10 January 1919, Stuttgart
We have been speaking of what hinders modern man from coming to recognition of the spiritual world, as it must be understood through the spiritual knowledge of Anthroposophy, and two things have been indicated as having been the cause of this hindrance. These two things are leak of courage, lack of strength where recognition of the spirit is concerned, and lack of interest about the actual form of the spiritual life. Now today I should like to go into these things from a point of view from which I have touched on them still more lightly. When such things are spoken of it must always be borne in mind that man's ordinary sound intelligence, as I have often said, suffices for understanding and receiving open-mindedly all things concerning Spiritual Science. If I may say so, through the fact that sound human intelligence; when rightly directed, is sufficient for the understanding of the things of the spiritual world today, in a certain sense through merely understanding, through open-minded acceptance, everyone may have all that the investigating Anthroposophist receives from the spiritual world. And with the courage and interest to receive these things with sound human intelligence, man has himself the possibility of rising slowly and gradually, in accordance with what his own karma permits, into the spiritual world. Already today it is necessary, and will become increasingly so for all men, to learn to understand the spiritual world, to learn to understand it with sound human intelligence in the way the spiritual world is spoken of in Spiritual Science. How far man can become ripe to look into the spiritual world himself is quite another question, a question that can be settled only by each individual in his own inmost soul, a question to which each one will settle in the right way in his inmost soul when he seeks to understand the things of the spiritual world simply through his sound human intelligence, and not through intelligence prejudiced by natural science or any thing else.
Now the next question that arises above all about this is why so many people today avoid making their sound human intelligence active so that it may understand, or be prepared to accept, what is derived from Spiritual Science? And something can be learnt about this question by hearing what the things and beings of the spiritual world actually look like when this world is entered by the spiritual investigator. In former times the Initiates were allowed to speak of a great deal about the spiritual world that was different from what has to be given out today. But naturally in those olden days much also could be said of a similar nature to what can still be said now. Thus, for example, it was always given out in a way that today is still right, what actually happens when a man seeks to enter the spiritual world before his soul is ripe to do so. Today this can indeed so happen that the man says to himself: What! Sound human Intelligence?—that is the last thing to bother about if one wants to understand the spiritual world! People are not fond of the effort entailed; they would much rather accept some particular thing through belief in authority. There is really far less liking today for sound human understanding than people imagine, and they would like to get round this need for sound human understanding by penetrating directly to the spiritual world in a way that they imagine to be easier, even though this is an unconscious opinion, namely, through all manner of brooding and things of that kind, which they call meditation. This preference for actually penetrating into the spiritual world without the help of sound human intelligence is indeed very common. Those initiated into such things however were already saying what is right concerning this in past times, and it continues to be repeated by Initiates today. When an attempt is made to penetrate into the spiritual world by anyone who is insufficiently mature in his whole attitude of soul, it happens all too easily that after some time he ruins his whole endeavour, brings it so near complete disaster, that he is left with a feeling like someone who, grasping a red hot piece of coal, is undecided whether to burn himself or let the coal drop. This is an experience arising very often in those who meditate. They do not seek to let their sound human intelligence prevail in the same measure as their zeal for the so-called exercises, which indeed in themselves naturally have their justification. It is always emphasised, however, that sound human understanding may not be excluded, it must be actively, diligently, applied. If for sometime it is sought to make a practice of excluding sound human intelligence and also of excluding the accompanying moral self-discipline that up until then has actually not been acquired, this characteristic feature will appear—that all this will be experienced as if someone were to touch a piece of glowing coal with his fingers, not only touched it but jumped back, thus men would jump away from the spiritual world. As I have said this is always emphasised. It is emphasised because it is an experience made in earlier ages by countless teachers of Spiritual Science in the form this took in atavistic times; it is an experience that can also be very prevalent today. This is emphasised; but today we must find out the reason why there should arise this sensation of touching and recoiling as if from glowing coals.
