Spiritual Science as a Foundation for Social Forms
14 August 1920, Dornach
By linking much of what has been said lately with various outside information, you will have gathered one thing, namely, that our anthroposophical movement has entered a state that expects of each individual seeking to participate in it that he associate this participation with a profound sense of responsibility. I have repeatedly alluded to this but it is not always envisaged thoroughly enough. Just because we are placed within our movement, we must not lose sight of the terribly grave time presently faced by European civilization and its American cousins. Even if we ourselves would say nothing about the connection between the impulses generated by anthroposophically oriented spiritual science and contemporary historical events — although it is certainly necessary to speak up — such events would make an impact on our activities and inevitably would play a part in them without our having a hand in the matter. Therefore, the point is not to shut our eyes to the importance of what is indicated by such words.
From the interpretations put forward by Dr. Boos 20Dr. Roman Boos's descriptions, given on August 13, 1920, were not recorded. He reported orally on them to Dr. Steiner. yesterday, a number of friends who had not realized it before may have understood the necessary and practical connection existing between the idea of the threefold social order and the aims of anthroposophy.
The course of world events presently resembles that of an unusually complicated organism, and from all the various phenomena that must be carefully observed, the direction being taken by this organism becomes obvious. Much is happening today that initially makes an insignificant appearance. These seemingly unimportant events, however, frequently point to something immensely incisive and drastic. Again, things go on that clearly show the extraordinary difficulty we have in freeing ourselves from old familiar ideas in order to rise to a perception of what is in keeping with the times.
You can see from a number of newspaper reports of the last few days 21Refers to a news report carried by the French, German and Swiss press, according to which the German Foreign Minister, Simons, had supposedly told a reporter of the “Impartial” that he was a follower of the reforms suggested by Rudolf Steiner (the threefold social organism). See, among others, “Basler Nachrichte,” 1920, #345, August 14, in which an article is quoted from the “Vossische Zeitung” of August 6. In the lecture of April 22, 1921, in answer to a particularly crude article in which Simons was described as “the favorite disciple of the Theosophist, Steiner,” Rudolf Steiner made the following comment: “In the weekly magazine which is primarily the mouthpiece of widespread public opinion, we note in the last issue that public sentiment was being worked up against Simons' policies. It goes without saying that neither anthroposophical spiritual science nor the threefold movement have anything to do with Simons' politics. It is out of a spirit of deep untruthfulness that anthroposphical spiritual science is lumped together with Simons' policies.” the effect made on the world by what issues forth from Dornach, how certain aspects of it are received by a number of persons. We should give these matters serious consideration, recognizing that every word we utter today must be well thought out. We should not say important things without assuming the obligation to inform ourselves about the course of world affairs in what is currently a most complicated organism. At the earliest opportunity I shall have to go into additional matters that have a bearing here; today I only wish to introduce the subject by saying that because of the connections of our movement with general world affairs it is above all else our duty to acquire a full understanding of the fact that we can no longer indulge in any sectarianism whatever in our movement. I have often mentioned this. The present time makes it necessary for us to rely on each individual co-worker, but each one bearing the full responsibility for what he represents in reference to our movement. This responsibility should take the form of an obligation never to say anything that does not appear through inner reasons to have the right relationship to the general course of contemporary world events. Sectarian activities are least of all in harmony with present-day world events. What is to be advocated today must be of a nature that can be represented before the whole world. It must be free in word and deed of any sectarian or dilettante character. We should never allow fear to deter us from sailing between Scylla and Charybdis.
Indicating a certain Scylla, many people may certainly say: How am I supposed to inform myself about what happens today when the course of events has become so complex, when it is so difficult to deduce the inner trends of facts from the symptoms? However, this should not lead to the Charybdis of doing nothing; it should induce us to steer the correct course, namely, to make us aware of our obligation to be in harmony with world events as far as possible, using all available means. It is certainly easier to say: This is anthroposophy and I am studying it; based on it, I engage in a little thinking, researching one or the other subject which I then represent before the world. If we wish to be active in the way indicated above without looking left or right, wearing blinkers in a sense in face of the great, important events of the present, we head straight for sectarianism. We are duty bound to study the contemporary course of events and, above all, to base our observations on the judgment we can acquire through the facts engendered by spiritual science itself.
