29 September 1921 p.m., Dornach
Emil Bock opened the discussion hour and formulated the following questions:
Rudolf Steiner: With regards to the first question: You would already have seen, my dear friends, that out of what I said this morning, that in the illustration, the soul contents related to the supersensible and also what leads to the power of formative speech, must be searched for. Regarding the power of speech formation: we actually have no direct understanding of sound anymore today; we basically have no more understanding for words, so our words remain signs. Naturally our starting point needs to be out of the spiritual milieu of our time. Man must be responsible for these intimate things out of what currently is available. Precisely such a question brings us naturally into the area of the purely technical. First of all one has to make the understanding for the sound active again, within oneself. One doesn't easily manage the free use of speech when one isn't able to allow the sound as such, to stir within oneself. I would like to continue in such a way that I first draw your attention to certain examples.
You see, when we say "head" (Kopf) in German, we hardly have anything else in mind than the total perception of what reaches us through the ear, which indicates the head. When we say "foot" (Fuss) it is hardly any different to what we experience in the tonality and sound content in relation to some foot. Now we only need, for instance, to refer to the Romance languages where head is testa, tête, foot is pedum, pied, and we get the feeling at the same time that the term is taken from something completely different. When we say the word Kopf in German, the term has come out of the form, from looking at the form. We are not aware of this any longer, yet it is so. When we say Fuss, it is taken from walking where furrows are drawn in the ground. Thus, it has come into existence out of a certain soul content and coined in a word. When we take a word formation like, let's say, "testament" and all other word formations which refer in Romance language terms to head, testa, then we will feel that the term Kopf in the Romantic languages originate through the substantiation and thus not out of the form, but through the human soul with the help of the head, and particularly activating the mouth organs. Pied didn't originate from walking or drawing furrows but from standing, pressing down while standing. Today we no longer question the motives which have come out of the soul and into speech formation. We can only discover what can be called, in the real sense, a feeling for the language when we follow the route of making language far more representational than it is currently, abstraction at most. When someone uses a Latin expression in terminology, some Latin expressions are even more representational, but some people use them to denote even more. For example, today one can hardly find the connection between "substance" and "subsist" while the concept of "subsist" has basically been lost. Someone who still has the original feeling for substance and subsistence would say of the Father-God, not that He "exists" but that he "subsists."
Researching language in this way and in another way which I want to mention right now, in order to develop a lively feeling for language again, leads then to something I would like to call a linguistic conscience (Sprachgewissen). We need a linguistic conscience. We speak really so directly these days because as human beings we act more as automatons towards language than we do as living beings. Until we are capable of connecting language in a living way to ourselves, like our skin is connected to us, we will not come to the right symbolization. The skin experiences pain when it is pricked. Language even tolerates being maltreated. One must develop a feeling regarding language that it can be maltreated because it is a closed organism, just like our skin. We can gain much in this area, when we have a lively experience in some or other dialect.
Consider how often we have performed the Christmas Plays, and in these plays there is a sentence spoken by one or more of the innkeepers. When Joseph and Mary come to Bethlehem in search of lodging, they are refused by three innkeepers. Each one of the three innkeepers says: Ich als a wirt von meiner gstalt, hab in mein haus und ligament gwalt. — Just imagine what this means to a person today. He could hear: "I as a host of my stature ..." — and think that what the host is saying means he is an attractive man, or something like that, or a strong man who has stature within his hostel, in his house. This is certainly not meant. If we want to translate that into High German we'll have to say: "I as a host, who is placed in such a way as to have abundant comfort, I am not dependent on such poor people finding lodgings within, with me." This means: "I as a host in my social position, in my disposition." This shows them it is necessary not only to listen to him — words one often enough hears in speech — but to enter into the spirit of the language. We say Blitz" (lightening) in High German. In Styria a certain form of lightening is called 'heaven's lashers' (Himmlatzer). In the word "Blitz" there is quite another meaning than in the word Himmlatzer.
