Ancient Myths, Their Meaning and Connection with Evolution
Dornach 13th January 1918
We have seen that we approach certain riddles of the universe I and of mankind when we begin to observe man himself, seeing in his two-fold form something of the solution of the world-riddle. In meditating over all these things one can gain great help by thinking more deeply of the formula: The world as totality is a riddle, and man himself, again as totality, is its solution. We must not expect, however, to solve the world-riddle in a moment; human life itself in its completeness, what we experience between birth and death and again between death and a new birth — that is actually the solution of the world-riddle. So this is a very serviceable formula: The world is a riddle and Man is its solution.
We have seen that when we regard man's external physical form, we can distinguish in it the head-part and the remaining part. We can consider the head-part in its spherical form as an image of the whole cosmos, not only as a comparison but as an actuality. We can truly say that the whole starry heaven is at work to bring about the form, the shaping, the inner forces of the human head. Of course, it is also true — speaking lightly — that everyone has his own head. Man certainly has that. For as you know, the configuration of the starry heaven always differs, according to the special spot on earth and the special time at which one observes the stars. So that by taking the starry heavens, not in general, but in their configuration at the place and at the time in which the person is born, this must result in each person's having his special head according to the position of the stars in the heavens. Let us keep in mind that it is not the star-heaven in general that builds up our head, but its special configuration. And from the various studies we have pursued we can realize that a considerable part of man's task between death and rebirth consists in his becoming familiar with the mysteries, the spiritual secrets of the stars. One can even say in a certain sense, that the head is not merely given us quite passively but that we make it ourselves. Between death and a new birth we come to know all the laws that prevail in wide cosmic spaces. In fact, when we think of it spiritually, the wide universe is our home between death and a new birth. And just as here on the earth we learn to know the laws by which houses and other things are constructed, so in the time between death and rebirth we become familiar with the laws of the cosmos. And we ourselves take part in working in the cosmos. And from the cosmos, together with the purely spiritual beings who dwell there, we work chiefly upon the head. So that when the human head appears here in the physical world, it is only apparently determined by mere heredity from one's ancestors. I have said repeatedly that everyone acknowledges that the magnetic needle does not turn by itself to the North and the other pole to the South, but that cosmic forces are at work, namely, that the earth is working there. In the case of the magnet, people own that the universe plays a part, it is only when one comes to the origin of a living being that they are not yet willing to see that the whole universe participates in it. In the case of man, it is with the formation of his head that the whole universe is concerned. The head has not merely come about through heredity, from father, mother, grandparents, etc. but forces from the whole universe are at work within it. It is principally from man's limbs and members that the configuration of cosmic forces acts upon what is in his head. On the other hand, we actually receive the rest of our organism, in so far as it is physical, through a kind of hereditary transmission from the generations of ancestors.
Modern natural science, my dear friends, is moreover very close to the discovery of this from its own standpoint. In fact the natural science of today only struggles against those parts of the truth that are suggestive of Spiritual Science. Natural science is very near at many points to a meeting with spiritual science. I said in other lectures and have indicated the same thing here, that natural science is very near to a discovery of something that has met with opposition even in spiritual science. People who read my Theosophy often find themselves repelled by the chapter where I speak of the human aura and how man's forces of soul and spirit are expressed for clairvoyance in a colour aura that sparkles round him. Now Professor Moritz Benedict, whom I have often mentioned in other connections, has recently made experiments in Vienna with persons who have a gift for using the divining-rod. Professor Benedict did not make clairvoyant experiments; as he is very unwilling to acknowledge clairvoyance, but he made experiments in a dark chamber with those gifted for using the divining-rod, which has played such a great role in this war. You probably know that it has played a very special role in this war. Since water was needed for the soldiers, persons able to use the divining-rod were posted to various army-groups in order to discover springs of water for the men. This went on very largely in the southern areas of the fighting. Driven by necessity, of course, one had to do such things. Now in the camera obscura and with the method of natural science Professor Benedict has examined people who can find water or metals under the earth by means of the divining-rod. In the case of a woman who was quite small, he discovered that she showed under treatment in the camera obscura, an immense aura, so that she looked like a giant. He could even describe the right side as bluish, the left side as yellowish-red. This can all be read today as scientific findings, since Professor Benedict has published the whole matter in his book on the divining-rod. What has been observed by Professor Benedict through these methods is the aura, as I have mentioned on earlier occasions. It is not the aura of which we speak; we mean much more spiritual elements in man than this lowest, almost physical aura which Professor Benedict is able to find by natural means in the camera obscura. Still there is a connection. Precisely that part of my book Theosophy which has met with the most opposition and abuse, has thus shown its point of contact with ordinary science. Things will move quickly, and it will be the same with regard to what I have just touched upon. At no distant time, and purely from researches of natural science it will be possible to establish that what a man bears within him as inherited from ancestors is not the form of the head nor its inner forces, and that the head in fact is produced by forces of the cosmos. We should never be nationalistic, my dear friends, if we were to follow our head alone. The head is not in the least adapted to be nationalistic, for it is derived from the heavens, and the heavens are not nationalistic. All the dividing of men into groups that finds a place in our thoughts does not come from the head; it comes from that element through which we are connected with the hereditary stream of humanity. This of course plays into the head when man is living here between birth and death, for the rest of the organism continuously exchanges its nerve-forces and blood-forces with the head.
