From Beetroot to Buddhism
XV. Nature of the sun. Origins of Freemasonry. Sign, handshake and word. Ku Klux Klan
4 June 1924, Dornach
Have you thought of something you'd like to ask, gentlemen?
Question: How do the sun's rays come about? Is that a substance? And how does it happen that they come to earth in a curve?
Rudolf Steiner: Am I right in thinking that you see the sun's rays as something real? And perhaps you can go a bit further and explain why you think they come to earth in a curve.
The questioner said he'd heard that they did not come to earth in a straight line but in a curve.
Rudolf Steiner: It's like this. The sun's rays, as we see them, are not actually a reality; but if we consider the sun the way it is, it is not really physical matter, it is in fact spiritual, a hollowed-out form created in space.
Now, you must get a real mental image of what such an empty space means. If you have a bottle of fizzy water — I have used this comparison before — the bottle is filled with water and one really hardly sees the water; we know there is water in there, but what we do see clearly are the beads in the water [drawing]. But you know that when you pour the water from the bottle those beads evaporate; they are in fact air. Being air, they are thinner than water. One is not seeing something denser than water, but one clearly sees the thinner element of air in there. That is how it is with the sun up there. Everything around the sun is really denser than the sun, and the sun is thinner than anything around it; and that is why you see the sun. It is an illusion to think that the sun is 'something' in space. In reality there is nothing there in space; you have a big hole there, just as with fizzy water you always have air, a hole, wherever there is a bead.
This immediately tells you that there can be no question of rays coming from that hole. The rays develop in a completely different way. You can understand this if you consider the following. Let us assume you have a street lamp, and there is a light in this street lamp. If you go out into the street and look at this lamp and the night is bright and clear, you'll see the lamp in steady, beautiful radiance. But imagine it is a foggy night, with mist and fog all around — then it will seem to you that rays come from the lamp, from the light! You then see those rays in there. But in fact you do not see rays of the light, for then you would also see them on a really good night. They do rather come from around the lamp; and the more mist and fog there is, the more do you see those rays. And so the sun's rays, too, are not something real, but something where you look through a mist at something that is less dense, an empty space. Can you understand this?
Now to go on. Looking into the distance through a mist, the object one looks at always appears in a different place from where it really is. If we are down here on the earth and look through the air at the sun, which is really empty, then, as we look, the sun actually appears lower down than it really is — it will be lower down in the emptiness of space. As a result, something which is not real anyway appears to be going in a curve [drawing]. So it is only that way because we look through the mist. That is the reality in this case. One can only be amazed, over and over again, that physicists today present the matter in such a way as if there was a sun there and rays were going along there, when in fact neither the sun nor the rays are outer, physical reality. And in that space, which is empty inside, there you do indeed then have something spiritual. And this is something one must always take into account. This is what I am able to say on this question.
Perhaps one of you may be able to think of something else?
Question: Might we hear something about Freemasonry and its purpose?
Rudolf Steiner: Well, you see, gentlemen, modern Freemasonry is really, one might say, only a shadow of its former self. I have talked to you about this on several occasions, saying that in very early times in human evolution they did not have schools like we have today, nor churches or centres for the arts of this kind, for it was all one then. 98See the lectures in Steiner, R., The Temple Legend (GA 93), 20 lectures, Berlin 23 May 1904-2 January 1906, tr. J. Wood, London: Rudolf Steiner Press 1985, and Steiner, R., Zur Geschichte und aus den Inhalten der erkenniskultischen Abteilung der Esoterischen Schule von 1904 bis 1914 (GA 265), Domach: Rudolf Steiner Verlag 1987. In the ancient mysteries, as they were called, you had school, art centre and religion all in one. They only became separate later. We could actually say that in our central European regions this happened only in the eleventh or twelfth centuries. Monasteries used to be memorials of times gone by, I would say. But in very early times the situation was that school, church and art centre were one. But everything that was done in those mysteries was taken much more seriously than things are taken in our schools today, for example, and also in our churches.