So we start becoming aware of different things when we approach the sense of speech. You see, such an acquisition of the sense of language sometimes leads to something extraordinarily important. Goethe once uttered a sentence, when already in his late life, to the Chancellor von Müller, a statement which has often been quoted and is often used, to understand the entire way in which Faust, written by Goethe, originated. Goethe said that for him the conception of Faust had for 60 years been clear "from the beginning" (von vornherein); the other parts less extensively. Now commentary upon commentary have been written and this sentence was nearly always recalled, because it is psychologically extraordinarily important, and the commentators have it always understood like this: Goethe had a plan from the beginning for his Faust and in the 60 years of his life — since he was twenty or about eighteen — he used this plan, he had "from the start," to work from.
In Weimar I met August Fresenius who bemoaned the fact that it was a great misfortune, if I could use such an expression, which had entered into the entire Goethe research, and at the time I had urged an unusually thoughtful and slow philologist to publish this thing as soon as possible in order that it doesn't continue, otherwise one would have a few dozen more such Goethe commentaries. It is important to note that Goethe used the expression "from the start" in no other way than in a descriptive way, not in the sense of a priori but "from the beginning" in a very descriptive manner so that in the strictest sense one could refer to Goethe not having an overall plan, but that "at the beginning" he only wrote down the first pages (i.e. to begin with) and of the further sections, only single sentences. There can be no argument of an overall plan. It very much depends on how one really experiences words. Many people have, when they hear the word vornherein totally have no conscience that it has a vorn (in front) and a herein (in) and that one sees something spiritual when one pronounces it. This simple dismissal of a word without contemplation is something upon which a tremendous amount depends, if one wants to attain a symbolic manner of speech. Precisely about this direction there would be extraordinarily much to say.
You see, we have the remarkable appearance of the Fritz Mauthner speaking technique where all knowledge and all wisdom is questioned, because all knowledge and wisdom is expressed though speech, and so Fritz Mauthner finds nothing expressed in speech because it does not point to some or other reality. How harsh my little publication "The spiritual guidance of man and of mankind" has been judged in which I mention that in earlier times, all vowel formation expressed people's inner experiences, and all consonant unfolding comes from outer observed or seen events. All that man perceives is expressed in consonants, while vowels are formed by inner experiences, feelings, emotions and so on. With this is connected the peculiar manner in which the consonants are written differently to the vowels in Hebrew. This is also connected to areas where more primitive people used to dwell, where they have not strongly developed their inner life, so predominantly consonant languages occur, not languages based on vowels. This extends very far, this kind of in-consonant-action of language. Only think what African languages have from consonants to click sounds.
So you see, in this way we gain an understanding for what sounds within language. One would be brought beyond the mere sign, which the word is today. Only with today's feeling for language which Fritz Mauthner believes in, can you believe that all knowledge actually depends on language and that language has no connection to some or other reality. A great deal can be accomplished when one enters into one's mother tongue and try to go back into the vernacular. In the vernacular one finds much, very much if you really behave like a human being, that is, respond to what you feel connected to the language. In the vernacular one has the rich opportunity to feel in speech and experience in sound, but also the tendency towards the descriptive, and you have to push it so far that you really, one could say, get into a kind of state of renunciation in regard to expressions that are supposed to phrase something completely separate from human experiences.
Something which thoroughly ruins our sense of language is physics, and in physics, as it is today, it only aspires to study objective processes and refrains from all subjective experience, there it should no longer be spoken at all. According to physics, when one body presses (stoßen) against another, for example in the theory of elasticity, then you are anthropomorphising, because the experience of pressure as soon as you sense sound, means you're only affected by the same kind of pressure as the pressure your own hand makes. Above all, one gets the feeling with the S-sound that nothing other can be described as something like this (a waved line is drawn on the blackboard). The word Stoß" (push/impacts — ß is the symbol for ss — translator) has two s's, at the end and beginning; it gives the entire word its colouring; so when the word Stoß or stoßen (to push/thrust) is pronounced one actually can feel how, when your ether body would move, it would not only move but be shoved forwards and continuously be kept up.
Thus, there are already methods through which one comes to the power of speech formation, which is then no longer far from symbolizing, for the symbolum must be hacked out of the way so that one experiences language as a living organism, because much is to be experienced within language. Someone recently told me that there are certain things in language which only need to be pronounced and one is surprised at how they reveal themselves as self-evident.
