Karma of Untruthfulness I
10 December 1916, Dornach
In order to examine, from our point of view, the subject we are dealing with at present, we must never lose sight of the manner in which spiritual-scientific observation — with all its significance for mankind's development in the fifth post-Atlantean period and for the preparation of the sixth — makes its appearance. For without paying attention to how materialistic man today is negligent with regard to a spiritual-scientific observation of the world, we cannot proceed to the source of present-day events. As a starting point for further discussions I want to show you the manner in which, in some individuals, a kind of compulsion comes about to look up to those worlds with which our spiritual science is concerned. It is important to realize that this compulsive winning-over of these people to a certain view of the world is only sporadic so far. Yet, even so, there is much in it that is extremely characteristic.
A short time ago I mentioned to you that a certain Hermann Bahr had published a drama, The Voice, in which he attempts — though rather after the manner of the Catholics — to link the world that surrounds us and is accessible to our physical senses with spiritual events and processes. Not long before writing this drama, Hermann Bahr wrote a novel Ascension and this novel is really in some respects a historical document of today. I do not want to overstate its artistic and literary merit, but it is certainly a historical document of our time. As is the way with karma, it so happens that I have known Hermann Bahr, an Austrian, for a very long time, since he was a young student. This novel, Ascension, describes a romantic hero, as literary criticism would say. He is called Franz and he seems to me to be a kind of likeness — not a self-portrait, but a kind of likeness — of Hermann Bahr himself. A lot of interesting things take place in this novel, which was written during the war. It is obviously Hermann Bahr's way of taking issue with present-day events.
Imagine that the hero of this novel represents a kind of likeness of a person living today, now fifty-two or fifty-three years old. He has joined in all the events of his day, being involved very intensely from a young age in all sorts of contemporary streams. As a student he was sent down from two different universities because of his involvement in these various streams, and he was always intent on joining his soul forces to all sorts of spiritual and artistic streams. This is not a self-portrait; the novel contains no biographical details of Hermann Bahr's life. But Bahr has definitely coloured his hero, Franz. A person is described who endeavours to come to grips with every spiritual direction at present to be found in the external world, in order to learn about the meaning of the universe. Right at the beginning we are told about all the places Franz has frequented in order to gain insight into universal matters.
First he studies botany under Wiesner, a famous professor of botany at the University of Vienna. Then he takes up chemistry under Ostwald, who took over from Haeckel as president of the Monist Society. He studies in Schmoller's seminar, in Richet's clinic, and with Freud in Vienna. Obviously someone who wanted to experience present-day spiritual streams would have to meet psychoanalysis. He went to the theosophists in London and he met painters, engravers, tennis players and so on. He is certainly not one-sided, for he has been in Richet's laboratory as well as with the theosophists in London. Everywhere he tries to find his way about. His fate, his karma, continues to drive him hither and thither in the world, and we are told how here or there he notices that there is something in the background behind human evolution and discovers that he ought to pay attention to what goes on behind the scenes. I told you yesterday about one such background and I now want to show you how someone else was also won over to recognize such things. So I shall now read a passage from the book. Franz has made the acquaintance of a female person. She is particularly pious — Klara has her own kind of piety — but just now all I want to do is point out that this is of importance to Franz:
‘It was more important at the moment to decide whether he should reply to her and what he should say. Should he decline politely and then wait calmly till chance should bring her into his vicinity? Or should he follow her advice and turn to one of the pious men, and then take this as an occasion to write to her once more?’