When we speak of heredity, however, and that the part of man which excludes the head received its forces from ancestors, we must only refer to the physical, for as regards the spiritual part of the remaining organism, it is another matter. And therefore it is very important for us now to consider a fact which can only be brought to light through spiritual science. Thus natural science will discover, as it has discovered the aura, the fact that the head is only influenced through heredity by being added to the rest of the organism. That man is only related to his ancestors in respect of the rest of the organism — this will be discovered even by natural science. But we touch upon another field which natural science cannot of course enter forthwith. Inasmuch as we are born we bear in our head the forces of the universe; they shape our head. A little, to be sure, can be outwardly substantiated. One who observes children in their development will perhaps know that in the very early days it can often be asked — whom does the child really resemble? And the likeness often only comes out strongly in later childhood — some at least of you will have already noticed that. It rests on the fact that the head is mainly neutral as regards earthly conditions; the rest of the organism must first affect the head (it can do so of course even in the embryonic stage) and then the features and so on can show a likeness to the ancestors. If one has a feeling for such things, one can see for oneself externally the truth that lies in this domain.
But the matter goes deeper. Between the spiritual universe — for the universe is filled with spirit and spirit-beings — and the earth on which we dwell there is an intermediary which is never at rest. A fine substance, which cannot be produced in the chemical laboratory since it does not belong to the chemical elements, streams in continuously on to the earth out of the wide universe. If one wants to draw it schematically, one can say: if the earth is here in universal space (see diagram), from all sides universal matter continuously streams in upon the earth, a fine universal substance (arrows inwards), and this fine substance penetrates a little below the earth's surface. So that this continually takes place — substances from the whole of cosmic space sink down towards the earth. It is not physical substance, not a chemical element, but actually spiritual, auric substance that sinks down below the surface of the earth. When we come down to earth from the spiritual world, to find a place in a human body, we use the forces that lie in this substance.
Now it is significant that this substance which streams into the earth and again streams out, is made use of by man when he
dies. He finds in the out-streaming substance, forces which take him into the spiritual world. This substance, which I have shown coming inwards towards the earth, enters the surface to a certain depth and then streams away again (arrows pointing outwards). So that one can continually perceive a sort of inbreathing of ether or auric substance into the earth, and again an out-breathing.
This is an observation which is not so very easy to make. But if it has once been made, if one has once realized that the earth actually inhales and exhales spiritual substance continuously, then one knows how to apply it to all circumstances and, above all, to human life in the way I have just described. Thus we come into our bodily nature with what I have indicated as inwardly directed arrows, and with those pointing outwards, we pass out again in death.
In this case I will relate how I came upon this fact years ago. The forces that play here, the in-streaming and out-streaming forces, are not solely concerned with human life, but with every possible kind of earthly condition. Now a special problem for me was how matters stood with the cockchafers — yes, cockchafers. Cockchafers are in fact extraordinarily interesting because, as you probably know, when there are a great many cockchafers in a year then in three to five years there are very many grubs — (their larvae). These grubs affect the potato crop very seriously, one gets very bad crops if there are many grubs. And a man who has anything to do with potato culture knows that there will be a bad crop three to five years after a year in which there are great numbers of cockchafers. Now I had looked on that as an interesting fact, and then I discovered that the life of the cockchafer is connected with the in-streaming substance and the life of the grubs with the out-streaming substance. I will only stress this as a matter by which you can see how one comes upon such things from quite a different side. One comes to such things with the most certainty when one does not observe them on the direct object but on a relatively indifferent object, to which one can most easily maintain a neutral attitude. You see, however, from this that the substances of which I have spoken, penetrate under the earth and remain there for a time. The substance that in a certain year streams in, only streams out again after several years. This is also connected with the fact that the out-streaming substance is on the whole heavier than the instreaming substance. This latter is more active, streams in quicker, the out-streaming substance is heavier and streams out more slowly.
When one makes intensive observation of human life one can see how man makes use of the forces in the instreaming substance when he comes out of the universe to birth. Then in later years he loses connection with them. You will realize from what has been said that it is the head which is chiefly concerned with this instreaming substance. But the human head is a hard globe. It is indeed a hard globe, and among all the organs it is the most ossified. And thus, relatively early — not in childhood, but relatively early — it loses connection with the instreaming forces. Hence its formation and development are finished early. Man continues in his childhood his union with these instreaming forces and then they cease to influence him, at least this is so in our time-cycle. It was not always so on earth — I will speak of this presently — but it is so in our time. Now while man lives here on earth, the rest of his organism, apart from the head, takes possession of the out-streaming substances and their forces. This remaining organism imbues itself with them, and it is these forces which can rejuvenate the organism from without, as I indicated yesterday. They are the rejuvenating forces which act upon the etheric body, and which, while we are growing old physically, make it more and more chubby-faced. Thus the human being, as etheric man becomes chubby. In this process undergone by the etheric body that is connected with the remaining organism there work the forces streaming out of the earth. And it is these too which we use when we go through the portal of death to return to the cosmos, to the spiritual world.
