17 July 1924, Arnheim
The Anthroposophical Society here has invited me to give a course of lectures on Education and has expressed the wish that I should also give one or two Public Lectures dealing with anthroposophical Spiritual Science in relation to the Art of Healing.
It will be necessary for me to begin this evening with a sort of introductory lecture, and deal with the actual subject itself in the two following lectures. I must do this because there are so many people in the audience to whom Anthroposophy is still but little known; and lectures dealing with a special subject would remain rather in the air if I did not begin with some introductory remarks treating of Anthroposophy in general before coming to definite observations in the domain of medicine.
Anthroposophy is indeed not as is so often said of it, some kind of craze, or a sect; it stands for a serious and scientifically-considered conception of the world; but a conception of the world which is applied just as seriously to the spiritual domain as we are accustomed to apply our modern scientific methods to the material domain. Now it might appear to begin with to many people that any suggestion of the spiritual at once introduces something unscientific, for the reason that people are generally inclined to the idea that only those things can be grasped scientifically which can be experienced by the senses, and carried further by means of the reason and intellect. It is the opinion of many people that directly we step over into the spiritual it implies renunciation of Science. It is said that decisions with regard to spiritual questions rest upon subjective opinion, upon a kind of mystical feeling, which everyone must manufacture for himself; “faith” must take the place of scientific knowledge. The task of this introductory lecture shall be to show that this is not the case.
Above all, Anthroposophy does not set out to be “Science” in the generally-accepted sense of the word as something that lies apart from ordinary life and is practised by single individuals who are preparing for some specialised scientific career; on the contrary, it is a conception of the world which can be of value for the mind of every human being who has a longing to find the answers to questions regarding the meaning of life, the duties of life, the operation of the spiritual and material forces of life, and how to turn this knowledge to account. Hitherto in the Anthroposophical field there has been unfailing success in achieving entirely practical methods of applying Anthroposophical principles, more especially in the sphere of education. We have founded schools, which are organised on the basis of these conceptions. And in many well-recognized ways we have succeeded in a similar manner with regard to the art of healing. Anthroposophy does not wish to create obstacles in any sphere, or to appear in opposition to anything that is in the nature of “recognized science;” it will have nothing to do with dilettantism. It is above all anxious that those who wish earnestly to work out what has been given as Anthroposophical knowledge, shall prize and admire all the great achievements that have resulted — with such fullness in recent times — from every kind of scientific endeavour. Therefore there can be no question (in the medical sphere or any other) of anything like dilettantism, nor of any opposition to modern science. On the contrary, it will be shown how by following certain spiritual methods one is in a position to add something to that which is already accepted, and which can only be added when the work of serious investigation is extended into the spiritual world itself.
Anthroposophy can do this because it strives after other kinds of knowledge which, do not prevail in ordinary life or in ordinary science. In ordinary life, as in our customary scientific methods, we make use of such knowledge which we attain when in the course of our development we add to our inherited tendencies and capabilities what we can gain through the usual lower or higher grades of schooling, and which together make us into ripe human beings in the sense in which that is understood to-day. But Anthroposophy goes further than this; it desires to start from what I may call intellectual modesty. And this intellectual modesty (which must be there to begin with if we are to develop a feeling for Anthroposophy) I should like to characterise in the following manner.
Let us consider the development of a human being from earliest childhood onwards. The child first appears in the world showing outwardly in its life and inwardly in its soul nothing of that by which a fully-developed human being finds his orientation in the world through actions and knowledge. There must be education and upbringing in order to draw out of the childlike soul and bodily organism those capacities which have been brought into the world in a dormant or “unripe” state. And we all admit that we cannot in the true sense of the word become active inhabitants of the world if we do not add to our inherited tendencies all those things which can only come by a process of unfolding and drawing them out. Then sooner or later, according to whether we have completed a higher or lower grade of education, we step out into life, having a particular relation to life, having the possibility of unfolding a certain consciousness with regard to our surroundings. Now any one who approaches the intentions of Anthroposophy with true understanding, will say: Why should it not be possible — seeing that it is possible for a child to become something entirely different when its soul-qualities are developed — for such a thing to take place also in a man who is “ripe” according to the standard of to-day? Why should not a man who enters the world fully equipped with the best modern education, also contain hidden capacities in his soul which can be developed further, so that he can progress by means of this development to still further knowledge, and to a practical conduct of life which to some extent can be a continuation of that which has brought him as far as the ordinary state of consciousness?
