1 October 1917, Dornach
My intention is to give a series of lectures which will enable you to understand the present time and the immediate future in some aspects at least. It should be a coherent whole, but it may sometimes be necessary to go a long way back. There will be a continuous thread through it all, but I would ask you to see the parts always in the context of the whole. I will sometimes go far and wide to collect the material we need to understand the present time, and some of it may seem remote.
When I say ‘the present time’ I mean quite a long period of time, going back several decades and also looking decades ahead. It is important to realize that it will be necessary to present truths based on the science of the Spirit that in many respects go utterly against current and generally accepted beliefs. The world holds opinions that not only differ but often are the direct opposite of the truths that have to be spoken out of anthroposophy. It is only to be expected, therefore, that people will consider these truths to be incredible, warped and downright foolish.
When truths which differed from generally accepted views had to be said in the past, in order to open up a road to the future, the difference between those truths and common opinion was probably never as marked as it inevitably is today. This may not be absolutely the case, but, relatively speaking, it is so, for people are tremendously intolerant in their hearts today and less able to accept views which differ from their own.
In the immediate future, people will feel more strongly than ever before that the new and different views presented to them are fanciful and absurd. Nevertheless, truths that until now were closely guarded by small groups of people, with strict silence demanded of anyone to whom they were made known, must increasingly be made public. It does not matter how public opinion and those who hold it react to these truths; nor do the prejudices and counter-currents matter that are provoked by them.
The reason for this will be discussed later on in these lectures. To begin with, I must speak cf some of the ways in which people will react to truths today and in the immediate future. People believe they have long since outgrown the illusions and superstitions of the past, yet in some respects they are entirely given up to illusion. There is a growing tendency to live in illusion concerning some important and essential aspects of the great scheme of things, and this to such an extent that these illusions become powers that rule the world, nations and, indeed, the whole earth. It is important to realize this, for illusory ideas are a major element in the chaos in which we find ourselves today; in fact, they make it a chaos.
Let me tell you of one common illusion which exists today and is closely bound up with the materialistic trends of the age. It is the growing tendency to form utterly wrong opinions about what in the science of the spirit is called the physical plane. And the New Testament words that are fundamental in this respect: ‘My kingdom is not of this world’, 1John 18:36. The German for ‘kingdom’ in this sense is Reich (Trans.). are increasingly less understood today. They are misunderstood in so far as the leading personalities of the outer world are caught up in the illusion that their kingdom should be very much of this physical world.
What do I mean to say? Anyone who is able to see the reality, and to see through it, knows that this world on the physical plane can never reach perfection. Yet people who think materialistically have the illusion that perfection can be achieved on the physical plane. This is the source of many other illusions, and particularly and characteristically the socialist illusion of the present age.
People's illusions come in all shades of meaning; they are coloured by party politics and so on. People who take a liberal view of the world and of life have constructed their own ideal of the physical world and believe that if they realize this we shall have paradise on earth. All that the socialists are able to think of is how to arrange things on this physical plane so that everybody can live what they consider to be the good life, the same for everybody, and so on. Their vision of the future on this physical plane is of a wonderful paradise. Do examine the programmes put forward by people who see themselves as belonging to the many different socialist parties and you will see for yourselves.
They are not the only people, of course, who have such views and opinions. Teachers also do, for instance. Today, every educational agitator and writer is absolutely convinced that it is up to him to establish the best possible educational system, the best principles of education one can think of. And in an absolute sense they really are the best, one cannot imagine anything better.
To go against such endeavours must seem sheer madness to people. The way things are today, people simply must consider anyone who does not want things to be the best possible in the world to be evil-minded. One can understand people feeling this way. Yet it is not evil-mindedness that stops us from thinking their way but a clear vision of the truth. It tells us that it is illusory to think such levels of perfection can be achieved in the physical world. And if it is a law that there never can be perfection in the physical world, just as it is a law that the three angles in a triangle add up to 180°, then people will simply have to face such a truth boldly and not shrink from it.