The earth, as you see, has a share in our life, is inwardly interested in it. And something is connected with what I have now said that can very easily be brought into a formula, into an essentially important formula. For a long time we live as souls between death and rebirth before we enter physical life through birth, and again we live as souls when we have passed through the gate of death, even up to our next incarnation. The dead live a spiritual life, and this life is connected with the stars as here on earth we are connected with physical matter. Since our head has been formed and shaped by the forces which we have lived through between death and a new birth, since we build up our head, as it were, out of cosmic forces, our own real being of soul and spirit fairly early finds its spiritual grave in our head. We possess the head-forces that we have here on earth because our head is actually the grave of our soul-life as we led it before birth, or before conception. Our head is the grave of our spiritual existence. But inasmuch as we have come down to the earth, the rest of our organism is adapted to make us resurrect, for it takes up the forces which stream from the earth into universal space, in order to form its spiritual element. And whilst our physical organism falls away from us, our spiritual part with our forces that stream out from the earth passes through cosmic space into spirit existence.
This is the wonderful polarity that prevails in the universe in regard to man. We become physical out of the spirit, burying our spirit nature in the head, in the head is the end of our spiritual existence before birth. Here upon earth it is reversed. We leave the physical behind; the physical goes to pieces gradually during our life and the spiritual arises. We can say therefore: Birth denotes the resurrection of the physical, the spiritual being changed into the physical; death denotes the birth of the spiritual, the physical being given over to the earth, just as the spiritual is given over to the universe through our birth. We give our spiritual element to the universe by reason of our being born, and by reason of our dying we give over to the universe our physical element. By giving our spiritual part to the universe through our birth, we are physical human beings. By giving our physical part to the earth through death we are spiritual human beings in the period between death and a new birth. That is the polarity. 1See: ‘Prayers for mothers and children’ — and ‘Earthly Death & Cosmic Life’. And our life here consists in developing our spirit organism. But we can only develop it in the right way for our present earthly cycle when what I said yesterday is taken into consideration. That is to say, when one reaches the point where both members of human nature enter into a real correspondence, when head-life and heart-life enter into correspondence with one another, and the shorter head-life really lives itself into the whole man. Thus the whole man can then be rejuvenated during the lifetime to be lived through, when in fact the head has long since lost its mobility, its power of inner development.
It will be the special task of a future educational science to make anthroposophical spiritual science so fruitful that the human being comes to feel how he is built up out of the cosmos, how he actually ‘shells himself’ from the cosmos and how he gives back to the cosmos what he has won for himself upon earth. This education must be given through all sorts of narratives, all sorts of things which are adapted moreover to youth — but so adapted that one can keep one's interest in them through every age of life. I only beg of you, my dear friends — I will not say to think-through something, for that is not of much use — to feel-through, thoroughly to feel-through something. Here too, you see, is a point where modern natural science is already concerning itself with what can be investigated through spiritual science. I have mentioned how intelligent geologists have expressed their view that the earth is already in a dying-out condition. The earth has overstepped the point where as earth-being she was actually in the middle of her life. In the excellent book by Eduard Suess, The Countenance of the Earth, you can read how the purely materialistic geologist Suess states that when one walks over fields today and looks at the clods of earth, one has to do with something dying out that once was different. It is dying out. The earth is dying. We know this from Spiritual-Science, since we know that the Earth will be transformed into another planetary existence which we call the Jupiter existence. Thus the earth as such is dying away. But man, that is the human-race as sum of spiritual beings, does not die with the earth; humanity lives beyond the earth, as it lived before the earth was Earth, in the way I have described in my Occult Science. And so one can permeate oneself — not in thought as I said, but in feeling and experience — with the conception: ‘I stand here on this earthly soil, but this ground on which I stand, in which I shall find my grave, has but a transitory appearance in the cosmos.’ How then does a next earth, a new planet, arise out of this earth, on which the humanity of the future can dwell? Through what does it arise? It arises through the fact that we ourselves carry piece by piece what is to form this new planetary existence. We human beings — the animal kingdom is also to some extent involved — inasmuch as we always carry within us something belonging to the next life, are already here during our physical life preparing the next planet that will follow the earth's existence. In the forces that go back again lies what is to be the future of the earth. We do not live merely in the present, we live in the future of the earth, but we have to keep returning into incarnation since we have many things still to fulfil on earth as long as earth exists. But we are involved in the future life of the earth. We have said that the earth breathes spirit-substance in and out. In the in-breathed substance we carry the past and the laws of the past, the forces of the past. In what is breathed out, given back again by the earth we bear in us what belongs to the future. In the human race itself rests the future of the earth's existence.
Think of all this made really fruitful with feeling and warmth, instead of all the stupid things that are imparted to the young nowadays: think of this made alive in hundreds and hundreds of vivid narrations and parables and brought to youth! Then think what a feeling towards the universe would be aroused — what there is to do! What there is to be done if our civilization is to go forwards — what there is to do concretely! This is very important to consider. And it can be considered all the more since it is connected with what I have called the rejuvenation of man. That present-day humanity has come to such calamities is connected with the fact that it has lost the secret of changing head-life into heart-life. We have hardly any real heart-life. What people generally speak of is the life of instincts and desires, merely that, not the spiritual element of which we have spoken. Today men let what streams out into the universe just peacefully stream out, and they do not bother themselves about it. They pay no attention to it.