The pious men in this connection are Catholic priests, and he does attempt to discover whether their opinions and knowledge can help him find his way in the affairs of the universe. The book continues:
‘But first and foremost he ought to make up his own mind as to what it was that he himself really wanted. Was he merely in love, and was therefore his inclination to turn pious nothing more than a hidden wish to please her? He had certainly not lied on purpose, but it could be that his feeling for her, which cast a brightness over everything, made all her attributes and ways desirable to him. Instinctively the lover longs to resemble his beloved, so that what she loves and values is lovable and valuable to him too. No, this did not apply in his case! Was he not on the way to believing before he ever met her? It was, indeed, unlikely that he would ever have made her acquaintance had that strange, to him inexplicable inner urge not drawn him gently into the church where he found her before the saint, herself almost a saint. Otherwise he would hardly have noticed her; did he perhaps not love her at all but merely the appearance through her of his own longings? So was what he now felt not love, not what love had meant to him hitherto, but the bliss of piety? But was he pious? He only knew that he wanted to be, but somehow still did not dare to, perhaps from fear of deceiving himself once again, since hitherto every desire had deceived him and, if he were to be disappointed yet again, there was no further wish he could aspire to! He longed to be pious, but whether he was capable of it was indeed questionable. Could he be as pious as those beggars in whom he so envied the staring bliss of their stolid worship? He doubted it. For that, he had tasted too much of the tree of knowledge. Could he be as pious as Klara? He was no longer in a state of spiritual innocence. But was there not perhaps a kind of second innocence — innocence regained? Was there not the piety of the one who knows his limitations, of the humble intellect, the faith of one who knows, the hope of desperation? Had there not lived, in every age, wise men, hidden, secluded from the world, associating with one another by secret signs, silently working wonders with their almost magical power, living in a higher region above nations, above creeds, above limitations, in the region of a purer humanity that was nearer to God? Were there not still in the world today, widespread yet hidden, knights of the Holy Grail? Were there not disciples of a white lodge, invisible perhaps, not to be entered, existing only in feelings, yet working everywhere, reigning over all, guiding destiny? Was there not ever on earth an anonymous company of saints, unknown to one another, not knowing of one another, and yet working on and with each other through the rays of their prayers? In his theosophical phase he had already been much exercised by such thoughts, but evidently he had met only false theosophists; maybe the true ones could not be known.’
He had met a canon who had shown himself to be a man with few prejudices in any direction.
‘Suddenly he wondered whether the canon might not perhaps be one of those true masters, one of those hidden spiritual rulers of the world, a secret guardian of the Grail? Only now did he realize that the canon had always attracted him, seeming to promise great revelations, as though he might be a repository of the words of life. The regard in which this priest was held; the timidity, the awe with which people spoke about him, the obedience shown even by those who disliked him, the deep solitude that surrounded him, the mysterious power he was reputed to have with which he could help his friends and damage his foes — though he smilingly denied that he deserved either the gratitude of his friends or the rancour of his enemies — all this went far beyond the importance, the power, the dignity of his office, of his external position. Some explained all this as stemming from “his good connections”, others by his rumoured descent from an exalted personage; and yet the magical power of his glance, his presence, indeed even his mere name, remained unexplained. There were dozens of canons in the city, but he was The Canon. If anyone spoke of the canon, he was meant. Someone asking for His Excellency was not immediately understood. They still could not accustom themselves to call him that. To them he remained the canon. In processions he paced modestly behind the cardinal, yet he it was who commanded all the attention. If he did not appear at a certain hour for his customary walk, the whole town whispered: The canon has gone away! And later when word went round: The canon is back; this seemed to be of the utmost importance for the whole of the city. Franz remembered a conversation years ago in Rome,’
forgive me for reading this, but Hermann Bahr wrote it
‘a conversation with an Englishman who, after travelling the whole world, had settled in the holy city because, he maintained, he had found nothing more mysterious than the monsignori. One who could understand them would possess the key to the destiny of mankind. He was an intelligent man of mature years, of good family, wealthy, independent, a bachelor and a proper English gentleman; sensible, pragmatic, unsentimental, totally unmusical, inartistic, a robust and jolly man of the flesh, angler, oarsman, sailor, given to hearty eating and drinking, a high liver whose enjoyment of life was disturbed by a single passion, a thirsty curiosity to see everything, to know everything, to have been all over the place. There was really no other reason for this than to have the satisfaction of saying, whatever town in question: Ah, yes! Cook's put me in that and that hotel and I saw such and such and met this or that person of high position or renown. To make his travels more comfortable and ensure an entree wherever he went, someone had recommended that he become a Freemason. He praised the usefulness of this association until he thought he had discovered that there must be a similar but better managed and more powerful organization. Then he was determined to become a member of that, just as he would have turned to a different, better Cook's if such a thing had existed. He could not be dissuaded from believing that the world was ruled by a tiny group of secret leaders. History was supposed to be made by these hidden men who were unknown, even to their closest servants, who in turn were unknown to theirs. Following the trail of this secret world government, this true Freemasonry, of which the other was no more than an exceedingly foolish copy possessing inadequate means, he claimed to have discovered its seat in Rome among those very monsignori, though of course most of these were unaware of their role as a crowd amongst whom the four or five true rulers of the world could conceal themselves. Franz still had to smile at the comical despair of his Englishman whose misfortune it was never to find those he sought; instead, ever and again coming up against none but supernumeraries. Yet he never allowed himself to be put off entirely. Indeed, his respect for such a well-guarded, impenetrable society only grew. He wagered that in the end he would be admitted to its ranks, even if he had to remain in Rome to the end of his days, become a monk or even have himself circumcised. For since he had everywhere sniffed out the invisible threads of a power which enmeshed the whole world, he was not disinclined to esteem the Jews to a considerable extent. Occasionally he seriously posed the supposition that in the last, inmost circle of this hidden world-wide web, rabbis and monsignori might be found joined in utmost concord. He would not have minded this in the least if only they would let him join in their magic workings.’
