Anthroposophic Movement (1938)
IV. Blavatsky's Orientation: Spiritual, but Anti-Christian
Dornach, 13 June, 1923
When considering a phenomenon such as Blavatsky, especially when considering it from the aspect that will be clear to you from the remarks of the last three days, the first consideration naturally is the personality as such, regarded so-to-speak simply for itself, on the one hand. On the other hand, one has to consider it in the aspect of a means, by which a certain effect was produced upon a large number of people. Well, this effect was in part certainly one of a very negative kind. Those people, one may say, who heard anything of Blavatsky's publications, in so far as they were people, say of a philosophic or psychologic turn of mind, or literary, or scientific, or what one might call in general ‘educated’, as the term is used to-day, — such people were only too glad to be rid in any way of this new apparition, and not to be obliged to pronounce any sort of judgment on it. And they could attain this aim of theirs all the better, that there were circumstances, which I touched upon yesterday, under which they could say: It was a proven fact that there had been bogus practices, and one needn't trouble one's head further about anything, where this kind of thing is said to have been evidenced.
And then, of course, more particularly, there were those people, who had possession of old, traditional wisdom, — a possession, of which I told you how little they understood it, but which they used in one direction or another as a means of power, — members of one or other of the secret societies. And one must never forget, that any number of things in the world are an effect of influences that go out from such secret societies.
These people were not only glad not to need to pronounce any judgment, but they were above all things concerned to devise every conceivable means of preventing any more wide-spread effects resulting from this open demonstration of the spiritual world. For the things, as we saw, had been made public; they could be read by everyone, spread abroad by everyone. And thereby a good piece at least of the means of power, which these societies wanted to keep in their own hands, was taken from them. — And accordingly, behind things like those I described yesterday one finds of course associates of such societies, — particularly in the creation of opinion: there are bogus practices behind.
But what must seem to us of more importance still for our present purpose, is that, in spite of all this, Blavatsky's writings, and all the other things attached to her person, did nevertheless create a certain impression with a large number of people of the day; and that thereby those various movements came into being, which bear the name, in a sense, of theosophical.
In all that is here said, I beg you to note that I always try, as far as possible, to make the designations accord with the facts. To-day the very usage of the words alone makes this impossible for one, — impossible that is in many quarters. For it is only too easy for a person to-day, who hears a word, at once to establish what I might call a kind of lexicographal relation between himself and the word: he looks up some sort of verbal explanation, to spare himself as far as possible the trouble of going into the thing itself.
This kind of literary gentleman, — and many people, too, who carry more weight than literary gentlemen, — when they hear of ‘theosophy’, look it up in the encyclopedia (or, which may be much the same thing, in their heads), and find out there what it is. Or they may go further, they are much more conscientious maybe, and study all sorts of documents in which such a word as ‘theosophy’ occurs; and then from this they take the grounds for their sub-sequent criticism. You must notice, with writings that deal with such things, in how far what they say is the out-come of this kind of procedure.
But in direct contrast to all this, one might say: How did the particular society — or societies, indeed — that collected round the Blavatsky phenomenon, come by their name of ‘Theosophical Society’? One may have never so much, — and I have enumerated much that one may have, — against the Theosophical Society; but at any rate it certainly cannot be said about its origin at the beginning of the nineteenth century, that they took the dictionary meaning of the word ‘theosophy’, and founded a ‘Theosophical Society’ because they wanted to spread Theosophy as understood in the dictionary sense. That was most decidedly not the case. The case was, that a whole mass of communications were lying there from the spiritual world, that had come through Blavatsky, — lying there, ready, as communicated material. And the people now found them-selves, for reasons which I will discuss later, as good as compelled to execute the charge of this material by the method of a society. And then there came the need of a name. And then, the people who were ... well, everything is ‘debated’ to-day, and they ‘debated’ everything even in those days ... who were debating then, what name they should give it, asked themselves whether it should be called the ‘New Mystical Society’? or should it be called the ‘Rosicrucian Society’? or the ‘Magian Society’? And then they hunted up what other words there were, and finally hit on the word ‘theosophy’ and ‘theosophical’.
