1 May 1919, Stuttgart
The last time we gathered here I was able to speak to you of the deep foundations underlying the ideas of the Threefold Commonwealth. I was able to carry the lecture far enough for us to see in what sense one may say that we are living at the present time in a definite period of transition. You will not misunderstand that remark, for I have often told you that when I talk of a transition it is not meant in the trivial sense in which people often speak when they talk about living in a period of transition. Naturally as I have often said, every period is a period of transition from what went before to what is to follow. The essential thing is to direct our attention to what is changing. And from that point of view there are more important and less important moments in the great world evolution of mankind. And it is clear that beneath the surface, as it were, of outer events something is happening in our time with respect to enormously important impulses of human evolution. In my last lecture I drew your attention to the fact that one must see into the so-called unconscious, or subconscious, of the human being if one would recognize what is really vitally involved in the transition mankind is undergoing today. Not much in our consciousness today tells us about the evolution of mankind in general, although we are living precisely in that world-age in which a development of the consciousness-soul is normal for the individual. Mankind as a whole, as distinguished from the individual, is in this age passing through a development of inner soul and spiritual forces, and for that reason the development is more in the subconscious. For mankind as a whole we must look for the most important forces of transition in the subconscious; while for the individual, we will find the most important forces today in the tendency to develop complete consciousness. In the individual an instinctive, more naive soul-life is changing more and more to a conscious soul-life; in mankind as a whole, however, an important change is taking place unconsciously, without the individual often being aware of it unless he has deepened his vision by work in spiritual science.
This vital change, this most important happening, is not so easy to describe, for our language has been made fundamentally for the purpose of reproducing outer sense reality in the soul. This makes it difficult for us to describe precisely, or adequately, something that does not belong to sense reality, but to supersense existence. Often one has to make use of comparisons — not abstract ones but such as you are well acquainted with in spiritual science, where one phenomenon of life is placed by the aide of another so that one will throw light on another. If such comparisons are used it must at the same time be made very clear that only flexible thinking, thinking that does not stamp the concepts, the words, into a set shape, in really compatible with the sense of what is presented. If I want to characterize the most important thing that is happening to mankind as a whole at the present moment of world evolution (I have already pointed it out) I must compare it with the experience that an individual has (consciously, however) when he crosses the threshold, as it is called, into the supersense world. You all know from the description I have given of this individual experience in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment that the crossing of the threshold is an event of deepest significance for the human being. On this side of the threshold is the sense world for man's consciousness, and on the other, the supersense world. Truly, on that other side everything is different from things of the sense world here. And man experiences something there that is named by those who went through the same experience in the manner of former ages in the significant words, “passing through the gate of death”. Indeed, he who crosses the threshold has to learn to know death in its reality. He has to become acquainted with death in its meaning for humanity.
Now you know from the description which I have given in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds that in this crossing of the threshold the entire soul being of man goes through a transformation — but only, of course, for those times in which one remains consciously in the supersense world. The constitution of soul that one has here in the sense world, that is suited to life, to work and action, in the sense world: one cannot come into the supersense world with that. Here in the sense world our soul forces are as it were melted together, so that we never have the experience in our sense life of these soul forces being separated. Anyone who did not have a certain amount of willing in his soul at the same time that he was thinking, even though in a latent form, would not be really healthy physically. We are not in a position in our sense life to separate these three soul forces one from another, so that really we never develop a pure isolated thought, or a pure isolated feeling, or a pure isolated willing. In our conceptions, feelings, actions, and will, these three soul forces are still interwoven always, mixed up with one another. But as soon as we cross the threshold into the supersense world — that is, as soon as we get our soul to the stage where we are actually surrounded by supersense beings, by supersense deeds of these beings, just as formerly we were surrounded by a world of sense things and sense happenings — then, my friends, then there takes place in our soul an absolute separation of thinking, feeling, and willing. As you hove been able to gather from the description in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, a man must have so schooled himself that he is able then to summon sufficient power to hold together with his ego these three elements of the soul life, thinking, feeling, and willing: — otherwise he would split up into three persons.
