Donate books to help fund our work. Learn more→

The Rudolf Steiner Archive

a project of Steiner Online Library, a public charity

Art as Seen in the Light of Mystery Wisdom
GA 275

VI. Working with Sculptural Architecture I

2 January 1915, Dornach

It will be relatively easy—I am saying relatively, of course—for a person to take up more or less theoretically what we understand by the spiritual-scientific world outlook, or anthroposophy. But it will not be easy to fill our whole being and life itself with the impulses coming from spiritual science. To absorb anthroposophy theoretically, so that you know that the human being consists of a physical body, an etheric body, an astral body and so on, in the same way as you know that one or another tone has so-and-so many vibrations, or that oxygen combines with hydrogen to make water, is the way we have grown accustomed to learning things through the natural-scientific approach mankind has gradually acquired over the last few centuries.

We are less accustomed, however, to allowing our feelings and attitude of mind to be affected by the kind of knowledge spiritual science has to offer. Yet the kind of approach we must have to spiritual science is fundamentally opposite to the approach we must have to natural science. Emphasis is often laid on the fact that everyone feels that science is dry and stops us having a warm contact with life and its happenings; that dry science has something cold and unfeeling about it and robs things of their dewy freshness. Yet one could say that to a certain extent this has to be so with ordinary science. For there is an enormous difference between the impression made on us by a wonderful cloud formation in the evening or morning sky and the bare reports an astronomer or a meteorologist gives us. There is such abundant richness in the natural world around us that its effect on us is to warm us through and through whereas, in comparison, science, with its concepts and ideas, appears dull and dry, cold, lifeless and loveless. Yet there is every justification to feel this way as far as external, natural-scientific knowledge is concerned.

There are good reasons why external, natural-scientific knowledge has to be like this, but spiritual science is not this kind of knowledge. On the contrary it ought to bring us nearer and nearer to the living abundance and warmth of the outside world and of the world altogether. But this means learning to bring certain impulses to life in us that a person of today hardly possesses at all. A present-day person expects it to be in the nature of what he calls science that it has a cold and sobering effect on him, like the character of Wagner in Goethe's Faust. He expects that if he assimilates science the riddles of nature will be solved, and then he will know how everything is constituted and be perfectly satisfied with what he knows.

Science even makes some people shudder nowadays, for a quite specific reason. They maintain that what made life so rich and fresh in the past, was the fact that man had not solved every riddle and could still wonder about the unsolved ones. And then science comes along, they say, and solves the riddles of nature one after the other. And they imagine how boring life will be in the future when science will have solved all the mysteries and there will be no further possibility of wondering about anything, or having any feelings of an unscientific kind. What terrible desolation would befall mankind; we have every reason to be horrified at the prospect.

But spiritual science can kindle different feelings than these, and although those feelings would be less in keeping with modern times than the solving of riddles, they show how awakening and life-giving spiritual science can be. If we absorb anthroposophy in the right way—not just take notes of what is being said, so that we can make use of them like they do in ordinary science, and perhaps even do a neat diagram, so that we can take it all in at a glance like physics—if we do not do it so much that way, but let what anthroposophy has to say reach our hearts and we unite with it, we shall notice that it comes to life in us and grows, it awakens our independence and initiative and becomes like a new living being within us, that is forever showing new aspects. To approach external nature with our souls thus filled with anthroposophy, is to find more riddles in nature and not less. Everything grows even more puzzling, which broadens instead of impoverishing our life of feeling; you could say that spiritual science makes the world more mysterious.

Of course the world becomes a desolate place when the physicist says to you ‘You see the sunrise . . . .’ and then, showing us a diagram, he tells us which particular refractions are taking place in the rays of light so that the glow of dawn appears. This is certainly horrible, not from the point of view of human reason, but for the human heart and an understanding connected with the heart.

It is quite different when spiritual science tells us, for example, When you see the sunrise or hear one or another piece of music, it must feel to you as though the Elohim were sending their punishing wrath into the world. Then we become aware of the mysterious living weaving of the Elohim behind the glow of dawn. To know the name of the Elohim and to be able to give them a place in the ninefold diagram we have drawn in our notebook, is not knowing anything about the Elohim. But out of the living feeling we can have in looking at the sunrise will come a perception of movement and life in rich abundance, just as we know that when we look at a human being, any amount of conceptual knowledge about him will not tell us the whole of his nature, nor fathom the universal life within him. Likewise, we shall become aware that the dawn is revealing something to us of the unfathomable life of the cosmos.