Therefore in Anthroposophy we undertake a kind of “self-development” — which is to lead out beyond the ordinary condition of consciousness.
There are three faculties in the human soul which are developed normally in life up to a certain point, but which we can unfold further; and Anthroposophy provides the only means in this our modern age of culture and civilisation which will create the necessary stimulus for the further development of these faculties. All three faculties can be so transformed as to become the faculties of a higher kind of knowledge.
First there is the Thinking. In the culture that we have acquired we use our thinking in such a way that we give ourselves over quite passively to the world. Indeed, Science itself demands that we should employ the least possible inner activity in our thinking, and that that which exists in the outer world should only speak to us through the observation of our senses; in fact that we must simply give ourselves over altogether to our sense-perceptions. We maintain that whenever we go beyond this passivity we are only led into dreams and fantastic notions. But where Anthroposophy is concerned, there is no question of fantasy or dreaminess, but of the exact opposite; we are guided to an inner activity which is as clear as any method leading maybe to the attainment of mathematics or geometry. In fact we comport ourselves with regard to Anthroposophy precisely in the same way as we do with regard to mathematics or geometry, only in Anthroposophy we are not developing any special attribute, but on the contrary, every faculty that is connected with human hearts and minds — the whole sum of what is human. And the first thing that has to be done is something which, if people are only sufficiently free from prejudice, can be readily comprehended by everyone. It is simply that the capacity and the force of Thinking should be directed for a time not in order to grasp or understand some external thing, but just in order to allow a thought to remain present in the soul — such a thought as may be easily observed in its totality — and to give oneself up entirely to this thought for a certain length of time.
I will describe it more exactly. Anyone having the necessary feeling of confidence might turn to someone who was experienced in these matters and ask what would be the best kind of thought to which he might devote himself in this way. This person would then suggest some thought which could be surveyed with ease but which would at the same time be as new to him as possible. If we use an old familiar thought, it is very easy for all kinds of memories and feelings and subjective impressions to arise out of the soul, so that only a dreamy condition would be induced. But if the enquirer is directed to a thought which is quite certainly a new one, which will arouse no memories, then he will be able to give himself up to it in such a way that the thought-forces of the soul will become stronger and stronger. In my own writings, and especially in my books — Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and An Outline Of Occult Science, I call this kind of thinking, which can be inwardly cultivated, Meditation. That is an old word: but to-day we will only use it in the particular connection which I will now describe. Meditation consists in turning the attention away from everything that has been either an inner or an external experience, and in thinking of nothing except that one thought, which must be placed in the very centre of the soul's life. By thus directing all the strength that the soul possesses upon this single thought something takes place with regard to the forces of the soul which can only be compared to the constant repetitions of some movement of the hand. What is it that takes place there? The muscles become stronger. It is exactly similar in the case of the soul's powers. When they are directed again and again to one thought they gain force and strength. And if this goes on for a long time — (though to spend a long time at it on each occasion is certainly not necessary, because it is rather a question of entering into a state of soul produced by concentration on a single thought) — and the length of time depends also on predisposition, for with one person it might take a week, and with another three years, and so on — so, if we go on for a long period doing such exercises again and again perhaps for five minutes or fifteen minutes every day, then we begin at last to have an inner sense that our being is becoming enfilled with a new content of force.
