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The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Healing Factors for the Social Organism
GA 198

II. Man and Nature

18 July 1920, Dornach

Yesterday I attempted to roll out before you the overall significance of the earnestness of anthroposophically oriented spiritual science through the fact that I made the effort to show you what a difference exists between the overly abstract representations and conceptions, and that which also comes about in the soul in the form of representations and concepts—which also takes on the configuration of representations and concepts—but then is reality, effective working. We are concerned with the fact that man has the strong insight, how the human being, in his increasingly materialistic attitude (through the fact that he completely turns away from spiritual concepts) only concerns himself with concepts of the natural realm etc., makes himself evermore similar to the element of matter, how he in fact climbs down into this matter element, so that in the end it is no longer false when he maintains that the matter of his body thinks, his brain thinks—but that that is even correct that man becomes in fact a robot of the universe—and gradually, bit by bit, through the denial of the soul-spiritual element, the actual losing of this soul-spiritual element occurs. I said that this is naturally an uncomfortable view of the world for many people, and that many take to be something that they do not wish to accept for the reason that they believe that the human being, without his own input, will somehow in the long run be able to have his soul-spiritual element saved. This however, is not the case. The human being can also so strongly immerse himself into the material element that he cuts himself off from the soul-spiritual element, that he sinks himself into the Ahrimanic powers and continues on with these Ahrimanic powers in a world stream alien to our world, but without his ego, which indeed cannot belong to the Ahrimanic world, but which can only find its actually intended development when man follows the normal progressive element, that is, when he joins himself to everything that is connected to the Mystery of Golgotha, when he, above all else, recognises that in our time one has to seek the connection to what can be brought to all mankind in the way of spiritual research. In this evolution of humanity that has taken place for the occident since the middle of the 15th century, the period has begun in which the human being, when he looks out into his environment perceives only the sense world. And when he looks into himself since the middle of the 15th century he has been increasingly misled in the direction of intellectualising, abstracting, making thin his inner soul experiences.

What we experience today as concepts, what we receive for our view of the world out of the customary official professions, that contains, basically, absolutely no relationship to existence. That also cannot be used to penetrate into the true realities. It is only a prejudice when one believes that the human being, in that he makes the usual abstract thoughts, actually has a life of soul. These abstract thoughts are actually an element alien to reality, they are merely a sum of images; so that we can say: outside himself man sees the sense world, and inside man sees that which, fundamentally is only a world of images which basically has no real connection to existence.—That is actually the destiny of mankind since the middle of the 15th century; to perceive the sense world outside—we shall soon see what significance this sense world has in regard to a universal world view—and to experience “inside” a soul element that increasingly becomes a mere image element. One can raise the question: why is it then that mankind of the civilised world since the 15th century, in regard to soul existence, has become increasingly mere images? That is so, so that man, through this, can ascend to a true freedom.

So as to understand that, lets look at our world more closely as it is for us today and as we ourselves stand within it, Let us disregard the human being himself in the whole of the wide world; look upon all that can be found in all the wide world, shall we say as clouds, mountains, rivers, as structures of the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms, and let us ask ourselves: what is then actually in the whole surrounding, of what one may so describe as I have done it? Let us just schematically sketch what we are concerned about. Shall we say: everything above us, everything spread out around us as the minerals, the plants, and to a certain degree the animals—the human beings we shall disregard, which naturally in reality we cannot do, but which we may do hypothetically - thus we imagine that that is nature without the human being. Here, in this entire nature, without the human being, there are no gods. That is what has to be seen and understood! In this nature devoid of humans the gods do not exist, just as in the shucked oyster shell the oyster does not exist or in a separated snail shell the snail does not exist, This entire world devoid of humans which I have spoken of hypothetically, it is what the divine beings have separated from in the course of development, just as the oyster separates from its shell, The gods, the divine beings are no longer within it, as little as the oyster or the snail are in their separated and shed shells. What we have around us as world as I have described it is in the past. In that we look out upon the nature, we look upon the past of the spiritual element, and upon what has remained as a leftover from the past of the spiritual element, Therefore, there also no longer exists the possibility of truly coming to a religious consciousness merely through looking upon the outer world, for one should by no means believe that in this outer world there is present anything consisting of the actual humanity—creating spiritual divine beings. Elemental beings, certainly: a lower order of spiritual beings, that is another matter; but what the actual creative spiritual beings are that belong to the consciousness of religion as such, that belongs to this world only insofar as it is the shell, the residue, what is left behind.