You see, he is searching! We are shown a person who is a seeker. And although this is not an autobiography you may be quite certain that Hermann Bahr met this Englishman! All this is told from life.
‘Even in those days Franz had asked himself from time to time whether there might not be a grain of truth in the Englishman's foolish idea. Life, both that of the individual and that of nations, appears at first glance and from close to, to be nothing but a confusion of coincidences; yet seen from a little distance, from a higher vantage point, it is ever well planned and firmly guided. If we do not want to assume that God Himself takes a direct hand in bending man's folly, the mad arbitrariness of his actions, to serve His purposes, then there is nothing for it but to imagine a kind of middle realm which mediates His will. Perhaps there is a circle of men who rule in seclusion, through whom God works upon the world; stages of divine power and wisdom, sending forth rays into the murky darkness of mankind, so that in the end all is once more purposefully ordered. These lenses of God's light, gathering the creative spirit and scattering it forth into the world, these secret organizers, these hidden kings, they it must be who transform all madness into sense, all passion into stillness, who render chance into necessity, give chaos form and bring light into darkness. Who in his life has not encountered people who seem indeed to possess a remarkable majesty and distance, who reputedly have the power to curse or bless with a glance, and who, however still they may seem, none the less appear to exercise their power far and wide? Often their lives are simple. They may be shepherds, country doctors, village parsons; often they are old women or precocious children who die young. There is something about them all that makes them uncanny to ordinary folk, something that gives them great power over man and beast, or indeed, it is always maintained, over all nature, over springs and minerals, weather, sunshine and rain, hail and drought. When our paths cross with theirs we sense with absolute certainty, at that very moment perhaps, or maybe years later, that the meeting has been decisive for our own life. They themselves, it seems, feel their power to be more of a burden, even a curse, but always a definite obligation. They live in obscurity and are glad to be left in peace. It is not hard to imagine them all linked together throughout the world, communicating by signs, or perhaps passing on the signs of even more mighty secret princes. Maybe they are quite unconscious of all this, or only partly conscious, fulfilling inner commands, obeying by instinct rather than acting from their own initiative; for they seem indeed to be not in control of their own power but rather overwhelmed by it. All these capacities appear when consciousness is dulled or even extinguished. In his youth, Franz had known people like this; they are not rare in the mountains. The Englishman's visionary fancies reminded him of them. Very much later it had occurred to him that perhaps even someone not born with these capacities might come into their possession; possibly by education and training they could be acquired. But he had soon been disappointed by the theosophical exercises. He had only been reminded of all this by the sight of the ecstatic worshippers in the dark church. Through practice these people had reached a stage in which sorrow, distress and envy were stilled; composed, comforted and strengthened they returned from prayer.’
