9 December 1917, Dornach
As I have already remarked, we shall consider certain matters during these lectures which will then culminate, tomorrow or the next day, in an exposition of Historical Necessity and Free Will, will culminate by my having to show in what sense an historical event is necessary, and in what sense such an event — as something which, generally speaking, interferes in the soul-sphere of human life — could also be otherwise than it is. Indeed, at the present time — when such important occurrences are interfering in human life — this is a problem which is of very special, deeply penetrating significance; for, in face of the sad, catastrophic events of the present day (the war) every human being must indeed ask himself the question: — in how far are such happenings — and directly this present one — dependent on a certain necessity and in how far could the present occurrence have turned out differently, had it been able to assume a different aspect.
As we indicated, it will be our aim during these lectures to reply to this large, inclusive question with means that we can have at our disposal now in the occult basis that is to be explained in public lectures. But we must proceed from a more inclusive consideration of human life. We must deepen ourselves somewhat, from a certain aspect, in human nature itself For, as you are perhaps able to gather directly from the public lectures held recently, in human life the forces of that world are playing in which the human being finds himself between death and a new birth. Into this life — much more intensely than one imagines — are the forces playing, in which the human being is embedded, as the so-called dead. We are, as human beings, so fashioned — in the last lecture I drew attention more to the physical aspect — that in reality, the threshold between the everyday physical world and the spiritual world, cuts right through our midst. If we hold in mind our everyday life, and what we have considered the last time more from the physical side, today more from the side of the soul, then we may say: While we are incarnated here in the physical body, our human life runs its course in such a way that we have active in us, first, everything that can be experienced through the senses during our life, everything that is outspread around us, so to say, as a tapestry of the sense impressions, and from which we receive knowledge through our senses. Upon this world, then, everything is built which we elaborate out of this sense world, but which we also, independently of it, are able to interpenetrate in our thought life. When, however, we unite sense life and thought life, we have in reality everything in which we live with our usual waking consciousness.
From the moment we awaken in the morning until the moment we fall asleep, we are awake in reality only in our sense impressions and in our thought life. We are not awake at all, in the full sense of the word, in our feelings, in our feeling life. And there, between the thought life and the feeling life, practically unnoticed for the everyday consciousness, lies the threshold. For what interpenetrates our feeling life as a deeper reality does not actually come to consciousness at all in the human being. The feelings themselves do [not?] come to consciousness in him. They surge up and down out of a subconscious world. But the consciousness has really nothing more to do with feeling that we in sleep have to do with our dreams. Therefore it was possible recently to say here in Switzerland in public lectures: — While the human being lives in his feeling life, he is actually asleep and dreaming. The dream life extends itself over into our waking life. We are really continuously in a dream state from the moment of going to sleep to that of awakening, but only those dreams are remembered or enter our consciousness that are most strongly connected with our physical existence; dreaming continues on throughout the entire sleep life. Only in the deeper layers of our consciousness do we sleep, so to say, dreamlessly. But this dreaming and dreamless sleep life goes over into our feeling life, into the life of our affections. And we know no more of the reality, of the actual content of the ordinary consciousness in the non-clairvoyant consciousness of our feeling life, than we know what actually occurs when the images of the dream life run their course before us. Therefore it was also stated in these lectures that the human being does not inwardly experience the content of what is termed “History” with waking consciousness, but dreams it through, goes through it in a dream. History is what may be termed a cosmic dream of the human being. For the impulses that live in history live actually in feeling and emotional impulses. He dreams, while he inwardly experiences, history. Thus the life of feeling lies quite underneath the threshold of the real, waking consciousness. In this soul relationship also the boundary between the conscious and the unconscious life cuts right across the middle of the human being. In his will life the human being sleeps completely. For with his everyday consciousness he knows nothing about what actually lives in the will. His ordinary consciousness lives in the reality that expresses itself in the will in exactly the same way in which he lives in deep sleep. He follows consciously only that which, proceeding out of the will, has gone over into action. In this he awakens; in the execution of the will he cannot awaken. Therefore the philosophers continually quarrel about the freedom and the non-freedom of the will, because they are unable to penetrate into the region that can only be seen into with clairvoyant consciousness, the region out of which the will really draws its impulses.