Such things as we have just touched upon are indeed sometimes felt as earnest truths by single outstanding personalities. Truths that arise in the souls of such personalities. The one who, in the spiritual development of the 19th century, felt most deeply how what surrounds man as nature is the remainder of a divine spiritual development is Phillip Mainlaender, who through the overburdening heaviness of this knowledge arrived at his philosophy of suicide, and then also ended his life in suicide. Sometimes it is the destiny of human beings through their karma, to have to go very deeply into such one-sided truths. Then this destiny itself becomes for one incarnation one-sided and difficult, as it did for Phillip Mainlaender, the unfortunate German philosopher.

After you have taken that up into yourselves which we had to say about this hypothetical outer nature, you can now ask yourself: indeed, where are then the gods, those gods of which we speak as the actual creative ones? Here I would have to make the schematic sketch a little different, here I have to sketch the human being, and within the human being the gods. If I may put it this way: within the human skin, in the human organs are the actual creative gods. The human beings, in their being, are the bearers of the Divine Spiritual Being at present. Thus the divine-spiritual, that is also the actual creative element in the present, is within the human being. And if today you imagine the entire outer nature, and then imagine a future of several thousand years lying before us, nothing will then exist of these clouds, minerals, plants, and even the animals. Nothing of all that will exist, that now lives outside the human skin. But what gives the inner human organisation its permeating spirit and soul, that will find its continuing development, that will be the future.

If I were to sketch this schematically, then I would have to say: if this large outside circle is nature, and the smaller one within it is man, and the smaller kernel within it is the human-divine element, then, in the future nature will be shattered and disbursed (shown by outraying beams). The human being will be expanded into a world, and that which today is his inner core will be his outer surroundings, the nature itself.

The insight into the fact that the divine-spiritual, which we have to address as the really creative element in the present, lies within the human skin, is a uniquely serious bit of knowledge. For that lays a responsibility upon the human being in regard to the whole cosmos. This enables the human being to understand such a thing as the Christ word: “Heaven and earth shall pass away,” that is, the outer world, “but my words will not pass away.” And if the word of Paul is fulfilled in the single human being: “Not I, but the Christ in me,” then again the words of Christ live in the single human being: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words” in the single human being, that is, what is within the skin and is taken up by Christ, “will not pass away.”

But what does what I have said indicate? It indicates that man through his abstract concepts, through what he has intellectualised, has so to speak, made himself empty in his inner being ever since the middle of the 15th century. For what purpose then has he made himself empty? He has made himself empty, just so that he can take up the Christ impulse, that is to take up the creative-divine into his own inner being. We look into the outer world, I said: we look only into the sense element. There we see only the divine past. Among those things that have remained out of this divine past are also the elemental spirits etc. which have remained at a lower stage. We look into our inner being, and in this inner being we see at first the mere imaged abstract concepts that are increasingly intellectualised—which only thereby become something concrete and real, in that the human being takes up the spirit-impulse through spiritual science and joins it to his inner life. Man has the choice—and this choice becomes an ever more serious matter since the middle of the 15th century—either to remain static with the intellectualised abstract concepts, or to take up the vitalising content of spiritual science. If he stays with the intellectual abstract concepts, then he will further develop a brilliant natural science—for these concepts are dead, and he will grasp the dead nature with the dead concepts in a remarkable way. But all that makes a mummy out of him, all that similarises him to the element of matter, all that leads to the fact that he succumbs to the Ahrimanic element, For the continuing progress of earthly affairs, for the progressive continuation of the entire earth development he needs the taking up of the spiritual element—which today does not approach the the human being in an atavistic instinctive way, but rather which has to be worked for, worked hard for, by the human being. Thus the taking up of the science of the spirit is not a theory, but rather is the working out, the working for, of something real. It is the filling out, of the otherwise empty inner soul life, with a spiritual and spiritualised content. With an empty inner life, confronting the past in what is outside, thus will humanity in its mass remain today in that it only wants to give real meaning to thought-logic along with experimentation and does not want to take up what is a vitalising spiritual life. The world today stands not only in danger of succumbing to the Ahrimanic element, but it is also in danger of losing the mission of the earth as a whole.