The Greeks recited in hexameter. Why? Well, hexameter is an experience. A person produces speech, as I've already said, in his breathing. However, breathing is closely connected to other elements of rhythm in the human being; with the pulse, with blood circulation. On average, obviously not precisely, we have 18 breaths and 72 heat beats; 72 equals 4 times 18. Four times 18 heart beats gives a rhythm, a collective inner beat. In a time when man sensed in a more primordial and more elementary way according to what was taking place within him, man experienced, when he could, in uttering the relationship of the heart beat to the breathing, bring the totality of himself into expression. This relationship, not precisely according to time, this relationship can be brought to bear; you only have to add the turning point as the fourth foot (reference plate 3 ... not available In German text) then you have a Greek hexameter half-line, in the ration of 4 to 1 as a pulse beat to breathing rhythm. The hexameter was born out of the human structure, and other measures of verse were all born out of the rhythmic system of the human being. You can already feel, when you treat language artistically, how, in the process of treating human speech in an artistic way, language is alive. This makes it possible to acquire a far more inner relationship to language, yet also far more objectivity. The most varied chauvinistic feelings in relation to language stops, because the configurations of different languages stop, and one acquires an ear for the general sound. There are such things which are found on the way to gaining the power of creative speech. It does finally lead to listening to oneself when one speaks. In a certain way it's actually difficult but it can be supported. For various reasons it seems to me that for those who are affected by it, it is also necessary not to treat the Scripture in the way many people treat it today. You will soon see why I say these things.
In relation to writing, there are two kinds of people. The majority learn to write as if it's a habit of staking out words. People are used to move their hands in a certain way and write like this: in the majority. The writing lesson is very often given in such a way that one just comes to it. The minority actually don't write in the sense of reality, but they draw (a word is written on the blackboard: Kann [meaning can; be able to]). They look at the signs of the letters simultaneously as being written, and as an artistic treatment of writing, it is far more an intimate involvement. I have met people who have been formally trained to write. For instance, once there was a writing method which consisted in people being trained to make circles and curves, to turn them and thus acquire a feeling of connecting them and so form letters out of them. Only in this way, out of these curves, could the letters come about. With a large number of them I have seen that they, before they start writing, make movements in the air with their pen. This is what brings writing into the unconsciousness of the body. However, our language comes out of the totality of the human being and when one spoils oneself by writing you also spoil yourself for the language. Precisely the one who is dependent on handling the language needs to get used to the meditation that writing should not be allowed to just flow out of his hand, but he should look at it, really look at what he is writing, when he writes.
My dear friends, this is something which is extraordinarily important in our current culture, because we are on our way to dehumanizing ourselves. I have already received a large number of letters which have not been written with a pen but with the typewriter. Now you can imagine the difference between a letter written with a typewriter or written with a pen. I'm not campaigning against the typewriter, I consider it as an obvious necessity in civilization, but we do also need the counter pole. By us dehumanizing ourselves in this way, by us changing our relationship towards the outer world in an absolute mechanistic and dead manner, we need in turn to take up strong vital forces again. Today we need far greater vital forces than in the time in which man knew nothing yet about the typewriter.
Therefore, for someone who handles words, he must also acquire an understanding for the continuous observation, while he is writing, that what he is writing pleases him, that he gets the impression that something hasn't just flowed out of a subject but that, by looking simultaneously at it, this thing lives as a totality in him. Mostly, the thing that is needed for the development of some capability is not arrived at in a direct but in an indirect way. I must explain this route because I have been asked how one establishes the power for speech formation. This is the way, as I have mentioned, which comes first of all. As an aside I stress that language originates in the totality of mankind, and the more mankind still senses the language, so much more will there be movement in his speech. It is extraordinary, how for instance in England, where the process of withdrawal of a connection with the surroundings is most advanced, it is regarded as a good custom to speak with their hands in their trouser pockets, held firmly inside so they don't enter the danger of movement. I have seen many English people talk in this way. Since then I've never had my pockets made in front again, but always at the back, for I have developed such disgust from this quite inhuman non-participation in what is being said. It is simply a materialistic criticism that speech only comes from the head; it originates out of the entire human being, above all from the arms, and we are — I say it here in one sentence which is obviously restricted — we are on this basis no ape or animal which needs its hands to climb or hold on to something, but we have them as free because with these free hands and arms we handle speech.