Spiritual-scientific knowledge makes life more enigmatic and mysterious in a way that kindles richer feelings within us. And it is a fundamental feeling of this kind our souls can acquire, when we bring spiritual science to life within us and when we try to make ourselves at home in the kind of ideas I have just indicated. Then we shall never be tempted to complain that spiritual science only appeals to our heads and does not take hold of our whole being. We just need to be patient until the message of spiritual science becomes a living being within us and forms itself anew, filling us not only with its light but also with its warmth. Then it will take hold of our hearts and our whole being and we shall feel the richer for it, whereas, if we take up spiritual science in the same way as ordinary science, we are bound to feel the poorer.

Yet, on the other hand, it is quite natural that, to begin with, anthroposophy seems to many people to lead to an impoverishment, because they have not yet been able to find the inner life of the message of anthroposophy that can reach their heart, and because anthroposophy does not yet have the same effect on them as, for instance, the warm words of a fellow human being speaking to us. But we have to learn that anthroposophy can become alive that it can give us as much support and encouragement as we can otherwise only receive from another human being.

Our hearts find this so difficult at the present time because we have lost the habit of uniting ourselves with the life of things. It is difficult enough if one tries in small doses to re-introduce this living with things. This was attempted in our four Mystery Plays. You have only to think of the scene in spirit land, in the fifth act of The Soul's Awakening, where Felix Balde is sitting on the left side of the stage—seen from the audience—after he has ascended to Devachan, and a spiritual being on the other side of the stage speaks to him of his experience of weight. Here one should feel the weight that is descending in the distance. When people see something descending, they are accustomed nowadays only to be aware of the descending and only to see the thing higher up to start with, and then coming lower and lower down. They are quite unaccustomed to creeping into things and feeling the experience of weight, feeling the thing pressing down all the time. With an expression like that I am hoping to lift people out of their egoistic bodies right in the middle of the play, and to plunge them into the life of things outside themselves.

If this cannot happen, then real artistic feeling will not be able to arise again. In order that, for instance, a true feeling for architecture can come again, the concepts we receive from spiritual science must come alive. To begin with it makes very little difference which particular anthroposophical concepts we carry round with us. But if we really do something like this we shall see how much richer our soul life becomes. We shall gain a lot if, for instance, as well as just seeing this diagram we try and submerge ourselves in it and try to feel what is going on: weight pressing down here, and weight being supported there.

We want to go even further and not just look at it, but feel that the beam needs to have a certain strength, otherwise the load will crush it, and the supporting pillars must also have a certain strength, otherwise they too will be crushed. We must feel the way the sphere on top is pressing down, the pillars supporting and the beam keeping the balance. Not until we creep into the elements of weight, support and balance, between the pressing down and the supporting, shall we feel our way into the element of architecture.

But if we follow a structure of this kind not only with our eye but, as it were, crawl into it and experience the weighing down, the supporting and the balance, then we shall feel that our whole organism is becoming involved, and as if we have to call on an invisible brain belonging to our whole being and not just our head. Then we can awaken to the consciousness, ‘Ah! now we are beginning to feel!’ To take our simple example, we shall feel a supporting element, an upward striving, supporting luciferic element; a weighing and pressing down ahrimanic element, and a balance between the luciferic and ahrimanic which is a divine quality. Thus, even lifeless nature becomes filled with Lucifer and Ahriman and their superior ruler, who eternally brings about the balance between them.

If we thus learn to experience the luciferic, ahrimanic and divine elements in architecture, so that architecture affects us inwardly, we shall become conscious of a richer feeling of the world which leads or, one could almost say, pulls the soul into the things of the world; for our soul is now not only within our body's skin but belongs to the cosmos. This is a way of becoming conscious of this. We shall become aware, too, that whereas outside, the architectural element is supporting, weighing down and creating a balance, we ourselves in this encounter with the architectural element, develop a musical mood. Architecture produces a musical mood in our inner being, and we notice that even though the elements of architecture and music appear to be so alien in the outer world, through this musical mood engendered in us, our experience of architecture brings about a reconciliation, a balance between these two elements.

This is where, from our epoch onwards, living progress in the arts will lie, through learning to experience the reconciliation of the arts. This was dimly felt by Wagner, but it can only really come about when the world comes alive with spiritual science.