Now if we seek to understand this fact, we may be able to recall a basic truth of our Spiritual Science perfectly well known to us, namely, how we as men behave when we bear in mind our entire life in its alternating states of sleeping and waking. With the help of the old mode of expression, we might say that while we sleep we leave the physical body and the etheric body lying in the bed whereas with the Ego and the astral body we fly out, if I can put it thus, into the world that otherwise surrounds us; we do not inhabit our body when asleep, we are poured out into the surrounding cosmos. In this way when we are sleeping our consciousness as a man is slight. When the sleeping condition is unbroken by dreams which implies a certain increase in the intensity of consciousness, but when we keep in mind dreamless sleep, then our consciousness is so inconsiderable that we do not become aware of the infinite and important number of experiences gone through in the state between going to sleep and re-awakening. This is just that we really should keep in mind, and not the abstract words: In sleep, with our ego and astral body we are outside the physical body—no, we should bear in mind that our body is tremendously rich between going to sleep and waking up again: (Compare Z-233) we do not know it, however, because our consciousness is then weakened, because our sleep-consciousness is not yet as strong as the consciousness that is able to be united with the instrument of the physical body. In actual fact a tremendously intense experience takes place in ego and astral body within the world where we also are the rest of the time—an intense experience. Man, however, during his ordinary state on earth is protected from the immediate perception of this life, this life developed when we as ego and astral body force ourselves—if I may express it thus—through the same things to begin with in which we are when making use of our physical body and its organs. The life during the state of sleep is one of tremendous richness. But this life does not cease when we wake and plunge down into our physical body and etheric body. We are still connected through our ego and astral body with the world surrounding us in a way that the ordinary consciousness has no inkling of; only this remains quite unnoticed. We can now look at this precise relation more closely. It may be asked what actually comes to expression in this relation of our soul and spirit to our physical and etheric?
You see, for our present state of experience it would be a very bad thing were we henceforth always to have to perceive what in sleep we experience with the things outside in space and in time. We do not indeed do this, but were we to do it we should always have to go on doing it and could not do otherwise. Our body, that is to say, has a certain characteristic where these experiences are concerned. It may be said to weaken these experiences. Our body weakens all that in actual truth we experience with the surrounding world; we perceive only what has been weakened by our body and not our real experiences. Our real experiences are related to what we perceive of our environment through our body—and this is a very pertinent picture indeed because not only is it actually a picture but it corresponds to an occult reality—our body or the experiences of our body are related to our real experiences in the same way as the sunlight, that shines on a stone and is reflected back so that we can see the stone, is related to the actual sunlight streaming towards us from the sun overhead. Look at the stone the sunlight falls upon; you are able to look at the stone, your eyes can bear the reflected, thrown back light. When you turn from the stone to the sun and gaze straight into the sun you are blinded. It is approximately the same with the relation between our real experiences in connection with the world around us, and What we experience through the organs of our body. What we experience in reality with our environment has the strength of the sunlight, and what we experience through the organs of our body has of this strength only the weakened form which the weakened light of an object reflected back to us has of the strength of the real sunlight. In our innermost man we are sun beings, but so far we cannot endure what it entails to be sun beings. Therefore as with our external physical eyes we have to look at the softened down light of the sun because direct sunlight blinds us, we must also perceive our environment through what results in a softened down form from our body and its organs, because we should be unable directly to face what in reality we experience of our environment. As men we are actually as if we were blinded by a sunbeam and what we know of the world and of ourselves has not our real being in it, not as things would be experienced in streaming sunlight but in light thrown back from objects, light that no longer blinds the eyes. You can gather from this that when you wake up in the world that ordinary consciousness cannot endure, you have the feeling you are in sunlight as if you really would live with the sunlight. And in the actual experience, in the actual practical experience there is indeed a very concentrated sunlight.
