Karma of Untruthfulness II
26 December 1916, Dornach
Yesterday I told you the story of Gerhard the Good — which most of you probably know — so that today we can illustrate various points in our endeavour to increase our understanding of the matters we are discussing. But before I interpret parts of this story for you, in so far as this is necessary, we must also recall a number of other things we have touched on at various times during these lectures. From what has been said over the past few weeks you will have seen that the painful events of today are connected with impulses living in the more recent karma of mankind, namely, the karma of the whole fifth post-Atlantean period. For those who want to go more deeply into these matters it is necessary to link external events with what is happening more inwardly, which can only be understood against the background of human evolution as seen by spiritual science.
To begin with, take at face value certain facts which I have pointed out a number of times. I have frequently said that, in the middle of the nineteenth century, an endeavour was made to draw the attention of modern mankind to the fact that there exist in the universe not only those forces and powers recognized by natural science but also others of a spiritual kind. The endeavour was to show that just as we take in with our eyes — or, indeed, with all our senses — what is visible around us, so are there also spiritual impulses around us, which people who know about such things can bring to bear on social life — impulses which cannot be seen with the eye but are known to a more spiritual science.
We know what path this more spiritual science took, so I need not go over it again. Around the middle of the nineteenth century, then, it was the concern of a certain centre to draw people's attention to the existence, as it were, of a spiritual environment. This had been forgotten during the age of materialism. You also know that such things have to be tackled with caution because a certain degree of maturity is necessary in people who take in such knowledge. Of course, not all those can be mature who come across, or are affected by, this knowledge in accordance with the laws of our time, which underlie public life. But part of what must be done at such a time can be the requirement to test whether the knowledge may yet be revealed publicly.
Now in the middle of the nineteenth century two paths were possible. One, even then, would have been what we could describe by mentioning our anthroposophical spiritual science, namely, to make comprehensible to human thinking what spiritual knowledge reveals about our spiritual environment. It is a fact that this could have been attempted at that time, in the middle of the nineteenth century, but this path was not chosen. The reason was, in part, that those who possessed this esoteric knowledge were prejudiced, because of traditions that have come down from ancient times, against making such things public. They felt that certain knowledge guarded by the secret brotherhoods — for it was still guarded at that time — should be kept within the circle of these brotherhoods. We have since seen that, so long as matters are conducted in the proper way, it is perfectly acceptable today to reveal certain things. Of course it is unavoidable that some malicious opponents should appear, and always will appear, in circles in which such knowledge is made known — people who are adherents for a time because it suits their passions and their egoism, but who then become opponents under all sorts of guises and make trouble. Also when spiritual knowledge is made known in a community, this can easily lead to arguments, quarrelling and disputes, of which, however, not too much notice can be taken, since otherwise no spiritual knowledge would ever be made known. But, apart from these things, no harm is done if the matter is handled in the right way.
But at that time this was not believed. So ancient prejudice won the day and it was agreed to take another path. But, as I have often said, this failed. It was decided to use the path of mediumistic revelation to make people recognize the spiritual world in the same way as they recognize the physical world. Suitable individuals were trained to be mediums. What they then revealed through their lowered consciousness was supposed to make people recognize the existence of certain spiritual impulses in their environment. This was a materialistic way of revealing the spiritual world to people. It corresponded to some extent to the conditions of the fifth post-Atlantean period, in so far as this is materialistic in character.
This way of handling things began, as you know, in America in the middle of the nineteenth century. But it soon became obvious that the whole thing was a mistake. It had been expected that the mediums would reveal the existence of certain elemental and nature spirits in the environment. Instead, they all started to refer to revelations from the kingdom of the dead. So the goal which had been set was not reached. I have often explained that the living can only reach the dead with an attitude which does not depend on lowering the consciousness. You all know these things. At that time this was also known and that is why, when the mediums began to speak of revelations of the dead, it was realized that the whole thing was a mistake. This had not been expected. It had been hoped that the mediums would reveal how the nature spirits work, how one human being affects another, what forces are at play in the social organism, and so on. It had been hoped that people would start to recognize what forces might be used by those who understand such things, so that people would no longer be dependent solely on one another in the way they are when only their sense perceptions come into play, but would be able to work through the total human personality. This was one thing that went wrong.
The other was that, in keeping with man's materialistic inclinations, it soon became obvious what would have begun to happen if the mediumistic movement had spread in the way it threatened to do. Use would have been made of the mediums to accomplish aims which ought only to be accomplished under the influence of natural, sense-bound reasoning. For some individuals it would have been highly desirable to employ a medium who could impart the means of discovering the knowledge which such people covet. I have told you how many letters I get from people who write: I have a lottery ticket; or, I want to buy a lottery ticket; I need the money for an entirely selfless purpose; could you not tell me which number will be drawn? Obviously, if mediums had been fully trained in the techniques of mediumship, the resulting mischief with this kind of thing would have been infinite, quite apart from everything else. People would have started to go to mediums to find a suitable bride or bridegroom, and so on.
Thus it came about that, in the very quarter that had launched the movement in order to test whether people were ready to take in spiritual knowledge, efforts were now made to suppress the whole affair. What had been feared in bygone times, when the abilities of the fourth post-Atlantean period still worked in people, had indeed now come to pass. In those days witches were burnt, simply because those people called witches were really no more than mediums, and because their connections with the spiritual world — though of a materialistic nature — might cause knowledge to be revealed which would have been very awkward for certain people. Thus, for instance it might have been very awkward for certain brotherhoods if, before being burnt at the stake, a witch had revealed what lay behind them. For it is true that when consciousness is lowered there can be a kind of telephone connection with the spiritual world, and that by this route all sorts of secrets can come out. Those who burnt the witches did so for a very good reason: It could have been very awkward for them if the witches had revealed anything to the world, whether in a good or a bad sense, but especially in a bad sense.
