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|GA 350. From Mammoths to Mediums — About repeated lives on earth. Physical exercises, dancing and Sport|
|But America was not empty of people at that time. The ancient Indian population that I told you about, the people with copper-coloured skins, has now died out completely. Looking at the things they left behind, some of them buried by now, you realize that a vast population existed there, but the Europeans did not have contact with them.|
|GA 350. From Mammoths to Mediums — About repeated lives on earth. Physical exercises, dancing and Sport|
Good morning, gentlemen. As not all of you are here today I think I'll talk about things in such a way that the people who are not here won't miss much. Would you have any questions?
Mr Burle asked about reincarnation. Surely there are a lot more people on earth today than there were before.
Another question was that he had often noted people liking to go round and round — dancing, maybe, or in other ways. And a running dog would always come back to the same spot. Also, if one got lost in the woods or if there was a fog, one would find oneself in the same place again.
Rudolf Steiner: That is indeed a most interesting question. First, then, the question about incarnations. As you know, if we take account of the anthroposophical science of the spirit, we realize that everyone who is living today has a whole number of earth lives behind him and also ahead of him, and that the human soul therefore returns again and again. Now you should not think that this has anything to do with the belief, which was also quite common in earlier times, that human beings have lived in animal bodies and things like that. This is something our enemies pretend we say. There can be no question of this. But there are two objections that may be raised against the idea of human beings always coming back. The first of these is the one Mr Burle means.
The general view is that the earth's population is always growing, so that we have very many more people in Europe today, for example, than there were about 150 years ago. Is that right? Is this what you mean? That the figures would be too high if we were to trace the earlier lives of all the people who are part of today's large population? One would then have to say that there were fewer people in earlier times and many more people live on earth today. So how can it be that those people from earlier times appear in present-day bodies? That is the question. It is asked very often, the idea being that there are too many people on earth today for us to be able to say that they have all existed before.
Now there are a number of things that have to be taken into account. In the first place, statistics are always only produced for particular areas where the population happens to be increasing to an extraordinary degree, and this gives the idea that the population of the whole earth has always been growing. It would seem as if 3,000 or 4,000 years ago, let us say, there were only few people on earth, whereas today they are here in enormous numbers. People do sums of this kind. They say, for example, that the population of Europe has more or less doubled over the last 150 years. Continuing their calculations on this basis, they then say that there must have been terribly few people on earth 2,000 or 3,000 years ago.
But, gentlemen, this goes completely against the facts as we generally know them. Let me just mention the following. You see, if we go back to before the birth of Christ, let us say, 2,000 years back, that was a time when the most enormous pyramids were being built in the Nile region in Africa, in Egypt; the whole river was being regulated. And if you consider the masses of people needed to erect those vast buildings, even just to build the sphinxes, for instance, which are gigantic in size, in the large numbers in which they were built, you realize that it is quite wrong to say that Egypt's population was small at the time. No, the population must have been dense in Egypt then, much denser than the population of Saxony or of Belgium is today, for example. The historical facts thus definitely contradict the view that going further and further back in earth evolution one would find fewer and fewer people.
Also, if we go much further across into Asia we find vast canal systems. You know, if this is Europe [drawing on the board] — I've drawn this for you before — then Africa would be here. That would have been the Nile and Egypt, and over here this would be Asia. That is a vast continent which goes further. And here we have the teeming population who built the pyramids and so on. Over there in Asia was ancient Chaldea. As you know, the Bible says Abraham came from Ur in Chaldea. The land Chaldea existed in those times. And in that country vast canal systems were built in earlier times, remnants of which can still be found. This, too, needed vast numbers of people. So you have to see that the facts prove, quite simply, that vast masses of people existed in Africa and Asia some thousands and thousands of years before Christ's birth.
You also have to consider the following. When the Europeans went to America they settled there. But America was not empty of people at that time. The ancient Indian population that I told you about, the people with copper-coloured skins, has now died out completely. Looking at the things they left behind, some of them buried by now, you realize that a vast population existed there, but the Europeans did not have contact with them.
So this is simply something that is not true, that there were far fewer people on earth in the past. Just think about it — exact figures are not known about the present population; it is only possible to give figures for specific areas. What do European statisticians of today know about the Chinese population now and a thousand years ago? All the things travellers tell us suggest that the population does not always decrease when one goes back in time as is generally assumed but that there certainly have been times when the earth was very highly populated. Then, of course, there have also been times when some areas in particular were less densely populated, but we shall see in a minute that this was nothing special. Generally speaking, and with reference to the things it is possible to know at a superficial level today, the objection that too many people exist today to be reincarnations from earlier times can definitely be shown to be untrue.
But there's something else to be considered as well. You see, looking at people today one comes to realize that one person may have gone through 1,000 years between death and his present birth, someone else perhaps only 500 years, and yet another may have been in the world of the spirit for 1,500 years before he came down again. The people who live today thus have definitely not all been here before at the same time but at different times. If the earth's population was smaller at some time, the souls would wait up above until it had grown larger again.
The things we are able to say about incarnation and reincarnation do therefore agree completely with the facts. I have often said — for this objection has been raised again and again over the years that I have been lecturing — it's just a matter of arithmetic. Let us assume someone lived in ad 300 — somewhere or other. Someone else lived in ad 1000 [drawing and writing on the board]. It is now the year 1923. It is perfectly possible that the one I've drawn there meets the one you see here, because the second one had a shorter distance to cover. So now, in 1923, you have two people, but at those earlier times it was always only one. They do not all of them need to be here at the same time in order to return at the same time. It therefore is perfectly true also for times when the earth is less densely populated; it is just that fewer souls come down at such times.
So you see, if one is not thinking in fantasies but in real terms one has to understand that it simply was not the case that there would be two people, later four, then six, and so on. As we go back further in looking at the earth's population we realize that this is completely rhythmical. There are times when there are many people on earth and times when fewer people are on earth. And we shall never get back to a single pair, as it is says in the Bible. That is not what it means. There can be no question of 'one pair', the way it says there. For if we assume that there were just two people at one time we would have to say that there would always have to be just two, and none at all in between times. But that is not the way it is. Here true knowledge contradicts the beliefs of knowledge based on fantasy today.
But there's something else as well. You see, we have to understand clearly that some time must pass before a human being comes down to earth again. And so you may ask: 'Yes, but when does he come down?' Investigating the matter right through to the end one finds that one of them gave much thought to the world of the spirit when on earth, and he'd then grow into that world more easily after his death. Having given much thought to the world of the spirit, he'd need a relatively long time between death and rebirth. He could stay in the world of the spirit for a long time because he had already learnt a great deal about it here. People like that, who've given much thought to the world of the spirit, are able to develop better there, stay longer and return to earth later. Someone who has only given thought to the material world will come back relatively soon. So this is another way in which things shift and change.
That would be one objection. Then there is also another one. I have talked to you about this before. It is this: 'Why do we not remember our earlier incarnations?' Well you see, gentlemen, it's like this. If someone says human beings are able to do sums, that is beyond doubt. They can do sums. But then someone will come and say: 'I'll prove to you that man cannot do sums.' 'Oh, how'll you do that?' And he'll bring along a young child who cannot do sums. 'He's a human being, too,' he'll say.
That is how it is with earlier lives on earth. Human beings can learn this, and they will learn to remember their earlier lives on earth as they continue to evolve on this earth. This is one of the things we hear of in the science of the spirit, that at the present time human beings are not yet able to remember their experiences from the previous life. But what we have to say on this in the science of the spirit is in complete agreement with it. You see, gentlemen, you are in the waking state from morning till evening. You gain living experience from everything around you. And when you remember things, you'll only remember things you have known like this, in the waking state. Just think how quickly we forget even our dreams — which have no particular significance, as I've told you. Human beings therefore remember the things they have come across in the waking state. But there's something else which they do not remember, even here on earth. These are the things they experience in the sleeping state. And we actually experience a great deal more in our sleep than we do in the waking state, only at our present level of conscious awareness we are not yet able to take them in. Once we have gained the ability to do this — and human beings can gain this — we'll know that we experience a tremendous amount in our sleep. As a rule, however, people do not know this, and when they die the things they experienced in their waking life go away after two or three days. It then seems as if all the thoughts one has experienced in the waking state simply go away after two, three or four days. And then all the things we have experienced in our sleep will come up. As I have told you, they'll take a length of time equal to a third of our whole life on earth. Here on earth we therefore also do not yet know about the things that are wholly inward experiences. We shall know them if we enter more and more deeply into the science of the spirit. So we also need not be surprised if things that happened in our previous life on earth do not come to conscious awareness in our present life. The other day I told you about the difference if I put down a collar stud unthinkingly — I'll then be running about, looking and looking for it in the morning — and about the situation where I specifically recall: that's where I put the stud; in that case I'll not run around but go straight to it. It all depends on whether we give thought to something.
In earlier times people knew that they lived on earth several times over, but as the millennia passed they did not think of this at all as something that was of the spirit. This is why they cannot remember it in their present life on earth. But a time will come when they will remember, just as a time will come for the 4-year-old child when he will be able to do sums.