There you have the facts about what is often said—that people
throw away the experience of Spiritual Science as if it were a red hot
coal. You come to a region of experience where you have experiences like
that of the soul when your finger is burnt. You jump back and do not
want to burn it. Naturally you need not twist round what I say. Nobody
can come to spiritual experience by having his finger burnt. On that
account I say like the soul experience when one burns a finger,
for in Spiritual Science things must always be expressed with
The real state of affairs is that entrance into the spiritual world is certainly not at first anything providing man with an empty kind of happiness; entrance into the spiritual world is such that it has to be bought with that inner, one might say, unhappiness, experienced when one is burnt by fire. (Naturally there are many other experiences of the same kind). To begin with man experiences spiritually with the things, beings and events of the spiritual world, exactly the same as, for example, when he burns himself. The real experiences of the spiritual world have to be acquired through these painful experiences. What gives happiness from these experiences of the spiritual world, what gives satisfaction to life, is the afterglow in thought. Those who have these experiences imparted to them and grasp them through their sound human intelligence, can have this just as well as anyone who enters the spiritual world. Certain individuals, however, must naturally enter the spiritual world, otherwise it would not be possible for anything at all to be experienced of the spiritual world.
These feats to which I have referred must be borne in mind. Fundamentally it is not very difficult just from the external facts to gather what I have been speaking of. You will find everywhere the spiritual world is spoken of seriously—not in the way of charlatanism but seriously—that the passing over is spoken of not as being made through pleasant but through painful experiences. And you know how often I have said that whoever in life has acquired a little real knowledge of the spiritual world looks back, but not resentfully, on the sorrow, on the suffering of his life. For he says to himself: The joys, the exhilarating moments of life I accept thankfully as a divine gift and I rejoice over the destiny that has brought me these exhilarating moments of joy. But all that I know comes from my pain, my knowledge comes from my suffering. Everyone who has gained actual knowledge of the spiritual world will see this. Only in this way are we allowed to acquire knowledge of the spiritual world while here on the physical earth.
And now you will be able to realise why people Shrink from understanding the spiritual world in spite of the fact that this understanding is to be acquired simply with sound human intelligence. Usually the only thing they do not recoil from in their understanding is what they would not recoil from in external life. Now you would naturally be most stupid and unreasonable if you wilfully burnt your finger just to find out what it was like. Added to which, if you burn your finger you pay so little heed to what your soul is experiencing that you do not gain any real experience of what it is like to burn your finger. Us, there is indeed a psychological fact rightly grasped only when seen in the light flowing from this knowledge. Now in that I am going to say I am not speaking here to you individually, for naturally I am not expecting each of you to do this, I only believe, of Course, that each of you will have heard of such things, you will have heard of them from others and remarked them in others. You will perhaps have remarked that people cry out when they burn their fingers. Now, my dear friends, why do many people cry out on burning their fingers? They cry out for the simple reason that by thus crying out the soul experience may be drowned. People cry out and make a noise at any kind of pain to make things easier for themselves. Ay crying out you will not be able to experience in full consciousness the whole extent of the pain; it is really drowning the suffering, sending it outside. In short, in ordinary life man has not much experience of the things that will be experienced in the spiritual world; nevertheless it is clear that these things can be understood with sound human intelligence because everywhere in the external physical world they have analogies through which we gather our experiences. It is certainly not the case that things of the spiritual world are incomprehensible; we must, however, make up our minds to strengthen certain qualities of our soul, for example, courage. We must have the courage not usually possessed when we do something and then recoil because it is painful. We must have this courage, for penetrating to the spiritual world always means pain. Therefore we have to strengthen certain forces of the soul, this is necessary. But many people today do not,want to strengthen their qualities of soul in the systematic way that is recommended, for example, in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. They have no wish to do this; they have no wish to enhance certain attributes of their soul. Were they to enhance them then in their capacity for forming concepts , in their sound human intelligence, there would easily prevail what is needful for understanding through this human intelligence he experience of the fingers in the spiritual world that, in the sense in which I have described it, is a painful experience. We are actually living in an age in which this strengthening of the human attitude of soul is a necessity, for otherwise mankind cannot reach their goal, and because catastrophe on catastrophe will have to arise bringing us finally to chaos.
