Man as a Being of Spirit and Soul
II. The Psychological Expression of the Unconscious
26 February 1918, Stuttgart
I took the liberty of pointing out yesterday that there is some antipathy on the part of the ordinary scientific outlook toward the nature and the entire method of the science of spirit which can and must be placed alongside ordinary science. I pointed out further that there is a certain subjective prejudice at the present time which makes it difficult for people really to go into and acquire an understanding of the science of spirit, that is, for people who think they stand on the sure foundation of science — on which, of course, the science of spirit also stands — but who are of the opinion that it is not possible to bridge the gap from this kind of foundation to a real science of spirit. However, a fact about the soul-life of present day humanity emerged from my exposition yesterday, the fact that it is joist in immersing ourselves in the scientific knowledge of the present time that we are bound to long, and indeed, do long to acquire knowledge about the human being that goes beyond the ordinary everyday life of the soul, which, of course, of necessity is tied to the observation and experience of the physical sense world.
Now it is naturally possible to say that the views of the world generally held, that have arisen through the influence of scientific ideas, are proving to be increasingly incapable of dealing with methods of research other than those which are concerned with what is physically present in the world. And so now it is intended to investigate what lies beyond normal consciousness with the same kind of sense perception — providing we really do want to investigate it, and not just drop it — as science uses to investigate nature. For this reason the existence of one border area at least in human experience has found recognition recently among people who want their work to remain on a scientific basis but who, on the other hand, desire to penetrate the mysteries of human soul life, inasmuch as this lies within the conscious sphere that is, as I have said, more or less tied to the world of the senses. People have gradually become convinced that it is not possible to investigate the mysteries of soul life, that there is much that rises up into the soul life of the human being out of unknown depths, or one could also say, out of unknown heights, that is well suited to provide information about what the core of man's being really is, rather than what is to be found within our ordinary consciousness. But because, generally speaking, the science of spirit is regarded as something not sufficiently tangible, as something that leads one away from the real world — so many would say — an attempt is made to investigate a kind of border area by ordinary scientific means.
The science of spirit has therefore every reason from its point of view, to refer to this border area and to deal with it. It is the region that we have more recently become accustomed to call the unconscious. There is also another reason why it is especially important for the science of spirit to offer some thoughts about this area of the unconscious, and that is because some of the things that are said in this connection are misunderstood, so that the science of spirit is confused with what is said about this border area, more or less justifiably, by those representing other approaches to the problem. By “unconscious” one usually means what rises up from unknown regions and flows into one's conscious life. It would of course take a very long time if I were even to give an outline of all that science over the whole world has had to say about this region of the unconscious. In the cultural life of Central Europe the expression “the unconscious” has of course become well known since the 1860's through the popular philosophy of Eduard von Hartmann, who sought the reasons for all that the human being experiences consciously in a spiritual unconscious, whether it be below or above the conscious.
If I may be allowed, by way of introduction, to make a personal remark — the way in which Eduard von Hartmann approaches spiritual life, which is supposed to remain unconscious for ordinary consciousness (although he is dealing with something spiritual and although he sees a revelation of the unconscious, of the spiritual unconscious, in the physical sense world), his approach and outlook are in a way diametrically opposed to the view which I am putting forward. And through being personally acquainted with Eduard von Hartmann I tried already in the 1880's to thrash these things out with him personally and in correspondence. I tried to show the difference between the anthroposophically orientated science of spirit and an outlook founded on the unconscious like, for instance, that of Eduard von Hartmann. I discussed this difference recently in a rather personal way in the February number of the second year of the magazine Das Reich. I shall now indicate in a few words what is discussed more fully there:
Eduard von Hartmann points out that everything the human being is able to reveal in his ordinary life rests on something spiritual and unconscious. He maintains the view that this unconscious can be reached only by means of the power of logical thinking; it deduces something unknown that abides, that can be reached only conceptually and grasped in hypotheses from what is perceptible in the sense world. And he points out that this unconscious is not in itself conscious in the same way that the human being, for instance, is conscious. — In these two respects the science of spirit is radically different from this view of Eduard von Hartmann: firstly the science of spirit is founded on the fact that — I described this more fully yesterday and named the books which provide the necessary basis — it not only seeks to penetrate the spiritual spheres by means of hypotheses and logical deductions, but by bringing out of the soul certain forces that slumber in it which remain unconscious for our ordinary consciousness, forces that are raised into our consciousness by means of a strengthening and intensification of our soul life. These unconscious forces in the soul are able to enter into the consciousness of the human being, so that he can tread the path from the sense world to the super-sensible world in full consciousness by means of spiritual observation, so that he can observe this super-sensible world in a spiritual way, just as he can observe the sense world. The science of spirit, therefore, does not describe a hypothetical path from the sense world into the super-sensible, but a real path that can be experienced. And on the other hand, the science of spirit has to emphasize that something spiritual that is unconscious, in which no consciousness can be found, is really of no more value than the great unconscious sphere of purely material atoms and their processes, the purely physical foundation of existence. What would be the point of something spiritual that is supposed to underlie the sense world, if it is unconscious? For then the human being would be the only conscious being to raise himself out of a world, which, as far as consciousness is concerned, would have no more value than the unconscious world of purely material phenomena? — The science of spirit, therefore, does not deal with this unconscious, which in itself is devoid of consciousness, but is concerned with spiritual beings existing behind the physical world and which are just as conscious as human beings, and in some respects even have a higher consciousness than the latter.
This is what differentiates the view of the anthroposophically orientated science of spirit about the unconscious from such a view as Eduard von Hartmann's, which is actually held by many people today in the same sense as he held it, even if they do not intend getting away from the scientific viewpoint.
Today we shall have opportunity to show in what way the science of spirit can really penetrate into the sphere of spiritual life, and we shall do this by taking into consideration the unconscious phenomena in human soul life which enter into our consciousness in a less complete way than does the science of spirit.