So there you have the kind of illusion which arises from entirely materialistic premises. Many say they believe in the world of the spirit, but with many of them this is mere words, nothing but hot air. In their innermost hearts, in their feelings and unconscious impulses, lives something different — the inclination to think materialistically. However much people may pretend to themselves that they believe in something else, in reality they believe only in the physical world. And since they do not believe in anything more than just the physical world around them, the only ideal they can possibly have is to arrange things in the physical world in such a way that it becomes a paradise; otherwise the whole world would make no sense to them. Until materialists are prepared to say that the world makes no sense at all, they can only live in the illusion that, however imperfect this physical world may be, it will be possible to create conditions that will put an end to imperfection and let perfection take its place.
Everything coming to the fore today in this respect — in general terms, with all kinds of political, social and other agitators making great words about it, or in specific instances, such as in education — is based on illusion because people are unable to see the connections between the physical world and the other spheres of the world. In no way can they gain an idea of what Jesus Christ meant when he said: ‘My kingdom is not of this world’, and why Jesus Christ did not want to bring a kingdom of perfection to realization here in the physical world. There is nothing in the gospels to show that Christ intended to reform this outer kingdom of the physical world and make it into one of perfection. He certainly did not cherish that illusion. But he made up for this lack of desire to establish paradise in the physical world by giving people something which is not of this world: to let impulses enter into their souls which are always alive in the world but are not of this physical world.
Illusions of this kind dominate the human race today in the widest possible sense, and this creates an unhealthy climate. People are free individuals and therefore free to live in illusion. In more down-to-earth contexts their illusions would immediately be seen to be illusions. When we are dealing with physical objects, fools who invent things which merely work in theory are instantly seen to be under an illusion. It is not immediately obvious, however, in the vast field of social and political life.
The following story is one I have told before. When I was a young fellow of 22 or 23, one of my fellow students came to me one day, his head aglow, absolutely fired with enthusiasm, and told me he had just made an important, epoch-making invention. Oh, I said, that is nice; what are you going to do with it? Well, he said, I'll have to go and see Ratinger — our professor of mechanical engineering at the university — and tell him about it. No sooner said than done, and off he went. Ratinger was not free at the moment and so the student came back; he had been given an appointment for later on. So I said to him: Why don't you tell me about it in the meantime? We have some time to spare. Tell me about your invention. It was a very clever thing. He had invented a steam engine that needed just a very small amount of coal to heat it up; after that no more coal would be needed, for a special mechanism kept it going of its own accord. One merely had to start it up. This was certainly epoch-making! You will be wondering why we do not have it today. I got him to explain it all to me and then told him: You know, that is really clever; but if one looks at the whole thing it is no different from wanting to get a railway truck going by getting into it and pushing as hard as you can from inside. Someone standing outside can, of course, get it to move, but anyone inside will not get it to move a millimetre, even if they apply the same amount of energy. This is what it all came down to.
Things can be extremely logical and clever, developed by applying all kinds of technical principles, and they may still be nonsense, having been thought up without taking account of reality. What matters is not to be merely clever, or logical, but to relate to reality. In the end the student never went to see the professor.
When one is dealing with physical matter and mechanics, such a thing will soon be obvious. But in social and political affairs, and with reference to what in its widest sense may be defined as making everyone happy, it will not be immediately obvious. You can easily put forward ideas of exactly this kind; people will be impressed and believe you. Yet it is all a matter of being inside the truck and pushing from there. A time will come when a certain basic characteristic of the present time may actually be labelled with a particular name, a name that will typify a way of thinking which at heart is utterly illusory and unreal. I am very sure that in future people will speak of early twentieth century ‘Wilsonianism’. For Wilson's ideas are typical of those of someone who wants to push a railway truck from inside.