Reconciling the arts: that is what we attempted to do—for the first time, and in a small, elementary way—in our Goetheanum building. We did not want only to talk in a cold, abstract way about it, but show in the architecture of the building itself an impression, a copy of this reconciling of a musical mood with architectural form. If you study what is presented in our series of pillars and everything connected with them, you will discover that we were making the attempt to bring the elements of support, weighing down and the balance into living movement. Our pillars are not merely supports, and our capitals no longer mere supporting devices, and the architraves that extend above the pillars do not just have the character of rest, serving only to round the pillars off at the top, but they have a character of living growth and movement.

We attempted to bring architectural forms into musical flux, and the feeling one can have from seeing the interplay between the pillars and all that is connected with them, can of itself arouse a musical mood in the soul. It will be possible to feel invisible music as the soul of the columns and the architectural and sculptural forms that belong to them. It is as though a soul element were in them. And the interpenetration of the fine arts and their forms by musical moods has fundamentally to be the ideal of the art of the future. Music of the future will be more sculptural than music of the past. Architecture and sculpture of the future will be more musical than they were in the past. That will be the essential thing. Yet this will not stop music from being an independent art; on the contrary, it will become richer and richer through penetrating the secrets of the tones, as we said yesterday, creating musical forms from out of the spiritual foundations of the cosmos.

However, as everything that is inside must also be outside, in art—all that lives in it must be embodied in a kind of organism—the world of soul within the series of pillars and everything belonging to them must also become embodied. This happens, or at least is about to happen in the painting of the domes. Just as the pillars and everything belonging to them are, as it were, the body of our building, so is all that is going to appear in the domes—when you are inside the building—its soul; and just as the world appears to be filled with spirit, when our organs are directed outwards, our windows executed in the new art of glass shading shall represent the spirit. Body, soul and spirit shall be expressed in our building. Body in the column structure, soul in everything to do with the domes, and spirit in what is in the windows.

Where these things are concerned karma has brought various things about for which we can be grateful, for just in the case of the Goetheanum building, karma has indeed helped us in several matters. The soul of a human being is so constituted that from outside we perceive it in his physiognomy, but we have to have resources like love and friendship to penetrate into a person's soul, if we want to get to know it from inside, as it were.

When I was travelling from Christiania to Bergen on my last lecture tour in Norway, I happened to see a slate quarry which gave me the idea of trying to get slate from there. We were successful, and it really was what one might call a karmic happening, for when we look at the roof of the domes that are now tiled with this slate with its quite unique qualities, we are sure to say that it has something of the quality of the life of the soul, that at one and the same time both discloses and conceals what is within. Now if we really want to feel the domes as soul life we shall have to develop a love for spiritual science. For what is going to be painted inside the domes should really appear to us as a kind of reflected image in colour and form, of what spiritual science can mean to us. To see this we have to go inside. But when the building is really finished, no one will be able to understand what he sees when he goes inside if he has not developed a love for spiritual science; otherwise what he sees there will probably remain something that can cause a bit of a sensation, but will not be anything that particularly appeals to his heart. What he gets from it will easily tempt him to deny that the architecture has anything to offer the feelings.

Just as we have seen in this instance that what comes to life out of anthroposophy can be rediscovered in the world, life can also be fructified through anthroposophy, in realms in which we can more readily see that our heart's understanding needs to be warmed and fructified. For it is not only artistic and scientific areas that are to be fructified by spiritual science, but the whole of life has to be.

Let me take as an example a realm in which we can see particularly well how anthroposophical concepts can come alive in outer life. I will choose the realm of education, any kind of art of education. Let us begin from the fact that children are educated by grown-ups. What does the materialistic age envisage when it speaks of a child being educated by a grown-up? Fundamentally speaking, the materialistic age sees in both of them, both the grown-up and the child, only what you get from a materialistic outlook, namely, a grown-up teaching a child. But it is not like that. Externally the grown-up is only maya, and seen from outside the child is only maya too. There is something in the grown-up not directly contained in maya, namely the invisible man, who passes from one incarnation to another, and there is also an invisible part in the child that goes from incarnation to incarnation.

We shall speak about these things again. But I would like to tell you a few things today from which you will see in the course of time—if you meditate on them—what else there is in spiritual science. I will start with the fact that a person, as he appears in the external world, cannot teach at all, nor can the person who stands before us, externally, as a child, be educated. In reality something invisible in the teacher educates something invisible in the pupil. We shall only understand this properly if we focus our attention on what is gradually unfolding in the growing child, as the outcome of previous incarnations. And when everything coming from previous incarnations has made its appearance, the child withdraws, especially in present times. What we are actually educating is the invisible result of previous incarnations. We cannot educate or have any effect on the visible child. That is how the matter stands with regard to the child.

