Anthroposophic Movement (1938)
I. Homeless Souls
Dornach, 10 June, 1923
My Dear Friends:
The course of observations, upon which we are about to enter, has in view a kind of self-recollection amongst those persons who are met together for Anthroposophy. It will afford opportunity for a self-recollection of this kind, — a self-recollection to which they may be led by a description of the anthroposophic movement and its relation to the Anthroposophical Society. And so you must let me begin to-day by referring to the people to whom this self-recollection applies. And these people are you yourselves, — all those who, through one occasion or another, have been led to find their way to Anthroposophy.
One person has found the way, as though, I might say, by an inner compulsion of the soul, an inner compulsion of the heart; another, maybe, for reasons based in the under-standing. But there are many again, who have come into the anthroposophic movement through some more or less exterior occasion, and have then perhaps, inside the anthroposophic movement itself, been led into profounder depths of the soul, and found more than at first they looked for. One characteristic, however, is common to all the people who find their way to the anthroposophic movement. And if one looks back through all the various years, and sums up what the characteristic feature is amongst all those who come into the anthroposophic movement, one finally can but say: They are people of a kind, who are forced by their particular fate, — their inner fate, their karma, in the first instance, — to turn aside from the ordinary highroad of civilization, along which the bulk of mankind to-day are marching, to abandon this highroad, and to seek out paths of their own.
Let us but clearly consider for a moment, what the way actually is, in which most people in our day grow up into life from their childhood on. — They are born of parents, who are Frenchmen, or Germans, Catholics, or Protestants, or Jews, or belong to some other of the creeds. They are born perhaps of parents who hold peculiar opinions. But in any case, there is always some kind of pre-recognized assumption, directly the people are born at the present day, amongst the parents, amongst the members of the family into which these people are born out of their pre-earthly lives, there exists so to speak a pre-recognized assumption, — not indeed uttered, but which is felt, even though perhaps not thought, (and. thought too, very often, when occasion gives rise to it!) ... looking out generally upon life, they think as a matter of course: We are French Catholics, or German Protestants, and our children will naturally be so too.
And the circumstance, that such a sentiment exists, naturally creates a social atmosphere, — and not a social atmosphere only, but a concatenation of social forces, which do then, in actual reality, work more or less obviously or non-obviously, so as to shove these children into the lines of life already marked out for them in advance by these sentiments, by these more or less definitely conceived thoughts.
And then all rolls on to begin with as though by matter of course in the life of the child. As though by matter of course these children are supplied with their education, their school-training. And all the time again the parents are filled with all sorts of thoughts about the children, — thoughts which again are not uttered, but which give the presuppositions for life, which are extraordinarily determinative for life; — such thoughts, for instance, as, My son will of course be a civil servant with a pension; or, My son is heir to the family estates; or, My daughter is to marry the son of the man who owns the neighbouring property. — Well, of course it is not always so definitely materialized, but it gives a certain prospective outlook, and this again always prescribes a line of direction. And the lines of external life are as a matter of fact so mapped out to-day, that, even down into our present times of chaos (which are felt by people however, for the most part, to be unusual), this life does go on externally in obedience to impulses given to it in this way. And then there is nothing for it, but that the man should, somehow or other, grow up to be a French Catholic, or a German Protestant: he cannot grow up to be anything else, for the forces of life impel him that way. And though it may not come directly from the parents' side with quite such definiteness, yet still, life catches him fresh from school, lays its grip on the man whilst he is still quite fresh, emerging from young life, from a state of childhood, and plants him down in some post in life. The State, the religious community, draw the man into their vortex.
And if the majority of people to-day were to try and account to themselves for how they came to be there, they would find it hard to do so. For too keen reflection on the subject would mean something intolerable. And so this intolerable something is driven as far down as possible into the sub-depths of consciousness, — driven under into the sub-conscious, or unconscious, regions of the soul's life. And there it remains; unless the psychoanalyst happens to fish it up again, if it behave with more than usual pertinacity in these unknown soul-regions down below. But, for the most part, the strength is wanting, to take any sort of stand in proper person, as an individual, in the midst of all this, that one has simply ‘grown into’ in this fashion.
One has moments of revolt perhaps, when of a sudden one finds oneself quite unexpectedly realizing in life that one is, say, a clerk, — perhaps even a town-clerk! But then, most likely, one clenches one's fists in one's trouser-pockets; or, — if it happens to be a woman, — one makes one's husband a scene about a disappointed life, and so forth. ... Well, — there are these reactions against the things which a man simply grows into.