All the basic ideas of ‘Wilsonianism’ which make such an impression today are utterly unreal, though they also have a major influence on people for other reasons. They are powerful for the very reason that they cannot be realized. Any attempt to implement them it would soon show them to be meaningless. But people are able to imagine they could be implemented. If we were able to implement Wilsonian ideas, world philistinism would be realized throughout the world. Woodrow Wilson 2Thomas Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924), President of the United States 1913–1921. (Wilson propagated ‘open’ diplomacy but refused to permit publication of his discussions at the 1919 Peace Conference in Paris. His Fourteen Points were to be the basis for the armistice in November 1918. Trans.) really deserves to be made the universal saviour of general philistinism. Of course, philistines would not actually do all that well in a world organized by Wilson, which anyway cannot be realized, but at least they imagine that if Wilson's ideas were to conquer the world we would be able to live according to our ideals.
A time will come when people say: At the beginning of the twentieth century a peculiar ideal arose, which was to make the world into a perfect image of philistine, or bourgeois, ideals. Wilson's ideas will be analysed one day and presented as typical of the early twentieth century.
You see, we have not only small but also big examples of illusory ideas in our time. These illusions and unreal ideas are held not by otherworldly sects, but by groups whose beliefs spread far and wide.
Important and vital genuine truths must now be proclaimed to the world. For the reasons and because of the kind of conditions we have been discussing, they will show little relationship to the general opinions of today. Different conditions have to be created to enable people to grasp the truth. The truths which must inevitably come up are repulsive to many people today; they are thoroughly uncomfortable. The truths people like and ask for are convenient truths, for that is the way people are today.
Some of these uncomfortable truths will have to be presented in the course of these lectures. They need to be made known out of a feeling of responsibility, and above all they must relate not only to the physical plane. They must cut across the illusions people have of the physical plane and offer reality rather than fantasy. The most unrealistic and fantasy-ridden people today are those who consider themselves to be more or less entirely realistic. One makes the strangest discoveries in this respect.
I was recently sent a kind of lexicon listing the names of writers. 3Semi-Kuerschner oder Literarisches Lexikon der Schriftsteller, Dichter, Bankiers, Geldleute, Schauspieler, Kunstler, Musiker, Offiziere, Rechtsanwlte, Revolutionre, Frauenrechtlerinnen, Sozialdemokraten usw. jdischer Rasse und Versippung, die von 1813–1913 in Deutschland ttig oder bekannt waren (Semi-Kuerschner or literary lexicon of authors, poets, bankers, financiers, physicians, actors, artists, musicians, officers, lawyers, revolutionaries, women's rights activists, social democrats, etc., who were Jewish by birth or marriage and were active or known in Germany from 1813–1913), published by Philipp Stayff, Berlin 1913. The passage about Hermann Bahr reads as follows: ‘It is said, and people have assured me over and over again, that Hermann Bahr is not a Jew, but I believe in the adage: ‘Tell me who your friends are’ (Bahr's first wife was Jewish), and would maintain that Bahr is of Jewish origin even if he were to show me the certificates of baptism of his forebears for the last ten generations, and indeed if really pushed into a corner I would rather subscribe to belief in the transmigration of souls.’ It purports to list the names of all writers who have a connection with Judaism and anything which seeks to bring Judaism to realization in this world. I am one of the writers listed in the book, the reason being that, according to the author of the lexicon, I have many similarities with Ignatius de Loyola who is stated to have founded the Jesuits precisely because of his Judaism. Furthermore, I come from a border region between Germans and Slavs — which is where I happen to have been born, though my family certainly do not come from there — and apparently the fact that I come from there indicates that I am Jewish in origin — I have no idea why. This does not really surprise me, for I think you will agree that even odder things are published today. But the lexicon also includes Hermann Bahr as someone who is promoting Judaism — I was merely leafing through the book. Yet he is an out-and-out Upper Austrian. It is really and truly impossible to think of any way in which he can be connected with Jewish blood or the like. Nevertheless, this literary lexicon quotes a well-known literary historian as saying that Hermann Bahr definitely had Jewish traits.
