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|GA 130. Esoteric Christianity and the Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz — Rosicrucian Christianity II|
|The aura that was a mixture of colours before the experiment began, being full of instincts and desires to which the person in question had perhaps succumbed, became single-hued as a result of the experiment. First of all, during the experiment with salt formation, it became the colour of copper — pure, divine thoughts — then, in the experiment with a solution, the colour of silver — divine love — and finally, with combustion, the colour of gold — divine sacrifice. And then the alchemists said they had made subjective copper, subjective silver and subjective gold out of the aura.|
|GA 130. Esoteric Christianity and the Mission of Christian Rosenkreutz — Rosicrucian Christianity II|
My task today will be to tell you something about the work of Christian Rosenkreutz. This work began in the thirteenth century, is still going on today, and will continue right into eternity. The work began, of course, with what I told you yesterday of the initiation of Christian Rosenkreutz, and all that took place between the council of the twelve and the thirteenth. When Christian Rosenkreutz was born again in the fourteenth century, in an incarnation lasting more than a hundred years, his main task was instructing the pupils of the twelve. At that time hardly anyone else came to know Christian Rosenkreutz apart from these twelve. This is not to be understood as if Christian Rosenkreutz did not meet other people, but only that the other people did not recognise him for what he was. Fundamentally this has remained the same until today. However, the etheric body of Christian Rosenkreutz has been constantly active in the circle of his pupils, its forces working in ever growing circles, until today many people are actually able to be influenced by the forces of his etheric body.
Christian Rosenkreutz selects those whom he wants to have as his pupils in a remarkable way. The one chosen has to pay attention to a certain kind of event, or several events in his life of the following kind: Christian Rosenkreutz chooses people so that, for instance, someone comes to a decisive turning-point, a karmic crisis in his life. Let us assume that a man is about to commit an action that would lead him to his death. These things can be very different one from the other. The man goes along a path which, without noticing it, can lead him into great danger. It leads to the edge of a precipice, perhaps. Then the man, now only a step or two from the precipice perhaps, hears a voice saying ‘Stop!’ — so that he has to stop without knowing why. There could be a thousand similar situations. I should say, of course, that this is only the external sign of being outwardly qualified for a spiritual calling. To be inwardly qualified, the chosen person has to have an interest in something spiritual, theosophy or some other Spiritual Science. The external event I have described is a fact of the physical world, though it does not come by means of a human voice. The event always occurs in such a way that the person concerned knows quite clearly that the voice comes from the spiritual world. He may at first imagine that the voice has come from a human being who is hidden somewhere, but when the pupil is mature enough he discovers that it was not a physical person intervening in his life. In short, this event convinces the pupil that there are messages from the spiritual world. Such events can occur once or many times in life. We have to understand what effect this has on the soul of the pupil. The pupil tells himself: I have received another life through grace; the first one was forfeited. This new life given him through grace sheds light on the whole of the pupil's further life. He has this definite feeling which can be described in this way: without this rosicrucian experience of mine I should have died. My subsequent life would not have had the same value but for this event.
It can happen, of course, that even though a man has already experienced this once or even several times he does not come to theosophy or Spiritual Science at once. Later on, however, the memory of the event can come back. Many of you here can examine the past course of your lives and you will find that similar occurrences have happened to you. We give too little attention to such things today. We ought altogether to realise how very important occurrences we pass by without noticing them. This is an indication of the way the more advanced pupils of rosicrucianism are called.
This kind of occurrence will either pass a person by without being noticed at all, in which case the impression is blotted out and he attaches no importance to it; or, assuming the person to be attentive, he will appreciate its significance, and he will then perhaps rise to the thought: you were actually facing a crisis then, a karmic crisis; your life should actually have ended at that moment. You had forfeited your life, and you were only saved by something resembling chance. Since that hour a second life has been grafted onto the first, as it were. You must look on this life as a gift and live it accordingly.
When such an event awakens in a person the inner disposition to look at his life from that time onwards as a gift, nowadays this makes him a follower of Christian Rosenkreutz. For that is his way of calling these souls to him. And whoever can recall having had such an experience can tell himself: Christian Rosenkreutz has given me a sign from the spiritual world that I belong to his stream. Christian Rosenkreutz has added the possibility of such an experience to my karma. That is the way in which Christian Rosenkreutz makes his choice of pupils. He chooses his community like this. Whoever experiences this consciously, knows: a path has been shown me, and I must follow it and see how far I can use my forces to serve rosicrucianism. Those who have not understood the sign, however, will do so at a later time, for whoever has received the sign will not be free of it again.
That a man can have an experience of the kind described is due to his having met Christian Rosenkreutz in the spiritual world between his last death and his last birth. Christian Rosenkreutz chose us then, and he put an impulse of will into us that now leads us to such experiences. This is the way in which spiritual connections are brought about.
To go further, let us discuss the difference between Christian Rosenkreutz's teaching in earlier times and in later times. This teaching used to be more in the nature of natural science, whereas today it is more like Spiritual Science. In earlier times, for instance, they considered natural processes and called this science alchemy, and when the processes took place beyond the earth they called it astrology. Today we consider things from a more spiritual aspect. If we consider, for instance, the successive post-Atlantean cultural epochs, the culture of ancient India, ancient Persia, the Egyptian-Chaldaean-Assyrian-Babylonian culture and the Greco-Roman culture, we learn about the nature of the development of the human soul. The rosicrucians of the Middle Ages studied natural processes, regarding them as the earth processes of nature. They distinguished, for instance, three different natural processes which they regarded as the three great processes of nature.
The first important process is the salt process. Everything in nature that can form a deposit of hard substance out of a solution was called salt by the rosicrucian of the Middle Ages. When the medieval rosicrucian saw this salt formation, however, his conception of it was entirely different from that of modern man. For if he wanted to feel he had understood it, the witnessing of such a process had to work like a prayer in his soul. Therefore the medieval rosicrucian tried to make clear to himself what would have to happen in his own soul if the formation of salt were to take place there too. He arrived at the thought: human nature is perpetually destroying itself through instincts and passions. Our life would be nothing but a decomposition, a process of putrefaction, if we only followed our instincts and passions. And if man really wants to protect himself against this process of putrefaction, then he must constantly devote himself to noble thoughts that turn him towards the spirit. It was a matter of bringing his thoughts to a higher level of development. The medieval rosicrucian knew that if he did not combat his passions in one incarnation he would be born with a predisposition for illness in the next one, but that if he purified his passions he would enter life in the next incarnation with a predisposition for health. The process of overcoming through spirituality the forces that lead to decay is microcosmic salt formation. So we can understand how a natural process like this occasioned the most reverent prayer. When observing salt formation the medieval rosicrucians told themselves, with a feeling of deepest piety: divine spiritual powers have been working in this for thousands of years in the same way as noble thoughts work in me. I am praying to the thoughts of the gods, the thoughts of divine spiritual beings that are behind the maya of nature. The medieval rosicrucian knew this, and he said to himself: when I let nature stimulate me to develop feelings like this, I make myself like the macrocosm. If I observe this process in an external way only, I cut myself off from the gods, I fall away from the macrocosm. These were the feelings of the medieval theosophist or rosicrucian.
The process of dissolution gave a different experience: it was a different natural process that could also lead the medieval rosicrucian to prayer. Everything that can dissolve something else was called by the medieval rosicrucian quicksilver or mercury. Now he asked again: what is the corresponding quality in the human soul? What quality works in the soul in the same way in which quicksilver or mercury works outside in nature? The medieval rosicrucian knew that all the forms of love in the soul are what correspond to mercury. He distinguished between lower and higher processes of dissolution, just as there are lower and higher forms of love. And thus the witnessing of the dissolution process again became a pious prayer, and the medieval theosophist said to himself: God's love has been at work out there for thousands of years in the same way as love works in me.
The third important natural process for the medieval theosophist was combustion, that takes place when material substance is consumed by flames. And again the medieval rosicrucian sought the inner process corresponding to this combustion. This inner soul process he saw to be ardent devotion to the deity. And everything that can go up in flames he called sulphur. In the stages of development of the earth he beheld a gradual process of purification similar to a combustion or sulphur process. Just as he knew that the earth will at some time be purified by fire, he also saw a combustion process in fervent devotion to the deity. In the earth processes he beheld the work of those gods who look up to mightier gods above them. And permeated with great piety and deeply religious feelings at the spectacle of the process of combustion, he told himself: gods are now making a sacrifice to the gods above them. And then when the medieval theosophist produced the combustion process in the laboratory himself, he felt: I am doing the same as the gods do when they sacrifice themselves to higher gods. He only considered himself worthy to carry out such a process of combustion in his laboratory when he felt himself filled with the mood of sacrifice, when he himself was filled with the desire to devote himself in sacrifice to the gods. The power of the flame filled the medieval theosophist with lofty and deeply religious feelings, and he told himself: when I see flames outside in the macrocosm I am seeing the thoughts and the love of the gods, and the gods' willingness to sacrifice.
The medieval rosicrucian produced these processes himself in his laboratory and then he entered into contemplation of these salt formations, solutions and processes of combustion, letting himself at the same time be filled with deeply religious feelings in which he became aware of his connection with all the forces of the macrocosm. These soul processes called forth in him divine thoughts, divine love and divine sacrifice. And then the medieval rosicrucian discovered that when he produced a salt process, noble, purifying thoughts arose in him. With a solution process love was stimulated in him, he was inspired by divine love, and with a combustion process the desire to make a sacrifice was kindled in him, it urged him to sacrifice himself on the altar of the world.
These were the experiences of one who did these experiments. And if you had attended these experiments yourself in clairvoyant vision, you would have perceived a change in the aura of the person carrying them out. The aura that was a mixture of colours before the experiment began, being full of instincts and desires to which the person in question had perhaps succumbed, became single-hued as a result of the experiment. First of all, during the experiment with salt formation, it became the colour of copper — pure, divine thoughts — then, in the experiment with a solution, the colour of silver — divine love — and finally, with combustion, the colour of gold — divine sacrifice. And then the alchemists said they had made subjective copper, subjective silver and subjective gold out of the aura. And the outcome was that the person who had undergone this, and had really experienced such an experiment inwardly, was completely permeated by divine love. Such was the way these medieval theosophists became permeated with purity, love and the will to sacrifice, and by means of this sacrificial service they prepared themselves for a certain clairvoyance. This is how the medieval theosophist could see behind maya into the way spiritual beings helped things to come into being and pass away again. And this enabled him to realise which forces of aspiration in men's souls are helpful and which are not. He became acquainted with our own forces of growth and decay. The medieval theosophist Heinrich Khunrath, in a moment of enlightenment, called this process the law of growth and decay.
Through observing nature the medieval theosophist learnt the law of ascending and descending evolution. The science he acquired from this he expressed in certain signs, imaginative pictures and figures. It was a kind of imaginative knowledge. One of the outcomes of this was The Secret Symbols of the Rosicrucians which was described yesterday.
This is the way the best alchemists worked from the fourteenth to the eighteenth and until the beginning of the nineteenth century. About this truly moral, ethical, intellectual work nothing has been printed. What has been printed about alchemy concerns purely external experiments only, and was only written by those men who performed alchemy as an end in itself. The false alchemist wanted to create substance. When he experimented with the burning of substances he saw the material results as the only thing gained, whereas the genuine alchemist attached no importance to these material results. For him it all depended on the inner soul experiences he had whilst the substance was forming, the thoughts and experiences within him. Therefore there was a strict rule that the medieval theosophist who produced gold and silver from his experiments was never allowed to profit from it himself. He was only allowed to give away the metals thus produced. Modern man no longer has the correct conception of these experiments. He has no idea what the experimenter could experience. The medieval theosophist was able to experience whole dramas of the soul in his laboratory when, for example, antimony was extracted; the experimenters saw significant moral forces at work in these processes.
If these things had not taken place at that time, we would not be able to practise rosicrucianism in the Spiritual Scientific way today. What the medieval rosicrucian experienced when he beheld the processes of nature is a holy natural science. The mood of spiritual sacrifice, the tremendous joys, the great natural events, including pain and sadness, as well as the events that uplifted him and made him happy, all these experiences that he had during the experiment he performed, worked on him in a liberating and redeeming way. All that was planted into him then, however, is now hidden in the innermost depths of man.
How shall we rediscover these hidden forces that used to lead to clairvoyance? We shall find them by studying Spiritual Science and by devoting ourselves deeply to the inner life of the soul in serious meditation and concentration. By means of inner development of this kind, work with nature will gradually become a sacrificial rite again. For this to come about human beings must go through what we now call Spiritual Science. Human beings in their thousands must devote themselves to Spiritual Science; they must cultivate an inner life, so that in the future the spiritual reality behind nature will be perceptible again, and we learn to understand again the spirit behind maya. Then, in the future, although it will only happen to a small number of people to begin with, they will be able to experience Paul's vision on the road to Damascus and to perceive the etheric Christ, Who will come among men in super-sensible form. But before this happens man will have to return to a spiritual view of nature.
If we did not know the whole significance of rosicrucianism we could believe that humanity was still at the same stage as it was two thousand years ago. Until man has gone through this process, which is only possible by means of Spiritual Science, he will not come to spiritual vision. There are many good and pious people who are theosophists at heart, although they are not followers of Spiritual Science.
Through the event of the baptism in Jordan, when the Christ descended into the body of Jesus of Nazareth, and through the Mystery of Golgotha, mankind has become capable of beholding and recognising the Christ later in the etheric body — since 1930 onwards. Christ has only walked the earth once in a physical body, and we should be able to understand this. ‘The second coming of Christ’ means seeing Christ supersensibly in the etheric. Therefore everyone who wants to tread the right path of development must work to acquire the capacity to see with spiritual eyes. It would not signify human progress for Christ to appear again in a physical body. His next appearance will be a revelation in the etheric body.
What was given in the different religious creeds has been gathered into one whole by Christian Rosenkreutz and the council of the twelve. This means that everything that the separate religions had to give and all that their followers strove and longed for will be found in the Christ Impulse. Development during the next three thousand years will consist in this: the establishing and furthering of an understanding of the Christ Impulse. From the twentieth century onwards all the religions will be reconciled in the mystery of rosicrucianism. And in the course of the next three thousand years this will become possible because it will no longer be necessary to teach from documents, for through the beholding of Christ human beings will themselves learn to understand the experience Paul had on the way to Damascus. Mankind itself will pass through the experience of Paul.
The Maitreya Buddha will appear five thousand years after Buddha was enlightened under the bodhi tree, that is, about three thousand years from now. He will be the successor of Gautama Buddha. Among true occultists this is no longer in doubt. Occultists of both the West and the East are in agreement about it. So two things are beyond question:
Firstly, that the Christ could appear only once in a physical body; secondly that He will appear in the twentieth century in etheric form. Great individualities will certainly appear in the twentieth century, like the Bodhisattva, the successor of Gautama Buddha, who will become the Maitreya Buddha in about three thousand years. But no true occultist will give to any human being physically incarnated in the twentieth century the name of Christ, and no real occultist will expect the Christ in the physical body in the twentieth century. Every genuine occultist would find such a statement erroneous. The Bodhisattva, however, will especially point to the Christ.
Secondly, it will be three thousand years before the Bodhisattva who appeared in Jeshu ben Pandira appears as the Maitreya Buddha. The real occultists of India, in particular, would be horrified if we were to maintain that the Maitreya Buddha could appear before then. There could well be the kind of occultists in India, of course, who are not real occultists and who, for reasons of their own, speak of a Maitreya Buddha already in incarnation. Proper devotion to rosicrucian theosophy and to Christian Rosenkreutz can protect anyone from falling into these errors.
All these things are stated in rosicrucianism in such a way that they can be tested by reason. Healthy human understanding can test all these things. Do not believe anything on my authority, but just take what I say as an indication and then test it for yourselves. I am not perturbed, for the more you examine theosophy or Spiritual Science the more sensible you will find it. The less you take on authority, the more understanding you will have for Christian Rosenkreutz. We know Christian Rosenkreutz best when we enter properly into his individuality and become conscious that the spirit of Christian Rosenkreutz lives on and on. And the nearer we approach his great spirit the stronger we shall become. We can hope for a great deal of strength and help from the etheric body of this great leader, who will always be there, if we ask him to help us.
We will also be able to understand the strange event of Christian Rosenkreutz falling ill if we absorb ourselves properly in the work of Spiritual Science. In the thirteenth century this individuality lived in a physical body that grew weak to the point of transparency, so that for several days he lay as though dead, and during this time he received from the twelve their wisdom and he also experienced the event of Damascus.
May the spirit of true rosicrucianism be with you and inspire you in this group, then the mighty etheric body of Christian Rosenkreutz will be all the more active here.
|GA 232. Mystery Centres — Lecture XI|
|When the pupil had been made sufficiently acquainted with the secrets of the moon, revealed to him by the plants growing out of the earth, he was led on further to the metals of the earth, to the principal metals, Lead, Tin, Iron, Gold, Copper, Quicksilver, Silver, as I explained to you in the last lecture in a different connection. When he had developed such an intensified life of feeling as I have indicated, he then made himself acquainted with the metals, and experienced what they so mysteriously relate; and through the metals he experienced the secrets of the entire planetary system. For lead told him about Saturn, tin about Jupiter, iron about Mars, gold about the Sun, copper about Venus, quicksilver about Mercury, and again silver about the Moon, in so far as she does not stand in close relationship with the earth, but belongs to the whole cosmos. Just as the blossoms revealed their secret to the pupil, so now he learned the metallic secret.|
|GA 232. Mystery Centres — Lecture XI|
From what I gave out in my lecture yesterday it may perhaps be comprehensible to you that I should say of Aristotle, who really gathered together the whole knowledge, the sum total of the cognition of the ancients in the fourth pre-Christian century, that in spite of the fact that he only sent out a kind of system of logic into central Europe, yet he himself stood firmly based on the Greek Mysteries, and indeed on all the Mysteries of that time. Indeed we must even say that anyone who can follow such things as world-views and philosophies not merely with the intellect and the understanding, but is able to absorb them into his feeling, will be able to sense, even in the logical presentations of Aristotle, that a certain inner connection with the secrets of nature underlies the Aristotelian logic and philosophy. It was the fate of Aristotle then, if I might express it in this way, his own personal path of evolution to have to pour out this logical system into Europe. It may even be said, by way of illustrating the peculiar fact underlying these remarks, that it would be inconceivable to think of Plato as the teacher of Alexander, whereas, as we know, Aristotle was able to fulfil that task and to become the teacher of Alexander.
Plato only carried on in his own way the ancient Mysteries, though in a more ideal form. But just through the ideas that filled him he became that personality whose teaching led men away from the secrets of nature, whereas Aristotle continually drew them back to these; and this you can gather from the short representations I give in my book, The Riddles of Philosophy. We only learn to know the fun case when we can form an idea of the content of that seven years' instruction which Aristotle gave to his pupil Alexander the Great. I will try and compress into a short space the content of this instruction, drawn as it was from those ancient Mysteries.
Now when a man spoke in those ancient times in an authentic way about nature, people did not understand by the word “nature” that which our modern natural scientists understand; i.e., the merely earthly phenomena from which all the extra-earthly phenomena, the entire phenomena of the heavens, are excluded; but at that time they incorporated the human being himself into the world of nature in the very widest sense of the words. This could be done, because, at that time men sought the spirit in nature; it would not have occurred to them in those ancient times to regard man as being devoid of soul and spirit.
This Mystery-instruction taught men to regard nature in such a way as expanded far out into the Cosmos, in so far as the Cosmos was accessible to man through his relationship and affinity with it. All instructions, all teaching which was taken seriously in those ancient times was not an appeal to the human intellect or to the outer powers of observation of man. What we today regard as knowledge played no important role in those days, even in the time of Aristotle. If the historians of the different sciences today wish to write a history of their own scientific thinking they should really begin with Copernicus or Galileo, because when they go back beyond this in time what they have to say is not really adequate; and if they then approach Greek knowledge, what they have to give is purest phantasy. What they do is simply, in a sense, to prolong the present back into the earliest times; but it is no reality that they describe. Even at the time of Aristotle, even by Aristotle himself, such teachings as were taken earnestly were so given that they were connected with a complete transformation of human nature; with an appeal, not only to human thought and observation, but to the whole of human life. Man was to become a different being through knowledge, a being quite different from what he was without it. The essential point in these Mysteries was that man, through the knowledge he acquired therein, was to become a quite different being from what he was before. Actually, in the time of Aristotle the attempt was made to bring about this transformation of man's nature by causing to work upon his soul two polarically opposite feelings. The pupil who sought instruction and who was gradually to acquire this knowledge was exhorted to feel himself intensely as man in his relation to nature around him. The pupil was told: “See how thou breathest the air which in summer is warm and in winter is cold. Thou breathest the air in such a way that in winter thou canst perceive thine own breath in the form of vapour or mist; but in summer when thou breathest the warm air, it is invisible.”
Such a phenomenon was made the starting-point for instruction. The connection with nature was not made by saying: “Here is a body with this or that temperature. I heat it in a retort and then it undergoes transformation.” No, the starting-point was man himself, and he was made to realize his connection with the process of breathing. Gradually he was led, on the one hand, to realize and feel the warm air. He was told: “Picture to thyself what warm air is. Warm air seeks to rise, to ascend, and thou must feel, when this warm air approaches thee, that something really wants to bear thee out into the wide spaces of the Cosmos. Then, in contrast with this realize cold water in any form. Simply feel it; thou dost not feel at home in this. In the warm air thou canst feel at home in such a way, that this warm air seeks to bear thee up into the wide spaces of the Cosmos; but in the cold water thou feelest strange, not at all at home in it. Thou feelest, when thou withdrawest from cold water, leaving it to have its way outside, that is something which concerns it alone; it then transforms itself into the snow-crystals for example, the snow-flakes which fall on the earth, and thou feelest thyself to be in thy proper place observing them from without. Thou canst really only feel the warm air within thee and wouldst like to be carried upwards by this warm air into the wide spaces of the cosmos; but the cold water thou canst feel only outside thyself, and in order to have relationship with it thou wouldst like simply to observe it in its results, by means of thy senses.”
These were the two polar opposites with which the pupil was confronted. He was taught to feel that the words “outside” and “inside” are simply empty expressions, which really have no meaning; but such phrases as “warm airiness,” “cold wateriness” mean a great deal. These are contrasts through which man can feel himself fitted in to the world with the innermost part of his being. The word “outside” then signifies that which is cold and damp, “inside” that which is of the nature of warm air. Man felt this contrast qualitatively, and felt his relation to the world qualitatively. He spoke no longer of things, but of man himself, and it was said that the warm air leads one to the Gods, to the Divine Beings in the heights, and that the damp and cold leads down to the subterranean demons.
But this journey towards the subterranean demons is at the same time connected with a knowledge of nature; only the disciple had to take with him into these lower regions that which he had discovered and experienced through the warm air in the heights, so that what is below might not injure him.
When, with this inner feeling for the contrast between the warm air and the damp cold, when, armed with this feeling he approaches nature, he could, through the deeper experience of its objects and processes gain a deep insight into the being of the Cosmos. Today the chemist investigates hydrogen and ascribes to that element certain properties which he has discovered. Then he observes cosmic space and sees there something which reveals the same characteristics as hydrogen in the laboratory, so he concludes that hydrogen exists even in the cosmic spaces.
Such an argument would at the time of Aristotle have seemed foolishness, for then one approached things in a different way.
When the inner experience of the pupil had been deepened through that which has just been described he was led to the observation of that which really lives in the plants, as they unfold their blossoms outwardly and strive upwards towards the cosmos. Plant knowledge was that to which the pupil was led next. “Look into the opening corona of the plant, and observe how it radiates towards the wide spaces of the cosmos; realize the impression that this makes upon thee.”
When the pupil with these deepened feelings of which I have just spoken looked at the opening blossoms, there arose in him an inner knowledge, an inner illumination; flowers became to him the announcers of cosmic secrets in the wide spaces of the earth. Flowers spoke to him of the wide cosmic spaces and then, in a penetrating way, though only by means of indications the pupil was led by the teacher to discover within himself the secrets which streamed from the wide spaces of the cosmos into the being of the plant. Thus the pupil was gradually led to answer this question of the master: “What dost thou really perceive when thou gazest into the opening calyx of the flower, into the self-opening blossom, in which the stamens appear and radiate towards thee? What dost thou really perceive there?” And the pupil answered: “These plants tell me that they are compelled by the heavy cold earth to take up their abode upon it, but that, in reality they have not originated in the firm hard earth, they have only been imprisoned in it. In truth, they are beings born of water, and have their real true existence, as beings of water, in a previous condition of the earth.” (I am referring to that condition of the earth described in my Outline of Occult Science as the Old Moon-period.)
The pupil was led to say: “It is really the secrets of the moon which left the earth, and which still preserves something of the pre-earthly Moon condition, which are reflected to me out of the flowers.” For the plants did not say the same thing to the pupil every night. When the moon was in the constellation of Leo flowers said something quite different to what they did when the moon was in that of Virgo or Scorpio. That which the moon experienced as she went through her orbit round the Zodiac, these experiences were related by the flowers on the earth. The flowers on the earth told the secrets of the cosmos outside. In truth, through all this that was revealed to him the pupil said out of the innermost of his heart:
I look into the flowers;
The pupil could feel this because he had previously experienced the effect of chilling water. He had experienced this chilling, and through this experience he had acquired his knowledge of the plants.
When the pupil had been made sufficiently acquainted with the secrets of the moon, revealed to him by the plants growing out of the earth, he was led on further to the metals of the earth, to the principal metals, Lead, Tin, Iron, Gold, Copper, Quicksilver, Silver, as I explained to you in the last lecture in a different connection. When he had developed such an intensified life of feeling as I have indicated, he then made himself acquainted with the metals, and experienced what they so mysteriously relate; and through the metals he experienced the secrets of the entire planetary system. For lead told him about Saturn, tin about Jupiter, iron about Mars, gold about the Sun, copper about Venus, quicksilver about Mercury, and again silver about the Moon, in so far as she does not stand in close relationship with the earth, but belongs to the whole cosmos. Just as the blossoms revealed their secret to the pupil, so now he learned the metallic secret. First he learnt the secret of the plants, secondly that of the metals.
This secret of the metals which was given in the Eleusinian Mysteries, through that mighty planetary globe which, as I described in the last lecture surrounded the male statue, this secret of the metals still formed part of the instruction given, even at the time of Aristotle; and in this secret of the metals there was revealed the secret of the planets. Man's feelings were not then so coarse as they are today. When he approached the metal lead it did not merely appear in its lead-grey colour to the eye, but the lead-grey made a peculiar impression upon the inner eye. In a certain sense the leaden-grey colour of the fresh metal lead extinguished the other colours, and he felt that he participated in this lead-grey metallity. He came into another condition of consciousness and experienced something different from the present. He was filled with a feeling, a mood, as if the whole pre-earthly period of the earth rose before him. It was as if the present were toned down through the lead-grayness. Saturn nature revealed itself.
As regards gold, we know that according to external analogies the ancients saw in gold a representative of the sun. That was in truth not merely an external play of analogy that the sun was regarded as something precious in the heavens and gold as something valuable on earth. Really, nothing is too stupid for the man of today when he wishes to regard the ancients as stupid. When man regarded the metal gold, with its self-contained shining yellow colour, its modest mien and yet proud standing in the world, he actually felt how this is related to the entire blood-circulation of man. He felt in the quality of gold: “Thou art within that, thou feelest thyself as part of that.” Through this feeling he came gradually to comprehend the nature of the sun; he felt the relationship of the quality of gold with that which works from the sun in the blood of man.