Yes, my dear friends, one meets with a significant experience of inner activity when one has crossed the threshold; this finding oneself within in the most enhanced activity of the ego, in the highest manifestation of the ego, for the purpose of holding together the separated soul forces, thinking, feeling, and willing. And that accounts for the fear that a faint- hearted man today feels: fear of actual supersense knowledge, fear before the highest kind of inner soul activity. He would like all of his activity to be of such a kind as is aroused by the outer world and has effect in the outer world. Inner activity is not yet natural to him; more and more it must be developed by him for the future. And so, because at first this development is a task, because it is not actually already inherent, man is afraid, man is cautious about entering the supersense world. Unconsciously he is afraid of himself (if I may so express it) in face of the exertion necessary there to hold the separated soul forces together.
I am picturing this inner experience of the individual in order to have some way by which to characterize for you that which is happening in this age inside the soul life — and you know that one can speak of such a thing —of mankind as a whole. That which I have just described as an individual's experience when crossing the threshold into the supersense world is naturally a fully conscious experience for him, much more so then any conscious experience of his ordinary waking day consciousness. It is a heightened consciousness in which one crosses the threshold and in which one perceives in the supersense world the threefold nature of the human soul being. Something similar to that — but now not consciously — the whole of mankind is going through in the present age as a cosmic historical experience. It is not noticed, this unconscious process that is going on in all mankind, unless one in studying consciously in spiritual science. You know our age is the fifth since the great Atlantean catastrophe which made the configuration of our earth surface as it now exists. We are living in the fifth post-Atlantean period; and in this period mankind must go through in its evolution as a whole something similar to what the crossing of the threshold into the supersense world is for an individual. Mankind as a whole, I said, in its cosmic — or we can say if we like terrestrial — evolution, is crossing a threshold on one side of which, or in other words, for the time preceding which, an entirely different kind of world conception and knowledge was necessary for mankind as a whole than is necessary on the other side, or in other words, for the time afterward.
This process going on in the unconscious of all mankind today is what one must discover through spiritual science. It shows also how necessary spiritual science is to mankind today. For the crossing of this threshold must truly not remain in the unconscious. Men must become aware of it, otherwise they will sleep right through, or at least dream right through, an event that is very important for them. And this fifth post-Atlantean period is the very period in which we should be extending consciousness. But we cannot extend our consciousness of the most vital thing that is happening to mankind in any other way then by rising out of mere sense-science into spiritual science.
If you think about this, my dear friends, you will perhaps remember something that has been said again and again in the course of spiritual scientific, lectures which have been held now for such a long time in Stuttgart.
You remember I have had to emphasize this fact again and again: that Spiritual Science, as it is meant here, is not just something as it were to satisfy an individual's subjective thirst for knowledge. Spiritual Science is something that is connected with the taking up in thought, feeling, and will, of the fundamental impulse of mankind for our time. Therefore activity in spiritual science should not be a mere satisfying of an individual's longing for the newest thing, nor a mere satisfying of his desire, for knowledge. Spiritual Science should be the fulfilling of a certain duty that one has toward mankind as a whole, in order that it shall realize what is going on precisely at this moment in the depths of its evolution.
I showed you when I spoke to you last time that certain individuals who have a degree of external cleverness developed by the scientific training of the present day, are definitely aware of a phenomenon that is present in mankind in this epoch and that corresponds to something in the depths of mankind of which they are not aware. I showed you how such individuals as for example Fritz Mauthner, say that first and foremost in man is his sense perception; and that that is the only true reality of which one can speak. He reflects this reality in its highest form by his creation in art of the beautiful and the sublime. But it does not permit him to arrive at any satisfaction. He wants to penetrate things more deeply. If he tries to penetrate into the being of things through his inner self, then — Mauthner says — he does not arrive at a real contact with the true being of the world, but only comes to dreaming — dreaming which may be pleasing because he imagines it is connected with the central forces of the world, but which nevertheless, so far as knowing is concerned, is after all just dreams, just mysticism. Mysticism then is, for these persons, the second stage of man's inner soul-striving. Then they assert that mysticism is, from their point of view, dream knowledge, they are right, because they deny a supersense knowledge. The third stage, for Fritz Mauthner, is man's struggle to attain knowledge by busying himself with natural laws, historical laws, etc.; and he describes all that as docta ignorantia, on the ground that when we think we know something through science we are not merely dreaming, as in mysticism, but sleeping — sleeping as compared with what would be a real contact with the central forces of the world. Thus persons like Fritz Mauthner think that at the most man has a waking sense perception and can ennoble it through art; that he is doomed to dream when he attempts to connect himself with true reality in religion or mysticism through his inner nature; and that he is doomed to sleep when he believes he is connecting himself with things in any way through science and wisdom.