Now, however, while discussing these things just at a time when it is particularly necessary, I have placed strong emphasis on something else. This is, that with the weakening of the attitude of soul existing among men today, there can be excellent scientists in the modern sense of the word. For even with the intelligence, that is not sound human intelligence but human intelligence carried to a high pitch through the authority of science, the external part of our physical environment can be particularly well understood. It cannot be understood inwardly, spiritually, but directly understood in its external aspect. What is not possible for people with the concepts given by science, with just what people today are accustomed to when applying their thought, is however to bring order into the social structure of man's cooperative life which is gradually becoming chaotic. To put it differently: Present social demands, and social demands for the near future, will never find their solution through what may be referred to as the thinking about nature and natural phenomena. It is on this very point that our contemporaries have terribly much to learn; in this very point again our contemporaries do not fall in with what must be told them by Spiritual Science out of its most intimate understanding of the being of our universe. Indeed, in spite of all the opposition which today will be forthcoming more and more, Spiritual Science must say just on this point that even with any amount of bungling around and doctoring up in the sphere of social questions no bungling around or doctoring up will lead to anything better; it will lead on the contrary to still greater social confusion than is already present in individual spheres of world existence unless it is recognised that insight into social questions can come only from the spiritual understanding of world existence. Social questions must be solved with knowledge of Anthroposophy—anything else in this sphere is dilettantism.
Thus we must turn to something else if we are to speak about things from a certain point of view. What largely holds men back from pressing forward to Spiritual Science is lack of interest in the spiritual life. This lack of interest in spiritual life is prevalent among modern scientists. They are indifferent about the spiritual life. They deny it or give laws to everything they can observe through the physical senses, everything that allows of investigation by means of microscope or telescope; but they take no interest in what is revealed every time there is real deep observation of nature, namely. that the spiritual holds sway behind all-phenomena of nature, all facts of nature. This lack of interest in the spirit is particularly noticeable today in those who would meddle in social affairs. And again there is a particular reason for this.
Now, my dear friends, from all kinds of things that I have spoken about lately, you will have gathered that when confronting each other as man to man we are in a very special inner life of soul. I have gone quite deeply into what kind of mood of soul we are in when as man we are face to face with another man. I told you that actually standing face to face with another man always has a soporific effect on us. Where the innermost qualities of our human nature are concerned we actually go to sleep in the presence of another man. It is not to be wondered at that outward behaviour deceives us as to this falling asleep. For we certainly see the other man with our eyes, offer him indeed our hand and touch him, do all kinds of things; but still this does not alter the fact that the other man causes us to fall asleep in the depths of our human being. Just as we are asleep to nature at night, something is sent to sleep in us by the presence of another man. When this goes to sleep, however, it does not cease to be active. Thus in social life there are always taking place between men activities about which, just because they are together with their fellows, people are unable to have any clear consciousness. People fail to notice in ordinary consciousness exactly what is of most importance in the social life, because their actual capacity for conceiving the most important things in social life has fallen asleep and they act out of instinct. It is no wonder that as in the forming of conceptions the intellect is most easily lulled to sleep, the most chaotic instincts should be taken as perfectly justified in modern social life because clear thinking about these things is sent to sleep simply by men being together. The moment a man enters the spiritual world, however, what was sent to sleep wakes up, and it becomes clear what is holding sway between man and man. For this reason the solutions can also be found of the so-called social questions and social demands. Thus, as I have already said here, it is possible to find these solutions only beyond the threshold of physical consciousness.