Well, when I was said to be Jewish on one occasion — these things are not new — I had a photograph of my certificate of baptism made. Hermann Bahr also had to jump through those hoops, because a literary historian had said he was Jewish. 4Adolf Barthels in his Kritiker und Kritikaster, Leipzig 1903. Bahr wanted to establish the truth. The literary historian then said: Well, his grandfather may have been a Jew. But it simply is not possible to find anything in Bahr's family which is not absolutely Upper Austrian German. This was of course an embarrassment for the literary historian, but he would stick to is opinion. He went so far as to say that if Hermann Bahr were actually to present the certificates of baptism for the last twelve generations to show that he did not have a drop of Jewish blood rom anywhere, then he, the historian, would believe in reincarnation if forced to do so. So you see, the reason for believing in reincarnation is a highly peculiar one in the case of this renowned and widely-read literary historian.
There are times today when it is really difficult to take what is said by famous people at all seriously. It is a pity, of course, that it is so difficult to convince the wider public of this. People are rather in the habit of believing in authority, despite the fact that modern people do not believe in authority at all, of course! Such, at least, is their opinion. Yesterday we were able to learn something about the opinions people have of themselves.
Today, when people's basic instincts sometimes take them so far from the truth, it is extremly difficult to accept the truths relating to the region which borders immediately on the physical world. To characterize anything relating to this region one has to appeal to healthy, incorrupt minds, and this presents the greatest difficulties one can imagine. For when it comes to the truths which must now be made known, the whole constitution of the human soul will be affected even if people merely get to know them, let alone gain direct perception of them.
External knowledge about the physical world has a certain effect — let us say on the human head. But truths which go deep, even if only to the depth where they relate to the world immediately next to the physical world, touch the whole human being and not only the head. To proclaim such truths one must be able to depend on a sound, incorrupt mind.
In many spheres of life today a sound, incorrupt mind is almost a rarity, whilst unsound, corrupt minds are far from uncommon. And the way individuals accept truths today strongly reveals the particular nature of their life of instincts and drives, the whole constitution of their souls, and their state of mind. People with corrupt instincts who are unwilling to apply some degree of discipline to their life-styles quickly tend to take an attitude which is completely determined by the base mind, particularly when the truths to be accepted relate to the world bordering on the physical world. This happens only too easily. If people do not take a healthy objective interest in what goes on in the world, if they are essentially only interested in anything that relates to themselves, this will often corrupt their mind and attitudes to such an extent that they do not have the right instincts for occult truths and particularly for truths relating to the world bordering on the physical world.
With respect to the physical world and anything relating to it, and to all the great advances humanity has made, I think I can say that physical nature makes sure this corruption does not go too far in human minds. People are confined within the Limits imposed by physical nature; they cannot get very far with their instincts and have to obey the laws of nature. When we move from the physical world into the one bordering on it, we are no longer on those leading reins; guidance has to take another form and a different, inner certainty is needed. This is only possible, however, if the mind is incorrupt as we go beyond the physical level; otherwise we lose all control in that other region where we are no longer controlled by physical nature, nor by social and traditional prejudices. We are suddenly quite free and cannot bear such freedom. For instance, the physical world has many ways of preventing people from lying: If someone were to say at 6 o'clock in the evening that the sun had just come up, nature would soon demonstrate this to be wrong. It is like this with many things relating to the physical world. If people insist on talking nonsense about things relating to the higher worlds, even if it is only the one immediately next to our own, the physical world will not immediately show them to be wrong. This, then, is the reason why people may lose all control if they rush to escape the discipline which is imposed in the physical world.
Here we have one of the great problems which may arise when truths relating to the non-physical world are presented. Yet the answer always has to be that it is simply necessary to present these truths today. We must not forget that truths relating to the non-physical world cannot be received in the same frame of mind as truths relating to the physical world. To take them in we must slightly loosen the etheric and astral bodies; otherwise we shall only hear words. The state of mind has to be such — and with reference to the phenomena of the subjective inner life it merely is a state of mind — that for any real understanding of the things of the spirit one has to loosen the etheric and astral bodies a little. This loosening should only be a means of gaining understanding of the world of the spirit. It must not become an end in itself; this would be a very serious matter.