My dear friends, speaking in an absolute sense, that is all a mistake. But speaking relatively of the special soul-condition that mankind has evolved through the 19th century into the 20th century, speaking quite specifically of this mankind and not of mankind in general, it is a truth. With the means that natural scientific knowledge has made great, by which we have come to such a shipwreck of the social older, with those means the only possible soul life is what Fritz Mauthner has described; that is, the three stages — waking, in sense perception; dreaming, in mysticism; and sleeping, in science.
Such a man as Fritz Mauthner feels the crossing of the threshold by mankind as a whole. Whoever has read his Critique of Speech in which he criticizes not only concepts but speech itself -- or the two thick volumes of his Philosophical Dictionary, or even one or two of the articles in it (it is arranged alphabetically) — that person knows the soul condition he gets into as a result of this very work of Mauthner. I suggest especially — you will perhaps only be grateful for my suggestion from one point of view — that you read the article on “Christianity” in this Dictionary of Philosophy — or the article “Res Publican”, or “Goethe's Wisdom”, or “Immortality”. Everywhere you will have the feeling: first one reads a sentence; in the second sentence what one has just read is modified; in the third the modified statement is again modified; in the fourth one gets back to the first; in the fifth the entire thing is picked up again with all the assertions and modifications included. One undergoes a twisting of one's whole intellectual, rational, and soul system, and it is frightful what one experiences after such a reading. It is a frightful inner soul torture. And if one describes the inner soul torture that a man experiences after such reading — man, that is, who has sufficient courage to admit the final outcome of the present day condition of soul (there are many who have not that courage) — then in the exposing criticism that one would make, and such as I have just made, one will not be censuring Fritz Mauthner, for his very article is a confession that he suffers from the same condition of soul himself. For he says: With human knowledge one can come to nothing else than a kind of “spirit dance” in which one does not discover oneself. He mistakes the lack of knowledge that became necessary in the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century for a supposed absolute incapacity for knowledge in all mankind.
What actually is the truth? Something quite different from what Mauthner believes.
In former ages, as you know, in the clairvoyance of Atlantean times, man did not dream in mysticism but had contact through mystic knowledge with reality. Also, he did not merely sleep in wisdom. We realize from what still remains of older wisdom, Plato, for instance — that they knew things to tell mankind. In Aristotle, that is already no longer true. Mankind of former ages did not have just a docta ignorantia; it had a wisdom in which it was connected with the central forces of he world, that are at the same time the central forces of the human being. But these faculties ebbed away. They had to, in order that man might then seek within himself for those strong powers that were previously given him by spiritual beings without any effort on his part. Today we are crossing the threshold, mankind as a whole; and we must develop out of our inner self the power with which to awaken mysticism, which otherwise by its very nature sleeps within us — by our own power to call mysticism from its dreaming to an experience of the spirit; and also by our inner activity, inner force, to raise what is otherwise dead abstract science to actual experience of supersense spiritual reality. Today, my dear friends, this is in our power. We must undertake the necessary training.