But I must take certain things for granted, which were described yesterday — that by means of inner processes in the soul (if we wish to be particular, we should call them “exercises”) our ordinary soul life, even if it is only a mystical soul life, can be treated in such a way that the human being can rise from this soul life to the spiritual, just as from another aspect he can descend from soul life to the physical by means of scientific observation. Having acquired this perception of the spiritual or — to use Goethe's expression once more — the eyes of the spirit and the ears of the spirit, we are then in a position to view what normally appears in our conscious soul life from unknown depths or heights from our newly-won viewpoint in a quite different way.
Now of course the border areas with which we are concerned cover a wide field. Today I shall select only a few of them, but they will shed light on everything else in our unconscious soul life and its manifestations. I shall take something which is well known to everyone, but which remains an enigma in human existence: our world of dreams. I shall then deal with a subject that more recently has become the child of all those who seek to penetrate into the spiritual super-sensible world, but who shy away from practicing the real science of spirit; and that child is what is called “somnambulism” and also “medium-ship,” which is related to it. I shall then proceed to another aspect where it is certainly sufficiently well known that it arises out of the unconscious depths of soul life, and this is the whole sphere of artistic enjoyment and creation, which I shall deal with briefly. Then I shall come to a subject which perhaps many people do not consider belongs to the unconscious and its manifestation, but which at least can be seen — by those who are reasonable about it — to be something that plays into our semiconscious life, and this is the sphere of human destiny, which will be considered from the viewpoint of the science of spirit, the real and true clairvoyance. I am not fond of the word clairvoyance because it is mixed up with all sorts of amateurish and other nonsense, but the way I use it today will perhaps be justified, and should be self- explanatory. I shall indicate what is the sphere of the science of spirit itself, for this science feels itself called upon to raise what is spiritually unconscious into consciousness.
I would like first of all to describe one or two characteristic properties of the real experience the scientist of the spirit has of the super-sensible, spiritual world. This will then form the basis for what I have to say about the other phenomena of the unconscious, which I have so far only just mentioned and which I shall describe later from the viewpoint of the science of spirit. As we have not much time, I shall not be able to go into the ordinary scientific view of these things as well.
When the human soul has reached the point with the scientist of spirit of being able to approach a spiritual world in the same way that we approach the physical sense world with our physical eyes and ears and the other sense organs, then the human being perceives the spiritual world and can grasp its connection with the physical sense world.
I pointed out yesterday that it is quite unjustified to object that what the science of spirit describes is really only put together out of the physical sense world and then transferred to the spiritual world. And I also pointed out that anyone who has conscientiously used the methods of the science of spirit for several years knows that he often finds himself in the position that what he experiences in the spiritual world looks quite different from anything that can be experienced in the transitory physical sense world. Even in the experience of the spiritual world, the whole mood and constitution of the soul is radically different from normal soul life. And so I would like first of all to describe one or two characteristic properties of this experience in the spirit.
If one has only a superficial understanding of what we mean by the science of spirit it is easy enough to say that the scientist of spirit lives in a kind of self-deception: — he puts things together in his mind and thinks that the resulting idea is the revelation of a spiritual world, having overlooked or forgotten how he really gained the idea through sense perception in the first place. — Of course, it is true that if the scientist of spirit were to experience spiritual perception in the same way he gains ideas from the sense world, then he would naturally become suspicious of the science of spirit. But this is not the case. One of the most fundamental characteristics of what we are able to perceive in our thoughts of the sense world appears quite different when compared with real spiritual experiences. The ideas and images we form through contact with the sense world are impressed upon the soul, and we are able to recall them after a while; they can be raised up out of the treasure of our memory. The spiritual experiences which the scientist of spirit has are different, for it is not possible to recall them in this way. What the soul experiences when it approaches spiritual perception is not just an idea. For an idea can be incorporated into the memory, but a spiritual experience of this sort cannot be directly incorporated into the soul. A spiritual experience or perception disappears, just as our view of a tree that we have looked at for a time disappears when we turn away from it. When the perception comes to an end, it can no longer be experienced by the soul — we have to approach it again in order to see it as it really is. The image or idea we keep in our memory, but to see the actual tree we have to go to where it is. Just as we no longer see the tree when we have gone away from it, so the spiritual perception is no longer experienced by the soul when the perception itself has ceased. From this it follows that with experience of a spiritual nature we are not dealing with a mere combination of ideas, thoughts and images, for they can be remembered.
But then one could object that if this is in fact the case, it would never be possible to report such spiritual experience if it could not be remembered — nothing could be said about it, for it would disappear from our soul life as soon as it had been experienced. — But actually it is not like this at all. The scientist of spirit can formulate ideas about what he has experienced spiritually, just as we are able to formulate ideas about things, beings and processes in the sense world, and these ideas can be retained. It depends on the scientist of spirit being able to differentiate actual experience from the images and ideas which arise out of it, just as in ordinary life we distinguish our sense perception from the idea which arises from it. We can look at this in another way. If we wish to have a spiritual experience in the same way a second or third time, it is not sufficient just to recall the image or idea of it. For in this case it is clear that we do not then have the full experience, but only a pale image of it.
If we want to have the experience again, we have to reawaken the slumbering forces of the soul and to enter into the experience afresh. With certain characteristic phenomena of the spiritual world we can only remember the way we approached the experience — this can be recalled, and the experience attained a second, third or fourth time. But then it is certainly not a case of the experience following the same laws that underlie the normal way of imagining and thinking. — This is the one aspect. You can see from this that the scientist of spirit is no dreamer, but that his own inner self- perception enables him to be absolutely clear about what leads him to real experiences.