So the attempt to test the cultural maturity of mankind by means of mediums had gone awry. This was realized even by those who, led astray by the old rules of silence and by the materialistic tendencies of the nineteenth century, had set this attempt in train. You know, of course, that the activities of mediums have not been entirely curtailed, and that they still exist, even today. But the art of training mediums to a level at which their revelations could become significant has, so to speak, been withdrawn. By this withdrawal the capabilities of mediums have been made more or less harmless. In recent decades, as you know, the pronouncements of mediums have come to amount to not much more than sentimental twaddle. The only surprising thing is that people set so much store by them. But the door to the spiritual world had been opened to some degree and, moreover, this had been done in a manner which was untimely and a mistake.
In this period came the birth and work of Blavatsky. You might think that the birth of a person is insignificant, but this would be a judgement based on maya. Now the important thing is that this whole undertaking had to be discussed among the brotherhoods, so that much was said and brought into the open within the brotherhoods. But the nineteenth century was no longer like earlier centuries in which many methods had existed for keeping secret those things which had to be kept secret. Thus it happened that, at a certain moment, a member of one of the secret brotherhoods, who intended to make use in a one-sided way of what he learnt within these brotherhoods, approached Blavatsky. Apart from her other capacities Blavatsky was an extremely gifted medium, and this person induced her to act as a connecting link for machinations which were no longer as honest as the earlier ones. The first, as we have seen, were honest but mistaken. Up to this point the attempt to test people's receptivity had been perfectly honest, though mistaken. Now, however, came the treachery of a member of an American secret brotherhood. His purpose was to make one-sided use of what he knew, with the help of someone with psychic gifts, such as Blavatsky. Let us first look at what actually took place. When Blavatsky heard what the member of the brotherhood had to say, she, of course, reacted inwardly to his words because she was psychic. She understood a great deal more about the matter than the one who was giving her the information. The ancient knowledge formulated in the traditional way lit up in her soul a significant understanding which she could hardly have achieved solely with her own resources. Inner experiences were stimulated in her soul by the ancient formulations which stemmed from the days of atavistic clairvoyance and which were preserved in the secret brotherhoods, often without much understanding for their meaning on the part of the members. These inner experiences led in her to the birth of a large body of knowledge. She knew, of course, that this knowledge must be significant for the present evolution of mankind, and also that by taking the appropriate path this knowledge could be utilized in a particular way.
But Blavatsky, being the person she was, could not be expected to make use of such lofty spiritual knowledge solely for the good of mankind as a whole. She hit upon the idea of pursuing certain aims which were within her understanding, having come to this point in the manner I have described. So now she demanded to be admitted to a certain occult brotherhood in Paris. Through this brotherhood she would start to work. Ordinarily she would have been accepted in the normal way, apart from the fact that it was not normal to admit a woman; but this rule would have been waived in this case because it was known that she was an important individuality. However, it would not have served her purpose to be admitted merely as an ordinary member, and so she laid down certain conditions. If these conditions had been accepted, many subsequent events would have been very different but, at the same time, this secret brotherhood would have pronounced its own death sentence — that is, it would have condemned itself to total ineffectiveness. So it refused to admit Blavatsky. She then turned to America, where she was indeed admitted to a secret brotherhood. In consequence, she of course acquired extremely significant insights into the intentions of such secret brotherhoods; not those which strive for the good of mankind as a whole, disregarding any conflicting wishes, but those whose purposes are one-sided and serve certain groups only. But it was not in Blavatsky's nature to work in the way these brotherhoods wished. So it came about that, under the influence of what was termed an attack on the Constitution of North America, she was excluded from this brotherhood.
So now she was excluded. But of course she was not a person who would be likely to take this lying down. Instead, she began to threaten the American brotherhood with the consequences of excluding her in this way, now that she knew so much. The American brotherhood now found itself sitting under the sword of Damocles, for if, as a result of having been a member, Blavatsky had told the world what she knew, this would have spelt its death sentence. The consequence was that American and European occultists joined forces in order to inflict on Blavatsky a condition known as occult imprisonment. Through certain machinations a sphere of Imaginations is called forth in a soul which brings about a dimming of what that soul previously knew, thus making it virtually ineffective. It is a procedure which honest occultists never apply, and even dishonest ones only very rarely, but it was applied on that occasion in order to save the life — that is the effectiveness, of that secret brotherhood.
For years Blavatsky existed in this occult imprisonment, until certain Indian occultists started to take an interest in her because they wanted to work against that American brotherhood. As you see, we keep coming up against occult streams which want to work one-sidedly. Thus Blavatsky entered this Indian current, with which you are familiar. The Indian brotherhood was very interested indeed in proceeding against the American brotherhood, not because they saw that they were not serving mankind as a whole, but because they in turn had their own one-sided patriotically Indian viewpoint. By means of various machinations the Indian and the American occultists reached a kind of agreement. The Americans promised not to interfere in what the Indians wanted to do with Blavatsky, and the Indians engaged to remain silent on what had gone before.
You can see just how complicated these things really are when you add to all this the fact, which I have also told you about, that a hidden individual, a mahatma behind a mask, had been instituted in place of Blavatsky's original teacher and guide. This figure stood in the service of a European power and had the task of utilizing whatever Blavatsky could do in the service of this particular European power. One way of discovering what all this is really about might be to ask what would have happened if one or other of these projects had been realized.
Time is too short to tell you everything today, but let us pick out a few aspects. We can always come back to these things again soon.
Supposing Blavatsky had succeeded in gaining admission to the occult lodge in Paris. If this had happened, she would not have come under the influence of that individual who was honoured as a mahatma in the Theosophical Society — although he was no such thing — and the life of the occult lodge in Paris would have been extinguished. A great deal behind which this same Paris lodge may be seen to stand would not have happened, or perhaps it would have happened in the service of a different, one-sided influence. Many things would have taken a different course. For there was also the intention of exterminating this Paris lodge with the help of the psychic personality of Blavatsky. If it had been exterminated, there would have been nothing behind all those people who have contributed to history, more or less like marionettes. People like Silvagni, Durante, Sergi, Cecconi, Lombroso and all his relations, and many others would have had no occult backers behind them. Many a door, many a kind of sliding door, would have remained locked.