Thus — I accentuate it once more — in the soul relationship also, the threshold lies between the actual physical world of waking life and the world which remains subconscious for him, lies in the midst of the human being himself, for this human being.
Now everything which the human being experiences and lives with between death and a new birth plays right into his life, insofar as it is the life of the feeling and the will — that is, insofar as it has been dreamt and slept through. What the dead live through is actually in the world in which we are living, in as far as we feel and will. Only we do not know with ordinary consciousness the realities that live in feeling and willing. If we could live through the reality which gives the basis of the feeling life, if we would live through especially the reality giving the basis of the willing life, just as in waking we live through the reality of the sense perceptions and the thought conceptions — the conceptions indeed to a minor degree, nevertheless to a certain degree — then would the departed, the man who has passed through the portals of death, be just as much beside us, in continual association with us, as someone who still walks about with us here on the physical plane, so that we are able to receive impressions from him in our waking consciousness by means of our senses and thought life. What is living in the impulses of the departed dead ascends continually within our feeling life, into the life of our will impulses. And only because we dream and sleep this away do we feel separated from the dead with whom we were associated.
In reality, however, the world in which the so-called dead live is quite different from the world in which we live while we are incarnated in the physical body. For observe, when you ask quite seriously: what then exists for the waking non-clairvoyant consciousness from the time of waking until going to sleep? The answer is: Only that which can be lived through in the world which is spread out as a tapestry of the sense impressions and also in the world we fashion out of it for ourselves by means of our thought conceptions. From this world, in the first place, everything belonging to the so-called mineral kingdom, for which the sense organs are used in perceiving, is not directly existent for the dead. To this mineral world belong, for example, also the stars, the sun and moon; in general everything belongs to it that is perceptible to the senses, and to it belongs also a large region of the plant world. These are regions that primarily do not lie open to the spiritual- and soul-eyes of the dead.
On the other hand there begins to open up already for the soul-eyes of the dead the world of which we are more or less unconscious when we direct our glance toward it — the glance which is of course veiled by the sense world — that is to say the world of impulses, of forces which live in the animals. This is for the dead the lowest world, in exactly the same way that the mineral world is the lowest world for us here in the physical body. Just as for us the plant world, which sprouts forth out of the mineral kingdom, builds itself up, so, for the dead, the human world, as soul world, erects itself upon the foundation that lives in the animal world. And just as the animal world forms the third category, which erects itself upon the mineral and plant world, so the kingdom of the Angels, Archangels, etc., forms a higher kingdom in the world of the dead.
The entire environment into which the departed one is transposed is thereby different from the environment in which we ourselves live in the physical body. For just conceive for a moment how it would be, were everything you perceive with the senses taken out of the world which you perceive with your physical body, about which you, in your physical body, form concepts. There would be something remaining over and above for the non-clairvoyant perception which can only have the appearance of a dream world, a world which can only be dreamed, which cannot live any more strongly in the consciousness than a dream. But the distinction becomes clearer if we hold the difference in mind in yet another way. Just notice that as long as we are incarnated in the physical body, the essential thing that lends character to our lives (the chief characteristic) is that we (although inwardly the matter is difficult as you know from other lectures) are able to have the consciousness that whatever we do with the beings of the mineral and plant kingdoms — as a result of our intercourse with them — remains relatively a matter of indifference to them. We act indeed under the influence of this thought just expressed. We break the stone calmly and have the idea that we do not cause the stone pain, nor also give it any joy. You know that inwardly the matter is somewhat different: but in as far as we human beings are in touch with the surrounding mineral world, we think with a certain justification that joy and pain is not at once aroused when we break a stone to pieces or do something similar.