Thus he gained a perception of the entire planetary system by means of the different metals, and the pupil, who did not think about these things as intellectually as we do today, conceived the following formula:
I think about the metals;
Actually the metals which are today in the earth came out of the cosmos in an airy form, and only gradually became fluidic during the ancient Moon-period. They came over in airy form when the earth was in the ancient Sun-condition; they attained a fluid form during the Moon-period, and then they became subdued by the earth and reduced to solid form during the earth evolution. That was the second secret which was revealed to the pupil.
The third secret was to rise before the pupil when he learnt to observe how, over the surface of the earth, man and the various peoples differ. One may turn towards Africa, with its peculiar hot climate, and there find human beings who differ externally, even to the colour of their skin, from the men of Greece. One can go over to Asia, and there again find human beings different. The Greeks had a fine feeling for these external differences of man.
One of the most interesting documents which has come down from Aristotle to posterity is his writing on physiognomy; by which however is not to be understood merely the physiognomy of the face, but the physiognomy of the whole man was studied with the intention that thereby one should learn to know the true nature of man; how he has either curly or smooth hair, according to the different climates in which he lives; how not only the colour of the skin but the whole expression of the human being changes according to whether he is born in one climate or another.
Thus, just as one learned to see the reflection of the moon secrets in flowers, and the reflection of the planets in metals, so now one learned to know the real secret of man on earth through this third instruction. The natural science of that time accomplished an extraordinary amount through study of the manifold nature of man and thereby obtained an answer to the question: What was the real intention of the Gods in regard to man's primeval form?
Through the different forms, through the varied physiognomy of man over the whole earth, in the living way it was brought before the disciple, the secret of the Zodiac dawned within him. The Zodiac works on the elements of the earth and its connection with the planetary system and with the moon brings the winds at the appropriate season in one direction or another, brings also warm air to one part of the earth and cold damp to another part, thereby cutting deeply into human life. The natural scientist of those times sought the causes for these things in the influences which came from the Zodiac, influences which, modified by the planets, by the sun and the moon, then streamed on to the earth.
It was of especial interest to the natural scientists of that time to say: Here is a man with black curly hair and with a red countenance, with his nose fashioned in this or that way. He is a, man who indicates the sign of Leo, how Leo pours down its forces, strengthened or weakened by the other planets according to the position they occupy. This is a man who inwardly according to his karma carries in his liver certain characteristics. Such a characteristic in the liver, which, for instance brings about a disposition to melancholy in the life of the soul is brought about because, at a certain point of time Venus is brought into a certain aspect to Juniper, which fact influences the rays of Leo. I look into the special construction of the liver, and in this I see a cosmic determination. I see how man is affected by this cosmic determination. I can extend this to the qualities of the different races upon the earth. I see in what man experiences by reason of his atmospheric environment the secret of the Zodiac.
While the pupil was thus guided, again there arose in his heart a knowledge which he clothed in somewhat the following form:
(Human beings are born of the warmth ether under the influence of the signs of the Zodiac. They are warmth-born.)
So man felt himself in his physiognomy as one born of warmth, only transformed during the Moon-existence, and again transformed during the earth-existence; he acquired the original basis of warmth during the ancient Saturn-time. In the same way he felt the metallity of the earth as born of the sun and the air; flowers and everything of a plant nature as born of the moon and water. He could thus feel these things because of the preparation he had undergone, because he had to some extent grasped them through the feelings stimulated in him for the perception of the elements of warm air and of cold water.
The pupil observed man in such a way that the feeling arose that man works on the elements of warm air intermingled with the elements of coldness and water. He observed man in the time of Aristotle by studying his physiognomy in such a way that he could answer the question: “How much does a man give us of the elements of warmth and air, how much does he take from us of the elements of coldness and water?” In regard to what had been developed in the soul the pupil regarded the human beings around him, and gradually learnt to regard the whole of nature in this way. This was the preparation for what later on poured over from Africa into Spain, and spread into certain regions in Central Europe as the ancient alchemy, the true alchemy — to regard everything in nature, in the cosmos, every flower, every animal, even every cloud, every formation of vapour, sand and stones, sea and river, forest and meadow in the light of the impression they give of these elements of warmth and air or of coldness and damp.
The pupil thus developed in reference to the world of nature a fine power of feeling for four qualities; in experiencing the warm air the feeling for warmth was developed in him, and at the same time a feeling for the element of air and its relation to warmth. Out of the coldness there developed the feeling for the difference between moisture and dryness; and he developed a delicate power of sensing these differences, because through these capacities of feeling he stood with the whole of his being in what the world offered.
From this standpoint, in which the pupil of Aristotle, Alexander the Great was trained, it is quite possible to understand the whole environment in which these two men lived. As Alexander was permeated with what came through such a power of feeling, he perceived the whole Greek nature, as revealed in Macedonia, in the two qualities, the quality of dampness and the quality of air. They evoked his attitude of mind at a given period in his life. He really felt that through the special kind of initiation which he had received at the hands of Aristotle, he understood the basic character of the immediate world which he experienced, but he experienced it only as the half of a whole world. “That can only be half of the world,” he said to himself. “That can only be the half.” You remember that at that time everything pertaining to nature was brought before the disciple in such a way that he really experienced nature. The following instruction could now be added to the study of the purely natural.
Aristotle's pupil Alexander the Great had learnt of his own accord to feel what the climatic influences, what the winds carried from the north-west as the elements of cold and damp, and what the winds carried from the south-west as the elements of warmth and damp, but that, to him, was only one half of a world-feeling. This was amplified in his instruction, and there arose in his own inner being the idea that to this there belonged what drifted over from the north-east, the dry cold, and what drifted over from the south-east, the dry warmth. Thus from the four directions of the wind he had learnt to distinguish the feeling of dryness, of warm dryness, of damp warmth, and of damp cold; and as a true man of that epoch he sought to reconcile these opposites.
Here in Macedonia he experienced only cold dampness or warm dampness. That must be united with the cold dryness and with the fiery dryness; that which drifts over from the north, from Asia must be united with that which drifts over from the south from Asia. From this arose that irresistible urge towards the Asiatic expeditions. By this example you will see that at this epoch of time things were somewhat different from what they were later.
Think of our modern education, of what a prince is taught today. Just think of how a prince is educated and trained for journeys of conquest. Try and imagine what relation exists between the instruction in physics which his teacher gives him and what he experiences on his warlike expeditions. Try and think of the connection between the two. The reports do not as a rule produce anything pertaining to his actions on his journeys of conquest. From such examples you can see very clearly how far removed today is the knowledge which should be brought to man for the development of his inner being, from what man himself is in his external life. At the time to which we are now alluding the endeavour was made to establish a complete unity between the knowledge which inwardly forms and fashions a man and that which he does when he stands in the world and acts.
Ancient history is taught in the schoolroom (today) but at that time the schoolroom was related to the Mysteries, and the Mysteries signified the world. A knowledge of the world was the result of the forces which predominated in the Mysteries. That gave man the impulse to carry over to Asia what was then this natural science. Then in a weakened diluted form it later came across over Spain, through Europe. One can still trace it in what Paracelsus, Jacob Boehme, Gichtel, and various others wrote and taught, culminating in such spirits as Basilius Valentinus and others.
But at first, that which was clothed in mere thought-forms, in mere logic, had to transcend all else, and the rest had to wait.
The time has now come when this other has fulfilled its task of waiting, when it must again be found as the sum total of natural knowledge. Alexander had first to bury these secrets of nature in Asia, for only their corpses were brought over to Europe. But not these corpses have now to be galvanized to life; the primeval living secrets must themselves be found again today. The necessary enthusiasm for this can indeed only come about when a really warm feeling is developed for what once existed at this turning point of time.
One must really develop a living realization of the fact that these conquests, these expeditionary journeys undertaken by Alexander which appeared externally as mere journeys of conquest were undertaken in order to find the other side of the compass in addition to the side which was known; to add the other half to that half of the world which was known. It was absolutely the search of a personal experience, and this personal experience consisted in a certain inner dissatisfaction, a certain inner discomfort which was felt in this environment of cold dampness and warm dampness, and a realisation that other feelings had to complete these.
To what extent this is of great historical significance in the evolution of the entire west, I will explain in the lectures which will be given in the near future, at the meeting of the delegates, concerning the occult basis of the historical life of humanity on the earth.
I. The secrets of the Plants
I gaze at the flowers; they reveal their relationship with the Moon-existence; they are subdued by the earth, for they are water-born.
II. The secret of the Metals
I think about the Metals; they reveal their relationship with the Planets; they are subdued by the earth, for they are air-born.
III. The secret of Man
I experience the secrets of the Animal Circle (Zodiac) in the manifold nature of man; the relationship of this manifold nature of man with the fixed stars comes before my soul; for man lives in subjection to the earth in this manifold nature he is warmth-born.
|GA 27. Fundamentals of Therapy — XIX. Typical Cases of Illness|
|The former is attained by selecting a remedy that is suitable to support the weakened ego-organization in the digestive tract. Such a remedy is to be found in copper. Applied in the form of a copper ointment compress to the region of the loins, it has a strengthening effect on the deficient inner warmth coming from the ego-organization. This is observed in a reduction of the abnormal activity of the heart and the disappearance of anxiety.|
|By a process which damps down the over-sensitivity of the astral body in the digestive tract, we were able to divert the astral activity to the etheric body where it ought normally to be. We achieved this by minute doses of copper and carbo animalis. The possibility that the etheric body might withdraw from the normal activity of digestion, to which it was unaccustomed, was countered by administering pancreatic fluid.|
|GA 27. Fundamentals of Therapy — XIX. Typical Cases of Illness|
In this chapter we shall describe a number of cases from the practice of the Clinical and Therapeutic Institute at Arlesheim. They will show how, with the help of a knowledge of spiritual man, it is possible to achieve such a thorough picture of the disease that diagnosis directly teaches us the remedy which should be used. Fundamental to this is a view which recognizes the process of illness and of healing as one complete cycle. The illness begins with an irregularity in the composition of the human organism with respect to its parts, which have been described in this book. It has already reached a certain stage when the patient is received for treatment. Our object must now be to bring about a reversal of all the processes which have taken place in the organism since the beginning of the illness, so that we arrive at length at the previous state of health of the organism. A process of this kind, reversing on itself, cannot be accomplished without the organism as a whole undergoing some loss in the forces of growth, which are equivalent to those forces which the human organism - needs during childhood in order to increase in size. The therapeutic substances must therefore be so composed as not only to bring the diseased process back to its starting-point, but also to support the reduced vitality again. To some extent this latter effect must be left to dietary treatment. But as a general rule, in the more serious cases of illness, the organism is not in a condition to evolve sufficient vitality in the assimilation of its food. Therefore the actual treatment will also have to be constituted so as to give the organism the necessary support in this respect. In the typical remedies supplied by our clinical/therapeutic institutes, this provision has been made throughout. Hence it will only be realized on closer inspection, why a given preparation contains particular constituents. In estimating the course of the disease, not only the localized pathological process, but the changes suffered by the organism as a whole must be considered and included in the reversing process. How this is to be conceived in detail will be shown by the individual cases we shall now describe. We shall then continue the more general considerations.
A twenty-six years old woman patient. The whole personality reveals an extraordinarily labile condition. It is clear from the patient that that part of the organism, which we have here called the astral body, is in a state of excessive activity. One observes that the ego-organization has only slight control over the astral body. As soon as the patient begins to do some work, the astral body develops a state of agitation. The ego-organization tries to make itself felt, but is constantly repulsed. This causes the temperature to rise in such a case. A well regulated digestion depends mainly on a normal ego-organization. The impotence of this patient's ego-organization expresses itself in an obstinate constipation. The migraine-like conditions and vomiting from which she suffers are a consequence of this disturbance in the digestive activity. In sleep, her impotent ego-organization shows itself in a deficient organic activity from below upward and impaired expiration. The consequence is an excessive accumulation of carbonic acid in the organism during sleep, which shows itself organically in palpitations on awakening; psychologically in anxiety, and screaming. Physical examination can show nothing other than a lack of those forces which bring about a regular connection of the astral, etheric and physical bodies. Owing to the excessive activity of the astral body in itself, too little of its powers can flow over into the physical and the etheric. The latter, therefore, have remained too delicate in their development during the period of growth. This has shown itself on examination in the patient's slight build and weak body, and also in the fact that she complains of frequent back pain. The latter arises because in the activity of the spinal cord the ego-organization must make itself felt most. The patient talks of many dreams. The reason is that the astral body, separated in sleep from the physical and the etheric, unfolds its own excessive activity. We must start with the fact that the ego-organization needs to be strengthened and the over-activity of the astral body lowered. The former is attained by selecting a remedy that is suitable to support the weakened ego-organization in the digestive tract. Such a remedy is to be found in copper. Applied in the form of a copper ointment compress to the region of the loins, it has a strengthening effect on the deficient inner warmth coming from the ego-organization. This is observed in a reduction of the abnormal activity of the heart and the disappearance of anxiety. The excessive activity of the astral body in itself is combated by the smallest doses of lead taken orally. Lead draws the astral body together and awakens in it the forces through which it unites more intensely with the physical body and the etheric. (Lead poisoning is composed of an over-intense union of the astral with the etheric and physical bodies, so that the latter are made subject to excessive breakdown processes.) The patient recovered visibly under this treatment. Her labile condition gave way to a certain inner firmness and assurance. Her moods, recovering from their disrupted state, grew inwardly calm and contented. The constipation and back pain disappeared; likewise the migrainous conditions and the headaches. The patient's capacity for work was restored.
A forty-eight year old man. He had been a robust child with an active inner life. During the war, as he informed us, he had undergone a five months' treatment for nephritis and been discharged as cured. Married at the age of thirty-five, he had five healthy children; a sixth child died at birth. At the age of thirty-three, as a consequence of mental overwork, he began to suffer from depression, tiredness and apathy. These conditions increased continuously. At the same time he began to feel spiritual despair. He is confronted by questions, in which his profession — that of a teacher — appears to him in a negative light, which he cannot meet with anything positive. The illness shows an astral body which has too little affinity with the etheric and physical, and is rigid in itself. The physical and etheric bodies are thus enabled to assert their own inherent qualities. The feeling of the etheric not being rightly united with the astral body gives rise to states of depression; while the deficient union with the physical produces fatigue and apathy. That the patient is in a state of spiritual despair is due to the fact that the astral body cannot make use of the physical and the etheric. Consistently with all this, his sleep is good; for the astral body has little connection with the etheric and physical. For the same reason he has great difficulty in waking up. The astral body is loath to enter the physical. It is only in the evening, when the physical and etheric bodies are tired, that their normal union with the astral begins to take place. Therefore the patient becomes properly awake in the evening. This whole condition indicates that it is necessary first of all to strengthen the astral body in its activity. This can always be attained by giving arsenic internally in the form of a mineral water. It becomes clear that the particular individual is seen to gain more command over his body after some time. The connection between the astral and the etheric is strengthened; the depression, apathy and fatigue cease. But the physical body also, which through its long defective union with the astral has become sluggish and immobile, must be helped; this is done by giving treatment with a mild dose of phosphorous. Phosphorous supports the ego-organization, enabling it to overcome the resistance of the physical body. Rosemary baths are used to open a way out for the accumulated products of metabolism. Curative eurythmy re-establishes the harmony of the individual members of the organism (nerve-sense system, rhythmic system, motor and metabolic system), impaired as they are by the inaction of the astral body. Finally, by giving the patient elder-flower tea, the metabolism, which has gradually become sluggish owing to the inactivity of the astral body, is restored to a normal condition. We were able to observe a complete cure in this case.
This patient was a musician, thirty-one years old, who visited our clinic during a concert tour. He was suffering from a severe inflammatory and functional disturbance of the urinary tract, catarrhal symptoms, fever, excessive bodily fatigue, general weakness, and incapacity for work.
The past history of the patient showed that he had repeatedly suffered the same condition. Examination of the patient's spiritual state revealed a hypersensitive and exhausted astral body. The susceptibility of the physical and etheric body to catarrhal and inflammatory conditions was a consequence of this. Already as a child, the patient had a weak physical body, badly supported by the astral. Hence measles, scarlet fever, chicken-pox, whooping-cough and frequent attacks of sore throat; at the age of fourteen, there was an inflammation of the urethra, which recurred at the age of twenty-nine in conjunction with cystitis. At the age of eighteen, pneumonia and pleurisy; at twenty-nine, pleurisy again, following on an attack of influenza; and at the age of thirty, catarrhal inflammation of the frontal sinus. There is also a perpetual tendency to conjunctivitis.
During the two months which he spent at our hospital the patient's temperature curve rose at first to 39.9¡C, after which, it descended, only to rise again on the fourteenth day; it then fluctuated between 37¡ and 36¡, occasionally rising above 37¡ and falling to 35¡. Such a temperature curve gives a clear picture of the changing states of the ego organisations. Such a curve arises when the effects of the semi-conscious contents of the ego-organization find expression in the warmth-processes of the physical and etheric bodies without being reduced to a normal rhythm by the astral. In this patient, the whole capacity of action of the astral body was concentrated on the rhythmic system, where it found expression in his artistic talent. The other systems fell short. As a significant result of this, the patient suffers from severe fatigue and insomnia during the summer. In the summer season, considerable demands are made upon the astral body by the outer world. Its inner capacity for activity recedes. The forces of the physical and etheric body become predominant. In the general perception of one's sense of well being, this manifests as severe fatigue. At the same time the weakened capacity for action of the astral body hinders its separation from the physical. Hence the insomnia. The deficient separation of the astral body from the etheric finds expression in anxious and unpleasant dreams, arising from the sensitivity of the etheric body to the lesions in the physical organism. Characteristically, the dreams symbolize these lesions in images of mutilated human beings. Their terrifying aspect is simply their natural quality and emphasis of feeling. As a consequence of the astral body functioning deficiently in the metabolic system, there is a tendency to constipation. And owing to the independence of the etheric body, which is too little influenced by the astral, the protein received as food cannot be completely transformed from vegetable and animal protein into human. Hence, protein is excreted in the urine, so that it is positive for albumen. If the astral body is functioning deficiently, processes will arise in the physical body which are really foreign processes in the human organism. Such processes express themselves in the formation of pus. This represents, as it were, an extra-human process within the human being. Thus in the sediment of the urine we actually find pure pus. But this formation of pus is accompanied by a parallel process in the soul. The astral body works as little psychically on the experiences of life, as it works physically on the substances of food. While extra-human substances are produced in the form of pus, mental and psychic contents of a extra-human character arise at the same time, as a keen interest in abnormal relationships of life, forebodings, premonitions and the like. We therefore set out to bring a balancing, purifying and strengthening influence to bear upon the astral body. As the ego organization is very much alive, its activity could be used, in a manner of speaking, as a carrier of the therapeutic remedy. The ego-organization, which is directed toward the external world, is most readily approached by influences whose direction is from without inward. This is achieved by the use of compresses. We first apply a compress of Melilotus, a remedy which works upon the astral body in such a way as to improve the balance and distribution of its forces, counteracting their one-sided concentration on the rhythmic system. Naturally the compresses must not be applied to that part of the body where the rhythmic system is especially concentrated. We applied them to the organs where the metabolic and motor systems are concentrated. We avoided compresses around the head, because the mood swings of the ego-organizations proceeding from the head, would have paralysed the effect. For the Melilotus to take effect, it was also necessary to assist the astral body and ego-organization, by drawing them together. This we sought to do by the addition of oxalic acid, derived from Radix bardanae. Oxalic acid works in such a way as to transform the activity of the ego-organization into that of the astral body. In addition, we gave oral remedies in very diluted doses; with the object of bringing the excretions into a regular connection with the influences of the astral body. We tried to normalise the excretions directed from the head organization by means of potassium sulphate. Those processes that depend upon the metabolic system in the narrower sense of the word, we sought to influence by potassium carbonate. We regulated the excretion of urine with Teucrium. We therefore gave a medicament, consisting of equal parts of potassium sulphate, potassium carbonate and Teucrium. The whole treatment had to reckon with a very labile balance in the whole, physical, psychical and spiritual organism. Thus we had to provide complete bed rest for physical rest, and mental quiet for spiritual balance; this alone made possible the proper interaction of the various remedies. Movement and agitation render such a complicated therapeutic process almost impossible. On completion of the treatment, the patient was restored to bodily strength and vigour, and was mentally in good condition. With such a labile state of health, it goes without saying that any external disruption may bring about a recurrence of one or another disturbance. It is part of the total treatment that in such a case such events should be avoided.
A child, who was brought to our clinic twice, first at the age of four, and then at the age of five and a half years. Also the mother of the child, and the mother's sister. Diagnosis led us from the illness of the child to that of her mother and of the sister. As for the child, we received the following information: it was a twin, born six weeks prematurely. The other twin died in the last stage of foetal life. At the age of six weeks, the child was taken ill, began to scream excessively, and was admitted to hospital. They diagnosed pyloric stenosis. The child was partly breast fed by a wet nurse and partly fed artificially. At the age of eight months it left the hospital. On the first day after arrival home the child had a convulsion, which recurred daily for the next two months. During the attacks the child became stiff, with the eyes deviated. The attacks were preceded by fear and crying. The child also squinted with the right eye and vomited before the attack began. At the age of two and a half years there was another attack lasting five hours. The child was again stiff and lay there as though dead. At the age of four there was an attack lasting half an hour. According to the report we received, this was the first attack which was seen to be accompanied by fever. After the convulsions that had followed directly on the return from hospital, the parents had noticed a paralysis of the right arm and the right leg. At two and a half the child made the first attempt to walk, but was only able to step out with the left leg, dragging the right after it. The right arm, too, remained without volition. The same state prevailed when the child was brought to us. Our first concern was to determine the condition of the child with respect to the members of the human organization. This was attempted independently of the syndrome. We found a severe atrophy of the etheric body, which, in certain parts, received only a very slight influence from the astral body. The region of the right chest was as though paralysed in the etheric body. On the other hand, there was a kind of hypertrophy of the astral body in the region of the stomach. The next thing was to establish the relation between this diagnosis and the syndrome. There could be no doubt that the astral body strongly involved the stomach during the process of digestion, which, however, owing to the paralysed condition of the etheric body was blocked at the transition from the gut to the lymph. Hence the blood was under-nourished. We thus attached great importance to the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Convulsions always occur when the etheric body becomes atrophied and the astral gains a direct influence over the physical without the mediation of the etheric body. This was present to the greatest extent in the child. Moreover, if, as in this case, the condition becomes permanent during the period of growth, those processes which prepare the motor system to receive the will normally fail to take place. This showed itself in the uselessness on the right side in the child. We had now to relate the condition of the child to that of the mother. The latter was thirty-seven years old when she came to us. At the age of thirteen, she told us, she had already reached her present size. She had bad teeth at an early age, and had suffered in childhood from rheumatic fever, and maintained that she had had rickets. Menstruation began comparatively early. At the age of sixteen she had had a disease of the kidneys and she told of convulsive conditions which she had had. At twenty-five she had constipation owing to cramp in the sphincter ani, which had to be stretched. Even now she suffered from cramp on defaecation. Diagnosis by direct observation, without drawing any conclusions from this syndrome, revealed a condition extraordinarily similar to that of the child. But everything appeared in a far milder form. We must bear in mind that the human etheric body has its special period of development between the change of teeth and puberty. In the mother this expressed itself thus: with their deficient strength, the available forces of the etheric body enabled growth to take place only until puberty. At puberty the special development of the astral body begins and, being hypertrophied, now overwhelms the etheric body and takes hold of the physical organization too intensely. This showed itself in the arrest of growth at the thirteenth year. The patient was, however, by no means dwarf-like, on the contrary, she was very big; this was because the growth forces of the etheric body, deficient though they were, had worked uninhibited by the astral body and so brought about a large expansion of the volume of the physical body. But these forces had not been able to enter properly into the functions of the physical body. This showed itself in the appearance of rheumatic fever and, at a later stage, convulsions. Owing to the weakness of the etheric body there was a particularly strong influence of the astral body on the physical. Now this influence is a disintegrating one. In the course of normal development it is balanced by the regenerative forces during sleep, when the astral body is separated from the physical and the etheric. If, as in this case, the etheric body is too weak, the result is an excess of disintegration, which showed itself in the fact that she had the first filling already in the twelfth year. Moreover, if great demands are made on the etheric body as in pregnancy, on every such occasion the condition of the teeth grows worse. The weakness of the etheric body with respect to its connection with the astral was also shown by the frequency of the patient's dreams and by the sound sleep which she enjoyed in spite of all irregularities. Again the weakness of the etheric body shows itself in that foreign processes unmastered by the etheric take place in the physical body, and reveal themselves in the urine as protein, isolated hyaline casts, and salts.
Very remarkable was the relationship of these disease-processes in the mother with those of her sister. As to the composition of the members of the human being, diagnosis revealed almost exactly the same. A feebly working etheric body and hence a preponderance of the astral. The astral body was, however, weaker than that of the mother. Accordingly, menstruation had begun early as in the former case, but instead of inflammatory conditions she had only pains due to an irritation of the organs, e.g. the joints. In the joints the etheric body must be particularly active if the vitality is to go on in the normal way. If the activity of the etheric body is weak, that of the physical body will predominate, a fact which appeared in this case in the swollen joints and in chronic arthritis. The weakness of the astral body, that did not work enough in the subjective feeling, was indicated by her liking for sweet dishes, which enhanced the experience of the astral body. When the weak astral body is exhausted at the end of the day, then, if the weakness persists, the pains will increase in intensity. Thus the patient complained of increased pain in the evening. The connection between the pathological conditions of these three patients points to the generation preceding that of the two sisters, and more especially to the grandmother of the child. It is here that the real cause must be sought. The disordered equilibrium between the astral and etheric bodies in all three patients can only have been founded in a similar condition in the grandmother of the child. This irregularity must have been due to a deficiency of the embryonic organs of nutrition, especially the allantois development by the astral and etheric bodies of the grandmother. A deficient development of the allantois must be looked for in all three patients. We determined this to begin with by purely spiritual-scientific methods. The physical allantois, passing into the spiritual realm, is metamorphosed into the effectiveness of the forces of the astral body. A degenerated allantois gives rise to a lessened efficiency of the astral body, which will express itself, especially, in all the motor organs. Such was the case in all three patients. It is indeed possible to recognize, from the constitution of the astral body that of the allantois. From this it will be seen that our reference to the preceding generation was not the result of drawing far-fetched conclusions, but of real spiritual-scientific observations.
To anyone who is irritated by this fact, we would say that our statements here are not inspired by any love of paradox; rather by the wish not to withhold existing knowledge from anyone. Conceptions of heredity will always remain dark and mystical, as long as we shrink from recognizing the metamorphosis from the physical to the spiritual and vice-versa, which takes place in the sequence of the generations.