So that the word in actuality has very little to do with what was spread abroad under it, so far as it is a word with an historic derivation. It has therefore not much sense, when people take the ‘meaning of the word’ as a basis for discussing the actual things, — and especially not for liking or disliking them. It is a question of these quite definite, concrete things, which came into the world either through Blavatsky's writings, or through other communications of hers. And it is the purest accident, one might say, that the associations which collected round these things took the name ‘Theosophical Society’. It was simply, that no better word occurred to them. This is a fact that must by no means be left out of account; — for naturally there exist not only historic judgments, as I might say, but also historic sentiments. Those, who have historically studied the course of development in some special branch of learning, find the term ‘theosophy’ turning up in a variety of places; but what they find turning up there, has nothing whatever to do in reality with what took again the name of ‘Theosophical Society’.
Indeed, my dear friends, things like this must at any rate in the Anthroposophical Society be treated very seriously, and there should be, there at any rate, a certain dominant love of accuracy; so that in time a true instinct may grow up for all the quite unreal, superficially written stuff that has gradually collected round these things in the world.
The question, however, that must occupy us most peculiarly is this: How did it come about, in spite of all, that a great number of people in these recent times have felt inwardly impelled towards these things that were thus revealed? For, here too is a point, from which we shall be led on to what is again of quite a different character, namely, to the anthroposophic movement.
Now, when studying the phenomenon of Blavatsky, there is one peculiarity of this personage on which especially stress must be laid, for it is a very marked peculiarity. It is this, namely, that H. P. Blavatsky was absolutely, one may really say, anti-christian in mind, — absolutely anti-christian in her orientation. In her Secret Doctrine, the different impulses of a variety of primal religions, and the evolution of religions, are displayed by her in what might be called one grand splash. For objective demonstration she had simply no capacity. Everywhere, even in cases where one would rightly have expected an objective demonstration, she drags her subjective judgments, her subjective sentiments into the picture.
And not only did she pass judgments, but she plainly shows throughout, that she has profound sympathy with every kind of religion in the world, excepting Judaism and Christianity, and, on the other hand, a profound antipathy to Judaism and to Christianity. Everything that comes from Judaism and Christianity is everywhere, quite sharply, represented by Blavatsky as being inferior and worthless, compared with the great revelations of the various heathen religions: — a quite pronounced anti-christian orientation, namely: but a quite pronouncedly spiritual one. There is the ability in her to speak of spiritual beings and spiritual events, as people usually speak of beings and events in the sensible world; and also to speak about many things of this world in such a manner, that one may truly say, she possessed the faculty for moving amongst actual spiritual agencies, as the man of to-day is accustomed to move amongst physical, sensible effects; spiritual phenomena are by Blavatsky talked of with the same feelings of reality, with which the things of the physical world are talked of usually by other people. A pronounced spiritual orientation, therefore; and a pronounced anti-christian orientation.
With this, however, comes the further capacity for discovering the characteristic impulses in the different heathen religions, the different natural religions, and raising them to the surface and to people's understanding.
Now there are two things which might surprise one: first, the appearance at all to-day (meaning ‘to-day’ of course in the historic sense) of a person whose orientation is in so pronounced a degree anti-christian, and who looks to this anti-christian orientation for the salvation of mankind. And secondly, one might find it surprising, seeing that, after all, very few people on the outside are heathen, but that people, on the outside, have mostly a Jewish or Christian orientation, — at least in our civilized regions, — that, nevertheless, despite their Jewish and Christian orientation, a very determinative and deep-reaching influence was exerted upon these people (especially on those of a Christian orientation, — less on those of the Jewish). — These are two questions that must present themselves to our souls in any discussion whatever of these life-conditions, by which modern spiritual life is attended amongst the wider masses of mankind.