The second aspect is that an experience attained through the science of spirit has a relationship to our soul life quite different from an experience that takes place in our normal consciousness in the physical sense world. What would be the use of our physical life if we were not able to acquire certain skills, certain habits, if we were not in a position of being able to try and do something better a second time, when the repetition of an action would serve no purpose? The repetition of an action is incorporated into our normal experience as a habit. But spiritual experiences cannot be incorporated into our soul life in the same way. Many — those who are beginners in spiritual experience — find this out, to their surprise. It is comparatively easy — I say comparatively easy — to achieve certain initial experiences of the spiritual world if one carries out the exercises described in my book How to Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds, and beginners are always overjoyed when they have their first experiences of a spiritual nature. But then they are all the more surprised when these experiences cannot easily be repeated, or when they cannot be repeated at all. And one can feel very miserable because an experience which one has had cannot be recalled; one does not seem to get any better at it. It is not possible to turn what has been experienced in the spirit into a habit. On the contrary, with repetition it becomes increasingly more difficult to do the repetition. Thus, as a matter of fact, a large part of the exercises that have to be done if we wish to bring about a repetition of certain experiences, consists of doing quite different things the second or third time. Experience of a spiritual nature has therefore a quite different relationship to the physical, since it works against habit.
There is a third aspect of what is characteristic in spiritual experience, and that is, however odd it may sound, that real spiritual experience — which has absolutely nothing to do with anything concerned with the body — is something that is over in a split second. In fact, this is even a reason why so few people today attain spiritual experience. In ordinary life people are accustomed to take a certain time to assimilate something that appears on their horizon. If the experience is a spiritual one, it is over before the person has been able to notice it. What is therefore necessary above all in order to have real spiritual experience, is what one could call presence of mind. If we want to have spiritual experience we have to get used to situations in ordinary life which demand quick decisions, where the situation must be summed up immediately, and where there is no time to delay by changing our minds. People who have no wish to make any progress in this kind of self-education, to make quick decisions in certain situations, to see quickly what has to be done, are not suited to gaining the necessary control over their own souls in order to achieve spiritual experience easily. The kind of person who can tackle a situation, not by looking at it from every possible angle and fussing about, but by making a decision immediately upon being confronted with the situation and then also sticking to it, has a good foundation for spiritual experience. For spiritual experiences within us have to be gone through just as quickly as we have to grasp some situations in life and make decisions, which if they were not made quickly would perhaps lead to misfortune and ruin. — I am not saying that spiritual experience can lead to ruin, for in this case it will not have existed. This attitude toward it is necessary.
And now there is a fourth characteristic — that spiritual experiences are always individual. In the physical world we are accustomed to dividing everything into particular classes or categories, in fact we divide the whole of life in this way. We speak of the famous — if not notorious — “Scheme F.” Everything has to belong to a certain category, to be put in its particular place. People believe that law is to be found in the world of phenomena only when everything is fitted into various categories. We should imagine for once how we should deal with nature, which we quite rightly divide into categories, if everything were individual. And we should imagine what human life would be like if it were not, for instance, possible in every single instance to turn to a book of laws, if it were not possible to fit a particular case neatly into a ready-made compartment, but if we had to face it with individual judgment. People are accustomed from experience in the physical world to making everything fit into patterns. All this putting things into categories, classes, determining a particular order with particular laws, all this has to be given up, though not in connection with the physical world, for this would make one unfit for the latter, but for the sphere of spiritual experiences. What is experienced in the spiritual world is always portrayed as something individual. This is why people so often take a stand against the science of spirit. If we speak about what has been discovered by the science of spirit — and having given lectures for so many years now, I do not hesitate to present concrete examples about this science of spirit — let us say, for example, that I describe how the sudden death of a person has the effect in the spiritual world of his experiencing spiritually in the single moment when his physical body is destroyed through an accident, as much as he would have been able to experience in twenty or thirty years in life. If such a thing as this is described, then it can be related only to a particular case. Of course, someone else comes along and says, — Sudden deaths have this and that effect. He would like to make a law of it. Such laws, if I may put it this way, are the enemy of the true way of knowledge of the science of spirit, because in spiritual experience each single case represents something individual and unique, and because one always has to be surprised how something can always appear — and in life people like so much to stick to the old. One can write down the most subtle experiences of the physical world in a notebook and can put it in one's coat pocket. Such a procedure is impossible with knowledge derived from the science of spirit. This is why there are so many different kinds of descriptions that the scientist of spirit must give. Those of you who are here now and who have often been present at the lectures which have been given here for many years, will have heard me deal with similar subjects, never in the same way, but always varied in one way or the other, individualized. Last winter, for instance, I spoke on the same theme in many German cities, sometimes for several days in succession, but each time in a different way, describing the same things differently. Knowledge derived through the science of spirit makes a claim upon the spirit which we can describe as the mobility of this spirit. We conclude therefore that the important thing is not the content, the actual content of the words, but that this content is drawn and spoken out of the spirit itself.
You will see from this that it is always necessary to become accustomed to a quite different kind of mood and disposition of soul when we rise from the transitory to the intransitory, when we approach the part of man that belongs to the intransitory world, the eternal core of his being. It is therefore understandable that the science of spirit is not only considered to be difficult to understand, but is attacked, misunderstood and confused with all sorts of other things. As someone said recently (someone who prefers to hear only what he has heard before) — it is irritating. Of course it is irritating to someone who only wants all his old dogmas warmed up once again.
Thus it is not only that what the science of spirit has to say about the eternal, the spiritual, is different from what is to be found to be real in the physical sense world, but also that the attitude of the soul toward the spirit is different from its attitude toward the physical sense world. With the kind of attitude of soul I have just described in its characteristic properties, it is possible to approach the part of man that goes through births and deaths, the eternal core of the human being, which as a spiritual entity belongs to the spiritual world just as man as a physical, bodily creature belongs to physical nature and its kingdoms.
What the science of spirit finds in this way is at first something unconscious for our normal consciousness, but it can be drawn into our normal consciousness. This is the essential thing about the method of the science of spirit — that it sets out to reveal what in normal life is generally hidden in the unconscious of the human soul. For the science of spirit brings nothing new to light and does not invent it, but the eternal core of the human being goes through — to use yesterday's expression — a spiritual digestion, just as the physical body has a material digestion — this exists in every human being. The scientist of spirit only brings to light what functions and weaves within every human being. It is his task to bring to consciousness what otherwise remains unconscious. All he talks about is nothing other than the foundation out of which everyone speaks and thinks and acts. Only it so happens that the sphere of the spirit is either subconscious or superconscious — i.e. unconscious — for our normal consciousness.