Throughout the years, facts have been gathered together here for the purpose of enabling each individual person to form a judgment on the basis of these facts. They must not be left out of consideration when, based on our observations, a person wishes to give an opinion about something that is happening today. I mean to refer to this only in general terms, but plan to discuss it in greater detail at the first opportunity.
Today I should like to present something that will supplement what I said last Sunday about the nature of the human sense organism. 22See Lecture III of this volume. I shall begin by pointing out a certain contradiction that I have often dwelt on before. On the one hand, without the general public knowing much about it, but nevertheless thinking along these lines, there exists the condition today of being infected in a sense with the natural scientific mode of thinking. On the other hand, we have one type of person still holding to the old traditional belief regarding moral or religious ideals; another has only skepticism and doubt, while for a third it is a matter of indifference. This great contradiction basically stirs and vibrates through all humanity today: How is the inevitable course of natural events related to the validity of ethical, moral and religious ideals?
I now wish to repeat what many of you may have already heard me say. 23See the lecture of March 18, 1920; printed in “Menschenschule,” Pamphlet 6, 1958. On the one side, we have the natural scientific world concept. It supposes that by means of its facts it can determine something about the course of the universe, in particular, that of the earth. And although it may consider its assertions to be hypothetical, they are imprinted into humanity's whole thinking, attitude and feeling. Our earthly existence is traced back to a kind of nebular condition. It is thought that everything arising out of this nebula is brought about entirely through the compulsion of natural laws. Again, the final condition of our earth's existence is also viewed as being based upon inflexible imperative laws, and concepts are formed about how the earth will meet destruction. Scientists base this kind of view on a widely accepted fundamental concept — even taught to school children — that the substance of the entire universe is indestructible, regardless of whether it is pictured as consisting of atoms, ions or the like. It is thought that at the beginning of earth's formation this substance was in some way compressed, then changed and metamorphosed, but that fundamentally the same substance is present today that existed at the beginning of earth evolution and that it will be present at the end, although compressed in a different form. It is supposed that this substance is indestructible, that everything consists only of transformations of this substance. The concept of the so called conservation of energy was added to this by assuming that in the beginning there were a number of forces which are then pictured as undergoing changes. Basically, the same sum of forces is again imagined to exist in the final condition of earth.
There have been only a few brave spirits who have rebelled against ideas of this kind. One of these I have often mentioned as a typical example, namely, Herman Grimm, 24Hermann Grimm: 1828–1901, Goethe-Vorlesungen, Vol. 2, Berlin, 1877. who has said: People talk of a nebulous state, of the nebulous essence of Kant-Laplace, at the beginning of the earth's or the world's existence. From it, it is supposed that everything on the earth, including the human being, has been compressed through purely natural processes. Furthermore, it is assumed that this undergoes changes until it finally falls back into the sun as a cinder. Now, Herman Grimm is of the opinion that a hungry dog nosing around the bone of a carcass presents a more attractive picture than this theory of Kant-Laplace concerning world existence, and that from a cultural and historical point of view people of the future will find it difficult to grasp how it had been possible for the nineteenth and twentieth century to have fallen victim to such pathological thinking. As I said, a few courageous individuals have opposed these ideas. The latter are so widespread today, however, that when somebody like Herman Grimm rejects them, it is said of him: Well, an art historian need not understand anything about natural science. When someone who claims that he is knowledgeable about natural science raises objections, he is regarded as a fool. These ideas are taken today as self-evident and the significance of this attitude is sensed by very few people. For, if this conception has even the slightest justification, all talk of moral and religious ideals is meaningless, for according to this conception these ideals are simply the product of human brains and rise up like bubbles. The social-democratic theorists label these ideals an ideology which has arisen through the transformations of substance, and which will vanish when our earth comes to an end. All our moral and religious concepts are then simply delusions. For the reality postulated by the natural scientific world-view is of a kind that leaves no room for a moral or religious outlook, if this scientific view of life is accepted in the way it is interpreted by the majority of people today. The point is, therefore, that, on the one hand, the time is ripe and, on the other, urgently requires that a world conception be drawn from quite different sources than those of today's education.
