19 January 1922, Mannheim
Some time has passed since we met here, and the opportunity to discuss a number of things with you after such a long while gives me the profoundest pleasure. Behind, us lie extremely grave times, difficult times, of which the gravity is certainly felt, though in wider circles it is still insufficiently understood. It is true to say that people who have experienced the second decade of the twentieth century have gone through more than is otherwise experienced over a span of centuries. We are asleep in our souls if we fail to notice how everything to do with human evolution is different now than it was ten years ago. The whole great turnabout that has taken place will no doubt only be fully realized by mankind at large after some time has passed. Then we shall come to see how the events that took place so catastrophically at the surface of life reach deep down into the roots of human souls, and how what has happened came about in the first instance as errors of soul affecting the widest circles of mankind. Not until the decision is made to seek in human souls the true reasons for this great human misfortune will it be possible to reach a real understanding of this time of trial undergone by mankind. Then also an attitude will develop towards a spiritual stream such as Anthroposophy which will differ from that prevailing at present.
This anthroposophical spiritual stream wants to give to mankind the very thing that has been lacking over the last three, four, five hundred years, the thing whose lack is so intimately bound up with the wretchedness of culture and civilization we have experienced and are experiencing. Both the greatest and the smallest matters and events in the world come out of the spiritual realm, out of life in the spirit. Universal questions face mankind today, questions which can only be tackled out of the depths of spiritual life, yet they are being dealt with in the most superficial manner all over the world. There is no possibility of seeing what it is that is struggling to rise up from the depths of human soul- and spiritual life. Yet it is just this possibility which Anthroposophy wants to bring to mankind.
Today I shall speak out of the realm of the anthroposophical world view about some intimate aspects of human soul- and spiritual life. Then, from the point of view this will give us, perhaps we shall be able to conclude with a brief consideration of some recent historical events. 1 There are numerous gaps in the shorthand report of this lecture. The conclusion has been omitted. It deals with contemporary questions and covers virtually the same ground as Lecture One (Soloviev, Bismarck, Robespierre). Anthroposophical spiritual science wants to speak about those worlds which for the moment are hidden from external sense perceptions and also from the intellect which is attached to these sense perceptions. It wants to speak primarily about everything connected with the eternal aspect of the human soul. We say of the realms into which this anthroposophical world view wishes to penetrate that they can only be reached if human beings step over the threshold of consciousness. What is meant is that the step over the threshold must be taken consciously, if knowledge about these super-sensible realms is to be gained. For human beings step unconsciously over the threshold every time they go to sleep. We say of the threshold we cross daily, in connection with going to sleep and waking up, that it is guarded by the Guardian of the Threshold. In doing so we speak of a spiritual force known by the spiritual researcher to be as real as are the human beings we meet. We speak of the Guardian of the Threshold because in the present phase of mankind's development human beings really do need to be protected in their consciousness from crossing unprepared into the spiritual realms.
It is quite remarkable that something which human beings have to value above all else, something to which they belong with the deepest roots of their existence and without which they would lack true human worth, namely the spiritual world, has to be hidden from them at the moment. This is profoundly linked to the whole purpose of human evolution. Human beings would not be able to achieve their true nature during the course of evolution if they did not themselves have to work for and win the strength with which to approach the spiritual world. If unearned grace alone were to allow them to step over the threshold, then perhaps they would be lofty spiritual beings, but they would not be human beings in the true sense of the word. They would not be beings who win their way towards their own value. For to be a true human being in the universe means to be the instigator of one's own worth. To step over the threshold unprepared would lead to a kind of burning up of the human being, a kind of extinguishing of the human being. However, what spiritual science has to say about man's relationship to the spiritual world can certainly be grasped by normal understanding. It is quite possible to understand what has to be said about this out of the foundations of spiritual science.