Some individuals instinctively take it into account. I have recently given an example of how individuals take it into account, in which case however they differ very much from others. I have related the difference between Zeller and Michelet, the two Berlin Professors. I have said that I spoke with Eduard von Hartmann about the two men, just when Zeller had obtained his pension, since at seventy-two he no longer felt able to hold his lectures at the University. But Michelet was ninety-three years old. And Hartmann related how Michelet had just been there and had said to him ‘I don't understand Zeller, who is only seventy-two years old saying he cannot go on lecturing. I am ready to lecture for another ten years!’ And with that he skipped about the room and rejoiced over what he would lecture upon next year and could not imagine how that lad Zeller, the seventy-two-year-old Zeller, put in a claim to be pensioned off — no more to address the students!
This keeping young is connected with a proper mutual action taking place between head and heart. This can of course happen in the case of single individuals, but on the whole it can only occur rightly even in single individuals, when it passes over into our civilization, when our whole cultural life becomes imbued with the principle that it should not have mere head-life but heart-life as well. But you see, to acquire heart-life needs more patience. In spite of the fact that it is more fruitful, more youth-giving to life, yet for heart-life more patience is required than for head-life. Head-life ... well, you see, one sits down and crams. When we are young we prefer to stick to our cramming in spite of all the talk of the pedagogues. For, my dear friends, certain customs have remained from earlier times, when things were still known atavistically, but people no longer attach a right meaning to such customs. I will remind you of one.
Everything that has been preserved from relatively not very early times, before materialism had become general, has a deeper meaning. In recent decades the habit has already been lost, but when I was young — it is some time since — there was an arrangement in the Grammar School — in the Lower School in the second Class — to have Ancient History, and then in the fifth Class one had Ancient History again. Those who planned such regulations at that time no longer knew why it was so, and the teachers who dealt with these matters did not act as if they were aware of the reason. For anyone who had been aware of it, would have said to himself. ‘When I give history to a boy in the second Class, he crams it, but what he takes in needs a few years for it to become at home in his organism. Therefore it is a good thing to give the same again in the fifth Class, for only then does the knowledge that entered this poor head three or four years ago, bear its good fruits.’ The whole structure of the old grammar school was really built up on these things. The monastic schools of the Middle Ages had still many traditions derived from ancient wisdom, a wisdom that is not ours, but one that — preserved atavistically from olden times — arranged such things logically.
In fact it needs the principle of patience if life of the head is to pass over into life of the heart. For the head-life quickly unites with us, the heart-life goes more slowly, it is less active — so that we must wait. And today people want to understand everything all at once. Just imagine if a modern man had the idea of learning something and then had to wait a few years in order fully to understand it. Such a principle is scarcely to be associated with the frame of mind of modern men. The feelings of modern men lie along very different lines.
One can find examples of this and it is well to point them out. Two plays have lately been produced in Zurich by people connected with The Anthroposophical Society, in fact it has been widely pointed out that the two people are connected with the building in Dornach, with Spiritual Science and so on. In this case, to be quite just, it must be owned that these two Zurich performances by Pulver and Reinhart have really been very well received in Switzerland. But one can find remarkable things in the correspondence that has gone out from Switzerland. The foreign correspondents have shown themselves, well, less interested, shall we say, than in this case the Swiss audience themselves. Thus I have had a newspaper given me in which these two Swiss first performances by Pulver and Reinhart were discussed, where the correspondent cannot forego pointing out that the two authors are connected with our Movement and have drawn a good deal from it. Today people are not only afraid of the wrong teaching of the Gnosis, as I related yesterday, but they are afraid of anything concerning the life of spirit. If something about world-conception creeps into anything — Oh, that is dreadful! And this actually rests on the fact that there is no feeling for this relation of head-life and heart-life. All life to be found in mankind today outside the head is purely life of instinct and desire; it is not spiritual. And so the life of instinct and desire is irritated with the mere head-life. Head-life is very spiritual, very intellectual today, but more and more will it become — can one say — ‘un-purified’ by the instinct and desire life. Hence thoughts come forth in a very curious way. And this correspondent of whom I speak — you can perhaps best judge of the confusion of his head through his instincts if I read you a characteristic sentence showing his fear that questions concerning world-conception play into these plays of the two authors. Just think, the man goes as far as writing the following:
‘But Pulver's belief in Christ ought to grow out of depths of sorrow and doubt if from the stage he wished to win disciples. The star flower plucked by Reinhart's seeker after Paradise at his studio window in the very first scene ought to bloom only at the end and from a bleeding heart.’
And now comes the sentence which I mean:
‘Both poets had their world conception already complete in their head as they began to write; it would have been better for the dramas if they had had to wrestle for their religion as they wrote.’