Now, seen from the viewpoint of our normal soul life, something iridescent and vacillating enters into the sphere of this soul life. What is meant here belongs to the border areas which I have spoken about. Everyone is familiar with this border area which appears so ordinary and which yet is so mysterious: the remarkable sphere of our dream life. This dream life with its pictures that enters into our ordinary soul life, gives the investigator quite different problems from the person who just lets it pass him by, or at the most approaches it with a few superstitious ideas.
A lot could be said just to describe some of the more outward characteristics of our dream life, but here I only want to give a sketch of this dream life as seen by the science of spirit by calling special attention to a few of its characteristic properties — those properties which will serve to enable us to come to know the nature of it.
Presumably everyone knows — and many philosophical approaches to dreams have recognized this — that many of our dreams are stimulated by a sense impression. The world of dreams that we experience is very much connected with the world of our unconscious sleep. When a person is deep in unconscious sleep he is completely cut off from his environment, both by his senses and his limbs. If we are really in unconscious sleep there is nothing in the room, whatever may be there, that can affect our senses. We cannot think about anything that is around us, and in really dreamless sleep we are not able to do anything either. We can establish no relationship at all to our environment — in a sense we are isolated from what surrounds us. — What is characteristic of our dreams is that we really remain in a dreaming state in this isolation and even if the isolation appears to be broken by a sense impression, it is really only in appearance. What are such dreams? Everyone knows them. Someone dreams, for instance, about horses trotting by; he wakes up, and after waking knows exactly where the sound has come from — the ticking of a watch that he had put down nearby. He had heard this ticking because of a particularly sensitive functioning of his ears which must have started at that moment. But now what goes through the mind, the perception, does not work in the normal way as it would in the outer world, but in a dramatized form. Therefore we do not establish a relationship with our environment through our senses, but remain in an isolation which sleep has brought about, and what affects the senses is transformed in the soul. We dream, for example, of a red hot stove, we hear it roaring. — The beat of our heart has become stronger, and becomes the symbol in us of the roaring hot stove. We even have the same relationship to our body as we have in dreamless sleep; the soul simply transforms the impression that comes from the body. Thus we maintain the same relationship with our body when dreaming which we have in dreamless sleep — isolated even from our own body.
We all know that we go on whole journeys in dreams, journeys we could never undertake in real life, journeys where we fly with wings. But at the same time we know that all this does not change our relationship to the outer world, as it would do in real life. Even regarding what we experience as a relationship of our being to an environment in our dreams, nothing changes our relationship to the outer world.
So we can say that what is characteristic of dreams is that in an important respect they do not alter the relationship the human being has to his environment and to himself by virtue of his spirit-soul-body constitution operating through his senses, movements and his own physical body. This also distinguishes dreams from all the other unconscious regions I shall characterize today. It also distinguishes them from everything based on a change in the relationship of the human being to his environment. Even ordinary observation bears out the fact that dreams may not be confused with anything abnormal in soul experience, that they are quite normal and healthy, and are not abnormal in the way they appear in normal human soul life.
A peculiarity of dream life that is particularly important for what I am going to say is that the course of our dreams shows that we cease to join the sequence of dream images in a logical way. We are no longer connected to normal logic. We cannot be logical in dreams. There is one objection to this, however. — The scientist of spirit always knows the objections that can be made. Of course, the unfold-ment of some dreams is such that we can say that the pictures are joined together in a logical sequence. But, in fact, it is different, for exact observation reveals that as long as a dream appears logical, it consists only of reminiscences of life, which had a logical sequence before. Whatever has a logical sequence in life can be dreamed again, but it does not become logical in the dream. The logic that is normally present in our soul life is therefore not present in the action of our dreams. Moral feelings and attitudes concerning human actions are also missing. We all know the many things we are capable of doing in dreams. We all know that in dreams we achieve things and ascribe them to ourselves, that we would condemn in ordinary life. Not only does logic come to an end in dreams, but our moral outlook as well. — These are two important characteristics that we must hold on to if we are to investigate the nature of dreams.
It is of course true that much can be said about dream life from the ordinary physical viewpoint, but we do not want to touch upon this today, for a merely outward scientific method of observation cannot get at the real nature of dreams — for the simple reason that there is nothing with which our normal consciousness can compare dream life. Dreams enter into our normal conscious experience as phenomena that cannot be compared with anything else. And if something cannot be compared with anything else, if it is not possible to incorporate it into a particular scheme, if it portrays something individual through its own particular nature, it cannot be studied by an external scientific method of observation. Only from the point of view of the science of spirit is it possible to gain a true picture of dreams and their nature, for the simple reason that by means of the development of the soul, which I have outlined today, the scientist of spirit attains a pictorial or other kind of spiritual experience which, while radically different from dreams, nevertheless in its form, experience, its intensity of experience, is somewhat similar to dreams. We can leave aside for the moment the question of how dreams are related to reality. We do not wish to go into this now. But the scientist of spirit knows that in what he experiences, which at first is pictorial, he stands before a real spiritual world, he experiences a spiritual world. He can therefore look at the world of dreams and describe it from the world he experiences. This is the one thing. By means of this he acquires a view given to him by his actual observation of what dreams really are in the human soul. Seen from the viewpoint of ordinary consciousness, it is not possible to know what dreams are. Dreams rise up in our soul life, surge up like unknown waves out of the depths, but we do not know what it is that is active, that is dreaming in our souls. But now the scientist of spirit, in practicing the activity necessary for spiritual investigation (as described yesterday), experiences another self, the same self, but in another form, the true ego — he experiences the spirit-soul nature of man independently of the bodily nature. However great a horror it may be for many people, it is nevertheless true that spiritual experiences are achieved outside the body. The scientist of spirit therefore knows what it means to be outside the body, and he can now compare this with the world of dreams. In seeing the world of dreams on the one hand, and knowing spiritual experiences on the other, he knows that the same thing that normally dreams in the soul is experienced spiritually when practicing the science of spirit. It is one and the same thing: what dreams and what is active in the science of spirit, only in investigating the spirit we stand before the real region of the spirit, and in dreams — and this is what is important: — What is it that we stand before in dreams? The difference between standing before the reality of the spirit with our own self in the investigation of the spirit, and in our dreams, is that the scientist of spirit has prepared his soul beforehand to enter into the spiritual world, in which he then perceives in the same way that we normally perceive with our eyes and ears in the physical world, and through his investigation he discovers that in sleep the human being leaves the body. But because he lacks the necessary organs to perceive there, his consciousness remains dull and unconscious from the moment of going to sleep to waking up. Now when a human being has fallen asleep, his spirit-soul nature lives. The scientist of spirit can compare what he perceives in the spiritual world with what the unconscious spirit-soul nature experiences from the moment of going to sleep to waking. He experiences the spirit-soul nature unconsciously in the spiritual world, draws himself again into the physical body on waking, and then makes use of the physical body in order to establish a relationship to his environment.