Observe how someone sinks into a kind of unconscious state on going to sleep. Out of this unconscious state individual waves rise up into the world of dreams as though from the depths of the ocean. Even for those who are free of any kind of superstition or nebulous mysticism, this dream world is mysterious, enigmatic, and it has to be sensed as belonging to the inmost being both of the world and of man's existence. So the period human beings spend between going to sleep and waking up is a kind of lowered consciousness out of which is revealed the picture world of dreams. And even if we only follow the dreams in an external manner, we still have to say: They contain picture echoes of that life which is not only given to us through our sense perceptions by way of our intellect, but also through our feelings. But they contain that otherwise familiar world in a way that is different. On the whole, they do not contain any abstract thoughts; they change everything into pictures. While the sense-perceptible world we know has a certain coherence and order which satisfies our understanding, so that everything has its place in space and time, dreams appear to shake everything up. Events which took place yesterday are mingled with others which happened decades ago. Dreams impose an order on things that differs from the order of space and time into which we look with our daytime consciousness.
Examining dreams more closely, we find that what is missing in them is our power of thinking. On waking up we feel that we step from dreamless sleep into the world in which human ideas and thoughts arise. We feel that we pour the picture world of dreams into our bodily nature. And as we do so our body sends out the power of thought which once more brings order into what the dreams have jumbled up. Our body takes us in hand when we wake up; our body gives us the power of ideas, and in dealing with this power we become fully awake. Then the world of dreams fades and its place is taken by the world of thoughts and ideas in the normal order of place and time.
Those who pay attention to these phenomena can observe in ordinary life how something, at first indeterminate, slips into our bodily nature. They can also understand this to the point where they can say: The power of thoughts is given to me by my body when I plunge down into it with my soul- and spirit-being. This everyday observation will bear out what Anthroposophy has to say: The ideas and thoughts we know in ordinary daily life are bound to our external physical body, which remains in bed at night when our being of spirit and soul steps over the threshold into another world. As consciousness is extinguished it leaves behind at the threshold the power and capacity to form a world of thoughts in the ordinary way. What steps over the threshold is whatever the human soul contains by way of feeling and will.
This content of feeling and will resembles the sleeping state even during ordinary day consciousness. We are properly awake only in our thoughts and ideas. Just think how dark is all that lives in our feelings, and how utterly obscure is everything living in our impulses of will. If we try to gain an idea of how we accomplish even the simplest decision of will, then what takes place in our muscles and bones when we put an idea into realization remains as obscure as our sleeping state. First we think: I lift my arm. Then we see our arm rising up. Nothing but impressions. The mysterious processes that take place remain as hidden from our consciousness as sleep itself. What we take with us across the threshold is, basically, something that is asleep and dreaming, even in our waking state. The dream pictures are no clearer than the feelings which attach to our world of thoughts and ideas. The forms in which soul life expresses itself — in the waking state through feelings and in the sleeping state through dreams — differ, but our life of feeling is no clearer than the pictures of our dreams. If it were clearer, we would lead an extraordinarily abstract life. Consider how we speak quite rightly of cold, sober thoughts and glowing feelings! But what lives in our feelings remains in a kind of darkness similar to that of our dream pictures.
When we go to sleep we carry our feelings over the threshold, and it is our feelings which, in a way, even light up to some extent in our dream pictures. We also carry our will into that world; it is as deeply asleep during our daytime as it is when we sleep. So we can say that what carries human beings through the threshold of consciousness is the feeling and will element of their soul being. Feeling and will belong to sleep consciousness. The life of thoughts and ideas and also a part of the life of feelings — because dreams light up — belong to the waking consciousness of daytime; they lie on this side of the threshold. We speak of the Guardian of the Threshold because it is necessary, at their present stage of consciousness, that human beings do not step consciously but unprepared over the threshold which they cross unconsciously every time they fall asleep. When we come to recognize the forces within which human beings find themselves on the other side of the threshold, we also learn to experience why they have to be guarded — prevented by a Guardian, by something which watches over them — from stepping unprepared over the threshold into the spiritual world.
When we enter the world beyond the threshold it certainly looks very different at first glance from what we have been in the habit of expecting. However, if we enter after having undergone sufficient preparation, it gradually changes and we come to new experiences, different from those we encountered initially, which are bewildering even for those who enter the spiritual world after some preparation. For what is it that appears to us first in the spiritual world? Forces, beings, are what first appear to us. And they behave — I cannot express it otherwise — in a very inimical manner towards the ordinary world of sense perceptions. As we step over the threshold into the spiritual world we are met with a burning, scalding fire which seeks to devour everything the world of sense perceptions has to offer. We enter, without a doubt, the world of destructive forces. This is the first sight that meets us on the other side. From the facts as they are I want to give you an idea of what it is like when we first step over.