Now, as regards Blavatsky's own anti-christianism, I would only remind you, that there was another person, much better known in Central Europe, — better known in some circles at least, — who was at the least quite as anti-christian in his orientation as Blavatsky; and that was Nietzsche, One cannot well be more anti-christian in one's orientation, than the author of the Antichrist was. And unlike as Nietzsche is to Blavatsky, if only from the fact that Blavatsky, in respect of what is called the modern education of the day, was really more or less of an uneducated woman, whereas Nietzsche stood at the top of modern culture; yet, unlike as they otherwise were in the whole character of their souls, in this respect they present a remarkable similar-ity: that the orientation of both is eminently anti-christian. And it would be nothing short of superficial, my dear friends, if one did not make at least some enquiry into the reason of this anti-christian orientation in these two persons. One gets, however, no answer, without going somewhat deeper into the matter.
One must be clear to oneself namely, that men to-day — and indeed, ever widening strata of mankind, — have come to be altogether cleft in two as regards their soul-life; — a cleft which people do not always make clear to themselves, which they try to smother over with their intellect, try to smother over through a sort of intellectual cowardice; but which only winds and weaves in these souls all the more deeply, in the subconscious feelings of the mind.
One should only clearly recognize, what the human race in Europe, what the whole European race of mankind, together with their American appendage, have become, under the influence of the educational tendency of the last three, four, five centuries. One should only consider, how great the division is in actual reality, between all that to-day makes up the substance of worldly education, and that which dwells as a religious impulse in men. For, in truth, the majority of people are given to most terrible delusions in this respect. They are introduced, even from their first primary school, into this modern style of education. Every power of thought, every inclination of the soul, is directed into this modern style of education. And then, as an addition, they are given, besides, what is supposed to satisfy their religious desires. And between the two there opened up a terrible gulf.
But people do not get so far as really to put this gulf plainly before their souls. They do not get to this. They prefer indeed to give themselves up in this respect to utter delusions.
What, then, one must ask oneself was the historic process that led to the cleavage of this gulf? — There you must look back my dear friends, to those centuries, when as yet this modern education did not exist, to times where the learned life was pursued only by a small number of individuals, who had received a very thorough preparation. Be quite clear as to the fact, that at the present day, as regards exterior education, a twelve-year-old schoolgirl has more in her than any educated man of the eleventh or twelfth or thirteenth century. Such things must not be overlooked. And this is education has grown to rest upon a most extraordinarily i«tense feeling of ‘authority’, a downright invincible sense of authoritativeness. This education has come, in the course of the centuries, to have something ever more and more so to speak, at its command, which makes the belief in this authoritativeness of modern education ever greater and greater.
More and more during the course of the centuries has this modern education come to be directed only to what the external senses tell men, or what calculation tells them. Now the less men go inwardly to council with themselves, the more plain it appears to them, that what is true, is what they see — as the saying is — with their five senses; or what can be seen in the sense of being calculated, such as: twice two are four: ‘What I see with my five senses, what is like twice two are four, that is true.’ And in course of rejecting everything else, and only at last taking up more and more into modern education what is true in the way those things are true which one sees with one's five senses or can count i»i one's five fingers, so gradually — since they are such great authorities this twice two are four and the five senses! — so it came about, little by little, that modern education, of which one can say, that it is as certain as twice two are four and what the five senses tell one, — that gradually this modern education came to be equipped with the sense of authoritativeness which it possesses.
But thereby too there arose ever more and more a feeling, that everything which a man believes, everything which a man takes for true, must justify itself before the tribunal of this ‘quite certain’ modern education. And now, as this modern education passed over more and more into the Sensible and the Calculable, it became impossible ever to put before men at all, in a suitable way, any sort of truth whatever from those regions, where mathematics are no longer valid and the senses are no more of account.
In what way, then, were truths of this sort put before men in earlier centuries, before this modern education existed?
They were put before them in ceremonial images. In the spread of religion, throughout long centuries, the essence lay, not in the sermon, but in the ceremony, in the rites of the ritual. It was plainly recognized that: One can't speak through the intellect (which was not as yet developed in its present form at all), one must speak through the image.
Just conceive for a moment, how it was still in the fourteenth, in the fifteenth centuries, in Christian countries for example. It was not the sermon there, that was the main thing: the main thing was the ceremony; the main thing was, that men grew at home in a world which they saw dis-played before them in sublime and splendid imagery. All round the walls were the painted frescoes, bringing home to them the life of the spiritual world; much as though, with our earthly life, we could reach up to the highest tops of the mountains, and then, could one but climb only a little higher, the spiritual life would begin. Pictorial, — speaking to the imagination, — or in the audible harmonies of music, or else, if words were used, then mantrical, in forms of prayer in forms of formula, was the language that told of the spiritual world.