And then very often too, you know, it happens, that there are the little pleasures attached to the various things, which deaden one's sense of the things themselves. One goes to public balls; and then the next day of course is occupied with sleeping them off; and so the time is filled up in one way or another. Or else one joins a strictly patriotic association. Because, being a town-clerk, you know, one must belong to something or other which absorbs one into its ranks. One has been absorbed into the ranks of the State, into the ranks of a religious community; and now one must needs shed a sort of halo in this way over the thing which one has inconsciently grown into. — Well, I need not pursue the description further.
This is, in fact, the way, more or less, in which those people, who follow along the beaten highroad of life to-day, grow into their external lives.
And the others, who are unable to go along with them, — they find themselves on side-tracks; — and this kind of people, who are unable to follow along most of the prescribed routes to-day, are to be found scattered about on any number of paths, possible and impossible. But, amongst these other paths, there is the anthroposophic path too, where the man is bent upon what lies within himself, — where he is bent on living through it in a more conscient fashion, — where he wants to live out his part consciently in something that lies to some extent at least in his own choice.
They are people such as these for the most part, whose path does not lie along the beaten highroad of life, who are Anthroposophists. Whether they find their way to Anthroposophy in youth, or in older years, one form or other, they are people of this kind. And if one examines further what the origin of it is, then again one comes to circumstances connected with the spiritual world: —
The souls, as they come to-day out of their pre-earthly state of life into their earthly one, have, for the most part, spent a long while in that condition preceding their birth, which I have often described in my lectures. — Man, after he has finished travelling over his life's road in the spiritual world between death and new birth, comes next into the region where he enters more and more into the life of the spiritual world, where his own life consists in working in company with the beings of the higher hierarchies, and where everything that he does is a work amidst this world of substantive spirit.
But in the course of this passage from death to a new birth there comes a particular point of time, when the man, as it were, turns his eyes down again towards earth. There, in soul, the man begins, for a long time in advance, to unite himself with the successive generations, at the end of which stand finally the parent pair that give him birth. — So that a man looks down beforehand, not only upon his fathers' fathers, but to his ancestors of faraway back generations, and unites himself with the line of direction, with the current, that runs through the generations of his fore-bears.
And so it happens with the majority of souls at the present day, that during the time when they are making ready to come down to earth again, they have a burning interest already in what is going on upon earth. They gaze as it were from the spiritual world upon the earth below, and are keenly interested in all that goes on with their forefathers on the earth.
Souls of this kind become, in fact, what I have described as being the case with those who follow the stream along the broad highway of modern life.
In contrast to these, there are, especially at the present day, a number of souls, whose interest, when their pre-earthly life begins to tend downwards again towards earth-life, lies less with what is going on upon earth, but for whom the subject of principal interest is: How are we maturing in the spirit-world? They continue to interest themselves down to the very last moment, so to speak, when they take their way back to earth, in the spiritual world.
Whereas the others have a profound desire for an earthly state of existence, these souls have to the last a lively interest in the things that are going on in the spiritual world, and come upon earth accordingly, when they do embody, with a mind that draws its consciousness from spiritual impulses, and affords less inclination to the kind of impulses which I described as existing in the case of the broad highroaders. They outgrow the impulses of their surroundings; in particular, they outgrow their surroundings in their spiritual aspirations. And they are thus pre-destined, — ready prepared, — for going simply their own way.
And so one might divide the souls into two kinds, which come down to-day out of their pre-earthly existence into earthly existence. The first kind, which still at the present day includes the majority of people, are remarkably ‘home-gifted’ souls, who feel so thoroughly at home as souls in their warm nest, — even though at times they may think it uncomfortable; but that is only in appearance, is only maya; — they feel comfortable in this warm nest, in which they have already taken an interest for so long, before coming down to earth.
Others perhaps, — the external maya, is not always a good guide, — others, who may go through their child-life quite acquiescently as souls, are not so home-gifted, are homeless souls, grow out of the snug nest rather than into it.
And to those of this latter species belong undoubtedly those souls too, who afterwards find their way into the anthroposophic movement.
It is therefore certainly a matter, in one way or other, of predetermination, whether one is impelled by one's fate into Anthroposophy.