Look at the human physical body which clothes us from birth to death. Now look, first with regard to the physical body, at the moment in which the human being approaches death and steps across the threshold. Looking simply at the world of space we find that, after the individual has crossed the threshold, the physical body appears externally much the same as it did before. But very soon we notice that this physical body, which has maintained its natural form for decades, is dissolved, destroyed by the forces of the external world, the external cosmos. It is the destiny of this body that it should be dissolved, destroyed by the forces of the cosmos. Simply by looking without prejudice at the fact, once the soul has departed, the body is destroyed and dissolved by the forces of nature, we must become convinced that between birth and death something not belonging to the world of sense perception lives in it which prevents its destruction. For if it belonged to this same world it would destroy the body instead of preserving it. If people would only take account of this obvious fact they would not find it so difficult to enter into anthroposophical spiritual science. There is the corpse; the external forces of nature destroy it. If what we bear within us were of a kind with the forces of nature it would destroy this body all the time. These simple thoughts are for ever disregarded.
Now bear in mind that we are permanently surrounded by a world which destroys our physical body. The moment our body is deserted by our soul it is destroyed. When we leave this body on going to sleep, we enter the world which destroys our corpse. This we have to come to recognize [Gaps in the shorthand report.]. We enter the world of destructive forces when we go to sleep, and yet this is the spiritual world. Why? Those who expect to find something beyond the threshold which resembles what is to befound here in the physical world of the senses are simply expecting to find another physical world beyond the threshold. But if spirit is to be found there, then the physical world of sense perceptions cannot also be there. What we experience there will have to be forces which have the inclination to destroy the physical world of the senses. This we experience in full force when we cross the threshold consciously. We experience with full force that in this spiritual world we find what is for ever inclined to destroy the physical world.
Now if we were to cross the threshold unprepared and unguarded, we should like it very much in that world — if I may put it simply. Especially would our lower instincts be most satisfied, and we would grow into this world we immediately meet, this world of destructive forces; we would become the allies of these destructive forces. We would no longer want to share in the work of maintaining the physical world which surrounds us. We have to learn to love this physical world as one which is filled with wisdom, in order to be well prepared to enter into the spiritual world. Before taking up our place, so to speak, at the side of the creators, we have to learn to love their creation and thoroughly understand that the world as it has been created has not been brought forth meaninglessly by divine, creative forces. In order to enter well prepared into the spiritual world we must first have thoroughly understood the meaning of earthly life. Otherwise on waking up every morning we would return to the world of sense perceptions filled with a terrible hate for this world and with an urge to destroy it. Simply out of the necessity of human existence we would wake up full of hate and anger if we spent the time between going to sleep and waking up in a state of consciousness such as that.
You can pursue this train of investigation further by looking at dreams in an unprejudiced way. Dreams are filled with terribly destructive forces. What comes to the surface in the form of dream pictures destroys every shred of logic. Dreams say: That's it, logic is finished, I don't want any logic! Logic is for the external world of sense perceptions; there it dogmatically arranges everything. Away with logic — a different world order is what is required! That is what dreams say. And if they were not only strong enough to caress our brain but were also able to submerge themselves into our whole body, then they would seize not only our logical instincts but also all our other instincts and our emotional life. Just as they destroy logic, so would they also destroy the whole life of physical human beings. We should be reluctant to enter once more into our physical body, and in doing so we would gradually destroy it. Because what lives in dreams is overcome by what meets it from the body, it comes about that logic is only destroyed momentarily. This can be observed in every detail. What continues during sleep are the forces which belong to our rhythmic system. Breathing continues, heartbeat and pulse continue. But thoughts cease, the will ceases. What belongs to our middle region continues, though in a subdued form. The moment the pulse grows a little weaker in the brain, dreams rush in and set about destroying the forces of the body — of logic — until these forces of the body once more overcome the dreams as the pulse gains in strength.