Now to your other question. People have a desire to go round in a circle. That is a perfectly true statement. Here I have to remind you of the following. We have to learn to stand and walk when we are young children, something we have spoken of before. Imagine now you are lying asleep in your bed, waking up again with a dream, and the dream may not just be one where you are turning round and round — this, of course, would be in your dream — but actually flying. Dreams of flying, in the first place only in one's soul, of course, are not that uncommon. The reason why someone flies in his dreams is usually this. He wakes up; he is used to having the ground under his feet or the seat of a chair or something under him when sitting up in the waking state, in short, always to have something under him. When he is lying down, it is quite uncommon to touch the bottom of the bedstead with the soles of his feet, and the soles are usually free. The individual will thus wake up in a position he is not used to. He'll think he is in the air and flying. This is what he'll think at first.
But now you have to consider the following. If we first have to learn to walk and to stand, that is, to be upright, as children, this means being upright is not something we have in us from birth; we have to learn it. But if we ask ourselves: Where does it come from, this being upright? What is it that we do when we walk upright? Now you have to consider this carefully. Imagine this is the surface of the earth [Fig. 1]. If you loosen a stone here it will fall to the ground. Why? We say because the earth attracts it. If it is really just like that, so that the earth pulls it towards it as if it were on a string, this is something we need to think about. We might talk about it another time. But in any case, a force exists that pulls it down, otherwise it would not fall to the ground. And wherever the stone may be, it will always drop to the ground straight down.
We, too, must learn to take the direction of this line. We must learn to stand in the vertical when we are earthly human beings. And so we adapt ourselves to this vertical line. The whole of our physical body would serve no purpose if we did not assume the vertical position. Look at animals that do not walk upright but on all fours — their toes are quite different in form from our fingers. If our physical body is to have meaning, therefore, we must take up the vertical position. This is absolutely necessary.
But does the ether body also need what the physical body needs? You know I've told you that we do not only have this physical body which we see with our eyes when we look at someone, which we can touch with our hands, but we also have a subtle ether body. Now this ether body does not need to adapt. It keeps different habits. What habits? Well, gentlemen, you know that the earth is round and that night and day alternate. What makes night and day alternate? You know, the sun is here [drawing on the board], and when its rays come to the earth like this, it is daytime on this side. It would always be day if the earth did not rotate. So when this half, which I've made red, gets to over here, it will be night on this half and day on the other half, which then comes over here.
Night and day therefore arise because the earth rotates. Just think now, the human ether body, this subtle body which we also have, does not get so used to the vertical position as a child does, but always wants to follow this rotation of the earth. This ether body always wants to move around the earth; this is how it wants to be; this is the movement it always makes. If the ether body did not want to make this movement, you would want to rotate all the time when you are just walking in the direction of the earth, wanting to go round and round all the time because you'd hurt all over from the shove you are given. There has to be something in you that always goes with the movement of the earth; otherwise you'd be hurting all over all the time. You can also see from this how little thought is given to things in modern science. People know very well that the earth is rotating and not just making the movement the physical body makes when it has adapted to the vertical position. But they do not know of any body that follows this movement. That is the situation.
Now imagine you faint. When you faint something departs from your physical and ether body. It is the I and the astral body, that is, the part of you that is the actual element of spirit and soul. And you'll then be aware that the astral body wants to rotate. You will first of all rotate in soul and spirit just as you do with that dream in the morning when you sensed that you had no ground under your feet. When you faint, therefore, you first of all rotate in the mind. When someone feels dizzy, for instance, only the soul part wants to rotate. But imagine now you walk on without giving it a thought. Now, if you walk without giving it a thought you are moving the physical body mechanically. You then do not think about your walking, and especially if there's a mist in the woods you won't be able to give thought to your walking. You don't know which way to turn — where should I go? For you normally aim towards a particular point when you walk with your physical body. You may not always be aware of it, but the path directs you towards a particular point. But if there's a mist you don't see anything, and then your physical body does not know its way about. Along comes your ether body; it only wants to follow its own movement, which is circular. It will follow its own circular motion and take the physical body along with it! When you are merely dreaming or feeling dizzy, the astral body makes the movement. But once you've got going, the ether body brings the physical movement into the physical body and you go along with that. You can see from this that the ether body is not at all earthbound. The human ether body thus does not go along with the way things are on earth.
Now consider this. Between birth and death man is a creature of this earth. He has to work. But as you know, you can't work all the time. The physical body would be worn down, and so on. The person then wants to move his physical body, but not the way it has adapted to the earth; he wants to follow the ether body. The ether body wants to make circular movements, however, and so the person dances. Dancing is usually a matter of someone not wanting to follow his physical body but his ether body. The desire to dance actually exists so that a person may forget his physical body and can feel himself to be a spirit that belongs to the cosmos.
The problem would be, however, that people would always want to follow their inner feeling and belong far too much to the cosmos, going with their ether bodies. People do not usually want to move the way the earth wants them to move, they'd really like to follow their ether bodies. And it might suit them very well to move as much as possible in circles, the way the ether body wants to move. People must therefore get used to the kind of movements that belong to the earth. And we have also adopted those movements in education, doing physical exercises. Why do people do physical exercises? It means that they adapt even more to the earth than they would otherwise be able to do. People do physical exercises so that they let go more of the ether body, do not always follow the ether body. But if they are not to be completely estranged from the big world, the outer world, people must also make movements that do not tie them to the earth.
Now you see, we live in the age of materialism today. The people who have the greatest longing for materialism live in the West. The Orientals, who once had an ancient culture, the people of Asia, have no great desire to belong to the earth. They see the earth very much as a vale of tears, much more so than Christians do, and the people who live in the Orient, in Asia, want to be off again as quickly as possible.
But Western people like the earth so much, terribly much. It is not that they admit this to themselves, but they'd really like to stay on earth for ever. And here I must tell you something. The ether body wants to move towards the heavens. The planets move in orbits, and so the earth, too, moves in an orbit. The ether body wants to be in orbit, the physical body wants to get out of this orbit. It does get out of it when it has much work to do; but let us consider how it is for people of the upper classes in the West who do not have to do any work. It feels a bit strange to them, for the ether body is always tormenting them. When such a steak-eating individual moves around in the world his ether body is teasing and tormenting him all the time, and he wants to go round in circles. This steak-eater then wants to follow the circular movements of the ether body. Wow! This is extremely uncomfortable! The ether body always wants to dance, to make nice round movements, and the steak-eater cannot keep up. He therefore wants to get his physical body in a condition where it is strong enough not to let itself be pulled into circular motion by the ether body all the time. The individual therefore takes up sport — not just physical exercise but sport. And the result is that the individual comes completely out of the ether body and only follows the physical movements of the earth. He makes friends with the earth more and more and leaves the world of the spirit aside.
You must not think that we merely leave the world of the spirit aside by not thinking about it. We do it also by such means as being so active in sport that we separate the physical body completely from the ether body. This is a terrible thing for the human being; I'd say it is a matter for serious concern. The more they get involved in sport the more do people forget about things of the spirit. After their death they will then come back immediately from the world of the spirit, within a very short time. If it were not the case that everything in the West does receive a little of the spirit, the earth would gradually be populated only by people who do not at all want to go back to the world of the spirit. And you would then have nothing but people on earth who gradually bring the earth to utter ruin. We are beginning to do this a little bit even now. This little bit is already quite serious for present-day humanity. But once people start to give no more consideration to their ether body but only their physical body, this will bring about horrific conditions on earth. And so one must once again intervene by means of the science of the spirit. The only possible way is to oppose movements that are entirely designed to drive man into his physical body, making him wholly earth-man, using other movements that are in opposition.
People's minds are already turned towards becoming earthly human beings. You'll understand, now that I have given you so many talks, that without being a philistine, such things do make one's heart ache.
You see, I also went to England last summer. When we were just about to leave, all England was full of excitement, waiting for the evening papers to read about the most important event. Everyone was eagerly waiting for the evening papers. What were they waiting for? The football results!
Now we've just come from Norway. Many people were there when we left. The station platform was full of people. And when the train started to move people shouted hurrah, hurrah. At the next station they were shouting: 'Three cheers for him!' Well, this was not for us, of course, and the question is, who was it for? I just managed to find out that it was for football players who'd come to Norway from Central Europe and were on their way home again. So what does interest people today? Well, they are much more interested in these things which gradually draw the physical body away from the ether body, making the human being wholly into a creature of the earth, than in any event connected with the weal and woe of millions of people.
Because of this, other movements have to be made to oppose the movements that are now being made all over the world, spreading more and more. These are the eurythmic movements. They take their orientation from the ether body. When you see eurythmy being done, you'll see all the movements which the etheric body makes. When you see sport being done, you'll see all the movements which the physical body makes.
Yes, gentlemen, this is extraordinarily important, for it also means a longing for sport. I do not want to say anything against sport in general. Sport is of course quite a good thing if it is done by people who also work, for one has to get used to more unnatural movements at work; if one then does natural movements in sport, movements that are more adapted to the physical body, then recreation in sport is a good thing. But the way people are active in sports today, with many of them having no need for recreation, what is this, really? You see there are sports people today who may perhaps — not all of them, of course, but there are certainly some — quickly go to church in the morning, where they pray: 'I believe in a god in heaven,' and so on. Then they go to the sports field. Now they are not putting it in words, but if we put what they do in words it is this: 'I do not believe in a god in heaven, of course. I believe in flesh and bones, for this alone makes life worth living.' You see, that is the inevitable, unconscious consequence of the things people do today. You are a materialist not only if you say you do not want to know about things of the spirit but also with things like these, where the whole human being is torn away from the spiritual element.