It may truly be said, however, that the impulse manifests itself in all manner of ways, which leads these souls to search along side-paths, off the track of life's great highroad. And anyone, who has gone through life with a certain conscientness during the last twenty or thirty years of the nineteenth century and the first twenty to thirty of the twentieth, will have observed, that everywhere, amongst the others, there were to be seen these homeless souls — soul-homeless souls, that is, — in numbers, — numbers relatively speaking, of course. A great many souls, in fact, to-day, have what I might call a certain streak of this homelessness.
If the others did not find it so comfortable to keep along the beaten tracks, and did not put such difficulties in the way of the homeless souls, these homeless souls would be much more striking in their numbers to the eyes of their contemporaries. But even so, one can perceive everywhere, I might say, to-day a certain streak of this homelessness in a great number of souls.
Only quite a short while ago, there was a report of an incident, which shows how even such things as this may happen. A professor at a certain university gave a set of lectures, a course of collegiate addresses, announced for schoolmen, with the title, ‘The evolution of mystic-occult philosophy from Pythagoras to Steiner’. And the report says, that when the course was announced, so many people came to the very first lecture, that he was not able to give it in one of the ordinary lecture-rooms, but had to hold it in the Great Auditorium, which as a rule is used only for the addresses on big University occasions.
From facts such as this, one can see how things stand at the present day, and how in fact this tendency to homelessness has spread extremely deep into men's souls. And one could watch this thing, so to speak, which to-day grows week by week to an ever more intense longing in the souls of those who bear about this homelessness within them, — the longing for something which is not a ready planned, ready mapped-out post in life, — this longing for something spiritual, — which shows itself in this corner of life from week to week, one might say, with greater insistence and ever increasing force amid the chaotic spiritual life of the day one could watch all this growing up. And if to-day I succeed in sketching the gradual growth of it for you in a few brief touches, you may be able to find in this sketch, through a sort of self-recollection, just a little perhaps of what I might term the common anthroposophic origin of you all.
To-day I will do no more than pick out some characteristic features by way of introduction. — Look back to the last twenty or thirty years of the nineteenth century. We might quite well take any other field; but let us take a very characteristic field; and here we find coming into prominence at a particular time what one may call ‘Wagnerianism’: the cult of Richard Wagner.
There was, no doubt, mixed up with this Richard Wagner cult, a great deal of fashionable affectation, desire for sensation, and so forth. But amongst the people who showed themselves at Bayreuth, after Bayreuth was started, there were not only gentlemen in the latest cut of frock-coat, and ladies in the newest and smartest frocks; but at Bayreuth there was everything conceivable, side by side. Even then, one might see there gentlemen with their hair very long and ladies with their hair cropped short. People might be seen, who felt it like a sort of modern pilgrimage to travel from long distances to Bayreuth. I even knew one man, who, when he set out for Bayreuth, drew off his boots at a place on the road a very long way off, and pilgrimaged to Bayreuth barefoot.
Amongst the people who turned up like this, — the gentlemen with the long, and the ladies with the short hair, there were undoubtedly many who belonged in some form or other to the homeless-soul class. But amongst those, too, who were dressed, if not in the very latest, yet at any rate in a fairly respectable fashion, there were also such as were homeless souls.
Now, what made such an effect upon the people in this Wagnerianism, — what there actually was in it, (I am not talking now of the musical element only, but of Wagnerianism as a social phenomenon) — what made itself felt in Wagnerianism as a force, was something that in this Wagnerianism stood out quite distinct from anything else that the materialist age had to offer. It was something that went out quite peculiarly, and almost suggestively I might say, from this Wagnerianism, and acted upon people in such a way as to give them the feeling: It is like a door into another and more spiritual world, quite different from the one we usually have round about us.
And round Bayreuth and all that went on there, there sprung up a whole crop of longing aspirations after pro-founder depths of spiritual life. — To understand Richard Wagner's personages and dramatic compositions was at first certainly difficult. But that they were the creations of quite another element than merely the crass materialism of the age, — this at any rate was felt by numbers of people. And if these happened to be persons, who as homeless souls were more particularly impelled in this direction, they were stirred up by what I might call a sort of suggestive force in the Wagner dramas, particularly in the life that the Wagner dramas brought with them into our civilization, and began to have all sorts of hazy, emotional intuitions.