The situation was in those times that one had to go through a long period of preparation before one was allowed to learn. Today, the question as to whether one can learn something or not is really determined by a principle that has nothing to do with learning as such. I think you'll agree that today the decision is really entirely made on the basis of whether the money can be found for the person who is to learn, or if it cannot be found! That is of course something which has nothing to do with the abilities of the person concerned. And the situation was very different in earlier times, when people were chosen from among the whole of humanity — they had more of an eye for it in those days than people have today — who were perhaps the most able. The whole thing went into a decline almost everywhere later on, because it simply is the case that people are egotistical. But the principle used to be that people were chosen who had abilities. And only they would be entitled to learn in a spiritual way — not simply by drills and dressage, and the kind of elements used in teaching today, but they were able to learn in a spiritual way.
This learning in a spiritual way depended on people learning to develop quite specific abilities in the course of preparation. You merely have to consider that when we touch something in ordinary life we have a rough and ready sensation of it. The most people are able to achieve today is that they can sometimes tell materials apart by the way they feel, that they touch objects and are able to tell there is some difference. But people's sentience — I am speaking of purely physical sensation — is relatively crude today. They distinguish between hot and cold. At most it may be that people who really depend on this develop more subtle sensation. Blind people are an example. There are blind people who learn to move across paper and feel the form of the letters. Every letter is a little bit engraved in the paper. With subtle sensation developed in the fingers it is possible to get something of a feel of the letters. These are the only people today who learn to have more subtle sensations. As a rule sensation is not developed, though one learns a tremendous amount if one develops sensation to be very subtle in one's fingertips and fingers. Today people tell the difference between hot and cold not just by feeling it. And they are able to do this today because they are able to read a thermometer. There the subtle differences in temperature are made visible. But the thermometer has only been developed in the course of time. Before that, people only had their sensations. And in the preparation for the mysteries, sensation was specially developed, above all in the fingers and fingertips. And people were then able to sense things in a very subtle way.
So who was it who would initially be prepared to develop very fine sensation in the mysteries? Well, other people were not able to have such subtle senses. Let us assume now that there was a mystery site somewhere, in some place. People travelled a great deal in antiquity; they travelled almost as much as we do, and it is sometimes surprising how fast they travelled. They did not have railways. But they travelled because they were more nimble, able to walk faster, not getting tired so easily, also walking a bit better, and so on. And so they would meet on the way, these people. Well, when two such people, who were able to have subtle sensations, shook hands they would notice this in each other, and people would say: They recognize one another because of their fine sensation. This is what is known as the handshake, the handshake when you took hold of the other person in earlier times and realized that he had more subtle sensation.
Now to move on, gentlemen. Consider this second aspect. When it was realized that someone had subtle sensation, one would go further, for people learned even more than this. In the early days people did not write as much as they do today; they would really only write very rarely and then it would be something that was most sacred to them. There was a kind of correspondence in antiquity, but it was a correspondence in all kinds of signs. Many signs were developed for all kinds of things. And it was also the case that people who did not belong to the mysteries and therefore were not 'wise' people, as it was called, would only travel lesser distances; they would not go very far. But the scholars, the wise people, travelled a great deal. They would therefore have needed to know not only all languages but also all dialects. It is of course difficult for someone from the north of Germany to understand the Swiss German dialect. But those people in the mysteries had not only the language they spoke but all kinds of signs for things that interested them. They would make signs. For instance, the usual gesture, for which one already had a feeling, would be developed further: 'I understand'; or 'That is nothing, what you are telling me'; or 'We really understand one another'. They would sign a cross. A fully developed sign language thus existed especially among the wise people of old, and they would put everything they knew into those signs. You can see, therefore, that all the people who were in the universities of that time, which were the mysteries, had particular signs for everything. Let us say, for example, they wanted to record these signs at some point in time. It was only then that they would draw them. And this is how they came to put signs on things.
It is certainly interesting that there are still some scripts today where one can clearly see that they have developed from signs. An example is the script of the ancient Indians, Sanskrit. Here one can see everywhere that it has developed from a curved and a straight line [drawing]. Curved lines: dissatisfaction with something, antipathy; straight lines: sympathy. Just think of someone who knows that straight lines mean sympathy, curved lines antipathy. Now I want to tell him something. I have a sign for this, too. He wants to tell me something. This may be all right to start with, but then things may go wrong. You see, there it still works fine. Later he will draw a wriggly line — then it may be something bad. And so they had particular signs for everything. These signs provided a means of communication for those who were in the mysteries. So you had the handshake and the sign.