Concerning your question one is therefore able to say this. When someone walks in the woods and there's a mist and he loses his way, it'll happen on occasion that he runs after his ether body. That is not so bad, for he'll come back to the same place again. When you turn around yourself — that is not so bad, it means a lot of swinging to and fro like a pendulum, now to the ether body and now to the physical body. This is because human beings have both of them and should also develop both. That is the way the situation is. But in the Western world there is a general tendency today to leave the ether body out completely and care only for the physical body, and this causes the terrible materialism which is the truly harmful materialism. For materialism in thought is not the most harmful. The most harmful kind of materialism is the one where the whole human being descends to the animal level. This is what we have to consider. It happens only too easily that people say: 'Oh, he's a philistine, for he rants and raves against sport. Sport is something extremely useful!' But I do not rant and rave against sport. People are free to indulge in sport, they are free human beings. But they will completely ruin themselves as human beings if they devote themselves only to things to do with sport.
Here it is necessary to understand clearly that the things I said in the first chapter of Towards Social Renewal apply in the widest possible sense. When I wrote the book I did of course think I'd write in a way that would make people think about the subject. Well, they've not cared a rap about it. They did not reflect at all and the book has not been understood. I said that whilst we do have a large democratic proletarian movement, one finds, on taking a closer look, that most proletarians today are copying everything middle-class people have done before, they follow the academic line, and they believe in the things that are said at the universities. Sometimes the proletarian parties are the first to agree to legislation — remember freedom of choice in medical treatment? — and the socialists are generally the first to say, 'Yes, that calls for an expert committee,' and so on. And when it comes to sport — sport is of course a middle-class invention which they try to copy as well. It won't always quite work; but they certainly copy it as far as attitude goes, considering sport to be the only beneficial thing. But in fact the proletarian movement will only come to be something if they do not copy what the other classes did before. I therefore specially wrote that first chapter. One could see the proletarian movement everywhere getting under the influence of belief in authority. That is why I wrote that first chapter of Towards Social Renewal, thinking that people would give thought to the matter.
But of course, giving thought to things is something people who do sports do not like at all. For when someone is very active in sport this will get him out of the way of thinking things over. For we can only think with the ether body. You may try as hard as you like — you can't think with your physical body. And when someone asks if they should eat meat or only vegetables in order to be able to think better, all one can say is: 'You can't cultivate your thinking by eating; you have to do it with the ether body. You have to enter into the ether body there.'
So you see, the ether body reveals its presence in the human being in the circular movements which people want to make, in the longing to dance, or in people losing their way and walking in a circle.
Yes, gentlemen, if you've ever lived in Vienna, for example, you'll know that the Viennese like to enjoy life. They are quite frivolous; they have warmth of heart, but they are frivolous. In Vienna you have the Prater, large pleasure gardens, vast pleasure gardens. It is a place where people usually go on a Sunday, unless they are the kind of ne'er-do-well who goes there every day. You get hot dogs there, clowns and all kinds of things. But the paths in the Prater are laid out in a peculiar way. They are laid out in such a way that you will always end up in the same place. You walk down a long avenue, entering the woods somewhere, and after some time you'll be back in the place where you were before! If you started from a hot dog stand, you'll be back there again. That is how the paths are laid out. You see, they did not of course say to themselves, 'Let's encourage the people of Vienna to come out here and enjoy themselves,' but they had an inner feeling for this, and so they made the paths run in such a way that people don't even need a mist to find themselves back at the beginning again. They made the paths go round the way the ether body likes them, so that people feel quite taken out of their physical bodies. For you can feel taken out of yourself there, and this will really make you feel good. You'll go around in circles unless you have a direction. And if the paths are already made in such a way that you'll walk in circles willy-nilly, you'll also feel good. And that was what the people who designed the Prater wanted the Viennese to feel — that their ether body would feel really good as they found themselves back at the hot dog stall again and again. It is very cleverly done. You can go and look how the paths run. When you give yourself up to this — you'll always come back again, but you go round. And it is this turning round which makes people feel really good, especially if they do it all Sunday afternoon.
This is of course a much more innocent feeling of well-being than in many other cases. You know that one can also lose one's bearings in other ways. I've told you the story before. Coming home late at night and not quite knowing if you're drunk or not, you put your top hat on your bed. If you see one, you're not drunk, if you see two, you're drunk. This is because it is going round. You see, in that case, something is also turning. It is the astral body. When someone lies in bed who is drunk, his astral body is going round. But when someone brings the ether body into it in a more mental way, by following paths that go round, it is the ether body which goes round. That is the more innocent way of going round and round.
Drinking goes to the astral body; turning round oneself more to the ether body. There you can also see the difference. For when I look at someone who is drunk, well, he does not turn round like someone following circular paths, for everything is going round and round for him, as if his astral body itself had now become the earth's globe. He goes round and round the way the earth goes round. That is the astral body which is going round.
But when people are dancing or going round and round in Vienna's Prater, the ether body is going round. It takes the physical body along with it; it is the more innocent way. We may say that when someone is dancing the ether body is going round, and when someone is drunk it is the astral body which is going round.
You see, these things are not considered in modern science and because of this the big questions relating to our civilization cannot be answered, for people do not know how to arrange things so that human beings will not become utterly inhuman. Humanity will get more and more animal-like if today's sports craze continues. Something of the spirit must come to humanity. And I am convinced that people who on the one hand get to know the earth through work will on the other hand also feel a longing to enter into things of the spirit and will gradually come to understand that we must also take care of the spiritual side of things, that this is necessary.
This, then, is what I wanted to say to you for the moment. We'll be talking a lot more about these things, so that they will be clear to everyone.
|GA 350. From Mammoths to Mediums — Effects of relative star positions on the earth and on human beings|
|What kind of people do you think lived in America at the time when Columbus got there? Less than 500 years ago, copper-red native Americans lived there, and these American Indians did not think the way you do today in Europe, for example. They knew a great deal about the influence of the stars. So there was a population in America at that time who knew an extraordinary amount about the influence of the stars.|
|GA 350. From Mammoths to Mediums — Effects of relative star positions on the earth and on human beings|
Question concerning earthquakes.
Rudolf Steiner: You probably mean the earthquakes they have in America at the moment? With regard to questions like this, volcanic phenomena are especially important that are not so intense, I'd say, not so immediately powerful, but show in their details that something is also happening in the course of time from the cosmos that surrounds the world. And here I'd like to draw your attention to something else, something that may be less striking, but something that is much more of a personal experience for many people than those single events which have, of course, been terrible for the people in the area, but really are of less concern for the greater part of humanity. Just remember that in recent years one could really say that weather conditions have been unusual. We cannot deny that we have not had the proper, long summers, especially not in our part of the world. But this applies to a large part of Europe and beyond.
When the subject comes up, people will usually talk of vast icebergs in the northern oceans and of waves of cold coming from those mighty floating icebergs. You'll perhaps also remember that when there were such cold periods last year, mariners reported that these gigantic floating icebergs were to be found everywhere if they set their course just a little to the north in the Atlantic Ocean.
We have to understand that things like these certainly do not come from the earth only, but have to do with the whole of cosmic evolution. And so we have to ask ourselves what the situation really is with the distribution of heat and cold on our earth.
Here I'd like to draw your attention to something which I may well have mentioned before, but in a different context, something that may be important in considering this question. You'll probably have heard that above all in northern Siberia, that is over yonder in Asia, soil conditions are rather special. To put you in the picture, let me just say the following. If we have the map of Europe like this [drawing on the board], you get Norway here, then the north coast of Germany, and going on to Holland, and so on; this would be Ireland, England, and there, on the other side of this large peninsula, we'd already be in Asia. This is the border between Asia and Europe. This is Russia. Here we come to Asia and this would be Siberia. Over yonder is the Arctic Ocean, as it is called. I've merely drawn this to give you an orientation. A long time ago, animals rather like elephants were found in the soil of Siberia. They no longer exist today, but they did exist on earth a very, very long time ago. And you know, of course, that there are no animals like elephants living by the Arctic Ocean today. Animals like elephants belong to much hotter regions. But the strange thing is that when these elephant-like creatures were found deep down in the soil, they were still so fresh that one could have eaten the meat even today, providing one likes elephant meat. The creatures were there in the icy ground as if people intended to eat the meat today and had kept it there to preserve it. So for millennia these animals have simply been preserved, as one says, there in northern Siberia, keeping the meat fresh.
Now you see, gentlemen, it is impossible for this ever to have been a slow process. For if the animals living up there had simply died and got into the soil, they would of course have rotted away long since, and the most one would find today would be bits of bones, the way one also does else114 where. But there one finds whole fresh animals. The only possible way in which this could have happened was that a wave of ice came over the creatures that lived there with tremendous speed, enclosing them, so that they were preserved for millennia in just that state, with the meat still fresh. So you can see that there must have been a situation on earth at one time when a powerful push came from the south, throwing the water up into that region of ice. The water froze instantly, the creatures were instantly in that vast Siberian ice cellar, and were preserved there for millennia.
Now you'll all admit that the earth doesn't have any reason, of course, to do such a thing all of a sudden. For where in the earth would the energies to do such a thing come from? Such things can only happen under the influence of heavenly bodies beyond the earth. So if you imagine that this is the earth [drawing on the board], and these are the southern regions, the equatorial regions — southern only with reference to the north, of course — then the stars must have been in particular positions here at one time, and this simply threw the water up here. So it was due to the position of the stars that this water was thrown up there, freezing immediately and burying these creatures. You can really see from such things that the relative positions of the stars have a tremendous influence on the distribution of land and water and ice on earth.