You will understand that this is meant symbolically. In certain countries editorial offices — I mean this as a picture! — have a respectable door and a sliding door. Through the respectable door you enter the office and through the sliding door you enter some secret brotherhood or other working, as I have variously indicated over the last few days, to achieve results of the kind about which we have spoken. So the intention was to abolish something from the world which would have done away with, at least, one stream which we have seen working in our present time. Signor d'Annunzio would not have given the speech we quoted.
Perhaps another would have been given instead, pushing things in a different direction. But you see that the moment things are not fully under control, the moment people are pushed about through a dimming of their consciousness, and when occultism is being used, not for the general good of mankind — and above all, in our time, not with true knowledge — but for the purpose of achieving one-sided aims, then matters can come to look very grave indeed.
Anyway, the members of this lodge were, from the standpoint of the lodge, astute enough not to enter into a discussion of these things. Later on, certain matters were hushed up, obscured, by the fact that Blavatsky was prevented by her occult imprisonment from publicizing the impulses of that American lodge and giving them her own slant, which she would doubtless otherwise have done. Once all these things had run their course, the only one to benefit from Blavatsky was the Indian brotherhood. There is considerable significance for the present time in the fact that a certain sum of occult knowledge has entered the world one-sidedly, with an Indian colouring. This knowledge has entered the world; it now exists. But the world has remained more or less unconscious of it because of the paralysis I have described.
Those who reckon with such things always count on long stretches of time. They prepare things and leave them to develop. These are not individuals, but brotherhoods in which the successor takes over from the predecessor and carries on in a similar direction with what has been started.
On the basis of the two examples I have given you, of occult lodges, you can see that much depended on the actual impulses not being made public. I do not wish to be misunderstood and I therefore stated expressly that the first attempt I described to you was founded on a certain degree of honesty. But it is extremely difficult for people to be entirely objective as regards mankind as a whole. There is little inclination for this nowadays. People are so easily led astray by the group instinct that they are not objective as regards mankind as a whole but pay homage to one group or another, enjoying the feeling of ‘belonging.’ But this is something that is no longer really relevant to the point we have reached in human evolution. The requirement of the present moment is that we should, at least to some degree, feel ourselves to be individuals and extricate ourselves, at least inwardly, from group things, so that we belong to mankind as human individuals. Even though, at present, we are shown so grotesquely how impossible this is for some people, it is nevertheless a requirement of our time.
For example, let me refer to what I said here a few days ago. A nation as a whole is an individuality of a kind which cannot be compared with human individualities, who live here on the physical plane and then go through their development between death and a new birth. Nations are individualities of quite a different kind. As you can see from everything we find in our anthroposophical spiritual science, a folk spirit, a folk soul, is something different from the soul of an individual human being. It is nonsense to speak in a materialistic sense, as is done today, of the soul of a nation while at the back of one's mind thinking of something resembling the soul of an individual — even though one, of course, does not admit this to oneself. Thus you hear people speak of ‘the French soul’; this has been repeatedly said in recent years. It is nonsense, plain nonsense, because it is an analogy taken from the individual human soul and applied to the folk soul. You can only speak of the folk soul if you take into account the complex totality described in the lecture cycle on the different folk spirits. But to speak in any other sense about the folk soul is utter nonsense, even though many, including journalists, do so — and they may be forgiven, for they do not know what they are talking about. It is mere verbosity to speak — as has been done — for instance of the ‘Celtic soul and the Latin spirit’. Maybe such a thing is just about acceptable as an analogy, but there is no reality in. We must be clear about the meaning of the Mystery of Golgotha. So often have we said that the Mystery of Golgotha was accomplished in such a way that what has been united with earth evolution ever since is there for all mankind, but that if an individual speaks of a mystical Christ within him, this is no more than idle talk. The Mystery of Golgotha is an objective reality, as you know from much that has been said here. It took place for mankind as a whole, which means for every individual human being. Christ died for all human beings, as a human being for human beings, not for any other kind of being. It is possible to speak about a Christian, about one whose attitude of mind is Christian, but it is complete nonsense to talk of a Christian nation. There is no reality in this. Christ did not die for nations, nations are not the individualities for whom He died. An individual who is close to the Being of the Mystery of Golgotha can be a Christian, but it is not possible to speak of a Christian nation. The true soul of a nation, its folk soul, belongs to planes on which the Mystery of Golgotha did not take place. So any dealings and actions between nations can never be interpreted or commented upon in a Christian sense.
I am pointing out these things simply because it is necessary that you in particular, my dear friends, should understand just how important it is today to arrive at clear-cut concepts. This can only be done by applying spiritual science, and yet mankind as a whole strives to fish in muddy waters with concepts that are utterly nonsensical and obscure. So the important thing is, above all, to arrive at clear-cut concepts, to see everything in relation to clear-cut concepts, and also to understand that in our time certain occult, spiritual impulses have been working, chiefly through human beings. This is fitting for the fifth post-Atlantean period.
Now if Blavatsky had been able to speak out at that time, certain secrets would have been revealed, secrets I have mentioned as belonging to certain secret brotherhoods and connected with the striving of a widespread network of groups. I said to you earlier that definite laws underlie the rise and evolution of peoples, of nations. These laws are usually unknown in the external, physical world. This is right and proper, for in the first place they ought to be recognized solely by those who desire to receive them with clean hands. What now underlies the terrible trials mankind is undergoing at present and will undergo in the future is the interference in a one-sided way, by certain modern brotherhoods, with the spiritual forces that pulse through human evolution in the region in which, for instance, nations, peoples, come into being. Evolution progresses in accordance with definite laws; it is regular and comes about through certain forces. But human beings interfere, in some part unconsciously, though if they are members of secret brotherhoods, then they do so consciously.