Previously, the forces of the nerves have been felt in the process of ordinary thinking and feeling as we feel the forces of the muscles active in the grasping of objects or in whatever we perform. Just as we have been feeling these things gradually more and more in growing up from childhood, so in the same way we gradually begin to learn how to feel that something new is permeating us when we apply ourselves to such thought-exercises — of which I can now only indicate the general principles. (You will find them described in greater detail in my books). Finally there comes a day when we are aware that we can no longer think about outer things in the same way as we used to think about them; but that now we have attained an entirely new soul-power; that we have something in us that is like an intensified, a stronger quality of thinking. And at last we feel that this kind of thinking enables us actually to take hold of what previously was only known to us in quite a shadowy way.
What we are then enabled to grasp is the essential reality of our own life. In what manner do we thus recognize our own earthly life — the life we have lived since birth? We know it through our memory, which reaches back as far as a certain point in our childhood. Rising out of undefined depths of the soul appears the remembrance of our past experiences. They are like shadows. Think how shadowy those emerging memory pictures of our life are in comparison with the intense, full-blooded experiences we have from day to day! If we now take hold of our thinking in the way that I have described, the shadowy quality of these memories ceases. We go back into our own actual earth-life; we experience again what we experienced ten or twenty years ago with the same inner forces and strength with which we originally experienced these events. Only the experience is not the same as formerly, inasmuch as we do not again come into direct contact with the external objects or beings, but we experience instead a kind of “extract” of it all. And that which we experience can, paradoxical as it may sound, be described as having definite significance. All at once, as in a mighty panorama, we have the whole of our life up to the time of birth before us. Not that we see the single events simply in a time-sequence, but we see them as a complete life-tableau. Time turns into Space. Our experiences are there before us, not as ordinary memories, but so that we know that we stand before the deeper being of our own humanity — like a second man within the man we know with our ordinary consciousness.
And then we arrive at the following: This physical human being that we confront in our ordinary consciousness is built up out of the matter which we take out of the Earth which is round about us. We continually discard this matter, and take in fresh matter, and we can definitely say that all the material substances which have been discarded by our body are replaced by new substances within periods of time of from seven to eight years. The material in us is something that is in constant flux. And so, learning to know our own life through our intensified thinking, we come to know that which remains — which endures throughout the whole of our earth-life. It is, at the same time, that which builds up our organism out of outer material substance; and this latter is itself at the same time that which we survey as the tableau of our life.
Now what we see in this manner is distinguished in yet another way from ordinary memory. In ordinary memory the events of our life appear before the soul as though approaching us from outside. We remember what such and such a person has done to us, or what has accrued to us from this or that event. But in the tableau which arises from our intensified thinking, we learn to know ourselves as we really are ourselves — what we have done to other human beings, how we have stood in relation to any occurrence. We learn to know ourselves. That is the important point. For in learning to know ourselves, we also learn to know ourselves intensively, and in such a way that we know how we are placed within the forces of our growth, yes, even within the forces of our nourishment; and how it is we ourselves who build up and again disintegrate our own bodies. Thus we learn to know our own inner being.
Now the important thing is that when we come to this self-knowledge, we immediately experience something which can never be experienced by means of any ordinary science or through the ordinary consciousness. I must admit that nowadays it is really very difficult to express what is now arrived at, because in face of what is considered authoritative to-day, it sounds so strange. But so it is. At this point we experience something through our intensified thinking, of which we must say the following: — There are the laws of Nature which we study assiduously in the sciences; we even learn about them in the elementary schools. We are proud of this; and prosaic humanity is justly proud of what has been learnt of these laws of Nature in physics, chemistry and so on. Here I must emphatically declare that Anthroposophy does not set itself in any amateurish opposition to Science. But because of our grasp of inner, intensive thinking we say that the natural laws which are learnt in connection with physics and chemistry are only present in the matter of the Earth, and they cease to be of any account so soon as we pass out into universal space.