Now the other day I spoke of the way volcanoes, too, come from things beyond this earth, with matter that is below ground being fetched up from the inner earth. So we can also say that if, for example, there is now a tremendous eruption from Mt Etna, things are not thrown out from below, but the stars are in a position up above that will bring those fiery masses up from the inner earth.
We see from this that very many things act together today, and on the one hand that is the reason why we have these cold periods. The cold periods are therefore definitely caused by things outside this earth. And volcanic eruptions and earthquakes also come from there. But we can never wholly judge such a situation unless we understand that the human being himself is closely connected with all the conditions that exist beyond this earth.
You see, I'm sure you've heard of people having haemorrhages, with the blood no longer going the way it should inside them but coming out of their mouths instead. That's called a haemorrhage. Such haemorrhages happen particularly when people are at a particular time of life. We have to ask ourselves: 'What exactly is the connection between a haemorrhage and something that happens outside?' Now if you remember that the human being consists not just of a physical body, which we may touch with our hands, but of a physical body, ether body and an astral body and I-body, you'll have to say to yourself: 'Yes, of course, the physical body is something we can lay aside. It is heavy, a heavy mass, and is connected with the earth. But the ether body is connected with the surrounding world.'
Looking at things the way they are in the human being. we find that the moon in particular has a powerful influence on the human being. But the way things are now, the moon does not have such an influence on man, and we have to go back again to very early times. In early times, the moon had a tremendously powerful influence on man. People had to do something specific when the moon was waxing, and they had to do something specific when it was waning, and so on. And above all human procreation depended very much on the moon in those earlier times. It is so interesting to see how people who still preserve ancient traditions think about these things. And the moon then also influences the whole of human development, but in such a way that the human being has these moon influences inside himself. So it is not a direct influence when there's a full moon, or the like; but we see the moon wax, wane; at one time this had an influence on human beings, and this has remained and still continues. So it is not the present-day movements of the moon that have much of an influence, but something that is similar to the earlier movements of the moon. It is an old hereditary element that has a great influence. And so we can certainly say that the moon does have some influence.
But we would not have any blood at all in our head if this moon were not there. We'd all go about with absolutely pale faces, horribly pale faces, if it were not for the influence of the moon. The moon draws the blood in our body up to the head. That is the moon influence, that the blood actually consents to go up into the head. This is extraordinarily interesting. The blood only goes up into the human head because the influence of the moon is there. Otherwise it would always go down. When someone grows so weak in his whole body that he can no longer offer sufficient resistance to the powers of the moon that draw the blood up to the head, the blood rushes up into the head too powerfully, and this causes the haemorrhage. We always have to have that influence, but if it gets too strong, the blood rushes too strongly up into the human head and the blood then comes out.
And you see with this haemorrhage in the individual human being we have the same principle as with the kind of business, for instance, where water rushes up there [pointing to Siberia] or things come out of a volcano in the natural world outside. Only in that case it is not the influence of the moon, but of other heavenly bodies. You have to imagine that we are continually exposed to other influences simply in our development as human beings. Let me illustrate this for you. Once again imagine this to be the earth [drawing on the board]; here is the moon moving around the earth. I'll draw it the way it looks. So there the moon moves around the earth, and initially has a powerful influence on the human being. But beyond the moon are the other stars — Venus, Mercury, there's the sun, Mars, Jupiter and so on, and then the fixed stars. Now you have to understand that there's a difference when, let us say, Mars is behind the sun, or has already moved on and is beside the sun. When Mars is behind the sun, it has less influence on the earth, because the sun blocks out its influence. When Mars is in this position [beside the sun], it has a greater influence on the earth. And so it always depends on the positions of the stars how much the earth is influenced. This science of the positions of the stars has been very little developed today, and people therefore only consider what is happening on earth — icebergs and so on — and they do not look out at the stars.
Now it actually is not possible to explore these things from the earth, and we must understand that these things have to be explored by considering the human being. These things must definitely be investigated via the human being. Now I'd like to tell you something. If you follow the evolution of humanity in more recent times, you'll see enormous changes in it. We won't go very far back, but let us go back, say, 600 years. Going back 600 years — it is now 1923 — we come to 1323. Now you have to consider that if you had lived then, you'd have had no idea that places such as America, Australia exist. People did not know any of this. They only knew about Europe and Asia and a little bit of Africa, a very small bit of Africa. Six hundred years before our time, therefore, people only knew about a small part of the earth. And above this earth they saw the moon rise and go down, the sun rise and go down, the stars, and everything was such that the whole of life was lived within a small space. Yes, gentlemen, people knew little of the earth then, and they also had no idea of the movements of the heavenly bodies. But they did know something about the spiritual influences of the stars. This was because they lived in such a limited area. People were influenced by those limited conditions.
Now you know that not long after this, in 1492, Christopher Columbus of Genoa set out with a number of ships, and he believed one could go right round the world. Christopher Columbus actually did not intend to discover America, but it was his opinion that the earth must be spherical. Before that, people had thought the earth was flat. In his opinion, the earth had to be spherical. And so he fitted out a number of ships. There was resistance, but he did get those ships from the government, fitted them out, and believed he could go round the earth. That is what he thought. He said to himself: 'If we go from Europe over to the East, we find Asia there [pointing to the drawing], down there is peninsular India, and there's Indo-China.' He knew, therefore, that going that way by land one would come to India. He now wanted to go round the earth from Spain and reach India from the other side. That was his intention. He wanted to go round the world, for he was hoping to see the first practical use made of the earth's spherical nature. He wanted to go round and discover India from the other side. So he set out and came to America and absolutely believed it to be the other side of India. That is also why this area was called the West Indies, a name still used for part of it today. So you see that the earth's spherical form gradually became knowledge through human thinking, and people only gradually discovered that they had reached the other side of America and that this was not India but a new continent. It was therefore in 1492, 431 years ago, that America was discovered.
But the discovery of America also meant something very, very different. To understand what it means, please consider the following. You see, as I told you, it was in 1493 that Christopher Columbus first set out and discovered America. In 1543, Copernicus first presented the view that the sun stood still and the earth moved around the sun like the other planets. Something every child learns at school today has therefore only been known from that time. Just think — how many years would that be? It's only 380 years! So it is only since then that people have had the merest inkling of something which is taught in primary school today. Before that, people knew nothing of all this. But they gave all the more thought to the moon's influence on the human being. They knew that the moon drives the blood to the head, as I've just told you. They perceived the influence on the human being.
Now you have to consider what the discovery of America really meant. You see, people talk about things without giving it much thought and in history it is also presented like this: discovery of America; a stroke of genius! Yes, gentlemen, but you have to think of it also in a very different way. What kind of people do you think lived in America at the time when Columbus got there? Less than 500 years ago, copper-red native Americans lived there, and these American Indians did not think the way you do today in Europe, for example. They knew a great deal about the influence of the stars. So there was a population in America at that time who knew an extraordinary amount about the influence of the stars. They lived entirely according to the influence of the stars. And then the Europeans arrived, civilized humanity. Now you see, even in the nineteenth century the American Indians would still say that the Europeans always brought along such a strange thing, something white with tiny spirits on it. But those, they said, were very harmful spirits, terribly harmful spirits, and the Europeans would use them to cast spells on the Americans. That was what the American Indians thought. And do you know what it was that they were so afraid of and which made them think the Europeans were such dreadful people, causing such havoc with it? Those were books — pages of white paper with letters on them. The American Indians saw them, believed them to be magic, and said: 'These people use them to cast spells on us.'
That was how human beings encountered one another. And there followed the eradication of the American Indians. But where did the people come from who eradicated the American Indians? They came from Europe! And if the people who had lived in Europe would have got to America in 1323, their views would have been much more like those of the American Indians. For in 1323 people in Europe still knew about the influence of the stars. They would have had much more in common. But the people who actually went there later on no longer had anything at all in common with the American Indians, and all they could do was to eradicate them. And European people then lived and developed in the place where the American Indians had been. So you have to consider this. The Americans who developed there are really Europeans. You see, the ideas people often get from what they learn at school are sometimes really quite idiotically stupid.
I'd just like to draw your attention to one thing. Today people talk a lot about the French. But the people who live around Nuremberg today are still called Franconians. The French are simply ancient Germans who migrated there and adopted a variant of the Latin language. So all the things people keep saying when they do not know how things have come about, and the angry things they say because of the way things are taught in history lessons are sometimes extremely foolish, infinitely stupid. And in that case, too, we have infinite stupidity. People fail to consider that people from Europe, people who developed in Europe in the last three centuries, went over to America. The really major immigration only came much later, in the eighteenth, nineteenth centuries. That was when the settlers went to America. And what kind of people went there? Well, illiterate people also went, but they did not have much of an influence. The people who went there and had a major influence were people who had been educated in Europe, above all in science, people who had learned the Copernican theories, and took a completely different view of the stars.
Just think how it all fits together in world history. On the one hand the earth was shown to be spherical, and people found that it was possible to go round the earth. And on the other hand it was shown that the sun did not rise there and then went down again, but that there was space everywhere and the earth moved around the sun; that the earth was not flat, that the sun did not go down into the water at night but that the earth moved around the sun.