To those ages it was quite clear, that for the spiritual world one needs the image, not the abstract thought, — not that about which one may dispute, but the visible illustration, the pictorial likeness; that one needs what speaks to the senses, and yet speaks to the senses in such a way, that, through the sensible presentation, it is the spirit speaking.
And now came the rise of the modern education, with its claims of the intellect, with the claim that everything should be justified, as the saying is, to reason.
Now everything about Christianity too and about the mysteries of Christianity, as well as about the Mystery of Golgotha and its bearers, had all been told mainly in this picture form; and in so far as words were used, in picture-form also, namely, in the form of stories. And when dogmas began, they, too, were still something that the mind grasped pictorially. So that one may say that down to the thirteenth or fourteenth centuries, the teaching of Christianity was carried on in an altogether old-fashioned form. But this Christian teaching remained uncontested in its own domain from any quarter, so long as the intellectualistic education had not yet come on the field, — so long as people were not required to justify these things to reason.
Only study it in its rise, historically, through the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth centuries, with what a storm it burst in: this new demand in men to understand everything with the intellect! What a world-historic critical analysis begins! People as a rule to-day are no longer in the least fully aware, what a world-historic critical ;analysis it is, that there began!
One may say then, that the man of to-day, — and really not only amongst the upper ten thousand, but throughout the very broadest grades, — is introduced in Christianity into a religious life too; but alongside it he is introduced also into an education of the modern style; and the two, — Christianity and modern education, — now dwell together in his soul. And it now turns out, — and it does so turn out in fact, although people may not clearly recognize it, — that with what this intellectualist education has brought men, the truths of Christianity cannot be proved. The truths of Christianity cannot be proved by it. And so, from childhood up, to-day, one learns the ‘Quite Certainty’ that twice two are four, and that one must apply one's five senses to this alone. One learns this Quite Certainty; and one discovers, that if one intends to abide by this Quite Certainty, ... that then, ... then, it will not do to bring Christianity and this Quite Certainty into connection.
Those theologists, — the modern theologists, — who have tried to bring the two into connection, have ended by losing the Christ; they are no longer able to speak to the broad masses of the Christ; at most they speak of the person of Jesus. And so it keeps its ground during these latter centuries, in the same old forms, but forms, which the modern man simply fails in his soul any longer to accept; — so it keeps its ground, this Christianity, but loses all inner consistency, so to speak, in the soul. — What is the reason?
My dear friends, look at everything that history has already brought forth in the form of Christianity. It is the greatest dishonesty, when modern theologians to-day try to explain this Christianity in any way rationalistically. It is quite impossible rationalistically to explain this Christianity. One cannot explain this Christianity, this Mystery of Golgotha and its bearers with rationalities; one is obliged to speak of spiritualities, if one would speak of Christ; to speak of Christ, one must speak of a spiritual world. One cannot possibly only believe in the Quite Certainty of one's five senses and that twice two are four, and then honestly speak of Christ as well. That is what one cannot do. And so it looked, in the innermost bottom of their souls, as though the men of modern times had no possibility, with an education such as they receive, of understanding the Christ, of actually comprehending Him; for rationalism and intellectualism have robbed men of the spiritual world. The Christ name, indeed, the Christ tradition, has remained; but without any aura, without the vision of the Christ as a spirit among spirits, as a spiritual being in a spiritual world. For the world which the modern astronomy, biology, natural science, has brought with it, is an un-spiritual world.
And so in time there came numbers of souls, with a quite definite need arising from these undergrounds of their being. Time really moves on; and. the men of to-day, as I have often insisted, are no longer the men of earlier times. They cannot but ask themselves: I find myself joining together with a number of others for the cultivation of spiritual truths: Why do I do so? Why do you do so, each one of you? What drives you to do so?