Now it is not sufficient simply to describe what happens to the body between going to sleep and waking, and what sort of organic physical processes take place in it. For significant things also happen to the spirit-soul nature at the same time. The soul is quite different when it awakens and returns to the body from when it leaves the body. And in entering the body once more it can happen — as in ordinary life — that the spirit-soul nature simply submerges into the body and makes use of the body, and having penetrated it like a fast moving arrow it becomes active and uses the body as a means of perception. But it can also happen that the forces, the content that the spirit-soul nature has acquired from the moment of sleeping to awaking, are — if I may use the expression — for a moment too intense to enter into the body. What the soul upon waking has acquired since the moment of going to sleep, does not fit into the configuration of the picture that the body has of the soul, and so what then happens appears to be a reflection of what the soul has experienced unconsciously during sleep. Something like a mirror picture is reflected back upon waking, because upon waking the soul cannot at first be adapted to the body. In this way the soul clothes these quite different kinds of experiences of the spiritual world, which it has gone through during sleep, in pictures borrowed from our memory, from ordinary life, or which are transformed sense or bodily impressions. It is the eternal that dreams in the human being, just as it is the eternal in the human being that investigates the spirit, but it is clothed with the events of everyday life.
Thus we can say that in dreams the eternal in man perceives the temporal. It is the eternal in man that perceives what takes place in time. And in this respect dreams, despite the fact that the content of their pictures, which is taken from temporal life, is nothing special, even for the scientist of spirit, if it is a normal dream, are a real revelation of the unconscious eternal-spirit nature living in man, of the super-sensible. The scientist of spirit is in the position to be able to distinguish between what dreams present in pictures, and what they are really based upon.
I have recently spoken about the various phenomena of human soul life from a different viewpoint in another city — a city where a great deal of work has been done on Psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis deals among other things with the world of dreams. There were some gentlemen present who, as so often happens with the science of spirit, completely misunderstood what I said. In relation to what I said about dreams they thought they were very much more clever. They said: This person and his science of spirit, he speaks about dreams. We psychoanalysts know that dreams only have a symbolical meaning. We know that dreams should only be handled as a matter of symbolism, but he takes dreams to be something real! He is on quite the wrong path. — As I said, they thought they were very clever. But the matter in which they thought themselves clever, in fact, arose only out of their own lack of understanding. For the scientist of spirit does not take the content of dreams to be symbolical or anything else. The scientist of spirit who is accustomed to observing such things knows that what really happens in the soul during sleep can be the same with ten people, but when these ten people relate their dreams, all ten are different. The scientist of spirit knows that although the ten people have dreams, all with a different content, the same or at least very similar spiritual and unconscious experience is the basis for all of them. Moreover, the scientist of spirit would never simply take the content of the dream by itself, whether symbolically or not symbolically, for he knows that the same dream can be clothed in ten, a hundred or a thousand different ways, because the eternal regards the temporal in such a way as to clothe itself with it. The scientist of spirit therefore studies the course of the dream, the way in which tension is released, whether a rise or a fall follows. It is the inner drama, the type of rhythmical sequence, I would even say, the musical nature, that comes to expression in the most varied ways in the pictures of a dream. That is what he studies. Dreams are the witness of real spiritual experience; their content is a garment which clothes the experience. But when one is experienced in such things it is possible to see through the content to what can be experienced. This is the one aspect of the nature of dreams that the science of spirit points to.
The other aspect is the following. When the scientist of spirit progresses and comes to have experiences in the spiritual world, he notices that his dream life changes. Among the many who have already had practical experience with ways of the science of spirit are some who acquire a convincing idea of the science of spirit and feel that it means a lot to them by seeing how their dream life is transformed. They see that what normally happens in dreams is that there is a succession of quite arbitrary images, but then they see how it becomes increasingly full of meaning, and that finally they are able to direct the dream in certain respects. In short, the most varied people entering into the science of spirit notice that the changes which take place in dreams take dreams in the same direction as the first stages of real spiritual knowledge. In fact, it is by means of this transformation of the world of dreams that the scientist of spirit is able to get at the actual nature of dreams. He raises his dreams out of their temporality through what he has become as a scientist of spirit. Dreams then no longer have the tendency to clothe themselves with temporal things.
It is a great moment when the scientist of spirit has progressed sufficiently to dream not only the outer pictures that have symbolical value, but in his dreams to enter into the sphere which normally he would only enter arbitrarily. — It is a great moment when he learns how the spiritual world sends him experiences in his dreams that penetrate like an act of grace into his normal experience, and which really are no longer dreams, although in certain respects they may appear like dreams. Thus the science of spirit shows that dreams flow out of the eternal spirit-soul sphere, but that the human being who has not managed to be conscious of this eternal spirit-soul sphere clothes the events which happen between going to sleep and waking up with his memories, with his impressions of everyday life.