People also saw something very special in words in those times. You see, when people say words today, they really no longer have an idea of what there is to those words. But one can still have a feeling for what lies in the speech sounds. You will easily be able to tell when someone is in a particular life situation and starts to say: Ah. That has something to do with amazement, with awe. A — the letter A [pronounced like the 'a' in father] is amazement. Now add the letter R — this is something rolling along, radiating. R = radiance. A = amazement, awe, R = rolling, radiance.
Now we know what we have just said about the sun's rays. But even if they are only seemingly there, and are not real, it looks as if they were streaming forth. Now imagine someone wants to say: 'Up there is something that tosses something to me here on earth, and when it appears in the morning it causes me to feel awe.' He would express his awe as A, but the fact that it comes from above with the sound R; so he would express it as RA. Yes, that is what the ancient Egyptians called the sun god — Ra. In each of these letters you have an inner feeling, and we have put the sounds together to make words. So there was feeling in there, feeling spread out. This has long since been forgotten. Take the sound I*, for instance. That is something like quiet pleasure, one comes to terms with something one comes across, something one perceives: I. And the laugh is also a hee-hee. That is quiet pleasure. And so every letter has a particular character. And there is a knowledge that enables one actually to create the words if one has an understanding of the sounds that make up the words.
Now you'll say one thing, gentlemen: 'Well, if that were the case, then there could be only one language.' Originally humanity did have just one language; when people still had a feeling for these speech sounds, these letters, there was just one language. Later different languages developed, when people went apart. But originally they had such feeling for it, and in the mysteries it was actually taught how speech sounds, letters, may be felt and made into words. They therefore had their own language in the mysteries. This was the language they would all speak among themselves. They would not use their dialects but this language, which all of them understood. When one of them said Ra, the other would know that this meant the sun. When one would say E [more or less like the 'a' in 'gate'] — just feel it: I shrink back a little. That does not suit me; E — I am a little afraid, something like fear! Take the L now. That is as if something is fading away, something is flowing, and EL, well, that is something that flows and from which we shrink back a little, which causes us to be afraid. That was El in Babylon, meaning 'god'. And everything was given its name on this principle. Take the Bible. If you say O — that is amazement, being taken aback by it. With the A you have a feeling you like, an amazement and awe you like. O and you want to step back; H, Ch [like the h in human] is the breath. So we may say: O = amazement, being taken aback; H = breath; I = one points to it, one takes quiet pleasure in it = I. And M, that is wanting to enter into it yourself. You feel, when you say M: M — the breath goes out, and you feel you are literally running after your breath; M thus is to go away. Now let us put this together. El, as we have seen is the spirit that comes in the wind, El; 0 is amazement that makes you step back, H is the breath; this is the more subtle spirit that acts as breath; I is quiet pleasure; M is to go towards it. There you have Elohim, and the Bible begins with this. You have these speech sounds in it. So that we are able to say: What are the Elohim? The Elohim are spirits in the wind of whom we are a little afraid, shrinking back a little, but with the breath they have pleasure in human beings, pleasure in going to the human beings — Elohim. And so one had to study the words originally for their speech sounds, their letters, to see what they really mean. Today people no longer have a feeling for how this really is.
What is the plural of Wagen here in Switzerland? Do you also say Wagen here, or is it Wägen? [Answer: die Wagen **The answer was wrong. It is Wäge in Swiss German, as Rudolf Steiner thought it might be.]. So it is still die Wagen. Then it has become blurred; originally it would have been der Wagen, die Wägen. With the plural we have this in all kinds of different ways. For instance we have der Bruder, die Brüder. Or, let us say, das Holz, die Hölzer. I expect here, too, one does not say die Holzer. Das Holz, die Hölzer. You see, gentlemen, when the plural is formed, the umlaut is used — a to ä, u to ü, o to ö. 99The umlaut (meaning sound-changer) is not an accent but actually the letter 'e'. It used to be written on top of the a, o or u originally, and gradually became reduced to two short vertical lines or two dots. If you look at the pronunciation table given in this book and try and pronounce the words Rudolf Steiner gave here as indicated, you'll feel that the original sound is made to go more in the direction of the German 'e', which is like 'ay', but without going up into an 'i' sound at the end. Why is this done? You see, the umlaut indicates that the thing becomes blurred. When I see one brother, he is distinct, a single individual; when I see several brothers, it becomes blurred, and I have to differentiate between them, and if I cannot do this it becomes blurred. One has to look at them one by one. The umlaut always indicates things getting blurred. So when you have the umlaut in a word, something is blurred.