Now, what drives people to do this, has its seed for the most part so deep down in the sub-reasoning, unconscient grounds of the soul's life, that people as a rule are not very clear about it. But the question is one that must be raised here, in what, as I particularly said at the beginning, is intended as an exercise in Self-Recollection for Anthroposophists.
When you look back into earlier times, it is a self-evident matter to people, that outside them there are not only material things and material proceedings, but that every-where through it all there are spirits. People found a world of spirit all about them, in their surroundings. And because they found a world of spirit, they could comprehend the Christ. With modern intellectualism one can nowhere find a world of spirit — if one is honest; consequently one cannot either really comprehend the Christ. And the modern educated man does not comprehend the Christ. The people who have living in them two different things. Yes, as a fact, are, in fact, quite definite souls. They are those souls, who have living in them two different things. Yes, as a fact, in most of these people who come together in societies such as we are speaking of, there are two things living, of a double kind.
In the first place, there is a quite vague feeling which rises up in the soul, and which the people can't describe, but which is there. And if one examines this feeling by the means one possesses in the spiritual world, one finds it to be a feeling originating in earlier earth-lives, but earth-lives in which people still had a spiritual world round about them.
Yes, indeed, my dear friends, people are beginning to come up to-day, in whose souls something is inwardly rumbling from earlier earth-lives. We should have no theosophists nor anthroposophists either, if there were not people of this kind, in whom there is a rumbling of earlier earth-lives. Such people are to be found in every grade of our modern population. They do not know that the thing comes from earlier earth-lives; but it does come from earlier earth-lives. And from this there arises the striving after a quite definite road, after a quite definite form of know-ledge. — Truly, my dear friends, the trees, as you saw them in earlier earth-lives, the external material substances, as you then saw them, — that does not work on after into this present life on earth; for, all that, you saw with your senses, and those senses are scattered to the dust of the cosmos; but what works on after, is the inner, the spiritual substance of your earlier earth-lives.
Now, a person may stand here at the present day in two different ways. He may have a sense: There is something inside me ... he doesn't know that it comes from earlier earth-lives; but it is something coming from earlier earth-lives, and he has the sense: There is something inside me — it is working in me, — it is there; and however much I may know about the world of the senses, this thing cannot be 'described; for it has brought nothing over with it save what is spiritual; and if everything is now taken away from me at the present day that is spiritual, then this thing, which comes over from earlier earth-lives, remains dissatisfied. — That is one thing.
The other thing living in men is that they have a vague feeling: ‘My dreams should really tell me more than the sense-world!’ It is, of course, an error, a delusion, when people fancy that their dreams should tell them more than the sense-world does. But what is the origin of this delusion? — this delusion which in reality has grown up in proportion with the growth of the modern style of education? For there is a peculiar circumstance about this modern style of education: when people to-day, who are ‘educated’ in the modern sense, come together in their educated society gatherings, then, well then, one is obliged to be ‘educated’; then one talks in the way befitting persons who have a proper schooling in the modern style. Should anyone begin to say anything whatever about spiritual agencies in the world, then one must curl one's lips sarcastically, — for that is the educated thing to do. In our public-school education it is not admissible to talk of spiritual agencies in the world. If one does so, one is a superstitious, uneducated person. Then one must curl one's lips; one must show that such things are proper to the superstitious section of the populace.
Well, very often such society gatherings form into two groups. Usually there is somebody present who takes half a heart to talk about spiritual things of the kind. The company curls its lips, and the major part goes off, and goes to play cards or to some other pastime befitting human dignity. A few, however, grow inquisitive; and they withdraw into a side-room and there begin a long conversation about these things; while the rest play cards or do other things that I am not so interested to describe. And there sit the people in the side-room, listening with open mouths, and cannot have enough of listening to what they hear. — Only it must be in a side-room, otherwise one is not ‘educated’.
And yet, all that the modern man can get to like this, is still more or less of the nature only of a dream. The things for the most part are as disconnected and chaotic as dreams, that he hears told in this way. And yet the man likes it all the same. Why does he like it? The others, too, would like it really, who have gone off to play cards; only that the passion for card-playing is more strong than the liking to listen, — at least they persuade themselves that it is.