The only sources that make it possible for a moral and religious world concept to exist side by side with the natural scientific one are those of spiritual science. But they must be sought where they find expression in full earnestness. It is difficult for many people nowadays to seek out these sources. They prefer to ignore the glaring contradiction that I have once again brought to your notice, for they do not have the courage to assail the natural scientific world-view itself. They hear from those they look upon as authorities that the law of the conservation of matter and of energy 25This law was first proclaimed by Julius Robert Mayer (1814–1878), doctor and scientist. See Rudolf Steiner: Erdensterben und Weltenleben, GA 181, Lecture XII (not included in English translation of this cycle). Dornach, 1967. is irrefutable, and that anyone who questions it is a mere dilettante. Oppressed by the tremendous weight of this false authority, mankind lacks the courage to turn from it to the sources of spiritual science.
External facts also demonstrate that the well-being of Christianity, a true understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha, depends upon our turning to the sources of spiritual science. The external course of events does indeed show this. Look at the so-called progressive theologians and what is expounded by the more advanced representatives of Christianity. Materialism has, after all, fastened its hold even upon religion. One can no longer understand how the spiritual, divine principle that is indicated by the name, Christ, is united with the human personality of Jesus of Nazareth. For, today, it is only through the sources of spiritual science that insight concerning this union can be acquired.
Thus, matters have reached the point where even theology has grown materialistic and speaks only of “the humble man from Nazareth,” of a man who is reputed to have taught something more sublime than others, but in the end is only to be considered as a great teacher. One of the most eminent among present-day theologians, Adolf Harnack, 26Adolf von Harnack: 1851–1930. The quotation literally says: “Not the Son, but only the Father belongs in the Gospel, as Jesus proclaimed it.” In Das Wesen des Christentums, Leipzig, 1900. actually coined the words: “It is the Father, not the Christ, Who belongs in the Gospel.” In other words, the Gospel is not supposed to speak of Christ, because theologians such as Harnack are no longer familiar with the Christ; they know only the teacher from Nazareth. They are still willing to accept his teaching. The teachings concerning the Father, the Creator of the world, belong in the Gospel, but not a teaching about Christ Jesus himself!
Without doubt, Christianity would continue on this path of naturalization, of materialization, if a spiritual-scientific impulse were not forthcoming for it. In all honesty, no conception concerning the union of the divine and the human natures in Christ Jesus can be derived by humanity from what has been handed down to it by tradition. For that we require the uncovering of new sources of spiritual science. We need this for the religious life and also for giving the social conditions of our civilization the new structure demanded by current events. Above all, we need a complete reconstruction of science, a permeation of all scientific fields with what flows from the spiritual-scientific sources. Without this, we cannot progress. Those who think that it is unnecessary to be concerned with the course of the religious or the social life, the course of public events throughout the civilized world or the accomplishments of science; those who believe they can present anthroposophy in sectarian seclusion to a haphazardly thrown together group that is looked upon as a circle of strangers by the rest of the world, are definitely victims of a grievous delusion.
The sense of responsibility in face of the whole trend of present events underlies everything that I say here. It is the basis of every sentence, of every word. I have to mention this because it is not always understood with all seriousness. If people today continue referring to mysticism in the same manner as was done by many during the course of the nineteenth century, it is no longer in harmony with what the world currently demands. If the content of anthroposophical teaching is merely added to what otherwise takes place in the course of world events, this is also not in harmony with present-day requirements. Remember how the problem, the riddle of human freedom has been the central theme of the studies I have conducted for decades. This enigma of human freedom must be placed by us today in the center of each and every true spiritual-scientific consideration.