So there is something in language that allows us to see the whole human being; there you have the whole human being. And people would also bring to expression how there was a certain meaning even in the letters they wrote, in these signs. 'A' always was amazement, awe. When an ancient Hebrew had written the letter aleph like this: א [drawing], he would say to himself: Who is amazed in the earth world? Animals are not really amazed, only man is. And so he altogether referred to man as 'amazement'. When he wrote his aleph, the א, the Hebrew 'A', it therefore also referred to the human being.
And so it was that every letter also signified a particular thing or being. And the people who were in the mysteries knew all this. So when one of them was meeting another on his travels and they had that common knowledge, they would recognize one another by the word. So that we are able to say that in the early days the situation was that people who had learned things, who knew a great deal, recognized one another by handshake, sign and word. But you see, gentlemen, then there was something in it! You immediately had their whole scholarship in this sign, handshake and word. For people learned to distinguish between things by touching them. Having the signs, they had a way of imitating everything there is by way of nature's secrets. And in the word they got to know the inner human being. So we are able to say that in the handshake they had sensory perception; in the sign they had the world of nature, and in the word they had the human being, his inner amazement or shrinking back, his pleasure and so on. So they had nature and man and echoed them in sign, handshake and word.
In the course of human evolution a separation occurred into university and later schools on the one hand and the Church and the arts on the other. In all three of these, people no longer understood what had originally existed; and handshake, sign and word were lost completely. It was understood only by people who had then discovered: Wow! Those wise ancient people had some degree of power because they knew this. A person is justified in having this power because he knows something and it is for the benefit of others. If no one had known how to build a railway engine, humanity would never have had a railway engine. And it therefore benefits humanity if someone knows something; that is justifiable power. But later on people simply acquired the power by copying the external signs.
Just as this or that sign used to mean something in the past and people later no longer knew this meaning, so did all this lose its meaning. And mere aping, I would say, of the ancient mysteries then led to all kinds of things where you only have the superficial aspect. What did those people do? They no longer had the subtle sensation, but they agreed on a sign by which they would recognize one another. They shake hands in a particular way and one then knows: 'He belongs to the brotherhood.' They recognize one another by the handshake. Then they also make a sign in some other way. The sign and the handshake differ depending on whether someone has reached the first, second or third degree. People then recognize one another. But there is no more to this than a sign of recognition. And they also have special words for each degree, words they may say in certain Masonic associations. Thus if one wants to know the word for the first degree, for example, they may have the code word Jachin. One knows he has learned the word in the Freemason's lodge, otherwise he would not be a member of the first degree. It is merely a code word now. And he will then also make the sign, and so on.
Now this kind of Freemasonry has really only developed at a time when everything else about the mysteries had been forgotten. And some of the old things were imitated though they were no longer understood. So that the rites Freemasons have taken from the past are on the whole no longer understood by present-day Masons, for they do not know all the things that matter here. Thus they do not know that when they say the word for the second degree, Boas, that B is really a house, O means stepping back in amazement; A is pleasant amazement; S is the sign of the serpent. So it means: 'We recognize the world to be a great house built by the great world builder, and one has to be amazed at it both with slight fear and with pleasure, and evil, the serpent is also present in it.' Yes, people knew this in the past; they would look at nature in the light of this, look at the human being in the light of this. Today people who have reached the second degree in some Masonic associations utter the word 'Boas' without having a clue. And the same also in the third degree. You see, when people put their finger on the pulse in the past it really was recognition that the individual concerned had subtle sensation. This would be apparent from the way in which the finger lay on the pulse. Later this became the handshake for the third degree. Today, people only know that if someone comes along and takes one's hand in this particular way he is a Mason. So there really is something ancient, venerable, great in these things, something that contained the whole scholarship of earlier times. It has now become a mere formula, a nothing. Today the Freemasons have these things; they also have ceremonies, a ritual. This comes from the times when everything would also be presented in ritual form, in ceremonies, so that it would touch people more deeply. The Freemasons still do this today. And in this inner respect Freemasonry really no longer has significance today.