Now just think of that: nowadays one manages to make it a serious fault for anyone with a world conception to write! One is supposed to sit down as a perfect fool in face of the world to scribble away, and then in the scribbling, at the end, a world-conception is supposed to spring forth. Then the thing is produced at the theatre, and this is supposed to please the audience! Just imagine such stupid nonsense being actually spread abroad in the world today; and many people do not notice that such rubbish is being circulated.
Such things simply depend on the fact that the life of the head is not worked on by the whole man. For of course the journalist who wrote that was a very ‘clever man’. That should not be disputed.
He is very clever. But it is of no possible use to be clever, if the cleverness is mere head-life. That is the important thing to keep in mind; that is extraordinarily important.
Here we touch upon something fundamental, very necessary to our present civilization. One can make such observations in fact at every turn. Logical slips are not made today because people have no logic, but because it is not enough to have logic. One can be wonderfully logical, pass examinations splendidly, be a brilliant University Professor of National Economy, or any other subject, and in spite of being so clever and having any amount of logic in one's head, one can nevertheless go off the rails again and again. One can accomplish nothing connected with real life, if one has not the patience to lead over into the whole man what is grasped by the head, when one has not patience to call on the rejuvenating forces in human nature. That is the point in question. Anyone having to do with true science, such as spiritual science, knows that he would be ashamed to give a lecture tomorrow on what he had found out or learnt today — because he knows that that would be absolutely valueless. It would only have value years afterwards. The conscientious spiritual investigator cannot lecture by giving out what he has only recently learnt; but he must keep the things continually present in his soul so that they may ripen. If he brings forward what he has only just acquired he must at least make special reference to the fact, so that his audience may make note of it. One will only be really able to see what the present time needs if one bears in mind these demands on human nature. For what is necessary for the present age does not lie where today it is mostly sought; it lies in finer structures that nevertheless are everywhere spread abroad. One really need not touch on politics in calling attention to the following:
There are numbers of people today — more than is good for the world at any rate — who are of opinion that this war must continue as long as possible so that, from it, general peace may arise. If one ends it too quickly, one does peace no service. In the last few days — in what I say now I am passing no judgment on the value or lack of value of the so-called peace negotiations between the Central Powers and Russia, but it has been interesting all the same in the last few days to see what a curious sort of logic it is possible to work out. I have been given an article that is really extraordinarily interesting in this sense. The gentleman in question (his name is of no consequence here) argues against a so-called separate peace because he considers that through it universal peace would not be furthered. A direct way of thinking — but one perhaps that has gone a little deeper — might rather say to itself ‘Well, we may make a certain amount of progress if at least in one spot on earth we leave off mowing each other down’. That would perhaps be a straightforward, direct mode of thinking. But a thinking that is not so direct might be thus expressed: ‘No, one really dare not leave off in one place, for in that way “universal peace” would not be promoted.’ And now the gentleman in question gives interesting explanations — that is, explanations interesting to himself — as to how people quarrel over words. It is his opinion that those people who say ‘One must be enthusiastic about any peace, even if it is only a separate peace’, are only hypnotized by words. But one must not be dependent on words; one must go to the core of the matter, and the matter is just this — that a separate peace is harmful to the general peace of the world. Among the various arguments that the gentleman adduces is one of the following sentence, an interesting sentence, a most characteristic one for the present day — where is one to begin, not to reduce matters too much to the personal? — Well — ‘Whoever is honest must admit that this is the motive of many’ (not all!) ‘among us who so delight in a “separate peace” and in Lenin and Trotsky’, (he means that enthusiasm for the word ‘peace’ is the motive) ‘while at the same time they shout tirelessly against anti-militarists and show little appreciation for our Lenins and Trotskys’. (He is speaking of Switzerland.)
‘We, however, who are not dupes of any word, but want to get at the matter itself, we do not want simply German peace, but peace, we want general peace. For us the word “separate” is a contradiction to the word “peace”.’
(If one goes into it seriously, one must carefully distinguish between peace and peace! Moreover the article is headed ‘Peace and Peace’.)
... ‘We too who do not want German peace, but peace, we want general peace. For us the word “separate” stands in contradiction to the word “peace”.’
Thus the gentleman who inveighs throughout the whole article against the worship of a word, then writes the following:
‘... For us the word “separate” stands in contradiction to the word “peace”. Separation is the principle of strife, not the principle of peace. After this World-War we need a World-Peace in which all nations come at the same time to a great mutual agreement. What we see in Brest-Litowsk, this game of a select circle of diplomats, imbued with all the subtleties of diplomacy, with the naiveté, the idealism, (also the dogmatism) of the representatives of a new order, is a spectacle that can please no one who wishes the ideal to remain pure. It is to be feared that we may get a Devil's peace, which will only produce more frightful war, instead of God's peace which finally leads to an end to all war.’
Well, my dear friends, this is certainly logic, for the article is written with ingenuity; it is brilliantly ingenious. This article ‘Peace and Peace’ is even boldly and courageously written in face of the prejudice of countless people, but its logic is devoid of any connection with reality. For the connection with reality is only found through that of which we have spoken, through the maturing of knowledge; what the head can experience must be reflected upon in the rest of man and this must mature. It may be said that what the very clever men of today lack most of all is this becoming ripe. It is something that is connected with the deepest needs and deepest impulses of the present. You see, the present day has no inclination at all to go in for the study of these things. Naturally I do not mean that every single person can go in for such study, but men whose métier is study, ought to occupy themselves with such things, and then that would pass over into the common consciousness of mankind. For do we not find that journalists — with all respect be it spoken — write what they find accepted as general opinion.