Here I must state something which will not seem so very unplausible to anyone who thinks over it without prejudice: suppose we have somewhere a source of light, we know that the more widely the light is distributed from its source the more it loses in intensity; and the further we go out into space the weaker it becomes, so that we are tempted to speak of it no longer as ‘light’ but as ‘twilight,’ and finally when we have gone far enough it cannot be accounted as light any more. It is the same with the laws of Nature. They have a value for the region of the Earth, but the further we go out into the Cosmos they become less and less of value, until at length they cease to be of any account at all as laws of Nature. On the other hand, those laws which we come to apprehend through intensified thinking, which are already active in our own life, these show us that as human beings, we have not grown out of the natural laws of the Earth, but out of higher, cosmic laws. We have brought them with us in coming into earthly existence. And so we learn to recognize that the moment we have grasped our intensified thinking we can only apply natural law to the mineral kingdom. We cannot say — and this is a very reasonable error made by the newer physics — that natural laws can be applied to the Sun or the Stars. That cannot be done; for to wish to apply natural laws to the Universe would be just as artless as to wish to illumine the world of space with the light of a candle. Directly we ascend from the mineral, which as mineral is only apparent to us on this Earth, up to what is living, then we can no longer speak of the natural laws of the earthly realm, but we must speak of laws which worked down into the earthly realm from out of the Cosmos — from universal space. That is already the case with regard to the vegetable kingdom.
We can only use the laws of the Earth to explain the mineral-laws, for example, such as the law of gravity and so on, which work from the centre of the Earth towards the circumference. When we come to the vegetable kingdom, then we must say that the entire globe is the central point, and that the laws of life are working towards it from every side of the Cosmos — the same laws of life which we have first discovered in ourselves with our intensified thinking, and of which we have learnt to know that we build ourselves up between birth and death by their means.
To these laws, then, which work from the centre of the Earth outward, we add knowledge of the laws which work inwards towards the centre of the Earth from every direction, and which are already active in the vegetable kingdom. We look at the plants springing up out of the Earth and tell ourselves that they contain mineral matter. Chemistry to-day has gone very far in its knowledge of the respective activity of these mineral substances. That is all quite justifiable and quite right. And chemistry will go yet further. That will also be quite right. But if we want to explain the nature of plants we must explain their growth and that cannot be done through the forces that work upwards from the Earth, but only through those forces that work inwards from the surroundings, from the Cosmos, into the Earth-existence. Hence we have to admit that our knowledge must ascend from an earthly conception to a cosmic conception; and moreover in this cosmic conception is contained the real human Self-knowledge.
Now we can go further than this and transform our Feeling. To have ‘Feeling’ in ordinary life is a personal affair, not actually a source of knowledge. But we can transform that which is ordinarily only experienced subjectively as feeling, into a real objective source of knowledge.
In Meditation we concentrate upon one particular thought; we arrive at intensified or ‘substantial’ thinking and thereby are able to grasp something that works from the periphery of the Universe towards the centre of the Earth, in contradistinction to the ordinary laws of Nature, which work from the centre of the Earth outwards in all directions. So when we have reached this intensified thinking, and have perceived that our own life and also the life of the plants is spread out before our souls like a mighty panorama, then we go further. We come to a point, after having grasped something through this forceful thinking, when we can cast these strong thoughts aside. Anyone who knows how difficult it is, in ordinary life, to throw aside some thought which has taken hold of one, will understand that special exercises are necessary to enable this to be done. But it can be done. It is not only possible to cast out with the whole strength of our soul this thought that we have concentrated upon, but it is also possible to cast out the whole memory-tableau, and therewith our own life, and entirely to withdraw our attention from it.
Something then begins to occur by which we clearly see that we are descending further into the depths of the soul, into those regions which are usually only accessible to our feeling. As a rule in ordinary life, if all impressions received by sight or hearing are shut off, we fall asleep. But if we have developed intensified thinking, we do not fall asleep even when we have thrown aside every thought — even the substantially intense ones. A condition arises in which no sense-perceptions and no thoughts are active, a condition we can only describe by saying that such a person is simply ‘awake;’ he does not fall asleep; but he has nevertheless at first nothing in his consciousness. He is awake, with a consciousness that is empty. That is a condition revealed through Spiritual Science to which a person can attain who can be quite systematically and methodically developed — namely to have an empty consciousness in complete waking awareness.
