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Impulses of Utility, Evil, Birth, Death, Happiness
GA 171

II. Utilitarianism and Sacramentalism

15 October 1916, Dornach

My dear Friends:—The separation which exists to-day between the Life-Ether and the earthly elements, did not as yet exist in the Graeco-Latin age, because at that time they were much more intimately united. As you know, the earthly element only exists in man's body up to 6 per cent. 90 percent of man's body is water; and so you see, man is, really a pillar of water. In the course of evolution, the Life-Ether has, as it were, withdrawn from, the earthly elements, and thereby it has become possible for free spiritual Imaginations to arise in the soul of man through the Life-Ether, and the firm solid earthly elements then exist in man's body as a basis for grasping these Imaginations.

Now with the help and application of certain inner methods we can show that these facts are correct. A Greek statue or drama, or even a poem of Homer is not comprehensible without something further, because at that time the relationship between the Etheric body and Earthly elements was quite different from that existing to-day. Anyone who works with occult methods knows that a person living in that age was quite different from a man of to-day. Whoever experiences, for instance, what Goethe experienced in Italy,—knows that the Greeks created from Nature in a way, a secret way, one absolutely strange to humanity to-day. Without something further, it is not even possible to understand the elements of Greek civilisation. If one really attempts to penetrate into the elements of Greek civilisation, even into their philosophy, one must bring about that fine inner union between the etheric body and the earthly elements; and then one finds that one's etheric body streams through the whole organism—one sees colours quite differently, feels warmth quite differently, one feels everything bound up with the life of the soul in an absolutely different way from what one feels to-day. Then at last one understands such figures as Aeschylus, Sophocles, Heraclitus, and even Aristotle. As I have told you, the Greeks saw colours quite differently; blue was then far more complicated,—it was a kind of dark veil which had utter darkness behind it. Peelings then were more complicated. A warm object, for instance, felt as if something were spreading over the whole of one's hand when one grasped it. You can understand that the Greeks experienced the whole world of nature in a different way from the way it is experienced to-day. If one understands this, one can understand how it is that the Greeks spoke differently concerning colours than we do now. Evolution has pressed forward since then, and expresses itself in the most different impulses.

Now unless one has Spiritual Science behind one, one is forced to live in the polarities. That is of great significance for the external civilisation, because these polarities work both in the unconscious as well as the conscious faculties of man. As you know, in the West there is a striving to draw the spiritual into the service of purely external physical existence, of which I have given you a shocking example in the Bureau of Julia of William Stead. (For instance, after Dr Steiner had given a lecture, questions used to be written on a piece of paper and passed up and laid on the desk, which Dr. Steiner then answered; but he found after certain lectures that one person or another was even advised through this Julia-Bureau in London to apply to him for material utilitarian aims.) Now practically this whole direction was followed by Spiritualism, which tries to grasp the spirit in a material way. Ordinary science is far more adapted for this,—even earnest science,—than it is for the understanding of Spiritual Science;—the real working and weaving of the spirit in the external world. When scientists have investigated these things, they have often shown this so simply, no less simply than ordinary lay people. One scientist relates what he has experienced with mediums, but we can see how he then let himself be deceived; there has been a pretty play of conjuring before him which he has not understood—and far less has he understood the medium himself. These mediums are often far cleverer than the average learned person to-day because it is a question with them of a sub-conscious cleverness. You see that the same principle of utility plays into all these spheres.

In the West people are seeking after secrets which relate to Birth, to Heredity and so on. That same principle of natural selection which meets us in Darwinism, is applied to man himself. This application I think is called Eugenics, and the question is discussed as to how the healthy man can find a healthy wife, in order to produce a most healthy line of descendants. Even Psycho-Analysis is under the influence of the same impelling forces;—Psycho-Analysis, which is seeking to drag certain complexes out of the human organism, reckons chiefly with sexual relationships, or with relations of power. But behind all these things there are spiritual elements. Through these one comes into contact with certain spiritual beings who are working behind existence. These beings have a one-sided power, i.e. thinking, reasoning; and they seek to form a union with the lower impelling forces of man. These beings attract forces for man's lower desires, sexual and otherwise; and through them the lowest powers of man are stimulated. Thus, we see that Psycho-Analysis comes under the stimulus of beings who excite the lower nature of man. They direct their attention to the impulses of the lower nature, and hence arose the experiments which seek to explain everything from the aspect of man's lower desires, right on from Freud to the greatest, most significant and most spiritual: Laurence Oliphant, born 1822. In his books “Sumpneumata” or “Evolutionary Forces now active in Man,” 1884 and “Scientific Religion,” although these forces are sympathetic and purified, nevertheless all World-History is there turned to a sexual aspect. One can learn a great deal from these extraordinary books, but only the one pole is expressed in them. It is not an attempt to rise from the normal powers of man to a spiritual world, but only an attempt to develop all impulses towards phenomena. Thereby can arise this mystic materialistic character of the will, which expresses itself in an attempt to climb up into the spiritual world, not in a normal way but by placing everything in the service of utility. One thereby seeks to satisfy the spirit in another way.