In grasping with our arms, creating with our fingers, we express something we need in order to model language. So it has a certain justification to return mankind to its connection with language, bringing the whole person into it, to train Eurythmy properly, which really exists in drawing out of the human organism what is not fulfilled in the human body, but is however fulfilled in the ether body, when we speak. The entire human being is in movement and we are simply transposing though the eurhythmic movements, the etheric body on to the physical body. That is the principle. It is really the eurythmization of something like a necessity which needs to be regularly brought out of the human being, like the spoken language itself. It must stand as a kind of opposite pole against all which rises in the present and alienate people towards the outer world, allowing no relationship to be possible between people and the outer world any more. The eurythmization enables people in any case to return to being present in the language and is on this basis, as I've often suggested, even an art. Well, if you take into account the things I've just proposed, then you arrive at the now commonplace speech technique basically under the scheme of pedantry.
The great importance given to teaching through recitation and that kind of thing, only supports the element of a materialistic world view. You see, just as one would in a school for sculpture or a school of painting not really get instructions of the hand movements but corrects them by life forces coming into them, so speech techniques must not be pedantically taught with all kinds of nose-, chest- and stomach resonances. These things may only be developed though living speech. When a person speaks, he might at most be made aware of one or the other element. In this respect extraordinary atrocities are being committed today and the various vocal and language schools can actually be disgusting, because it shows how little lives within the human being. The formation of speech happens when those things are considered which I mentioned. Now if the question needs to be answered even more precisely, I ask you to please call my attention to it.
Now there is a question about new commentary regarding the Bible, in fact, how one can arrive at a new Bible text.
You see, the thing is like this, one will first have to penetrate into an understanding of the Bible. Much needs to precede this. If you take everything which I have said about language, and then consider that the Bible text has originated out of quite another kind of experience of language than we have today, and also as it was experienced centuries before in Luther's time, you can hardly hope to somehow discover an understanding of the Bible through some small outer adjustment. To understand the Bible, a real penetration of Christianity is needed above all, and actually this can only emerge from a Bible text as something similar for us as the Gospels had once appeared for the first Christians. In the time of the first Christians one certainly had the feeling of sound and some of what can be experienced in the words in the beginning of St John's Gospel which was of course experienced quite differently in the first Christian centuries as one would be able to do today. "In the primal beginnings was the Word" — you see, today there doesn't seem to be much more than a sign in this line, I'd say. We come closer to an understanding when we substitute "Word," which is very obscure and abstract, with "Verb" and also really develop our sense of the verb as opposed to the noun. In the ancient beginnings it was a verb and not the noun. I would like to say something about this abstraction.
The verb is quite rightly related to time, to activity, and it is absurd to think of including a noun in the area which has been described as in "the primal beginning." It has sense to insert a verb, a word related to activity. What lies within the sentence regarding the primal origins is however not an activity brought about by human gestures or actions, because it is the activity which streams out of the verb, the active word. We are not transported back into the ancient mists of the nebular hypothesis by the Kant-Laplace theory, but we will be led back to the sound and loud prehistoric power. This returning into a prehistoric power is something which was experienced powerfully in the first Christian centuries, and it was also strongly felt that it deals with a verb, because it is an absurdity to say: In the prehistoric times there was a noun. — We call it "Word" which can be any part of speech. Of course, it can't be so in the case of St John's Gospel.
In even further times in the past, things were even more different. They were so that for certain beings, for certain perceptions of beings one had the feeling that they should be treated with holy reserve, one couldn't just put them in your mouth and say them. For this reason, a different way had to be found regarding expression, and this detour I can express by saying something like the following. Think about a group of children living with their parents somewhere in an isolated house. Every couple of weeks the uncle comes, but the children don't say the uncle comes, but the "man" comes. They mean it is the uncle, but they generalise and say it is "the man." The father is not the "man"; they know him too well to call him "man." In this way earlier religious use of language hid some things which they didn't want to express outwardly because one had the inner reaction of profanity, and so it was stated as a generalization, like also in the first line of St John's Gospel, "in the beginning was the Word." However, one doesn't mean the word which actually stands there but one calls it something which has been picked out, a singular "Word." It was after all something extraordinary, this "Word." There are as many words as there are men, but children said, "the man," and so one didn't say what was meant in St John's Gospel, but instead one said, "the Word." The word in this case was Jahveh, so that St John's Gospel would say: "In the primal beginnings was Jahveh," so one doesn't say "God," but "the Word."