Whether dreams are subconscious or unconscious events, or whether they are grasped by the scientist of spirit, they can be regarded as something healthy and normal. This is more than can be said of the other border areas. It is remarkable that there are philosophers, Eduard von Hartmann among them, who compare dream pictures, the origin of which we have just recognized, with hallucinations and visions. Whereas dream pictures originate in the spirit-soul sphere, and only come into being in coming into contact with the bodily nature, visions and hallucinations are very much connected in their origin with the bodily nature. And whereas dreams in their essential experience flow out of the spirit- soul sphere and the bodily nature only provides the cause of their appearance, the bodily constitution is the cause of everything in the way of hallucinations, visions, somnambulism, mediumism and everything abnormal of this sort that enters human soul life. You can see a characteristic of human experience purely from the viewpoint of the science of spirit, to which the scientific viewpoint can easily be added, when you understand that it all depends upon looking at man as a being with body, soul and spirit, that he has a relationship of the spirit to the body only indirectly through the soul. The soul takes its place in the center. Even when dreaming, a human being cannot simply establish a relationship of his spirit to the body, but only indirectly with the help of the soul. In normal life the soul is an intermediary between the spirit and the body. What happens in the human organism when certain abnormal phenomena in spirit-soul life are produced, is that the normal relationship of the spirit to the body through the soul, where the spirit first works upon the soul and then the soul upon the body, is broken because of temporary or permanent illnesses in the organism, which then blot out the proper functioning of the soul. This elimination is not occasioned by the outer sense organs, but rather by the inner organs. If certain organs are diseased, then the spirit-soul nature cannot get hold of the whole body by means of which it establishes a relationship to the outer world, but it often has to make use of the body without the diseased organs. Then instead of using the soul, the spirit enters into a direct relationship with the body. In a sense, the soul is by-passed. This brings irregularities into the consciousness; the consciousness is broken through. If something spiritual is experienced without being mediated by the soul because a particular organ of the brain or the nervous system or the circulation is diseased, if a spiritual experience is not received so that the soul can use the body in the right way for the experience to be digested properly in the soul, then the spirit has an immediate effect upon the body, and does not work through the mediation of the soul. The immediate experience of the spirit — for it is an experience of the spirit, even if it is such that it penetrates the human constitution in an abnormal and unhealthy way — turns into hallucinations and visions. The science of spirit has nothing to do with this sort of thing.
The aim of the science of spirit is not to break down the relationship existing in normal life between body, soul and spirit, but to make the life of the soul richer, so that the relationship of the spirit to the body is brought about by a rich soul life. A poverty-stricken soul life can come about, however, when by illness a human being is prevented from using his whole body to establish a relationship with his environment. These kinds of experiences — visions and hallucinations — that do not have the same relationship to spiritual life that dreams have, must be regarded from the viewpoint of the science of spirit as being spiritual experiences, but not such as have more value than our ordinary sense perception; in fact, they have less value. For in this kind of irregular spiritual experience like hallucinations, visions, somnambulistic speech and action, mediumism, (which is an artificial kind of somnambulism) the human being is less connected with his environment than he is in his sense perception. This is the important thing. This is what must be realized.
In order not only to perceive his environment but also to arrive at a reasonable and logical understanding of it, a human being needs what one calls an ability to make judgments about the world, and for this he needs the use of the whole body. If the body is formed abnormally, he cannot form a sensible judgment about what is presented to him spiritually. Whereas the human being, when awake, can grasp with reason what he experiences in dreams, he is not in a position to transform what he experiences in hallucinations and visions into the normal experience of his waking condition, and to understand it.
Now the significant thing is that when the body, viewed outwardly, reveals such abnormalities, there are apparently spiritual experiences — this the scientist of spirit admits — only they should not be induced. If they appear naturally, they are the evidence of disease; if they are induced artificially, they lead to disease. Even good and important scientists go astray in these things which are, after all, phenomena of life itself, when they investigate them in an external way in the laboratory, and seek to explain them according to formulas of the scientific method. I would like to cite an instance, which I have mentioned before, because it is a typical example of how much scientists long to penetrate into what they call the super-sensible sphere but at the same time do not want to approach the science of spirit, preferring to stick to their own normal scientific methods. I am not discussing this case because I wish to take a stand on its truth or untruth, but only to show how an irreproachable and outstanding scientist of the present time acts in relation to the sphere of the spirit and super-sensible.
It is the case which Sir Oliver Lodge describes at considerable length in a long book, and which has aroused so much attention for such things do not often reach us from the front-line of battle. The events are as follows. The son of the famous scientist was at the battle-front in France. The father received a letter in London written from America, informing him that a medium has said that something important and decisive was about to happen to his son, but that the soul of a deceased friend of Oliver Lodge would take the son under his wing at this decisive moment. — Naturally this is a message that can be taken in various ways. All sorts of things could have happened and, outwardly at least, the message could have been true. The son could have been in danger of his life and have been saved and the writer could have said — Of course, Myers, the soul of the friend, stood by the son and so he was not killed. But now the son was killed. So the argument then was that the soul of the son had passed over and that his soul was helped on the other side by the friend who had already been there for many years. Whatever had happened it would have been possible to interpret it in the light of the message, because the latter was so vague. — Sir Oliver Lodge, however, is a person who describes the events from a conscientious and strictly scientific viewpoint, so that the case can be understood by anyone on the one hand working conscientiously according to scientific method, and on the other knowing what conclusions can be drawn. It is therefore quite possible to glean information from the book about what really happened.