Now in occult Brotherhoods, Freemasonry, and so on, the attempt is made to insert the other pole, symbolism and ceremonialism,—that which has remained behind through decadent races from earlier times. Now in H. P. Blavatsky's soul there was poured an Indian element of this nature, after she had been rejected by the occultists in the West because she put too high a demand on them, and was therefore excluded. In the Brotherhoods this coupling together of what is taken over from other ages with what exists as a limitation to nationalistic principles, all this has the aim of acquiring power. In these Brotherhoods, it is a question of gaining power. This impulse is then placed also at the service of this lower world. It is used within the Brotherhoods for developing power, and not for a health-giving knowledge. Now if a person has remained behind in connection with former civilisations, he speaks quite differently from one who has taken up ancient knowledge through occult brotherhoods. Hence Ku Hung Ming is far more full of insight then these Europeans; he is an educated Chinaman, at the summit of Chinese culture. He himself has taken into his soul Tibetan substance. The Chinese are the descendants of the last phases of Atlantean evolution, and what stands in this book of Ku Hung Ming is really reminiscent of that, even as the book appears in translation. Ku Hung Ming, stands in quite a different position from the European to-day. He sees certain things far more exactly than we do, therefore many things in his book are worthy of regard, because he is far more unprejudiced than many Europeans, Ku Hung Ming draws a sharp limit between uneducated and educated people. You see, in China the half-educated does not come in between; a man is either educated or not educated. That sharp limit has disappeared in Europe; it began to disappear when Latin was no longer a language only for the educated—and Ku Hung Ming has a sharp eye for such things as this. He has an interesting chapter concerning language, in which he distinguished between the language one writes and the language one speaks; and he describes how this half-educated state belongs to Europe. As a matter of fact, it was not Militarism that was the cause of the war, but this great realm of half-educated people who are the danger for our civilisation m Europe to-day. For instance, a half-educated person will speak concerning such things as materialism, civilisation, and so on. without understanding them. If one reads this interesting book of Qo Ho Ming one can see that his intellect works quite differently from ours. How willingly he makes quotation from Carlyle: -

“The policeman is employed at 15/- a week and he is necessary for the ordering of society. Why does not the policeman turn himself into an Anarchist, for which he has the tendency? Because the concept of honour which is injected into him advocates other people: they require the policeman, but he does not require them. A millionaire is not secure without this `15/- worth.' He is necessary for the protection of the possessor, and that is also injected into him. And so we see how European civilisation rests on deception.”

Ku Ho Ming lets fall there a judgement which is well worth considering. It is necessary that European people should [pay attention] to this Chinaman, who is really considering human nature very well; the judgement of an atavistic man may be far more unprejudiced than the judgement of a man here in the West. The man of the second pole strives for the conquering of that which is the higher thing to the man of the first pole. At the first pole, it is utility which is valuable—Utility, the god of the real bourgeois; at the second pole, it is Sacramentalism which is valuable—Sacramentalism in its widest scope. One has to see the reality from the spiritual aspect. That second pole is more at the beginning, more symbolic, it will observe the world in such a way that it seeks for spiritual connections behind external appearance. That second pole leads into the neighbourhood of spiritual beings also, but it leads into the realm of spiritual beings whose lower powers and forces are related to the highest powers of man, and they seek to tear the higher powers of man away from his lower nature. One has to keep in mind that man is in connection both with super-sensible and sub-sensible forces, while he lives in the world of the senses. We know how beings send down their forces into a sub-sensible region. In Sacramentalism, for instance, in symbolical actions, there streams down forces from a super-sensible into a sub-sensible world. The other polaric impulse leading to one relating oneself to special beings allied to man's lowest powers lead to sexuality in Psycho-Analysis. It is distasteful to go into further details. A synthesis must arise in the union of these two one-sidednesses, these two poles, while one learns to overcome them. One must will to overcome the forces of nature sacramentally. These polaric impulses are playing into everything to-day without man knowing it, and second pole, the pole of Sacramentalism, so often shines into the first pole, that of Utilitarianism. If we return to H. P. Blavatsky, she started from that second impulse that impelled her towards a Sacramental side. The first impulse however led to the materialism of the Theosophical Society, and so we see a tornado of both impulses working round H. P. Blavatsky.





Birth, Happiness, Utility



Evil, Sorrow


Redemption Death




L. Oliphant

Super )
) Sensible
Sub )



Beings Up

Man Down

Relation to Beings
whose lower nature is
united with highest
in man