When it is a matter of really understanding these forces Anthroposophy knows very well how to be materialistic. Materialists do not really know how to be materialistic because they do not know how the spiritual realm works together with the physical. They fail to notice how the spirit enters into the physical and there continues to work. It is most interesting to observe how the spirit enters in and first wants to make itself felt and destroy logic. For then the forces of the physical body, its powers of thought and ideas, enter the fray and overcome it again. Dreams are rendered harmless to physical, earthly life. If you consider this properly you will gain deep insight into the relationship between waking and sleeping, for it shows that we have to remain aware of our spiritual origin, that we have to sink down again and again into sleep, but that on the other hand, in the present stage of our evolution, we have to be prevented from following in full consciousness what takes place in the state we enter between going to sleep and waking up.
We live on our earth. It is, in the first instance, a physical and a cosmic creation. A time will come when this earth will suffer death by fire. It will go through actual physical fire when the forces of destruction will seize hold of every earthly form, not only the corpses. Spiritual forces are leading this earth towards this death by fire, spiritual forces which are connected with the earth and which we meet in the first stage into which we enter when we step past the Guardian of the Threshold into the spiritual world.
Let us consider what we have gained with regard to stepping through the portal of death. Our physical body is entirely discarded. Our spirit and soul element now enters the spiritual world in such a way that it straight away develops the wish to return to the physical body. The element of spirit and soul, once it has laid down the physical body, can now begin to form a thought life without the physical body. While it lived in the body it was too weak to endure the forces of destruction. Now, as it passes through the portal of death, it has to be strong enough not to yearn for a return to the physical body. Since it no longer remains unconscious but, instead, enters a genuine consciousness as it passes through the portal of death it has to take up a certain kind of thought life, for only in the life of thoughts is it possible to become really conscious. This is the tremendous difference between crossing the threshold on going to sleep and passing through the portal of death. When we go to sleep our thought world is merely damped down until it returns when we re-enter our physical body on waking up. When we die we take up the thought life with our soul and spirit element without the mediation of our physical body. What does this mean?
Human beings would never return to their physical body in the morning if they knew the spiritual world, if they had grown to be part of it and did not have the wish, which is in them unconsciously, to return to their physical body, that is, to the physical world. Wishes, however, are something which is not connected with clear consciousness but which damp down this clear consciousness into a twilight. Human beings return to their body in the morning because of a wish, but it is these very wishes, pulling towards the physical body, which damp down their thought world. So they only find their thought life once again when they have returned to their body. But, in death, wishes have also died. Human beings enter the world-thoughts. As beings of spirit and soul they now have a thought life, but if they were to enter death entirely unprepared they would enter the same world as the one we enter when we go to sleep in the evening. To express this in extreme terms we have to say: If human beings enter death unprepared they find themselves in a terrible situation; for they have to watch what happens to their physical body. Their physical body is pulverized in the world-all, for if we do not cremate the body then it is cremated by the cosmos. And human beings would have to watch this happening if they were unprepared.
What is the consequence of this, and what has to happen so that human beings see not only destruction after death, so that they live not only in the midst of destructive forces? By absorbing spiritual content, by developing a world view which is consistent with the spirit, they must carry an inward relationship with the divine, spiritual world through the portal of death. If they are aware solely of a physical, material world, then they certainly enter after death in a state of terrible unpreparedness into the world of destructive forces as though into a world of scorching flames. But if they fill themselves with ideas and thoughts about the spiritual world, then the flames become the birthplace of the spirit after death so that they see not destruction alone; in the falling away of earthly dust from their human orbit they see the spirit rising up. No one should say what ordinary materialistic ideas are so prone to saying: I can wait until death comes to me! No, we must bear our consciousness of the spiritual world with us through the portal of death. Then with our soul and spirit we can overcome the destructive cosmic forces which take over our body, so that our element of spirit and soul rises up with new creativity above the destruction.