Therapeutically, such an insight could of course only lead us to perceive the right starting-point for a healing process. Had not our attention thus been drawn to the hereditary aspect, had we merely observed the irregularity in the connection between the astral and etheric bodies, we should have used therapeutic substances which affect both these members of the human being. Such remedies however would have been ineffective in our case, for the damage, running through the generations, was too deep-seated to be made good within the etheric and astral bodies themselves. In a case like this, one must work on the organization of the ego; here it is, that one must bring to bear all those influences which relate to a harmonizing and strengthening of the etheric and astral bodies. One can achieve this if one gains access to the ego-organization through intensified sensory stimuli, (Sensory stimuli work upon the ego-organization.) For the child, we attempted this in the following way: we bandaged the right hand with a 5% iron pyrites ointment and simultaneously we massaged the left half of the head with ointment of Amanita caesarea. Externally applied, pyrites, compound of iron and sulphur, has the effect of stimulating the ego-organization to make the astral body more alive and increase its affinity to the etheric. The Amanita substance, with its peculiar content of organized nitrogen, gives rise to an influence proceeding from the head, which, working through the ego-organization, makes the etheric body more alive and increases its affinity to the astral. The healing process was supported by curative eurythmy, which moves the ego-organization as such into quickened activity. This brings what is externally applied into the depths of the organization. Initiated in this way, the healing process was then intensified, with remedies making the astral and etheric bodies especially sensitive to the influence of the ego-organization. In rhythmic daily succession we gave a decoction of solidago in baths, massaged the back with a decoction of Stellaria media and gave orally willow bark tea (which particularly affects the receptivity of the astral body) and stannum 0.001 (which particularly makes the etheric body receptive). We also gave diluted doses of poppy juice, to allow the damaged organization to give place to the healing influences. In the mother's case, the latter kind of treatment was mainly adopted, since the inherited forces had worked far less than in the succeeding generation. The same applied to the sister of the mother. While the child was still with us in the clinic, we established that it became more easily guided and the general psychological condition was improved. It grew far more obedient, for example; movements which it had carried out very clumsily, it now accomplished with greater skill. Subsequently the aunt reported that a great change had taken place in the child. It had grown quieter and the excess of involuntary movements had decreased; the child is now sufficiently adroit to be able to play by itself, psychologically the former obstinacy has disappeared.
A woman patient, twenty-six years old, came to our clinic suffering from the serious consequences of influenza and bronchitis which she had undergone in 1918; this had been preceded in 1917 by pleurisy. Following the influenza, she had never properly recovered. In 1920 she was very emaciated and weak, with a slight temperature and night sweats. Soon after the influenza, back-pains began, which worsened continuously up to the end of 1920. Then, with violent pain, a curvature in the lumbar region became apparent. At the same time there was a swelling of the right forefinger. A rest cure had considerably lessened the back-pains. When the patient came to us, she was suffering from a cold abscess on the right thigh; her body was distended with slight ascites. There were catarrhal sounds over the apices of both lungs. Digestion and appetite were good. The urine was concentrated, with traces of protein. Spiritual-scientific investigation revealed a hypersensitivity of the astral body and the ego-organization; such an abnormality expresses itself to begin with in the etheric body, which produces, in place of the etheric functions proper, an etheric impress of the astral functions. The astral functions are destructive. Thus, the vitality and the normal process of the physical organs showed themselves to be stunted. This is always connected with processes occurring to some extent outside man, but taking place in the human organism. Hence the cold abscess, the lumbar pains, the distended abdomen, the catarrhal symptoms in the lungs, and also the deficient assimilation of protein. The treatment must therefore seek to reduce the sensitivity of the astral body and the ego-organization. This may be done by administering silicic acid, which always strengthens the inherent forces against sensitivity. In this case we gave powdered silicic acid in the food and in enemata. We also diverted the sensitivity by applying mustard plasters to the lower back. The effect of this depends upon the fact that it induces sensitivity of its own accord, thus relieving the astral body and ego-organization of theirs. By a process which damps down the over-sensitivity of the astral body in the digestive tract, we were able to divert the astral activity to the etheric body where it ought normally to be. We achieved this by minute doses of copper and carbo animalis. The possibility that the etheric body might withdraw from the normal activity of digestion, to which it was unaccustomed, was countered by administering pancreatic fluid.
The cold abscess was punctured several times. Large quantities of pus were evacuated by aspiration. The abscess grew smaller and the distended stomach decreased in that the pus-formation grew continuously less and finally disappeared. While it was still flowing we were surprised one day by a renewed rise in temperature. This was not inexplicable to us, since, with the above-described constitution of the astral body, small psychological excitements could give rise to such fever. However, one must differentiate between the explanation of fever in such cases and its strongly harmful effect. For under these conditions, such a fever is the mediator for a profound intervention of the processes of destruction in the organism. One must provide at once for a strengthening of the etheric body, which will then paralyse the harmful effects of the astral. We gave high potency silver injections and the fever sank. The patient left the clinic with a twenty pounds' increase in weight, and in a stronger condition. We are under no illusion as to the necessity for further treatment to consolidate the cure.
With the cases hitherto described, we wished to characterize the principles whereby we seek to find the therapeutic substances out of the diagnosis. For the sake of clear illustration we selected cases where it was necessary to proceed along very individual lines. But we have also prepared typical therapeutic substances applicable to typical diseases. We will now deal with a few cases where such typical medicaments were used.
Sixth Case. Treatment of Hay Fever.
We had a patient with severe symptoms of hay fever. He had suffered with it from childhood. He came to us for treatment in his fortieth year. For this disorder we have our preparation “Gencydo”. This we used in this case at the time — the month of May — when the disease was at its worst. We treated him with injections and locally by painting the inside of the nose with “Gencydo” fluid. Following this there was a marked improvement, at a time of the year when formerly the patient had suffered severely from hay fever, undertaking a journey, he reported feeling incomparably better than in former years. In the hay fever season of the next year, he was travelling again from America to Europe and only had a far milder attack than previously. The repetition of the treatment achieved a tolerable condition for this year. For a thorough cure, treatment was repeated the next year, although he had no actual attack. In the fourth year the patient himself described his condition in the following words: “In the spring of 1923, I again began the treatment, as I was expecting fresh attacks. I found my nasal mucous membranes far less sensitive than before. I had to spend my time working among flowering grasses and pollen-producing trees. I also had to ride all through the summer along hot and dusty roads. Yet with the exception of a single day, no symptoms of hay fever occurred the whole summer, and I have every reason to believe that on that single day it was an ordinary cold, not an attack of hay fever. In thirty-five years this was the first time that I could stay and work unhindered in an environment where in former years I experienced real hell.”
Seventh Case. Treatment of Sclerosis.
A woman patient, sixty-one years old, came to our clinic with sclerosis and albuminuria. Her immediate condition was the sequel of an attack of influenza, with slight fever and disturbances of the stomach and intestines. She had not felt well again since the influenza. She complained of difficult breathing on waking, attacks of vertigo, and a pounding sensation in the head, ears and hands, which was especially troublesome on waking, but occurred also when she walked or climbed uphill. Her sleep was good. There was a tendency to constipation. The urine contained protein. Her blood pressure was 185mm Hg. We took our start from the sclerosis which was noticeable in the over-activity of the astral body. The physical and etheric bodies were unable to receive the full activity of the astral. In such a case, excess activity of the astral body remains, which the physical and etheric do not re-absorb. The normal and firm poise of the human organization is only possible when this re-absorption is complete. Otherwise, as in this case, the non-absorbed part will make itself felt in attacks of vertigo and subjective sensory illusions, pounding etc. Also the non-absorbed part takes hold of the digested substances, forcing certain processes upon them before they have penetrated into the normal metabolism. This became apparent in the tendency to constipation, in the excretion of albumen, also in the stomach and intestinal disorders. The blood pressure is raised in such a case because the excess activity of the astral body also heightens the activity of the ego, and this reveals itself in raised blood pressure. — We treated the case mainly with our remedy, “Scleron”; we supplemented this with very minute doses of belladonna, only as an aid to counteract immediately the attacks of vertigo. We gave elder-flower tea to help the digestion, regulated the action of the bowels by enemas and laxative tea, and ordered a salt free diet, because salts tend to aggravate sclerosis. A comparatively quick improvement was the result. The attacks of vertigo receded, likewise the pounding. The blood pressure went down to 112mm Hg. The patient's subjective feeling visibly improved. During the subsequent year the sclerosis made no further progress. At the end of a year the patient came to us again with the same symptoms in a lesser degree. A similar treatment brought about a further improvement; now, after a lapse of considerable time since the treatment it is evident that the sclerosis is producing no further degeneration of the organism. The external symptoms characteristic of sclerosis are on the decline, and the accompanying rapid aging of the patient is no longer there.
Eighth Case. Treatment of a Goitre.
A woman patient, who came to us in the thirty-fourth year of her life. She is typical of an individual whose psychic state is strongly influenced by a certain heaviness and fragility of the physical body. Every word she utters seems to cost her an effort. Very characteristic is the concavity in the whole shape of her face; the root of the nose is as if it were held back within the organism. She tells us that she was delicate and sickly even as a schoolgirl. The only actual disease that she went through was a slight attack of measles. She was always pale and very tired and had a poor appetite. She was sent from one doctor to another, and the following were diagnosed in succession: Infection of the apex of the lung, gastritis, anaemia. In her own mind the patient felt that she was not so much physically ill, but rather psychologically.
Having given this part of her history, we will now indicate the spiritual-scientific diagnosis, in order to examine everything further against the latter.
The patient reveals a highly atonic condition of the astral body. The ego-organization is thus held back, as it were, from the physical and etheric bodies. The whole life of consciousness is permeated by a subtle, dull drowsiness. The physical body is exposed to the processes arising from the ingested substances. Therefore, these substances are transformed into parts of the human organization. The etheric body in its coherent vitality is too strongly muted by the ego and the astral body; hence the inner sensations, namely, the sense of well-being and the sense of the orthostasis of the body become far too vivid, and the activity of the external senses is too dull. All the bodily functions thus have to take a course whereby they come into disharmony with one another. Inevitably the feeling arises in the patient that she cannot hold the functions of her body together with her own ego. This appears to her as a powerlessness of the soul. Hence she says she is more psychologically than physically ill. If the powerlessness of the ego and astral body increases, disease conditions must arise in various parts of the body, as is also indicated by the different diagnoses. Powerlessness of the ego expresses itself in irregularities of glands, such as the thyroid and the suprarenal; also in disorders of the stomach and intestinal system. All this is to be expected in the patient and does in fact occur. Her goitre and the condition of her stomach and intestinal system correspond entirely with the spiritual-scientific diagnosis. Most characteristic is the following: owing to the powerlessness of the ego and the astral body the need for sleep is partly satisfied during waking life, the patient's sleep is therefore lighter than a normal person's. To her, this appears as a persistent insomnia. In connection with this, she has a sense of easily falling asleep and easily awakening. Also in this connection she thinks she has many dreams, they are not, however, real dreams but mixtures of dreams and waking impressions. Thus they do not remain in her memory and are not powerfully exciting, for her excitability is lowered. In the inner organs the powerlessness of the ego first expresses itself in the lungs. Infection of the apex of the lung is in reality always a manifestation of a weak ego organization. The metabolism not being fully taken care of by the ego leads to rheumatism. Subjectively these things come to expression in the patient's general fatigue. Menstruation began at the age of fourteen; the weak ego organization cannot supply a sufficient unfolding of its forces to repress and restrain the menstrual process once it has come into flow. The work of the ego in this act of restraint comes as a sensation into consciousness through those nerves that enter the spinal cord in the region of the sacrum. Nerves insufficiently permeated by the currents of the ego-organization and the astral body are painful. Thus the patient complains of lower back pain during menstruation. All this led us in the following way to treatment. We have discovered that Colchicum autumnale has a powerfully stimulating action on the astral body, notably on the part that corresponds to the organization of the neck and head. Hence, we apply Colchicum autumnale to all those diseases which have their most important symptom in goitre. Accordingly, we gave the patient five drops of our Colchicum preparation three times a day; the goitre swelling receded and the patient felt much relieved. When the astral body is thus strengthened, it mediates a better functioning of the ego-organism, so that remedies which can work upon the organs of digestion and reproduction keep their strength in the organism. As such a remedy we used wormwood enemas, mixing them with oil, since oil stimulates the digestive tract. With this remedy we attained a considerable improvement. We hold that this treatment can develop its particularly favourable influence about the thirty-fifth year of life, for at this age the ego-organization has a strong affinity to the rest of the organism and can be readily stimulated, even when weak. The patient was thirty-four years old when she came to us.
Ninth Case. Migrainous Conditions in the Menopause.
This patient came to us at the age of fifty-five. She informed us that she had been weak and delicate as a child; during childhood she had measles, scarlet fever, chicken pox, whooping cough and mumps. Menstruation began at the age of fourteen to fifteen. The bleeding was unusually intense and painful from the outset. In the fortieth year she underwent an oopherohysterectomy because of a tumour in the lower abdomen. She also reported that she suffered since the age of thirty-five from a migrainous headache lasting three days, every three or four weeks, which in her forty-sixth year developed into a cerebral illness lasting three days with unconsciousness. The spiritual-scientific diagnosis of her current condition is as follows: General weakness of the ego organization, which expresses itself in that the activity of the etheric body is insufficiently immobilized by the ego organization. Hence the vegetative organic activity extends over the head and nerve-sense system to a far greater degree than is the case when the ego-organization is normal. This diagnosis is corroborated by certain symptoms. Firstly a frequent urgency of micturition. This is due to the fact that the normally developed astral body which regulates the secretion of the kidneys is unopposed by a normally restraining ego-organization of sufficient strength. A second symptom is the long time she took to fall asleep and her tiredness on awakening. The astral body has difficulty in leaving the physical and etheric, for the ego is not strong enough in drawing it away. And when she has awakened, the vital activity, working on after sleep, was perceived as a feeling of fatigue owing to the weakness of the ego. A third symptom is to be found in the scarcity of her dreams. The pictures which the ego-organization can impress upon the astral body are feeble and cannot express themselves as vivid dreams.
These perceptions led to the following treatment: we had to pave the way for the ego-organization to the physical and etheric bodies. We did this by compresses with a two per cent Oxalis solution on the forehead in the evening, compresses with a seven per cent solution of Urtica dioica on the lower abdomen in the morning, and compresses with a twenty per cent solution of lime blossom on the feet at midday. The object was, in the first place, to tone down the vital activity during the night; this was brought about by the oxalic salt, which exercises within the organism the function of suppressing an excessive vital activity. In the morning we had to ensure that the ego-organization could find its way into the physical body. This was done by stimulating the circulation. The iron effect of the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) was applied for this purpose. Finally, it was desirable to assist the penetration of the physical body by the ego-organization in the course of the day. This was done by the downward drawing action of the lime blossom compresses at midday. We have already referred to the headaches to which the patient had become subject, with their intensification at the forty-sixth year of life. For us there was connection between the headaches and the cessation of the menses after the operation and their intensification with unconsciousness as a compensatory symptom for the menopause. We first tried to effect an improvement by the use of antimony. This should have worked if we had been concerned with the general metabolism, regulated by the organization of the ego. There was, however, no improvement. This proved to us that we were dealing with the relatively independent part of the ego-organization which primarily regulates the organs of reproduction. For the treatment of this, we see a specific remedy of the root of Potentilla tormentilla at a very high dilution, and in fact this worked.
|GA 22. Goethe's Standard of the Soul — 3. Goethe's Standard of the Soul, as Illustrated in his Fairy Story of “The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily.”|
|The Golden King sets the Crown of Oak on his head, saying, “Acknowledge the Highest.” The fourth King, who is formed of a mixture of the three metals, Copper, Silver and Gold, sinks lifelessly to the ground. In the man who is on the way to become a free personality there are three soul forces in alloy: — Will (Copper), Feeling (Silver), Knowledge (Gold).|
|GA 22. Goethe's Standard of the Soul — 3. Goethe's Standard of the Soul, as Illustrated in his Fairy Story of “The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily.”|
About the time of the beginning of his friendship with Goethe, Schiller was occupying himself with the ideas which found expression in his Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man. 1This essay is an elaboration of my article Goethe's Secret Revelation which appeared in the Literary Magazine in 1899, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of Goethe's birthday.! ]In 1794, he elaborated these letters, which were originally written for the Duke of Augustenberg, for Die Horen. The direction of thought in the verbal discussions and the correspondence which took place at that time between Goethe and Schiller approximated again and again to the orbit of ideas contained in these letters. Schiller's thoughts encountered this question: “What condition of the human soul forces corresponds in the best sense of the word to an existence worthy of man?” “It may be urged that every individual bears within himself, at least in adaptation and destination, a purely ideal man. The great problem of his existence is to bring all the incessant changes of his outer life into conformity with the unchanging unity of this ideal.
Thus writes Schiller in the fourth letter. It is Schiller's aim to build a bridge from man as he is in immediate reality, to the ideal man. There exist in human nature two impulses which hold it back from idealistic perfection when they develop in an unbalanced way —the impulses of the senses and of reason. If the sense impulse has the upper hand man is the servant of his instincts and passions. In action that is irradiated by human consciousness is mingled a force that clouds this consciousness. His acts become the result of an inner necessity. If the reason impulse predominates man strives to suppress the instincts and passions and to give himself up to an abstract necessity that is not sustained by inner warmth. In both cases man is subject to coercion. In the first his sense nature subdues the spiritual; in the second his spiritual nature subdues that of the senses. Neither the one nor the other gives man in the kernel of his being which lies between the material and the spiritual, full and complete freedom. Complete freedom can only be realised in harmonisation of the two impulses. The material sense nature must not be subdued, but ennobled; the instincts and passions must be permeated with spirituality in such a way that they themselves come to be the fulfilment of the spiritual element that has entered into them. And reason must lay hold of the soul nature in man in such a way that it imparts its power to what is merely instinctive and passional, causing man to fulfil its counsels as a matter of course from out of his instinct and with the power of passion. “When we have desire for someone who is worthy of our disdain, we have painful experience of the constraint of Nature. When we are antagonistic to another who merits our respect, we have painful experience of the constraint of the intellect. As soon, however, as he interests our affections and wins our respect, the coercion of feeling and the coercion of reason both disappear, and we begin to love him. A man whose material nature manifests the spiritual qualities of reason, and whose reason manifests the basic power of passion, is a free personality.” Schiller would like to found harmonious social life in human society upon the basis of free personalities. For him the problem of an existence really worthy of man was allied to the problem of the formation of man's social life. This was his answer to the questions facing man-kind at the time when he expressed these thoughts, as a result of the French Revolution (27th Letter). Goethe found deep satisfaction in such ideas. On 26th October, 1794, he writes to Schiller on the subject of the Aesthetic Letters as follows: “I read the manuscript sent to me with the very greatest pleasure; I imbibed it at one draught. These letters pleased and did me good in the same way as a delicious drink that suits our nature is easily imbibed and shows its healthy effects on our tongue through a pleasant humour of the nervous system. How could it be otherwise, since I found such a coherent and noble exposition of what I have long recognized to be true, partly experiencing it, partly longing to experience it in life.
Goethe found that Schiller's Aesthetic Letters expressed all that he longed to experience in life in order to become conscious of an existence that should be really worthy of man. It is therefore comprehensible that in his soul also, thoughts should be stimulated which he tried in his own way to elaborate in Schiller's direction. These thoughts gave birth to the composition that has been interpreted in so many different ways, — namely the enigmatical fairy tale at the end of the narrative which appeared in Die Horen under the title of Conversations of German Emigrants. The fairy tale appeared in this paper in the year 1795. These conversations, like Schiller's Aesthetic Letters, had as their subject the French Revolution. This concluding fairy tale cannot be explained by bringing all sorts of ideas from outside to bear upon it, but only by going back to the conceptions which lived in Goethe's soul at that time.
Most of the attempts to interpret this composition are recorded in the book entitled Goethe's Wonder Compositions by Friedrich Meyer von Waldeck Heidelberg (Karl Wintersche Universitätsbuchhandlung). Since the publication of this book new attempts at explanation have of course been made.
I have tried to penetrate into the spirit of the fairy tale, taking as my starting point the hypothesis of the Goethean school of thought from the ninetieth year of the eighteenth century onwards, and I first gave expression to what I had discovered in a lecture delivered on 27th October, 1891, to the Goethe Society of Vienna. What I then said has expanded in all directions. But everything that I have since allowed to be printed or that I have said verbally about the fairy tale, is only a further elaboration of the thoughts expressed in that Lecture and my Mystery Play, The Portal of Initiation, published in 1910, is also a result.
We must look for the embryonic thought underlying the fairy tale in the Conversations of which it formed the conclusion. In the Conversations Goethe tells of the escape of a certain family from regions devastated by war. In the conversations between the members of this family there lives all that was stimulated in Goethe's conceptual world as a result of his interchange of ideas with Schiller. The conversations revolve around two central points of thought. One of them governs those conceptions of man which make him believe in the existence of some connection between the events of his life, — a connection which is impermeable to the laws of material actuality. The stories told in this connection are in part phantom, and in part describe experiences which seem to reveal a “Wonder” element in contrast to natural law. Goethe did not write these narratives as the result of a tendency towards superstition, but from a much deeper motive. That soothing, mystical feeling which many people have when they hear of something that cannot be explained by the limited reason directed to the facts of natural law, was quite alien to Goethe. But again and again he was faced by the question: does there not exist for the human soul a possibility of emancipating itself from conceptions emanating from mere sense perception and of apprehending a supersensible world in a purely spiritual mode of conception? The impulse towards this kind of activity of the faculty of cognition may of course be a natural human aspiration based on a connection with this supersensible world, — a connection that is hidden from the senses and the understanding bound to them. And the tendency towards experiences which appear to sever natural connections may be only a childish aberration of this justifiable longing of man for a spiritual world. Goethe was interested in the peculiar direction of the soul's activity when giving way to this fondness for the sweets of superstition rather than for the actual content of the tales and stories to which these tendencies give birth in unsophisticated minds.
From the second central point of thought flow conceptions concerned with man's moral life, the stimulus for which is derived not from material existence, but from impulses which raise man above the impacts of material sense existence. In this sphere a supersensible world of forces enters into the soul life of man.
Rays which must ultimately end in the supersensible proceed from both these central points of thought. And they give rise to the questions about the inner being of man, the connection of the human soul with the sense world on the one side and with the supersensible on the other. Schiller approached this question in a philosophical attitude in his Aesthetic Letters; the abstract philosophical path was not Goethe's. He had to give a picture form to what he wrote, as in the case of the fairy tale of The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. In Goethe's imagination the different human soul powers assumed the form of figures in the fairy tale, and the whole soul life and soul striving of man was personified in the experiences and the lives of these figures. When anything of this kind is said one has to be prepared for the objection which will come from certain quarters that in this way a composition is lifted out of the realer of imagination, of phantasy, and made into an inartistic, symbolical representation of abstract concepts; the figures are removed from real life and transformed into symbols or even allegories that are not of the nature of art. Such an objection is based on the notion that nothing but abstract ideas can live in the human soul as soon as it leaves the realm of sense materiality. It ignores the fact that there is a living supersensible mode of perception as well as one that is of the senses. And in the fairy tale Goethe moves with his figures in the realm of supersensible perceptions and not of abstract concepts. What is here said about these figures and their experiences is not in any sense a statement that this figure means one thing, and that another. Such symbolical interpretation is as far removed as it could possibly be from the standpoint of this Essay. For it, the Old Man with the Lamp and the Will-o'-the-Wisps in the fairy tale are nothing more nor less than the phantasy figures as they appear in the composition. It is absolutely necessary, however, to look for the particular thought impulses which stimulated the imagination of the poet to create such figures. Goethe's consciousness did not of course lay hold of these thought-impulses in abstract form. He expressed himself in imaginative figures because to his genius any abstract form of thought would have been too lacking in content. The thought-impulse holding sway in the substrata of Goethe's soul had as its outcome the imaginative figure. Thought, as the intermediate stage, lives only subconsciously in his soul and gives the imagination its direction. The student of Goethe's fairy tale needs the thought content, for this alone can enable his soul to follow the course of Goethe's creative phantasy in re-creative imagination. The process of growing into the content of this thought involves nothing more nor less than the adaptation of organs enabling us to live in the atmosphere that Goethe breathed spiritually when he created the fairy tale. This means that we focus our gaze upon the same soul world as Goethe. As a result of Goethe's control of this soul world, living, spiritual forms — not philosophical ideas, burst forth before him. What lives in these spiritual forms lives also in the human soul.
The mode of conception which permeates the fairy tale is also present in the Conversations. In the discussions narrated there, the human soul turns to the two world spheres between which man's life is placed — the material and the supersensible. The deeper nature of man strives to establish a right relationship to both these spheres for the purpose of attaining a free soul understanding that is worthy of man, and of building a harmonious social life. Goethe felt that what he brought to light in the narratives did not come to expression fully in the Conversations. In the all-embracing picture of the fairy tale he had to bring those human soul problems upon which his gaze was directed, nearer to the immeasurably rich world of spiritual life. The striving towards the condition truly worthy of man to which Schiller refers and which Goethe longs to experience, is personified in the Young Man in the fairy tale. His marriage with the Lily, who embodies the realization of the world of Freedom is the union with those forces which slumber in the human soul and when awakened lead to the true inner experience of the free personality.
The “Old Man with the Lamp” plays an important part in the development of the fairy tale. When he comes with his lamp into the clefts of the rocks, he is asked which is the most important of the secrets known to him. He answers, “the revealed,” and when asked if he will not divulge this secret, replies, “When I have learnt the fourth.” This fourth secret, however, is known to the Green Snake, who whispers it in the Old Man's ear. There can be no doubt that this secret concerns the condition for which all the figures in the fairy tale are longing. This condition is described at the end of the tale. A picture portrays the way in which the soul of man enters into union with the subterranean forces of its nature. As a result of this, the soul's relationship to the supersensible, — the kingdom of the Lily, — and to the material, — the kingdom of the Green Snake, is so regulated that in experience and in action it is freely receptive to impulses from both regions. In union with both the soul is able to fulfil its true being. It must be assumed that the Old Man knows this secret; for he is the only figure who is always master of the circumstances; everything is dependent on his guidance and leadership. What then can the Snake say to the Old Man? He knows that the Snake must be offered up in sacrifice if the longed-for goal is to be attained. But this knowledge of his is not unconditional. He must wait until the snake from out of the depths of her nature is ripe to make the sacrifice. Within the compass of man's soul life is a power which bears the soul's development on to the condition of free personality. This power has its task on the way to the attainment of free personality. When this is achieved the task is over. This power brings the human soul into connection with the experiences of life. It transforms into inner wisdom all that science and life reveal, and makes the soul ever riper for the desired spiritual goal. This attained, it loses meaning, for it establishes man's relation to the outer world. At the goal, however, all external impulses are changed into inner impulses of the soul, and there this power must sacrifice itself, must suspend its functions; it must, without separate existence of its own, live on now in the transformed man as the ferment permeating the rest of soul life. Goethe's spiritual outlook was particularly concerned with this power in human life. He saw it working in the experiences of life and of science. He wanted to see its application without the outcome of preconceived ideas or theories of an abstract goal. This goal must be a result of the experiences themselves. When the experiences are mature they must themselves give birth to the goal. They must not be stunted by a predestined end. This soul-power is personified in the Green Snake. It devours the gold, — the wisdom derived from life and science, which must be so worked upon by the soul that wisdom and soul become one. This soul-power will be sacrificed at the right time; it will bring man to his goal, will make him a free personality. The Snake whispers to the Old Man that it will sacrifice itself. It confides to him a mystery that is revealed to him, but of which he can make no use so long as it is not fnlfllled by the free resolve of the Snake. When this soul power in man speaks to him as the Snake speaks to the Old Man, “the time has come” for the soul to realise life experience as life wisdom; harmony between the material and the supersensible is re-established. The Young Man has had premature contact with the supersensible world, and has been paralysed, deadened. Life revives in him and he marries the Lily when the Snake, — the soul experience, is offered up in sacrifice. Thus the longed for consummation is attained. The time has now also come when the soul is able to build a bridge between the nether and the further regions of the river. This bridge is built of the Snake's own substance. From now on, life experience has no separate existence; it is no longer directed merely to the outer sense world as before. It has become inner soul power which is not consciously exercised as such, but which only functions in the reciprocal illumination of the material and super-sensible life of man's inner being. This condition is brought about by the Snake. Yet the Snake by itself cannot impart to the Young Man the gifts whereby he is able to control the newly fathomed soul kingdom. These gifts are bestowed on him by the Three Kings. From the Brazen King he receives the sword with the command: “Take the sword in your left hand and keep the right hand free.” The Silver King gives him the sceptre with the words: “Feed my sheep.” The Golden King sets the Crown of Oak on his head, saying, “Acknowledge the Highest.” The fourth King, who is formed of a mixture of the three metals, Copper, Silver and Gold, sinks lifelessly to the ground. In the man who is on the way to become a free personality there are three soul forces in alloy: — Will (Copper), Feeling (Silver), Knowledge (Gold). In the course of existence the revelations of life experience give all that the soul assimilates from the operation of these three forces. Power, through which virtue works is made manifest in Will: Beauty (beautiful appearance) reveals itself in Peeling; Wisdom, in Knowledge. Man is separated from the state of “free personality” through the fact that these three forces work in his soul in alloy; he will attain free personality to the degree in which he assimilates the gifts, each of the three in its specific nature, in full consciousness and unites them in free conscious activity in his own soul. Then the chaotic alloy of the gifts of Will, Feeling and Knowledge which has previously controlled him, falls asunder.