To be able to judge these things you need what yesterday I called a wider horizon; you need the acquisition of a wider horizon. I showed you the forces of which Blavatsky became the plaything, in order to point out how such a plaything can be tossed about, from West to East, from America to India. This is because forces are at work which are being managed by human beings for certain ends, by means of utilizing the passions and feelings of nationality, which have, however, in their turn first been manufactured. This is most important. It is important to develop an eye for the way in which a person who, because of the type of passions in her — in her blood — can be put in a certain position and be brought under the sway of certain influences. Equally, those who do this must know that certain things can be achieved, depending on the position in which the person is placed. Many attempts fail. But account is taken of long periods of time and of many possibilities. Above all, account is taken of how little inclination people have to pay attention to the wider — the widest, contexts.
Let us stop here and turn to yesterday's story. It tells us about the time around the tenth century, when the constitution of souls was still that of the fourth post-Atlantean period. We saw how the spiritual world intervened in the life of Emperor Otto of the Red Beard. His whole life is transformed because the spiritual world makes him aware of Gerhard the Good. From Gerhard the Good he is to learn the fear of God, true piety, and that one must not expect — for largely egoistic reasons — a blessing from heaven for one's earthly deeds. So he is told by the spiritual world to seek out Gerhard the Good. This is the one side: what plays in from the spiritual world.
Those who know that age — not as it is described by external history, but as it really was — are aware that the spiritual world did indeed play in through real visions such as that described in connection with Emperor Otto the Red, and that spiritual impulses definitely played a meaningful part. The one who wrote down this story says expressly that in his youth he had also written many other stories, as had other contemporaries of his. The man who wrote down the story of Gerhard the Good was Rudolf von Ems, an approximate contemporary of Wolfram von Eschenbach. He said he had written other stories as well but that he had destroyed them because they had been fairy tales. Yet he does not consider this story to be a fairy tale but strictly historical, even though externally it is not historical — that is it would not be included in today's history books which only take physical maya into account. In the way he tells it, it cannot be compared with external, purely physical history; and yet his telling is more true than purely physical history can be for, on the whole, that is only maya. He tells the story for the fourth post-Atlantean period.
You know, for I have repeatedly said this, that I am not taking sides in any way but simply reporting facts which are to provide a basis on which judgements may be formed. Only those who do not wish to be objective will maintain that what I shall attempt to say is not objective. Someone who does not wish to be objective cannot, of course, be expected to find objectivity in what is, in fact, objective. The fact that the spiritual world plays into human affairs is not the only important aspect of the story of Gerhard the Good. It is also significant that a leading personality receives from the spiritual world the impulse to turn to a member of the commercial world, the world of the merchant. It is indeed a historical fact that, in Central Europe, at that time the members of the ruling dynasty to which Otto the Red belonged did start to patronize the merchant classes in the towns. In Europe this was the time of the growth of commerce.
We should further take into account that at that time there were as yet no ocean routes between Orient and Occident. Trade routes were definitely still overland routes. Merchants such as Gerhard the Good who, as you know, lived in Cologne, carried their trade overland from Cologne to the Orient and back again. Any use of ships was quite insignificant. The trade routes were land routes. Shipping connections were not much more than attempts to achieve with the primitive ships of those days what was being done much more efficiently by land. So in the main the trade routes were overland, while shipping was only just beginning. That is what is characteristic of this time, for comprehensive shipping operations only came much later.
We have here a contrast arising out of the very nature of things. So long as Orient and Occident were connected by land routes, it was perfectly natural that the countries of Central Europe should take the lead. Life in these Central European countries was shaped accordingly. Much spiritual culture also travelled along these routes. It was quite different from what came later. As the centuries proceeded, the land routes were supplanted by ocean routes. As you know, England gradually took control of all the ocean connections which others had opened up. Spain, Holland and France were all conquered as far as their sea-faring capacities were concerned, so that in the end everything was held under the mighty dominance which encompassed a quarter of the earth's dry land, and gradually also all the earth's oceans.
You can see how systematic is this conquering, this almost exterminating, of other seafaring powers when you remember how I told you some time ago that in the secret brotherhoods, especially those which grew so powerful from the time of James I onwards, it was taught as an obvious truth that the Anglo-Saxon race — as they put it — will have to be given dominance over the world in the fifth post-Atlantean period. You will see how systematic the historical process has been when you consider what I have also mentioned and what was also taught: that this fifth post-Atlantean race of the English-speaking peoples will have to overcome the peoples of the Latin race.
To start with, the main thing is the interrelation between the English-speaking peoples and those whose languages are Latin in origin. Recent history cannot be understood without the realization that the important aim — which is also what is being striven for — is for world affairs to be arranged in such a way that the English-speaking peoples are favoured, while the influence of any peoples whose language is based on Latin fades out. Under certain circumstances something can be made to fade out by treating it favourably for a while, thus gaining power over it. This can then make it easy to engulf it.
In those secret brotherhoods, about which I have spoken so often, little significance is attached to Central Europe, for they are clever enough to realize that Germany, for instance, owns only one thirty-third of the earth's land surface. This is very little indeed, compared with a whole quarter of the land surface plus dominance over the high seas. So not much importance is attached to Central Europe. A great deal of importance was attached, however — especially during the period when present events were being prepared — to the overcoming of all those impulses connected with the Latin races.
It is remarkable how short-sighted the modern historical view is and how little inclination there is to go more deeply into matters which are quite characteristic of situations. I have already pointed out that what has so long been practised as a pragmatic view of history is not important, reporting as it does on one event, followed by another, and another, and yet another. What is important is to recognize the facts characterized by the many interrelationships in the events which follow one another. What matters is to point out what is characteristic about the facts, namely, what reveals the forces lying behind maya. Pragmatic history must today give way to a history of symptoms.