As you see, Franz did not want to undertake these theosophical exercises; he did not want to find a transition to knowledge of the spiritual worlds by this means. But something about which we had to speak yesterday is beginning to dawn. People are being won over into recognizing the course of certain threads and they are beginning to notice that certain people make use of these threads. If only people like Hermann Bahr would approach this matter even more seriously than they do. Even the canon encountered by Franz did so more seriously. Franz was once invited to the home of this canon together with some rather unusual company which is described. We discover that the canon associates with all sorts, not only pious monks but also cynics and frivolous people of the world. He invites them all to his table. Franz noticed a number of things. The canon led him into his study while the others were conversing together. As we know, when dinner is over, something else always follows. So the canon led him into his study:
‘The niece had retired, but the guest of honour, Uncle Erhard and His Excellency, seated in comfortable chairs and devoutly given over to the process of digestion, had still not reached a conclusion. The tales waxed increasingly risqué, the mockery more audacious, the allusions more obvious; nothing was spared and it seemed as though the whole world consisted of nothing but anecdotes. Disgusted, Franz turned to the library. It was not large, but very select indeed. Only the bare essentials as far as theology was concerned:’
of course a canon needs theology least of all for himself
‘the Bollandists, many Franciscan writers, Meister Eckhart, the spiritual exercises, Catherine of Genoa, the mysticism of Görres, and Möhler's symbolism. Then philosophy; there was more of that: the whole of Kant including the papers of the Kant Society, Deussen's Upanishads and his history of philosophy, Vaihinger's Philosophy of the As If, and a great many works on the theory of knowledge. Then there were the Greek and Latin classics, Shakespeare, Calderon, Cervantes, Dante, Machiavelli and Balzac in the original; of German writers there were only Novalis and Goethe, the latter in various editions, that of his scientific writings in the Weimar edition. Franz took out a volume of these and found in it many annotations in the canon's hand. The latter at that moment left the young monk and the Jesuit to join Franz. He said, “Nobody knows Goethe's scientific writings. Alas! The old heathen he is supposed to have been appears in quite a new light in them, and they help you to understand the ending of Faust as well. I could never bring myself to believe that he was suddenly just pretending to go all Catholic” ’
We can forgive the canon, can we not, for wanting everything to be ‘Catholic’; what is important for us is that he has turned to the natural scientific writings of Goethe.
‘ “merely for the sake of the pictorial effect. My respect for this great writer is too great, indeed so is my respect for any writer, to believe that any one of them would dress up in a costume just when he is about to pronounce his last words. But in the scientific writings every page shows how Catholic Goethe was,” ’
Let us forgive the canon.
‘ “without knowing it perhaps, and certainly without the courage of his convictions. When you read them you seem to be listening to someone unfamiliar with Catholic truths who has discovered them all on his own. Of course he does violence to some of them and there are some wonderful eccentricities, but by and large nothing crucial, necessary or essential is missing, even that hint of superstition, magic, or whatever you might like to call it, that a born Protestant finds so suspicious about our holy doctrine! Often I could hardly believe my own eyes! But once you are on the track of Goethe, the unavowed Catholic, you soon find him everywhere. Observe his trust in the Holy Spirit, though he prefers to call Him Genius,” ’
Goethe has good reason for this, of course!
‘ “observe his profound feeling for the sacraments, of which he considers there are too few, observe his feeling for the mysterious, observe his gift for reverence. Note especially how he is quite unprotestant in the way he is never satisfied with faith alone; everywhere he urges that God should be recognized through the living deed, through pious works. And see his rare, most lofty and most difficult understanding, that man cannot be taken up by God if he does not first call God into himself; his grasp of this terrible human freedom of choice, the freedom to accept or reject the proffered grace, the freedom which makes of this grace a reward for the one who decides to accept it. Despite the exaggerations and distortions, all this is so utterly Catholic that, as you see, I have in many places been able to write the passages from the tridentine mass in the margins next to what Goethe says in almost the very same words. When Zacharias tells Werner that one sentence in Elective Affinities made him into a Catholic, I most certainly believe him. Of course I would not deny that there is also a heathen, a Protestant, and even almost a Jewish Goethe. And I certainly would not claim him as an exemplary Catholic, though he was more that than the insipidly jolly, common or garden monist that the north-German school teachers present to their pupils under his name.” ’
You notice, even in these circles a different Goethe is sought, one who can follow the path into the spiritual world, a different Goethe for sure than that ‘insipidly jolly, common or garden monist’ described and presented to the world today by the Goethe biographers. As you see, the path trodden by Franz is not so very different from those you find interwoven in what we call our spiritual science and, as you also see, a certain modicum of necessity can be present.
May I remind you — I have often mentioned it — that the death of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria is one of those concealed events of the present day, despite all that occurred on the external physical plane. I have stressed especially that if the physical and spiritual worlds are taken together, then for them as a totality there was something present before the assassination of Franz Ferdinand that became different after that event. It does not matter in such cases what things look like in external maya! What occurs inwardly is the important thing. As I told you: What rose up as the soul of Franz Ferdinand into the spiritual worlds became a focal point for very strong, powerful forces, and much of what is now happening is connected with the very fact that a unique transition took place between life and so-called death, so that this soul became something quite different from what other souls become.