The Wisdom King is of Gold. Gold personifies Wisdom in some form. The operation of Wisdom in the life experience that is finally sacrificed has already been described. But the Will-o'-the-Wisps too, seize upon the Gold in their own way. In man there exists a soul quality, — (in many people it develops abnormally and seems to fill their whole being) — by which he is able to assimilate all the wisdom that life and science bestow. But this soul quality does not endeavour to unite wisdom wholly to the inner life. It remains one-sided know-ledge, as an instrument of dogma or criticism; it makes a man appear brilliant, or helps to give him a one-sided prominence in life. It makes no effort to bring about a balance through adjustment with the yields of external experience. It becomes superstition as described by Goethe in the Wonder Tales of the Emigrants, because it does not try to harmonise itself to Nature. It becomes learning before it has become life in the inner being of the soul. It is that which false prophets and sophists like to bear through life. All endeavour to assimilate the Goethean life-axiom: “Man must surrender his existence if he would exist” is alien to it. The Snake, the selfless life-experience that has developed for love's sake to conscious wisdom, surrenders its existence in order to build the bridge between material and spiritual existence.
An irresistible desire presses the Young Man onward to the kingdom of the Beautiful Lily. What are the characteristics of this kingdom? Although men have the deepest longing for the world of the Lily, they can only reach it at certain times before the bridge is built. At noon the Snake, even before its sacrifice, builds a temporary bridge to the supersensible world. And evening and morning man can pass over the river that separates sense-existence from supersensible existence on the Giant's Shadows — the powers of imagination and of memory. Anyone who approaches the ruler of the supersensible world without the necessary inner qualification must do harm to his life like the Young Man. The Lily also desires the other region. The Ferryman who conveyed the Will-o'-the-Wisps over the river can bring anyone back from the supersensible world, but can take no one to it.
A man who desires contact with the supersensible world must first have developed his inner being in the direction of this world through life experience, for the supersensible world can only be grasped in free spiritual activity.
The Prose Aphorisms express Goethe's opinion of this goal: “Everything that sets our spirit free without giving us mastery over ourselves, is harmful.” Another aphorism is: “Duty, when a man loves the commands he gives to himself.” The kingdom of pure supersensible activity — Schiller's “Reason Impulse,” is that of the Lily; the kingdom of pure sense-materiality — Schiller's “Sense Impulse” is the home of the Snake before its sacrifice. The Ferryman can bring anyone to the realm of sense but cannot convey them to the realm of spirit. All men have involuntarily descended from the supersensible world. But they can only re-establish a free union with this supersensible world when they have the will to pass over the bridge of sacrificed life-experience. It is a union independent of “Time,” of all involuntary conditions of soul. Before this free union has taken place there exist two involuntary conditions of soul which enable man to attain to the supersensible world — the kingdom of the free personality. One such condition is present in creative imagination or phantasy which is a reflection of supersensible experience. In Art man links sense existence to the supersensible. In Art he manifests also as free creative soul. This is depicted in the crossing which the Snake makes possible at noon. The Snake typifies life-experience not yet ready for supersensible existence. The other condition of soul sets in when the conscious soul of man — of the Giant in man who is an image of the macrocosm — is dimmed, when conscious cognition is obscured and blunted in such a way that it becomes superstition, hallucination, mediumistic trance. The soul power existing in this way in obscured consciousness is for Goethe one with that power that is prone by force and despotism to lead men to the state of freedom in a revolutionary sense. In revolutions the urge towards an ideal state lives obscurely; it is like the shadow of the Giant which lies over the river at twilight. What Schiller writes to Goethe on 16th October, 1794, is also evidence of the accuracy of this idea of the Giant. Goethe was on a journey which it was his intention to extend to Frankforton-the-Main. Schiller writes: “I am indeed glad to know that you are still far away from the commerce of the Main. The shadow of the Giant might well lay rough hands upon you.” The result of caprice, the unregulated “laissez faire” of historical events, is personified in the Giant and his shadow, by the side of the obscured consciousness of man. The soul impulses leading to such happenings are certainly associated with the tendency towards superstition and chimerical ideology.
The “Old Man's” lamp has the quality of only being able to give light where another light already is. One cannot but be reminded here of the saying of an old Mystic, quoted by Goethe: “If the eye were not of the nature of the light it could never see the sun; if God's own power were not within us, how could Divinity delight us?” Just as the lamp does not give light in the darkness, so the light of wisdom, of knowledge, does not shine in the man who does not bring to it the appropriate organ, the inner light. What the lamp denotes will become still more intelligible if we take heed of the fact that it can in its own way shed light upon what is developing as a resolution in the Snake, but that there must first be knowledge of the Snake's willingness to make this resolution. There is a kind of human know-ledge which is at all times a concern of the highest endeavour of man. It has arisen from the inner experience of souls in the course of the historical life of mankind. But the goal of human endeavour to which it points can only be attained in concrete reality out of the sacrificed life-experience. All that the consideration of the historical past teaches man, all that mystical and religious experience enables him to say about his connection with the supersensible world,-all this can find its ultimate consummation only by the sacrifice of life-experience. The Old Man can change everything by his lamp in such a way that it assumes a new life-serving form, but actual development is dependent upon the ripening of the life-experience.
The wife of the Old Man is she whose body is pledged to the river for the debt which she has come to owe it. This woman personifies the human powers of perception and conception as well as humanity's memory of its past. She is an associate of the Old Man. By her aid he has possession of the light that is able to illumine what is made evident already by external reality. But the powers of conception and of remembrance are not united in life with the concrete forces active in the evolution of the individual man and in the historical life of humanity. The power of conception and of remembrance cleaves to the past; it conserves the things of the past so that they make their claims upon all that is becoming and evolving in the present. The conditions — maintained by memory — in which the individual and the human race are always living, are the crystallisation of this power of the soul.
Schiller writes of them in the third of the Aesthetic Letters: “He (man) was introduced into this state by the power of circumstances, before he could freely select his own position. Before he could adjust it according to the Laws of Reason, necessity has done so according to Natural Laws.” The river divides the two kingdoms, of free spiritual activity in supersensible existence and of necessity in material life. The unconscious soul powers, the Ferryman, transport man, whose origin is in the supersensible kingdom, into the material world. Here in the first place he finds himself in a realm wherein the powers of conception and remembrance have created conditions in which he has to live. But they separate him from the supersensible world; he feels himself beholden to them when he must approach the power (the Ferryman) that has brought him unconsciously out of the supersensible world into the material sense world. He can only break the power which these conditions have over him, and which is revealed in the deprivation of his freedom, when with the “Fruits of the Earth” that is to say, with self-created life wisdom, he frees himself from the obligation imposed upon him by the conditions, from coercion. If he cannot do this, these conditions — the water of the river — take his individual wisdom away from him. He is swallowed up into his soul being.
On the river stands the Temple in which the marriage of the Young Man with the Lily takes place. The “marriage” with the supersensible, the realisation of the free personality, is possible in a human soul whose forces have been brought into a state of regularity that in comparison with the usual state is a transformation. The life experience previously acquired by the soul is so far mature that the force directed to it is no longer exhausted in adapting man to the world of sense. This force becomes the content of what is able to stream into man's inner being from the supersensible world in such a way, that, acts in the material sense world become the fulfilment of supersensible impulses. In this condition of soul, those spiritual powers of man which previously flowed along mistaken or one-sided channels, assume their new significance in the character as a whole, — a significance adequate for a higher state of consciousness. The wisdom of the Will-o'-the-Wisps, for example, which has broken loose from the sense world and has wandered into superstitution or chaotic thought, serves to open the door of the Palace, that is the personification of the soul condition wherein the chaotic alloy of Will, Feeling and Cognition holds man in chain within a constricted inner life shut off from the supersensible world.
In the wonder pictures of the composition Goethe approached the panoramic evolution of the human soul before his spiritual vision in that frame of mind which is conscious of estrangement in face of the supersensible until it attains those heights of consciousness where life in the sense world is permeated by the supersensible, spiritual world to such an extent that the two become one. This process of transformation was visible to Goethe's soul in delicately woven figures of phantasy. Through the Conversations of German Emigrants shines the problem of the relation of the physical world to a world of supersensible experience free of every element of sense with its consequences for the communal life of man. This problem finds a far-reaching solution at the end of the fairy tale in a panorama of poetic pictures. This Essay merely indicates the path leading to the realm where Goethe's imagination wove the fabric of the fairy tale. Living understanding of all the other details can be developed by those who realise the fairy tale to be a picture of man's soul life as it strives towards the supersensible world. Schiller realised this fully. He writes: “The fairy tale is full of colour and humour and I think that you have given most charming expression to the ideas of which you once spoke, namely, in reference to the reciprocal interplay of the powers and their reaction on each other.” For even when it is objected that this reciprocal interaction of the powers refers to powers of different men, we can plead the well-known Goethean truth that although the soul powers from one point of view are distributed among different human beings, they are nothing but the divergent rays of the collective human soul. And when different human natures work together in a common existence we have in this mutual action and reaction nothing more nor less than a picture of the multifarious forces and powers constituting in their reciprocal relationships the one collective individual being, Man.
|GA 232. Mystery Centres — Lecture V|
|When in this way we learn to understand the speech of the metals, then gold tells us of the Sun, lead tells us of Saturn, copper tells us of Venus. And then these metals say to us: “Once upon a time we extended far out, copper to Venus, lead to Saturn. Today we are enchanted here. But when the earth shall have so fulfilled her task that man shall have attained what only on the earth he can attain we shall extend out yonder again.|
|GA 232. Mystery Centres — Lecture V|
Through that which I gave you in my last lecture it is now possible to speak more exactly of many of those events which occurred in the course of the evolution of the earth, and which have brought about its present form. You will remember I said that one who has attained to knowledge through inner vision comes into a certain relationship with the metals of the earth, with all that has its being in the earth, through the fact that the earth is permeated with veins of metal, that the earth in general carries within itself various kinds of metals. This relationship into which man can enter with the metals enables him to look back on that which has happened to the earth.
It is particularly interesting to look back to what happened on the earth in the times preceding the Atlantean evolution, that period which I have described in a somewhat external way, as the Lemurian epoch; to look back also to the period of time which immediately preceded this, when the Earth went through the Sun stage. During the Lemurian epoch the Earth went through the Moon stage. It is interesting to look back on all these events, for we thereby receive an impression of how wonderful is everything in the sphere of earthly existence.
Nowadays we are accustomed to regard the earth as complete in the form which it presents to us today. We live on the continents as human beings, and are surrounded by what the earth bears upon it in the way of plants, animals, birds of the air, and so on. We know that we ourselves live, in a certain sense, in a sort of air-ocean, the atmosphere which surrounds the earth, that out of this atmosphere we take oxygen into ourselves, that our relation to the nitrogen also plays a certain role. We picture to ourselves in general that this atmosphere, consisting in oxygen and nitrogen, surrounds us. Then we look upon the oceans, the seas — I need not go into every detail — and we form a picture of the planet which we inhabit in the universe.
The earth was not always as it is today; it has undergone tremendous changes. If we go back to the times I have just indicated, to the Lemurian age and a little further back we find quite a different condition of the earth from what we have today.
Let us begin with the atmosphere in which we now live, and which we regard as non-living, lifeless; even this atmosphere shows itself in those early ages as something quite different. If we go still further back we have to observe something else. Today, we have this firm solid earth-kernel and around it the atmosphere. A similar mental picture might also be made even for those very ancient times, but there could be no question of there being round the earth anything like the air we now breathe. In the air we breathe today oxygen and nitrogen play the chief part, carbon and hydrogen play a less important part, and sulphur and phosphorous a still less significant one.
As regards those very ancient times it is really not possible to speak of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, sulphur and so on, simply because what the chemist calls by these names today did not exist in this ancient period. If a chemist of today were to meet a spiritual being of that time and speak of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, etc., that being would reply “such things do not exist.” It is possible to speak today of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, etc., but in those ancient times there was absolutely no possibility of speaking of these things for they could only be present as such after the earth had reached a certain density and had acquired forces such as it has within it today. Oxygen, nitrogen, potassium, sodium and so on, all the lighter so-called metals simply did not exist in that ancient epoch. On the other hand there was at that time around the earth, in the place where today we have the atmosphere something which was of an exceedingly fine fluid nature, of a consistency halfway between our present air and water. It was of a fluid nature, but in its fluidity it was similar to albumen; so that in reality the earth at that time was entirely surrounded by an albuminous atmosphere. The albumen in eggs today is very much denser, but it may be compared with that of which we are now speaking.
From this environment of the earth when later the earth become denser, what we now call carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and so on were gradually differentiated. They were not there in such a way that we can say this ancient albuminous atmosphere was composed of these elements, for it did not have these several elements as ingredients. Today we generally think of things as being formed by combination, but that is nonsense. What we know as certain higher substances are not always composed of what appears when they are analysed, for these things cease to be present in the higher substance. Carbon is not present there as carbon, nor oxygen as oxygen, but there is a substance of a higher nature. As I have said, this substance according to its qualities may really be described as albumen in an excessively fluid condition. The whole of this substance surrounding the earth at that time was permeated from the universe with cosmic ether, which gave it life. So that we have to represent to ourselves the cosmic ether as projecting into this substance and giving it life.
This substance lived because the cosmic ether projected itself into it. Not only was it alive, it was also differentiated in a remarkable manner, e.g. in one part there appears a large structure in which man would be suffocated, in another part another large structure appears in which man could specially have regained new life and activity if he could have been there at that time as a human being, and so forth. Formations arose, producing effects which remind one of the chemical elements of today, but chemical elements in our modern sense did not exist. Then the whole was pervaded by reflections of light, gleams of light, rays of light, sparkles of light. And finally the whole was warmed through by the cosmic ether.
Such were the characteristics at that early period of the earth's atmosphere. The first thing to be fashioned from out of the cosmos is what I described in the last lecture as the very first primeval mountains. These were fashioned from out of the cosmos. Thus the quartz that is found out there in the primeval mountains in its beautiful form, in its relative transparency, was formed in the earth to a certain extent from out of the universe. That is why, today, if we transfer ourselves through Imaginative vision into these rocks of the primeval mountains into what are now the hardest formations of the earth they are to us as the eyes of the earth through which it gazes out into the universe. But also it was the universe which implanted these eyes in the earth. They are there now. The universe has placed them in the earth. The quartz, the silica and such like which then permeated the whole atmosphere and were gradually deposited as primeval mountains were not so hard as today. This only came afterwards, this hardened state through circumstances which developed later. All that was thus fashioned out of the cosmos in that far-off time was scarcely harder than wax.
If you go now into those mountainous regions and there see a quartz crystal, it is so hard that, as I have said before, if you were to knock your head against it your skull would crack but not the quartz. At that far-off time, however, because of the life which pervaded everything the quartz was actually as soft as wax. We may, therefore, say that these rocks of the primeval mountains came out of the cosmos as a kind of trickling wax.
All that thus slipped into the earth from out of the cosmos was transparent, and its relative hardness, its wax-like hardness can only be described by mentally employing the sense of touch. If we could have grasped it, it would have felt like wax.
It was in this way that these ancient mountains were deposited from out of the cosmos as a kind of wax-substance trickling in and then gradually hardening. Silica had a wax-like consistency at the time in which it was deposited out of the cosmos into the earth.
That which today is present more spiritually and which I described in the last lecture, viz. that by transposing oneself into this hard rock one has pictures of the cosmos — this phenomenon was at that time quite perceptible spiritually, and in such a way that when such silicates in the wax-like condition began to condense one could distinguish in them something like a kind of plant-form. Anyone who has looked round a little on nature knows quite well that something like distinctive marks of an ancient time are to be found. in the mineral world today. We find stones, we take them in our hands, we look attentively at them, and we find they have within them something like the outline of a plant-form. At that time it was quite a usual phenomenon which came into this albuminous atmosphere, pushed in as it were as outlines which could not only be seen but which were substantially photographed in this wax-like body.
Then the peculiar configuration came about that the fluid albumen which existed in the atmosphere filled in these outline forms and thereby they became somewhat harder, somewhat denser. Then they were no longer merely outline forms. The silicious part fell away from them and was dispersed in the rest of the atmosphere. In the earliest part of the Lemurian epoch we have those gigantic floating plant-formations reminding us somewhat of the forms of the algae of today, which are not rooted in the soil, for as yet there was no soil there. They floated in this fluid albumen with which they were permeated and out of which they formed their own substance. Not only did they float in this fluid albumen, they also shone forth I might say, they lit up and then faded away. They were capable of transformation to the extent that they could arise and disappear.
Place this picture clearly before your minds. It is a picture which is indeed very different from anything around us today. If we as modern men could transpose ourselves into that ancient epoch, if, let us say, we could set up a little sentry box somewhere and watch what happened around, if from it we could look out into that ancient world we should see all round us, over there a plant-form shoots up, a tremendous plant-form, like our present algae (sea-weed) or even like a palm. But it shoots up. It does not grow out of the earth in spring and die down in autumn; it shoots up, appearing in the spring-time (the spring-time was much shorter then) and reaches a tremendous size. Then it disappears again into the fluid albumen-like element. Such an observer would see green ever appearing and then fading away. He would not speak of plants covering the earth but of plants which like air-clouds appear from out of the cosmos, become dense and then dissolve away, something which grows green in this element of albumen. Then in the time which would somewhat correspond to our summertime today he would say: This is the time when the environment of our earth grows green. But he would have to look up to the green rather than look down on it.
In this way the idea comes to us how the flinty part of the earth atmosphere draws down into the earth, and how the plant-force which is really out there in the cosmos attracts it up to itself, how the plant-world comes down to the earth from out of the cosmos. In the period of which I am now speaking we have to say: This plant-world is something which arises and passes away in the atmosphere.
Something else must also be said. If today as human beings we transfer ourselves through this relationship with the metallic elements of the earth back into those ancient times we feel as if all this belonged to ourselves, as if we had something to do with that which at that time within the atmosphere grew green and then faded away. When today we recall our own childhood our memory extends over a relatively short span of time. Yet just as we can recall a pain which we experienced in childhood — and that is something which belongs to us — in the same way in this cosmic recollection aroused by the metallic element of the earth we experience this process of the becoming green and fading away as something which belongs to us. Man was already at that time connected with the earth, that earth which lived in this watery albuminous atmosphere. He was united with it as a human being but in such a way that as man he was still wholly spiritual. We express a reality when we say: Man must acquire the concept that these plants which we see there in the atmosphere at that time are something separated, something thrown off from that which is human. Man puts this out of his own being which itself is still united with the whole earth. And he has this conception, or should have it, of something else that he places outside of him, something quite different. The following also happened. Everything I have hitherto described was brought about through the silica substance in the atmosphere having been already deposited in the wax-like substance of which I have spoken. But apart from that, this albuminous atmosphere extends everywhere. Upon this atmosphere the cosmos works. Upon this atmosphere there work the countless manifold forces which stream down to the earth from the cosmos everywhere, those forces of which our modern science has no wish to know anything. Hence our modern science is indeed no true knowledge, for the most various phenomena which occur on the earth would indeed not occur if they were not brought about by cosmic impulses and cosmic forces.
Because the learned men of today do not speak of these cosmic forces they do not speak of what above all things is reality. They take nowhere into account that which is really living. Even in the smallest particle which we look at under the microscope there live not only earthly but cosmic forces, and if this is not taken into account there is no reality.
Thus were the cosmic forces active at that time upon this fluid albumen in the environment of the earth. These cosmic forces worked on many parts of this albumen in such a way that they congealed, so that one could see everywhere albumen congealed by the forces of the cosmos; this cosmically congealed albumen swam in the earth environment. These forms of cosmically congealed albumen were not merely imaginary masses of clouds, they were living things having definite forms. These were actually animals which consisted in this congealed albumen thickened to the density of jelly or even to that of our present-day gristle. Such jelly-like animals existed in this fluid albuminous atmosphere. They had a shape which we find today on a smaller scale in our reptiles, in lizards and creatures of that kind; they were not so dense as these are, but they had gelatinous bodies and the power of movement. At one moment they had long limbs, at another these limbs were drawn back into the body. In short, everything about these limbs is like a snail which can extend and withdraw its feelers.
While all this was being formed outside something else was being deposited in the earth from out of the cosmos, another substance in addition to the silica, and that is what you find today as the chalk or limestone of the earth. If you go into the primeval mountains, or merely into the Jura mountains, you find this limestone rock. This limestone rock certainly came to the earth later but it came in the same way as the silica out of the cosmos on to the earth. Thus we find chalk as the second substance in the earth.
This chalk continually oozes in and the essential thing is that it works in such a way that the kernel of the earth gradually becomes denser and denser. In certain localities the silica incorporates itself into the chalk. But the chalk retains the cosmic forces. Chalk indeed is something quite different from the coarse material which the chemists of today represent it to be. It contains formative forces, relatively active though unrecognized.
Now we come to a peculiar thing. If we consider a somewhat later time than that which I have described in connection with the phenomenon of the arising and passing away of the green, we find that in this albuminous atmosphere there is a continual rising and falling of chalky substance. Chalk-mist is formed and then chalk-rain. There was a period on the earth when the water which today rises in mist and falls as rain was of a chalk nature which rose and fell, ascending and descending. Now the peculiar thing comes about that this chalk is specially attracted by the gelatinous, the gristly forms; it permeates them, impregnates them with itself. And through the earth forces which are in it (I told you the earth-forces are in the chalk) through these forces the whole gelatinous mass is gradually dissolved, the mass which, as we have seen, formed itself there as coagulated albumen. The chalk abstracts the albumen and carries it down nearer to the earth, and from this gradually arise the animals which have bones containing lime. That is what develops in the later part of the Lemurian epoch.
We have, therefore, first of all to look upon the plants in their most ancient form as pure gifts from heaven. In the animals, in everything possessing an animal form we have to see something which the earth, after the heavens had given it chalk, took and made into an earthly form. These are the marvelous things which we discover in those ancient times. We feel so bound up with these things that we feel this whole process as an expansion of the human being into the cosmos.
Such things naturally sound paradoxical because they touch upon a reality of which the man of the present day usually has no idea; nevertheless they are absolutely true. Does it not correspond with reality today when someone says from what he remembers: “When I was a child of nine years old I had a friend whom I fought or hurt?” That recollection is something which arises from within. The speaker may feel pleasure in it or not. It may cause him pain, but it arises within him. Similarly there arises in man through the relationship with the metals an enhanced human consciousness which becomes an earth consciousness: Whilst thou hast formed on the earth thy whole being from out of the heavens, by the descent thou hast separated the plants from thee. They are cast off from thee. Thou hast also cast off the animal nature. In the form of coagulated jelly or gristle thou didst will first of all that the animal nature should become a separate product from thyself. But in this case thou hast had to see how earlier earth forces have taken this work from thee and have fashioned the animal forms into another shape, which is a result of earth creation. In this way, in, a cosmic memory, one can see this as one's own experience just as one can see the case I have just given you as an experience of a short earthly life. One feels oneself, as has been said, united as a human being with all these things.
But all this is indeed connected with many other processes. I can only sketch for you the chief events. Many other things happened. For example, while all that I have described was taking place the whole atmosphere was filled with sulphur in a finely divided state. This finely divided sulphur united itself with other substances, and from the union there arose what I may call the parents of everything which is found today in the ores as pyrites, galena, native sulphide of zinc, etc. In this way all these substances developed in an older form, soft, thick and wax-like. The body of the earth was permeated with these things.
When these ores, these metallic substances developed out of the general albuminous substance and formed the solid crust of the earth the metals had really not much else to do, unless man made some use of them, than to ponder over what had happened in the past. We find them still doing this, bringing graphically to the mind of one who has inner vision all that has happened to the earth. Now because he has, as his own, this cosmic or at least tellurian experience he says: Through having cast off from thyself all this, through having cast off the primeval plant-form, a form which has since developed into the later plant-forms, through having cast off that which still exists in a more complicated way as the animal creation as I have described it, thou hast separated from thyself that which formerly hindered thee from having as man a will of thine own.
All that I have described to you was necessary. Man had to cast off these things from himself, just as today he has to get rid of perspiration and other matter. Man had to cast off these things so that he might no longer be a being in whom merely the gods willed, but so that he could be a being with a will of his own, certainly not yet a free will, but his own. All this was necessary as preparation for the earthly nature of man.
Through much else that happened everything gradually became transformed. As the metals were now within the earth the whole atmosphere changed also. It became a different atmosphere, much less sulphurous. Oxygen gradually gained the upper hand over the sulphur, whereas in the ancient times sulphur was of very great significance for the atmosphere of the earth. The whole atmosphere of the earth became transformed.
In this transformed atmosphere man could again cast off from himself something else. What man now separated off appeared as the successors of the earlier plants and earlier animals.
Gradually the later plant-forms developed. These had a kind of root by which they held on to a still extremely soft earthy substance. And there arose reptiles, lizard-like animals, more complicated creatures, impressions of which present-day geology can still discover. Of the most ancient creatures of which I have spoken nothing can be found. Only in that later period, when man for the second time separated off from himself more complicated forms, only then were there such creatures as I have been describing to you. First of all cloud-like structures, continually arising and disappearing, growing green and then fading away; soft animal-like forms which were really animals, forms which gradually consolidated themselves, had a life of their own and then disappeared into the common earth-life. This was the case with all these beings. And out of all this arose something which condensed more into itself.