And what mankind will want to have in future through the so-called solving of social problems, if it is to be a real solution, can be found only on the path of Spiritual Science, that is to say, the science of the superphysical, since all the most intimate foundations of human life in co-operation are of a superphysical nature. (cf. Z-234)
But then, if we wish to experience spiritually the things that have to do with man, mankind, and also with the human social structure, into our whole capacity for conception, into everything we experience, we must bring something which you will realise at once is hardly present today in ordinary consciousness. There is just one thing here in the physical world in the way of sensations, of feelings, that each of us must have if he does not want to investigate the social laws, the social impulses, in an unreal but in a fundamental way. This is only found in a limited form here in the physical world, only indeed when an absolutely healthy, absolutely right, relation exists between a father, mother and child, in the interest between father, mother and child. It is not to be found in anything that can be experienced between men anywhere else in the whole round world, Certainly not in ordinary consciousness.
Now while you are getting clear in your mind about, let us say, the mother's love (you can do it too in this fundamental way) about the love developed in the mother immediately she bears a child—this love of the mother for her child which obviously springs from the very sources of nature—try to become clear about this mother love, and then ask whether this mother love is dominant in any scientific investigations ordinarily carried out by the well-informed, even by those who are doing research work in social science. This mother love must be there in the thoughts developed about the social structure if these thoughts are to have reality in them and not unreality. The only form of thought in human life that could be right socially is what is thought out socially and with mother love.
And now take the various social reformers and social thinkers. Try for once to let work upon you such writings, for example, as those of Carl Marx, or people of his ilk, Schmoller or Reacher or anyone else you like, and ask yourself whether these, while thinking out their so-called social and political laws, in this devising of social and political laws, let themselves be influenced by what is there in the mother's love for her child when this love takes a healthy course. This must have attention drawn to it, my dear friends! A sound solution of the so-called social problem is possible only if this solution is forthcoming from thinkers able to develop mother love in solving their problems; you will understand what I mean by this. The solving of present-day social demands depends on this very human matter. It is not a matter of sagacity nor ordinary cleverness nor of belief in what is learned; it is a question of enhancing the capacity for love to the degree to which mother love can be developed, or we might also say the direct, intimate love in the common life of father, mother and child.
Here you will be right in making an objection. You will say: Yes, on earth matters are so arranged that the social structure has in a certain sense the family as its unit, and on earth the family as such is undoubtedly fully justified, yet the whole of mankind cannot be one family! This is an objection that naturally will be forthcoming at once. If we are to think out social laws with mother love, however, the consequence would actually have to be the whole of mankind becoming one family. Naturally that cannot be, Whoever knows what a real thought is, a real thought with nothing of the charlatan or abstract about it, will have to admit that of course nobody is immediately capable of behaving to every child as though it were his own, that every child cannot behave to all other women, all other men, as it would to its mother or father. Thus all mankind cannot become one family. That is perfectly right, my dear friends, but just because that is right another necessity arises for us. As we live here as physical men on the physical earth we should by no means be able to succeed in making all mankind into one family; whoever wanted this would naturally be wanting an absurdity. But we could arrive at it another way and in another way indeed it must happen. As physical men we should not be able to stand in the relation of father, mother and child. But when there takes root in mankind the knowledge that spirit and soul live in every human being, that a divine spiritual being shines forth from the eyes of everyone, and the message of a divine spiritual being rings in his words, when in other words man's immortal soul is no longer recognised simply in the abstract, then, my dear friends, the moment will have arrived, not indeed where physical man is concerned but with regard to what man hides intimately within him as his baling of soul and spirit, when we shall be able to behave to one another as if all mankind were one big family. But this will not happen until people meet each other with immediate feeling and it is recognised: When I look people in the eye the infinite shines towards me; when I hear them speak it is not only physical sound speaking but the divine spiritual being of their soul—if this becomes direct experience, just as we experience any blue or red surface, then we shall feel that man when expressing himself is of a divine spiritual nature, and shall learn not to recognise simply with blind faith that a man has an immortal soul, but we shall directly perceive this immortal soul in what he utters. For in this way we shall be able to enter into connection with the soul and spirit of each human being. This is something that will alone make the solution of the so-called social question possible, the one and only thing. Therefore we find this solution of the social question in the recognition of man's divine spiritual nature, in the recognition that what goes around on the earth as the human physical body, is only the outward expression of what lights up in every man out of the eternal. We can have the same relation to what lights up in every man out of the eternal, as we can have in the right relation of the smallest family unit. This is possible, possible in every sense. When recognising this we can capture that love for all men which is as great as the love of family.