Those who see through things in this way will be in a position to form judgements about certain events which differ considerably from those of people who reel off the events of world history — this fable convenue — one after the other, as is done in historical science today. Consider some of the things you know well in connection with some others about which I shall tell you. First of all, a simple fact: In 1618 the Thirty Years War began because certain ideas of a reformative kind developed within the Czech Slav element. Then certain aristocrats belonging to these Slav circles took up the movement and rebelled against what might be called the Counter-Reformation, namely, the Catholicism from Spain which was favoured by the Habsburgs. The first thing usually told about the Thirty Years War is the story of the rebels going to the town hall in Prague and throwing the councillors Martinitz and Slavata and the secretary Fabrizius out of the window. Yet this is quite insignificant. The only interesting point is perhaps that the three gentlemen did not hurt themselves because they fell onto a dunghill. These are not things which can bring the Thirty Years' War to life for us or show us its real causes.
The reformative party elected Frederick, Elector Palatine of the Rhine, as counter-King of Bohemia in 1619. Then followed, as you know, the battle of the White Mountain. Up to the election of the Elector Palatine, all the events were caused by the passionate feelings of these people for a reform movement, by a rebellion against arbitrary acts of power such as the closure or destruction of Protestant churches at Braunau and Kloster Grab. There is not enough time for me to tell you the whole story. But now think: Frederick, Elector Palatine of the Rhine, is elected King. Up to this point the events are based on human passions, human enthusiasm, it is even justified to say human idealism — I am quite happy to concede this.
But why, of all people, was the Elector Palatine of the Rhine chosen as King of Bohemia? It was because he was the son-in-law of James I, who stands at the beginning of the renewal of the brotherhoods! Here, then, we may discern an important finger in the pie if we are trying to look at history symptomatically. Attempts were being made to steer events in a particular direction. They failed. But you see that there is a finger in the pie. The most significant sign of what kind of impulses were to be brought to bear in this situation is that the son-in-law of one of the most important occultists, James I, was thrown into this position.
You see, the fact is that the whole of recent history has to do with the contrast between the ancient Roman-Latin element and that element, not of the English people — for they would get on perfectly happily with the world — but that element which, as I have described sufficiently, is to be made out of the English people if they fail to put up any resistance. It is the conflict between these two elements that is at work.
Meanwhile something else is manipulated, for a great deal can be achieved in one place by bringing about events in another.
Let us look at a later date. You might pick up a history book and read the history of the Seven Years War. Of course the history of this war is read just as thoughtlessly as any other. For to understand what is really going on and investigate what forces of history are playing a part, you have to look properly at the various links between the different circumstances. You have to consider, for instance, that at that time the southern part of Central Europe, namely Austria, was linked with every aspect of the Latin element and even had a proper alliance with France, whereas the northern part of Middle Europe — not at first, but later on — was drawn to what was to be made, by certain quarters, into the English-speaking, fifth post-Atlantean race.
When you look closely at the alliances and everything else that went on at that time — those things which were not maya, of course — you discover a war that is in reality being waged about North America and India between England and France. What went on in Europe was really only a weak mirror image of this. For if you compare everything that took place on the larger scale — do extend your horizons! — then you will see that the conflict was between England and France and that North America and India were already starting to have their effect. It was a matter of which of these two powers was cleverer and more able to direct events in such a way that dominion over North America or India could be snatched away from the other. At work in this were long-term future plans and the control of important impulses. It is true: The influence snatched by England from France in North America was won on the battle fields of Silesia during the Seven Years' War!
Watch how the alliances shift when the situation becomes a little awkward and difficult; watch the alliances from this point of view!
Now, another story. It is necessary to look at these things, and once one is not misunderstood, once it is assumed that one's genuine purpose is to gain a clear picture of what is going on in the world, once one strives to be objective, it will not be taken amiss when such stories are told; instead it will be understood that our concern is for comprehension and not for taking sides. In fact, it is precisely those people who feel they are affected by a particular matter who ought to be particularly glad to learn more about it. For then they are lifted above their blindness and given sight, and nothing is better for a person than real insight into how things work in the world. So let us now take an example which can show you a different side of how things work.
Through circumstances which you can look up in a history book, the kingdoms of Hanover and England were once linked. The laws of succession in the two countries were different — we need not go into this in detail — and as a result of this, when Victoria came to the throne of England, Hanover had to become separate. Another member of the English royal house had to take the throne of Hanover. The person elected, or rather the person jostled onto the throne of Hanover was Ernst August, Duke of Cumberland, who had previously been connected with the throne of England. So this Ernst August came to the throne of Hanover at the age of sixty-six. His character was such that, after his departure to become the king of Hanover, the English newspapers said: Thank goodness he's gone; let's hope he doesn't come back! He was considered a dreadful person because of the whole way he behaved. When you look at the impression he made on his contemporaries and those who had dealings with him, a certain type of character emerges which is striking for one who understands characters of this kind. The Hanoverians could not understand him. They found him coarse. He was indeed coarse, so coarse that the poet Thomas Moore said: He surely belonged to the dynasty of Beelzebub. But you know the saying: The German lies if he is polite. So they had a certain understanding for coarseness, but they did presuppose that someone who is coarse is at least honest. Ernst August, however, was always a liar as well as being coarse, and this the Hanoverians could not understand. He had other similar traits as well.
First, Ernst August repealed the Hanoverian constitution. Then he dismissed the famous ‘seven professors’ of Göttingen University. He had them sent straight out of the country, so that it was not until they reached Witzenhausen, which lay beyond his majesty's borders, that their students were permitted to take leave of them. I need not tell you the whole story. But what is the explanation? Those who seek no further for an explanation of this extraordinary mask merely find Ernst August coarse and dishonest. He even cheated Metternich, which is saying much indeed, and so on. But there is something remarkably systematic in all this. And the systematic aspect is not changed by the fact that he lived most of his life up to the age of sixty-six in England, where he was an officer of the Dragoons.