Whoever thinks this through and feels this through will only first properly sense the deep earnestness that is to be connected to the acquisition of spiritual science, And he will then not underestimate this knowledge, which is the knowledge of the human being. The knowledge of the human being does not actually exist within present day natural science or within the old religious traditions. What do the old religious traditions offer? They direct the gaze of the human beings up into abstract, world-estranged heights; they do not speak of how the gods indeed live, organically, in the inner life of man's being, These thoughts they would declare to be heretical to the highest degree. If today one wanted to bring the traditional European and American religious confessions to an understanding that the gods live in human beings, and that this ancient word is a truth: the human body is the temple of the gods - they would rise up in indignation and wrath against such heresy. Thus, this is on the one hand.

On the other hand we have a materialistically oriented natural science which, just because it is materialistic, does not understand matter. What does natural science understand about the function of the human brain? What does natural science understand about the function of the heart, etc.? I have often showed you, and have also expressed it publically that material science holds the view, for instance, that the human heart is a kind of pump that pumps the blood in the body. This general heart science taught as university science is simply nonsense, no more or less than simple nonsense. It is really not the case that the heart is a pump that presses the blood out in all directions and again allows it to return, but the actual vitalising element is the circulating of the blood itself. There is in the blood, in the circulating blood itself, there lives what just in human existence is the actual mover of the circulation in the human organism, and the heart is only the expression of this and nothing else, The circulating movement is evident. Whoever says, in the sense of today's natural science that the heart drives the blood into the body he speaks in approximately the same way, as though one would say: when it was ten minutes to nine the one hand was close to nine, and the other hand was over ten, and these hands along with the whole clock works have driven me up here to the podium. But that is, indeed, not so! the clock is only the expression for that which has happened. Just as little is the heart the pump works that brings it about that the blood is driven through the body; it is only the expression for it; it is a concomitent part of this entire blood system, and is the expression for the blood system.

Natural science as it is generally practised today also leads just as little into the inner life of the human being; at the very most it makes the inner into something external in that it dissects corpses. However, through this one does not come into the inner life, one comes thereby only to making the inner into something external, for at the moment when one anatomises the interior of the human being, one makes what one achieves into something external. Thus we are concerned with the fact that in the entire spiritual life today there is tendency present to really penetrate into the inner life of the human being. This is just what spiritual science has to bring; here spiritual science has to bring the knowledge of the human being. However, most of our contemporaries are frightened away from this knowledge of man. why, then? Because the religious traditions for centuries have expressly surrounded man in a fear regarding all real striving for knowledge. One needs only to consider what nebulosity, what a swimming in words the traditional confessions have presented to man, which they then bring to a climax in the sermon, that the human being ought not to cognise the super-sensible element, but just believe it, merely feel it in a darkling way. All that bears within it the tendency that man, even out of his arrogance, his having too high an opinion of himself, and yet at the same time out of his tendency to inertia, brings to birth the idea: one does not need to think about the divine, that must rise up out of the depths in dim feelings and instincts. Then, however, there rises up nothing other than the dim miasma of the organic element, which is then transposed into illusions, which then again are transformed by the practioners and theologians (who are working toward comfortably convenient practices) into all sorts of nebulous things.