You see, people do not give thought to the connection between the discovery of America in 1492 and Copernicus' new view of the stars in 1543. There is a close connection. Please do not think that what happened could have happened unless the stars had an influence on human beings The stars played a role when Columbus thought: 'Now I'll go west.' You just have to consider how nebulous it all was. He did not know he was going to discover America. He merely wanted to go round the earth. It's just like a blind hen finding a grain. We can't say it was his rational mind that did it, for in such a situation people are driven by influences. And it is the influence of the stars that drives them. So we also have to say to ourselves when we ask ourselves why Copernicus thought about the stars: 'We must look for the reasons in the influence of the stars.' There was a time during the Middle Ages — I told you it was still like this 600 years ago — when people's ideas still related to a very small world. And then they suddenly had ideas that went right round the earth and went right round in the heavens. All their ideas floated apart. Yes, gentlemen, there we have to think a bit more deeply about what is going on in the human being. We have to go into these things in a truly scientific way. I have by now told you many things about the human being. I'll now tell you something that has been thoroughly confirmed again, so that you may see how things are.
An Austrian poet, Robert Hamerling, was appointed to teach at a secondary school in Trieste at a particular time, in 1855. He took a great interest in everything that went on. This Robert Hamerling was also very interested at the time in all kinds of swindlers who would always be passing through Trieste, people who produced abnormal things and were called mediums. He liked to go to such meetings, not being at all superstitious, but he really saw the swindling and cheating that went on with most of these things. But once, when he saw someone with a particularly remarkable medium, he thought he'd really check this out. Now before Hamerling went to Trieste he knew a young girl in Graz, where he then lived, and this girl died soon after. He had a lock of her hair. He'd made the lock of hair into a small circlet, tied it and fixed it to a small piece of paper which he put into a little box. He kept this as a memento. It had become quite precious to him when the person concerned had died. He had taken it with him to Trieste among other things. No one knew about it. He never told anyone about it — he remembered this very clearly — and had actually never shown the little box to anyone. Conditions were such, anyway, that he would not have liked to show it to anyone. It was something he felt rather embarrassed about. So he had a secret little box, as it were, with the memento inside it. He put this in his pocket when he went to the meeting with the medium. And what happened was that people would give the medium all kinds of things, putting them into envelopes or boxes. The medium would take this in her hand, touch it and tell what was in the box. Now there is often a lot of cheating going on with such things; one must have a very open mind in such cases.
I was at a meeting once, for example, when a medium was also brought in, and the person called the manager went around among the audience and asked them to write all kinds of things on bits of paper. He'd take these, but stay where he was. The medium wore a blindfold. And as he went on standing there he'd just say: 'What have I got in my hand?' and the medium would immediately say what it was. So if someone wrote down his own name and gave it to the manager, he'd read it and then crunch up the piece of paper. The medium could not see anything, but she'd say what it said on the piece of paper. Now you see the people around the table where I was sitting were terribly curious — for they were truly amazed — and they decided we should write something down that the fellow would not be clever enough to communicate; for they all thought he was communicating with the medium by some kind of signs. So I wrote the name Spinoza and the title of a work by Spinoza, the Ethica, for the people thought the manager would not know, of course, who Spinoza was. But he accepted Spinoza and his Ethica just as well, and the medium promptly gave the correct answer. People were really amazed by this. But, you see, the matter was quite simple. The manager was a ventriloquist, and the medium only pretended to answer as the manager spoke from his stomach in the medium's voice. Things really are like this and one simply must not allow oneself to be deceived. I have to stress this again and again. One must not allow oneself to be deceived. And that is exactly the difference between superstitious people who easily believe anything, and people who are able to form an opinion about these things.
But Hamerling took his little box and no one knew anything about it. He handed this little box, which no one knew about, up among all the other things. The medium was sitting at a table and he handed the box up. Now the other things were dealt with first. The medium did it quite briskly. And the moment she came to his little box, she picked it up and flung it away. Hamerling thought that they probably had some kind of arrangement with all the other things, whilst in his case there could be no arrangement, so the medium could not discover what was in it and therefore flung it away. He then went and said he would nevertheless like to know what was inside. The little box was picked up once more. The medium flung it away again. It was picked up again. And then the medium said, in something of a stammer: 'A lock of hair and a small piece of paper.' Now it was for him to be surprised, of course. There could be absolutely no question of cheating. So he asked why she'd flung it away again and again. And she said: 'Because it comes from a dead woman.' He was even more amazed then. So that was a case — I am only speaking of cases which you find in the literature, otherwise there'd be hundreds more I could mention — where there was no question of heating.
What was behind this? At the time, the medium must not know what is there, but has to search for it from her unconscious. A quite specific influence was behind this. I once told you that the influence of cooked buckwheat in the basement may sometimes still show itself on the third floor. You'll remember my telling you about this. Such an influence lies behind this, which only affects the head. And the medium will then say what's inside — why? Because the medium is someone whose blood is more subject to the influence of the moon than other people's are. The influence is not so strong that a haemorrhage will occur, but the blood is drawn towards the head, more so than in other people. This has a powerful influence; this is how such an influence can be there.
Considering this, you'll say to yourself: 'Yes, the mighty influences from the stars do of course affect the human being all the time.' And everything Europe has experienced in relation to America and the whole earth has been under the influence of the stars. But what is the nature of this influence? Well, gentlemen, you have to consider the following. Imagine this to be the earth [drawing on the board]. There was that small part of the earth which was all people would know in earlier times. Above it were the stars — I'm of course only showing this schematically. People were under the influence of these stars. It was the time before the discovery of America. People had very definite ideas. If you look at the pictures and portraits of the aldermen of those times, you can see how definite their ideas were, how firmly they stood with both feet on the ground. That was because the relative positions of the stars were such at the time that the stars were close together. Since then the relative positions of the stars have changed. If this is the earth, the stars are much more at an angle, as it were, again drawn in a highly schematic way. If one were to draw it in detail, each would of course stand out, as it were. You'll say: 'But surely the fixed stars have not changed?' But they have, though not as much. So you see from this that the spaces in between have increased during the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The ideas have dissolved. And now a time is coming when the spaces in between are getting less again, with the stars coming more closely together. This is only a very little bit so with the fixed stars, but it is the case, nevertheless. If one draws the fixed stars one can see that they, too, must change their relative positions. And people are exposed to this, having acquired ideas under the influence of stars that were far apart. Now they have to get ideas under the influence of stars that are closer together again. The relative positions of the stars in the world are quite new now. You can see this if you have been wide awake in life from the last century into the present century. You see, I was born in 1861, and have therefore known the times of the 70s, 80s, 90s and now the twentieth century. Yes, it was very different when I was a boy than it is today. When I was a boy people simply did think differently from the way they do today. Everything has changed, and it has changed particularly in one area. When I was a young boy of 12,1 did not have much money to buy books, but we were given a school programme every year as a present; it gave the most important ideas used in physics in those times. Now at first I really had to knuckle down to this. They were really hard to grasp. I had to study differential calculus in order to understand these things. But I do know the ideas which were then used in physics.
Today things are completely different. Someone studying physics at the university learns something completely different from what we would learn when we were boys. And it is possible to see from what has happened there that the ideas used in physics have dissolved. Today's physicists simply no longer know what ideas to work with. In those days we spoke of space and time as two different things. Today physicists speak of four dimensions, taking the first, second and third to be dimensions in space and the fourth dimension to be the equivalent of time. Most people have no idea of what is taught today. People outside the universities still live with the ideas I learned when I was a boy. But today's physicists are talking about something completely different. It shows that the ideas have been thrown into confusion. The modern physicist has not the least notion as to what he should do. Everything has become confused.
Well, gentlemen, the things going on in the human head show you that the relative positions of the stars are different now. For the situation is that modern people all have more blood in the head than people had in their heads for centuries, the moon now being supported by stars that once again are more close together. So if we study the evolution of man, we find that a wave of blood has gone up to the head because of the relative positions of the stars. But this wave exists not only in the human being but on the whole earth. And it is the same influence through which cold was once pushed up from south to north in the distant past, burying the mammoths in a kind of vast ice cellar, so that their meat is still fresh in Siberia today. And just as that cold was thrown up north in those times, just as the blood is driven up into the head by the moon, so today's volcanic eruptions are thrown up by the stars. We thus have the effect of the relative positions of stars today that comes from the other side of the earth. It passes across through North America, through Greenland, pushes the cold air across, so that vast masses of cold air are today thrown from west to east because of the relative positions of the stars.
And as I have told you, going to Italy all one needs to do in some places is to light a piece of paper and vapours will rise from the ground. It is not the earth which throws up the vapours, but they come up because I heat the air above and so make it thinner. And now the relative positions of the stars are pushing air masses from west to east. We an exposed to this here, and this creates the climate we now have. It goes like this from west to east. And because of this the soil down below is made to throw up its masses, its fiery masses. They are first of all thrown up over there in America, where they have huge volcanoes, enormous earthquakes. Now it is moving further east. Etna, Vesuvius are all starting to be active, for the wave is going that way, and things become elastic down below. It is not pushed up from below, but brought to the surface by the relative positions of the stars. In human beings the blood is pushed up into the brain, and on earth air masses are pushed across and transported to other places. It is the same thing. It all comes from the stars.
If people understood why they are now thinking differently, they would also understand why Etna is spewing fire and flames. But then people must first of all also know that this is not something one can consider on its own; it has to be seen in connection with the whole universe. That is indeed how it is. And people have completely forgotten how to consider things within the universe. It is really interesting that the animals are much more intelligent in this respect than people are, as I have told you before. Animals usually go away before there is a volcanic eruption or the like; people stay put. Why do the animals move away? Yes, when the different influence comes, the different influence from the stars, it is like this with the animals. An animal is essentially made in such a way that it has its legs there [Fig. 15], there its spine, the spinal vertebrae, and there its head. As the stars move along there, the whole spine is always exposed to the stars, vertebra by vertebra exposed to the stars, and they belong together; they belong together so much that we have 28 to 31 vertebrae in the spine and the moon takes 28 to 31 days to complete its orbit. The connection is as close as that.