An explanation may be found in the fact that in his whole manner he was manifesting the impulses one has when one is a member of the so-called ‘Orange Lodge’. His whole manner was an expression of the impulses of the Orange Lodge, of which he was a member.
What we must do is learn to understand history symptomatically and widen our horizons. We need to develop a sense for what is important and what really gives insight. So I told you the tale of Gerhard the Good in order to demonstrate how, through such phenomena as the Orange Lodge, and so on, what had been Central Europe was quite systematically drawn over to the West. I am not uttering any reproach, for it was a historical necessity. But one ought to know it and not apply moral judgements to such things. What is essential is to develop the will to see things, to see how human beings are manipulated, to see where there might be impulses by which people are manipulated. This is the same as striving for the sense for truth. I have often stressed that this is not something that enables one to say: But I really believed it, it was my honest and sincere opinion! No indeed. One who possesses the sense for truth is one who unremittingly strives to find the truth of the matter, one who never ceases to seek the truth and who takes responsibility for himself even when he says something untrue out of ignorance. For, objectively, it is irrelevant whether something wrong is said knowingly or unknowingly. Similarly it is irrelevant whether you hold your finger in the candle flame through ignorance or on purpose; either way you burn it.
At this point we must understand what happened at the transition from the fourth post-Atlantean period-when commerce was still just under the influence of the spiritual world, as is indicated in the story of Gerhard the Good — to the fifth period, when everything commercial was drawn over into the occult sphere which is guided by the so-called ‘Brothers of the Shadow’. These brotherhoods guard certain principles. From their point of view it would be extremely dangerous if these principles should be betrayed. That is why they were so careful to prevent Blavatsky from making them public or causing them to pass over into other hands. They were, in fact, to be passed over from the West to the East; not to India but to the East of Russia.
Someone with a sense for what lies behind maya can understand that external institutions and external measures can have differing values, differing degrees of importance in the total context. Consider an incident in recent history. I have told you so many occult, spiritual things that I have, in a way, ‘done my time’ and am now free to go on and give you some indications out of more recent history. No one should say that I am taking this time away from that devoted to occult matters; these things are also important.
So let us take an example from more recent history. In 1909 a meeting was arranged between the King of Italy and the Tsar of Russia. So far there had not been much love lost between these two representatives, but from then on it was considered a good thing to manoeuvre them into each other's company. So the meeting at Racconigi took place. It was not easy to arrange. In the description of all the measures he had to take to prevent ‘incidents of an assassinatory nature’ you can read how difficult it was for poor Giolitti, who was Prime Minister at the time.
Then there was the question of finding a suitable personage who would pay Rome's homage to the Tsar. This had to be a personage of a particular kind. Such things have to be prepared well in advance so that when the right moment arrives they can be set in train on the spot. For a really ‘juicy’ effect to be achieved, not just any personage would do for the purpose of paying Rome's homage to the Tsar — the homage of the Latin West to the self-styled Slav East. It would have to be a special personage, even one who might not easily be persuaded to undertake this task. Now ‘by chance’, as the materialists would say, but ‘not by chance’, as those who are not materialists would say, a certain Signor Nathan — what a very Italian name! — was at that time the mayor of Rome. For many reasons his attitude was rather democratic and not at all one that would make him inclined to pay homage to the Tsar, of all people. He had only taken Italian citizenship shortly before becoming mayor of Rome. Before that he had been an English citizen. The fact that he was of mixed blood should be taken into account; he was the son of a German mother and had assumed the name of Nathan because his father was the famous Italian revolutionary Mazzini. This is a fact.
So persuading him to pay homage to the Tsar made it possible to say: See how thoroughly democracy has been converted. Here was someone who was not an ordinary person but one who had been anointed with all the oils of democracy, but — also someone who had been well prepared. From that moment onwards certain things start to become embarrassing. Today it is known, for example, that from that moment onwards all the correspondence within the Triple Alliance was promptly reported to St Petersburg! Human passions also played some part in the matter, since a special role was carried out in this reporting by a lady who had found a ‘sisterly’ route between Rome and St Petersburg. Such things can obviously be ascribed to coincidence. But those who want to see beyond maya will not ascribe them to coincidence but will seek the deeper connections between them. Then, when one seeks these deeper connections, one is no longer capable of lying as much, is no longer capable of deceiving people in order to distract them from the truth, which is what matters.
For instance — I am saying this in order to describe the truth — it would obviously have been most embarrassing for the widest circles if people's attention had been drawn to the fact that the whole invasion of Belgium would not have taken place if that sentence I have already mentioned, which could have been spoken by Lord Grey — Sir Edward Grey has now become a lord — if that sentence had really been spoken. The whole invasion of Belgium would not have taken place. It would have been a non-event, it would not have happened. But instead of speaking about the real cause, in so far as this is the cause because it could have prevented the invasion, it was obviously more comfortable to waste people's time by telling them about the ‘Belgian atrocities’. Yet these, too, would not have happened if Sir Edward Grey had taken this one, brief measure. In order to hide the simple truth something different is needed, something that arouses justified human passions and moral indignation. I am not saying anything against this. Something different is needed. It is a characteristic of our time, even today when it is particularly painful, to make every effort to obscure the truth, to blind people to the truth.
This, too, had to be prepared carefully. Any gap in the calculation would have made it impossible. The whole of the periphery, which had prudently been created for this very purpose, was needed.
But these things were very carefully prepared, both politically and culturally. Every possibility was reckoned with; and this was certainly necessary, since the most unbelievable carelessness sometimes prevailed, even in places where such a thing would be least expected. Let me give you an example, an objective fact, which will allow us to study this carelessness.