Such things must be acquired again by living within Christianity and what Christianity has derived from the ritual practice of the Old Testament. There is no shortcut to understanding the Gospels; a lively participation in the ancient Christian times is necessary for Gospel understanding. Basically, this is what has again become enlivened through Anthroposophy, while such things have in fact only risen out of Anthroposophic research. We then have the following: In the primordial times was he word — in primordial time was Jahveh — and the word was with God — and Jahveh was with God. In the third line: And Jahveh was one of the Elohim. — This is actually the origin, the start of the St John Gospel which refers to the multiplicity of the Elohim, and Jahveh as one of them — in fact there were seven — as lifted out of the row of the Elohim. Further to this lies the basis of the relationship between Christ and Jahveh.
Take sunlight — moonlight is the same, it is also sunlight but only reflected by the moon — it doesn't come from some ancient being, it is a reflection. In primordial Christianity an understanding existed for the Christ-word, where Christ refers to his own being by saying: "Before Abraham was, I am" and many others. There certainly was an understanding for the following: Just as the sunlight streams out of itself and the moon reflects it back, so the Christ-being who only appeared later, streamed out in the Jahveh being. We have a fulfilment in the Jahveh-being preceding the Christ-being in time. Through this St John's Gospel becomes deepened through feeling from the first line to the line which says: "And the Word became flesh and lived among us." Even today we don't believe a childlike understanding suffices for the words of the Bible, when we research the Bible by translating it out of an ancient language until we penetrate what lies in the words. Of course, one can say, only through long, very long spiritual scientific studies can one approach the Bible text. That finally, is also my conviction.
Basically, the Bible no longer exists; we have a derivative which we have put together more and more from our abstract language. We need a new starting point in order to try and find what really, in an enlivened way, is in the Bible. For this I have suggested an approach which I will speak about tomorrow, in the interpretation of Mathew 13 and Mark 13. You will have to state in any case that even commenting on the Bible makes it necessary to deal with the Bible impartially. If it is stated that something is mentioned which had only taken place in the year 70, therefore the relevant place could not have been mentioned before other than what had happened after this event, this could be said only if it is announced at the beginning of the Bible explanation that the Bible will be explained completely from a materialistic point of view; then it may be done like this. The Bible itself does not follow the idea that it should be explained materialistically. The Bible itself makes it necessary that the foreseeing of coming events is first and foremost ascribed to Christ Jesus himself, and also ascribed to the apostles. Thus, as I've said, this outlook is what I want to enter into tomorrow on the basis of Mathew 13 and Mark 13, by giving a little interpretation as it has been asked for.
Another question asks about the reality behind the apostolic succession and the priest ordination. This question can hardly be answered briefly because it relates deeply to the abyss which exists between today's evangelist-protestant religious understanding and all nuances of Catholic understanding. It is important that in the moment when these things are spoken about, one must try to acquire a real understanding beyond the rational or rationalistic and beyond the intellectualistic. This is acquired even by those who have little right to live in the sense of such an understanding. In the past I have become acquainted with a large number of outstanding theosophical luminaries, Leadbeater also among them, about whom you would have heard, and some other people, who worked in the Theosophical Society. I have recently had the opportunity — otherwise I would not have worried about it again — to experience, that some of these people are Catholic bishops; it struck me as extraordinary that a part of them were Catholic priests. Leadbeater in any case had, after various things became known about him, not exactly the qualification to become a Catholic bishop. Still this interested me about how people become Catholic priests. One thing is observed with utmost severity, which is the succession. In order for me to see which people have the right to be Catholic bishops, I was given a document which revealed that in a certain year a Catholic bishop left the Catholic church, but one who was ordained, and he then ordained others — right up to Mr Leadbeater — and ordination proceeds in an actual continuation, in an absolutely correct progress; they actually have created a "family tree" by it. I don't want to talk about the start of the "family tree" but you must accept that if it would be a natural progression that there once was an ordained bishop in Rome who dropped away, who then however ordained all the others, so all these Theosophical luminaries would refer back to a real descent of their priesthood to that which once existed. Therefore, awareness of this succession is everywhere present and such things are, according to their understanding, taken completely as the reality.