If instead of Wilsonianism or some such thing, Mohammedanism were to be represented as the accepted common opinion, European journalists would write away about something Mohammedan. And if spiritual science had already grown into a habit in human souls, then the same journalists who today grumble at Spiritual Science would, of course, write very finely in the sense of Spiritual Science. But nowadays there is a disinclination to go into such things among the very people whose task it should be.
You see, as man stands here on the earth, he is really connected with the whole cosmos. And I have said before that what holds good today on earth has naturally not always held good. That we may be informed at least about the most important things, we shall speak now principally of the period of time since the great Atlantean deluge, the Flood. Geology calls it the Ice Age. We know that changes took place in mankind at that time, but there was a humanity upon earth even before this, although in a different form. (You can read in Occult Science how mankind lived then.) The Atlantean evolution preceded the present evolution. In that part of the earth, for instance, where the Atlantic Ocean is today — as we have often said — there was land. A great part of present-day Europe was then under the sea — conditions on earth were quite different during the age of this Atlantean humanity. The ancient Atlantean civilization went down. The Post-Atlantean has taken its place. But the Atlantean followed the so-called Lemurian civilization, which again had several epochs. Thus we can say that we are in the post-Atlantean civilization in the fifth epoch, following the first, second, third and fourth epochs. Before this was the Atlantean civilization with its seven epochs (see diagram), before this again was the Lemurian civilization with its seven epochs. Let us turn our attention to the seventh epoch of the Lemurian civilization. It lies approximately 25,900 years before our epoch. It was about 25,000-26,000 years ago that this seventh epoch of the Lemurian age came to an end on earth. However remarkable it may sound, there is a certain resemblance between this seventh Lemurian epoch and our own epoch. Similarities are as we know always to be found between successive periods, similarities of the most diverse kinds. We have found a close similarity between our age and the Egypto-Chaldean. We will now speak of one which is more distant; there is also externally, cosmically, a resemblance. You know that our epoch which begins in about the 15th century of the Christian era is connected with the cosmos through the fact that since that time the sun has its Vernal Point in Pisces, in the constellation of Pisces, the Fishes. The sun had previously been for 2,160 years in the constellation of Aries, the Ram, at the Vernal Equinox. Here in this seventh Lemurian epoch (left) there were similar conditions. Twelve epochs ago the sun was in the same position. So that towards the end of the Lemurian age there were conditions similar to ours.
This similarity contains, however, an important difference. You see, what we acquire today of inner force of spirit and head-experience, as we have described it in these studies, was also experienced by the Lemurian human being of that time, though in a different manner. The Lemurian man was constituted in quite a different way from the man of today, as you may read in my Occult Science. What could enter into him out of the universe, really entered right in. So that the Lemurian man received practically the same wisdom as the man of today gains I through his head, but it streamed into him out of the universe, I and only in this sense was it different. His head was still open, his head was still susceptible to the conditions of the cosmos. Hence powers of clairvoyance existed in ancient times. Man did not explain things to himself logically, he did not learn them, but he beheld them, since they entered his head out of the cosmos, whereas today they can do so no longer. For what comes in ceases in relatively early youth. As I have said, the head no longer stands in such intimate relation to the cosmos. That is so in the present epoch, at that time it was not so; at that time the head of man still stood in much more inward relation to the universe; at that time the human being still received world-wisdom. This did not lack that logic which is nevertheless lacking in what man gains for himself today. That original wisdom was an actually inspired wisdom, one that came to man from without, arising from divine worlds. Present-day man is unwilling to consider this; for modern man believes (forgive me if again I express myself somewhat drastically) that ever since he has been on earth he has had a skull as hard as it is today. This, however, is not true. The human head has only closed in relatively recent times. In ancient times it was responsive to cosmic in-streamings. Only an atavistic remainder is still there. Everyone knows that when he observes a child's head (a really young child's head) there is still one place that is soft. This is the last relic of that openness to the cosmos, where in ancient times cosmic forces worked in a certain way into the head and gave man cosmic wisdom. Man at that time still had no need of that correspondence with the heart, for he had a small heart in the head that has become shriveled and rudimentary today. Thus does the human being change. But conditions alter over the earth and man must grasp this and change too — adapt himself to other conditions. We should have been perpetually tied to the apron-strings of the cosmos, if our head had not ossified. We are shut off in this way from the cosmos and can develop an independent ego within us. It is important that we bear this in mind. We can develop an independent ego by reason of having acquired physically this hard skull. And we may ask when mankind actually lost the last remnant of the memories, the living memories of the ancient archetypal wisdom? This remnant really only faded away in the epoch that preceded ours, the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, during the Greco-Roman civilization. Human beings had then, of course, long since possessed closed skulls, but in the Mysteries there still existed original wisdom preserved from quite ancient times, from the epoch that preceded the Lemurian Pisces-age, from the Lemurian Aries-age.