In a like manner do we relate ourselves to the plant world. The human beings are now very rare who, for example, feel a sort of pain, have a somewhat similar feeling when a flower is plucked. The individuals, who in a certain sense still prefer to have the rose on the rosebush than to have the rose bouquet in the room, are not at all so numerous. It is only with the animal world that we begin to bring our human nature directly into relationship with the surrounding world. And yet let it be said once more: — the human beings are just now quite rare among present day people who have a feeling — only distantly similar to be sure — when plucking roses similar to the one they would have were the heads of animals being torn off in order to bind them together in a nosegay: — even among anthroposophists I have found that not everyone always prefers to have roses on the rose-bush — although indeed the feeling has already progressed so far that there has never been, let us say, a bouquet of nightingale heads presented in a hall! Now we are beginning to feel how the life that extends itself out of us continues on into our surrounding world.
The departed has no such condition. For him nothing exists at all in the environment for which he could not have the feeling that if he were only to stretch out a finger — this is now expressed quite symbolically, in imagery — then what is accomplished — through the sticking out of his finger, indeed, through any action whatever, yes, through everything done by the dead — would not bring about, would not release joy and pain in the environment. He does not enter at all into relationship with his surroundings unless he awakens joy and pain, unless there exists an echo of joy and pain. If you do something after you have passed through the portals of death, then through your action, wherever it may be, pain or joy, tension or relaxation of something is continually occurring which is similar to the feeling life. If we knock on a table we feel that it does not pain the table. The one who is dead can never carry out an action without knowing that he lives and weaves, not only into the living element, but into the living element filled with feeling. The feeling-filled incitement is spread out over his entire environment.
From another aspect you will find that described in the corresponding chapter of my book Theosophy. This world of incitement filled with feeling lives thus upon the lowest level there above in the animal kingdom. And just as we are acquainted with a certain external side of the mineral kingdom by means of our sense perceptions, so is the departed dead familiar, over the extent of his whole world, with the inner side, not with the outer form, but with the inner aspect of animal life. This animal life is the lowest basis upon which he lives, upon which he fashions himself, upon which he erects his existence. And a large amount of work of the dead consists in their placing themselves in direct relationship to the world of living animal creatures. Just as we here on earth, from childhood on, place ourselves in connection with the dead mineral world, so do we after death establish ourselves continually on a broad and expanding, growing relationship to the world of the living animal. This world the dead person learns to know on all sides. This world the departed learns to know through having to penetrate step by step all the secrets which here on earth are concealed from him, just as that is concealed from his soul which slumbers underneath his feeling life, for it is the same thing.
Granted, such a question as the one I now intend to interject cannot be allowed as a proper scientific one. But it can nevertheless point toward something behind which real relationships exist. It can be asked: why then is there so much really concealed from the human being here in the physical world by the governing power of the all-penetrating world wisdom? We can ask, why is that concealed into which the dead must be initiated, the mysteries of the construction of the whole animal world?
Directly when we attempt to answer such a question, we plunge into the deepest of all mysteries of existence. And in these considerations we shall have to try to understand this question also. In the first place, however, we must perceive how this comprehension of the inner side of the animal life really takes place.
Here I might proceed, in order not to become theoretical, from a fact of recent history. You know that in a certain external way human historical consciousness has experienced a change in modern times through so-called Darwinism. There has been an endeavor to find the forces by means of which the organisms evolve from the so-called imperfect condition. The Darwinists have named several kinds: — primarily the principle of special selection, survival of the fittest, the adjustment to environment, etc., I do not intend to come to you with these things which you indeed can read in every handbook on Darwinism, even in every encyclopedia. But I wish to point out that those are external, abstract principles: that for those who look deeper, nothing at all is said thereby. What actually happens is not shown when it is said: the perfection occurs through the selection of the fittest, the others gradually dying out and the fittest surviving. Here nothing is actually said about the forces, about the impulses that actually live in the animal kingdom — in order that these creatures may be able not only first to perfect themselves but also to be able to frame their life correspondingly in the ordinary present-day world. What really acts in the forces of selection, in forces that are put forward by Darwinism as forces of selection, as forces that are of a purely mechanically purposeful character. It is the dead working there. It belongs to the most astonishing and impressive experiences which can be made in the circle of the dead, to discover that just as here there are smiths and joiners and others who work in the world of mechanics, in the handicrafts, and thereby create the physical sensible basis of life here, so in the spirit realm, beginning with the animal kingdom and upwards, do the dead work. While the animal kingdom here in many respects is such that we feel it to be an inferior one — however, the mineral world lies indeed still lower — yet the very basis of the work of the dead is the furthering of the animal kingdom. Therefore, the departed become accustomed to living in all the skillfulness that is concealed from him, through the fact of his world of feeling being plunged down into the life of animal existence, during the life between birth and death.