I said that someone who has lived through recent decades in a state of spiritual consciousness must know that one of the main causes of today's painful events is the fear in which the whole world was drenched, the fear that individuals had of each other, even though they did not know it, and above all the fear that the different nations had of one another. If people had seeing eyes with which to track down the cause of this fear, they would not talk as much nonsense as they do about the causes of the war. It was possible for this fear to be so significant because it is woven as a state of feeling into what I described to you yesterday by means of examples. Please regard this as a kind of sketch. But, drenching everything is this aura of fear. That soul was connected in a certain particular way with this aura of fear. Therefore that violent death was in no way merely an external affair. I told you this because I was able to observe it, because for me it was a particularly significant event that is connected with many aspects of what is going on at present.
I do not suppose that such things, which obviously ought to be kept within our circle, have been talked about all over the place outside our circle. The fact is, however, that I have been speaking about these things in various branches since the beginning of the war. There are witnesses who could verify this.
Hermann Bahr's book appeared much later, only quite recently. Yet in it there appears a passage that I shall quote in a moment, and I would ask you to pay attention to the following fact: Within the circle of our anthroposophical spiritual science, indications are given about an event that is spiritually very important; then a novel written at a later date is published, in which is found a character who always appears to be rather foolish. He is actually a prince in disguise, but he appears as a foolish person who performs lowly tasks. From a poster — he is living in a rural area — he learns of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whereupon he makes a remark which almost causes him to be lynched and leads to his being locked up; for any police force would naturally be convinced that somebody making such a remark immediately after an assassination must be a party to the plot. Though there are many miles in between, the one event having happened in Sarajevo and the other taking place in Salzburg, nevertheless to the police, in its wisdom, that man must be a party to the plot.
It now emerges that this person is a prince in disguise and that he owns a deeply significant mystical diary. The reason for the remark he made also emerges. He was actually a prince, but had found the whole business of being a prince irksome and so had disguised himself as old Blasl who performed lowly tasks, behaved stupidly, even let himself be beaten by his master, and hardly ever spoke a word; he became talkative on certain occasions but usually he said nothing. Then when he was being investigated he was found to possess a mystical manuscript which he had written himself. The book continues:
‘The enchanted, now disenchanted prince, still in his old clothes, and still the same old fellow, too, though somehow different now that Franz knew they had been a disguise, said smiling, “Forgive me the deception which for me was none. I ceased to be the Infante Don Tadeo long ago. If circumstances now compel me to represent him again for a while, it will be a far more difficult role for me to play. For me, I really was old Blasl and, if I lied, it was myself I lied to, not you. That I should cause you inconvenience I could not have known. I am sorry indeed for that. Of course it was the most stupid misunderstanding. Though I had never met him, I knew the heir to the throne very well; he meant a great deal to me and we were in communication with one another, though not in the manner usual here.” ’
‘The manner usual here’ denotes the manner usual on the physical plane: We were in communication with one another, though not after the manner of the physical plane.
‘ “He had long gone beyond the boundaries of earthly work and stood with one foot in that other realm of purely spiritual activity. Now it was time for him to step over finally. I knew that in order to fulfil himself he could no longer stay. His deed will be done from there. I was only surprised that destiny had hesitated so long with him. On that Sunday when I stepped out of church, where my prayers had once again been rewarded with reassurance, and saw the uneasy crowd, I knew immediately that his liberation had come. What has to happen through him he can only bring about from the other side. Here he could only promise; his life was only a prediction. Only now can it really happen. I have never been able to imagine him as a constitutional monarch with parliamentarianism and all that humbug. He was too great for that. By this he has seized the initiative for himself. This dead man will now truly start to live. This is what I felt when I heard the news. That is what I meant to say. You will understand that there was little chance of making myself understood to those peasants. I preferred to give myself up in silence and am only surprised that they did not do for me. I was prepared for that — then by now it would all be over. There must still be something for me to do. So be it!” He had said all this in the same tone of voice, as it were without punctuation, only staring at Franz from time to time with numb eyes. Then he requested him not to mention his notebooks and to forget them himself.
“The truth is written in them, but only for myself; to understand them you would have to understand my sign language. What is written in them is right; only the words are invalid.” Franz could not help describing to him the impression the notebooks had made on him.’
For Franz was the only person in that town who could understand Spanish, and since the notebooks were written in Spanish he was asked to help out. There is a little gentle irony here too, since in Austria anything not immediately understandable is said to be ‘Spanish’. Since Blasl, or rather the Infante, was suspected of being a party to the plot, it was necessary to read the notebooks, and since Franz had once been in Spain, it was he who had to read them. For Hermann Bahr had also once been in Spain.