Through many centuries the instinct for knowledge was suppressed which solely and along can bring humanity forwards, on the course of earthly development, and then onwards in the course of spiritual development. Today, human beings downright get gooseflesh when they are to begin to develop real cognition and are to live up into the spiritual world. But to the degree that one gets this gooseflesh, to that same degree one cuts oneself off from the spiritual-soul beings, and similarises oneself to the element of matter.

One can say that when such things are to be undertaken seriously, then human beings immediately withdraw in fright, because today everything is considered only externally. I should like to intersperse something here which I have recently noticed again. We have founded the Waldorf School in Stuttgart. This Waldorf School was founded entirely out of the spirit of anthroposophically oriented spiritual science, that is to say, a pedagogy and didactics was given in lectures to those who were expressly chosen for this school. Here we are concerned with spirit that has permeated into this pedagogy and didactics. Today it is already even happening—for everything that is founded by us becomes a sensation—that people want to visit this Waldorf School and observe it for a couple of hours, in order to see whether in this couple of hours something or other could be observed that is somewhat different than in other schools—thus, again, only a sensation! However, the spirit of the Waldorf School one can become acquainted with only through anthroposophically oriented spiritual science, not in that one sits down so as to audit the lessons, and disturbs the instruction to a lesser or greater degree. To take up anthroposophically oriented spiritual science is just more inconvenient and less sensational, than it is to audit -that is to say, basically to make it more convenient and comfortable for oneself.

The pedagogy and didactics we are dealing with here reckon with spiritual worlds and above all with the pre-existence of the human being. How is it then with the pre-existence of the human being? Well, we think back to the earthly year of our birth. Let us suppose we were descended to earthly life in this period of time (a short red line is drawn). Children who are born quite a bit later, during this same time, have still been above in the spiritual world (a longer red line above). We were already on the earth during the time when those children were still above. They bring something to us that has been experienced in the spiritual world during the time when we were already down in the physical world.

One can see that consciously in the children that are before one, if one instructs with the pedagogy and didactics in such a way as the instruction should be in the Waldorf School. One should vividly place onesself into the spirit of the child, that is, develop the practice in daily life, for the reality of what must be given in representations and ideas from out of anthroposophically oriented spiritual science. But just from such things people were kept away through the traditions of the traditional religious confessions, who above all else, did not want that the inner activity would be more highly developed in human beings, which then also leads to real knowledge of man, and which brings about the deep truth that the location of the gods is itself within the skin of the human being.

Let us look upon our planets from outside. In all of what otherwise is in the planets, there is no divine-spiritual element, From out of the human-like beings that are upon them, there radiates the divine element out from the planet. Are the planets thereby diminished, because this radiates out from the bodies of the human beings? You will also become formally friendly with this thought, if you take it away from earthly life and transpose it onto another planet. In that you stand here upon the earth, you will to be sure, find that this thought has something preserved and oppressive about it, the thought that you and your fellow human beings are the bearers of the divine-spiritual element. But if skilfully you direct your gaze to another planet, then you shall more easily be able to conceive the thought, that among those beings who constitute the highest kingdom of nature there, is the location from which the divine-spiritual element gleams down toward you.

The thought which we have developed today supplements from a particular side the other earnest thoughts which we have yesterday allowed to appear before our souls.

Yesterday we have allowed the thought to appear before our soul, that in the interior of the human being that is developed, which is to bring forth the further reality of the earth development which is to carry the earth development forward, whereas it also lies within the will of the human being to hinder this earth development: to take up the Ahrimanic stream alone. And today we place alongside this the other thought, that actually everything that is around us is transitory outer nature, for it today represents only a leftover of the divine-spiritual creating. Divine-spiritual creating which hold sway in the present and will hold sway in the future: that is what is present within the human skin; so that it appears to be paradoxical, and yet is true, when one says: everything which the eyes see, which the ears hear from out of the human surroundings, that passes away with the earth. That alone which lives in the spaces that are enclosed in the human skin that lives over into Jupiter, that carries earth existence into the future planetary development. One will again receive an urge to really become acquainted with the relationship of the human being to the cosmos, when one places the tremendously serious necessity before one's gaze, to learn the real knowledge about the human being.