In the usual way, if our consciousness is empty we are asleep. For from falling asleep to waking up we do have an empty consciousness — only — we are asleep in it. To have an empty consciousness and yet be awake, is the second stage of knowledge for which we strive. For this consciousness does not remain empty for long. It fills itself. As the ordinary consciousness can fill itself with colour through the perceptions of sight, or by the ear fill itself with sounds, so this empty consciousness fills itself with a spiritual world which is just as much in our surroundings ‘there’ as the ordinary physical world is in our surroundings here. The empty consciousness is the first to reveal the spiritual world — that spiritual world which is neither here on the Earth, nor in the Cosmos in Space, but which is outside Space and Time, and which nevertheless constitutes our deepest human nature. For if at first we have learnt to look back with the intense consciousness of thinking upon our whole earth-life as a script — now, with a consciousness that was empty and has become filled, we gaze into that world where we passed a life of soul-and-spirit before we came down into our earthly existence. We now learn to know ourselves as Beings who were spiritually present before birth and conception, who lived a pre-earthly existence before the one wherein we now are. We learn to recognize ourselves as beings of spirit-and-soul, and that the body that we bear we have received in that it was handed on to us by parents and grandparents. We have had it delivered to us in such a way that, as I have said, we can change it every seven years; but that which we are in our individual being has brought itself to Earth out of a pre-natal existence. But none of this is learnt by means of theorising, or by subtle cogitation; it can only be learnt when the suitable capacities are first of all unfolded in intellectual modesty.
Thus we have now learnt to know our inner humanity, our own individual being of spirit-and-soul. It comes to meet us when we descend into the region of feeling and not merely with feeling, but also with knowledge. But first we must mark how the struggle for knowledge is bound up with strong inner experiences which can be indicated as follows: If you have bound up one of your limbs tightly, so that you cannot move it — even if someone perhaps only bandages two of your fingers together — you feel discomfort, possibly even pain. Now when you are in a condition where you experience what is soul-and-spirit without a body, you do not possess the whole of your physical being, for you are living in an empty consciousness. The passing-over into this state is connected with a profound feeling of pain. Beyond the feeling of pain, beyond the privation, we wrestle for the entrance into that which is our deepest spiritual and soul-being. And here many people are arrested by terror. But it is impossible to gain any explanation of our real human nature by any other means; and if we can learn it in this way, then we can go still further.
But now we have to develop a strength of knowledge which in ordinary life is not recognised as such at all; we have to develop Love as a force of knowledge — a selfless out-going into the things and processes of the world. And if we perfect this Love ever more and more, so that we can actually lift ourselves out into the condition I have described, where we are body-free — and in this liberation from the body gaze at the world — then we learn to realise ourselves wholly as spiritual beings in the spiritual world. Then we know what man is as Spirit; but then we also know what dying is; for in Death man lays his physical body altogether aside. In this knowledge, which as a third form, is experienced through the deepening of Love, we learn to know ourselves outside our body; we accomplish separation from it by the constructive quality of knowledge.
From this moment we know what it will mean when we lay aside our body in this Earth-existence and go through the Gate of Death. We learn to know death. But we also learn to know the life of the soul-and-spirit on the other side of death. Now we know the spiritual-soul-being of man as it will be after death. As at first we had learnt to recognize our being as it is before the descent into earthly life, so now we know the continuation of the life of this being in the world of soul-and-spirit after death.
Then something else occurs which causes us to mark clearly how imperfect is the consciousness of to-day; for it speaks of ‘immortality,’ out of its hope and faith. But immortality — deathlessness — is only one half of Eternity — namely the everlasting continuation of the present point of time. We have to-day no word such as was to be found in the degrees of knowledge of an older time, which points to an immortality in the other half of Eternity — ‘unborn-ness.’