So you see, since we must assume that Hermann Bahr had not been tipped off about this, that we have here an example of a remarkable winning-over of an invidual to a recognition of these things, of an inner need growing in him today to occupy himself with these things. I think it is justifiable to be somewhat astonished that such things appear in novels these days; it is something to do with the undercurrent of our time. Admittedly, to begin with, only people like Hermann Bahr are affected, people whose lives have been similar to that of Hermann Bahr, who went through all kinds of experiences during the course of time. Now that he is older, having for a long time been a supporter of impressionism, he is endeavouring to comprehend expressionism and other similar things. He is a person who has truly been capable in his soul of uniting himself outwardly and inwardly with the most varied streams. He really immersed himself in Ostwald's thoughts, in those of Richet, in those of the theosophists in London, struggling to enter fully into them. Only finally, when his perseverance failed him, did he happen upon Canon Zingerl, whom he now considers to be a Master. He did indeed immerse himself to the full in internal and external streams.
When I first knew him he had just written his play Die neuen Menschen, of which he is now very ashamed; its mood was strictly social-democratic, and there was at that time no more glowing social-democrat than Hermann Bahr. Then he wrote a short one-act play which is rather insignificant. He then converted to the German nationalist movement and wrote Die grosse Sünde from their point of view. Again, there existed no more radical German nationalist than Hermann Bahr. Meanwhile, he had reached his nineteenth year and was called up to serve in the army; now he was filled to the brim with militaristic views and soldierly pride.
He understood, you see, how to unite his soul with external streams, yet he never shirked coming to grips entirely seriously with those that are more inward as well. After his period as a soldier he went to Berlin for a short while and there edited a modern weekly journal, Die freie Bühne. Chameleon-like, he could turn himself into anything — except a Berliner! Then he went to Paris. He had hardly arrived, could not even conjugate a reflexive verb with être but used avoir with everything, when he started to write enthusiastic letters about the sunlike being Boulanger who would surely show Europe what true, genuine culture is. Then he went to Spain, where he became a burning opponent of the Sultan of Morocco against whom he wrote articles in Spanish. Finally he returned, not exactly a copy of Daudet but looking very like him.
He told us about all this in the famous Griensteidl Café which has offered hospitality to all sorts of famous people since 1848 when Lenau, Anastasius Grün and others went in and out there. Even the waiters in this cafe were famous; everybody knew Franz, and later Heinrich, of Griensteidl's! Now it has been demolished, but because Hermann Bahr talked so much there about the way in which his soul had entered into the spirit of France and about that sunlike being Boulanger, someone else had grown rebellious, and when Griensteidl's was pulled down Karl Kraus wrote a pamphlet Literature Demolished. I still remember vividly how Hermann Bahr told us about the grand impressions he had gained and how he, the lad from Linz, had been the proud owner of the handsomest artist's face in the whole of Paris. He spoke enthusiastically about Maurice Barrès and stood up in the most intense way for the French youth movement; through the outpouring of a single heart filled with ardour we gained an experience of the total will-force of a whole literary movement. Then, in Vienna together with others, he founded a weekly journal himself, to which he contributed some really important articles. He became increasingly profound yet, with him, superficiality always seemed to go hand in hand with profundity. Thus he never stopped changing: from social democrat to German nationalist, from a militaristic disposition to a glowing admiration for Boulanger, then discipleship of Maurice Barrès and others; and after a later transformation he began to appreciate impressionist art. From time to time he returned to Berlin, but always departed again as quickly as possible; it was the one place he could not tolerate. Vienna, on the other hand, he loved dreadfully, and he expressed this love in many ways.
In more recent years his beloved friends in Danzig have invited him a number of times to lecture on expressionism, something they are said to have understood exceedingly well; and the lectures are included in his book on expressionism. He also enthuses about Goethe's scientific writings and shows that he has drawn a little nearer to what we are coming to know as Anthroposophy; but in his case it is only a beginning. I might add, by the way, that his recent book about expressionism is full of praise for his Danzig friends — of course, so that they should stand out favourably in comparison with the Berliners.
Lately it has been said that Hermann Bahr has converted to Catholicism. I don't suppose he will be all that Catholic though — perhaps about as much as he was boulangistic in days gone by. But he is a human being! You have now seen in his most recent novel that through his very worldliness, through his longing to learn about everything in his own way, he has now been touched by the necessity to discover something about man's ascent into the spiritual world and about the links between human beings that are different from those ordinary physical links; in other words, links of the kind we described yesterday.