But it became terribly boring for people to join in with these things when the associations had been established. For it had really degenerated into a kind of tomfoolery. So something was needed, had to be poured into it, into Freemasonry. And the result was the Freemasons went more or less political, or they would spread more or less religious forms of enlightenment. The teaching that came from Rome was without enlightenment. The teaching that was in opposition to Rome was then spread by the Masons. Because of this, Rome, the people using the Roman rites, and Freemasons are completely at loggerheads. This no longer has anything to do with ritual, sign, handshake and word among Freemasons; it is something added on. In France the brotherhood was no longer called a brotherhood but Orient de France, for it had all come from the East. Grand Orient de France — that is the great French Freemasons' association. The rest — sign, handshake and word — exists only to keep people together; it is something by which they recognize each other. The communal rite is used when they gather on particularly solemn occasions. Just as others gather in church, so these Freemasons gather to hold ceremonies that originated in the ancient mysteries. This brings people together.
It was very much the custom when secret societies became established in the past, especially in Italy, to recognize one another by certain ceremonial elements — sign and handshake — and to have gatherings. Political associations and societies have always picked up on this ancient mystery element. And it is really quite strange that when you go to some parts of Poland or Austria today you see posters; those posters show strange signs and strange letters which then combine to form words. Initially one does not know what the poster means. But such a poster, put up everywhere in areas of Poland and Austria, is the outward sign of a society established among young people by certain nationalist elements. They use the same things. This is really very widespread, and people know very well that the sign also has a particular power. Some associations, the German popular front, for instance, use an ancient Indian sign of two serpents intertwined, or, if you will, a wheel, which then became transformed into the present-day swastika [drawing]. They wear it on their lapels today. And you'll often hear that the swastika has been adopted by certain chauvinist nationalist groups. This is because tradition says that the ancients brought their power to expression in such signs. And it has always been like this on a large scale among Freemasons. Freemasonry really exists in order to keep certain people together, and this is done by ceremonial, sign, handshake and word. And hidden goals are pursued by keeping certain secrets among all the people who are connected by these ceremonies, by sign, handshake and word. Hidden goals can of course only be pursued if they are not known to everyone. And the situation with the Freemasons is that they often have political, cultural or similar goals.
Now there is something else you may say, gentlemen. You see, we cannot take exception to people coming together in Masonic bodies just because they do this, for they sometimes have the best and noblest intentions. It is only that they think people will not be interested in such aims in any other way but by having such organizations. And many Masonic bodies also do extensive charitable work. It is good to practise charity and humanity to a major degree. And these organizations do so on a major scale. No wonder, then, that Masons are always able to say that Masonic organizations have founded and established an enormous amount of humanitarian and charitable work. Yet we have to say to ourselves that such things are really no longer right for the present age. For, you see, what is it that we cannot accept today in this respect? We cannot accept segregation. This soon leads to a cultural aristocracy which should not exist. And the democratic principle, which must increasingly come to the fore, really goes against both the Freemasons and the clerical bodies. We are thus able to say that it really is true that someone who is still able to understand what lies in many Masonic ceremonies of the first, second and third degree, which Freemasons themselves often do not understand, knows that they often go back to very ancient wisdom, but this is not really what counts. What really counts is that many Masonic associations have wide-ranging political or also social and charitable aims. The Roman Catholic Church and the Freemasons are fighting each other to the death, but this, too, is something that has only come in the course of time.
It is, of course, easy to get the wrong idea here. And that has also happened. Masons wear special garments for their ceremonies; they have a sheepskin apron, for instance. Some people came and said that Freemasonry is nothing but playacting, pretending to be Masons, for stonemasons wear a sheepskin apron. But that is not true. The purpose of the apron — originally it was always a sheepskin one — is to show that someone who is a member of such an organization is not supposed to be rabid in his passions; the genitals are meant to be covered by the apron, and this is the sign. So it was something that reflected human character in signs. And that is how it is with very many signs which are also garments.
They also have higher degrees, when a priestlike robe is worn; everything has its meaning there. I have told you, for example, that apart from his physical body man also has an ether body. And just as the priest has a white linen garment, like a shift, to reflect the ether body, so certain high ranks among the Freemasons have such a garment. For the astral body — it is coloured — they have a toga, an over-garment. So it gives expression to all these things. And the cloak, which was then connected with the helmet, reflected the power of the I.