Because just as man is deathless, so is he also unborn; that is to say, with birth he steps out of the spiritual world into physical existence, just as at death he passes from the physical world into a spiritual existence. Therefore in this manner we learn of the true being of man, which is spiritual, and which goes through birth and death; and only then are we in a position to comprehend our whole being.
The principles which I have briefly outlined have already formed the content of a wealth of literature, which has imbibed a conscientiousness and a responsibility towards its knowledge out of the realm of exact Science, on which alone this sense of responsibility can rest to-day. So we attain to a Spiritual Science, which has grown out of ordinary Science.
And just on account of this, we learn something else — namely how life consists of two tendencies or streams. People speak in a general way to-day about development; they say the child is small — it develops — it grows; it is full of energy — strong — it blossoms with life. They say that a lower form of life has evolved to a higher; — quickening, blooming life — growing ever more and more complicated! And that is right. But this stream of life is there, however, in opposition to another stream, which is present in every sentient living being — namely, a destructive tendency. Just as we have a budding and sprouting life in us, integrating life — so we have also the life of disintegration. Through knowledge such as this we perceive that we cannot merely say that our life streams up into the brain and nervous system and that this matter organises itself so that the nervous system can become the bearer of the life of the soul. No — it is not like that. The life is germinating and sprouting, but at the same time there is continual destruction incorporated into it.
Our life is incessantly going to pieces ... the blossoming life is always giving place to the decaying life. We are actually dying by degrees and at every moment something falls to ruin in us, and every time we build it up again. But, whereas matter is being destroyed, it leaves room wherein what is of the soul-and-spirit can enter and become active in us. And here we touch upon the great error made by materialism, for materialism believes that the sprouting and budding life evolves up to the nervous system in man so that the nerves are built up in the same way as the muscles are built up out of the blood. It is true they are. But no thinking is developed by means of building up the nerves; neither is feeling. On the contrary, in that the nerves decay to a certain extent, the psychic-spiritual incorporates itself into what is decaying. We must first disintegrate matter in order that the psychic-spiritual can appear in us and enable us to experience it for ourselves.
That will be the great moment in the development of a rightly-understood Natural Science, when the opposite to evolution will be recognized as carrying evolution forward at the corresponding point; when it will recognize not only integration, but also disintegration — thus admitting not only evolution but devolution. And thus it will be understood how the spiritual in the animal and in man — but in the latter in a self-conscious way — takes hold of the material. The spiritual does not take hold of the material because the latter is developing itself against it, but because matter, by a contrary process, is destroying itself; and the spiritual comes into evidence, the spiritual reveals itself, in this process. Therefore we are filled with the spirit; for it is everywhere present in devolution but not in evolution, which is Earth-development. Then we learn to observe that man as he stands before us in his entirety, is as though contained within a polar antithesis, Everywhere, in every single organ, wherever there is an upbuilding process there is also a destructive process going on. If we look at any one of the organs, it may be the liver, or the lungs, or the heart, we see that it is in a constant stream which consists of integration — disintegration, integration — disintegration. Is it not really rather an extraordinary expression that we use when we say for example ‘Here flows the Rhine?’ What is ‘the Rhine?’ When we say ‘Here flows the Rhine,’ we do not as a rule mean that there is the river bed ‘Rhine,’ but we mean the flowing water which we look at. Yet it is different every moment. The Rhine has been there a hundred years, a thousand years. But what is it which is there every moment? It is what is realised as being in alteration every moment in the flowing stream. In the same way, everything that we contain is held within a stream of change, in integration and disintegration, and in its disintegration it becomes the bearer of the spiritual. And so in every normal human being there exists a state of balance between anabolism and catabolism, and in this balance he develops the right capacity for the soul-and-spirit. Nevertheless, this balance can be disturbed, and can be disturbed to such an extent that some organ or other may have its correct degree of anabolism in relation to too slight a degree of catabolism, and then its growth becomes rampant. Or contrariwise, some organ may have a normal process of disintegration against too slight an anabolism, in which case the organ becomes disturbed, or atrophies; and thus we pass out of the physiological sphere into the pathological.