This must be done for two reasons. First, because all that has come down to us from the old Mysteries, all that has been presented to the world by the initiation knowledge of old is lacking in any real comprehension of the riddle of human freedom. Sublime and mighty were the traditions those mystery teachers could pass on to posterity. There is greatness and power in the mythological traditions of the various peoples that can indeed be interpreted esoterically, although not in the way it is usually done. Something grand is contained in the other traditions that have as their source the initiation science of ancient times, if only the latter is correctly understood. One aspect is lacking, however; there is no reference at all to the riddle of human freedom in the initiation science of the ancient Mysteries, in the myths of the various peoples — even when they are comprehended esoterically — or in the traditions deriving from this initiation science. For, whoever proceeds from a present-day initiation knowledge, from an initiation of today, knows how present initiation compares to that of the past. He knows that in the course of its worldwide evolution mankind is only now entering the stage of real freedom, and that formerly it was simply not necessary to give to human beings an initiation science impregnated completely with the riddle of freedom. Today, hardly anybody has an inkling of what this riddle of freedom includes, what condition the human soul finds itself in when it becomes clearly aware of the burden it shoulders due to this enigma. New light must be shed, after all, on all initiation knowledge due to this riddle of human freedom. We observe how certain secret societies carry on in direct continuation from former times, some of them being quite strongly involved in present-day life. They only preserve the traditions of the past, however, only imitating and continuing on in the sense of the old practices. These societies are nothing more than mere shadows of the past; indeed, they represent something that can only do harm to mankind if it is active nowadays.
We have to realize that if anyone today were to teach even the loftiest former mysteries, they would be detrimental to humanity. No one who understands the nature of present initiation can possibly teach in a timely sense applicable to our age what was once taught in the Egyptian, Chaldean, the Indian or even those still so near our time, the Greek mysteries. After all, what has been propagated up to now as doctrine concerning Christianity has all been produced by these traditional teachings. What is needed is that we comprehend the Mystery of Golgotha anew based on a new teaching. This is what must be considered on the one side.
On the other side, we see the course of world events. We see how the striving for the impulse of freedom rises up from subconscious depths of the human soul; how, at the present time, this call for freedom resounds through all human efforts. It does indeed pervade them, but there is so much that resounds in human striving that is not clearly understood, that only echoes up from subconscious levels yet to be permeated by clear comprehension. One might say that mankind thirsts for freedom! Initiation science realizes that it must produce an initiation knowledge that is illuminated by the light of freedom.
And these two, this striving of humanity and the creation of a new initiation wisdom, illuminated by the light of freedom, must come together. They must meet in all areas. Therefore, a discussion of the social question must not be based on all sorts of old premises. We can only speak of it when we view it in the light of spiritual science, and that is what people find so difficult. Why is that?
Mankind is indeed striving for freedom, freedom for the individual, and rightfully so. I emphasize: rightfully so. It is no longer possible for human beings to cooperate with group souls in the sense of the ancient group system. They have to develop into individualities. This striving, however, seems to be at variance with what is acquired by listening to initiation science, something that must obviously originate from individual persons in the first place. The ancient initiate had his own ways and means of seeking out his pupils and passing on to them the initiation wisdom, even of gaining recognition for them, himself and his Mystery center. The modern initiate cannot allow that, for it would necessitate working with certain forces and impulses of the group soul nature, something that is not permissible today. Thus, humanity's condition today is one where everyone, proceeding from whatever his standpoint happens to be, wishes to become an individuality. For that reason, he naturally does not care to listen to what comes from a human being as initiation science. Yet, no progress can be made until it is understood that men can become individualities only when, in turn, they accept the content of initiation science from other individualities. This is not only related to isolated ideological questions. It is connected with the basic nature of our whole age and its effects on the cultural, political and economic spheres. Humanity is yearning for freedom, and initiation science would like to speak of this freedom. We have, however, only just reached the point in the stage of mankind's evolution where sound human reasoning can grasp the idea of freedom. Today, we must gain insight into much that can be gathered from anthroposophical literature, and that I should like to summarize in turn from a number of viewpoints. It must be understood today what sort of being man is. All the abstract chatter concerning monism misses the point of true monism which can only be attained after one has gone through much else, but it cannot be proclaimed from the first as a world conception.
