginations but also to be able to think. That which continually occurs in us is suppressed in the consciousness. Indeed, my dear friends, the following occurs continuously: We always have Imaginations. However, they are toned over by our waking concepts, a strong light overpowers this week light. The Imaginations are always there and are continuously in connection with the breathing out and the breathing in.

It is only because of the solid mineral permeated brain that it opposes itself to Imagination, and through the beating up of the solid brain mass on the brain fluid substance, you have an extraction out of the Imagination of our conscious ideas.

So you see that one must be able to learn to think differently than do our colleagues in the academic world. Nevertheless, they have a certain anxiety, a fear which stimulates them to work with the complicated thoughts. They prefer to focus themselves on something that is much more comfortable and convenient.

(Many extracts of German authors have been deleted from this lecture which illustrate Rudolf Steiner's point as to the sort of attitude which the German intellectuals are taking to spiritual science.)