There is naturally no point in the objection, which would be superficial too, if we remarked about things in the following way: Yes, but there are also bad people. There are also bad children, my dear friends, whom we even have to punish, but there is love in our punishment. The moment we see the divine spiritual light up in human beings, when we see it is necessary we shall punish, but punish lovingly; above all we shall learn one thing which might be said to be practised only instinctively, that is, to meet other men as if we both belonged to the same family. When we meet another man in this way we punish but we do not hate the man; even when we punish him we do not hate the human being who is our son, but we hate his wrong doing. We love the man, we hate his misdeeds and his faulty training, and we know how to distinguish in him between the man and what has overcome him. When people have once understood the great, the infinite, difference existing between human love, and hatred of the misdeeds that assail mankind, a right relationship can be established among men. When we fellow our inmost human nature there is never any possibility for our hating anyone. Naturally we have much cause to hate human crimes, misdeeds, human weakness of character, human lack of character. Where we largely go wrong in our social behaviour is as a rule in bringing against the man what should be brought against the misdeed, the crime. We do this today instinctively, but must become conscious that the development of mankind today lies in the direction of distinguishing between hatred for the misdoing and the love that all the some can be felt for the man.
Oh, my dear friends, more would be done to solve the burning social demands of today by recognising truths of this kind than by much else going around the world as social quackery or social theory. In face of the materialism that everywhere employs what is grossly material, it is difficult to make any impression when speaking of such things as these, for the simple reason that people today are largely materialistic in their instincts, which is a more harmful matter than their holding materialist theories. Crime, lack of character, cannot be seen and do not exist materially. But because people want to hate what is material, they associate the material man with their hate and there arise countless misunderstandings.
What arises from this as a bad misunderstanding is that sometimes from some kind of misunderstood sensations and feelings, man is confused with what he does in another direction also. There is carelessness in judging what a man does when it is said: Oh, we do not want to hurt the man, now and then one has to overlook things for sheer love of one's fellows. If a verdict is given in the matter by turning ones's eyes towards the wrong doing and not confounding the man in his inmost life of soul with his misdeed, then indeed the right judgment will be arrived at. It is less trouble on the one hand, if you dislike someone, to mete out so-called justice to him; it is also easy because it suits us to excuse failings which may cause harm in the external world. In the common life of mankind a very great deal hangs on the way we are able to separate what ought to arouse our antipathy from the immediate being of man as man.
My dear friends, I have often emphasised that what is spoken here about these connections is not meant as a criticism of the culture and conditions of the times; it is simply a description of them. Therefore you will also understand when I say that mankind of so-called western civilisation, the people of Europe with their American cousins, for a time must go through the stage not only of taking things materialistically in accordance with science, but also of taking life itself materialistically confounding men with their deeds in the way referred to. This has to do with the education; for the right development of other qualities to be possible, men, must in this sphere, too, pass through the stage of materialism. Men, however, who have remained behind at earlier stages of culture have preserved a great deal of these former cultural stages in which there was still atavistic clairvoyance. And atavistic clairvoyance has since resulted in quite definite trends of feeling and attitudes of soul. We people of Europe can only be a match for what assails us from certain directions, if we reflect upon the arguments put forward today. For let us not forget this—that thinkers looked upon as very enlightened as, for example, Emmanuel Kant, speak—not indeed out of a certain basis of Christianity but of the church—a thinker of this ilk speaks of human nature being fundamentally evil. And how widespread is this error—for it may indeed be called so—that human nature in its actual depths is evil: In the civilised world of Europe and its American sister country it is said that if human nature is not under control it is evil. This is actually a European opinion, an opinion of the European Church.