What is it, then, that makes men in this modern age so fond of going after dreams? — It is because they feel, — and again quite instinctively, without being clearly aware of it: — ‘All this that I have in my thoughts, and that lies painted before my eyes in the outer, physical world, — it is all very well; but it gives me nothing for my own soul-life. Behind it all there must be something else. I feel it within me. There is a secret thinking and feeling and willing that goes on as uncontrolled in me even when I am awake, as my dream-life goes on uncontrolled in me when I am asleep.’ — There is something in the background of men's souls that is really dreamed, even when awake. This the modern man feels. And he feels it, because in the outer world outside him the spiritual is failing; he can only still snatch at it in dreams. In earlier earth-lives he had it round about him in his surroundings. And now the time has come when souls are born, who, in addition to those impulses which rumble in them from earlier earth-lives, have also rumbling within them that which went on in their pre-earthly state of existence in the spiritual world. For this bears a relation to the inner dreaming; and this inner dreaming is an after-working of the living reality in the pre-earthly state of existence.
Just consider to yourselves! The men of earlier times were conscious of spiritual surroundings; their earthly state of life did not, as it were, deprive them of the spirit. The men of the new times feel the spiritual within them-selves. But not only does the constitution of the soul in this age deprive them of the spirit, but, in addition, a form of education has come into the field which is hostile to the spirit, which argues the spirit away.
If we ask, what is it that brings men together in societies of the kind we are here describing? it is because of these two properties of the soul: — because there is something rumbling within them from earlier earth-lives; — because there is something rumbling within them from their pre-earthly state of existence. With most of you this is the case. You would not be sitting here if there were not these two things rumbling within you.
And if you think back into earlier states of society: — In quite ancient times the social institutions were altogether derived from the Mysteries, were in unison with the things that were spiritually transmitted to men. Man was interwoven with — we will say — a Social Being, which was at the same time one with the object of his own soul's desire.
Take an Athenian. He looked above to the Goddess Athene. He felt within his own soul his inner relationship with the Goddess Athene. He made part of a common social life and being, of which the people knew: it was instituted in accordance with the designs of the Goddess Athene. It was the Goddess Athene who had planted the olive trees round about Athens; the laws of the State were inscribed at Athene's dictate. One had one's place as man in a social community which accorded completely with the voice of inner belief. Nothing was taken from a man there, which the Gods, so to speak, had given him.
Compare this with the modern man. His position amid his social circumstances is such, that there is a cleft gulf between what he feels in his inward life, and the way he is outwardly entangled in these social circumstances. He seems to himself, — he does not clearly recognize it: it sits in his sub-consciousness, — as though his soul was in constant danger of having his body taken from it by external circumstances. He feels his own connection through those properties of the soul, — those impulses of which I spoke, from earlier earth-lives and pre-earthly existence; — he feels his own connection with a spiritual world. His body belongs to the external institutions. His body must behave in such a way as to satisfy the requirements of the external institutions. This exerts in his sub-consciousness a continual dread upon the modern man, lest in reality well, there are already modern States where a man may feel as though his own coat did not properly belong to him, because he owes it to the tax-office! — But, at any rate, you will agree, my dear friends, that in a large measure even one's physical body does not belong to one; for in fact it is claimed by the external institutions.
This dread haunts the modern man, that every day, so to speak, he must deliver up his body to something which has no connection with what is in his soul. And so modern man becomes a seeker after something which belongs to quite other ages of the world, and which he knew in his earlier lives on earth; — so modern man becomes a seeker after something which does not belong to the earth at all, which belongs to the spiritual world, where he was in his pre-earthly existence.
All this takes effect unconsciously, instinctively. Nevertheless, it takes effect. And truly, one may say that what our anthroposophic society has now come to be has really grown out of small beginnings. It had to work at the beginning in the most primitive fashion in quite small circles.
One could tell a great many stories about the way in which the work was carried on from small circles. At one time, for instance, during the first years in Berlin, I had to lecture at erst in a room with the jingling of beer-glasses going on at the back, because it was a pot-house opening on to the street. And once, when this was not available, we were shown into something which was a sort of stable.