You see, we come here to the point of view that until our age was held more or less secret by the brotherhoods that believed, partly justly, partly unjustly, that other men were not ripe enough for such things. If you gain the knowledge of what is related to the animal nature in the world of the dead, if you look about, you then see that all this belongs to the living element filled with feeling. The human being has also this living element filled with feeling in his soul. But in what way? Between birth and death he possesses it in such a way that were it not locked up in his subconsciousness he could at every moment employ this living element filled with feeling, which exists in the period between birth and death, for the destruction of the remainder of this element in the world. So just imagine what that really means. You yourself, in your personal life, live as a living-element-filled-with-feeling, which, however, is enclosed in the boundaries that are drawn into the physical human being. If human beings were to have this element generally, freely at their disposal — anthroposophists will already be more cultivated in this regard — then they could, in every instance, employ these concealed forces to destroy the living element filled with feeling that is lying in their environment.
The animal nature in the human being is primarily, even in the most exact meaning of the word, a destructive one. And it is even endowed with the capacity to destroy. And when the individual has passed through death's door, then it is his task above everything to tear out of his soul all the impulses that have then become free in such a way that there is really a very great deal remaining of the desire to destroy the living, to kill the living. And it can be said, that to have respect and reverence for all living things is something that the departed must learn above everything else. This reverence for everything living is something that can be looked upon as the self-evident evolution of the departed. So just as we here with inner participation follow a child which as a matter of course evolves from a small infant onward, gradually from day to day, from week to week, just as we follow up with this child the way the soul takes hold of the fleshly bodily nature, having great joy in what happens without the cooperation of the so-called free will, in what occurs there through the pure organic forces of the soul; so in a similar manner, when we follow up the course taken by the departed from the day of his death onward through his life after death, we again behold the development of the deepest reverence for all living beings in the environment, a development from which free will has been withdrawn.
This is something which, as it were, happens like an external side in the departed, just as with the child this occurs as an external side through its growing up, by its traits becoming more expressive. What increases externally in the child to our joy, in like manner increases in the departed by our discovering something radiating from him, more and more through his holding every living thing sacred in such an exalted way. But in this connection an important difference occurs between the life after death and the life here on earth. The life here has concealed by a veil just that in which the departed must deepen himself. We perceive the world through our senses and form for ourselves certain laws which we call the laws of nature, according to which we then form round about us our mechanical instruments, our tools. What we erect round about us according to the laws of nature is indeed essentially a world of the dead. We must even kill the plant, even the tree, when we wish to place its wood at the service of our mechanical arts. And again it belongs to the most staggering knowledge, that in reality everything which our senses teach us, when we apply it by means of our will, is something destructive and cannot be anything else but something destructive.
Even when we create a work of art we must take part in the world of destruction. What we thus create first arises out of destruction. A beneficent world wisdom has only caused us at first to shrink back, as human beings, from placing what lives (generally speaking, from the animal-world upward) at the service of mechanical art. In a certain higher sense, however, everything lives in the world. You will already realize this from the various accounts given during the course of the year. But what do we do in reality when we place at the service of mechanical art that which we perceive through our senses and combine through our understanding? We continually carry death into life. Even a Raphael painting cannot come into being unless death is carried into life. Before a Raphael painting arises it contains more life than afterwards. In the universe this is compensated only through the fact that souls appear who enjoy the Raphael painting and receive from it an impulse, a strong impression. The impulse, the impression which the creating or enjoying soul receives, this alone can help to overcome the forces of death, even when the highest treasure, the so-called highest spiritual possessions of mankind are created here on the physical plane. Essentially, the earth will be destroyed because through their mechanical acts human beings carry death into the earth in such a strong measure. The earth will no longer be able to live, because the forces of death prevail over that which can be saved and carried over into the world of Jupiter, beyond the decay of the physical earth. But out of what human beings have created by weaving together death and life — out of what they have thus created — they will have regained a soul content which they will then carry over into the world of Jupiter.