There is a race of men who do not hold this view, who have preserved another view from former times, for example the Chinese people. In the Chinese world-conception, as such, there rules the proposition, there rules the principle, that man is by nature good. Here is a mighty difference which would play a much greater part than is thought in the conflict that will develop between men. To be sure, speaking of these things today, people believe one as little as they would have done had the war we are now engaged in been spoken of in 1900. Yet it is true all the same that a struggle is also being prepared between the Asiatic and European peoples. And then quite other things will play a part than have been played, are played even now or will be played later, in the catastrophic struggle we are in the midst of today.
There is really a great difference in the whole way of experiencing whether the Chinese have the conviction that man is by nature good, or the European holds that human nature is fundamentally weighed down by evil—from the standpoint of the world-conception of the people there is a great difference in which way a man thinks. How a man thinks is expressed in the whole of life's temperament, in the entire attitude of the life of soul. For the most part men have their attention riveted on the outer features of life's conflict and they generally pay little heed to what is lying in the depths of the inner nature.
There is just one thing I should like to mention. You see, the fact that the European, although he may not generally admit it, is always at heart convinced that man is actually bad and has to be made good only through education and restraint, restraint by the State or any other kind, this outlook, from historic necessity, is closely connected with something else. It is connected with—not with the fact itself but with the qualities of feeling underlying the fact—connected with European people having developed through this a certain life of soul in the form we call logic and science. From this you will find it comprehensible that those who really know the Chinese—I don't mean Europeans who know them but those who, Chinese themselves, (cf. The Karma of Vocation) have got to know Europe too, as for example, Ku Hung Ming, often mentioned by me here—that these Chinamen lay stress on there being no equivalent in the Chinese language for logic and science. Thus for what we Europeans call science, for what we call logic, the Chinese have no word at all, since they do not have the thing, because, what Europeans believe to be Chinese Science is something quite different from what we call science and what we call logic, something entirely different from what we Europeans think to be logic in the Chinese soul. So different are men on earth! Attention must be paid to this unless attention is focused on this no discussion of the social problem can bear any fruit. But when heed is paid to such a matter the spiritual horizon becomes wider. And this widening of the spiritual horizon is particularly necessary for the sound understanding of Spiritual Science.
And when many different questions are asked concerning all these things—we have already touched on two today and could still touch on a third—when it is asked why today people in accordance with custom still keep their distance from the truths of Spiritual Science this reason is found among others, that the horizon, the spiritual horizon, of modern man is a very narrow one. However much man may boast of his spiritual horizon today, however greatly, the fact remains that this spiritual horizon is very narrow. Its narrowness is shown in particular by the extraordinary difficulty modern man generally has in getting out of himself where certain things are concerned. And this not only has an effect on his understanding, it influences also his whole life of sympathy and antipathy.
I should like to refer to a fact, a fact well known to quite a number of you, that is to say, the effect of this fact is well known to a number of you; this fact I have already mentioned to you once and should like to mention it again. Now you know that a certain relation existed some years ago between the so-called Theosophical Society and those who today form the Anthroposophical Society. I experienced something remarkable in connection with just those members of the Theosophical Society who were prominent. Already by the beginning of this century, as you know, I had published communications from the so-called Akashic Record, information which I venture to say rested upon personal experience, as does all the rest of what I impart out of the spiritual world. (see Atlantis and Lemuria) When these communications were read by a prominent member of the Theosophical Society people could hardly understand how it arose. I was asked how these communications were received? And it was really impossible to come to any kind of understanding, for the actual methods of anthroposophical research suitable for the present age were totally unknown in that circle. There, more mediumistic methods were used for investigation. Really what was wanted was the name of the medium or medium-like person responsible for these Akashic Record communications. That they were actually the result of the direct observation of a certain human attitude of soul projected into the supersensible, was considered an impossibility! The narrowness of man's horizon speaks in things of this kind. Even in so momentous a sphere, people consider possible only what they are accustomed to, only what is easily understood.