There were also, for instance, amongst the many people who came into this Wagnerian life, the readers of the Bayreuth Papers. It is interesting, historically, — to-day it has already all come to be history, — historically it is interesting to take up one of the annual sets of the Bayreuth Papers, and to look through it and see, how they start out with an interpretation of Tristan and Isolde, of the Nibelung Ring, of the Flying Dutchman even, how they start out from the dramatic composition, take the individual figures in the Wagner dramas, the incidents in them, and thence, in an extremely subjective and unreal way, it is true, — unreal even in the spiritual sense, — but nevertheless with a great yearning of spirit, how they attempt to arrive at a more spiritual aspect of the things and of human life in general. And one can truly say, that in the multifarious interpretations of Hamlet and other interpretations of works of art that have since been brought out by theosophists, there is much that reminds one of certain articles, written in the Bayreuth Papers, not by a theosophist, but by an expert Wagnerian, Hans von Wolzogen. And if you woke up one morning, let us say, and if, instead of a theosophist paper that you read perhaps fifteen years ago, some mischievous fairy had laid beside your bed a batch of the Bayreuth Papers, you might really mistake the tone and style of them for something you had come across in the theosophist paper, — if it happened to be an article of Wolzogen's, or one of the kind.
So that this Wagnerianism, one might say, was for many persons, in whom there dwelt homeless souls, an opening, through which to come to some aspect of the world that led away from the crassly material that led them into a spiritual region.
And of all these people who, not externally out of fashion-able affectation, but from an inner impulse of the soul, had grown into a stream of this kind, it may truly be said of them all, that whatever else they might be in life, whether they were lawyers, or lords, or artists, or M.P.s, or whatever else they might be, who had grown into this stream, — even the scientists, for there were some of these too, — they pursued the direction into the spiritual world from an inner longing of their souls, and troubled themselves no further about hard and fast proofs, of which there were plenty to be found everywhere for the world-conception of materialistic construction.
As said before, I might have mentioned other fields as well, where homeless souls of this kind were to be found; one did find plenty of such homeless souls. But this Wagner field was especially characteristic; there these homeless souls might be found in numbers.
Well, it was my lot, I might say, personally, to make acquaintance with a number of souls of this kind (but in company also with others), who had gone, so to speak, through their spiritual novitiate as Wagnerians, and were as I knew them, again in a different metamorphosis. These were souls whom I learnt to know towards the end of the eighteen eighties in Vienna, amongst a group of people, collected together entirely one might say out of homeless souls.
How this homelessness displayed itself in those days, even on the surface, is something of which people no longer form any true conception at all to-day; for many things, which then required a good courage, — courage of soul, — have to-day become quite commonplace.
This, for instance, is something, which I think not many people at the present day will be able to conceive. — I was sitting in a group of such homeless souls, and we had been talking of all sorts of things, when one of them came in, who either had been kept longer than the others by his work, or else maybe he had stayed sitting at home, busied with his own thoughts. At any rate, he came later, and began talking about Dostoevsky's Raskolnikov [Known in English under the title ‘Crime and Punishment’], and spoke of Raskolnivok in such a way that it struck like lightning into the company, — just like a flash of lightning. A new world opened up, a world which ... well, it was very much as though one were transported all of a sudden into another planet: — that was how these souls felt.
Perhaps I may be allowed to say something: — In all these observations of life, which I am telling you by way of introduction to the history of the anthroposophic movement, during all the time that I was impelled by my fate to make these observations in life, there was for myself never any sort of interruption of the contact with the spiritual world. The direct association with the spiritual world was never in any way broken; it was always there. I am obliged to mention this, because this must form the background of these contemplations: namely, the spiritual world as a self-obvious reality, and the human beings on earth seen accordingly as the images of what they really are as spiritual individualities within the spiritual world. I want just to indicate this frame of mind, so that you may take it as spiritual background all through.
Of course, ‘making observations’ did not mean sniffing about like a dog with a cold nose, but taking a warm, whole-hearted interest in everything, and not with the intention of being an observer, but simply because one is in the midst of it, in all good-fellowship and friendliness and courtesy, as a matter of course. So one really was in it all, and became acquainted with the people, not in order to observe them, but because it naturally came about in the course of actual life. And so I made acquaintance at the end of the 'eighties with a group of this kind, composed in other respects of people of every variety of calling, with every different shade of colouring in life, but who were all homeless souls of this kind; and of whom a number, as I said, had come over from the Wagner region, and were people whose spiritual novitiate, so to speak, had been made in the Wagner region. The man of whom I told you, who took off his boots in Vienna and walked barefoot to Bayreuth, he was one of them, and was, in matter of fact, a very clever man. For a while I used to come together with these people quite frequently, often indeed every day. They were now living, as I might say, in a second metamorphosis. Having gone through their Wagner metamorphosis, they were now in their second one.