You can understand why I find it to some extent significant that such a novel should contain not only general echoes but should lead to a point as concrete as the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This shows that these things are far more real than is generally supposed. Just such things as this must show us that what takes place on the physical plane is often no more than a symbol of what is really happening ‘behind the scenes of earthly life’. For if you read about what has occurred in connection with these events, in connection with this assassination, without appealing to the spiritual aspect, it will be impossible for you to understand that someone can be led to place such significance on the matter. But it is not yet possible today to speak about these things without some reservation; as yet, not everything connected with these things can be expressed. Attention may be drawn to some aspects only; to begin with, perhaps, the more external ones.
Let us recall what was said yesterday about the world of the Slavs, about the soul of the Slavs. The testament of Peter the Great appeared on the scene in 1813, or perhaps a little earlier, and was disseminated for good reason as though it stemmed from Peter the Great himself. This document is used to seize hold of a natural stream, such as the stream of the Slav soul, in order to guide and lead it by means of suggestion. Whither is it to be led? It is to be led into the orbit of Russianism in such a way that the ancient Slav stream should become, in a way, the bearer of the idea of a Russian state! Because this is so, a clear distinction must be made between the spiritual Slav stream, the stream that exists as the bearer of the ancient Slav tradition, and that which strives to become an external vessel to encompass the whole of this Slav stream: Russianism.
We must not forget that a large number of Slav peoples, or sections of these peoples, live within the boundaries of the monarchy of Austria-Hungary. The Austro-Hungarian monarchy encompasses — let me use my fingers to help me count — Germans, Czechs, Slavonians, Slovacs, Serbo-Croats, Croats, Poles, Romanians, Ruthenians, Magyars, Italians and Serbs; as you see, many more than Switzerland has. What really lives there can only be recognized by someone who has lived for quite a long time among these peoples and has come to understand the various streams that were at work within what is known as Austria-Hungary. As far as the Slav peoples are concerned there was, during the last decades of the nineteenth century, a paramount endeavour to find a way in which the various Slav peoples could live together in peace and freedom. The whole history of Austria-Hungary in recent decades, with all those bitter battles, can only be understood if it is seen as an attempt to realize the principle of the individualization of the separate peoples. This is of course exceedingly difficult, since peoples do not live comfortably side by side but are often enmeshed in complicated ways. Among the Germans in Austria there are very many who consider that their own well-being would be served by the individualizing of the various Slav peoples in Austria, that is, by finding a form in which they could develop independently and freely. Obviously such things need time to come about; but such a movement certainly does exist.
Then, apart from the Slavs in Austria-Hungary, there are the Balkan Slavs who lived for a long time under Turkish dominion, which they have thrown off in recent decades in order to found individual states: Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and so on. Yesterday I mentioned the Polish Slavs as those who have developed furthest in their spiritual life. I am mentioning only the more important sub-divisions, for I too can only work these things out gradually. In all these Slav peoples and tribes there lives what I called yesterday a consistent, primal folk element, which is something that is preparing for the future.
Seen quite externally, why was Franz Ferdinand rather important? He was important because in his being, in all his inclinations — you must take the external manifestation as a symbol of what lived within — he was the external expression of certain streams. In him there lived something which, if only it had been able to free itself, bore the deepest understanding for the individual development of the Slav peoples. You might indeed call him an intense friend of all that belongs to the Slavs. He understood — or perhaps I should say: something living in him of which he was not fully aware understood — what forms would be necessary for the social life of the Slavs if they were to develop as individual peoples.
We have to realize that karma had decreed that this karmic path should be extremely unusual. Let us not forget that there was once an heir to the throne, Archduke Rudolf, on whom great hopes were pinned, especially as regards the direction in which many liberal and free-thinking people of the day were tending. Those who knew the circumstances and the person, understood that something was working through his soul which would have brought about the application to the Austrian situation of what I yesterday called English political thinking, English ideas concerning the way in which states should be administered. This is what was expected of him and it was also what he himself was inclined to do. But you know how karma worked and how what should have happened was made impossible. So then something else became possible instead. Now a man tending in quite another direction grew in importance. It is indeed not without significance if our attention is drawn to this: ‘Here he could only promise; his life was only a prediction. Only now can it really happen. I have never been able to imagine him as a constitutional monarch, with parliamentarianism and all that humbug.’