Something like this must be taken as a reality within the Roman Catholic Church. The old Catholic church more or less didn't have the feeling — but within the Roman Catholic church it is certain accepted this way — that the moment the priest crosses the stole he no longer represents a single personality or attitude but he is then only a member of the church and speaks as a representative, as a member of the church. The Roman Catholic Church considered itself certainly as a closed organism, where the individual loses his individuality through ordination; they see it this way increasingly.
Now something else is in contrast to this. You may think about what I've said as you wish, but I can only speak from my point of view, from the viewpoint of my experience. I have seen much within the transubstantiation. Today in the Catholic Church there is quite a strict difference according to which priest would perform the transubstantiation, yet I have always seen how during the transformation, during the transubstantiation, the host takes on an aura. Therefore, I have come to recognise within the objective process, that when it is worthily accomplished, it is certainly fulfilled. I said, you may think about this as you wish, I say it to you as something which can be looked at from one hand, and on the other hand also as a basic conviction of the church being valid while it was still Catholic, when the evangelist church hadn't become a splintering off. We very soon come back to reality when we look at these things and it must even be said within the sacrament of mass being celebrated there is something like a true activity, which is not merely an outer sign but a real act. If you now take all the sacraments of mass together which had been celebrated, you will create an entirety, a whole, and this is something which stands there as a fact. It is something which certainly touches things, where the evangelical mind would say: Yes, there is something magical in the Catholic Mass. — This it does contain. It also contained within it the magical part, one can experience in the evangelist mind as something perhaps heathen. Good, talk to one another about this. In any case this underscores it as being a reality, which one can't without further ado, without approaching the bearer of this reality, celebrate a mass. I say celebrate; it can be demonstrated, one can show everything possible, but one can't celebrate with the claim that through the mass what should happen at the altar will only happen when it is read without any personal imprint, in absolute application.
You see, it is ever present there where one works with the mysteries; it is simply so, when one works with the mysteries. Just as no Masonic ceremony may be carried out by a non-Mason in the consciousness of the Freemason, nor may a non-ordained person in true Catholicism work from out of Catholicism and perform with full validity the ceremony in consciousness.
This is where we are being directed and must consult. I want you to take note that in this case the Catholic rules were actually very strict. Please don't take things up in such a way as if I am saying this towards pro-Catholicism; I only want to point out the situation. It isn't important for us to be for, or opposed, to Catholicism, because it's about something quite different. Particular customs were very strictly adhered to in the Catholic Church — not at all what is today in Rome's mood and procedure. If a priest became so unworthy as to be excommunicated, then his skin would be ripped off, scraped off from his fingers where he had held the sacred host in his hands. His skin would be scraped off. Sometimes such things are referred to but legally it is so, and I know such processes quite well, that after the priest's excommunication the skin of the fingers which touched the host, were scraped off. You can certainly set the objective instead of the succession that goes from the apostles through the priesthood to the priest celebrating today. You can set that which goes through consecration and through the sacraments themselves. You can exclude priesthood, but you can only exclude that by taking things objectively, right to a certain degree, objectively, that the priest no longer may have skin on his fingers when he is no longer authorised to celebrate the sacrificial mass.
Isn't it true, if you have Catholic feeling, it is something as definite to you as two plus two making four? It is something definite according to religious feeling. When you don't have that then you as modern people must have a certain piety, which says to you the Catholic church has also just preserved the celebration of mass and if this is carried outside the circle to which it had been entrusted — other circles have not preserved the sacrifice of mass — if it is being performed in other circles it is pure theft. Real theft. These things must also be understood from such concepts. I believe to some it appears very difficult to understand what I am saying but in conclusion it has as such a certain validity which needs to be achieved through understanding. We don't have to worry about it here because you can experience the mass according to what there is to experience. As far as the training of a new ritual is concerned, it would not be disturbed at all by this, that the Catholic mass regards the mass to be something so real that it may certainly not to be removed from the field of Catholicism.
This is firstly something which I wanted to say during our limited time. When I speak about the mass itself, and I will do so, I will still have a few things to add.