As much as man could have of his ego in the Lemurian times was also revealed to him from the cosmos; his inmost soul-force was manifested to him from the cosmos. This came to an end in the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, the Greco-Latin time. The heavens closed their last door to man. But instead they sent down their greatest Messenger precisely at that time, so that man can find on earth what he formerly received from heaven — the CHRIST. The Mystery of Golgotha is indeed a cosmic fact, inasmuch as there would have ceased for man what had been revealed to him from the heavens, cosmically revealed, from Lemurian times. Then there appears the Impulse which can reveal it to him from the earth. Only man must gradually develop what has been revealed to him from the earth in the Christ Impulse, and develop it, precisely by that process of rejuvenation of which we have been speaking.
Now, it is a result of this human development that we bear something within us today that is — so to speak — quite wonderful. I have already mentioned in yesterday's lecture that the knowledge of our time is the most spiritual it is possible to have; man however does not remark it because he does not let it mature. What can be known today about nature is far more spiritual than what was formerly known. What man formerly knew brought down certain realities out of the cosmos. In the stars, as I mentioned yesterday, the Scholastics of the Middle Ages still saw angelic Intelligences. Modern Astronomy does not of course see any angelic Intelligences, but something that one can calculate by mathematics or mechanics. But what was formerly seen has been thoroughly passed through a sieve; it is there, but sifted to the last vestige of spirituality. It belonged to the quite lovable genius of Novalis to see rightly in this point. In the Aphorisms of Novalis you find the beautiful expression — I have often quoted it — ‘Mathematics is in truth a great poem’. But in order to see how mathematics, by which one also calculates the worlds of the stars and their courses, is a great poem, one must be oneself a poet, not as the modern natural scientists are perhaps, but such a poet as Novalis. Then one stands in wonder before the poetry of mathematics. For mathematics is phantasy. Mathematics is nothing observed through the senses, it is phantasy. It is, however, the final product of phantasy that has still a connection with the immediate external reality. Mathematics in fact is Maya thoroughly passed through a sieve. And if one learns to know it, not merely in the schoolmaster sense that prevails in the world today, but learns to know mathematics in its substance, learns to know it in what it can reveal, then one learns indeed to know something in it that has as much reality as an image that we see of ourselves in a mirror, but which nevertheless tells us something, in certain circumstances tells us a good deal. But to be sure, if one considers the mirror image as a final reality, one is a fool. And if one even begins to want to hold conversation with the reflection because one confuses it with reality, one is not really looking for reality at the right spot. Just as little can reality be found in the mathematical calculations in Astronomy. But the reality is certainly there. As a mirror reflection is not there without the reality, so the whole spiritual existence, that is calculated purely mathematically, is there; it is only passed completely through a sieve, and must force its way back to reality.
Precisely because our age has become so abstract, has been formed so purely by the head, it has such an immense spiritual content. And there is actually nothing that is so purely spiritual as our present science; it is only that men do not know nor value this. At any rate it is almost ridiculous to be materialistic with modern science! For it is a funny way of going through life if one takes modern science materialistically, and yet almost all learned men do take it thus. If one asserts, with the ideas that modern science can develop, that there is only a material existence, it is actually comic; for if there were only a material existence, one could never assert that there was a material existence. Merely by making the statement ‘there is a material existence’ — this action of the soul is in fact the finest spiritual element possible, it is a proof in itself that there is not solely a material existence. For no person could assert that there was a material existence if there were only a material existence. One can assert all sorts of other things, but one can never assert that there is a material existence, if one only accepts a material existence. By asserting that there is only a material existence one actually proves that one is talking nonsense. For if it were true what one asserts, if there were only a material existence, nothing could ever arise from this material existence which became somewhere or other in a person the asserting — which is a purely spiritual process — ‘There is a material existence’.
You see from this that nowhere has such a logical proof been put forward that the world is of the spirit, as by the science of our time which does not believe in it — that is to say, does not believe in itself — and by our whole age, which does not believe in itself. Only because mankind has spiritualized itself increasingly from epoch to epoch and has arrived at having such sharply refined concepts as we have today, only because of this has mankind reached the point of now seeing solely the quite ‘sieved’ concepts and can of its own volition connect them with the heart forces. This is shown very plainly now in external life, it is shown too in the great catastrophic events.
For, my dear friends, if one really studies history, there is a great difference between what is now called the present world-war — which is really no war at all, but something else — and earlier wars. People today are not yet attentive to these things, but in all that is going on this distinction is shown. One could refer to many proofs of the fact that this is shown. But you see, there are many men who speak from the standpoint of a quite particular ingeniousness in such an unclear way as the man from whose article I read you a sentence. For this modern acuteness gets to the point of again and again defending the peculiar sentence ‘One must prolong this war as long as possible so that the best possible peace may be established’. No one would have spoken like that about earlier wars. In many other respects too they would not have spoken as is spoken today. People do not yet notice that, as I said, but nevertheless it is so. If you take all earlier wars you will always find that fundamentally in some way or other men could say why they were waging war. (I will bring forward two things to illustrate this, though hundreds might be brought forward.) They wanted something definite, clearly to be outlined, to be described. Can the men of today do this? Above all, do they do it? A great part of those who are heavily involved in the war, do not do it. No one knows what really lies behind things. And if someone says that he wants this or that, it is generally so formulated that the other has no real idea of what he wants.