Yet this is just how we should have imagined the other one to be! You see that karma is at work and we must see how this karma works in order to achieve further heights of understanding. The circumstances which could and should have been brought about — not because of the wishes of some person or other but because of the purpose of world evolution — by this soul who looked upon the Slav folk element with understanding (for the moment I am giving a purely abstract description), would truly have had a liberating effect on the Slav folk element. But it would, at the same time, have destroyed what Russianism wants to do with the Slav element. For Russianism wants to confine the Slav element within its own framework and use it as its tool. It wants to contain it within the confines of the testament of Peter the Great. The speed with which such things come to realization depends, of course, on all kinds of side-currents and peripheral circumstances. But it is important to have an eye for what is gathering momentum in any particular direction. Obviously, therefore, only those who understood the Slav element more deeply could understand what web was really being woven, and also that those who wanted to destroy the Slav element through Russianism had to work against more healthy endeavours.
Matters become particularly delicate and tricky if they start interfering with streams and counting on methods that are connected in some way with the occult streams using the secret brotherhoods which exist all over the world. Some are more profound, as are those about which I shall speak tomorrow. Others only touch on these things but, even then, as they do touch on them, they must be seen as vessels through which occult streams flow. The society whose dissolution was demanded after the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the Serbian society ‘Narodna Odbrana’, was the actual successor of an earlier secret brotherhood, having changed its methods only slightly. I am stating no more than facts.
Here, then, is a contact between political strivings and a secret society which, though centred in Serbia, had threads leading in every direction to wherever Slavs were to be found, and also links with all kinds of other societies, but in particular an inner connection with western societies. In such a society things can be taught which are connected with occult workings throughout the world.
Why do we have to make so many detours in order to reach even a partial understanding of what we actually have to understand? Do not be surprised that so many detours are necessary, for a superficial judgement is all too easily reached if insight is directed to immediate events in which we are involved with sympathy or antipathy; all too easily misunderstandings and false ideas come about. What often happens to all of us? We are perfectly entitled to have sympathies and antipathies in our soul; but often there are reasons why we do not admit this to ourselves. Perhaps we do not actually convince ourselves on purpose, but autosuggestion often gives us good reason to believe that our judgements are objective. If only we would calmly admit to sympathies or antipathies, we would also accept the truth. But because we want to judge ‘objectively’ we do not admit the truth but, instead, delude ourselves in regard to the truth.
Why do people have this tendency? It is simply because, when they endeavour to understand reality, they easily meet with extraordinary contradictions. And when they meet these contradictions they attempt to come to terms with them by accepting one half of what is contradictory and rejecting the other half. Often this means a total lack of any desire to understand the truth.
I will give you an example of how we can become entangled in a serious contradiction if we fail to understand the living connection between the contradiction and the full truth of the reality. In our anthroposophical spiritual science we understand Christianity to be something that is filled with the meaning of the Mystery of Golgotha, with the fact that Christ was condemned, died, was buried, but then also rose again in the true sense and lives on as the Risen One. This is what we call the Mystery of Golgotha and we cannot concede the right to anyone to call himself a Christian unless he recognizes this too. What, though, had to happen so that Christ was able to undergo, for human evolution, what I have just described? Judas had to betray Him and He had to be nailed to the cross. If those who nailed Him to the cross had not done so, then the Mystery of Golgotha would not have taken place for the salvation of mankind.
Here you have a terrible, actual contradiction, a contradiction of gigantic proportions! Can you imagine someone who might say: You Christians owe it to Judas that your Mystery of Golgotha took place at all. You owe it to the executioner's men, who nailed Christ to the cross, that your Mystery of Golgotha ran its course! Is anyone justified in defending Judas and the executioner's men, even though it is true that the meaning of earthly history is owed to them? Is it easy to answer a question like this? Is one not immediately faced with contradictions which simply stand there and which represent a terrible destiny?
Think about what I have placed before you! Tomorrow we shall continue. What I have just said is spoken only so that you can think about the fact that it is not so easy to say: When two things contradict one another I shall accept the one and reject the other. Reality is more profound than whatever human beings may often be willing to encompass with their thinking. It is not without reason that Nietzsche, crazed almost out of his mind, formulated the words: ‘The world is deep, deeper than day can comprehend.’
Now that I have endeavoured to indicate the nature of a real contradiction, we shall tomorrow attempt to penetrate more deeply into the subject matter we have so far touched on in preparation.