There were three of them, for instance; people who knew H. P. Blavatsky well, who had been indeed intimate acquaintances of H. P. Blavatsky, and who were zealous theosophists, as theosophists were at that time, when Blavatsky was still living. About the theosophists of that time, — the time just after Blavatsky's Isis Unveiled and Secret Doctrine had appeared, — there was something quite peculiar. They all had a marked tendency to be extremely esoteric. They had a contempt for the external life in which they were placed, and a contempt of course for their own profession in life; but were nevertheless under the obligation of mingling in external existence: — that lay in the order of nature. But, as for everything else, — that is ‘esoteric’; there one converses only with Initiates, and only within a small circle. And one looks upon all the people, who, in one's opinion, are not worthy of conversing on such matters, as the sort of people, to whom one talks about the common things of life; — the others, are the people to whom one talks esoterics. They were readers, and good readers too, of Sinnett's newly-published book, Esoteric Buddhism, but all of them people eminently belonging to the class of homeless souls I have just described: people, namely, who, the moment they stepped into practical life, were engineers, electricians, and so forth, and yet again studied with deep interest, with the keenest eagerness, a book like Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism. And with these people too, there was a sort of tendency, — inherited partly from their Wagner phase, — to seize on everything available in the way of myths and legends, and explain, or interpret, them in ‘an esoteric sense’, as they called it.
One might observe, however, as these homeless souls really began more and more to make their appearance with the close of the nineteenth century, that the most interesting of all were not those, who after all, if I may say so, with only nine-tenths honest minds — nine-tenths honest, at most — used to study the writings of Blavatsky and Sinnett, but the others, — those who would listen, but were not willing to read for themselves. (In those days people were still exceedingly shy of such things.) They were not willing to read the things personally, but would listen with open mouths, when the people, who had read, expounded them. And it was very interesting to watch how the listeners, who were often more honest-minded than the narrators, would drink in these things, in the homelessness of their souls, like a spiritual nourishment of which they were in need, — and who indeed, out of the comparative lack of sincerity with which this spiritual nourishment was presented to them, converted it into something absolutely sincere, through the superior honesty of their own souls. And the way they drank it in! One could see the longing there was in them, to hear for once something quite different from what is to be found on the ordinary highroad of civilization. How these people gulped down what they heard! And it was extra-ordinarily interesting to see, on the one side the long arms of the highroad life snatching up the people ever and again in their clutches ... and then again, you know, how these people would turn up afresh in some drawing-room where they used to meet, — often it was a coffee-house, — and there would listen with hungry eagerness to what somebody or other had just been reading in some book of this kind that had newly appeared, — and who often laid it on pretty thick with what he had read. But there were these honest souls there too, most unquestionably, who were tossed in this way to-and-fro by life.
In the early days, especially, towards the close of the nineteenth century, one saw these souls regularly tossed to-and-fro, and unwilling really to admit to themselves their own homelessness. For there would be one of them, you know, listening with every sign of the deepest interest to what was being said about physical body, ether body, astral body, kama-manas, manas, budhi, and so on. And then, afterwards, he must go off and write the article the news-paper expected from him, into which of course he must stick the usual plums, — These people, truly, were the kind of souls that quite peculiarly showed, how difficult it really was, particularly at the commencement of the new spiritual period of evolution (which we must reckon really from the end of the nineteenth century), how difficult it was for many a one to abandon the broad highway of life. For indeed, from the way many of them behaved, it looked as though, when they wanted to go to the really important thing, to the thing which interested them above all else in life, they crept away on the sly as it were, and wanted if possible to avoid any one's knowing where they had crept to. — It really was most interesting, the manner in which, amid this European civilization, the spiritual life, — the spiritual volition, — the seeking for a spiritual world, — made its way in.