And men who are are willing to accept spiritual science will, like Fritz Mauthner, be obliged to experience the tragic soul condition that has been a necessary accompaniment to the evolving of man's inner forces. Men like Mauthner, who do feel such things and yet are not willing to accept spiritual science, will indeed have to despair of all possibility of contact with the central forces of existence which are at the same time the central forces of the human being. Therefore they will have to despair of the possibility of any knowledge of life. My dear friends, if you think earnestly of what I have just said, will you not have to say to yourselves: Man is confronted today in his evolution, through the fact of his unconscious crossing of the threshold, by a mighty test. It is that indeed. For if he will not develop activity of soul, intense activity of soul, then he is condemned to sink into inactivity, passiveness, and thereby into unbelief in existence — at the very least into some degree of uncertainty — when he considers his place in the whole current of world evolution. That is approximately the soul-condition of men of whom Mauthner is a type.
There are many such men in the present day; but Mauthner had sufficient inner courage to acknowledge it in many writings, while others are in the same condition of soul and do not acknowledge it. He finally had sufficient resignation to retire to Southern Bavaria after he had spent his whole life in journalism as a profession; and there he thought out the Critique of Speech, his book of bitter doubt of human knowledge; then afterwards he wrote his Philosophical Dictionary. He has withdrawn, but he still writes all kinds of articles that truly no more than his book tend to lead to a positive, forceful position within human evolution. They always show a kind of despair of the possibility of one's really comprehending existence, because as a matter of fact one cannot comprehend existence through knowledge. He has finally accepted the consequence, he has given in and withdrawn to a profession that to him is equivalent to journalism, and in which one can be a skeptic, a pessimist.
But there are pupils of Fritz Mauthner who have not been so resigned. Let us ask, what will become definitely, what will become of these pupils who subscribe wholeheartedly to Mauthner's conception of life? They will never be able to arrive at a living comprehension of reality at any comprehension that can penetrate reality fruitfully. They are unable to adapt themselves to life when they are placed in it. Fritz Mauthner got out of it. They only comprehend the sense life, and they believe that anything that goes on outside of that is only a dream or sleep. Look at one of these pupils of Mauthner — Gustav Landauer, for instance — noble, upright, but altogether useless or the social life of the present day. He is a real pupil of Fritz Mauthner. It is not enough today merely to judge life from the surface. We are confronted with tasks that can only be master- edit we are willing to go down into the foundations of life. We may not seek thought impulses today for a new social order — as do such men as I have described — out of whet the time has already brought. No we must seek even social impulses out of the age that is dawning, out of the impulses that are just arising, the impulses of spiritual knowledge. Otherwise we will not arrive at real social impulses. Then when they are found, they can be comprehended, like all spiritual scientific knowledge by a healthy human understanding. It is in such a sense that I wanted to speak of the Threefold Commonwealth.
Today it is essential that men learn to speak in all things with deepest earnestness, first for true self knowledge, secondly for true world knowledge.
Consider Spiritual Science, as it is meant here, from the most varied points of view. Certainly the need for self knowledge and the need for world knowledge are emphasized by it, just as in abstract mysticism and in much abstract occultism. But they are spoken of in a different way. And in that way I should like to write the very heart of our time: One can never attain real self knowledge without seeking this self knowledge through world knowledge. Brooding within oneself does not bring self knowledge. World knowledge must first discipline one so that one can then come to self knowledge. Also, one cannot attain world knowledge without making the way through one's self. World knowledge is not possible without self knowledge. The two things seem to contradict each other, perhaps, but this contradiction is living and fruitful. No world knowledge without self knowledge, no self knowledge without world knowledge. It is like the swinging of a pendulum back and forth. Man must seek continually in his life the swing of the pendulum from self experience to world experience, from world experience to self experience. That will give the strength of soul, that inner activity of soul, which becomes today, and in the future will become, ever more and more necessary to all mankind. Because it is so very easy today for men to brood within themselves, out of a certain egoism that is natural in this age of the development of the consciousness-soul; for that reason they have fallen in love with abstractions. They themselves cannot really judge correctly how strong their love is, in this age, for mere abstractions. For that reason it is all-important — in order to cross the threshold which I have described in the right way — that we arouse ourselves from a mere abstraction-necessity, a mere thought-necessity, to fact. From mere abstract knowledge to an experiencing of fact. To a thinking within ourselves that is not mere thoughts but that sinks us into the things, that thinks with the things and events of the world. Only then can we wake to the present.