Now we will look at the teacher. During the first seven years of the child's life he can only educate by means of what the child can imitate; in the second seven years it will be through the influence he has as an authority; and finally in the following seven years it will be through the educational effect of independent judgment. Everything that is active in the teacher all this time is not in his external physical part at all. The part of us which do the educating will not take on physical form until our next incarnation. For all the qualities in us which can be imitated, or the qualities upon which our authority is based, are germinal qualities and will form our next incarnation. When we are teachers our own next incarnation converses with the previous incarnation of the pupil. It is an illusion to think that as present people we speak to the child of the present. We only have the right feeling for this if we say to ourselves, ‘The very best in you which your spirit can think and your soul can feel, and which is preparing itself to make something of you in the next incarnation, can work on the part of the child that is sculpturing its form out of times long past.’ The musical element in us is what enables us to educate. What we should educate in the child is the element of sculpture.

Take as a whole all that I have said in these lectures about the musical element and of how, in its most exalted form, it corresponds to what man meets with in initiation. Music is related to everything that is in a process of development and lies in the future, and the realm of sculpture and architecture is related to what lies in the past. A child is the most wonderful example of sculpture we can see. What we need as teachers is a musical mood, which we can have in the form of a mood pervaded by the future. If you can have this feeling when you are involved in teaching it will add a very special tone to the relationship of the teacher to the child. For it will make the teacher set himself the highest aims, whilst having the greatest measure of understanding for the children's naughtiness. There really is an educational force in this mood.

Once the world comes to see that the right atmosphere for teaching arises when a musical mood in the teacher is combined with seeing the sculptural activity in the pupil; once it is established that this is what is required for a love of teaching, then education will be filled with the right impetus. For then the teacher will speak, think and feel in such a way that in the course of his lessons, what comes from the past will learn to love what reaches out to the future. The result will be a wonderful karmic adjustment between the teacher and his pupils. A wonderful karmic balancing.

If the teacher is egoistic and only tries to make the child an imitation of himself, then the teaching is purely luciferic. Education becomes luciferic when we try as far as possible to turn the pupil into a copy of our own opinions and feelings, and are only happy if we tell the pupil something today and he repeats it word for word tomorrow. That is a purely luciferic education. On the other hand an ahrimanic education comes about if the pupil is as naughty as possible in our lessons and learns from us as little as he possibly can. However, there is a state of balance between these two extremes, just as there is between weighing down and supporting. This is arrived at through the interplay of the musical-sculptural elements I have just been speaking about. We must learn to distinguish between the teacher's intentions and what the child turns out to be. If we have the right mood, then even though we have been trying to teach our pupil something quite specific, we shall be overjoyed to realise that he has not turned out as we intended, but that the child has developed into something quite different from what we intended him to be. This is the remarkable thing, that the teacher can only rid himself of his egoism in teaching, if he overcomes the desire to turn the child into a copy of his own views on what is good and right, and especially of his own favourite thoughts. The best thing we can achieve, as teachers, is to be able to face perfectly calmly the thought of the child becoming as different from us as possible.

But you cannot come along and say, ‘Please give me a recipe for it, write a few rules down for me on how to teach like that.’ That is the remarkable thing about the spiritual world outlook, that you cannot work according to rules, but you really have to absorb spiritual science, so that you are filled with it and your impulses of feeling and will are increased. Then the right thing will happen, whatever particular task you face in life. The essential thing is to tackle it in a living way.

Now you could ask, ‘Which is the right teaching method from the point of view of spiritual science?’ And the correct answer would be, ‘The best spiritual-scientific method of teaching is for as many teachers as possible to engross themselves in spiritual science in a living way, and to acquire the feelings that come from spiritual science’. This is less convenient, of course, than reading a textbook on the art of spiritual-scientific education. Yet spiritual science is forever being asked, ‘What is the spiritual-scientific point of view on this or that?’ Now spiritual science does not have a point of view, or, if you like, it has as many points of view as life itself. But spiritual science itself must become life. Spiritual science must be absorbed and brought to life within us, then it will be able to bear fruit in the various realms of life. People will then get beyond whatever it is that makes life so dry and dead: we could call it the request for uniformity. External science requires uniformity, but spiritual science gives manifoldness and variety, the kind of variety that belongs to life itself. Thus, spiritual science will have to bring transformation into the furthest reaches of life.