Among these animals was one which may be described as follows: it had a very large eye-like organ surrounded by a sort of aura. Near it was a kind of snout, which besides was elongated forward, then something like a lizard's body, but with powerful fins. Such a form as this arose, which now developed more firmness within itself. Animals arose possessed of what I may just as well call wings as fins, because these animals were not marine creatures, for there was no sea as yet, there was a soft earthy mass and the still soft element of the surroundings from which only the sulphur had been partly removed. In these surroundings such an animal flew or swam, it was an activity between flying and swimming.
Besides these there were other animals which did not have this kind of limbs. They had limbs which already were formed more out of the forces of the earth itself, and which remind us too of the limbs of the lower mammals of today.
Thus if starting from today we could wander back through time rather than through space into that period which unites the Lemurian epoch with that of Atlantis, a peculiar prospect would face us. We should see these gigantic flying lizards, with a sort of lantern on their heads which shines and also gives warmth. Down below is the soft morass-like earth which has something extremely familiar about it, because it offers to the visitors of today a kind of odour, something between a musty smell and the smell arising from green plants, something between the two. Something seductive on the one hand and extremely sympathetic on the other would be offered by the mud of the soft earth. In this morass too we find moving about as swamp-animals creatures which already have limbs more like those of our present lower animals, but spread out below them, something like the webbed feet of a duck but of course very much bigger. With these “shovels” they propel themselves in the swamp, and also rock about from side to side.
Man had to go through all this casting-off process so that he might be prepared for independent feeling during his earth existence.
Thus we have first a vegetable-animal creation consisting in products separated off from man, which prepares the possibility for the earthly human being to become a willing being. If all this had remained in man it would have taken possession of his will. His will would then have become entirely a physical function. Through having separated these things from himself the physical is put outside of him and the will assumes a psychic character.
In like manner, through this second creation feeling assumes a psychic character. Not until the middle of the Atlantean epoch do there develop out of these animals and plants the animals and plants that are similar to ours of today. The earth at that time had reached a stage similar in appearance to what it is now. The same chemical substances as are recognized by the chemists of today were also in existence. Gradually there developed what we know as carbon, oxygen, the alkaline heavy metals, and the like. These things were developed by that time.
Thereby man was able to make the third separation from himself, viz., that which he today forms in his surroundings as the plant-animal world. And inasmuch as he separated this off from himself and inasmuch as there arose around him the present-day creation he has become prepared for his life on earth as a thinking being.
Thus we must say that humanity was not then divided as it is today into single individuals. There was one common humanity, still of a psychic and spiritual nature, sinking itself in the ether. For this common humanity came down from the cosmos with the ether which streamed down to the earth from the cosmos.
Humanity then went through those events which you find described in my Outline of Occult Science. It came to the earth, went away to the other planets, and came back again in the Atlantean epoch. This went on continually alongside the other happenings, for whenever something was separated off humanity could not remain on the earth. It had to go away in order to strengthen the inner forces, which were now of a much finer, more psychic nature. Then humanity came down again. You may read about these events in more detail in my Outline of Occult Science. They are as follows: Man, humanity, really belonged to the cosmos, and prepared for himself his own earthly environment by sending into the domain of the earth those things which he separated from him, and which then became the other kingdoms of nature. They are now in the domain of the earth, where man is surrounded by them. And now we can say: By sending these castoff products into the domain of the earth man gradually developed within him that which furnished him as an earthly human being with willing, feeling and thinking.
For that which man is today as a thinking, feeling and willing being, which, during the period between birth and death rests upon a physical organic foundation, has only gradually developed, and it is connected with those beings who, for the sake of human evolution, have separated in the course of time from the human kingdom. Owing to this separation they have metamorphosed themselves to their present forms.
You see from what has now been said that we do not speak merely in a general abstract way about this relationship with that which is of a metallic nature in the earth. For when one is united with these metals, which conceal within them the memory of earthly events one can then really speak of what one remembers, one really finds what I have related today.
When we travel back into those earlier times we find everything more fleeting, more quickly vanishing. Just contemplate the grandiose, the majestic outlook which I have described to you. Those wax-like mobile silicate forms in which the outlined forms of the plant-world arise which suck themselves full of the soft albuminous substance, and thereby present in the earthly environment to which we look up something which grows green and fades away again. Think over these things and you yourselves will say: In contrast with plants growing on the earth today with firm roots and solid leaves; or, compared with present-day trees with their hard trunk, all that is a fleeting picture. Just think how fleeting those earlier forms were compared with the oak-tree of today! (The oak itself is not proud of its firmness, but those living round it generally are, for they confound their own frequent weakness with the firmness of the oak.) If you compare the hardness of the oak of today with the substance of those ancient plant-forms, how feeble is their rising, how feeble their fading away, like shadows rising in the atmosphere, condensing, then vanishing away! Or if you compare this with a coarser case, say, a hippopotamus or an elephant of today, or any living mammal in its stout skin — compare these with the creatures of that early time, when as coagulated albumen they came out from the common albuminous mass and were seized on by the chalk, and through that process in somewhat denser fashion developed indications of bones in the animal nature of the earth; how in this way they become somewhat denser and develop the first indications of a bony system. If you consider all this solidity of today compared with what the earth once was you will no longer be able to doubt that the further we go back the more fleeting and volatile are the conditions.
We then go further back to where there are only colour-formations surging up, weaving and living, which arise and pass away. If you then take the description of the Old Sun, of Old Saturn, the predecessors of the earth as you will find them given in my Outline of Occult Science you will say that all this is comprehensible when we know that we have to go back from the present time to an earlier condition. There this evanescent plant-formation absorbs the albumen and becomes something like a cloud-formation. At a still earlier period we find forms manifesting only in colour, such as I have described when speaking of the Sun existence or the Saturn existence.
Thus gradually, if we follow what is physical backwards through time we get away from the gross and elephantine, through the finer physical to the spiritual, and in this way, by paying attention to actual fact we get back to the spiritual origin of everything which belongs to the earth. The earth has its origin in the spiritual. That is the result of true vision, and I think it is a beautiful idea to be able to say: If you penetrate into the interior of the earth, and let the hard metals tell you what they remember they will relate the following: “We were once spread out in cosmic space in such a way that we were not physical substance at all, but in the spirit we were essence of colour, weaving in the cosmos, arising and vanishing.” The memory of the metals of the earth takes us back to that condition where the metals were cosmic colours, permeating one another, where the cosmos was in essential a kind of rainbow, a kind of spectrum, which then gradually differentiated itself and then became physical.
This is the point at which what I may call the merely theoretical impression communicated by the metallic element of the earth passed over into the moral impression. For each metal tells us at the same time: “I originate from the expanses of space and from earth-forms. I arise out of the heavenly kingdom. I am here drawn down and enchanted into the earth. But I await my redemption, for I shall once again fill the universe with my being.” When in this way we learn to understand the speech of the metals, then gold tells us of the Sun, lead tells us of Saturn, copper tells us of Venus. And then these metals say to us: “Once upon a time we extended far out, copper to Venus, lead to Saturn. Today we are enchanted here. But when the earth shall have so fulfilled her task that man shall have attained what only on the earth he can attain we shall extend out yonder again. We have been enchanted in this way so that man on the earth might become a free being. When freedom has been purchased for man, then our disenchantment too can begin.”
This disenchantment has already begun. We have only to understand it. We must understand how the earth, together with man, will develop further into the future.
|GA 120. Manifestations of Karma — Free Will and Karma in the Future of Human Evolution|
|But I need not go very far into that, for you may find in all the ordinary books those expositions which could be given here if we had time enough. These differences in matter present themselves to man when he sees the different metals, gold, copper, lead, and so on, or when he sees anything that does not belong to this category. You know, too, that chemistry traces these different materials back to certain fundamental substances of matter, called ‘elements.’|
|It is not possible today, by scientific means, to bring about conditions which show that ‘if you take gold and rarefy it as far as it can be rarefied upon the earth, you will bring it at last to a state which could equally be reached by silver or by copper.’ Spiritual Science can do this because it is based upon the methods of spiritual research; is thus able to observe how, in the spaces between substances, there is always a uniform substance everywhere which represents the extreme limit to which all matter is reducible.|
|GA 120. Manifestations of Karma — Free Will and Karma in the Future of Human Evolution|
There are certain deeper questions of karmic connection concerning more especially our human influence upon karma, particularly upon that of other people, and concerning also the changing of the direction of karma, be it to a greater or less extent. Such questions as these one can neither answer nor even give an idea of how they ought to be answered, without touching, as we shall today, upon certain important secrets of our world existence. They may perhaps arise out of what has been said, if we follow up what has been broached and had light thrown upon it from one side or another.
We may ask what happens in a person's karma when by reason of his previous acts or experiences there has arisen a necessity for illness to compensate for these acts and experiences, and this person is really healed through human assistance by means of remedies or other intervention. What does this signify and in what way is such a fact related to a deeper conception of karmic law?
Now I will begin by saying that in order to throw any important light at all upon this question, things must be touched upon which are far removed from the science and the present thought of today and which may, so to say, only be spoken of amongst Anthroposophists who, having absorbed some of the truths relating to the deeper foundations of existence, have already prepared themselves for such things, and have acquired a perception of how things which today can only be indicated, may nevertheless be fully proved. I should like, however, to take this opportunity of asking one thing of you. I am today compelled to talk about the deeper foundations of the earth's existence which I shall endeavour to express as precisely as possible. But this would be wrong if it were used in another connection or spoken of without any connection at all, and would lead to one misunderstanding after another. I ask you for the present just to accept it only, and make no other use of it. I must also make a point, regarding these things, that they should not be handed on; that no one should consider them as a teaching which may in any way spread further; for only the connection justifies such a statement, and such a statement is justifiable only when it is backed by the consciousness that can coin suitable words to express thoughts of this kind.
We are now speaking, on the one hand, of the deeper nature of material existence, and on the other, of the nature of soul existence. We must today acquire a deeper comprehension of what pertains to the soul and to the material world. This is, indeed, necessary for a quite definite reason — for the reason given in the previous lectures when we said that the soul of man can penetrate more or less deeply into matter. We described yesterday the nature of the male by saying that in a man the soul penetrates deeper into matter, while in the female the soul holds back in a certain way and is more independent of matter. We saw that much of karmic experience depends upon how the penetration of the soul into matter takes place. We saw also how certain illnesses in one incarnation appear as the karmic consequences of errors made by the soul in former incarnations when it worked at its deeds, experiences and impulses. Then on the way between death and a new birth the soul acquired the tendency to transform into matter that which was formerly only a characteristic, a mere influence in the soul; so it now permeates the body. Because the human being is then permeated by a soul which has also absorbed either the luciferic or ahrimanic influence, the human substance will in consequence be damaged. Here is to be found the cause of illness, and we may therefore say: In a sick body there dwells a damaged soul which has come under a wrong influence — a luciferic or ahrimanic influence; and the moment we are able to remove these influences from the soul, the normal relationship of soul and the body should come about, and health should be re-established. What then is the relation between these two members of the earthly human existence of which we are now speaking, matter and soul? What are they in their deeper nature?
The man of the present day is generally of the opinion that the answer to the question, ‘Of what does matter consist? What is the soul?’ — if it could be given at all — must prove to be the same all over the world. I do not think it would be easy for him to understand that for the beings who lived upon the old Moon, the answer to these questions must be quite different from those of beings who live upon the Earth. For existence is so much in the throes of evolution, that even the ideas may alter which a being may have about the deeper foundations of his own nature; so that the answer to this question, ‘What is matter, what is the soul?’ must also vary. It must at once be emphasised that the answers which will be given are only those which the earth-man can make, and are of significance only to the earth-man.
A person will at first judge ‘matter’ according to what confronts him in the external world in the shape of different beings and things, and everything which makes an impression upon him in any way. Then he discovers that there are different sorts of matter. But I need not go very far into that, for you may find in all the ordinary books those expositions which could be given here if we had time enough. These differences in matter present themselves to man when he sees the different metals, gold, copper, lead, and so on, or when he sees anything that does not belong to this category. You know, too, that chemistry traces these different materials back to certain fundamental substances of matter, called ‘elements.’ These elements, even in the nineteenth century, were still considered to be substances possessing certain properties which did not admit of being further divided. But in the case of a substance such as water, we are able to separate it into hydrogen and oxygen, yet in hydrogen and oxygen themselves we have substances which, according to the chemistry of the nineteenth century, were incapable of being further divided. One could distinguish about seventy such elements. You will doubtless also know that owing to phenomena which have been produced in connection with a few special elements — radium, for instance — and also owing to various phenomena produced in the study of electricity, the idea of the elements has been shaken in many ways. One has come to the conclusion that the seventy elements were only temporary limitations of matter, and that one could trace back the possibility of subdivision to a fundamental substance, which then through inner combinations, through the nature of its inner elementary being, manifests at one time as gold, at another time as potash, lime, and so on.
These scientific theories vary; and just as the scientific theories changed in ‘each fifty years’ of the nineteenth century, so it came about that certain physicists saw in matter certain entities which are charged with electricity; just as the ionic theory is now in fashion — for there are fashions in science — in the same way at no distant future other scientific methods will exist, and our idea of the constitution of matter will be quite different. These are facts. Scientific opinions are changeable, and must be changeable, for they depend altogether upon those facts which are of significance for one particular epoch. The teachings of Spiritual Science on the other hand continue through all ages — as long as there are civilisations on the earth — and will continue as long as these civilisations exist. It has always had the same comprehensive view regarding the nature of material existence and matter; and in order to lead you on to what Spiritual Science looks upon as the essential part of matter and of substance, I should like to say the following:
You all know that ice is a solid body — not through its own nature, but through external circumstances. It at once ceases to be a solid if we raise the temperature sufficiently; it then becomes a fluid substance. Therefore it does not depend upon what is in a substance itself as to what form it takes in the external world, but upon the entire conditions of the universe surrounding it. We can then further bring heat to this substance, and out of the water we can, after a certain point, produce steam. We have ice, water, steam, and through the raising of the temperature we have caused what we may describe as ‘the appearance of matter in manifold forms.’ Thus we have to distinguish in matter that the appearance it presents to us does not come out of an inner constitution, but that the manner in which it confronts us depends upon the general constitution of the universe, and that one must not isolate any part of the whole universe into individual substances. Now the methods of modern science cannot reach where Spiritual Science is able to reach. The science of today can never, by means of the methods at its disposal, bring the substance of ice — which, when the temperature is increased, is first made fluidic and then turned into steam — into the final condition attainable on earth, into which every substance can be transmuted. It is not possible today, by scientific means, to bring about conditions which show that ‘if you take gold and rarefy it as far as it can be rarefied upon the earth, you will bring it at last to a state which could equally be reached by silver or by copper.’ Spiritual Science can do this because it is based upon the methods of spiritual research; is thus able to observe how, in the spaces between substances, there is always a uniform substance everywhere which represents the extreme limit to which all matter is reducible. Spiritual research discovers a condition of dissolution in which all materials are reduced to a common basis, but what then appears there is no longer matter, but something which lies beyond all the specialised forms of matter around us. Every single substance, be it gold, silver, or any other substance, is there seen to be a condensation of this fundamental substance, which is really no longer matter. There is a fundamental essence of our material earth existence out of which all matter only comes into being by a condensing process, and to the question: What is this fundamental substance of our earth existence, Spiritual Science gives the answer: ‘Every substance upon the earth is condensed light.’ There is nothing in material existence in any form whatever which is anything but condensed light. Hence you see that to those who know the facts, there can be no necessity for such a theory as that of the ‘vibration hypothesis’ of the nineteenth century. Therein one sought to find light by methods which themselves are coarser than the light itself. Light cannot be traced back to anything else in our material existence. Wherever you reach out and touch a substance, there you have condensed, compressed light. All matter is, in its essence, light.
We have thus indicated one side of the question from the point of view of Spiritual Science. We have seen that light is the foundation of all material existence. If we look at the material human body, that also, inasmuch as it consists of matter, is nothing but a substance woven out of light. Inasmuch as man is a material being, he is composed of light.
Let us now consider the other question: ‘Of what does the soul consist?’ If we were to make research in the same way, by means of the methods of Spiritual Science, into the substance, into the really fundamental essence of the soul, then it would appear that just as all matter is compressed light, so all the different phenomena of the soul upon earth are modifications, are manifold transformations of that which must be called, if we truly realise the fundamental meaning of the word: love. Every stirring of the soul, wherever it appears, is in some way a modification of love, and if the inner and the outer are, as it were, intermingled, impressed into one another in man, we find also that his outer bodily part is woven out of light, and his inner soul is woven spiritually out of love. Love and light are, indeed, in some way interwoven in all the phenomena of our earth existence, and anyone who wishes to understand things as explained by Spiritual Science, will first of all ask: To what extent are love and light interwoven?
Love and light are the two elements, the two component parts of all earthly existence: love as the soul part, and light as the outer material part.
Now, however, another fact comes in. For both these elements, light and love, which would otherwise be side by side throughout the great course of the world existence, there must be found an intermediary, weaving the one element into the other — light into love. This must needs be a power which has no particular interest in love, which thus weaves light into the element of love — a power which is interested only in causing the light to be spread abroad to as great an extent as possible, and therefore causes light to stream into the element of love. Such a power cannot be terrestrial for the earth is the Cosmos of Love; and its mission is to weave love in everywhere. Anything, therefore, which is bound up with the earth existence can have no interest which is not to some degree influenced by love.
It is the luciferic beings which act here — for they remained behind upon the Moon upon the Cosmos of Wisdom. They are particularly interested in weaving light into love. The luciferic beings are everywhere at work when our inner part which is actually woven out of love comes into any sort of connection with light, in whatsoever form it may be found; and we are confronted with light in all material existence. Wheresoever we come into connection with light, the luciferic beings enter, and the luciferic influence becomes woven into love. In that way man first, in the course of his incarnations, entered the luciferic element. Lucifer has woven himself into the element of love; and all that is formed from love has the impress of Lucifer, which alone can bring us what causes love to be not merely a self-abandonment, but permeates it in its innermost being with wisdom. Otherwise, without this wisdom, love would be an impersonal force in man for which he could not be responsible. But in this way love becomes the essential force of the Ego where that luciferic element is woven, which otherwise is only to be found outside in matter. Thus it becomes possible for our inner being which, during earth existence, should receive the attribute of love in its fullness, to be permeated besides by everything that may be described as an activity of Lucifer, and from this side leads to a penetration of external matter; so that which is woven out of light is not interwoven with love alone, but with love that is permeated by Lucifer. When man takes up the luciferic — element, he interweaves into the material part of his own body a soul which is, it is true, woven out of love, but into which the luciferic element is interwoven. It is that love which is permeated with the luciferic element, which impregnates matter and is the cause of illness working out from within. In connection with what we have already mentioned as being a necessary consequence of an illness proceeding from a luciferic element, we may say that the ensuing pain, which we have seen is a consequence of the Luciferic element, shows us the effect of the working of the karmic law. So the consequences of an act or a temptation coming from Lucifer are experienced karmically and the pain itself indicates what should lead to the overcoming of the consequences in question.
Now ought we to help in such a case or not? Ought we in any way to cancel what has pressed in from the luciferic element with all its consequences working out in pain?
Remembering the answer to our question as to the nature of the soul, it follows of necessity that we have the right to do this only if we find the means, in the case of a man who has the luciferic element in him which caused his illness, to expel that luciferic element in the right way. What is the remedy which exerts a stronger action, so that the luciferic element is driven out. What is it which has been defiled by the luciferic element on our earth? It is love! Hence only by means of love can we give real help for karma to work out in the right way. Finally we must see in that element of love which has been psychically influenced by Lucifer resulting in illness, a force which must be affected by another force. We must pour in love. All those acts of healing dependent upon what we may call a ‘psychic healing process’ must have the characteristic that love is part of the process. In some form or other all psychic healing depends on a stream of love, which we pour into another person as a balsam. All that is done in this domain must finally be traced back to love; and this can be done. Even if we set simple psychic factors in action; if we assist another, perhaps, only to overcome depression, this can be traced back to love. All arises from the impulse of love, from simpler processes of healing, to that which is often, in amateur fashion called ‘magnetic healing.’ What does the healer communicate to the one to be healed? It is, to use an expression of physics, an ‘interchange of tensions.’ Certain processes in the etheric body of the healer create with the person to be healed a sort of polarity. Polarity arises just as it would arise in an abstract sense, when one kind of electricity, say positive, is produced and then the corresponding electricity — the negative — appears. Thus polarities are created, and this act must be conceived as emanating from sacrifice. One evokes in oneself a process which is not intended to be significant to oneself only, for then one would call forth one process only; in this case, however, the process is intended in addition to induce a polarity in another person, and this polarity, which naturally depends upon a contact between the healer and the person to be healed, is, in the fullest sense of the word, the sacrifice of a force which is no other than the transmuted action of love. That is what is really active in these psychic healings — a transmuted power of love. We must clearly understand that without this fundamental love-force the healing will not lead to the right goal. But these processes of love need not always run their course [so] that the person is fully aware of them with his ordinary day-consciousness; they run their course also in the region of the subconscious. In that which is considered as the technique of the healing process, even to the way in which the movements of the hands are made, and technically reduced to a system, we have the reflection of a sacrificial act. Therefore even where we do not see the direct connection in a process of healing, when we do not see what is being done, we have, nevertheless, before us an act of love, although the action may be completely transformed to a mere technique.
Since the soul consists fundamentally of love, we can assist with psychic factors. And these processes apparently lie very near the periphery of human nature, and by such factors of healing that which in its essence consists of love is enriched by what it requires in the way of love. Thus on the one side we see how we can help, so that, after being caught in the toils of Lucifer, the sufferer is able to free himself again. Because love is the fundamental essence of the soul, we may, indeed, influence the direction of karma.
On the other hand, we may ask, what has become of the substance woven from light in which the soul dwells?
Take the body — the outer man in his material part. If through a karmic process there had not been imprinted from out of the soul into matter a love substance such as is permeated by Lucifer or Ahriman; if a pure love substance only had poured in, it would not have been impurifying, or damaging to the substance woven out of light. If love alone were to flow into matter, it would then so flow into the human body that the latter could not be damaged. It is only because a love which has absorbed luciferic or ahrimanic forces can penetrate that the substance woven out of light becomes less perfect than it was originally intended to be. Therefore it is only through pouring into man of the luciferic or ahrimanic influences during his consecutive incarnations, that the human organisation is not what it might be. If it were as it ought to be, it would manifest healthy human substance; but because it has absorbed the activities of Lucifer and Ahriman, sickness and disease result.
How can we draw from outside those influences which have flowed in from an imperfect soul, that is, from a wrong love substance? What happens to the body by this influx of something which is faulty? According to Spiritual Science something happens which turns light in some way into its opposite. Light has its opposite in darkness or obscurity. Everything really presenting itself — strange as it may sound — as the defilement of that which is woven out of light, is a darkness woven out of a luciferic or ahrimanic influence. Thus we see darkness woven into the human substance. But this darkness was only thus interwoven because the human body has become the bearer of the Ego that lives on through the incarnations. This was formerly not there. Only a human body can be subject to this corruption, for such a corruption was formerly not contained in that which was woven out of light.
Man today draws the base of his material life out of what he has gradually rejected in the course of evolution — that is, the animal kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, and the mineral kingdom. These also contain the different substances woven out of light for earth existence. But in none of these substances are there any of the influences which, in the course of human karma have acted on the organism through the soul. In the three kingdoms around us, therefore, man cannot through his luciferic or ahrimanic influence, as emanating from his love forces, have a defiling effect. Nothing of him is here. And what in man has been defiled is spread around him in all its purity. Let us consider a mineral substance, a salt or any other substance which man has also within him, or might have within him. But in him it is interwoven with the love substance defiled by Lucifer or Ahriman. Outside, however, it is pure. Thus every substance outside is distinguished from that which man bears within him. Externally it is always different from what it is in man, because in him it is interwoven with the ahrimanic or luciferic influence. That is the reason why, for everything of external substance which can be more or less defiled by man, there must be something which can be found externally representing the same thing in its pure condition. That which exists in the world in its purity, is the external cure for the corresponding substance in its damaged state. If you apply this in the right way to the human being, you then have the specific for the corresponding injury.
Thus we find in quite an objective way, what may be applied to the human body as a remedy. Here is the injury characterised as a form of darkness — and that which is not yet dark as the outer woven pure light; and we see why we are able to remove the darkness to be found in man if we bring pure substance woven from light to bear upon him. Thus we have a specific remedy for the injury. Now attention has often been drawn to the fact that Anthroposophists in particular should not fall into the narrow-minded error of denying that in such cases there really is a specific remedy against this or that injury, or which beneficially affects this or the other organ. It has often been said that the organism has within it the forces with which to help itself. Even although the Vienna School of Nihilistic Therapeutics may be right in its assertion that by calling up the opposing forces we can bring about a cure, we may nevertheless help on the cure by specific remedies. Here we see a parallel which one may describe from Spiritual Science.
From what I have said about diphtheria, for instance, you may gather that the karmic causes have in this case particularly affected the astral body. Now closely related to the astral body is the animal kingdom You will always find in those forms of illness closer connected with the astral body, that medical science, unconsciously driven by a dim impulse, seeks for remedies from the animal kingdom. For such illnesses whose causes lie in the etheric body, science seeks for remedies out of the vegetable kingdom. An interesting lecture might be given about the relation of the purple foxglove to certain illnesses of the heart. These are things which, inasmuch as they are based on truth, are not right for five years only — as one doctor states — and then begin to be wrong — as in the case when only external symptoms are taken into consideration. But there is a certain treasure of remedies which can always in some way be traced back to some connection with Spiritual Science, which have been inherited without any knowledge whence they came. Just as today the astronomers do not know that the theory of Kant and Laplace came from the mystery schools of the Middle Ages, so people do not know whence came these real valuable remedies. Causes of illness, which are connected with the nature of the physical body, lead to the use of remedies from the mineral kingdom.
A simple consideration of these analogous views will provide a fingerpost for these matters. Through his connection with the surrounding world, man can be helped from two different sides: on the one hand bringing him transmuted love from the psychic method of healing and on the other hand by bringing him transmuted light in various ways by those processes which are connected with external methods of healing. Everything which can be done is brought about either by inner psychic means — by love — or by the external means of densified light. When one day science has advanced so far as to learn to believe in the super-sensible and in the saying: ‘Matter is a form of condensed light,’ then a spiritual light will be thrown by these words upon the systematic research on external remedies. Hence we see that what during long ages, from the mystery schools of old Egypt and old Greece, was gradually added to the treasure of healing is not mere nonsense, but that in all these things there is a sound kernel. Anthroposophy does not exist in order to attack a certain school of medicine, and to say, ‘There they give people poisons!’ The word poison today works as a suggestion, and people do not reflect how relative this word is. For what is ‘poison’? Every substance may be a poison. It is only a question of the methods of healing and of how much is taken at a time. Water is a strong poison, if one takes ten bucketfuls at one time. The results of this, considered chemically, are not very different from what they would be if one gave a person any other substance. It depends always upon the quantity, for all these ideas are relative.