Now after Sir Oliver Lodge had lost his son, various mediums were sent to him. — In the case of a famous person there are always ways and means of sending mediums and somnambulists to him. Sir Oliver Lodge only wanted to go into this conscientiously, observing the utmost care imaginable. He then describes how the mediums bring messages, either in speech or writing, which purport to originate from the son. There is a lot in this that makes no particular impression upon the reader, as is so often the case with spiritualists, but one thing did make a deep impression on Sir Oliver Lodge. Even the skeptical journalists in the widest circles were impressed. And this is the crucial experiment that Sir Oliver Lodge carried out. It is the following: The medium said: A message is now coming from the deceased son; Myers soul is also present. Both make themselves known. But the son indicates that there is a photograph which was taken at the battle-front in France, shortly before he was killed. He is in the photograph with a number of his friends. The picture was taken several times. In one picture the son rests his hand upon the shoulder of a friend, in another his position is different, and so on. Good! The pictures were described exactly. But they were not there. No one knew about them, no one could know about them, neither the medium nor anyone else. It appeared at first to be nothing but a fraud. But the important thing is that after, I believe, two weeks a letter arrived with the photographs, which had still been in France when the medium had spoken. The letter arrived two weeks later in London and it was possible to convince oneself that the pictures tallied exactly with the description. The photographs were there — a crucial experiment.
Of course this was sufficient to convince Sir Oliver Lodge's and many other people's scientific conscientiousness. One can understand it. But as a scientist of spirit one approaches the matter from quite different viewpoints. Just because Sir Oliver Lodge has described it all so exactly, we can discover the true facts of the case. If we are only a little familiar with the relevant literature we can only be surprised that such a person as Sir Oliver Lodge does not compare such a case, which, however odd it may be, can always be convincing if obvious points are not always rejected, with the countless cases which are known with somnambulists as — if I may use the expression — an infection of the sense organs with judgments of the understanding.
Who has not heard of a case, if he is familiar with literature, of someone who has a vision having the impression — in three weeks' time when I am riding I shall fall from my horse. He sees the visionary picture exactly before him. He even tries to avoid it, but this only helps it on. Such things can be found frequently in literature. They are called up by disturbances due to disease, when the body is not fully under control, so that what remains unconscious in a normal organism rises up in a refined form into the consciousness enabling a person to have long-distance view into space or time of things that belong to human culture.
Now upon reading through Sir Oliver Lodge's book it is clear that what the somnambulistic medium saw was nothing other than such a long-distance view in time. The photographs arrived two weeks later. The medium foresaw the photographs just as the other person foresaw his falling off a horse. This has absolutely nothing to do with a revelation from the super-sensible world, but is only a refined perception of what is already present in the sense world.
In such matters we must be sure of distinguishing where the spirit has an immediate effect on the body. This is not something that leads us into the super-sensible. It is just because the science of spirit sets out to lead the human being into the true super-sensible world that it has to stress the necessity of understanding the nature of abnormal cases, in which a refined life of the senses experiences something which is only a message from the ordinary physical world, only that it is experienced in an abnormal way. I could say much about what comes to light by means of this kind of intensification of the senses, and which is based upon something diseased in the human being. What characterizes this second sphere of the unconscious is a predominance of the animal functions over the soul functions. The spiritual, it is true, is involved, but what Sir Oliver Lodge wanted, — insight into the super-sensible world, — could never come to pass in this way.
If we wish to form a bridge between someone who is here and someone in the super-sensible world as a so-called dead person, we have to do it with the methods of the science of spirit. We have to develop our own souls to find the way and not do it by allowing a dead person to speak through a somnambulistic medium. It is just such things as these that must be observed. Because the science of spirit keeps its feet firmly on the ground — one can enter the spiritual world not only in a general but also in a concrete way — it has to reject everything that is gained without the development of the soul, that is gained by means of hallucinations, visions and a refined life of the senses, which does not lead beyond the sense world and which says nothing about the eternal. Although the spiritual reaches into the human body, nothing can be found out about the super-sensible except by raising the spirit-soul nature of the human being into the super-sensible world.
For the science of spirit, therefore, the visionary world, the somnambulistic world, the world of artificial somnambulism, the mediumistic world is a subsensible world, not a super-sensible world.
The time is pressing, and I cannot go into this any further, for I must turn to another aspect which can be discussed briefly, and this is the way the super-sensible world appears in human life when we consider real art and artistic enjoyment. The science of spirit can follow the soul of the real artist or the soul of a person receptive to real art. What the soul experiences and later fashions into poetry or other kinds of art is just as much experienced in the spiritual world as what always remains unconscious in sleep or at the most becomes conscious for our ordinary consciousness in the temporal pictures of our dreams. But the poet, or artist generally, is able to bring what he experiences unconsciously in its immediate form while in the spiritual world, into the physical sense world, though still unconsciously, and to clothe it in pictures.
It has been quite rightly pointed out that it is not in its content but in its cause, its origin, its source, that real and genuine art has its roots in what the artistic soul experiences in the super-sensible. Therefore true art, and not naturalism, has been rightly regarded by humanity at all times as a message brought into the sense world from a super-sensible world. The difference between the poet and the seer, the person who perceives the super-sensible consciously, is only that the seer raises his consciousness into the super-sensible world for the time he has experiences in the super-sensible world, and transforms with complete presence of mind what he has experienced there into images and ideas, so that the whole process is conscious. With the poet, the artist, the process remains unconscious. — He certainly lives in the super-sensible, but because it does not come into his consciousness he cannot compare it with the spiritual world. After he has experienced it, he brings it down and clothes it in pictures which then became messages of the super-sensible. The whole process which is conscious in the seer is, in its origin, partly unconscious in the poet and artist. What reaches into the world as revelation of the unconscious is what graces human life with beauty, and we shall appreciate its real value when we are convinced that true art is a messenger from the world of the eternal, that true artistic enjoyment brings the human being near to the super-sensible world, even if unconsciously.
We experience our destiny semi-unconsciously. How do we normally understand our destiny, which accompanies our lives from birth to death? Most people — quite rightly as far as our ordinary consciousness is concerned — regard the individual acts of destiny as something that comes to them from outside; they just come. This may be quite right and is right from the normal viewpoint. But there is another way of looking at it.