But humans walk upright. With them, only the head, this little bit of head, is exposed to the starry heavens. Their spine has been lifted out. So in humans only the blood is exposed to the star influence and not the nervous system. In animals, the nervous system is exposed to the star influence. This is why an animal will notice the star influence much sooner than a human being does and move away when earthquakes or volcanic eruptions are about to happen. The human being stays put. The very fact that the animal is able to move away, thus showing us that the influence of the stars affects it, is proof that we are not dealing with waves arising from the earth in some way, but that the stars are bringing their influence to bear from outside. Man is not just a creature of this earth, he is a creature relating to the whole world of the stars.
Now this will of course also make us understand that humanity, having lost its old knowledge of the stars, must gain it anew. So I'd say that it is truly the case that with anthroposophy we must give the human race something again in a new way which they need, otherwise they'll remain in a state of confusion. For the stars which are now closer together no longer fit the ideas held in earlier times; only the kind of ideas anthroposophy is able to give will fit.
I was actually given four questions today. We'll try and move on with these the next time we meet. I may have to be away on Wednesday and I'll then ask people to tell you when we'll have our next session.
|GA 350. From Mammoths to Mediums — Creating boredom artificially. Opinions formed artificially|
|Then, gentlemen, then you have come to something which is known as transformation in the spirit. People talk about alchemy and think it can be used to change copper into gold. Mountebanks will, of course, tell you this in all kinds of ways even today; superstitious people have believed it for a long time. But such things are possible in the spirit. Only you have to believe in the truth of the spirit.|
|GA 350. From Mammoths to Mediums — Creating boredom artificially. Opinions formed artificially|
We'll continue to consider the questions that were put before. You need to understand, however, that the answer to these questions is one of the most difficult. I'll try and make it as simple as possible. As I told you before, to find a way of gaining insight into the spirit one must first of all be able to develop completely independent thinking. Secondly one must be able, as I told you, to think backwards. This means one must try to think things backwards which in ordinary life go like this: starting with the first, then the second, the third, and so on. If I give you a talk, therefore, you should try to do as I told you the last time and start from the end and think back to the beginning. Such things are the first elementary steps.
Today, very much in connection with the second question, I'd like to consider something else. You know that human beings can only live within a particular temperature range. If necessary they can tolerate a great deal of heat. If it gets quite hot in the summer, well, they'll sweat but they can bear it; but if the temperature were to go even higher, they would no longer be able to live. In the same way people can tolerate some degree of cold, but when it gets below their limit they'll freeze to death. And you see, the strange thing is that between these two temperatures — the low temperature where they begin to freeze to death and the heat they can only just tolerate — between these two temperatures, in the range in which human beings live, it is actually impossible to see spiritual entities. It is just like the situation I spoke of the last time where I said that the moment one begins to think backwards one would begin to see spiritual entities. But there one goes to sleep. Most people go to sleep unless they have first trained themselves so that they'll stay awake.
But now to something else. You see, if people were to live at higher temperatures than those they can just tolerate, they would perceive spiritual entities. But they cannot tolerate those temperatures. And they might also be able to perceive them if they were to make themselves a garment of snow, get themselves right into the snow; but they would freeze to death. Something that seems quite unbelievable to people is a fact, nevertheless. It is that the spirits withdraw from the temperature range which human beings are able to tolerate when they are in their physical bodies. Human beings do not tolerate such temperatures in their bodies, but they can tolerate them in their souls. Only, as I said, the mind, the soul, then goes to sleep. For the mind, the soul, does not freeze to death, nor does it burn, but it goes to sleep.
There are however two ways we have of gaining a notion of how things would be if we were at a higher temperature than we are able to bear and also if we were at a lower temperature than we are able to bear. Let me give you an example. You see, when we develop a temperature ourselves we reach a higher temperature than we are able to bear, doing so inwardly. The temperature will not be so high that we'll immediately die of it, but with the temperature produced from the inside, we reach a higher temperature than we normally have. You know how people begin to talk like someone who's not on this earth when they get such a high temperature. The things people say in a fever do not relate to this earth. But a materialist would be bound to say that these were thoughts cooked up at a high temperature, but they were not true, of course.
A situation therefore exists where people develop a higher temperature, getting feverish and talking nonsense. Now you see, the soul cannot talk nonsense. However high the temperature, the soul cannot talk nonsense. It is talking nonsense because the body is out of order at a higher temperature. You'll have an idea of it if you think of the kind of glass spheres people sometimes put in their flower gardens to mirror the garden world that surrounds them. Looking into such a glass sphere you'll see a face you won't like! [blackboard sketch] It's the kind of face you'll not like. But you won't say either: 'Wow, just look what has happened to my face!' You'd not think for a moment that it actually was your face which looked so very different in the reflection. And if your mind begins to talk nonsense when you have a temperature, you won't say either that your mind, your soul, is beginning to talk nonsense. The things your mind and soul are saying are distorted because they are said out of a sick brain, just as your face looks squashed flat in such a faulty mirror.
You therefore have to say to yourself: 'When I have a temperature and talk nonsense, the situation is that the mind and soul is speaking out of a sick brain. My face has not changed when I stand before the reflective glass sphere, but it looks all distorted.' In the same way the things someone says in a fever sounds distorted because it comes from a sick body and a brain that is not functioning the way it should. But how come that the brain is not functioning properly? It is because the whole of the blood circulation is moving too fast. You only have to feel the pulse and you'll know it. The high temperature in the head is therefore due to the blood circulating too fast. The blood circulation produces heat which then rises to the head — you have a temperature. Your mind and soul then shows itself as if in a mirror that does not work properly.
The opposite may also happen, but in this case not by lying down in the snow and letting yourself freeze to death in the snow, for in that case you would really freeze to death. The opposite condition can only arise out of the mind and spirit. In this case one has to do something using the mind. And this, gentlemen, will produce something very strange. Just think: someone begins to think terribly hard about things, reflecting on the most insignificant details. It is better to reflect on the most insignificant details, things considered so insignificant that most people don't even want to think about them. Let me show you something. If you have a triangle [Fig. 18] and divide it into four equal parts, so that you have four triangles like this, you can say that the larger triangle is greater than each of the four small triangles. I can now put this in general terms and say there is a theorem which says: The whole is greater than its parts [writing it on the board]. Well, really, if you have a satisfied stockbroker and say to him, 'Just think about this: The whole is greater than its parts,' he'll say: 'Certainly not. I'd find that extremely boring.' And if you were actually to go to him and say: 'Look, the blackboard is a body with particular dimensions; the table is another body which has its own dimensions' — I now formulate the statement that all bodies have dimensions [writing on the board]. Now imagine you were at some kind of meeting and all the time you'd just hear things said about the statement that all bodies have dimensions. You'd go home saying it was a really insipid, boring meeting. And if I were now to come and say: 'Look, the grass is green, the rose is red, and these things therefore have colour. Yesterday the judge in a court case passed judgment in some way or other, and that had no colour. And a court was also in session in another place where the judge passed judgment and again it was colourless. Judgments, or opinions, are colourless,' this gives us a third statement [writing it on the board]. Well, gentlemen, if someone were to talk for an hour on the subject that opinions are colourless, you'd say to yourself: 'I've been hearing that opinions are colourless for an hour, but this is terribly boring; it is utterly and completely boring!'
But why do you find such opinions boring? I should not write these things on the board for you, nor should I say them in a fairly humorous way, but I should enter the room walking stiffly and briskly, like a professor, and then say: 'Gentlemen, today we shall talk about the statement that opinions are colourless.' And I'd then have to spend a whole hour proving to you that the statement is correct. The way I am presenting it to you here is still quite amusing. But I'd have to come in like that and talk a whole hour on the statement 'Opinions are colourless' or on 'All bodies have dimensions'.
You might also draw a line like this to get from one point to another [drawing on the board]. One line is straight, the others are curved. But looking at it you'll immediately say: 'The straight line is the shortest route, all others are longer.' Now I can write this on the board as well: 'A straight line is the shortest route connecting two points.' If I wanted to talk a whole hour on this subject as well, you'd find it equally boring.
The whole is greater than its parts
There's a German professor, however, who says that we can indeed perceive something of the world of the spirit, but we can only perceive the kind of thing of that world which can be put in the form of such statements. He presents the statements that allow us to perceive something of the world of the spirit to his students: 'The whole is greater than its parts. All bodies have dimensions. Opinions are colourless. A straight line is the shortest route connecting two points,' and so on. He says this is the only thing we can know of that other world. His students get terribly bored in his lectures. But the situation is such today that people have come to think that science has to be boring. And the students will generally be particularly enthusiastic about a professor who says such things. This merely by the way, of course.
The situation is really this. When you take in such opinions, form opinions or statements such as 'The whole is greater than its parts; a straight line is the shortest route connecting two points,' the back of your head grows cold. And because coldness develops in the back of the head, and a person is beginning to feel cold, he immediately wants to get away from such statements. They bore him. For that is the strange thing. When we are bored, the back of the head gets cold. It is not that the whole person gets cold, only the back of the head. It begins to want to die of cold. And this is not because of snow or because of ice now; the person is feeling cold because of the soul principle, because he is thinking things that are of no interest to him.