That was certainly not the case in earlier wars. One can go through the whole of world history and not find it. You can take such grievous events in earlier times as, for instance, the invasions into Europe of the Tartars, the Mongols, and you will always find that they were quite definite things, that could be sharply defined, that could be understood, and from which one could understand what actually happened. Where is there today a really clear definition of what is actually going on, a really clear description?
That is one thing. But now, my dear friends, let me say something else — what was generally the actual result of wars in earlier times? Look wherever you will and you will find that it was certain territorial changes, which people then accepted. How do people face these things today? They all explain that there must be no territorial changes. Then one asks oneself again ‘What is the whole thing for?’ Compared with former things this is really how the matter lies: people cannot in any case fight for what they always fought before, because that simply cannot be done. The moment that is somehow supposed to happen there is an instant declaration ‘That simply cannot be done’. Thus according to the impulses that prevail there can really never be a peace; for if one were to leave everything as it was before, there was no need to begin. But since one has begun and nevertheless wants to leave everything as it was before, one can naturally not leave off, for otherwise there would have been no need to begin!
These things are abstract, paradoxical, but they correspond to profound realities; they really correspond to conditions that ought to be kept in mind at the present time. One must in fact say that what is discussed here as the lack of correspondence between head-man and heart-man is today world-historical fact. And, on the other hand, one can say: men stand today in a quite particular period of development; they cannot control their thoughts in a human way. That is the most significant characteristic of our time; men cannot humanly control their thoughts. All has become different, and people are not yet willing to notice that all has become different.
Thus, one is not merely concerned with something that has a significance in questions concerning world-conceptions, but with something that very deeply affects the most wide-spread event of our time, the most crushing event for humanity. Men no longer find from out their soul the connection with their own thoughts. And this can show us how not only the individual but humanity too in a certain way has forgotten how to call upon the rejuvenating forces. Humanity will not easily be able to extricate itself from this condition. It can only do so when there is a belief in the rejuvenating forces, when we get rid of much of what cannot be rejuvenated. Whether we look at individual persons or consider what is going on around us, we find the same thing everywhere. We find a sifted and sieved head-wisdom, head-experience, without the will to let things ripen through the heart-experience. This is, however, so deeply linked with the needs of the common evolution of mankind, that man should turn his closest attention to it for the present and the immediate future. We have indeed often spoken of it before from the most varied aspects. It is precisely this state of things that shows how necessary it is for spiritual science to enter the world today — even, one might say, as something abstract. But it is fruitful, it can remould the world because above all it can send its impulse into actual, concrete conditions of life. Man would face sad times if he should continue no longer to have faith in the becoming older, if he wanted to stop short at what the short-lived head can experience. For I have said already that the utmost extreme of what the short-lived head can acquire is abstract Socialism, which does not proceed from concrete conditions. Yet this is really solely and alone what people believe in. The philosopher constantly asserts today that there is only matter — on account of his refined spirituality. But he ought to give up this judgment at once, for it is nonsense. But the mainspring of the present so-called war is to be found in the general world-condition from which there is no way out — just as there is no way out from the sentence ‘There is only matter’. For the present time is in fact spiritual! And this that is spiritual needs condensing, needs strengthening, so that it may grasp reality; otherwise it remains mere mirror-image. In the way humanity works today it is as if one did not wish to work in a workshop with actual men, but as if one thought one could work in a workshop with mirror-pictures.
And so it is in the most extreme form of head-concept-socialism, which on this account is so plausible for great masses since it is logical head-experience, purely logical head-experience. But when this logical head-experience cannot meet the spirit element of the other man, with what then can it meet? That is what we have often spoken of, in fact, even today. It then unites with blind desires and instincts. Then there results an impure mixture between the head-experience, which is really quite spiritual, and the blindest instincts and desires. That is what they are now trying to join together in the East, in a world historical way! A socialistic theory, pure head-experience, has nothing whatever to do with the actual concrete conditions of the East;
what is devised by men like Lenin and Trotsky has nothing to do with what is developing as concrete necessities in the East. For if Lenin and Trotsky, through some peculiar chain of circumstance, had landed up in Australia instead of Russia, they would have thought they could introduce the same conditions that they wished to introduce into Russia. They fit Australia, South America, just as much, or just as little, as Russia; they would fit just as well on the Moon, since they fit no real concrete conditions at all. And why? Because they come from the head, and the head is not of the earth. Perhaps they would really fit better on the Moon, since they are purely from the head. The head is not of the earth. That they are intelligible, comes from the fact that they are closely related to the head. But here on earth such things must be established as are related to the earth; a spirituality must also be found which is connected with the earth's future, in the way we described yesterday.
That leads into quite deep and significant things. And when one considers them, one will see how little inclined the man of today really is, to go into these things. And they are as necessary as our daily bread. For otherwise, if the path to rejuvenation is not found, the evolution of mankind will either get into a pit or a blind alley.