Only when we can discern what this condition of balance signifies, can we also discern how it may be disturbed by an excess of either integrating or disintegrating forces. But when we recognize this, then we can turn our gaze to the great outer world, and can find there what, under certain conditions, will act so as to equalise these two processes.
Suppose we take for example a human organ that is disturbed by reason of too strong a destructive process, and then look with sight made clear by spiritual-scientific knowledge at something outside in Nature, say at a plant; we shall know that in a particular plant there are anabolic — building-up — properties. Now it becomes apparent that in the habit of certain plants there are always anabolic properties and that these correspond precisely to the anabolic forces of human organs. Thus, we can discover — when we make use of these conceptions which have now been developed by me — that there are anabolic forces in the kidneys. Let us suppose the kidneys are too weak, that their destructive forces are excessive. We turn to the plants, and we find in the common horsetail, Equisetum arvense, anabolic forces which exactly correspond to those which belong to the kidneys. If we make a preparation from equisetum and administer it through the digestive process into the blood-circulation and thus conduct it in the right way to the region in the body where it can work, we strengthen the debilitated anabolic forces of the kidneys. And so we can proceed with all the organs. Once we have grasped this knowledge we have the possibility of bringing back into a condition of balance the unbalanced processes of integration and disintegration by using the forces which can be found in the outside world. If on the other hand we have to deal with forces of anabolism either in the kidneys or elsewhere which have become over-strong, then it will be necessary to reinforce the destructive processes. In this case we must have recourse to the lower type of plants, let us say the fern species, which have this property.
In this way we pass beyond the point of mere experiment and test in order to discover whether a preparation will be beneficial or not. We can look into the human organism in respect of the relative balance of the organs themselves; we can penetratingly survey Nature for the discovery of the anabolic and catabolic forces, and thus we make the Art of Healing into something wherein we can really see that a remedy is not administered just because statistics confirm that in such and such cases it is useful — but because by a really penetrating survey both of the human being and Nature we know with exactitude in every case the natural process in a Nature-product that can be transformed into a healing factor — that is, for the human organs in respect of the anabolic and catabolic forces.
I do not mean to say that in recent times Medicine has not made immense progress. Anthroposophy recognises this progress in Medicine to the full. Neither have we any wish to exclude what modern medical science has accomplished; on the contrary we honour it. But when we examine what has been brought out in the way of remedies in recent times we find that they have only been arrived at by way of lengthy experimentation. Anthroposophy supplies a penetrating knowledge which by its survey of human nature has fully proved itself in those spheres where Medicine has already been so happily successful. But in addition to this, Anthroposophy offers a whole series of new remedies also, a fact which is made possible by the same insight applied to both Nature and Man.
Therefore if we learn to look into the human being spiritually in this way — (and I will later show how the Art of Healing can be made fruitful in every single sphere through a true knowledge of the spirit) — we also learn to look into the spiritual life together with the material life, and then we arrive — and this no longer in the old dreamlike way which had its overflow in Mythology, but in an exact way — then we can arrive at a bringing together of perfectly rational knowledge with a ‘message’ of Healing.
Man learns to heal by means of a real and artistic conception of an art that has grown out of the world itself. Therewith we come again into touch with what existed in ancient times — though it was not then to be found in the way in which we to-day must aspire to find it now that we have the great wealth of Science behind us; — for what existed in ancient times through a kind of dreamlike knowledge, can lead us to-day to the application of forces and spiritual forces in connection with human health and sickness.