I will give you an example of what I mean. But first I would say that, you should not interpret what I am going to say as if, when I have to characterize this or that world conception, I wanted also to take a stand against them. I only want to characterize, not criticize. What one calls “the natural scientific world conception”, or thinking orientated in the direction of natural science, has evolved in a way that I have characterized for you from most varied points of view. It has finally reached such an outlook as Mauthner's; and it has expressed itself in other variations. I wonder whether you remember a man whom I mentioned here once years ago in another connection: the man who wanted to describe the difficulty of self knowledge in one of his books called An Analysis of Experience. He wants to describe the external difficulty of self knowledge, and for that purpose gives two instances of his having been thoroughly illusioned with respect to knowledge of his own external self. Once, he says, he was walking up the street and suddenly someone was approaching him (the writer was a professor), and he thought to himself, “What a strange looking school master that is coming toward me! The person was very unattractive to him, he says. Then he noticed what actually had occurred: he cam in front of a show window and found he was facing himself in the glass. On another occasion he got into an onmibus. Opposite the door by which he entered was a mirror. He was extremely tired. He sw the image and said to himself:“What a funny looking tramp that is coming in the opposite door!” It took him a long time to realize that it was himself. There is the tale, and you will be able to judge that after all here is a man to be taken seriously: Ernst Mach, who from a natural researcher became a philosopher. He has various pupils. His world conception is not unlike Mauthner's except that he came less to uncertainty, less to skepticism; he simply believes in the play-quality of thought. The ego itself is merely a myth to him, as also to Mauthner, only Mach is content. One must study Ernst Mach, and then become acquainted with his life and his whole personality. I remember when I saw him for the first time, in the Vienna Academy of Science, where he was giving a special lecture on the Economy of Thinking, in the course of which he explained all thinking as merely an arrangement according to the principle of the smallest amount of force. I was greatly enraged at the time by this presentation of the thought process. Afterwards he elaborated the theory and wrote his books, and they had a great influence over many people. One who knows his life knows that he was undoubtedly a very excellent citizen, obedient to the city he served throughout his teaching career, and in his teachings a typical example of the thinking that has evolved in recent times.
I might name another similar thinker. Mach himself did not teach in Zurich, but a pupil of his, Adler — the same Adler who shot the Austrian minister Stürgkle. But there was even a much more abstract thinker in Zurich, and his world conception was very similar to the philosophy of Mach — Richard Avenarius. I shall not recommend that you read his books; You would throw them away after the second page. They are written in unintelligible language. And the most unintelligible thing for you would be, how it happens that so very many people have wormed their way into Avenarius's books and have formed a world conception out of his philosophy.
You see, these are extreme cases to show you the difference between a logic of mere abstract thoughts and a logic of fact. Avenarius was also in his life a good middle-class citizen, an excellent citizen of the state in the best sense of the word. But such people as Ernst Mach, his pupil Adler, in whom it was even more apparent, and Avenarius — let us take just Mach and Avenarius — they feel nothing of that logic of fact within which they stand through their on actions. For, look you, what became of the world-conception of this Ernst Mach, solid Bourgeois teacher? What became of it? It became the political philosophy of the Bolshevists; it is the world-conception that lies at the bottom of Bolshevism. Only it went through other human temperaments, through other human soul conditions. That is the actual consequence! The consequence according to fact-logic, of what Ernst Mach and Avenarius taught. It was not just by external chance that some gifted young Russians studied with Avenarius and then with Adler in Zurich; and that then this philosophy happened to be carried over into Russia. No, there is an inner spiritual connection there. It can only be grasped by one who does not think about things, but who thinks in things; he then knows that no system of abstract logical consequences leads from Avenarius and Mach to Lenin and Trotsky, but only a very living logic leads from one to the other. Those are the things upon which so much depends today. They are only comprehensible to one who has sufficient earnestness to study fro the inside how things become, how things metamorphose. We have come to a time when inner life is complicated: when anyone can believe, just as Mach and Avenarius did, that he is a law-abiding man who lives only “on the heights in spiritual serenity”, and does not for a moment suspect that his teachings are capable of becoming political dynamite when they are passed on to other minds.