You see, we may make fun of such statements. But the fact is that to be patient and think them through again and again, that is, enter into boredom again and again with great patience, is one real way of gaining insight into the spirit. It is a strange thing, for people have to do exactly what they do not really want to do. I can tell you that mathematics are boring for some people, but because they are so difficult and one has to make an effort, and because it is so cold and one has to make a real effort with mathematics, it is the easiest way of entering into the world of the spirit. People who are able to overcome their reluctance and take up those statements again and again in a living way, artificially creating boredom for themselves, will find it easiest to enter into the world of the spirit.
I told you that when you get a temperature your pulse goes faster. You get hot, and you then get heat into the head, into the brain. So you then get into a hot condition and you talk nonsense. But if you struggle with statements like these here, where you really want to stop thinking altogether, the blood will not get more mobile but it will come to a stop in the back of the head. And when the blood comes to a stop back there, salts collect. Salts collect back there. They have two effects, these salts. Most people get a belly-ache from them. And because they notice this belly-ache quite quickly — things get uncomfortable in the belly when they are supposed to think such statements — they'll soon stop. But when someone thinks such things all the time, as Nietzsche did, a great man who lived towards the end of the nineteenth century and was always battling with such statements in his youth, many salts are deposited in the head, and Nietzsche was always suffering from migraine. And one must now find a way, you see, of thinking such statements without getting migraine, without salts being deposited, and also without getting a belly-ache. You have to stay perfectly healthy and be able to create boredom for yourself artificially. Someone who is honest about telling you how to enter into the world of the spirit will therefore have to say: 'You must first of all be able to create artificial boredom for yourself; otherwise you'll not get into the world of the spirit at all.'
Consider the times we live in. What is the general desire? The general desire is to avoid boredom at all costs. Just think of the way people rush from one place to another, just so that they won't be bored! They always look for entertainment. That is to run away from the spirit. It is true — if there might perhaps be something somewhere that is of the spirit, people of our time will immediately run away. They do not know this; it happens unconsciously. But seeking entertainment is a matter of running away from the spirit. That's the way it is. And the only people who will be able to enter into the spirit are those who are not afraid to do without entertainment for once and live artificially in statements like these [see above]. And having got so far that one is able to live in such statements artificially, without getting a migraine or a belly-ache, but really being able to manage to live in such statements for many hours, it will gradually be possible to see things in the spirit.
But then something else will have to change as well. A time will come when you realize that having lived in such statements you then find they begin to go the other way round! So I've been thinking for a long time that the large triangle is greater than its parts. If I do this for a long time, the statement reverses itself and I develop the following idea: 'If this is a triangle here, and I take a quarter of it and want to take it out, it begins to grow [drawing on the board], and it is no longer true that the whole is greater than its parts. The quarter is suddenly bigger.' I see that the quarter is bigger, and I then have to say: 'The whole is smaller than its parts' [writing on the board].
The work I have done has now brought me to the point where I perceive the way things look in the world of the spirit. For they look the other way round from the way they are in the physical world. In the physical world, the whole is always greater than its parts, whilst in the world of the spirit the part is greater than the whole. You'll be unable, for example, to perceive the true nature of the human being unless you know that the part is greater than the whole. In modern science, people always want to look into the smallest things. But if you want to know the human liver here in the physical world, it is smaller than the human being. If you want to see it in the spirit, it grows and grows to gigantic proportions; the liver becomes a whole universe. And if you fail to take note of this, you'll not be able to understand the liver in the spirit.
You must first of all have arrived at the statement in an honest way which says that the whole is smaller than its part, and the part is greater than the whole. In the same way, if you have thought the statement 'All bodies have dimensions' long enough, so that you are facing the terrible danger of your brain freezing to death back there, all bodies will shrink, cease having dimensions, and you finally have the statement 'No body has dimensions' [writing on the board].
And now something really funny. It is funny in the physical world, but a most serious matter in the world of the spirit. You see, you may think there's nothing more silly than my saying that the court was in session in Wigglesham and a judgment, an opinion, was given that was colourless. And another was given in Tripshill and it was equally colourless. But if you think the statement long enough, the opinions will gain colour. And just as you are able to say that a rose is red so you'll be able to say the judgment in Wigglesham was a dirty yellow, and the one in Tripshill was red. Well, you may get some that are a beautiful red, but it does not happen often. So you see you reach the point where you say: 'All opinions given by people are in colour.' And it is only now that one actually is able to think about the world of the spirit, for there everything is the opposite: opinions are in colour [writing on the board].
A straight line is the shortest route connecting two points — this is so true that it is served up to you as one of the first theorems in geometry. In the physical world it is as true as it can possibly be. But if you think about it for a long time: if someone who is not a physical but a spiritual entity wants to get from village A to village B, the route will seem terribly short to him if he goes in a semicircle [drawing]. And you form the opinion that a straight line is the longest route connecting two points [writing on the board].
The whole is smaller than its parts
This is certainly something to make your jaw drop! The world will not consider such things, however. People will say that someone who starts to say that judgements or opinions are coloured has a temperature or that he is mad. But the situation is that one can come to these things without one's body, whilst of sound mind, for in the spiritual world properties are the opposite of what they are in the physical world. And you have to get to this by means of the simplest statements, for the simplest statements are tie most incredible. You know, if someone starts to talk about the world of the spirit in an interesting way people will, of course listen, the way they also do if someone tells ghost stories. But they won't listen if someone says: 'You just first of all get in the habit of creating artificial boredom for yourself.' This has to be done artificially. Nothing will come of it if one gets bored with conventional science. But to develop boredom artificially, making an inner effort, and not get migraine or a belly-ache, that is, without involving the body. If the body is involved, you'll immediately get migraine or a belly-ache.
Just listen to what people say when they hear that they should not let the professor bore them, for that would not help them, and that to be seers they must gradually overcome the migraine and the belly-ache. You see, your student sits there, and the professor bores him most dreadfully. He should really get a migraine or a belly-ache, but he doesn't. The matter then moves to other organs that don't hurt so much. And people really get sick then, because the physical body is involved. If you produce boredom in this way today, which is what happens in modern science, you'll just make people ill. If you tell people to produce boredom for themselves by their own inner efforts, and if they go through this boredom, they will bit by bit enter into the world of the spirit, but this needs to be grasped in the right way, for the very first opinions you gain in that world will be the other way round. So there is an extraordinarily good way of working effectively on oneself. It is this. If you have come across something in the world that is really, really boring, and then afterwards, seeing it was so boring that you ran away, that you did not like it at all any more, or were glad when it was over, you start to think about it, doing so very, very slowly.
You see I myself — this is something I know from experience — learned an enormous amount from this. I used to hear terribly boring lectures in my young days. Indeed, I used to look forward to this, knowing that the lecture was going to be boring, because this would get you out of yourself, just as going to sleep normally does. So I used to be really pleased to know that I was about to hear boring lectures for some hours. But once the lecture had started and the professor would be speaking, I would always feel that he was disrupting my boredom by talking and talking all the time. Afterwards, however, I'd give deep thought to every detail he had said. It was not the least bit interesting to me, but I went through every session again from the beginning, really going through it, and sometimes would go through a one-hour lecture in such a way that it would take two hours, and so I created boredom artificially.
Gentlemen, this is where you make a strange discovery. It was particularly at the end of the nineteenth century that you were able to make a very strange discovery. Just imagine you have been listening to a lecture given by a real clot — they do exist — and were then able to meditate on this boring lecture. You therefore bring back to mind all the things that bored you so terribly. And gradually something will show itself behind the person who produced the most boring things, this real clot; something like a higher human being, a wholly spiritual human being will show itself. And the lecture theatres are transformed in your mind in a way that can be grasped when you are entirely of a sound mind. And I knew many professors at the end of the nineteenth century where that was the case. But please don't talk a lot about it, otherwise people will think it was something quite dreadful, for the most intelligent spiritual human beings appeared behind those men.
Now what was going on there? It is not at all true that inwardly, unconsciously people are as stupid as they appear to be. They are actually much cleverer, and it is the most stupid who are sometimes really clever. The reverse happens again. But they cannot grasp their own cleverness. This is a dreadful secret. For the element which is people's true mind and soul is often there behind them and they cannot grasp it themselves.
Yes, this is indeed how you get into the worlds of spirit. As you know, we had materialistic science at the end of the nineteenth century. People are still blindly following that science today. I myself must say that it has been tremendously useful to get to know this materialistic science, for from beginning to end it always produced the most boring statements. Now if you just think yourself the cat's whiskers, having grown so clever, finally knowing that man is descended from the apes, as we are told in science — well, in that case, nothing will come of it. But if you think this statement through again and again, using all your inner energy, it will finally change into one that is correct in the spirit and you realize that man has not descended from the apes at all but from a spiritual entity.
There are, however, various differences. A boy was sent to school once. There he heard for the first time — from his teacher — that man is descended from the apes. It emerged that it was too early for him. At home he told his father: 'Dad, I heard something new today. Just think, man is descended from the apes.' 'Rubbish,' said his father, all upset, 'you're just stupid! It may be true for you, but not for me!' You see, he, too, found the story unbelievable. He related it only to the mind, however.
But you see from all the things I am telling you that it is also possible to find one's way into modern science in two ways. And I can certainly tell you that if someone has not learned that science the way very many people did in the nineteenth century and still do today, but if instead of repeating everything you are told you think meditatively, thinking things through again and again, for hours and hours, they will turn around, and what you get is the truth in the spirit.