From what we have gone into today, we can be glad that for every injury we can do to injure our body, there is to be found in surrounding nature, which now appears to us as the world, that which will make it whole again. It is also a beautiful relationship that we have for the external world, and we may rejoice not only because we see the beautiful flowers and the mountains glowing in the sunlight, but also because our surroundings are so intimately connected with what is in man himself, good or bad. We can rejoice in nature, not only for what appeals at first sight, but the deeper we go into what has condensed into external material existence, the more we shall find that this nature which causes us to rejoice has within it at the same time the mighty healer for all the damage man can cause himself. Somewhere in nature the remedy is concealed. It is a question, not only of understanding the language of the healer, but also of obeying it and really carrying it out. Today it is in most cases impossible for us to hear the voice of healing nature because our misunderstanding of light, and the darkness which has penetrated into knowledge has in many respects brought about conditions preventing us from hearing. Therefore we must clearly understand that where in one case no help can properly be given, where, on account of karmic connections, some suffering may not properly be lessened, this does not mean that it absolutely could not be done.
Here again we see a remarkable connection which allows us to perceive the whole great world, inclusive of mankind, as One Being. In the sayings: ‘Matter is woven light,’ and ‘the soul is in some way or other diluted love,’ are to be found the keys of innumerable secrets of earth existence. But these hold good only for the earth existence, and would not concern any other domain of the world existence. Thus we have shown nothing less than that we, if in any way we alter the direction of karma, unite ourselves in one or the other case with the elements composing our earth existence: on the one side with light which has become matter — and on the other side with love which has become soul. We either draw the remedies out of our surroundings, out of the condensed light, or out of our own soul by the healing loving act, the sacrificial act, and we then heal with the soul-forces obtained from love. We unite ourselves with what is most deeply justified upon the earth, when, on the one hand, we unite ourselves with light and on the other with love. All earth conditions are in some way conditions of balance between light and love and everything unhealthy is a disturbance of that balance. If the disturbance is in love, we can then help by unfolding the forces of love; and if the disturbance is in light, we can then help by somehow providing for ourselves, out of the universe, that light which is able to dissolve the darkness within us.
These are the fundamental ways of help, and we see again how everything depends upon the balance of opposites. Light and love are polar opposites and on their being interwoven depend ultimately all the psychic and material processes of our life. Therefore in all the spheres of human life, evolution continues from epoch to epoch with the balance inclining first to one side and then swinging back to the other, so that evolution resembles the surging of waves. This motion of an unstable equilibrium throws light even on the most complex processes of civilisation. Take a period when certain injuries entered into the evolution of mankind because man contemplated only [the] inner and neglected the outer, for example, in the Middle Ages. It was then that through the blossoming of the mystical side, the external remained unheeded and errors occurred not only in knowledge but in action. Then followed the age that was repelled by mysticism, and was attracted by the outer world so as to make the pendulum swing to the opposite side.
Here is the transition from the Middle Ages to modern times and many such disturbances of the balance, manifest in different ways.
In this connection I should like to note that just in such times as our own, a characteristic in many people is that they completely forget, and pay no attention to, that which one may call ‘the consciousness of a super-sensible world.’ They pay no attention whatever to the fact that there is a spiritual world, and they therefore turn away their thoughts from it. In such an age — or in all such ages — there is always in certain respects a counterpart to be found. I should like to show you this in a very simple manner.
When there are people upon the physical plane who are so absorbed in the physical that they completely forget the spiritual, then a contrary tendency appears among those souls who are living in the spiritual world between death and a new birth — a tendency which works over from the physical into the spiritual plane — impelling them to occupy themselves with the influences which act out of the spiritual world into the physical. It is this which brings about in the physical world the intervention by souls who are still in that state before birth. These souls work down into the physical world according to the means which offer and they are able to work indirectly through persons who are more sensitive to such influence from the spiritual world. In order to make this clearer, one must not accept everything that purports to be a revelation from a Spiritual world. We must distinguish the real characteristic cases in which the dead are anxious show in a palpable manner that there is indeed a spiritual world. Because there are so many people completely in the dark, who have woven so much darkness into themselves that they wish to know nothing about the spiritual world, there are, on the other hand, among the dead many who have the impulse to work into the physical world. Such things generally occur when nothing is done deliberately to bring them about on the physical plane and they occur without special preparation.
You will find much proof of these things collected in the book by our friend, Ludwig Deinhard, Das Mysterium des Menschen (The Mystery of Man). Here much has been collected and systematised which is just what one needs, and which in the scientific literature of to-day is so scattered that it is impossible for everyone to gather it together. Therefore it is a good thing to have in this book a collection of these spiritual facts, which, as you now see, are eminently characteristic of one aspect of our age. You will find very aptly described in this book the characteristic fact of an investigator, who by materialistic methods had in his earth life endeavoured to give every possible proof of the spiritual world — I mean the late Frederick Myers — and who after his death was strongly impelled to show to mankind by means of radiations from the spiritual world and by the help of the spiritual world, what he had endeavoured to do when here.
This is intended to illustrate how in the world and in world affairs we see continual disturbances of the balance, and then again the efforts for the restoring of the balance.
This continual disturbance and restoration of the balance between the two elements of light and love is fundamental for us; and in human karma, from incarnation to incarnation, both work to restore the disturbed condition. Karma, working its serpentine way through incarnations is just such a disturbed balance, until man, after all his incarnations, shall at last create the final balance which can be reached upon earth. Having fulfilled his mission on earth, he evolves then into a new planetary form.
I have endeavoured to set forth a few facts, without which a deeper establishment of karmic connections and laws would be impossible. I have not shrunk from touching to-day upon those mysteries for which our modern science will not for a long time be ripe: Matter is in reality woven light, and that which belongs to the soul is in some way or other refined love. These are ancient occult sayings, but they are sayings which will for all time remain true and will prove fruitful for human evolution, not only for knowledge, but also for human work and action.
|GA 134. The World of the Senses and the World of the Spirit — Lecture VI|
|Thus quicksilver corresponds in the world of the minerals to the human larynx, and also in a sense to the organ that is attached to the larynx — the lung. Other metals — copper, for example — are in a kind of descending evolution. Copper will, in the future, show itself as a metal that has no more inner spiritual forces to place out into the world, and that is consequently more and more obliged merely to split up and crumble to cosmic dust.|
|GA 134. The World of the Senses and the World of the Spirit — Lecture VI|
These lectures will perhaps have given you some idea of what a complicated being man is and from how many sides we must consider him if we would come near to his real nature. I want now to point to one more fact of evolution, and it is one that may be classed among the most significant of all the results we can arrive at when, with the help of clairvoyant research, we study the whole course of man's evolution — looking back over the period from very ancient times until to-day, and looking forward to what shall come for the race of man in the future. I have, in the course of these lectures, drawn your attention to a perception that man can acquire when he educates his faculty for knowledge in the way we described; when, that is to say, his soul in its efforts after knowledge enters into the moods we characterised as wonder, reverence, wisdom-filled harmony with the events of the world, and lastly, devotion and surrender to the whole world process. You will remember I explained how if the soul enters upon these moods or conditions, man's faculty of knowledge can gradually rise to a perception of two converse processes that are everywhere around him. Man learns to distinguish in his environment between what is becoming and what is dying away. He says to himself at every turn: Here I have to do with a process of becoming, something that will reach perfection only in the future, and here again, on the other hand, I encounter a gradual dying away, a gradual disappearing. We perceive the things of the world as existing in a region where everything is either coming into being or passing away. And I pointed out in particular how the human larynx is really an organ of the future, how it is called to be in the future something entirely different from what it is to-day. To-day it merely communicates to the outer world by means of the spoken word our inner moods and conditions, whereas in the future it will communicate what we ourselves are in our entirety; that is to say, it will serve for the procreation of the whole human being. It will be the reproductive organ of the future. A time will come when the larynx will not merely help man to express by means of the word what is in his heart and mind, but man will use the larynx to place his own self before the world; that is to say, the propagation of man will be intimately connected with the organ of the larynx.
Now in this complicated microcosm, in this complicated “little world” which we call “man,” for every such organ that is only as yet a seed and will later on in the future attain a higher degree of perfection, there is another corresponding organ which is gradually dwindling, gradually dying away. And the corresponding organ for the larynx is the organ of hearing. In proportion as the hearing apparatus little by little disappears, in proportion as it grows ever less and less, will the larynx grow more and more perfect and become more and more important. We can only estimate the greatness of this fact when we look back, with the help of the Akashic Records, into a far distant past of mankind and then from what our research reveals are in a position to form some conception of what the ear was once like. Great new vistas are opened up for a knowledge of the nature of man when we trace back the human ear to its original form. For in its present state this hearing apparatus of ours is no more than a shadow of what it once was. To-day it hears only tones of the physical plane, or words that express themselves in tones on the physical plane. But that is only a last remnant of what used to flow into man through the hearing; for through this hearing apparatus once flowed into man the mighty movements of the whole universe. And as to-day we hear earthly music with our ear, so in ancient times did world music, the music of the spheres, flow into man. And as to-day we men clothe words in tones, so in times past did the divine Word of the Worlds clothe itself in the music of the spheres — that Word of the Worlds of which the Gospel of St. John tells, the Logos, the divine Word. Into what we may call man's hearing in the old sense of the word, there flowed from the spiritual world a heavenly music, the music of the spheres, just as now into our hearing flows the human word and the earthly music, and within the music of the spheres was what the divine Spirits spoke. And as to-day man compels the air into forms with his word and his singing and his tone, so did the divine words and the divine music bring forth forms.
And now let us consider that most wonderful of all the forms created by Divine music. We may approach it in the following way. When to-day you give utterance to a word or even only to a vowel, let us say the sound “A” — then through this sound the possibility arises of creating a form in the air. It was in like manner that form entered into the world out of the cosmic Word, and the most precious of all these forms is man himself; man himself was created in his original state by being spoken out of the divine Word. “The Gods spake!” As to-day the air comes into forms through the word of man, so did our world come into its form through the Word of the Gods. And man is the most excellent of these forms. The organ of hearing was, of course, then infinitely more complicated than it is now. It is to-day quite shrunk and shriveled. To-day it is an external organ, penetrating only a limited distance into the brain, but once it extended inwards over the whole human being. And everywhere throughout man's being moved the paths of sound which spoke man into the world, as the utterance of the Word of God. Thus was man created — spiritually — through the organ of hearing, and in the future, when he has ascended again, he will have an ear that is quite small and rudimentary. The meaning and purpose of the ear will have completely gone. The ear is in a descending evolution; to compensate for this, however, the larynx, which is to-day only like a seed, will have developed to greater and greater beauty and perfection. And in its perfection it will speak out what man can bring forth for the world as the reproduction of his being, even as the Gods have spoken Man into the world as Their creation. So is the world process in a sense reversed. When we consider the whole human being as he stands before us we have to see in him the product of a descending evolution, and when we take an organ like the ear we find it has already reached a densification of the bony matter in the small bones of the ear, it is, as it were, in the last stage of descending evolution. The sense as such is disappearing. Man, however, is developing on into the world of spirituality, and his ascending organs are the bridges that carry him over into spirituality. Such is the relationship between the world of the senses and the world of the spirit. The world of the senses makes itself known to us in descending organs, and the world of the spirit in ascending organs.
And it is the same everywhere. In the whole world as it presents itself to our view we can follow in some way this becoming and dying. And it is important that we should learn to apply the idea to the other things in the world. It will teach us a great deal. Thus in the mineral world, for example, we can also find something that is in an ascending evolution, something that is to-day only at the seed stage. It is quicksilver. Quicksilver is a metal that will undergo transformations in the future but transformations that will lead to greater perfection. Quicksilver as metal has not yet pulverised all the forces that every substance possesses in the spiritual before it becomes substance at all. Powers that belong essentially to the nature of quicksilver still remain in the spiritual, and these it will in the future be able to bring forth and place into the world. It will assume new forms. Thus quicksilver corresponds in the world of the minerals to the human larynx, and also in a sense to the organ that is attached to the larynx — the lung. Other metals — copper, for example — are in a kind of descending evolution. Copper will, in the future, show itself as a metal that has no more inner spiritual forces to place out into the world, and that is consequently more and more obliged merely to split up and crumble to cosmic dust.
I have here set before you a few examples of connections which will in future increasingly become an object of study. Men will study more and more the relationships between the processes of becoming and of passing away in the several kingdoms of nature, and will learn to find — not through experiments and tests but through an Imaginative knowledge — relationships between particular metal substances and particular organs in the human body. And as a result substances whose effects are already partially known from external experience will, through Imagination, be able to be known in all their healing power, in all their reproductive and restorative power over the human body. All kinds of relationships and connections will be discovered between the several things and beings of the world.
Thus, man will come to recognise that the virtues which lie in the seed of a plant are differently connected with man than the virtues contained in the root. All that we find in the root of a plant corresponds in a manner to the human brain and to the nervous system belonging to the brain. [see Summary] It goes so far that in actual fact the eating of what is to be found in plant roots has a certain correspondence with the processes that take place in the brain and nervous system. So that if a man wants his brain and nervous system to be influenced from the physical side in its task as physical instrument for the life of the spirit, he receives with his nourishment the forces that live in the roots of plants. In a sense we may say that he lets think in him what he thus receives in food, he lets it do spiritual work in him, whilst if he is less inclined to eat of the root nature of plants it will be rather he himself who uses his brain and nervous system. You will see from this that if a person consumes a quantity of root food he is liable to become dependent in respect of his experiences as soul and spirit; because something objective and external works through him, his brain and nervous system surrender their own independence. And so if he wants it to be more himself who works in him, then he must diminish his consumption of roots. I am not, my dear friends, giving suggestions for any particular diet, I am merely informing you about facts of nature. And I warn you expressly not to set out to follow what I have said without further knowledge. Not every person is so far advanced as to be able to dispense with receiving the power of thought from something outside himself; and it may very easily happen that a man who is not ripe to leave it to his own soul-life to provide him with the power of thinking and feeling — it can easily happen that if such a man avoids eating roots he will fall into a sleepy condition, because his soul and spirit are not yet strong enough to evolve in themselves out of the spiritual those forces which are otherwise evolved in man quite objectively, and independently of his soul and spirit. The question of diet is always an individual question and depends entirely upon the whole manner and condition of the development of the person in question.
Again, what lives in the leaves of plants has a similar connection with the lungs of man, with all that belongs to the system of the lungs. Here we may find an indication of how a balance can be created, for example, in a person whose breathing system, owing to inherited tendencies or to some other condition, works too powerfully. It would be well in such a case to recommend the person not to eat much of what comes from the leaves of plants. There may be another person whose breathing system requires strengthening, and then we shall do well to advise him to eat freely of such food as comes from leaves. These things have their close connection also with the healing forces that are in the world in the several kingdoms of nature, for those parts of the individual plants which have a definite relationship to man's organs contain forces of healing for those regions of man's organism. Thus, roots contain great forces of healing for the nervous system, and leaves for the lung system.
The flowers of plants contain many healing forces for the kidney system, and seeds in a particular way for the heart, but only when the heart sets itself too strongly in opposition to the circulation of the blood. If the heart yields too easily to the circulation, then it is rather to the forces that are in the fruits, i.e. in the ripened seeds, that we must turn. These are some of the indications that result when we take into consideration that the moment we pass from man to surrounding nature all that presents itself to our senses in the world of nature is actually only the surface.
In the plants, what belongs to the world of the senses is only on the surface. Behind what reveals itself to sight and taste and smell are the soul-and-spirit forces of the plant. But these soul-and-spirit forces are not present in such a way that we could speak of each single plant as ensouled, in the same way that each single human being is ensouled. That is not the case. Whoever were to imagine it would be giving himself up to the same delusion as a man who thought that a single hair or the tip of the ear, or, let us say, a nose or a tooth, were ensouled. The whole human being is ensouled in his totality, and we only learn to look into the soul nature of man when we pass from the parts to the whole. And we must do the same in the case of every living thing. We must take care to observe it spiritually and see whether it is a part or in some sense a whole. All the various plants of the earth are by no means a whole for themselves; they are parts, they are members of a whole. And as a matter of fact we are only speaking of a reality when we speak of that to which the several plants belong, as parts belong to a whole. In the case of man we can see at once to what his teeth, his ears, his fingers belong; physically they belong to the whole organism. In the case of the plants we do not see with the eye that to which the single plant belongs, we cannot perceive it with a physical organ at all, for the moment we reach the whole we come into the realm of the spirit. The truth about the soul nature of the plant world is that it has the plants for its individual organs. There are, as a matter of fact, for our whole earth only a few beings who are, so to say, collected together in the earth and have as their single parts the plants, just as man has the hairs on his body.
We can, if we wish, refer to these beings as the group souls of the plants. We can say, when we go beyond what our senses can behold of the plant, that we come to the group souls of the plants, which are related to the single plant as a whole to a part. Altogether there are seven group souls — plant souls — belonging to the earth, and having in a way the centre of their being in the centre of the earth. So that it is not enough to conceive of the earth as this physical ball, but we have to think of it as penetrated by seven spheres varying in size and all having in the earth's centre their own spiritual centre. And then these spiritual beings impel the plants out of the earth. The root grows towards the centre of the earth, because what it really wants is to reach the centre of the earth, and it is only prevented from pushing right through by all the rest of the earth matter which stands in its way. Every plant root strives to penetrate to the centre of the earth, where is the centre of the spiritual being to which the plant belongs.
You see how extraordinarily important is the principle we laid down — to go always to the whole in the case of every being or creature, to see first whether it is a part or a whole. There are scientists in our days who look upon the plants as ensouled, but they look upon the individual plant in this way. That is no cleverer than if we were to call a tooth a man; both stand at the same mental level. Many people are ready to think, when they hear views like this put forward, that they are quite theosophical, just because the plants are regarded as having soul; but really all such talk on the part of science has no value at all for the future, the books are so much waste paper. To look for individual souls in the separate plants is to say: I will extract a tooth from a human being and look in it for a human soul. The plant soul is not to be found in the single plant but has its most important point in the centre of the earth, whither the root tends, for the root is that force in the plant which strives ever towards the most spiritual part of plant existence.
When we are considering a theme such as this we shall find, my dear friends, that we come across statements made from the standpoint of the present-day view of nature which can bring us near to the gateway of truth, but only to the same degree as Mephistopheles can bring Faust into the realm of the Mothers — namely, just to the outermost door and no further. For as little as Mephistopheles can go down with Faust into the realm of the Mothers, so little can present-day natural science enter into the spiritual. But as in a certain sense Mephistopheles gives the key, so does natural science. Natural science gives the key, but it does not want to enter itself, even as Mephistopheles does not want to enter himself into the realm of the Mothers. It is true in a sense that natural science gives us clues which, if we have acquired the mode of knowledge described in these lectures, can often bring our knowledge to the gateway of truth.
Natural science to-day, following the impulse of Darwin, has drawn — from observation of the world of the senses alone — an important conclusion; natural science speaks of the principle of the so-called “struggle for existence.” Who is not ready to see this struggle for existence all around him as long as he takes cognizance only of what the external world of the senses affords? Why, we meet with it at every turn. Think of the innumerable eggs laid by the creatures of the sea, how many are destroyed and perish, and how few actually grow up and become new creatures. There you have, apparently, a fearful struggle for existence. One could well begin to lament over it if one listened only to the world of the senses, and say: of the millions and billions of eggs so many, so very many, go under in the struggle for existence and so few survive. But this is only one side of a thought, my dear friends. Take hold now of the same thought at another end! In order to bring your thinking on in a certain direction, let me ask you to grasp the same thought at another point. You can also lament in a similar way over the struggle for existence in another connection. You can cast your eyes over a field of corn where so-and-so many ears are standing, each holding so-and-so many grains of corn, and you can ask the question: How many of these grains of corn are lost in some way or other and never fulfil their true purpose; and how few of them are planted again in the earth that they may become new plants of the same kind as the old ones? We can thus look over a field of corn that is promising a rich and plenteous harvest and say to ourselves: How much of all that sprouting life will perish without having attained its goal! Only a very few grains will be buried in the earth for new plants of the same kind to arise. Here again we have an instance, only in a rather different sphere from that of the sea-creatures, where also only a very few come to fulfilment.
But now let me ask you what would become of the human beings, who must eat something, if every single grain of corn were buried again in the earth? Let us suppose that it were possible — theoretically we can suppose anything — for such an abundant growth to take place that every single grain of corn could come up again; but we must also think of what would happen to the beings who have to find their nourishment from corn. Here we come to a strange pass; a belief that might appear justified when we look at the world of the senses is shaken. When we look at a field of corn in respect of its own physical existence we might seem quite justified in concluding that every single grain should grow into a whole plant. And yet the standpoint is perhaps false. Perhaps in the whole connection of things in the world we are not thinking correctly when we ascribe to each single grain of corn this aim and object, namely to grow into a whole plant. Perhaps there is nothing to justify us in saying that the grains of corn which serve other beings for food have somehow failed in their cosmic aim. Perhaps there is nothing that compels us to say that the eggs of the creatures of the sea have failed in their aim when they have not grown into fishes. It is in reality no more than human prejudice to suppose that every single seed ought to become again the same being. For we can only measure the tasks of the individual beings when we turn our eyes to the whole. And all the eggs that perish by the million in the sea every year, and do not grow into fish, provide food for other beings who are only not yet accessible to man's vision. And in very truth those spiritual substances which struggle their way through to existence and become the countless eggs of the sea that are apparently lost — they do not lament that they have missed their goal; for their goal is to be nourishment for other beings, to be received up into the very being of these other beings. Man stands outside with his intellect and imagines that only that has meaning which strives towards the goal which he, through his senses, is bound to see as the ultimate goal. But if we look at nature without prejudice and with an open mind we shall see in every single stage of every single being a certain perfection and fulfilment, and such perfection does not rest only in that which the being will eventually become, but is contained already in what it is.
These are some of the thoughts, acquired in occultism, which must take root in your heart and minds. And if you now turn away from the external world and look into your own soul you will observe that you have there in your soul a rich store of thoughts. Thoughts are perpetually streaming into your soul, perpetually lighting up within it; and only a very few of these thoughts are clearly grasped, only a very few become a conscious part of the human soul. When you go for a walk in the town, reflect how much enters your soul by way of your senses, and yet how little you observe in such a way that it becomes a permanent part of your soul-life. You are continually receiving impressions, and the sum of all the impressions you receive is related to the portion of them which becomes a permanent conscious possession of your soul as the great mass of fish spawn in the sea that is brought into being year by year is related to the proportion of it that actually grows into fish. You, as well, have to be forever going through this same process in your own soul, the process of bringing, over a vast region, only a very small quantity to fulfilment. And when man begins to lift the veil a little and gain some vision of the great flood of pictures of fantasy and of thought out of which he emerges when he emerges from sleep — the dream affords for many persons a last trace of the immeasurably rich life man leads in sleep — then he can come to realise that there is meaning in the fact that he receives so many impressions that do not come to clear consciousness. For the impressions that actually come to clear consciousness are lost to the inner work of man, they cannot work upon the system of the sense organs, nor the system of the glandular organs, nor the system of digestion, neither can they work upon the systems of nerves, muscles and bones. That which becomes conscious in the soul, and which present-day man carries in him as his conscious inner soul-content, has no more power to work upon the organism; its characteristic is that it is torn loose from the mother earth of the whole human being and thus comes into his consciousness. All the rest of the soul-content — which bears the same relation to these conscious thoughts and ideas as the many eggs do to the few that become fish — all the countless impressions that come into our soul from without and do not come into consciousness, work upon the whole human being.
Everything in his environment works continually upon man in his totality. The dream can sometimes teach you how far what lives on in your soul as conscious idea, how very far that is from being all that enters your soul; many other impressions are entering your soul all the time. You have only to give attention to such things and you will find they occur constantly in life. You dream of some situation. Perhaps you dream you are standing opposite a man who is talking with another man. You are standing there and making a third. In your dream you have a clear and exact picture of the countenance of the man opposite you. You say to yourself: “How do I come to have such a dream? It gives the impression of being concerned with people I know in physical life, it seems to relate itself to physical life. But where does it come from? I have never heard or seen this person.” And now you pursue it further; and when you examine carefully you find that a few days ago you were opposite this person in a railway carriage, only the whole experience passed by you without your consciousness being awakened. In spite of that, however, it entered deeply into your life. It is only owing to inexactitude of observation that people as a rule know nothing about these things.
The conceptions that dreams bring before us in this way are by no means the most important of the impressions that work upon the soul. The most important are quite other impressions. Think for a moment, my dear friends, how the process I described to you yesterday has been continually happening all the time in the evolution of humanity. By means of his bony system man has been continually producing Imaginations, by means of his muscular system he has been sending into the world Inspirations, and by means of his nervous system Intuitions. All these are now there in the world. The outstreamings that are evil, each man must himself receive back again and carry away through his destiny. But the rest builds up and takes form and is perpetually there in man's environment. In very deed all the Imaginations and Inspirations and Intuitions that man has given out into the earth world, even only since the Atlantean catastrophe, are present and are part of our environment. The good things man has given out — these the individual men do not need to take back again in the course of their Karma; but what they have sent out into the spiritual atmosphere of the earth all through the centuries of the successive epochs is actually present for the men who are now living on earth, just as much as the air is present for physical man. As man breathes physical air, as the air from his environment enters right inside him, so do the Imaginations, Inspirations and Intuitions that have been developed penetrate into man, and man partakes of them with his soul and spirit. And now it is important that man should develop a real relation to all this in his environment, that he should not meet what he has himself imparted to the earth in earlier epochs of its existence as if it were strange to him, as if he were unconnected with it. He can, however, only become connected with this spiritual content he has given to the earth when he gradually acquires the power to receive it into his soul.
How can this come about? When we come to make a deep study of the spiritual meaning of earth evolution we discover that in the time when post-Atlantean man had still something left of ancient clairvoyance, Imaginations, Inspirations and Intuitions were communicated in great abundance to the spiritual atmosphere of the earth. That was a time when spiritual substance was given forth in large measure. Since the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, and especially from the present day onwards, we gradually send out less and less; what falls rather to us is to receive the old substance, for it is something with which we are intimately connected; we have the task to take up again into ourselves what has been sent out. That means it is required of man to replace an earlier spiritual outbreathing by a spiritual inbreathing. Man must grow ever more sensitive and receptive to the spiritual that is in the world. In ancient times that was not so necessary, for men of those olden times were able to put forth from them spiritual substance, they had, so to speak, a reserve store. But this reserve of spiritual substance has been so deeply drawn upon since the fourth post-Atlantean epoch that in future man will, in a sense, only be able to send out what he has first absorbed, what he has first inbreathed. In order that man may be able to take his place with full understanding in this new task in earth existence — to this end is Anthroposophy or Spiritual Science there in the world. When a man feels drawn to Anthroposophy it is not just that it takes his fancy as one among many other things in the world that take his fancy. He is drawn to Anthroposophy because it is intimately and deeply bound up with the whole of earth evolution, intimately bound up with the task that lies immediately before man to-day in evolution, namely to develop understanding for the spiritual all around him. For from the present time onwards it will be the case that those who do not develop understanding for the spirit behind the senses, for the world of the spirit behind the world of the senses, will be like men whose breathing system is so injured that they cannot take in air and they suffer from difficulty in breathing. To-day we still have left in our ideas a certain inheritance from primeval human wisdom, and we feed upon these old ideas. If, however, we are able to observe the evolution of mankind in modern times with the eye of the spirit we shall perceive that while discoveries abound in the field of the material and external, in the spiritual a kind of exhaustion shows itself, a strange poverty of spiritual content. New ideas, new concepts, arise less and less among mankind. It is only those who do not know of ancient concepts and who are always rediscovering the old for themselves — that is to say, their whole life long remain in a sense immature — who can imagine that it is possible for ideas to develop and mature in these days. No, the world of abstract ideas, the world of intellectual ideas is exhausted. There are no more new ideas springing up. The time of Thales marks the rise of intellectual ideas for Western thought. And now we stand at a kind of end; and philosophy as such, philosophy as a science of ideas, is at an end. Ideas and thoughts belong only to the physical plane, and man must learn to lift himself up to what lies beyond ideas and thought, that is, beyond the world of the physical plane. To begin with he will lift himself up to Imaginations. Imaginations will again become for him something real and actual. That will bring about a new fructification of the spiritual in mankind. That is why, my dear friends, Anthroposophy or Spiritual Science gives Imaginations of great and mighty world processes. Note how different from everything else of its kind is the description given of Saturn, Sun and Moon. Compare it with the abstract concepts of natural science. Everything in Spiritual Science has to be given in pictures, it has to be presented in such a way that it is not directly realisable in the external world of the senses. We say of Old Saturn that it had a condition of warmth, of warmth alone. That is sheer nonsense for the present-day world of the senses; for the world of the senses knows nothing of warmth substance as such. But what is nonsense for the world of the senses is truth for the world of the spirit, and the next step required of man in the near future is to live his way into the world of the spirit. Those who will not resolve to breathe the air of the spirit — and Spiritual Science has come into the world to make the soul of man susceptible to the air of the spirit — those who do not want to make themselves responsive to Spiritual Science will actually approach a condition of spiritual shortness of breath and spiritual exhaustion. One can already see many persons approaching this condition, and it leads on to a spiritual wasting and decline, to an actual “consumption” of the spirit.