Imagine — to take an extreme case — someone comes to an anthroposophical lecture, not in order to gain insight into the realms of the spirit, which would be the right thing, but because he thinks this is truly mystical. As he listened he would let the words flow through him, as it were, because this would slightly loosen the ether body and the astral body. People certainly do come to lectures of this kind, sometimes also to those on pseudospiritual science, and listen in a kind of sleepy ecstasy; they are not really interested in the content, but more in the feeling of voluptuous pleasure which comes when the ether body and the astral body go partly outside the physical body. There may be other situations in life when to be thus ‘given up’, or ‘warm’, is a good thing; it is no good at all when it comes to revealing the truths relating to things of the spirit.
This must be properly understood. If spiritual truths are rightly understood, and if people are in all seriousness following the lines of thought used to develop concepts which may make the world of the spirit accessible to our understanding, their humanity will be enhanced and they will learn the things which have to be known at the present time for the salvation and further development of humanity. People who take these truths into themselves in the right way will also find their drives and instincts ennobled and raised to a higher level. By merely listening to spiritual truths they go through a development that is for the good.
Anyone who is not willing to accept anthroposophical truths in this sense but is perhaps doing so from some kind of purely personal interest — let us say he wants to belong to a society and has not found another one which suits him as well as the Anthroposophical Society does — anyone who comes to this Society with personal interests may indeed find that spiritual truths will first of all activate low instincts, and perhaps even the lowest of the low. It therefore does not come as a surprise that people who really should not be members but nevertheless do come and hear such things, find their lowest instincts brought to life. It is something that cannot be avoided at this time, for these things have to be made public and it is difficult to draw the line. The right way will only be found if those who have the inner justification to be part of such a movement use their wide-awake judgement and take themselves to task. People who in any way bring personal interests to bear, before or after leaving the Society, merely show that they never should have been members. And I think it is not really difficult to distinguish between personal interests and interest in objective understanding.
But it is not surprising that in the situation which has arisen because it is now necessary to make things generally known, it happens again and again that some of the instincts of the lower human nature come to the fore. The potential dangers must be consciously and clearly considered and ways must be found to correct them. If we take the right attitude to these dangers we shall certainly be able to meet them. This is very much a time — it is part of the chaotic situation we are in — when aberrations of this kind are far from uncommon. The tragic situation of today makes tremendous demands on the powers of many people. It is true to say that people who were not in the habit of working hard in the general rather than merely personal interest really have learned to work hard in the last three years. Many people have learned to work and to acquire general interests.
People who rightly belong to our movement will have come to it out of more than personal interest. Nevertheless, the present age does offer enormous opportunities for a kind of lazy outsider attitude. The specific constellation created by the war means that some people have really nothing to occupy them. If they are part of our movement they will also be aware of it. Before the war we had many lecture tours; a whole raft of people would get together and travel from one lecture to the next. Outer interest may have been lacking, but excitement could be found, and if this did not come from outside, people created their own excitements. This has now become difficult. It cannot be done. However, some people have not found a way of occupying themselves usefully. And that is why a lazy outsider attitude is to be found in our ranks exactly at this time, with people whiling away the time by creating all kinds of opposition. Being unable to get the excitement of travelling from lecture cycle to lecture cycle they find other ways of entertaining themselves. This merely shows the true nature of the interest that formerly made them travel from lecture cycle to lecture cycle.
When there is an inner obligation to represent anthroposophical truths before the world, in all seriousness and with dignity, you also know that more than fifty out of an audience of a hundred may well become opponents. That is a law; it is the way it is. If these fifty per cent of such people do not actually become opponents, there will be a reason for this, but it will not be because they are consistent. For reasons which have already been given and others that will be given, this is how matters are. Someone who represents anthroposophical truths is therefore not in the least surprised if there is opposition. We might take up the points that these opponents keep coming up with all the time, things they generally know better than anyone else to be untrue — for they do of course know that they are not true — but it would be much more useful to consider the sources from which such Opposition has Sprung.