At one time Bismarck had a connection with a certain Usedom in Florence and Turin. I have told you before: Modern Italy came into being by roundabout means and actually owes her existence to Germany; but this is connected with all sorts of other things. What I am saying has profound foundations, and in politics all sorts of threads interweave. Thus at one time threads were woven which were to win over the Italian republicans. In short, at a certain time one such link existed between Bismarck and Usedom in Florence and Turin. Usedom was a friend of Mazzini and of others who enjoyed a certain prominence in nationalistic circles. Usedom was a man who posed very much as a wise person. He employed as his personal secretary somebody who was supposed to be a follower of Mazzini. Later it turned out that this personal secretary, of whom it had been said that he was initiated into Mazzini's secret societies, was nothing but an ordinary spy. Bismarck tells this tale quite naively and then adds, as an excuse for having been so mistaken: But Usedom was a high-grade Freemason. Many things could be told in this way and often it would turn out that those involved are totally innocent because the ones who pull the strings remain in the background.
You cannot maintain that there is no point in asking why such things are permitted to happen by the wise guides of world evolution — why human beings are, to a large degree, abandoned to such machinations, by making the excuse that there is no way of getting to the bottom of these things. For, indeed, if one only seeks them honestly, there are many ways of finding out what is going on. But we see, even in our own Society, how much resistance is put up by individuals when there is a question of following the simple path of truth. We see how many things which should be taken objectively in pursuit of knowledge, when they would best serve the good of mankind, are instead taken subjectively and personally. There are — are there not? — within our Society groups who have studied very attentively an essay of, I believe, 287 pages which they have taken utterly seriously and about which they are still puzzling, as to whether the writer — who is well enough known to us — might be right. In short, within our own circles we may sometimes discover why it is so difficult to see through things. Yet it is, in fact, not at all difficult to see through things if only one strives honestly for the truth. For years so much has been said within our Society. If you were to bring together all that has been said since 1902 you would see that it contains much that could help us to see through a great deal that is going on in the world. Yet our anthroposophical spiritual science has never been presented as belonging to a secret society. Indeed the most important things have always been dealt with in public lectures open to anybody. This is a contrast which should be noted.
I might as well say now: If certain streams within our Anthroposophical Society continue to exist and if, for the sake of human vanity, they continue to interpret to their own advantage certain things which have been said behind closed doors — for no more reason than one would exclude first-year students in a university from what is told to those in their second year — then, eventually there will be nothing esoteric left. If things are not taken perfectly naturally, if people continue to stand up and say: This is secret, that is very esoteric, this is occult, and I am not allowed to speak about this! — if this policy continues to be followed by certain streams in our Society, if they continually fail to understand that any degree of vanity must stop, then everything mankind must be told about today will have to be discussed in public. Whether it is possible to make known certain things, the needs of the moment will tell. But the Anthroposophical Society is only meaningful if it is a ‘society’, that is, if each individual is concerned to make a stand against vanity, against folly and vanity and everything else which clothes things in false veils of mysticism, serving only to puzzle other people and make them spiteful. The mysteriousness of certain secret brotherhoods has nothing to do with our Society, for we must be concerned solely with bringing about what is needed for the good of mankind. As I have often said, our enemies will become more and more numerous. Perhaps we shall discover what our enemies are made of by the manner in which they quarrel with us. So far we have had no honest opponents worth mentioning. They would, in effect, only be to our advantage! The kind of opposition we have met hitherto is perfectly obvious through their ways and means of operation. We might as well wait patiently to discover whether further opponents will be from within our circle, as is frequently the case, or from elsewhere! I have just had news of opposition from one quarter which will empty itself over us like a cold shower. A forthcoming book has been announced during some lectures. The author, a conceited fellow, has never belonged to our Society but has been entertaining the world with all sorts of double egos and such like. He has now used the opportunity of the various national hatreds and passions to mount an attack on our Anthroposophy of a kind which shows that his hands are not clean.
So we must not lose sight of these things and we must realize that it is up to us to hold fast to the direction which will lead to truth and knowledge. Even when we speak about current issues it must only be in pursuit of knowledge and truth. We must look things straight in the eye and then each individual may take up his own position in accordance with his feelings. Every position will be understandable, but it must be based on a foundation of truth.
This is a word which must occupy a special place in our soul today. So much has taken place in our time which has puzzled people and which should have shown them that it is necessary to strive for a healthy judgement based on the truth. We have experienced how the yearning for peace only had to make itself felt in the world for it to be shouted down. And we still see how people actually get angry if peace is mentioned in one quarter or another. They are angry, not only if one of the combatants mentions peace, but even if it is mentioned in a neutral quarter.
It remains to be seen whether the world will be capable of sufficient astonishment about these things. Experience so far has been telling, to say the least. In April and May 1915 a large territory was to have been voluntarily ceded, but the offer was rejected so that war could be waged. Since world opinion failed to form an even partially adequate judgement about this event, there seems to be really nothing for it but to expect the worst. We might as well expect the worst, because people seem bent on telling, not the truth, but what suits their purposes. Their thinking is strange and peculiar to a degree. Yet to tackle things properly the right points have to be found.