All these things take us back to ancient customs that had real meaning and significance but have now lost significance. Anyone who likes Freemasonry should not take the things I have said to be derogatory. I merely wanted to show how things are. There can, of course, be a Masonic order whose members are extraordinarily good people, and so on. And at the present time such a thing can become particularly important. The things people generally learn when they become physicians or lawyers — well, these do not touch their hearts. And many members of the legal and medical professions still become Masons because then they have at least the solemn ceremonials of old, and something which does no longer hold much meaning for them but is still something — sign, handshake and word, and what this does is to show that man does not live in outer, material things alone.
This is what I wanted to say to you. Is there anything else you'd like to ask?
Question: In America they have something called the Ku Klux Klan. What is this about? Could we hear from Dr Steiner what it signifies? One is always reading about it.
Rudolf Steiner: Well, you see, the Ku Klux Klan is one of the most recent inventions in this field, an invention that should certainly be taken more seriously than people generally do. As you know, gentlemen, some decades ago people were enthusiastic about a certain cosmopolitan way of thinking. It still exists today, of course, among the workers, among social democrats — these are an international element — but in middle class circles and in other circles nationalism is getting terribly out of hand, and nationalist tendencies are indeed getting very strong. And you will also remember that the people who supported Woodrow Wilson 100Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924), US Democratic politician, president 1913-21. Presented his Fourteen Points as a peace programme in January 1918. — he himself was only a kind of figurehead — really counted on this nationalism, wanted to have nationalist states everywhere, incite nationalism everywhere, and so on. Well, one can have one's own ideas about this. But people are developing a tendency to take nationalism to extremes everywhere today. And in this drive to take nationalism to extremes the association known as the Ku Klux Klan has appeared in America. They are very much working with such things as special signs, in the sense in which I have spoken of this.
When one considers associations of this kind one needs to know that signs have a certain power to hypnotize. As you know, if you have a chicken [drawing], and let this chicken touch the ground with its beak, and you draw a line from there with chalk, the chicken will follow the chalked line. It is hypnotized, running after the chalked line. You just have to push its beak down on to it at the beginning and it'll follow the line, being hypnotized by it. And in this way every sign — not only the straight line for the chicken — has meaning, a particular hypnotic significance if you intend it to be that way. Some secret societies make use of this, choosing signs that will turn people's heads, putting them to sleep, so that they do not use their own powers of judgement.
Such means are above all used by secret societies. The Ku Klux Klan in America is one of them. And the Ku Klux Klan is dangerous because such societies do not concentrate on only one nation but want to see the nationalist principle everywhere. No one can say: 'The Ku Klux Klan can simply remain an American institution, for it aims to further American nationalism.' The members of the Ku Klux Klan do not say this. They say: 'One should promote nationalism everywhere — in Hungary, in Germany, in France.' All very well! What matters to them is not Americanism, they are not patriots, but they realize that the combined effect of people's insistence on nationalism in different nations will give them exactly what they want to achieve, and that is to throw everything into chaos. Sheer destructive frenzy lies in this. And you can't say it is an American element if it ever wants to spread here in Switzerland, for in that case it will be a Swiss national institution.
And basically that also held true for Masonic associations; they were international, but for individual countries always nationalistic. They would not rate this very highly, for they would do it more in response to the outside world, joining in whatever was going on outside. And we are able to say: 'People like that must surely be mad, wanting to encourage something like an absolutely nationalistic principle and wanting to destroy everything.' But people say: 'Everything has gone to rack and ruin today' — the leaders say this to themselves with reference to the others who follow them — and the others do not care in the least, so there is no point in looking after the things that exist today. 'One must first treat humanity as a confused mass. Then people will find themselves again and learn something decent.' So these people have an idea, and the Ku Klux Klan in particular has its ideas on the subject.
You think not?
Questioner: Oh yes, I do, But it is funny!
Rudolf Steiner: You see, many things in cultural life are funny, and we have talked about things that look funny. But funny things are sometimes rather dangerous. It seems funny to one, but it is extraordinarily dangerous.
Now, gentlemen, tomorrow sometime I have to be on my travels again, to Breslau. 101Breslau, formerly capital of Lower Silesia. Now in Poland, called Wroclaw. Rudolf Steiner was going there to give the Agriculture Course. Translator. I'll let you know when we can have our next session.