Death or the destruction of what is living, continually weaves into life, more than words can say; it weaves in human activity itself, through the fact that between birth and death [unreadable] human activity is intimately interwoven with the sense of [unreadable]. Indeed, consciousness arises because death weaves itself into life. Man would not accomplish his task on earth, as far as consciousness is concerned, were he not called upon to weave death into life. Even within ourselves we kill the life of the nerves the very moment in which we form a thought; for a really living nerve cannot form thoughts. In recent public lectures I have said that — “We enter into the life of our nerves through a constant death-process.”
In this respect the life between death and a new birth is the exact opposite. There it is essential for the human soul to acquire the habit of holding holy all that is living, of permeating the living with ever more and more life.
In this manner the life between birth and death is connected with death; the life between death and a new birth, with the life of the whole. An animal kingdom lives upon the earth only through the fact that man dies and sends his impulses from the spiritual world into the life of the animals.
The second thing which man learns to know after death is the kingdom of the human soul itself, regardless of whether these human souls are embodied here in physical bodies or have already passed through the gate of death. After death, man faces the animal world with the feeling that when he carries out an action, something experiences joy, or another being, at least something possessing being, suffers pain. He knows that he strikes against living reality when his spiritual force alone hits against this. Here it is more a universal living and weaving within living reality. In regard to the familiarity with what exists in our own human sphere after we are dead, it is so, that when another soul enters into a relationship with us, after we ourselves have passed through the gate of death, we become aware that our own life-feeling is either strengthened or diminished, according to the way in which we face this soul. Through our relation to a certain soul, regardless of whether it dwells here upon the earth or in the spiritual world, we feel that we become inwardly strengthened. Our companionship with this soul strengthens us in a certain way; our inner forces become stronger and at the same time more alive. We meet this soul and feel that it makes us more awake than we would have been otherwise. An intimate sense of life streams toward us with a certain intensity, through our companionship with this soul. Instead, the relationship with another soul may weaken us in the direction of certain forces and dim down our life, as it were.
Our companionship with souls consists therein that we feel our own life surging livingly in this relationship with the others. We live out our life of feeling and will as human beings between birth and death without knowing that the souls of the dead live in the waves of this life of feeling and will, which we sleep and dream away. They are always there; they live in the waves of our own feeling and will, and they live there in such a way that they experience this life with us. While we experience the surrounding world through our senses as something external, the dead live in the impulses of our feelings and will; they are far more intimately bound together with us than we, insofar as we are physically embodied, are bound together with our surroundings.
It is so that this life — or better, this experiencing, this inner presence in life — of the dead, develops gradually in accordance with the conditions that have been spun out during our life here. Assuredly we live together with all souls after death; this is true, but we know nothing about it. Relationships set in slowly and gradually; namely, with souls with whom we have formed connections during our life between birth and death. We cannot form new relationships, original connections with other human beings during the life between death and a new birth; we can form no such connections originally and directly. When we have loved or hated someone here, i.e., when we were connected with him either in a positive or in a negative way, this again rises from a gray spiritual depth, in the gradual awakening of the life after death, so that we live within these souls, as I have just described.
Thus, a great part of this experiencing, or this inner life-presence of the dead, consists in the fact that everything that exists in the form of a link with other souls, during our last or earlier incarnations, gradually rises up from a gray spiritual depth. This can widen out — and in the case of many departed souls it widens out very soon after death — but in an immediate way. Someone may die; he may have stood in some kind of relationship to a soul dwelling either on the earth or in the spiritual world. This relationship appears before him once more after death, as I have described just now. But this soul with whom he is linked up has relations with other souls, with whom, perhaps, he has never come into contact during any of his lives between birth and death. But here, after death, such souls can establish an indirect contact with the so-called dead soul, and thus enter into relationship with him.