Such would be the lot of men on earth if they wanted to stop short at the world of the senses. They would go into a spiritual decline. In the future development of civilisation there will be men full of sensitiveness for the spiritual, full of heart for all that Spiritual Science will give, and for the world of Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition as it springs up spontaneously in the souls of men. So will it be for a part of humanity: they will have understanding and devotion for this world of the spirit. And it will be these men who will fulfil the task that is set before the earth in the near future. Others perhaps will be content with the world of the senses, not wanting to go beyond it, not wanting to go beyond that shadow picture which the conceptions of philosophy and of natural science afford. Such people are moving in the direction of spiritual shortness of breath, spiritual consumption, spiritual sickness and disease. They will become dried up in earth existence and not attain the goal that has been set for earth evolution. Evolution goes on, however, in such a way that each one is compelled to ask himself the question: Which way will you choose? In the future men will stand, as it were, on two paths, to the right and to the left. On one path will be those for whom the world of the senses alone is true, and on the other will be those for whom the world of the spiritual is the truth.
And since the senses, such as the ear, for example, will disappear, since at the end of the earth all the senses that belong to the earth will have completely disappeared, we can form some idea of what that consumption and wasting away will be like. If we abandon ourselves to the world of the senses we abandon ourselves to something which abandons man in the future of earth evolution. If we press through to the world of the spirit we develop ourselves in the direction of something that wills to come nearer and nearer to man in the future of earth evolution. If we want to express it in a symbol we may say that it is possible for man to stand there at the end of the earth evolution and to speak as Faust did when he had been blinded physically — (for man will be not only blinded to the world around him but deaf to it in addition, he will stand there blind and deaf and deprived of taste and smell) — he will be able to say with Faust: “But in my inmost spirit all is light — yes, and all is glorious ringing tones and words of men!” Thus will the man be able to speak who has turned to the world of the spirit. But the other, the man who wanted to remain at the world of the senses would be like a Faust who, after he was blinded, would be compelled to say: “Blind hast thou become without, and within shines no light of the spirit, darkness alone receives thee.”
Man has to choose between these two Faust natures in his relation to the future of the earth. For the first Faust would be one who had turned to the world of the spirit, whilst the second would be one who had turned to the world of the senses and had thereby become closely united with something of which man must feel that it is unsubstantial and unreal, and moreover that it robs him of his own reality and being. Thus does that appear which we set out to discover and bring from occult heights — thus does it appear, my dear friends, in its relation to the immediate daily life of man. I think I need not spend words in pointing out what moral principles and will impulses for present-day humanity can proceed from a real understanding of occult science. For out of a rightly understood wisdom will a rightly understood goodness and virtue be born in the human heart. Let us strive after a real understanding of world evolution, let us seek after wisdom — and we shall find without fail that the child of wisdom will be love.
|GA 51. The History of the Middle Ages — Lecture VII|
|This is more important than a detailed appreciation of those battles. In the fighting on the marshes in 933, among the copper mines in 955, the Magyars were defeated, and suffered such terrible discomfiture that their appetite for more invasions really failed. They founded an empire for themselves in the vicinity of the Danube, in what is today Hungary.|
|GA 51. The History of the Middle Ages — Lecture VII|
A week ago, we studied the contrast between what is today France, on the one hand, and Austria and Germany on the other, as it had developed in the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries.
We saw that the Western Empire was distinguished by the traces left of the old Roman culture; and that the Church had soon acquired authority by itself becoming the owner of large tracts of land. So it came to a struggle between the secular nobility and the ambitious Church. The Church had been endowed, especially by Charlemagne, with immense stretches of landed property, so that it became the confederate of the secular rulers, because it was brought into feudal relationships both with those beneath and those above it.
Those who were defeated had come into feudal relationship with the conquerors; the nobles developed into vassals of the king, and thus the kingdom grew stronger and stronger. The Western Empire was continually concerned with the opposition between the vassals and the Church. It was different in the Eastern Empire. Here the old feelings of independence, the sentiment of freedom still persisted, so that the tribal dukes would not consent to enter into a situation of dependence. Thus the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries were filled with continual efforts of the so-called kings — who were indeed elected, but actually were only kings to their own tribes — to bring the dukes of the other tribes into dependence on themselves.
History tells of many struggles of this kind. The Carlovingians were succeeded, after the Frankish Conrad, by a Saxon dynasty, and much is told of the deeds of Henry I, Otto I, II & III and Henry II, as well as of the subsequent Frankish kings, Conrad II and Henry III, IV &V. These kings who, in the Eastern Empire, were elected, had, nevertheless, no say in the constitution or legislation of the tribes. Thus, it is much more important to know what the empire actually signified at that time, than to form an accurate picture of the individual battles.
There were very large dukedoms, which had arisen in the way described. During the original migrations into these regions, some individuals had acquired large properties, and had become more and more powerful; smaller owners became dependent on them, and were obliged to surrender their property as fiefs, and then to pay tribute.
Thus, the tribal dukes gradually absorbed the small properties, and by giving others some part of their large property on feudal tenure, secured for themselves the right to have a recognised number of fighting men at their disposal, and to paid a definite sum.
Thus, through the absorption of the smaller properties by the greater, the Saxon, Frankish, Swabian, Bavarian and other dukedoms came into existence. Gradually, too, the jurisdiction of the cantonal law court was transferred to the so-called high court of justice, which had been thrust upon the vassals and peasants by the dukes. The Church, according to its regulations, must exercise its jurisdiction through provosts. Even the king was nothing but a large landowner. He had vassals, fighting men whom he had forced into his service; moreover he had acquired demesnes, and with them he had established his authority in various places. The relationship of the duke to the king was also only that of a vassal, because he paid a fixed tribute to the court. Jurisdiction was a ducal concern. Only in the frontier region against the Magyars, Wends and Danes, was jurisdiction exercised by the margraves and counts-palatine. There were no large States with central administration and uniform armies. Hence arose the eternal wars of kings against rebellious dukes who did not wish to furnish tribute. Then it gradually became necessary for the Church to make a move.
It was consistent with piety to insist upon the Church paying its dues to the king. It was Otto I, in particular who in all piety, in all ecclesiastical orthodoxy, obliged the Church to render this tribute. The bishops were compelled to do as other vassals did. Church property was divided into two parts, of which one was tilled by the serfs for the bishops, on whom they became completely dependent. Another district remained in less definite relationship; there the peasants had to attend to the fields for the king, in the name of the bishop.
Because of new enemies, the emperors saw themselves forced into a closer relationship with the Church. Powerful enemies threatened Central Europe. The Normans gave up their incursions, after having again and again harassed the tribes, and eventually been conquered by Arnulf of Carinthia at the battle of Tours. They had acquired Brittany for themselves.
Then, from the east, Finnish-Ugrian tribes made inroads, and the invasions of these Magyars caused indescribable terror. Old accounts tell of the horrible brutality of their victorious campaign. The merit of having driven them back is generally ascribed to Henry I and Otto I. To a certain extent this is correct. But the incursions of the Magyars were not to be compared with the declaration and conduct of later wars.
The Magyars invaded at a moment when the dukes were specially rebellious, and Henry I had to begin by asking for a truce in order to create for himself at least some kind of united army. This closing of the ranks was only affected in the department of military affairs, by urgent need.
We have seen how jurisdiction gradually passed over to the land owners, the dukes and kings. Increasingly undignified relationships were formed. A number of people, who had formerly been free peasants had to surrender all they possessed, to come under the sway of the large landowners. Then they were employed not only in agriculture, but as messengers, craftsmen, and on military service. A kind of trade was growing up, especially as a result of the enhanced productivity of the soil, which was constantly increasing, thanks to the employment of so many workmen. At the same time, a definite class of artisans was developing. Hitherto there had been nothing of the kind. As already mentioned, the necessary work in the house was attended to by slaves and women. The only handicrafts had been those of the smith and the goldsmith. But now, through these developments, a new class of artisans and tradesmen was being formed. In places where there were suitable markets, fortified settlements were established all over Europe. Hither came the discontented among those who were unfairly treated, so that the congestion became greater and greater. This trait of the time forced the king to rely on the cities for support.
Calvary was needed against the Magyar horsemen. This cavalry formed the basis of the class of knights which arose during this period. All these must be combined together to obtain a true picture of the course things were taking at that time. This is more important than a detailed appreciation of those battles.
In the fighting on the marshes in 933, among the copper mines in 955, the Magyars were defeated, and suffered such terrible discomfiture that their appetite for more invasions really failed. They founded an empire for themselves in the vicinity of the Danube, in what is today Hungary. At that time the emperors were obliged to rely on the Church; Christianity was politically exploited. The Magyars were converted to Christianity especially by the bishopric of Passau. TO understand what was passing in the souls of men in those days, we must not reckon with later conceptions. There dwelt in the hearts of the people an intensive faith, religious feeling enhanced to sentimental enthusiasm. They listened to the clergy in all matters and were content to be led by them in all their concerns. The dukes and kings favoured this kind of servility. From Charlemagne onward, they had depended on this lordship over souls.
Thus, the clergy became the best and strongest counsellors, and crept into the hearts and souls of the people.
Moreover, it happened that at that time a very strong influence was exercised through the Arabs, not only, as described above, from scientific sources, there were also literary influences, which gave the soul of the Middle Ages a new character. A great accumulation of sagas, fairy tales, legends, sentiments and pictures were implanted in the folk-soul; and this soul-influence transmitted from the East to Europe, was so intensive that we see the originally rough soul of the Germanic peoples assuming milder manners. Moreover their piety became permeated by an element of great importance, namely, the cult of the Virgin Mary, and the altered position of women which arose from it. He who does not appreciate this, knows nothing of the history of the Middle Ages. He shuts his eyes to such facts as that the great mass of the people were often seized with epidemic fear. Fear of this king seized the people about the year 1000 (during the reign of the Emperor Otto III. 983–1002), which was to bring about the end of the world. This great event, to be prepared for by penitential exercises and pilgrimages, stirred the whole of Germany. The Emperor Otto III himself undertook a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Adelbert of Prussia. All this resulted from the folk-soul of the time. He who does not understand this, fails also to understand the rise of the later Crusades. Here also material causes have been sought for the movement, but he who sees it in that light only, is talking beside the point.
The secularism of the bishops and abbots could not remain without reaction, without opposition, and so we can understand the strong movement towards reform which emanated from Cluny. The influence of the Cluniacs was immensely powerful; that it was possible to enforce the “Truce of God” was proof of this.
At a time when there was nowhere a uniformly governed empire, we can estimate what it meant for the endeavours of the Cluny monks to succeed in so limiting the law of might for some days of the week — from Friday to Monday — that during this interval no feuds were fought out. It must be remembered that, at that time, there was still no proper administration of justice; the law of might had full sway. The harsh struggle between the German emperors and the popes was carried out, not merely from selfish interests, but also, on the part of the Church, from fanaticism. The pope felt himself to be the representative of Christ, as well as lord of the secular domain — as if the empire of Christ gave him also secular authority.
Pope Gregory VII, who forced the Emperor Henry IV to the Canoses submission, was originally a Cluny monk, and had acquired his fanaticism there. It was a tendency of the papacy to declare: Just as there are two rulers in the solar system — the Sun and the Moon — so also in human life; the Pope is the Sun, the King is the Moon, receiving his light only from the Church. This opinion found acceptance and was recognised as legitimate even by the great poet Dante, who, in connection with the allocation of authority, characterised the supremacy of the clerical over the secular powers as right and proper. Now, this contest between emperor and pope had reached such dimensions, because in the meanwhile a certain unifying process had been going on. The different dukedoms had been soldered together by external authority. The dukes now saw themselves obliged to render military service and definite tribute to the emperor. All the following countries: Italy, Burgundy, Lorraine, France, Austria and Hungary, Saxony and Poland stood, for a time, in feudal relationship to the German crown.
Thus in the 11th century a certain unity had been established. This increased the power of the Church. At the death of Henty III, it was not secular princes who were appointed guardians of the young king, but the Archbishops, Hanno of Cologne, and later, Adalbert of Bremen.
The permeation of the folk-soul with religious sentiment had led to a blind belief in authority. Now Rome's chance had come. A clever policy was introduced from Rome. The clergy must be detached from all secular interests, so as to have only the one thing before their eyes: preaching and the control of the people. For this purpose, the clergymen must be made completely independent. Thus in the 11th century, celibacy of the clergy became involved with the world through self-chosen blood-ties, would lose his independence and be unable to give such untrammeled service.
This gave the clergy and the popes a tendency towards the development of an inflexible will: only one thing before their eyes — the authority of the Church. So it came about that, with the possession of the bishoprics, the Church could demand a say in the government. Formerly, secular princes had possession of every bishopric which was vacant. Now the decision was to depend on spiritual interests alone; and authority was enhanced, because all appointments were in the hands of the Church. From this arose the quarrel about Investiture, to which Henry IV would not consent, and which led to his submission at Canossa.
All this was comprised in the contest between secular and spiritual power. We saw, in the case of Clovis, that the God of the Christians was his God, because he led the armies to victory; and now we see how the Church itself is acquiring authority. This must be understood, if we are to grasp the new conditions which brought about the Crusades.
We have seen, in connection with the Franks, what had become of the tribes that had been forced from their dwellings by the folk migrations. We saw how Christianity had become authoritative in all circumstances of life, how monasteries and bishoprics had become the central point of the new settlements, and that it was not in spiritual matters alone that the monks were the leaders of the people; they instructed them also in the cultivation of various fruits, were themselves the builders of the churches, and so on.
The cities were content to establish themselves around the bishoprics, and everywhere we see powerful influence of the Church.
We see the influence of the Moors entering into Science and Literature. Through the Crusades, we shall learn to know another influence of very great importance; it likewise came from the East. It was through these influences that the great inventions and discoveries were made. For over there in China and the East, many things were well-known of which the West had no idea: the manufacture of paper, silk-weaving, the use of gunpowder, etc. Thus, on these lines the first impulse was given to the great inventions.
So from two sides we have seen mighty impulses exercising their influence on mediaeval humanity. Keep this in mind together with the founding of the cities, and you will feel that a century was dawning which would give a powerful impetus to evolution. To follow this in the right way, it is not enough merely to absorb it into you understanding. No one really understands the events who tries to grasp them with his understanding only, and not with feeling, who cannot enter into the subtleties of the fold-soul and grasp what is carried on and accomplished within it. To him, the words of Faust apply:
|GA 304. Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy I — Knowledge of Health and Illness in Education|
|From this point of view, it certainly does not correspond to the nature of children when a teacher makes a child scratch a copper-plate Gothic style letter “a” as is popular today. This is a form for which there is really no justification. There is no inner connection between the way the fingers want to move and the form of the letter that finally evolves after having gone through many intermediary stages.|
|GA 304. Waldorf Education and Anthroposophy I — Knowledge of Health and Illness in Education|
To give a striking example, I can recall something that once happened in my presence. This is the kind of situation often encountered nowadays. It certainly took me by surprise. I was invited by a good friend whom, from earlier days of friendship, I knew to be quite a healthy eater — a person who also knew when to stop eating. Once, after an interval of several years, I was invited to his house again. And there, on the table, to my great surprise, I saw a pair of scales, complete with weights, on which he weighed every piece of food that he ate. This was surely clear evidence that, in his case at least, healthy instincts had greatly decreased!
Similar symptoms can also be observed in other life situations — for instance, if one studies the current curricula in our schools. We do not find in our schools the kind of teaching material that, if healthy instincts were working, would be found appropriate for, say, children in their eighth or ninth year. The curriculum is handled there according to quite different criteria — such as abstract rules regarding human and non-human matters. But curriculum — how we plan and work out our ways of education today — has a grave consequence for our children’s health. We must find our way back to a concrete grasp of the interweaving of health-giving and illness-inducing tendencies in the human being. What I mean by health-giving or illness-inducing will become clear in a moment.
Words, such as “ill-humor” and “grumpiness” were mentioned in this regard. Such words land us immediately amid abstractions. This is certainly not what I mean, for we would then be judging a child’s whole soul being abstractly. This is the very thing that a healthy, anthroposophically-based education must overcome. An anthroposophically-based education would make us realize, for example, that when a child suffers from mood disturbances, we are to watch for irregular glandular secretions. The glandular secretions are of far greater significance to us than the outer symptoms of ill humor, which will disappear when we tackle the problem at the source; that is, in the child’s physical organism. What we must do is to look far more deeply into the whole relationship between the child’s soul and spirit on one side and its physical and bodily existence on the other.
As educators dealing with children, teachers are naturally dealing only with inherent tendencies, with nascent states of unhealthy conditions. Teachers deal with subtle, rather than cruder, symptoms. And when such symptoms become pathological, they must be dealt with appropriately. I think it clear from what I have said that, in education, we deal with tendencies toward extremes and with finding ways and means of balancing them.
From this point of view, it certainly does not correspond to the nature of children when a teacher makes a child scratch a copper-plate Gothic style letter “a” as is popular today. This is a form for which there is really no justification. There is no inner connection between the way the fingers want to move and the form of the letter that finally evolves after having gone through many intermediary stages.
During earlier phases of human evolution, quite different signs were painted to represent a form of writing which was still in harmony with the human organization. Today, the forms of our conventional letters no longer have any direct relation to the inner organization of human beings and that is why we must draw out of the child what is akin to its inner organization before introducing it to the present form of our alphabet. But, if you bring this to the attention of educational authorities, they become quite alarmed, wondering how on earth they are to know what the human organism is demanding, how they could possibly expect teaching to be done in an artistic style when pupils are aged six, and so on (this may be rather different in the case of practicing teachers who are often very open to these ideas because they can see new perspectives being opened up by them).
There is but one answer to all this — one must learn to do it! It is something that must be brought to the notice of anyone interested in education. It is not the task of anthroposophy to spread an abstract conception of the world that might satisfy people who like to rehash what they have heard, or who enjoy telling themselves what they must do for their own advancement. Anthroposophy is broadly based and has many ramifications that can lead us to the most intimate knowledge of human nature. One can truly say that anthroposophy offers an opportunity of fructifying the various sciences, especially in areas that, today, are not generally accessible to them.
And so we can say that we have to get to know the human being thoroughly so that, when we receive the child into primary education, we know from its whole organism how it should move its fingers and hands when learning to write, and also how it should learn to think.
The other day, I had the opportunity to take a visitor into a first grade writing and reading lesson. This subject can be taught in a hundred different ways. In the Waldorf school, teachers are given absolute freedom in their application of basic principles. Education is an altogether free art. The subjects might remain the same, but teachers may present their content in their own individual ways and according to the specific character of their pupils. People sometimes cannot see how these two aspects are related to each other.
How was this lesson given after the young pupils had been in the first grade for only a few months? A child was called out and told to run in a circle in a given number of steps. Immediately afterward, the teacher drew a circle on the blackboard to show how the movement experienced by the child while running looked when seen with the eyes.
Then, a second child was called out and asked to run in a much smaller circle inside the first circle, using only two steps. A third child had to run yet another circle, this time using three steps. All of the children were thoroughly involved in what was going on and they transposed what they had experienced with their whole being into what became visible on the blackboard. Their interest was directed not only to what the eye could see, but to what they experienced with their whole being. So there were three circles. When yet another one was run, the children noticed that, because of the size, the fourth circle intersected the smaller ones within the first large circle. And so it went on. This is how children were given the opportunity of gaining an experience out of their whole being that they could then transfer to the visual sphere. If, on the other hand, children are told to draw forms immediately, it is their heads that are mainly engaged — which amounts to a one-sided occupation. Everything that pupils do at this stage should come out of their whole being, writing included.
But this does not mean that every teacher is now supposed to follow the same example! I merely gave an example here to show how one teacher undertook the task of applying underlying principles in the classroom. What I introduced in the Teacher Training Course, prior to the opening of the Waldorf school in Stuttgart, was not meant to be copied pedantically by teachers in their actual teaching. It was presented as living substance so that the school could become a living organism. As for rules and regulations, they can of course always be put together. If three people — or thirty, or perhaps only twelve — sit together in order to work out what, according to their lights, are the necessary conditions for creating a model school — committing to paper every rule in order of priority and with the appropriate paragraphs — they can of course produce wonderful schemes, even if they themselves are not graced with outstanding intelligence, even if they are only of ordinary or possibly even below average intelligence. The relevant points can be discussed in detail until impressive rules and regulations are finally agreed upon. But these are not likely to be of any use at all when it comes to the actual teaching. What always matters most is how things work out in practice.
The chairman asked whether there were any further questions. There were none.
|GA 175. Building Stones for an Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha — Lecture X|
|Then I see one or more figures in various postures executing formalized gestures, singly or facing each other, the whole resembling a copper engraving on parchment, coloured paper or, more precisely, like a marble statue or sculptural group on which the sun falls through a veil of that colour. I experience this colour phenomenon after reading poetry which has stirred me deeply.|
|Here then we have the remarkable case of a man who experiences crimson-red on reading Schiller, or golden yellow passing over into golden brown on reading the dramas or poems of Goethe, who experiences a colour sensation with every drama of Shakespeare; who, when he composes or reads a poem sees figures like those of a copper engraving printed on a parchment-coloured background, or three-dimensional miming figures on which the sun falls through a veil which diffuses the light that evokes the total mood. Now we must understand this experience in the correct way.|
|GA 175. Building Stones for an Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha — Lecture X|
It might seem at first sight that in the centuries immediately following the Mystery of Golgotha mankind had not been touched by the light of spiritual illumination; that this was the normal condition of mankind and increasingly so up to the present day. This is not so, however. If we wish to see these things in perspective we must distinguish between the prevailing spirit of mankind and that which occurs here and there in the life of mankind and may play a decisive part in the different spheres of life. It would be most discouraging for many today to be told of the existence of a spiritual world, but that the doors to this world were closed to them. And there are many at the present time who have come to this depressing conclusion. The reason for this is not far to seek. Where there is a clear possibility of gaining insight into the spiritual world they refuse to commit themselves unreservedly. Nor have they the courage to pass an objective judgement on this issue. It may seem therefore — but in reality it is only apparently so — that today we are far removed from those early times when the spiritual world was revealed to the whole of mankind through atavistic clairvoyance, or from the later times when the few could find access to the spirit through initiation into the Mysteries. We must draw together certain strands which link early periods of human evolution with the present if we wish to arrive at a full understanding of the mystery of man's destiny and especially of those phenomena we have discussed in these lectures in connection with the nature of the Mysteries. I should like to select an example from recent times which is accessible to all and which will lend encouragement to those who are faced with the decision of choosing paths leading to the spiritual world. From the many examples at our disposal I would like to take an example which demonstrates at the same time how these phenomena are none the less misjudged from the materialistic point of view of the present day — and will also be misjudged in the immediate future.
No doubt you have all heard of Otto Ludwig (note 1) who was born in 1813, in the same year as Hebbel and Richard Wagner. Otto Ludwig was not only a poet — some may feel perhaps that he was not in the front rank of poets, but that does not concern us at the moment — but he was a man given to introspection, who sought self-knowledge and who succeeded in penetrating into the inner life which is veiled from the majority today. Otto Ludwig describes very beautifully what he experiences in the process of poetic composition or when he reads the poetry of others and surrenders to its appeal. He then realizes that he does not read or compose like other men, but that an extraordinary ferment is set up within him. And Otto Ludwig gives a beautiful description of this in a passage I will now read to you because it reveals a piece of self-knowledge of a typically modern man who, in the course of this self-revelation, speaks of things which our present materialistic age regards as the wildest fantasy. But Otto Ludwig was no visionary or idle dreamer. By nature he was perhaps introspective, but if we take into consideration the information we have about his life, we shall find that alongside this introspective tendency there was something eminently sane and balanced in his make-up. He describes his own creative experience and his response to the poetry of others in these words:
Here then we have the remarkable case of a man who experiences crimson-red on reading Schiller, or golden yellow passing over into golden brown on reading the dramas or poems of Goethe, who experiences a colour sensation with every drama of Shakespeare; who, when he composes or reads a poem sees figures like those of a copper engraving printed on a parchment-coloured background, or three-dimensional miming figures on which the sun falls through a veil which diffuses the light that evokes the total mood.
Now we must understand this experience in the correct way. It is not yet a clairvoyant perception, but it is a step towards spiritual vision. In order to have a right understanding of this mood from the standpoint of Spiritual Science we must realize that Otto Ludwig was no stranger to spiritual vision. For if he were to advance further along this path he would not only experience these visions, but, just as physical objects are visible to the physical eye, spiritual beings would be visible to his spiritual eye and he would know them as an inner experience. Just as we see scattered light when we gently rub our eyes in the dark, light that seemingly radiates from the eye and fills the room, so from his inner life Ludwig radiates impressions of colour and tone. As he rightly says, he experiences them first as musical impressions. He does not exploit them in order to gain spiritual insight; but we perceive that he is mature enough spiritually to embark on the path leading to the spiritual world.
It is no longer possible to deny that there exist people who are aware that “spiritual vision” is a reality, the vision that the neophytes learned to develop in the Mysteries in the way described in earlier lectures. For the real purpose of these ceremonies was primarily to call attention to the eye of the soul, to awaken man to the fact of its existence. That the phenomena which I have just described to you are not rightly understood today is evident from the observations of Gustav Freytag (note 3). When speaking of Otto Ludwig, he says:
This statement is perfectly correct, but has nothing to do with poetic composition. For the experiences of Otto Ludwig were not only shared by poets in ancient times, but by all men, and were shared in later times by those who had been initiated into the Mysteries irrespective of whether they were poets or not. These experiences have therefore no connection with poetic invention. Behind the barrier which the materialist of today has erected in his own soul there is to be found that which Otto Ludwig describes. It is found not only in the poet, but in every man today. The fact that he was a poet has nothing to do with the phenomenon of poetic vision, but is something that accompanies it. One may be a far greater poet than Otto Ludwig and that which one is able to describe may remain entirely in the subconscious. It is present in the substratum of the subconscious, but need not manifest itself. For poetry, indeed art as a whole today, is something other than the conscious fashioning of clairvoyant impressions.