In ancient times there were the Mystery Centres in which a knowledge was cultivated which could solve humanity's religious problems and satisfy the longings of the soul; and in connection with the Mysteries there were places of Healing. To-day, quite rightly, we regard the things that were cultivated there as somewhat childish. But there was nevertheless a sound kernel in them; — it was known that the knowledge of the so-called normal world must go forward into knowledge of the abnormal world. Is it not strange that we, on the other hand, say that in his healthy state man comes forth out of Nature, and that then we have to explain the unhealthy man also by the laws of Nature? For every illness can be explained by these laws. Does Nature then contradict herself? We shall see that she does not do so with regard to disease. But our knowledge must be a continuation from the normal physical into the pathological. Knowledge can attain value for life only in so far as that side by side with those places where the normal aspects of life are cultivated, there must also be found those that are concerned with the illnesses of life.
There was to have been a centre of knowledge at the Goetheanum at Dornach in Switzerland, in the building which most unfortunately was burnt down, but which we hope will soon be rebuilt. It was to be a centre of knowledge where mankind would have been able to satisfy those longings of the soul which seek to penetrate into the sources of life. And out of what I might call a natural sequence it came to be regarded as a matter of course that there should be added to the Goetheanum a centre of Healing. True, this could only be, at first, of a modest kind. Such a thing must be there wherever there is to be a real knowledge of humanity. And we have it in the Clinical-Therapeutical Institute at Arlesheim which is the result of the efforts of Frau Dr. Wegman, and which has been followed by the founding of a similar Institute under Dr. Zeylmans van Emmichoven at The Hague. And so at Dornach there is established once again, side by side with the centre of Knowledge, a centre of Healing. And whereas courage must always be a part of everything that pertains to knowledge of the Spirit, so courage belongs above all things, to the way of Healing. This vital element lives in that Institute at Arlesheim — the courage to heal; in order that all which comes forth out of the whole human being as the possibility to control the forces of healing, may be used as a blessing for humanity. Therefore, such a centre of Knowledge, which once more strives towards the Mysteries — albeit in the modern sense — and where the great questions of existence are dealt with, must have beside it, even though it may be only in a modest way, a centre of Healing where knowledge of the smallest details of life is cultivated and where the effort is made to deepen the Art of Healing in a spiritual sense.
In the external nearness of Knowledge-Centre and Healing-Centre to one another we have the outer image of how close a connection should exist between Anthroposophical knowledge and the practical work of Healing, and that this should exist as such a spiritual Art that out of a conception of conditions of illness in the human being, there should grow a conception of Therapeutics, of Healing, so that the two may not fall asunder, but that the diagnostic process may be carried on into the healing process. The aim of Anthroposophy herein is that while one makes a diagnosis in the knowledge one has of what is happening in a person when he is ill, at the same moment one sees that such and such a thing is taking place, or something is happening in the anabolic processes. One then recognizes Nature for example in occurrences brought about by destructive forces; one knows where the destructive forces are to be found, and in administering these as a healing agent one is thus able to act so that these destructive forces can work against the upbuilding forces in the human being. And vice versa. So one is able to perceive clearly in what is going on in the human being, an unhealthy condition; but even in perceiving this unhealthy condition one immediately perceives also the nature of the working of the healing agent.
To-day I wished only to demonstrate the nature of a spiritual way of knowledge, and point out that the effect of this spiritual knowledge is such that man does not merely approach natural and spiritual forces in a theoretical way, but that he also learns to handle them, and out of his spiritual learning to mould life.
With advancing civilisation, life becomes continually more and more complicated. At the present time a longing is dominating the subconscious life of many souls — a longing to find what may be the source out of which this more and more complicated life has grown. Anthroposophy tries above all to assuage these longings. And we shall see that against much that is destructive in the life of to-day it honestly desires to co-operate in all that is constructive, that is advancing, that tends to prosperity in our civilisation — not with helpless phrases but actively, in all the practical questions of life. Anthroposophy wishes knowledge everywhere to flow into life, to give knowledge in a form which can help wherever help is needed in the affairs of life.