The human being indeed actually lives between two extremes. We have called these extremes the luciferic stream and the ahrimanic stream. We can also grasp them, I should like to say, in a more elementary way. The philosophers have always spoken of the fact that man cannot actually grasp his being going out from the thoughts. That is also actually true; for, what it is that man has as the feeling of Being; from whence does that actually come? The human being exists in the spiritual world before he enters, through conception or birth, into the physical existence. He comes down out of supersensible worlds into his earthly, physical, sensory existence, Here he experiences, above all, something new that he has not experienced in the supersensible worlds, which actually encompasses when he has descended. That is what one—but only representatively—can call gravity, the attractive force of the earth, which one can call “having weight.” Now, you know: the expression “having weight” is only actually taken from the most important phenomenon of gravity. For what we have, for example, as “being tired” is also something similar to “having weight” and what we feel in our extremities when we exercise them is also something that is related to “having weight.” But because “having weight” is the most representative of these things, we can say: the human being places himself into gravity. And in a concealed way the human being always perceives something of this gravity when he designates something or other on the earth as real.

In the opposite sense, if the human being is between death and a new birth, there, just as on earth he is joined to gravity, he is then joined to the light. For light also has a sense: “to the light” is again used in a representative way, for we receive through the eyes most of our higher sense perceptions, when we have vision, and then we speak of light. But that which lives in the sense-feeling of the eyes as light, is the same as what lives as sound for the sensing-feeling of the ear and gives evidence of itself in single tones, as the light gives evidence of itself in single colors, And this it is also for the other senses. Fundamentally speaking it is the stimulation by all the senses which one designates representatively as light, just as one designates gravity in a representative way. We are taken up into the extreme of gravity when we descend to the earth. We are taken up into the extreme of light when we transpose ourselves through death into the world between death and a new birth. And we are always, actually fitted into the middle condition between light and gravity, and every sense-feeling, in that we experience here, is fundamentally half light and half gravity. At the moment when we, perhaps through something pathological or through a dream, experience ourselves without our gravity, we experience the mere spiritual element as just in a bout of fever or in a dream. The bout of fever, in regard to the soul, consists in this, that man has experiences, without being aware of his own gravity while experiencing them. This balance between gravity and light, into which we are spanned, that is, for a great deal of what we experience in the world in that we as men are spiritual-physical beings, just that which is intimately with the world riddles. But neither the world stream that lives itself out in the traditional religious confessions, nor that which lives itself out in the fantasies of natural science, arrives at the break-through from the abstract concepts into the light or form the sense-feelings down into gravity. Human beings have indeed become blind, deaf, and stupid regarding these things.

Let us take a crystal; that gives itself its own from. What then is in that as a force? In that is the same force man feels pressing down upon him, the same force that gives form to the entire earth. Just look there where the earth can give form: in the whole surface of the sea, in water; here gravity gives the form. Then the same force gives the crystal the form, only here it works from within. The scientific fantasies move in the direction of saying: what lies behind matter, or in matter, one does not know, that is a world riddle. What lies behind the surface of matter we experience, when we experience our own gravity, for in regard to the whole earth we are placed within the same forces which, for example, work in the small entities and hold the single parts together. One must just be in the position to recognise the great in the small, and the small in the great, and not just speculate what may stand behind matter. What goes beyond matter, the divine-spiritual element that holds sway in the beings, that must be recognised through the fact that one stokes up the fires that can be stoked in the inner element, which brings one to higher inner experiencing, that brings to understanding the concepts and representations that are really related to what dwells in the temple, which is represented by old traditions as being man himself,

There is something within old atavistic widsom, as I have often emphasized, which one can experience with deep devotion, In the present, one is called upon again in full consciousness to fetch it up again out of the depths of being, and also to make this a guideline for the spiritual and social actions, and for life.