But, as I have already said, these are never direct connections, for they are always mediated by the souls with whom we are linked up karmically through our physical life. The connection with souls where no relationship has been established during physical life is always quite a different one, and is transmitted through the soul who was connected with us in physical life.
You can easily realize, now, that first there are direct, then indirect relationships. Through the fact, however, that all souls are more or less connected with one another throughout the earth, and that during his long life between death and a new birth, man forms, indirectly at least, many new connections — through this fact, the human being enters a very wide field of mutual experience with other souls, if we also take into consideration these indirect relationships. Even when we are here on earth we have already within us this living-into other souls. In the spiritual world we have lived together with innumerable souls, over and over again. The feeling of being at one with all souls, which an abstract philosophy considers only abstractly, and discusses as an abstract at-oneness, has its quite concrete side. Namely, that souls are scarcely to be found over the whole earth with whom there is not at least a distant and indirect connection. We must grasp this fact as concretely as possible, then this will lead us to something real. What the departed experiences is thus a gradual growing into and awakening into a world based, in a wider sense, on his karma. An inward brightness that increases more and more spreads, as it were, over this world, as our experiences become richer in this second realm, which is based upon the animalic realm, just as our experiences in the plant realm are based upon the mineral realm. Our experiences become ever richer and richer.
Imagine this experience extending in all concrete directions, and you will obtain a great deal of that which permeates the soul of the departed between death and a new birth; for all thoughts that connect us in any way with other souls are bound up with this experience. Herein lies an infinitely rich world. Essentially is it so (you will gather this from the cycle on Life Between Death and Rebirth) that during the first half of this life between death and a new birth, the development is more filled with wisdom, more permeated with wisdom. In a wise way man becomes accustomed to the connections that he gradually draws up again out of the spiritual depth. He becomes familiar with all this in a very wise way. Essentially, the threads leading to all karmic relationships of a direct or indirect nature begin in what I have called in the Mystery Plays “The Midnight Hour of Being.” Then follows the further working out, and then an element of force, similar to the will, but only similar, not exactly the same — enters into the life of the soul. This element of force, similar to the will, makes the human being stronger and stronger. Above all, it strengthens those impulses in him that are added to the wisdom-filled survey of the world, as elements and impulses pertaining to the will, as impulses of force.
A certain form of will becomes active in man during the second half of the life between death and a new birth. If we observe this will (we can do this especially in the case of souls who, through this or that circumstance, have a shorter or a shortened life between death and new birth) we find that the will takes a peculiar direction, which may be characterized by saying — the will arises in order to wipe out in some way the traces of our life, the traces of karma.
Please grasp this quite clearly. Such a will, aiming at the effacement of the traces of karma, becomes more and more evident in man. This effacement of the traces of karma is connected with the deepest secrets of human life. Were man to have a continual and full survey of the wisdom which he can acquire very soon, comparatively soon, after death, then there would be numberless human beings who would prefer to wipe out the traces of their existence, rather than enter into new lives. The elaboration of our earlier lives into a karmic connection, which we achieve, can only be achieved because we are dulled by certain beings of the higher hierarchy during the second half of the life between death and a new birth; we are paralyzed in regard to the light of wisdom, so that we restrict our activity and our will- impulses more and more. And we must say that the aim of this is to restrict them in such a way that we create what can then become united with a physical human body in the stream of heredity, and can live out its earthly destiny in this physical body.