All kinds of peculiar things will happen when we do so, and we shall then no longer feel inclined to take up the points that our opponents want us to take up. Instead, we are going to discover their true reasons. This can sometimes be more of an effort than to take up the points the opposition is making. Think of all the years in which lectures have been given here and how it has been necessary over and over again to say the same things I am also saying today, though this is always pointed out. But it is necessary to consider them with profound seriousness and dignity, and to consider them in a way which is fitting for an anthroposophical movement.
Believe me, I have more important things to do, if I am to lead this movement and be fully responsible for it, than to take account of the fact that three or four people, or even more if you will, get together and invent all kinds of gossip. I have more important things to do and never feel the inclination to go into such matters. But unfortunately this is so little understood! Even within this Society, there is more interest in excitement and sensation than genuine scientific interest. From the scientific point of view it is, for instance, interesting to study not only useful but also poisonous plants, but one has to find the right point of view. Very few of those who profess to follow anthroposophical spiritual science have even the least notion of the immense seriousness and importance of what it really should be. Forgive me for saying this. If there were the right seriousness and if the importance of this were really understood, people's attitudes would in many respects be very different from what they are. Of course I am not saying that people should turn their attention elsewhere. Rather the opposite: We should not turn our attention away from the phenomena which go hand in hand with the will to destroy this anthroposophical movement. But we have to find the right approach.
People may, for instance, write volumes in the way in which I have contradicted myself in my written works and with reference to all kinds of other things. One way of countering this would be to say that Luther was shown to have contradicted himself in hundreds of ways, not just a few dozen. His answer was: These asses are talking of contradictions in my works. I wish they would make the effort to try and understand just one of the things that appears to be in contradiction to other things! 5Martin Luther (1483–1546) religious reformer who led the German Reformation. He translated the Bible into the vernacular to make it accessible to everyone and wrote many works, their vigour still much appreciated today. The actual quote is: ‘How can these asses form an opinion on contradictory elements in our doctrine if they don't understand any aspect of those contradictory elements?’ From Ricarda Huch, Luthers Glaube, 10. Brief (translates as ‘10th letter’). So one way would be to point out something like this. But there is no need for this. For when people speak in opposition today it is not because they are interested in finding and revealing contradictions but for quite a different reason.
Someone 6Max Seiling (1852–1928), Austrian poet and writer. offered a manuscript to Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag, 7Philosophisch-Anthroposophischer Verlag is the publishing house established by Marie von Sivers in 1913 in Berlin for the publication of Rudolf Steiner's works. It moved to Dornach in November 1923. for instance. The publishing house was unable to use it and therefore returned it to the author. From this moment the author, who until then had been running after me wherever I went, became an opponent. The real reason was not that he had found contradictions. If that were the real reason we might use Luther's words. But we cannot do that, for the individual concerned can only be seen in his true colours if we know he is giving vent to his spleen because the publishing house was not able to publish his book. This was the real reason. So if we simply listen to the things people say, we shall have little opportunity for getting at the truth — just as little, perhaps, as the literary historian who would convert to reincarnation if this allowed him to continue in the belief that Hermann Bahr had Jewish connections. Conversion would be necessary if he were to be shown certificates of Christian baptism for Hermann Bahr's ancestors down to the twelfth generation.
Much is said about the courage which people are showing today. To assert the truths humanity needs today, in the sense I have spoken of, will need quite a different kind of courage — inner courage. But the place where this courage should be in the soul is occupied by cowardice, reluctance to take action, and this is tremendously widespread. In many respects it is due to this cowardice that anthroposophical spiritual science finds it so difficult to make its way today. It will make its way. But one should not sit back and accept; one should not think that things will go the right way without human involvement. One thing you will have to get used to — and it will be different from what you have been used to so far — is that I myself will have to be a lot less lenient in some respects than I have been until now. Do not think this is because I have changed my will and intention; you must look for the reasons in the existing situation.