Let us look at what some realms of life are like today. Learning takes place up to a particular age; you learn one thing up to one age and something else up to another. Then comes the time when you go out into life, as we say, and do not want to learn any more; even when you go in for a scientific career you do not like having to learn any more. The ones who do go on learning in order to keep up with their science are thought to be the odd ones. In the general run people learn until a certain age and after that they play cards or other useless things in their spare time, or they develop an attitude like this one I came across. I had been invited to give a series of lectures on the history of literature in a circle that included some ladies with a thirst for knowledge. Now it could be said that the softer, or if you prefer it, ‘retarded’ brain that ladies have has retained more the receptivity and flexibility of ancient times, when learning continued throughout life. This is more often found among women than men. But these ladies had the feeling that they ought to bring the gentlemen along too, to the lecture cycle. So the gentlemen were there, and they did not all go to sleep. Some of them really listened. Then there was conversation, tea and cakes, in other words they did what is considered to be essential in some circles, if the lectures are not to be too dry. So there was conversation too. And after I had been lecturing on Goethe's Faust, some of the men summed up their attitude by saying, ‘When you see Faust on the stage it is not really the kind of art you can enjoy, it isn't even recreation, it is science.’ This was their way of saying that when a person has been working in an office all day, or has been serving customers, or standing in a court of law interrogating witnesses and sentencing the accused, by the evening he is in no state to listen to Goethe's Faust any more and needs recreation and not science.

This is an example of a common attitude with which no doubt you are familiar. You only need to mention it, for everyone knows how widespread it is, and that a lot of people would find it strange the way we gather here in such a studious fashion and want to go on learning, despite the fact that several of us are fairly old. They think they know a much better way of spending time. Yet a complete change will have to take place in people's approach to spiritual science, in that they will not just want to let it remain a study, but will want to have a living and permanent relationship with it. This will come. You cannot learn anthroposophy the same way as you learn science, by taking it down in a notebook; anthroposophy must stay alive. It becomes dead if we only learn its content and do not remain connected with it through living activity. It becomes dead and withers away, whereas it should be kept alive. Spiritual science must work in this way to enliven us and keep our hearts receptive for all they can receive from the spiritual worlds, so that we develop further all the time.

There is no doubt that in our epoch humanity shows a quality of old age; on the whole it does not have the kind of youthfulness it had in mythical times. Spiritual science must be people's draught of youth, so that they will feel able to learn from life throughout their lives. Nowadays we can experience odd things in this connection. I know a man with an active mind, a person who has had all kinds of connections with modern intellectual culture all through his life. Now he celebrated his fiftieth birthday recently, and gave a leaflet out on this occasion containing some very peculiar notions. For instance he said—but I want to alter things a little bit, so that you will not guess who it is—he said, ‘I have been offered a post in the realm of art that I had been longing for, for many years. But now that I have reached the age of fifty, old age in fact, I do not really want it any more. For to fill a post of that kind and to inspire the people around you, you need to be young, you need to be full of fantastic illusions. And these illusions have to consist of thinking that what you are doing and the people you have to deal with are the whole world and nothing else matters. What really counts is what is right there. Fifteen years ago I was of an age when I could have done it. Now I am past it. You should not wait until people have grown old before you offer them influential positions, but let them be privy councillors, for instance, when they are between thirty and forty.’ This was the gist of what this ‘old’ man said.

This mood is absolutely in line with the whole quality of our contemporary culture. It is a mood very easily acquired by people who accept what materialistic culture has to say about the human being, for materialism has not the power to penetrate the whole being of man; the content of this materialistic knowledge is not powerful enough to have the kind of influence on his soul life that will last right into old age. Spiritual science proves that even if a person grows old externally he can stay young in soul, and if he has not done anything special by the age of fifty, although he does not need to succumb to the illusion that what he is doing is of prime importance and everything else can fall by the wayside, he can still be young enough to devote all his strength to what he has to do. He can be youthful, in fact childlike enough to concentrate the whole of his forces on what has to be done, just as a child concentrates all his forces in play. Spiritual science must become a magic draught of youth and not just a theory. That is also an impulse of transformation. Tomorrow I will talk about other impulses of transformation.