Let us assume that as a forty year old person or younger, as one who has a tendency to reflect, we consider what we really are in our souls and compare this with our destiny. And then we ask what we would have been if we had had a different destiny, if different things had happened to us. We would then make a remarkable discovery. We would discover that if we speak of what we really bear in our inner nature, of what we really are, and not about an abstract self, that we are nothing more than the result of our destiny. — If destiny were only a series of things that happen to us, a series of chances or coincidences we should only be the sum total of these chances. What we have suffered, the things that have given us joy, what has come to us in life that we have assimilated and has become part of our ability, wisdom and habits in life, this is what we are — but it arises out of our destiny; we are this destiny ourselves.
The science of spirit also tries to study destiny, and tries to do it in such a way that its observation of it follows the same course as our normal conceptual life, without the human being doing anything about it. I say this to make clear the significant factor I wish to express. Imagine that you remember something that happened a long time ago, that you experienced when you were ten or seventeen. The memory has a particular characteristic. When the experience took place you were present with your whole mind, you did not only experience what you recall as an image, but you were wholly present. Consider how very different it is to remember how you felt and to remember the image of the experience. The feeling, the condition of soul, cannot be brought back. The memory-image can recall a kind of feeling, but pain that you experienced twenty years ago cannot be recalled. The image or idea can be recalled, but not the condition of soul, the pain. And it is just the same with joy.
In our normal memory of life our experiences are incorporated into the memory, but the feelings are not taken in and the image alone remains. We can therefore experience again later in images what we have experienced earlier. But now, what the human being does of his own volition in life in separating the feelings off from what is incorporated into the memory, can also be carried out in relation to the experiences of our destiny. In describing it, it appears easy, almost trivial. Should it be undertaken, then it belongs to the kind of preparation of the soul that I have been describing yesterday and today, and it consists in stripping of feelings all the things that come to us as acts of destiny. What is so characteristic of ordinary life is that we find some things in our destiny sympathetic, others not; that we willingly take to some things, but wish to reject others. Imagine that we would succeed in getting rid of this so that we could look at our own destinies as if they had not affected us, as if we were describing the destiny of someone else, or as if we could feel someone else's destiny as our own.
Let us get rid of it all for the moment — and only for this one moment, or we would become unfit to live properly — and consider our destiny! We have to look at destiny in such a way that everything connected with the feelings plays no part, as if we stood outside our destiny. Then, like a thought rising up, giving back to us in our individual personal lives an experience out of the past, our destiny, when looked at in the right way, stripped of its personal, subjective character, will of necessity and with the utmost conviction be seen as the expression of earlier experiences in life, which we have gone through and which are connected with the whole life of the human being and are the expression of the fact that we live through repeated lives on earth and lives which are spent between death and a new birth.
By means of this true view of destiny and of several other things, we can perceive how what we experience over the years as entering into our real and personal experience of our destiny, what is derived as a germinal force from earlier lives on earth and becomes a seed for future lives, — how all this has an effect upon our lives. What the science of spirit has to say about repeated lives on earth is not something made up by a fanatical mind, but is a result of conscientious observation of life itself, a different observation of life from what is usual, because it raises what enters semi- unconsciously into our lives and is revealed as our destiny — thus also a revelation of the unconscious, the unconscious raised into the consciousness.
Unfortunately I have only been able to describe to you a few aspects of the world which remains unconscious to our normal consciousness, and to show how the science of spirit approaches such things. I have only been able to give an outline. But it is just a consideration of the border areas that shows how the science of spirit is in a position to point out the region of the eternal, in showing how the spiritual is revealed in ordinary life in dreams in both a normal and abnormal way, and in showing just from its particular viewpoint how the unconscious is revealed in human experience. In studying the border areas in this way it becomes clear for the science of spirit that the human being is certainly able to reach into the sphere of the super-sensible when he goes beyond the normal limits of his senses, that he can penetrate from the transitory to the intransitory, that he can establish a relationship to the eternal spiritual world through his own spiritual nature so that his spirit-soul nature, his eternal nature, can feel in harmony with the spirit of the whole world.
In describing such things as these one notices that the science of spirit can only be taken in the way I mentioned yesterday — that whereas it can appear in the world today because of the particular configuration of present day spiritual and cultural life, its content is true for all times — just as the Copernican outlook had to appear out of a particular configuration at a certain time. But there is, nevertheless, a difference between the nature of what appears in ordinary science and what appears in the science of spirit. Today for the first time the science of spirit is expressed in clear and well-defined concepts and ideas. But it has always been divined and desired in both universal and quite definite forms by those who have undertaken a serious study of the great mysteries of existence. One feels as a scientist of spirit, therefore, at one with those who throughout the history of humanity have been able and have wanted to give something to humanity.
Of all the great number of personalities who could be mentioned here, I will choose only one. I do not do this to prove what I have said, for I know quite well that in citing Goethe the objection can be rightly made that it is always possible to quote the opposite from his writings, to cite passages where the opposite view is proved. But this is not the point. A person like myself who has devoted more than thirty years not only to the content of Goethe's outlook, but also to the way in which Goethe approached the world, can only sum up what he wanted to say in such a discourse as today's in a few words which express a kind of intellectual joy in finding again what has only now been revealed by conscientious investigation in a tremendous presentiment of a human being, a presentiment which must have appeared before him when he wrote:
“If the healthy nature of the human being functions as a complete whole, if he feels his existence in the world as belonging to a great, beautiful, worthy and valuable whole, if this feeling of harmony gives him a pure and true joy, then the universe, if it could feel itself, would shout for joy because it would feel it had reached its goal, and it would be amazed at the culmination of its own evolution and being.”
I believe that in expressing the harmonious accord between the inner being of man and the universe, Goethe wanted to say what the science of spirit sets out to formulate in clear, well-defined scientific terms — that man can experience in his inner being in various ways how his spirit-eternal nature exists in relation to the spirit-eternal nature of the outer world, and that the great harmony between the human individuality and the universe is actually present in the human soul. — For what makes the science of spirit into an absolute certainty? It is that the human being can take hold of his eternal nature by approaching the spirit of the world in all sincerity and truth as a spiritual being, the eternal spirit of the human being can take hold of the eternal spirit of the world.