We can only understand these thoughts fully when we consider earthly destiny itself. How dream-like this earthly destiny is for man on earth! As a child he accustoms himself gradually to the conditions of earthly life. What we call destiny comes to him in the form of single life experiences. Out of the woof of these life experiences, something is formed which is in reality man himself. For think what you would be as far as the present day, had you not lived through your own particular destiny! You can indeed say — I myself am what I have experienced as destiny. You would be quite another human being had you experienced a different destiny. And yet, how strange destiny seems to be, how little interwoven with what man calls his ego! In how many countless cases the ego feels itself struck by destiny! Why? Because what we ourselves do towards the molding of our destiny remains hidden in the subconsciousness. What we experience takes up its place in the world of sense-experience and in the world of thoughts. It merely strikes against our feeling life. Our feeling life remains passive to this. What we have in common with the realm of the dead springs forth actively out of our feeling life and out of the life of the will impulses. What springs forth in this way, and what we ourselves do without our consciousness, by dreaming and sleeping through it, this forms our destiny; we ourselves are this. We dream and sleep through all we do toward the molding of our own destiny. We wake in what we experience as our destiny, but only because it remains unconscious. What is it that remains in reality unconscious? That which sounds across as impulses, out of earlier incarnations on earth, and out of the life between death and a new birth in a purely spiritual way — out of the regions where also the dead are to be found — a region which we dream and sleep away. At the same time, these are forces that come also from ourselves. They are the forces with which we mold our destiny. We weave our destiny out of the same region that the dead inhabit in common with us.
Think how we grow together with this world, of which we now know something to a certain extent — how we sleep through it and how we experience it — although we have not yet spoken of the experiences in connection with the beings of the higher hierarchies. This will also be considered. But what I wish to convey in a description of this kind is that we must place the realm of the so-called dead within the same realm in which we ourselves live, and we must become conscious of the fact that we feel separated from the dead (but in reality we are not separated from them) only because we dream and sleep away our feeling-life and will-life, where the dead are. However, something else can be found in this world that we dream and sleep away, something that man as a rule does not follow at all in his usual consciousness. Sometimes he becomes aware of this when it appears before him in specially striking cases; but these are exceptional, outstanding cases, which only draw attention to what is always permeating life and streaming through it. You yourselves will have heard of many cases resembling the following one: —
Someone is in the habit of taking a daily walk; it leads him to a mountain slope. He goes there every day; it is his special pleasure. One day he goes there again as usual. Suddenly, while he is walking, he hears something like a voice, although it is not a physical voice, which tells him: — Why are you taking this walk? Can you really not do without this pleasure? It speaks more or less like this. He begins to hesitate and turns aside, in order to think over what has just happened to him. In this instant a piece of rock rolls down; it would quite certainly have struck him, had he not turned aside.
This is a true story, but one that only points out sensationally something that is always present in our lives. How often you plan to do this or that — and this or that prevents you. Think how many things would have been different, even in the smallest experiences of life, had you started out at an appointed hour, instead of half an hour later, because something detained you. Think what changes have thus come into your life; what changes have also come into the lives of many other people! It is quite easy to picture this. Let us suppose that you have planned to take a walk at 3:30 PM; you were supposed to meet another person and to tell him some news that he, in his turn, would have told to someone else. Because you came too late you do not tell him this news; this was not done, and with a certain right. Here we see a universal order of laws that differs from the one that we describe as a necessity of Nature. It consists therein, that someone is prevented from continuing his walk because he hears a voice that causes him to turn aside, and thus saves him from being struck dead by the falling piece of rock. We feel that here a different world system is at work. But this world system permeates our existence always, not merely when such sensational events take place. Even in such matters, we are used to see only the sensational aspect of things. We do not notice this other world. Why? Because we turn our gaze toward the events that occur in our life and in our surroundings and not toward the events that do not occur, events that are continually being prevented, continually being hindered.
From a certain moment in spiritual experience, that which does not happen is held back from us. That from which we are, as it were, prevented, can rise up in our consciousness in the same way as that which does happen; except that it comes to our consciousness as another world system. Try to place this world system before your souls by saying to yourselves: man is accustomed to look only at what happens and not at what has been prevented from happening. What he does not notice in this case is intimately connected with the realm in which the dead are, in which we ourselves are with our dreamlike feeling and sleeping will. Within us, we cut ourselves off from this other world because dream and sleep play also into our waking life. All that seethes, lives and weaves beneath the boundary which separates our thinking from our feeling contains, at the same time, the secrets that build not only the bridge between the so-called living and the so-called dead, but also the bridge between the realm of necessity and the realm of freedom and of so-called chance.