Man is a twofold being. On the one side, we have what may be called man's lower nature — the word leads to misunderstandings, but there are few words in our language that adequately express what one would like to convey from the spiritual-scientific standpoint — namely, the physical, corporeal organization of which he consists in the first place. I have described the latter to you in my last lecture in connection with the sense organization. Today, we shall not go into that but refer to it again tomorrow. Those of you, however, who have studied anthroposophical literature to any extent at all, have some idea of man's physical, bodily organization and know that it is connected to the surrounding environment. What constitutes the outside world and dwells out there in the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms, also constitutes us human beings in the physical, corporeal sense. In a way we are its concentration, elevated to a higher level, and figuratively one could say that we are the crown of creation. In the physical, bodily sense we are a confluence of the effects of forces and substances occurring outside and appearing before us through our sense perceptions.
On the other side, we have our inner life. We have our will, our feeling, our thinking and our conceptual capability. When we reflect upon ourselves, we can observe our own will, feeling and thinking, and permeate these with what we call our religious, moral and other ideals. Here, we arrive at what may be termed the man of soul and spirit. Again, this term may easily lead to misunderstandings, but it must be used. We cannot manage if we do not turn the gaze of our soul on one hand to this soul-spiritual human being, and on the other to the physical, corporeal man. But whether we study the facts of nature impartially or contemplate spiritual science, it is necessary to come to the realization: This physical, bodily organization is not really available to what human science, currently existing in the exoteric world, is able to grasp in any sense. If I am to clarify this schematically by means of a sketch, I should like to say: When I condense all that constitutes the human physical organization and its connection with the whole surrounding world (red in sketch), this continues to a certain point. I shall indicate that here by a line. Despite all modern amateurish objections of psychology, beyond this point and polarically differing from it, we have what may be called the soul-spiritual nature of man (yellow), that, in turn, is linked with a world of soul and spirit. That world appears most abstract to present-day human beings, because they grasp it only in the sense of abstract moral or religious ideals that have also become increasingly abstract conceptions. Yet, in regard to both sides of human nature, we are obliged to say: What is looked upon today as science encompasses neither man's physical body nor his soul-spiritual nature. We cannot recognize the physical corporeal nature of man. You can discover the reasons for this in my little book, Philosophy and Anthroposophy. 27Rudolf Steiner: “Durch den Geist zur Wirklichkeits-Erkenntnis der Menschenraetsel: Philosophie und Anthroposophie. Vier Maerchen (aus den Mysteriendramen). Anthroposophischer Seelenkalender. Der Seelen Erwachen, 7.u. 8. Bild,” Berlin, 1918. Compiled upon requests by friends and published in book-form for the German soldiers on the front. For, if man would penetrate into himself with inner vision, that is, if he were to look into the very depths of his being and perceive what is going on there, he would be able to do so exactly in the sense of what modern science deems "exact." Then, however, man could not be the being he is today, for he would have no memory, no facility of recollection. When we look at the world, we retain its pictures in our memory. This means that impressions of the world reach only as far as this barrier (see arrow in sketch). From there, they strike back into the soul and we remember them. What thus strikes back out of our own selves into memory conceals from us our physical bodily nature. We cannot look into it, for if we were able to do so all the impressions would merely be momentary, nothing would be thrown back to form recollections. It is only because this barrier acts as a reflector — after all, we cannot look behind a mirror either, its impressions are reflected back to us — that we cannot see inside ourselves. The impressions are reflected back to us unless we rise to spiritual science. If they were not thrown back, we would not have the reflected impressions of memory in ordinary life. We must be so organized as human beings in life that we have memories. Due to this, however, our physical bodily organization is concealed from us. Just as we cannot see through a mirror to what lies behind it, we cannot look behind or under the mirror of memory and behold the way the physical body of the human being is organized.