I quote the case of Otto Ludwig as an example of a man — and men of his type are by no means rare today — who stands on the threshold of the spiritual world. If one practises the exercises given in my book, Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, that which already exists in the soul is raised into consciousness, so that one learns to use it or to apply it consciously. It is important to bear this in mind. The problem is not so much that it is difficult to reach the hidden depths of the soul, but that people today lack the courage to embark upon a spiritual training; and that for the most part those who would willingly do so from a heartfelt need to know and to understand, none the less feel constrained to admit this need, albeit somewhat shamefacedly in their own intimate circle, but conceal it when they later find themselves in the company of contemporary intellectuals. What we should characterize today as the right path, perhaps because we live in the Michael Age since 1879, need not of necessity be regarded as the only right path. Looking back over the recent past it is possible that many may have attained a high degree of clairvoyance, genuine clairvoyance; there is no need for us therefore either to recognize fully or to accept this clairvoyance unreservedly, nor to regard it as something dangerous and to be rejected.
There are certainly many factors which for some time have undermined our courage to accept the validity of clairvoyance, and for this reason the assessment of Swedenborg (who has often been mentioned in your circle) has been so strange. He could act as a stimulus to many, in that people might see in him an individuality who had lifted to some extent the veils that concealed the spiritual world. Swedenborg had developed a high degree of Imaginative cognition which is a necessity for all who would penetrate to the spiritual world. It was indispensable to him; it was simply a kind of transition to higher stages of knowledge. And it was especially his clairvoyant sense for Imaginative cognition that he had developed. But precisely because this Imaginative cognition was stirring and pulsating in him he was able to make observations about the relations between the spiritual world and the phenomenal world, observations which are highly significant for those who seek to clarify their ideas about clairvoyance by studying the development of particular personalities. I should like to take Swedenborg as an example in order to illustrate how he came to self-understanding, how he thought and felt in order to keep his inner life attuned to the spiritual world. He was not motivated by egoism in his search for the spirit. He was already fifty-five years old when the doors of the spiritual world were opened to him (note 4). He was therefore a man of ripe experience; he had received a sound scientific training and had long been active in this field. The most important scientific works of Swedenborg have just been published in many volumes by the Stockholm Academy of Sciences and they contain material that may well determine the course of science for many years to come. But people today have learned the trick of recognizing a man such as Swedenborg (who was the leading scientist of his day) only in so far as they agree with him; otherwise they label him a fool. And they perform this trick with consummate skill. They attach no importance to the fact that from the age of fifty-five Swedenborg bears witness to the reality of the spiritual world — a man whose scientific achievement not only compares favourably with that of others — in itself no mean feat — but who, as a scientist, stood head and shoulders above his contemporaries.
Swedenborg was particularly interested in the question of the interaction of soul and body. After his spiritual enlightenment he wrote a superb treatise on this subject. The content was approximately as follows: In considering the interrelation of body and soul there are three possibilities. First, the body is the decisive factor; sense-impressions are mediated by the body and react upon the soul. The soul therefore is to some extent dependent upon the body. The second possibility is that the body is dependent upon the soul which is the source of the spiritual impulses. The soul fashions the body and makes use of the body during its lifetime. In this case one must speak not of a physical influence, but of a psychic influence. The third possibility is as follows: body and soul are contiguous, but do not interact; a higher power brings about a harmony or agreement between them just as two clocks which are independent of each other agree when they show the time. When therefore an external impression is made upon the senses, a thought process is set up within the soul, but both are unrelated; a corresponding impression is made upon the soul from within by a higher power, just as an impression is made upon the soul through the senses from without. Swedenborg points out that the first and third possibilities are impossible for those who are able to see into the spiritual world, that it is evident to the spiritually enlightened that the soul by virtue of its inner forces is related to a spiritual sun in the same way as the (physical) body is related to the physical sun. And he also shows that everything of a physical nature is dependent upon soul and spirit. He throws fresh light upon what we called the Sun mystery (when speaking of the Mysteries), that mystery of which Julian the Apostate had a dim recollection when he spoke of the sun as a spiritual being. It was this which was the cause of his hostility to Christianity because the Christianity of his day sought to deny Christ's relation to the sun. Through Imaginative cognition Swedenborg restored the Sun mystery as far as was possible for his time.
I have placed these facts before you in order to show what Swedenborg experienced inwardly in the course of developing his spiritual knowledge. His reflections upon the question I have just touched upon were embodied in a kind of philosophical treatise — the kind of treatise written by one who has insight into the spiritual world, not the kind of treatise written by the academic philosopher who is devoid of spiritual vision. At the conclusion of his treatise Swedenborg speaks of what he calls a “vision”. And by this vision he does not imply something he has conjured up, but something he has actually perceived with the eye of the spirit. Swedenborg is not afraid to speak of his spiritual visions. Furthermore he recounts what a particular angel said to him because he is certain of the fact. He no more doubts it than another doubts what a fellow human being has told him. He said: “I was once ‘in the spirit’; three Schoolmen appeared to me, disciples of Aristotle, advocates of his doctrine that attributes a physical influence to all that streams into the soul from without. They appeared on the one side. On the other side appeared three disciples of Descartes who spoke of spiritual influences upon the soul, albeit somewhat inadequately. And behind them appeared three disciples of Leibnitz who spoke of the pre-established harmony, i.e. of the independence of body and soul, of dissimilar monads existing and moving together in a state of absolute harmony pre-established by God. And I perceived nine figures who surrounded me. And the leaders of each group of the three figures were Leibnitz, Descartes and Aristotle, suffused in light”. Swedenborg spoke of this vision as one speaks of an event in everyday life. Then, he said, from out of the abyss there rose up a spirit with a torch in his right hand and as he swung the torch in front of the figures they immediately began to dispute amongst themselves. The Aristotelians defended, from their standpoint, the primacy of physical influences, the Cartesians defended spiritual impulses, and likewise the Leibnitzians defended, with the support of Leibnitz himself, the idea of preestablished harmony. Such visions may describe even the smallest details. Swedenborg tells us that Leibnitz appeared dressed in a kind of toga and the lappets were held by his disciple Wolf. Such details always accompany these visions in which such peculiarities are very characteristic. These figures, then, began to dispute amongst themselves. They all had a good case — and any and every case can be defended. Thereupon, after prolonged conflict, the spirit appeared a second time. He carried the torch in his left hand and lit up their heads from behind. Then the battle of words was really joined. They said: “We cannot distinguish which is our body and which is our soul.” And so they agreed to cast three slips of paper into a box. On the one slip was written “physical influence”, on the second, “spiritual influence” and on the third, “pre-established harmony”. Then they drew lots and drew out “spiritual influence” and said: “Let us agree to recognize spiritual influence.” At that moment an angel descended from the upper world and said: “It is not fortuitous that you drew out the slip of paper labelled ‘spiritual influence’; that choice had already been anticipated by the powers who in their wisdom guide the world because it accords with the truth.”
This is the vision described by Swedenborg. It is open to anyone to regard this vision as of no importance, perhaps even as naive. The salient question however is not whether it is naive or not, but that he experienced it. And that which at first sight seems perhaps extremely naive has profound implications. For that which in the phenomenal world appears to be arbitrary, the vagary of chance, is something totally different when seen symbolically from the spiritual angle. It is difficult to come to an understanding of chance, because chance is only a shadow-image of higher necessities. Swedenborg wishes to indicate something of special importance, namely that it is not he who wills it, but “it” is willed in him. This vision arises because “it” is willed in him. And this is an accurate description of the way in which he arrived at his truths, an accurate description of the spirit in which the treatise was written. How did the Cartesians react? They sought to demonstrate the idea of spiritual influence on purely human and rational grounds. It is possible to arrive at the spirit in this way but that seldom happens. The Aristotelians were no better than the Cartesians; they defended the idea of the spiritual influence, again on human grounds. The Leibnitzians were certainly no better than the other two for they defended the idea of “pre-established harmony”. Swedenborg rejected these paths to the spirit; he did everything possible to prepare himself to receive the truth. And this waiting upon truth, not the determination of truth, this passive acceptance of truth was his aim and was symbolized by the drawing of the slips of paper from the box. This is of vital importance.
We do not appreciate these things at their true worth when we approach them intellectually. We only appreciate them in the right way when they are presented symbolically, even though intelligent people may regard the symbol as naive. Our response to symbols is different from our response to abstract ideas. The symbol prepares our soul to receive the truth from the spiritual world. That is the essential. And if we give serious attention to these things we shall gradually understand and develop ideas and concepts which are necessary for mankind today, ideas which they must acquire by effort and which appear to be inaccessible today simply because people are antipathetic towards them — and for no other reason — an antipathy that springs from materialism.
The whole purpose of our investigations was to study the course of human evolution, first of all up to a decisive turning-point — and this turning-point was the Mystery of Golgotha. Then evolution continues and takes on a new course. These two courses are radically different from each other. I have already described in what respects they differed from each other. In order fully to understand this difference let us recall once again the following: in ancient times it was always possible for man without special training of his psychic life (in the Mysteries this was connected with external ceremonies and cult acts) to be convinced of the reality of the spiritual world through the performance of these rites and ceremonies and thereby of his own immortality, because this certainty of immortality was still latent in his corporeal nature. After the Mystery of Golgotha it was no longer possible for the physical body to “distil” out of itself the conviction of immortality; it could no longer “press” out of itself, so to speak, the perception of immortality. This had been prepared in the centuries before the Mystery of Golgotha. It is most interesting to see how Aristotle, this giant among philosophers, made every effort a few centuries before the Mystery of Golgotha to grasp the idea of the immortality of the soul; but the idea of immortality he arrived at was a most remarkable conception. Man, in Aristotle's opinion, is only a complete man when he possesses a physical body. And Franz Brentano, one of the best Aristotelians of recent time, says in his study of Aristotle that man is no longer a complete man if some member is lacking; how can he be a complete man when he lacks the whole body? Therefore, to Aristotle, when the soul passes through the gates of death it is of less significance than it was when in the body here on Earth. This shows that he had lost the capacity still to perceive the soul, whilst on the other hand the original capacity to accept the immortality of the soul still persisted. Now, strange to relate, Aristotle was the leading philosopher throughout the Middle Ages. All that can be known, said the Schoolmen, is known to Aristotle and as philosophers we have no choice but to rely upon him and follow in his footsteps. They had no intention of developing spiritual powers or capacities beyond the limits set by Aristotelianism. And this is very significant, for it explains clearly why Julian the Apostate rejected the Christianity that was practised by the Church during the age of Constantine. One must really see these things from a higher perspective. Apart from Franz Brentano, one of the leading Aristotelians of our time, I was personally acquainted with Vincenz Knauer, a Benedictine monk, whose relationship to Aristotle as a Roman Catholic was identical with that of the Schoolmen. In speaking of Aristotle he sought to discover at the same time what could be known of the immortality of the soul by purely human knowledge. And Knauer gave the following interesting summary of his opinion:
It is very significant that those who are well versed in Aristotle admit that human knowledge could arrive at no other conclusion. And a certain effort therefore is demanded of us to resist the consequences of this attitude of mind. The materialism of the present time is unwittingly influenced by the Conciliar decree of 869 which abolished the spirit and declared that man consisted of body and soul only.
Modern materialism goes even further; it proposes to abolish the soul as well. That of course is the logical sequel. We need therefore both courage and determination in order to find our way back again to the spirit in the right way. Now Julian the Apostate who had been initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries was aware that a specific spiritual training could lead to the realization that the soul is immortal. This Sun mystery was known to him. And he now became aware of something that filled him with alarm. He was unable to grasp the fact that what he feared so much was a necessity. When he looked back to ancient times he realized that directly or indirectly through the Mysteries man was guided by Cosmic Powers, Beings and Forces. He realized that this may happen on the physical plane, that it is ordained from spiritual spheres because men have insight into these spiritual spheres. In Constantinism he saw a form of Christianity emerge which modelled Christian society and the organization of Christianity on the original principles of the Roman empire. He saw that Christianity had infiltrated into that which the Roman empire had intended for the external social order only. And he saw that the divine-spiritual had been harnessed to the Imperium Romanum. And this appalled him; he was unable to bring himself to admit that this was a necessity for a brief period. He realized that there was wide disparity between the mighty impulses of human evolution and what happened historically. I have often called attention to the need to bear in mind the golden age of the rise of Christianity before the era of Constantine. For at that time powerful spiritual impulses were at work which had been obscured solely because man's independent search for knowledge which he owed to the Christ Impulse had been harnessed to the Conciliar decrees.
If we look back to Origen and to Clement of Alexandria we find men who were open-minded, men still imbued with the Greek spirit: yet they were also conscious of the significance of what had been accomplished through the Mystery of Golgotha. Their conception of this Mystery and of the crucified Christ is considered to be pure heresy in the eyes of all denominations today. In reality the great Church Fathers of the pre-Constantine age who are recognized by the Church are the worst heretics of all. Though they were aware of the significance of the Mystery of Golgotha for the evolution of the Earth, they gave no indication of wishing to suppress the path to the Mystery of Golgotha, the gate to the Mysteries or the path of the old clairvoyance, which had been the aim of the Christianity of Constantine. In Clement of Alexandria especially we see that his works are shot through with great mysteries, mysteries which are so veiled that it is even difficult for contemporary man to make head or tail of them. Clement speaks of the Logos for example, of the wisdom that streams through and permeates the Universe. He pictures the Logos as music of the spheres fraught with meaning, and the visible world as the expression of the music of the spheres, just as the visible vibration of the strings of a musical instrument is the expression of the sound waves. Thus, in the eyes of Clement, the human form is made in the image of the Logos; that is, to Clement the Logos is a reality and he sees the human form as a fusion of tones from the music of the spheres. Man, he says, is made in the image of the Logos. And in many of Clement's utterances we find traces of that supernal wisdom that dwelt in him, a wisdom illuminated by the Christ Impulse. If you compare these utterances of Clement of Alexandria with the prevailing attitude today then the claim to recognize a man such as Clement of Alexandria without understanding him will appear as more than passing strange.
When it is said that the aim of Spiritual Science is to follow in the main stream of Christianity, to be a new flowering of Christianity to meet the needs of our time, then the cry is raised — the ancient Gnosis is being revived! And at the mention of Gnosis many professing Christians today begin to cross themselves as if faced by the devil incarnate. Gnosis for today is Spiritual Science; but the more developed gnosis of the present time is different from the gnosis known to Clement of Alexandria. What were the views of Clement of Alexandria who lived in the latter half of the second century? Faith, he says, is our starting-point — the orthodox Christian of today is satisfied with faith alone and asks no more. Faith, according to Clement, is already knowledge, but concise knowledge of what is needed; gnosis however confirms and reinforces what we believe, is founded on faith through the teaching of Our Lord and so leads to a faith that is scientifically acceptable and irrefutable. In these words Clement of Alexandria expresses for his time what we must realize today. Christianity therefore demands that gnosis, the Spiritual Science of today, must actively participate in the development of Christianity. But the modern philistine protests: “We must distinguish between science (which he would limit to sense experience) and faith. Faith must have no part in science.” Clement of Alexandria however says: To faith is added gnosis, to gnosis love, and to love the “Kingdom”. This is one of the most profound utterances of the human spirit because it bears witness to an intimate union with the life of the spirit. First we are nourished in faith; but to faith is added gnosis, that is, knowledge or understanding. Out of this living knowledge, i.e. when we penetrate deeply into things, there is first born genuine love through which our Divine inheritance operates. Mankind can only be the vehicle of the influx of the Divine as it was in the “beginning” if to faith is added gnosis, to gnosis love and to love the “Kingdom”. We must look upon these utterances as bearing witness to the deep spirituality of Clement.
Difficult as it may seem we must make the true form of Christian life once again accessible to mankind today. It is important to see certain things for what they are today and we shall then know where to look for the real cause of our present tribulations (i.e. the War of 1914). The effect of these calamities is such that, as a rule, no attempt is made to discover what really lies behind them. When, for example, an Alpine village is buried beneath an avalanche, everyone sees the avalanche crash down; but if we want to discover the cause of the avalanche we must look for it perhaps in an ice-crystal where the snow-slip began. It is easy enough to observe the destruction of the village by the avalanche, but it is not so easy to provide tangible evidence that the disaster was caused by an ice-crystal. And so it is with the great events of history! It is evident that mankind is now caught up in a terrible catastrophe; this is the conflagration that has overwhelmed us. We have to look for the sparks — and they are many — which first set the conflagration alight. But we do not pursue our enquiries far enough in order to ascertain where the conflagration first began. Today we are afraid to see things for what they are.
Let us assume that we wish to form an opinion about a certain field of science. Usually we rely upon the opinion of the specialist in that particular field. Why is his opinion accepted as authoritative? Simply because he is an expert in this field. Generally speaking it is the specialist or university professor who determines what is accepted as scientific today. Let us take a concrete case. I am well aware that it does not make for popularity to call a spade a spade, but that is no matter. But unless an increasing number of people is prepared to get to the root of things today we shall not overcome our present tribulations. Let us assume that a leading authority says the following: people are always talking about man in terms of body and soul. This idea of the dualism of body and soul is fundamentally unsatisfactory. That we still speak of body and soul today is due to the fact that we are dependent on a language that is already outmoded, which we have inherited from an earlier epoch when people were far more stupid than today. These people were so foolish as to believe that the body and soul were separate entities. When we speak of these matters today we are compelled to make use of these terms; we are victims of a language which belongs to the past. And our authority continues: we have to accept body and soul as separate entities, but this is quite unjustified. Anyone speaking from the present standpoint and wholly uninfluenced by the views of ancient times would perhaps say: let us assume here is a flower and here is a man. I see his form and complexion, his external aspect, just as I see that of the flower. The rest must be inferred. — Now someone might come along and object: that is true, but the man in question also sees the flower in his soul. But that is pure illusion. What I really receive from the perception of a flower or a stone is a sense-impression and the same is true of the man in question. The idea that an inner image persists in the soul is pure illusion. The only things we know are external relationships.
You will say that you can make nothing of this argument! And a good thing too, because it is a farrago of nonsense, it is the acme of stupidity. This crass stupidity is supported by all kinds of careful laboratory investigations into the human brain and sundry clinical findings and so on. In short the man is a fool. He is in a position to provide good clinical results because laboratories are at his disposal; but the conclusions which he draws from these findings are pure nonsense. Men of this type are a commonplace today. To say these things does not make for popularity. The cycle of lectures which has appeared in book form by the man I am referring to — strangely enough his name is Verworn, [original note 1] I take this to be pure coincidence — is called “The Mechanism of the Spiritual Life”. It would be about as sensible to write about the “ligneousness of iron” as about “the mechanism of spiritual life”.
Now if this is typical of the intellectual acumen of our most enlightened minds it is not in the least surprising that if those disciplines which are far from being accurate at least in relation to external facts — and in this respect Verworn is capable of accurate observation because he describes what he sees, but unfortunately muddies everything with his own foolish ideas — that if those disciplines which are unsupported by external evidence such as political science, for example, are exposed to the scientific mode of thinking, then the greatest nonsense results. Political science should be supported by thoughts that are rooted in reality, but lacks these thoughts for reasons I have indicated in my last lecture. And people are forcibly reminded of this fact.
I referred earlier in this lecture to Kjellén, one of the leading Swedish thinkers. His book The State as Organism is ingenious; towards the end of the book he puts forward a remarkable idea, but neither he, nor others today, can make anything of it. He quotes a certain Fustel de Coulanges (note 5), author of La Cité antique, who showed that when we analyse pre-Christian political and social institutions we find that they are entirely founded on religious rites and observances; the entire State has a social and spiritual foundation. Thus people are willy-nilly brought face to face with the facts, for I pointed out in my last lecture that the social order stemmed from the Mysteries and had a spiritual origin. In studying the body politic or political science people are faced with these questions but are at a loss to understand them. They can make nothing of what even history reports when they can no longer rely upon documents.
And still less can they make anything of the other idea which I indicated as a new path to the Christ. This idea which we find especially in the Mysteries and in Plato's writings, that remarkable echo of the Mystery teachings must arise once again. The central figure of Plato's dialogues is Socrates surrounded by his disciples. In the debate between Socrates and his disciples Plato unfolds his teachings. In his writings Plato was in communion with Socrates after the latter's death. Now this is something more than a literary device. It is the continuation, the echo of what was practised in the Mysteries where the neophytes were gradually prepared for communion with the souls of the dead who continue to direct the sensible world from the spiritual world. Plato's philosophy is developed out of his communion with Socrates, after the death of Socrates. This idea must be revived again and I have already indicated what form it must take. We must get beyond the dry bones of history, beyond the mere recording of external events. We must be able to commune with the dead, to let the thoughts of the dead arise in us once again. It is in this sense that we must be able to take seriously the idea of resurrection. It is through personal inner experience that Christ reveals Himself to mankind. It is by following this path that the truth of the Christ can be demonstrated. But this path demands of us that we develop the will in our thinking. If we can develop only such thoughts as are suited to the observation of the external world we cannot arrive at those thoughts which are really in touch with the dead. We must acquire the capacity to draw thoughts from the well of our inmost being. Our will must be prepared to unite with reality, and then the will which is thus spiritualised by its incorporation in our thinking will encounter spiritual beings, just as the hand encounters a physical object in the external world. And the first spiritual beings we encounter will, as a rule, be the dead with whom we are in some way karmically connected. You must not expect to find guidance in these abstruse matters from a set of written instructions which can be carried about in one's waistcoat pocket. Things are not as simple as that. One encounters well-intentioned people who ask: How do I distinguish between dream and reality, between phantasy and reality? In the individual case one should not attempt to distinguish between them in accordance with a fixed rule. The whole soul must be gradually attuned so that it can pass judgement in the individual case, just as in the external world we seek to pass judgement irrespective of the individual case. We must develop a wider perspective in order to form a judgement about the particular case. The dream may be a close approximation to reality, but it is not possible in the individual case to state categorically: this is the right and proper way to distinguish a mere dream from reality. Indeed what I am saying at the moment may not apply in specific cases, because other points of view must be taken into consideration. It is important to develop in ourselves the power to discriminate in spiritual matters.
Let us take the familiar case of a person who is dreaming or who imagines he is dreaming. Now it is not easy to distinguish between dream and reality. People who study dreams today follow in the footsteps of Herr Verworn. He says that one can undertake an interesting experiment. He quotes the following example. Someone taps with a pin on the window of a house where the occupant is asleep. He is dreaming at the time, wakes up and says he had heard rifle-fire. The dream, according to Verworn, exaggerates. The tappings of the pin on the window-pane have become rifle-shots. Verworn explains this in the following way: we assume that in waking consciousness the brain is fully active. In dream consciousness the brain activity is diminished; only the peripheral consciousness is active. Normally the brain plays no part; its activity is diminished. That is why the dream is so bizarre and why, therefore, the tappings of the pin turn into rifle-fire. Now the public is highly credulous. They are first told in the relevant passage in Verworn's book that the dream exaggerates and then, later on, they are told (not precisely in the words I have used) that the brain is less active and therefore the dream appears bizarre. The reader has meanwhile already forgotten what was told in the first place. He is unable to relate the two statements and simply says: the State has appointed an expert in these matters and so we must accept his word. Now, as you know, belief in authority is taboo today. He who does not hold these views about the dream may none the less feel that the following way of thinking might well be the right approach. Let us assume you are dreaming of a friend who is dead. You dream, or believe you are dreaming that you are sharing some situation in common with him — and then you wake up. Your first thought on awakening is of course: but he died some time ago! But in the dream it never occurred to you that he was dead. Now you can find many ingenious explanations of this dream if you refer to Verworn's book, The Mechanism of the Spirit. But if this is a dream, and a dream is only a memory of everyday life, you will have difficulty in understanding why the foremost thought in your mind, namely the death of your friend, plays no part in the dream when you have just experienced a situation which you know for certain you could not have shared with him when alive. You are then justified in saying: I have now experienced with X something I could not have experienced in life, something that I have not only not experienced, but which would have been impossible in our normal relationship. Assuming that the soul of X, the real soul, which has passed through the gates of death is behind this dream-picture, is it not self-evident that you do not share his death experience? There is no reason why X's soul should appear to be dead since it still lives on. If you take these two factors into consideration — perhaps in conjunction with other factors — you will conclude: my dream-picture veils a real meeting with the soul of X. The thought of death never occurs to me because the dream is not a memory of everyday life: in the dream I receive an authentic visitation from the deceased (i.e. X). I now experience the visitation in the form of a dream-picture, a situation which could not have arisen under the normal circumstances of everyday life. Furthermore the thought of death never occurs to me because the soul of the deceased persists. And then you have every reason for saying: when I experience this apparent dream I inhabit a realm where physical memory does not operate — and what I am about to say is most important — for it is characteristic of our physical life that our physical memory remains unimpaired. This memory does not exist to the same extent, nor is it of the same nature in the world of spirit which we enter at death. The memory which we need for the world of the spirit we must first develop in ourselves. The physical memory is tied to the physical body. Therefore anyone who is familiar with the super-sensible realm knows that the physical memory cannot enter there. It is not surprising that we have no memory of the deceased; but we are aware that we are in communion with the living soul of X.
Those who are acquainted with this fact maintain that what we call memory in the physical life is something totally different in the spiritual life. Anyone who has succumbed to the impact of Dante's great work, the “Divine Comedy” will never doubt, if he has spiritual discernment, that Dante experienced spiritual visions, that he had insight into the world of the spirit. He who comprehends the language of those who were familiar with the world of the spirit will find convincing proof of this in Dante's introduction to the “Divine Comedy”. Dante was well versed in spiritual knowledge; he was no dilettante in matters of the spirit; he was, so to speak, an expert in this field. He was aware that normal memory does not operate in the realm where we are in communion with the dead. He often speaks of the dead, of how the dead dwell in the “Light”. In the “Divine Comedy” you will find these beautiful lines on the theme of memory:
Thus Dante was aware that it is impossible with normal memory to grasp that which could originate in the spiritual world. There are many today who ask: why should we aspire to the spiritual world when we have enough to contend with in the physical world; the ordinary man seeks a practical answer to the problems of this life! — But have these people any reason to believe that those who were initiated into the Mysteries in ancient times were any less concerned with the physical world? The initiates knew that the spiritual world permeates the physical world, that the dead are unquestionably active amongst us even though people deny it. And they knew that this denial merely creates confusion. He who denies that those who have passed through the gates of death exercise an influence on this world resembles the man who says: “Nonsense! I don't believe a word you say” — and then proceeds to behave as if he did believe it. It is not so easy, of course, to give direct proof of the havoc that is wrought when the influx of the spiritual world into the physical world is not taken into account, when people act on the assumption that this interaction can be ignored. Our epoch shows little inclination to bridge the gap that separates us from the kingdom where the dead and the higher Beings dwell. In many respects our present epoch harbours a veritable antipathy towards the world of the spirit. And it is the duty of the spiritual scientist who is really honest and sincere to be aware of the forces that are hostile to the development of Anthroposophy. For there are deep underlying reasons for this hostility and they stem from the same sources which are responsible for all the forces which are today in active opposition to the true progress of mankind.