I am telling you this on the basis of anthroposophical spiritual science, but you have all, surely, heard of the fear experienced in former times in a sense of doom with regard to death, a sense of doom about which the Apostle Paul 2 For example: 1 Corinthians, 15. taught when he spoke about man's soul being saved from falling a prey to death. In former times people knew that they could not only die physically with their corpse, but also spiritually with their soul. Human beings dislike speaking about the possible death of their soul. When speaking of death Paul does not mean physical death. He means something that can happen because physical death wants to lead on to the death of soul and spirit. Human beings must become aware once more that they have to do something during their physical earthly life in order to join their consciousness to their soul and spirit, so that these may carry something through death, in order that the spirit may arise for them out of the devouring flames which are always present after death.
Considerations like this must make it clear that to live within the whole universal order is an immensely serious matter. No view of the world is worthy of the human being if it does not lead through inner strength to a world of moral values, if it does not put before our souls the utter seriousness of life. To speak of physical and chemical forces building up the earth and of living creatures and, finally, man developing along the way, is not merely a one-sided world view; it is a world view which ignores the seriousness of life and which arises, actually, simply out of human laziness. A world view, on the other hand, which achieves a proper attitude to the spirit, leads to a seriousness about life because it puts before the soul the possibility that on passing through the gate of death the human being might become united with the forces of destruction. Throughout their physical life human beings are given the opportunity to prepare themselves suitably, because every evening as they go to sleep they are shielded from seeing the world of destructive forces to which they are related. They are given time to take in something that can guide them through the portal of death in a manner which enables them to discern the spirit within the forces of destruction. It is impossible to overemphasize the fact that feelings and perceptions about life must follow as a matter of course from a world view, and that a world view must not be allowed to remain mere abstract theory but must become something living, something which seizes hold of feelings and will. Civilized mankind must wrestle again for a world view such as this. Then, once more, what is imperishable will be seen within everything perishable; and, furthermore, out of everything that does not pursue its course egoistically within man it will be possible to push forward to eternity and immortality.
From this point of view look at life as it is carried on today. And do not take offence when someone who has to speak honestly is forced to say such disagreeable things. Look, for instance, at religious education. What is it built on? On egoism! Because people want to live beyond death, immortality — the possibility of going through death consciously — is spoken about. People long for this, and so to satisfy them — because it is disagreeable to appeal to knowledge — knowledge is omitted and mere belief is called into play. In this way, human egoism alone is approached, human egoism that wants to see what it will be like after death, instead of waiting till it happens. What it is like before birth is not found to be interesting. This can only be learnt through knowledge. Indeed, eternity — what comes after death and what stretches back beyond conception — can only be found through knowledge.
Even our language shows that we only have a half knowledge about the eternity of man. We speak only about immortality, ‘undyingness’. What we need in addition is a word denoting ‘unbornness’. Only when we can grasp both will we finally understand the eternity of the human being. Right down into language, human beings of our time have abjured their links with the spiritual world. These links must be found once more. If they cannot be found it will betotally impossible to carry on living in a proper way, and today's culture and civilization could fall into absolute decline.
In Stuttgart we have founded the Waldorf school 3 The Free Waldorf School, Stuttgart, was founded by Rudolf Steiner in 1919. The education of the children was to be in harmony with the knowledge of the human being as revealed by anthroposophical spiritual science. and Waldorf education. All sorts of things are said about this. Recently somebody said: Why does Waldorf education take so little account of fatigue in the children? Fatigue ought to be carefully studied nowadays. In so-called experimental psychology it is pointed out with pride how children tire after repeating unconnected words or following lessons about a sequence of subjects. And then it is said: Waldorf education is not up to date because it does not take the fatigue of the children into account. Why is this? The Waldorf school does not speak much about fatigue. But it does speak about how children ought to be tended and educated after the change of teeth, namely by basing the education mainly on the rhythmic system — which means that the artistic element is cultivated, since this is what stimulates the rhythmic system. Abstract writing comes later, and abstract reading later still. Demands are made, not of the head but of the artistic realm. But those who work with children only at those things which make demands on the head will, of course, have to reckon with fatigue. When, however, we make claims on the rhythmic system, on the artistic element, then we are justified in asking: Does our heart tire throughout life? It has to go on beating, and we have to go on breathing. So Waldorf education need not concern itself too much with fatigue because it aims to educate children in a way which tires them very little. Experimental education has arrived at a system which tires the children dreadfully; by its very method it brings about this tiredness. [Gaps in the shorthand report.] Waldorf education is concerned with body, soul and spirit, and account is taken of what comes from the spiritual and soul worlds to unite with the body and what departs again at death. Anthroposophy is the very thing which can help us to understand the material, physical realm.