And thither the people came, — the people who were, who are, of the particular constitution I have described to you. — In one German town I have lectured in a hall, which in part had no sort of flooring, so that one continually had to look out that one didn't tumble into a hole and break one's leg. But the people came together there all the same, — those that had these impulses in them. However, it is a movement which set out from the first to be a common human one; and so the satisfaction was just as great when the simplest minds turned up in places such as I have just described. Rut still, it was not felt to be all too disagreeable, — for, after all, that too was part of human nature! — when people turned up, more of the kind — as I might say — that then stood sponsors to the anthroposophic movement in an aristocratic style, as was the case in Munich. The door was not closed to any kind of human forms and fashions. But always the thing, my dear friends, which had to be regarded was this: that the souls who thus came together were of the kind that were constituted as I have described: so that, in reality, the people who came together in associations like these were people marked out by fate, — and are so still to-day: marked out by fate.
If people of this kind had not been there, you see, a personage like Blavatsky would have met with no interest. For only with persons such as these did she meet with any interest. What was it then that these people more immediately felt? What was for them the all-important thing? What was it that responded, so to speak, to their own sentiments?
Well, one of the two things rumbling in their souls found its response in the doctrine of recurrent earth-lives. Each one could say to himself now, ‘I live, as Man, in all ages of time; I am inwardly stronger than those powers, which day by day are trying to snatch my body from me.’ This most deep-seated and intimate feeling, that verged really on the nature of will in men, had to be met, then, by the doctrine of recurrent earth-lives.
And the other thing: of feeling the soul's life really more like a dream, feeling it free from the body (even the simplest countryman has this sense of the soul's being free of the body), this, one could meet more and more with a form of knowledge that was not directed merely on the lines of material substance and material processes; for within this material substance and its processes there was nothing whatever that corresponded to what the man felt in his own soul-life, and that was an after-echo of his pre-earthly existence. This, one could only respond to, when one made it clear to him, that — startling though it may sound — ‘Our deepest human being is woven as it were out of dreams.’ For what is woven out of us, as dreams are woven, — only that it has a stronger reality, a stronger existence, — has no likeness to the things which are in our physical surroundings. A man is like a fish that is taken out of water and expected to live in air, when, with what he bears within his soul, he is expected to live in the world that modern education conjures up before men's fancy. And just as the fish, when it can't breathe in the air, begins to gasp and snap its gills, because it can't live; so souls like these live in the modern atmosphere, gasping and snapping after the thing they need. And this thing which they need they don't find; because it is something spiritual. For it is the after-echo of what they knew and lived in during their pre-earthly existence in the spiritual world. They want to hear of spiritual things, — that something spiritual is there, — that the Spiritual is in the midst of us.
Understand well, my dear friends, that these were the two most important matters for a particular section of man-kind: To have it explained to them that man lives beyond one single earth-life; and to have it explained to them that beings exist in the world at all of such a kind as man is: that there are spirits amongst the things and the pro-cesses of nature. — This was brought by Blavatsky in the first place. And this people required to have first, before, in the next place, they could understand the Christ.
And now we have the curious fact that, with a note of compassion — one might say — for humanity, we find Blavatsky saying to herself: ‘These people are gasping after knowledge from the spiritual world. If we disclose the old heathen religions to them, we shall be disclosing what responds to their spiritual needs.’ That was the first thing to be done.
And that this led to an immense one-sidedness, led, namely, to a form of Anti-christianity, is in every way quite understandable; just as it is quite understandable that a review of the modern Christianity, out of which he himself had grown, led to such an intense Anti-christianity in Nietzsche.
Of this Anti-christianity and its remedy I propose to speak to you in the next lectures. I only wish distinctly to note that this Anti-christianity which showed itself in Blavatsky was, from the first, absent from the anthroposophic movement. For the first lecture-cycle ever held by me was the lecture-cycle From Buddha to Christ, as I mentioned before. Thereby the anthroposophic movement stands therefore on its own footing, as something inde-pendent in the midst of all these spiritual movements, through the fact that, from the very beginning, it has pur-sued the road that leads from the heathen religions towards Christianity.
And one must no less understand, why it was that the others did not take this road.
As I said, we will talk of this to-morrow.