Now you must consider: it was the end of the 'eighties, in the nineteenth century, and so much more difficult really even than to-day, — less detrimental perhaps than to-day, but more difficult, — to come out straight away with a confession of the spiritual world. For the physical, sensible world, with all its magnificent laws ... why, that was all demonstrated fact; how could one hope to be any match for it! It had on its side any number of demonstrable proofs. The laboratories testified to it, the physical test-room, the medical clinics, — all testified to this demonstrated world! — But the demonstrated world was, for many homeless souls, one so unsatisfying, one which, for the soul's inner life, was so altogether impossible, that they simply, as I said, crept aside. And whilst in huge masses, — not in buckets, but in barrels, — the great civilization of the age was laid before them, they turned aside, to sip such drops as they might catch from the stream which trickled in as it were out of the spiritual world into modern civilization. — It was, in fact, by no means easy to begin straight away to speak of the spiritual world. It was necessary to find something on to which to connect.
If I may here introduce something which is again a personal remark, it is this: For myself ... one couldn't break so to speak into people's houses with the spiritual world; above all, one couldn't break into the whole civilized edifice with it! I had to take something to connect onto; not for an external reason; something that could be quite honestly internal. At this time, the end of the 'eighties, I took in many places, as connections for the remarks I had to make about more intimate aspects of the spiritual world, Goethe's Story of the Green Serpent and the Lovely Lily. That was something onto which one could connect; because, well, Goethe had, at any rate, a recognized standing; Goethe was, after all, Goethe, you know! It was possible, if one took something which had, after all, been written by Goethe, and where the spiritual influences running through it are so patent as in the Story of the Green Serpent and the Lovely Lily, it was possible then to connect onto these things. For me, indeed, it was the obvious course at that time to connect on-to Goethe's Story of the Green Serpent and the Lovely Lily; for I certainly could not connect onto the thing which was then being carried on as ‘Theosophy’, such as a group of at least very enterprising people towards the end of the 'eighties had extracted at that time out of Blavatsky and out of Sinnet's Esoteric Buddhism and similar books. For someone who proposed to carry over a scientifically trained mode of thought into the spiritual world, it was simply impossible to come in any way into association with the kind of mental and spiritual atmosphere which grew up in immediate connection with Blavatsky and the Esoteric Buddhism of Sinnet.
And again on the other side the matter was not easy; and for this reason: — Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism no doubt is a book which one very soon found to be a spiritually dilettante work, pieced together out of old, misunderstood esotericisms. But to a work like Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine as a phenomenon of the times, it was not so very easy to arrive at a definite relation. For it is a work, which betrays after all in numerous passages, that what is said in them proceeds from direct and forceful impulses of the spiritual world; so that in numerous passages of this Secret Doctrine of Blavatsky's one finds the spiritual world revealing itself in fact through a particular personality, — which was the personality of Blavatsky.
And here there was one thing above all, which could not but especially strike one, which struck one particularly in the course of the search so intently pursued by the people who had come in this way either to Blavatsky personally, or to Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine.
Through this book, The Secret Doctrine, a great mass of ancient truths had been voiced to the world, — old-world truths, obtained by atavistic clairvoyance in the pre-historic ages of mankind. It was like a re-awakening, as I might say, of old-world civilizations. One had there before one, coming to one from the world outside, not merely out of one's own self, — one had there, before one, a thing, of which one could but say to oneself: Here lies unearthed a vast treasure of ancient wisdom, which men once possessed, and which was a wondrous source of light to them. And, patched between it all, pieces of the most incredible kind, which continually amaze one; for the book is a slovenly piece of work, quite dilettante as regards any sort of scientific thinking, and nonsensical with respect to a lot of superstitions and similar stuff. Altogether a most extraordinary book, this Secret Doctrine of Blavatsky; grand truths, along with terrible rubbish. It was, one might say ... the sort of thing, which ... very well characterized the kind of soul-phenomena to which those were exposed, who were beginning little by little to grow up into homeless souls in the new age. And I really learnt in those days to know a great number of such souls, one could see these homeless souls gradually growing up on earth.
After this, during the time that immediately followed, I was intensely busy with other things, in my time at Weimar. Although, there too, there was plenty of opportunity for observing such souls on the search. For during my Weimar time especially, every sort of person, if I may say so, came through Weimar to visit the Goethe and Schiller archives, and from all the leading countries of the world. One learnt to know the people quite remarkably, on the good and on the bad sides of their souls, as they came through Weimar. Queer-fish, as well as highly educated men of fine breeding and distinction: one learnt to know them all. My meeting with Herman Grimm, for instance, in Weimar is described by me in the last number but one of the “Goetheanum.” [‘A personal recollection etc.’ ‘Goetheanum’ Year 2. (1923), No. 43.]