Now I have quoted this instance just because if one is narrow-minded it is really quite im possible to press on to Spiritual Science. In everyday life, however, this narrow-mindedness is the common thing today, always to relate everything back to just the personal, accustomed standpoint. This is what must above all be considered by those very people who are attached to our Movement for Spiritual Science. My dear Friends, I am now going to say something that perhaps there would be no need to say in this way were the things to be said intimately, systematically, but which it is necessary to say when it comes to the external conditions of life. You see, those who take a more particular, active interest in our Movement know indeed how many attacks are made on the sources of this Movement, how bitterly it is persecuted, how many come to hate it who were formerly keen adherents, and so on. Last time indeed I spoke about these things from various points of view. Now it will not be superfluous, from certain aspects, to make clear the reasons for such hostility, such antagonism. I talked to you about the reasons for the antagonism seen here and there last time. Such hostility very frequently becomes particularly strong, however, when appearing among people who also belong, let us say, to some occult society. The hatred that develops in many adherents of one or another society against what is seen here as Spiritual Science, sometimes is really strikingly conspicuous, at times even taking grotesque forms. And it is not superfluous, my deer friends, to pay attention to these things, for we should pay attention to everything that makes us take our membership of this Movement very seriously. It is very true that nowhere is there more charlatanism in the world than where spiritual matters are represented in all kinds of societies. It is easy, therefore, because of so much charlatanism in the world to be suspicious of what arises as a Movement for Spiritual Science. Then those who want to, can easily find support if they say: Yes, once a Society appeared which maintained that it spread abroad all the wisdom of the world—then it was shown up as mere charlatanism! And now another has arisen, again it has proved to be charlatanism'! This must be admitted; there is infinitely much of this charlatanism in the world. Here the capacity for discrimination must come in to distinguish the true from the false.
But another case can arise; something, for example, in the nature of uncertainty may enter the soul. This uncertainty can consist in the following. A man of this kind may come to know what goes on here. Now if he has not an open mind, if he pursues what is personal, he may arrive at the following divided mood of soul. It is possible for him to foresee all manner of danger and to say: Dear me, how is this? I have so often heard of these societies, occult or whatever else they may be; I have never come across in them any knowledge, any real knowledge. It is true, every possible thing is talked of, it is in their books and given out in their ritual, but there is no stream of living knowledge. Now is this Anthroposophy of the same kind or is it something different? And he can find himself in a divided mood of soul. You see, in common parlance, when it is not possible for anyone to go deeply into what is actually living here, it may be said: Is this the kind of swindle that I really find more pleasant since it does not ask so much of one?
My dear friends, the things I give out here are not so unreal as that! Above all they are spoken because I want to point to the necessity for earnestness, dignity, and the capacity for discrimination. I have said this repeatedly, so that the unpleasantness should not arise which very often arises, namely, that the real life of spirit is all around, whereas because it is less trouble people actually prefer to hear it talked about. What calls forth so much antagonism is just the fact of what I have emphasised in my book Theosophy being true here—that only spiritual experiences are spoken of. The antagonism of the Theosophical Society also actually first arose when they noticed our claim to speak of real spiritual experiences. That could not be borne. People are preferred who repeat what has been given in their lectures and repeat it with a certain zeal, but independent spiritual investigation was, fundamentally, the great sin against the Holy Ghost of the Theosophical Society. And this independent spiritual investigation is not as yet to be so easily found in the world today. Once again I have wanted to intimate this at the end of what we have been considering. And it will indeed be necessary for you, my dear friends, really to my heed to these things with a sound mind but also with all earnestness. The times are grave and the remedy for the times that we wish to receive from the spiritual world must also be grave.
We should like to go on speaking of these things tomorrow.