This is true psychology; this is the true nature of memory. Only when spiritual-scientific methods penetrate through this reflector in such a way that no use is made of the faculty of memory — as I have already mentioned in public lectures — and, instead, without recollection, one works each time with new impressions, only then are the true forms of body and soul discovered.
It is the same in the other direction. If, with our ordinary powers of cognition, we could penetrate the soul-spiritual concerning which I told you last Sunday that this is what is in truth located behind the world of the senses rather than atoms and molecules — and if we were not prevented, so to speak, by the boundaries and barriers of natural science, there would not be present in us something that is, in turn, needed in human life and must be developed by us between birth and death, namely, the capacity for love. The human capacity for love is created in us by the fact that, in this life between birth and death, if we do not advance to spiritual science, we have to forego penetrating the veil of the senses and seeing into the spiritual world. We retain the capacity of memory only by renouncing all ability to see into our own physical body. Thereby, however, we are exposed to two great illusions. The dogmatic adherents of the natural scientific world conception are at the mercy of one of these illusions. They pay no attention to initiation knowledge and do not come to the realization — in the way I described it to you last Sunday 28See Lecture III of this volume. — that behind the veil of the senses there is no matter, no substance, no energy, of which natural science speaks, but soul-spiritual being through and through. Today, I must still reiterate with the same emphasis what I stressed in my commentary on the third volume of Goethe's scientific writings, namely, Goethe's Theory of Color. 29See Note #4 Out there is the world's carpet of colors, the red, blue and green; out there are the other perceptions. No atoms and molecules are concealed behind it all, but spiritual beings. What is driven to the surface from these spiritual beings lives and expresses itself in the world's carpet of colors, in its relationships of sound and warmth and all the other sensations the world transmits to us.
Those, however, who are dogmatic followers of the natural scientific world view today do not realize this. They have no desire to listen to initiation science. In consequence, they begin to speculate about what is hidden behind color, warmth, and so forth, and arrive at a material construction of the world. However well founded this construction may seem for example, the modern theory of ions — it is always the result of speculation. We must not speculate about what is behind the world of the senses; we may only gain experiences there by means of a higher spiritual world. Otherwise, we must content ourselves to remain within the phenomena. The sense world is a sum of phenomena and must be comprehended as such.
Thus, we are given a picture of nature today which is then extended to include the state of the earth at its beginning and at its end — a picture that excludes an ethical and religious world view for the honest thinker.
The victims of the second illusion are those who Look within. For the most part, they do not go beyond what is reflected. Ordinary man in everyday life perceives the effects of memory — he recalls what he experienced yesterday and the day before, indeed, years ago. Someone who becomes a mystic today brings any number of things to the surface from within which he then clothes in beautiful mystical words and theories. But as I have recently pointed out, 30See Lecture II of this volume. these things are but the bubbling and seething of his inner organic life. For, if we penetrate this mirror, we do not come to what a Master Eckhart or Johannes Tauler have in their mysticism. We arrive at organic processes of which, it is true, the world today has scarcely any idea. What is clothed in such beautiful words is related to these organic processes as the flame of a candle is related to the flammable material — it is the product of these organic processes. The mysticism of a John of the Cross, of a Mechthild of Magdeburg, or of Johannes Tauler and Master Eckhart 31See Note #17 is beautiful, but nevertheless, it is only what boils up out of the organic life and is described in abstract forms merely because one lacks the insight into how this organic life is active. He can be no true spiritual scientist who interprets as mysticism the inwardly surging organic life. Certainly, beautiful words are used to describe it, but we must be capable of taking a completely different viewpoint from that of the ordinary world when referring to these matters. We ought not to adopt the humanly arrogant standpoint and say: The inner organic life is the lower form of life. It is not elevated if its effects are designated as mysticism. On the contrary, we are impelled into the life of the spirit when we discern this organic life and its effects and realize that the more we descend into man's individual nature, the more we distance ourselves from the spiritual. We do not approach it more closely. We draw near the spirit only by way of spiritual science, not by descending into ourselves. When we do the latter, it is our task to discover how the collaboration of heart, liver and kidneys produces mysticism; for that is what it does.