The great call to men today is to develop in themselves a sense for the deeper connections of life. Without that sense we can go no further. If we want to arrive at fruitful social, ideas then we must not search, as Mach and Avenarius did, for the dead ruins of old self-annihilated world-conceptions. We must turn to the new structure, the world-conception that can only be found in Spiritual Science and that alone understands how to ask: That kind of social order must come, since from now on man, as he passes through the world, will be ever more and more threefolded in his inner nature— for that is how he is crossing the threshold. The external social order must also be threefold. Then outer and inner fact will correspond. This threefolding, if one will really examine it earnestly through Spiritual Science, is not something invented; it is something, that has been learnt from listening to the actual inner metamorphosis of mankind as it moves from the present into the future.
Among all the necessities confronting the man of the present day, is this one: that he develop the willingness to concern himself with the spiritual world; that he develop first of all the willingness so to observe himself — that he is able to see the spiritual man that is underneath. The materialism of natural science has not been worthless. It has been significant and useful even in the form of Haekelism. That is all a test that must be undergone. It classes man with the animals, because with respect to practically everything that it considers important, man appears to be nothing more than a highly developed animal. However, as soon as we begin to consider man in his relation to the world with respect to self knowledge, then at once the thing is different. Then facts which before were of no importance become important, and vice versa. From a certain perspective a new light streams upon the whole being of man. We know it is a fact (and the exceptions only teach more bout the fact) that the animal walks about the earth with his backbone parallel to the earth's surface. Man makes himself erect in the very first period of his life; he places his body, or his backbone, at right angles with the earth's surface, and thereby forms a cross with the earth's surface and also a cross with the position of the animal's backbone. That fact expresses clearly man's relation to the outside world. It is different from the animal's relation. Of course you can read in Haeckel: Man has just as many bones and muscles as the higher animals. But there are other things to he compared which in an intuitive, or, better, an imaginative grasp of various relations between them, demonstrate the common form of the cosmos and the earth; and this manner of comprehension of the human form is more important than counting bones and muscles, more important than what comparative morphology has to say about man.
I could say a great deal in this connection that would show you,that where the old world conception which has ripened such thought-habits in man as have plunged him into his present misfortune — that where this thinking and these thought-habits end, now a new world conception must begin which, for instance, will comprehend the human form. Then it will give a spiritual view of the world that will fructify the independent spiritual member of the social organism. And at a still higher stage one will have a living knowledge of that existence which is always around us, the “open secret”, as Goethe called it. From there one will rise to an “awakening” such as I have described in my books, Human Riddles and Soul Riddles; one will rise beyond mere comprehension of the relation of the human form to the cosmos to the stage that is actual participation in the great rhythmic swing of the cosmos.
You know that man consists of these three members: nerve-sense system, rhythmic system, and metabolic system. He stands within his nerve-system in such a way as to be able to comprehend the relation of his form to the cosmos. With respect to his feelings — his rhythmics or breathings or breast-system — he stands with this rhythm within the rhythm of the whole world. We can only just touch upon this rhythm now from one angle — we could naturally do much more, but we have mentioned it often in the course of these years from the most varied points of view. I will only repeat what I have often said.