Let me read you a short passage written by an Italian before the outbreak of the present war, at a time when the Italians were jubilant about the Tripoli conflict — which I am not criticizing. I shall never say anything against the annexation of Tripoli by Italy, for these things are judged differently by those who know what is necessary and possible in the relationships between states and nations. They do not form judgements based on lies and express opinions steeped in all kinds of moralistic virtues. But here we have a man, Prezzolini, who writes about an Italy which pleases him, which has evolved out of an Italy which did not please him. He starts by describing what this Italy had come to, how it had gone down in the world, and he then continues — directly under the impression of the Tripoli conflict:
‘And yet, totally unaware of this economic risorgimento, Italy underwent at the same time the period of depression described above. Foreigners were the first to notice the reawakening. Some Italians had also expressed it, but they were windbags carrying on about the famous and infamous “primacy of Italy”. The book by Fischer, a German, was written in 1899, and that by Bolton-King, an Englishman, in 1901. To date no Italian has published a work comparable to these, even to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of “unification”. The exceptional good sense of these foreigners is notable for, truly, outsiders have neither wanted, nor do they now want, to know anything about modern Italy. Then, as now, people's judgement, or rather prejudgement of Italy amounted to saying: Italy is a land of the past, not the present; she should “rest on her past glory” and not enter into the present. They long for an Italy of archives, museums, hotels for honeymooners and for the amusement of spleen and lung patients — an Italy of organ-grinders, serenades, gondolas — full of ciceroni, shoe-shiners, polyglots and pulcinelli. Though they are delighted to travel nowadays in sleeping cars instead of diligences, they nevertheless regret a little the absence of Calabrese highwaymen with pistol and pointed velvet hat. Oh, the glorious Italian sky, defaced by factory chimneys. Oh, la bella Napoli, defamed by steamships and the unloading thereof; Rome filled with Italian soldiers; such regret for the wonderful days of Papal, Bourbon and Leopoldine Rome! These philanthropic feelings still provide the basis for every Anglo-Saxon and German opinion about us. To show how deeply they run, remember that they are expressed by people of high standing in other directions, such as Gregorovius and Bourget. The Italy who reformed herself and grew fat, the Italy who is seen to carry large banknotes in her purse — this is the Italy who has at last gained a proper self-confidence. We should forgive and understand her if she now reacts by going a little further than she ought in her enthusiasm. Ten years have hardly sufficed for the idea of the future and strength of Italy to pass from those who first saw it, to the populace at large who are now filled and convinced by it. It would have been in vain had our great thinkers piled up volumes of journals, statistical papers, philosophical works and books of modern art.’
This is the attitude, my dear friends! ‘It would have been in vain had our great thinkers piled up volumes of journals, statistical papers, philosophical works and books of modern art.’ All this would be worthless, he thinks, to raise up a people. This modern man has no faith in the worth and working of culture and spiritual values!
‘It would have been in vain had our great thinkers piled up volumes of journals, statistical papers, philosophical works and books of modern art; neither the people nor the foreigners would ever have been convinced, at least not before the passage of very many years.’
So this man has no confidence in creating spiritual culture in this way.
‘A great and brutal force was needed to smash the illusion and give every last and miserable village square a sense of national solidarity and upward progress.’
To what does he attribute the capacity to achieve what no spiritual culture could produce? He says:
‘It is the war which has served to do this.’
There you have it! This is what people believed. Tripoli was there and it had to be there. Moreover, they also said: War is needed to bring the nation to a point which it was not found necessary to reach by means of spiritual culture.
Indeed, my dear friends, such things speak to us when we place them side by side with another voice which says: We did not want this war; we are innocent lambs who have been taken by surprise. Even from this side comes the cry: To save freedom, to save the small nations, we are forced to go to war. This man continues:
‘We young people born around the year 1880 entered life in the world with the new century. Our land had lost courage. Its intellectual life was at a low ebb.’
These were the people born around the year 1880.
‘Philosophy: positivism. History: sociology. Criticism: historical method, if not even psychiatry.’
This may indeed be said in the land of Lombroso!
‘Hot on the heels of Italy's deliverers came Italy's parasites; not only their sons, our fathers, but also their grandsons, our elder brothers. The heroic tradition of risorgimento was lost; there was no idea to fire the new generation. Among the best, religion had sunk in estimation but had left a vacuum. For the rest it was a habit. Art was reeling in a sensuous and aesthetic frenzy and lacked any basis or faith. From Carducci, whom papa read to the accompaniment of a glass of Tuscan wine and a cheap cigar, they turned to d'Annunzio, the bible of our elder brothers, dressed according to the latest fashion, his pockets full of sweets, a ladies' man and vain braggart.’
Yet this marionette — of whom it is said here that he was ‘dressed according to the latest fashion, his pockets full of sweets, a ladies' man and vain braggart’ — this marionette had made clear to the people at Whitsuntide in 1915 that they needed what no work of the spirit could give them!
When times are grave it is most necessary to make the effort to look straight at the truth, to join forces with the truth. If we do not want to recognize the truth we deviate from what may be good for mankind. Therefore it is necessary to understand that precisely in these times serious words need to be spoken. For we are in a position today in which even one who is seven-eighths blind should see what is happening when the call for peace is shouted down. Someone who believes that you can fight for permanent peace while shouting down the call for peace might, conceivably, hold worthwhile opinions in some other fields; but he cannot be taken seriously with regard to what is going on. If, now that we are faced with this, we cannot commit ourselves to truth, then the prospects for the world are very, very bad indeed.
It is for me truly not a pleasant task to draw attention to much that is going on at present. But when you hear what is said on all sides, you realize the necessity. We must not lose courage, so long as the worst has not yet happened. But the spark of hope is tiny. Much will depend on this tiny spark of hope over the next few days. Much also depends on whether there are still people willing to cry out to the world the utter absurdity of such goings on — as has been done just now, even in the great cities of the world.
The world needs peace and will suffer great privation if peace is not achieved. And it will suffer great privation if credence continues to be given to those who say: We are forced to fight for permanent peace; and if these same people continue to meet every possibility for peace with scorn, however disguised in clever words. But we have reached a point, my dear friends, when even a Lloyd George can be taken for a great man by the widest circles! We may well say: Things have come a very long way indeed!
Yet these things are also only trials to test mankind. They would even be trials if what I permitted myself to express at the end of the Christmas lecture were to happen, namely, if it were to be recorded for all time that, in the Christmas season of the nineteen hundred and sixteenth year after the Mystery of Golgotha, the call for ‘peace on earth among men and women who are of good will’ was shouted down on the most empty pretexts. If the pretexts are not entirely empty, then they are indeed more sinister still. If this is the case, then it will be necessary to recognize what is really at work in this shouting down of every thought of peace: that it is not even a question of what is said in the periphery, but of quite other things. Then it will be understood that it is justified to say that what happens now is crucial for the fortune or misfortune of Europe.
I cannot go further tonight because of the lateness of the hour. But I did want to impress these words on your heart!