I have often pointed out that the tragedy of modern materialism is that it actually cannot perceive the material effects, indeed, that it cannot even reach as far as the material effects. Today we have neither a true natural science nor a genuine psychology. True natural science leads to the spirit, and the kind of psychology progressing in the direction that we have in mind today leads to insight into heart, liver and kidneys, not the abstractions our modern, amateurish psychology speaks of. For what is frequently called thinking, feeling and willing today is an abstract set of words. People lack insight into the concrete aspects, and it is easy to accuse even sincere spiritual science of materialism just because it leads into the nature of material elements in order to guide us in this way to the spirit.
It will be the specific task of true spiritualism to unveil the nature of all matter. Then it will be able to show how spirit is effective in matter. It must be taken quite seriously that spiritual science ought not to be concerned with the mere logicality of knowledge, but has to aim for a knowledge that is action. Something must be done — with regard to knowing. What is taking place in the process of cognizing must become involved in the course of world events. It must be something factual. It was just this that I was trying to indicate last Sunday and the days before. It is a matter of arriving at the realization that spirit as such must be comprehended as a fact; no theory concerning the spirit may be developed. Theories should only serve to lead to living experience of the spirit. This is the reason why it is so often necessary for the true spiritual scientist to speak paradoxically. We cannot persist today in talking in the customary formulations when we speak about spiritual science; otherwise, we come to what an erroneous theosophy has led to. It mentions any number of the members of man's being — the physical man, the etheric and astral being — each one more tenuous than the last. Physical man is dense, the etheric is less so, the astral being is still more rarefied. There are utterly tenuous mental and other states that are increasingly delicate, a perceptible mist, but all remain a mist, they all remain matter! That, however, is not the point. What does matter is that one learns in substance itself to overcome material. This is why one must frequently employ words that have a different connotation from the one customary in everyday life.
Therefore, we must say — and that matter will become clearer to us tomorrow: Take, on the one side, a person who is of a thoroughly materialistic mind and has been led astray, shall we say, by present-day materialism, one who cannot raise himself to a view of anything spiritual and, according to theory, is a complete materialist, considering any mention of the spirit pure nonsense. Suppose, however, that what he says concerning matter is intelligent and really to the point. This man, then, would have spirit. Although, by means of his spirit, he might uphold materialism, he would have spirit.
Then, let us look at another person who is a member of a theosophical society and adheres to the viewpoint: This is the physical body, then comes the more rarefied etheric body, followed by a more tenuous astral body, mental body, and so on. It does not take much spirit to make these assertions. Indeed, such a theory can be represented with very little spirit. The expounding of such a spiritual world is then, strictly speaking, a falsehood, because in reality one only pictures a material world phrased in spiritual terms.
Where would a person look who is genuinely seeking for the spirit? Will he seek it by turning to the materialistic theorist who has spirit, albeit in a logical manner, or will he turn to the one who makes plausible statements, so to say, but whose words refer only to matter? The true spiritualist will speak of the spirit in connection with the former, the one who represents a materialistic world conception, for there spirit can be present, whereas no spirit need be present in expounding a spiritual view. What is important is that spirit is at work, not that one speaks of spirit.
I wished to say this today merely to clear up certain matters that seem paradoxical. The spirited materialist may be more filled with spirit than the exponent of a spiritual theory who presents it spiritlessly. In the case of true spiritual science, the possibility no longer exists merely to dispute logically about ideological standpoints. It becomes imperative to grasp the spirit in its actuality. That is impossible unless one first comprehends some preliminary concepts such as those of which we have spoken today and shall be considering further tomorrow.