With Herman Grimm it was really so, — to my feeling at least, — that when he was in Weimar ... he came very often; for when he was on his way from Berlin to Italy or back, and at other times as well, he frequently came to Weimar; and I had grown to have the feeling: Weimar is somehow different, when Herman Grimm is in the place, and when he has left it. Herman Grimm was something that made one understand Weimar particularly well. One knew, what Weimar is, better when Herman Grimm was staying there, than when he was not there.
One need only recall Herman Grimm's novel, Powers Unconquerable, to remark at once, that in Herman Grimm there is at any rate an unmistakably strong impulse towards spiritual things. Read the conclusion of this novel, Powers Unconquerable, and you will see how the spiritual world there plays into the physical one through the soul of a dying woman. There is something grand — tremendous — about it, that lays hold of one. I have spoken of it in previous lectures.
And then, of course, there were queer fish too, that came through Weimar. For instance, there was a Russian State Councillor who was looking for something. One couldn't make out what it was he was looking for, — something or other in the second part of Goethe's Faust. In what way he exactly proposed to find it in the Goethe Archives, that one couldn't make out. Nor did anyone exactly know how to help him. They would have been very glad in the Goethe Archives to help him. But he always went on looking. He was looking for the Point in the second part of Faust; and no one could succeed in discovering what kind of a point he wanted. All one could ever learn was that he was looking for the Point, the Point. And so one could only let him look. But he was so talkative with this Point of his, that in the evening, when we used to be sitting at supper, and he drew near, the whisper would go round: ‘Don't look round you! The Councillor's prowling about!’ Nobody wanted to be caught by him.
Well, next to him again, there sat a very curious visitor, who was a very clever fellow, an American, but who had the peculiarity that his favourite position was sitting on the floor, with his legs cocked one over the other; and he used to sit in this fashion with his books before him on the ground. It was a weird sight. But, as I said, one met with these things too there, and had, in fact, opportunities of seeing a sort of sample slice out of the life of modern civilization, and in an unusually striking way.
Later on, however, when I went to Berlin, my destiny again led me more especially into a circle, made up of the kind of souls whom I spoke of as being ‘homeless souls’. Destiny led me indeed so deep into it that from this particular circle there came the request that I would give them some lectures, the same which have since been published in my book, Mysticism at the Dawn of the New Age of Thought. (In the preface to the book I have also given an account of how these things came about.)
This particular circle happened now to be people who had found their way into the Theosophical Society at a somewhat later period, as I may say, than my Vienna acquaintances. And they occupied a different position towards all that had been Blavatsky. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine was a work to which but few of them gave any study; but they were well-versed in all that Blavatsky's successor, Mrs. Annie Besant, was giving forth in her lectures as the Theosophy of the day. In this they were well-versed, these people, to whom I was saying something quite different in my lectures on ‘Mysticism’. They were very well-versed in it indeed; and I remember still, for instance, hearing a lecture by a member of this same group, which was based upon a little book of Mrs. Annie Besant's, in which Mrs. Annie Besant, on her part, had divided up Man into physical body, ether body, astral body, and so on. I can't help often recalling how awful, how appalling, this description seemed to me at the time, of the human being as drawn from Mrs. Annie Besant. I had not read anything of Mrs. Besant's. The first which I heard of her things was this lecture, given by a lady on the strength of Mrs. Annie Besant's newest pamphlet of the day. — It was quite awful, how in those days the different parts of the human being used to be told off in a string, one after the other, with, at bottom, very little understanding, — instead of letting them proceed out of the whole totality of man's being.
And so once more, as in Vienna at the end of the 'eighties, I was in the midst of such homeless souls, and with every opportunity of observing them. And, as you well know, what since has come to be Anthroposophy first grew up in all essentials then, with as many as were there of these homeless souls, — grew up, not in, I would say, but with these homeless souls, who had begun by seeking a new home for their souls in Theosophy.
I wished to carry our observations to this point to-day, my dear friends, and to-morrow will then continue, and try to lead you further in this study in self-recollection, upon which we have only just embarked to-day.