What is most lively of all in the child? Its brain activity! From the brain the forces which mould the whole body stream out. These are most lively until the change of teeth. At the change of teeth this moulding capacity is transferred to the system of breathing and heart, and until puberty this is what we have to work with, which means that artistic work, not theoretical work, is what is required. Between the seventh and the fourteenth year the muscles are formed inwardly in a way which is adapted to the rhythmic system. Not until the fourteenth year approaches do soul and spirit take hold of the whole human being, and it is interesting to observe how until this moment the muscles have taken their cue from heartbeat, pulse and breathing. Now, through the sinews, they begin to make friends with the bones, with the skeleton, and to adapt themselves to external movements. You should learn to observe how young people change at this age. [Gaps in the shorthand report.] The process starts from the head; the soul element grows further and further towards the surface of the human being and takes hold of the bones last of all; it fills the whole human being and uses him up, making friends ever more closely with the forces of death, until these forces of death win through to victory at the moment of death.
Anthroposophical spiritual science follows up the spiritual processes right into the minutest detail, showing how they become immersed in material life and how they take hold of the whole human being, starting with the head. Not until knowledge such as this is taken into account, will it become possible to educate people properly once again. We need intellect and understanding so that we may find freedom, but they drive away the certainty of our instincts. A friend of mine was quite a nice person when we were young. Later in life he invited me to visit him. I had never partaken of a midday meal with scales and weights on the table. My friend first weighed everything he ate! By his intellect he had discovered how much he needed in order to maintain his body, and this exact amount was what he ate. Intellect drives out instincts in small things, but also on a larger scale. Now it is necessary for us to find our way back to them. A sure sense for life, a firm stand in life, is needed once more. This is found by seeking our eternal element within the temporal sphere; we need to understand how the eternal finds its place in the temporal. This is what our contemporary civilization needs.
Such things must be treated on a global scale. No account is taken these days of the contrasts that exist between people of the West and people of the East. External matters are broached in an external manner; congresses are called to discuss ways of balancing out the world's difficult situation, but no account is taken of the fact that East and West can only achieve economic balance if they have trust in one another. Asians will never be able to work together properly with the West if they cannot understand each other. But understanding can only come about through the soul. Understanding out of the soul is needed for the economic realm in the world; and understanding out of the soul can only be achieved through a deepening of soul life.
This is why today the most intimate matters of individual soul life are at the same time matters of worldwide import. Comprehension of what the world today needs, in external public matters too, will not be achieved unless an effort is made to listen to what the science of the super-sensible has to say, for the world has changed during the course of evolution. The human race, in particular, has changed.
Looking at the span of human evolution, let us turn to that event without which the whole of human and earth evolution would have no meaning: the Mystery of Golgotha. In this Mystery of Golgotha something divine entered into the conditions of the earth by means of an earthly body. Christ entered the body of Jesus of Nazareth in order from then on to work with the earth. The earth would have perished, would have decayed in the world order, if a new fructification had not been brought about by the entering-in of the Christ. You know also that in the distant past an instinctive knowledge, a primeval wisdom, existed, of which only remnants remained in western civilization at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha. Enough remained, however, to make it possible for the Mystery of Golgotha to be at least instinctively comprehended for four centuries. In the early centuries of Christianity the understanding of the super-sensible significance of the Mystery of Golgotha was such that the leading Christian teachers knew about the entering-in of Christ, the Sun Spirit, into the human being, Jesus of Nazareth.
Who today has a living awareness of what it means to ask whether the human being Jesus of Nazareth bore two natures, a human one and a divine one, or only one? Yet in the early Christian centuries this was a vital question, a question which had a bearing on life. There was a vivid awareness of how, coming from the cosmos, the Christ Spirit had united with Jesus; two natures in one personality; God in man.