Look at our breathing. Normally, we take 18,breathe a minute. That makes about 25,920 breaths a day. So that in a day we breathe in and out alternately 25,920 times. That is the average number of breaths that a man takes. Now you know that the Old Testament puts the age of a patriarch at 70 years. Naturally one can grow older or die younger, but that is the average age of man. How many days of life is that? An average of 25,920 days. Now if you count that huge breath that we take when we enter in the morning with our ego and astral body into our etheric and physical bodies, so that in the morning we breathe in our spiritual psychic being, and in the evening we breathe it out again — if we count that as a a breath that is drawn every day, then our life-day which consists on the average of 71 years, draws 25,920 breathe. In other words, that great spirit that breathes when we are born and when we die, breathes in his life-day which includes our whole human life, the same number of inhalations and exhalations as we do in our day of 24 hours. So we are related with our human breath to that breathing of the the product of his breath in our waking and sleeping life. And the sun — which you can at least suspect to have some relation to our life — men observe how its rising moves back in the Zodiac a certain number of degrees every year, in such a way that if spring comes at a certain place in a certain constellation one year, the next year it shifts back a few degrees. So the rising of the sun circles around the whole ellipse in what is called a Platonic world-year, which consists of 25,920 years. A life-day for and death consists of 25,920 life-years. A life-day for us consists of 25,920 breaths; our life between birth and death consists of 25, 920 life-days; a great sun-year consists of 25,920 of our life-years. Thus we are brought to what is breathed in the whole sun-earth-process through a Platonic world-year. There you see into a world rhythm of which is a part within the cosmos.
Without at least the willingness to gain an active knowledge of man's relation to the cosmos you can attain no knowledge of man. You can comprehend nothing more through the natural science of today — however strangely this sounds — than man's life up to birth. After man is born something enters into his lie that natural science can no longer comprehend. Therefore natural science has to stay dallying in the method it especially loves, embryology. That is especially apparent today in the fact that the entire teaching of evolution is only an elaboration of embryology. All the rest is phantasy. As soon as man begins to live on earth the necessity immediately arises of contemplating him in imaginative and inspired knowledge. For that is the only means by which one can perceive what man experiences at death, and what death is. At the highest stage of knowledge, true Intuition, which you find described in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, one attains to that insight into being which is wonderfully indicated in the German language, for one says when a man dies — with a certain fitness — he verwest. (perishes) If today one could still feel something in words, one would truly feel that verwesen means ins Wesen übergehen, ins Wesen hineingehen, mit dem Wesen eine werden. (To go over into being, to go into being, to become one with being) When the language speaks of verwesen it truly is not talking of vergehen (to pass away) [Translator's Note: Although in English one says “pass away”, the German word vergehen which means that, is apparently never used in connection with death; verwesen is the word in common use.] And that mysterious process the deep knowledge of which will create a natural science of the future, the process that is only completed when the human body apparently perishes or is reduced to ashes, is not a destructing; it is a significant constructive part of the event.
Through this kind of consideration I should like to arouse a feeling for the inner connection that lies between what is the dying world-conception and scientific tendency of the old time, and the Spiritual Science that is still in the seed today, really just emerging, in the sense of what it will be in the future. But now the two things are roughly pushed together, and that is the deep tragedy of modern life which we must overcome by inner human power. What I call — one may perhaps be offended by it— the dying bourgeois conception of the world and of life, is at an end; it has brought about its on ruin. What is emerging today as proletarian longing — although still very far from what it will be — has other human foundations. While the bourgeois world-conception is dying in the ether body, what is evolving out of the proletarian world is springing to in the astral body. An extraordinarily significant symbol of the dying world-conception was the egoism of Max Stirner. You will find it described in my book Riddles of Philosophy. We live in an age when we must always try not to judge the thing that is just arising by its outside. However many mistakes it may be making here and there, we must be able to see that the social movement is evolving today among the proletariat out of man's spiritual outlook as the seed of the future. We must be able to see that mankind is passing over a threshold and has to enter into supersense knowledge. And the key that reveals this tendency to one who has supersense — spiritual — knowledge, is precisely the fact that the proletarian world is behaving itself very materialistically indeed, in this or that leader, this or that political boss, fighting against that which it will be someday. It fights against it. It has accepted the bourgeois way of thinking as a final bequest; but it is called in human evolution to cross the threshold consciously, to work its way out of materialistic delusion to real knowledge of the supersensible.
These things that we are considering must be studied by observing their spiritual foundations, so that they do not merely become abstract knowledge but, become an inner impulse for our will. Then we will be able to establish our position within this present social order at the right time and in the right way, with full consciousness.