You will have to understand that I cannot let the movement which I have to represent before the world go to the dogs in any old way. Forgive the expression. Higher duties are involved than people may dream of. I cannot be involved in whatever excitements or sensations some group or set may be desiring. Consideration must be given to many general and more important interests and impulses than to the purely personal ambitions which rule one set of people or another. To find the right way of presenting anthroposophy we simply must be able to set aside the purely personal element which for many is about the only thing that interests them today.
And so I must conclude here today with something which I have also been saying in all the other places where I have been speaking these days. There are many members of our anthroposophical science of the spirit who are truly dedicated and who have a clear idea of the seriousness of our work. But again and again there are others who do not belong and who behave in a way that simply would not happen if membership of the Society were limited to those who rightfully belong to it. Things keep coming up among members which are far removed from what is really intended; some of these can only be said to relate to what is really intended if one takes a totally distorted view.
Things are said by groups of people who have to be ignored — for our real interests go far beyond giving one's attention to the ambitions which are alive in those groups — things are said there, and people are beginning to believe them, which have no more to do with our true intentions than a dung beetle has to do with a pendulum clock. It is quite impossible to see how they go together. Yet fantastic stories created out of base instincts that are left to run riot are set in circulation. And this despite the fact that the people who generate them know full well that not a word is true. Such things can be explained in natural science, but we must also draw the logical conclusion and take the necessary actions. In the first place I am going to impose two rules an myself. Anyone who is going to speak of the one rule without the other, will be saying something which is not true. I have made these two rules known in all the places where I have been giving lectures in recent months.
In principle, I shall no longer continue to give private interviews to members of the Anthroposophical Society. For all those private interviews have led to reports which are full of lies. I have better things to do than refute the tales told by people who let their imaginations run riot, and so there is no other way but to discontinue these private interviews. Some individuals have a true esoteric impulse, and I will find other ways of making sure they are able to progress; it will just take while. The measure should not prevent anyone from progressing in esoteric development. But, generally speaking, all private interviews must now stop. This, then, is the first rule. Do not come to me, as people have done in some local groups, and say it is a harsh rule. No, do not come to me, go to those who are responsible.
The second thing is that I release everyone who has ever had a private interview with me from the promise not to talk about it, if they wish to do so. Anyone can tell anything they like about what has happened or been said in those private interviews — that is, in so far as they wish to do so. I am not going to prevent anyone from telling the whole truth about anything ever discussed with me in a private interview.
These two rules go together. The one does not apply without the other. And, as I said, if you think they are harsh, go to those who are responsible. Unless I am less lenient in these matters than I have been until now, the problems I am speaking of will not stop. As I said, I shall find other ways to make sure this does not harm anyone's esoteric development. Ways and means will be found. But, people being as they are today, it is not possible to establish such a science without things going badly astray on occasion, with people always jumping to the wrong conclusions. This is why there will have to be these rules.
People who take a serious and dignified approach to our spiritual-scientific development may find it difficult to understand how such things could come about, but they will accept the two rules as inevitable. From now on, everything will be entirely in the open. For there is nothing there which needs to shun the light! This is what is so shameful about it all: The truth and the whole truth could be told by everybody without leaving the least stain on our movement. But people have grown attached to something which has survived in our work as a continuation of earlier practices: to have individual interviews. 1f talking to individuals had not resulted in lies, the rule would not have been necessary. But everything ever said to any member can be truthfully told. Our movement can only gain from the truth — go and tell as much as you like. The truth will not be affected by the lies which are told; but it must not even appear to be affected, for it is important for humanity that anything presented out of a background of spiritual science is presented in a serious and dignified way.
So let me repeat once more: Without causing any loss to those who are seriously seeking esoteric development, I will generally no longer give private interviews for members. Everyone is free to tell everything they want about the interviews which have been given, but it must be the truth. I release everyone from whatever vow of silence there may be. But it should only be because individuals want to tell others for their own sake; they do not have to do it for my sake. And I have no objection to people spreading it about far and wide that these rules exist and are characteristic of our movement. Then the world will realize the infamous nature of the things that are so often said, especially about our Society.