You have often heard that the fourth post-Atlantean period lasted from 747 before the Mystery of Golgotha to about 1413 after the Mystery of Golgotha. In the first third of the fifteenth century intellectualism proper began. Now, we look at physical forces, we calculate, we study physics, but we no longer know that spiritual forces are at work out there, that the spirit which was known in earlier times really exists out there. Look at this fourth post-Atlantean, period lasting from 747 BC until 1413 AD. If you halve this period you come to a point that lies in the fourth century AD, the point when the wisdom which still contained a spiritual comprehension of the Mystery of Golgotha finally faded away. From then on, intellectual discussion was all that took place. And finally, as the fifteenth century approached, the human intellect became the sole ruler of human civilization. Because of this, anything that represented a living connection between the human being and the Christ was drawn more and more into merely materialistic human thinking. In the most advanced theology in the nineteenth century the Christ was entirely lost, and the most enlightened view was taken to be that of Christ as nothing more than the ‘man of Nazareth’. If we can really feel this in all its gravity, we cannot but develop a yearning to find the Christ Being once again. And this yearning to find Christ once more is what the anthroposophical world view wants to satisfy with regard to the major global questions. In Central Europe people are particularly well prepared for this, as all kinds of symptoms show.
One of Western Europe's great thinkers, Herbert Spencer, 4 Herbert Spencer, 1820-1903. Education: Intellectual, Moral and Physical, 1861. wrote about education in a way which pleases materialists very much. He said that all education is useless if it does not educate human beings to educate others. On what does he base this? He says: The greatest achievement in a human being's life is to beget other human beings. So therefore education must also be greatly important. From one point of view western thinking is correct. But what does an eastern thinker say? Out of the eastern spirit, something very ancient still lives in Vladimir Soloviev. 5 Lecture Two, Note 1 For western culture, primeval wisdom has disappeared. In the East it remains as a feeling. Soloviev still bears something of true Christian wisdom. Here in Central and Western Europe we have only a God-consciousness. There is virtually no knowledge of the Son. Harnack, 6 Adolf von Hamack, 1851-1930. Theologian and historian. for instance, speaks of God in a way which makes it seem as though Christ, the Son, has no place in the Gospels. Consciousness of the Father, consciousness of God, is all that is left. What is said of the Son must also be said of the Father. But Soloviev still has something of the Christ-consciousness, and when he speaks it can sometimes be felt as if we were listening to the old Church Fathers from before the time of the Council of Nicaea. 7 19 June 325. Establishment of the creed of identity of Son (Jesus Christ) and Father. Even the titles of his works are quite different. For instance there is a treatise on ‘Freedom, Necessity, Grace and Sin’. You would be unlikely to find a treatise on grace or sin written by one of the western philosophers — Spencer, for instance, or Mill, or Bergson, or Wundt! No such thing exists in the West; it would be quite unthinkable and indeed is not to be found.
The eastern philosopher, though, still speaks like that, saying: Alife given to man on earth, a life in which there was no striving for perfection in truth, would not be a genuinely human life. It would be valueless, as indeed would the striving for perfection in truth, if human beings had no part in immortality. Such a life would be a fraud on a global scale. Thus speaks Soloviev, the eastern philosopher. And he goes on: The spiritual task of man only starts when he reaches puberty. This is the very opposite of what Spencer says! Spencer makes the begetting of offspring the goal of development. For the eastern philosopher, development only begins at that point. It is the same with every matter, including questions of economic life. This is how the western economist speaks today, without having any sense for what eastern people feel about economic life. Today's major questions require consideration on a historical scale, and we ought to realize that the great misfortune of mankind in the second decade of the twentieth century, the great challenge and the great trial, is that involving considerations of this kind. An entirely different treatment of life must rise up out of the depths of the soul. The great questions of life, those that lie beyond birth and death, must come to play a part in ordinary human life. The questions of the present time must be illumined by the light of eternity, otherwise people will hasten from congress to congress and sink ever further and further into misfortune.