When you have thought for a long time about plants and minerals and for a long time about the things people tell you today in such a dreadfully materialistic way, simply thinking it through, you will finally reach the point where the significance of the zodiac, the significance of the stars all the secrets of the stars are apparent to you.
But the safest way is to start with statements like 'The part is greater than the whole. No body has dimensions. Opinions are coloured. The straight line is the longest route connecting two points.' You will then have torn yourself away from your physical body. If you go through all this, you will be able to use your ether body instead of your physical body. You can then begin to think with the ether body, and the ether body must think everything the oppo164 site way round from the way it is in the physical world. For with the ether body you gradually enter into the world of the spirit. But there things will come to a halt after all, and you'll have to develop yet another habit.
You know, when we read something today, something rather odd may happen. I was in a town in southern Austria once, for instance, and someone gave me the evening paper. This had a leading article, as it is called. A terribly interesting story was told in every detail, a major political story. You read the first column, the second column, the third column — terribly interesting. And right at the bottom, still on the same page, was a brief note saying: 'We are sorry to say that everything written in today's leading article is based on the wrong information and not a word of it is true.'
You see, such things can happen today. It is an extreme case, but anyone reading the papers today may find that every now and then, on every page, he sees something that is simply not true. He only finds out afterwards that it is not true. You see, I think most people have grown so unthinkng today that truth and lies are all one to them. Well, this will not get one into the world of the spirit.
I told you the last time we met: when someone goes mad only his body is sick. The mind, the soul does not get sick, it remains sound. Today I told you that when someone talks wildly in a fever, his thoughts become mere caricature, but the mind and soul is still all right. But one has to get into the habit, if one wants to enter into the world of the spirit, of feeling inner pain when something is not true, and that one's soul rejoices when something is true, that one will be as happy about the truth as if someone had given one a million — I mean a million Swiss francs, not Deutschmark! (Laughter) That is how happy we should be on hearing the truth, and that is how we should suffer in our souls — it is not the body but the soul that must be able to suffer if one finds that something somewhere is a lie — just as the body suffers if it has a terrible illness. It is not that the soul should be sick, but the soul must be capable of feeling pain and pleasure, just as the body does when it is sick or wholly at ease, or when one knows pain or pleasure in the ordinary way in this world.
It means we must come to feel truth the way we feel joy and happiness and pleasure in physical life; and we must come to feel untruth to be pain, grow as sick inwardly in our soul when we meet untruthfulness, as we otherwise only get sick if there are disorders in the body. So when someone has been lying his head off, you have to be able to say, but in such a way that it is truly the case: 'He's given me deadly nightshade berries to eat!' But it must be an inner truth.
Now, of course, if you consider our modern times, the newspapers, for instance, you are made to swallow deadly nightshade berries all the time. And if your mind and soul is to stay healthy, you need to vomit all the time at the soul level. And seeing that we cannot do without the papers, you need to get into the habit, if you wish to enter into the world of the spirit, of getting a bad taste in your mouth from the papers and getting pleasure when you read something decent, where someone writes in a truly inward way. Your pleasure should be like the pleasure you have from eating something, if you like, that tastes really good. The truth and the striving for truth must taste good to you, and lies, if you become aware of them, must taste bitter, poisonous.
You therefore have to learn not only that opinions are in colour, but also to say: printers' ink is usually like the juice of deadly nightshade berries today. You must, however, be able to feel this in all honesty and with great probity. Then, gentlemen, then you have come to something which is known as transformation in the spirit.
People talk about alchemy and think it can be used to change copper into gold. Mountebanks will, of course, tell you this in all kinds of ways even today; superstitious people have believed it for a long time. But such things are possible in the spirit. Only you have to believe in the truth of the spirit. There you have to be able to say to yourself: 'The ink the printer used is the same substance everywhere, whether he's printed a book that is true or a lying newspaper. But on the one occasion the printers' ink is genuinely the juice of the deadly nightshade berry, and on the other occasion it is as if liquid gold is flowing. Things that are one and the same in the physical world are very, very different in the spirit.'
But if today's clever people come and you say to them, 'Printers' ink can be like liquid gold or it can be the juice of deadly nightshade berries,' they'll say, 'You are speaking metaphorically; it's just an analogy.' Well, gentlemen, the analogy, the picture, must become truly spiritual, and one has to understand what things become in the spirit.
Let me give you an example that actually comes from the history of the Social Democratic Party. You may not have been so much aware of it, but there was a time when the Social Democratic Party split in two. One group were people who followed Bernstein and similar people. They entered into all kinds of compromises with the middle classes. And the other group were the radicals, with Bebel the leader of the radicals until he died. You'll know about Bebel from the literature if nothing else. There was a party conference once in Dresden, and Bebel got pretty wild about the others. He said he'd create order in social democracy. He gave a tremendously weighty speech, in the course of which he said: 'Yes, if that and that happens because of the other group, a louse will run over my liver!' [German saying when something rubs one up the wrong way. Translator] Now everyone will of course say that this is just an analogy, for no real louse would be running across Bebel's liver. But why do people use such phrases? Bebel did not use it, of course, because a louse actually ran over his liver; it was something he'd heard and he used it to say that the thing would really annoy him. But why do people have such a phrase? Why can one say that a 'louse' runs over the liver?
Not everyone is like the man who would always collect lice off his head, and when someone once asked him, 'Tell me, dear chap, how come you are so clever and always catch a louse?' he said, 'No problem. If I miss one, I get the one next to it.' It's not like that for everyone, that he misses the louse he wants to catch but still picks one up. It is usually highly unpleasant when people have lice; they feel terrible about it. You should have seen it. When I was a family tutor, one of the boys in my care came home one day. He had been out, sitting on all kinds of benches in the city, and he gradually developed a pain in his eyes, a terrible pain in his eyes. Now there was some uncertainty as to which specialist to call in, because the boy had such a terrible pain in his eyes. I said: 'Let's first of all try an ointment for lice and put it on his eyebrows.' Quite right. When they took a look he had lots of lice, and when the ointment had worked, his eyes also stopped watering. Now you should have seen his mother's and his aunt's faces when the boy was suddenly found to have lice! They felt this right down to their livers. Things felt very strange in their bellies: 'Oh dear, the boy has lice! How terrible!' And then it does very much seem to one as if the louse runs across the liver. The phrase comes from a very real sensation people did have once when someone had lice.
Now people don't catch lice at a meeting or party conference. But they do something that gives them such a horror, as if in earlier times or among people of a particular class lice had run across the liver. So you see the phrase reflected a real situation when it was coined. Later on such phrases are only used for things affecting the mind or soul.
But one has to bring this about artificially, gentlemen. One must be able to do it, so that one feels it really and honestly and not just as the sound of a phrase. I have a newspaper and most of what it says will probably be the kind of thing where the printers' ink is deadly nightshade juice. I'd like to know what people would really do if they had such a feeling today! Just think how much deadly nightshade has been used to consider whose fault the War was and who was not at fault, and how people feel good simply because they belong to the one nation or the other; not because the things that are said are true but because the papers say they were not at fault, writing all kinds of untruths to say they were not at fault. But how are people to get into the world of the spirit in the present day and age? One must simply resolve, strongly resolve to be very different from the people of today, and yet one must of course also live with these people. For it will do no good to get up on a speaker's platform and start to shout at them. But one has to find an alley-way for the truth. And that is hard, as hard as I have shown you today.
I've had to speak of difficult things today, so that you may indeed see that it is far from easy to enter into the world of the spirit. We'll get to other things again that will not be such an effort for you. But you'll find that it is a good thing that we have been considering difficult things. The next time we continue I'll show you how the whole way into the world of the spirit goes.
|GA 300b. Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner II — Forty-Sixth Meeting|
|If you have, for instance, treated a child for a time with lead and have accomplished what you wanted, it would be good to treat that child with some copper compound for a short time, so that nothing remains of the lead process. If you found it necessary to treat a child with silver for a period, you should later treat him or her with iron, so that the inner process is arrested.|
|GA 300b. Faculty Meetings with Rudolf Steiner II — Forty-Sixth Meeting|
Dr. Steiner: Today, we want to have our agreed-upon discussion with Dr. Kolisko on health in the school. I will not go into the details of treating students because there are a number of principle things we need to present first. They will form the basis for further work that must also occur. We will proceed, then, by selecting some typical cases that could arise here. You will also have an opportunity to ask questions about specific cases.
I would first like to draw your attention to the fact that all of our Waldorf School pedagogy has a therapeutic character. The entire teaching method is itself oriented toward healing the child. If you create a pedagogy that does the proper thing during childhood, then educating children takes on a healing aspect. In particular, if we properly handle the child as an imitative being before the change of teeth, then use authority properly, and then appropriately prepare the child to form judgments, all of that will have a thoroughly health-giving effect upon the child’s organism.
It is fundamentally necessary that the direction of our behavior at school be hygienic. That is, that the teacher, in flesh and blood, has penetrated the three aspects of the human organism. The teacher should have an instinctive feeling for each child, that is, for whether one of the three aspects of the human organism, the nerve-sense system or the rhythmic system or the metabolic -limb system, predominates, and for whether we need to stimulate one of the other systems in order to balance a harmful lack of balance in the other systems.
For that reason, we will look at the threefold human being in a way particularly important for the teacher. We have the nervesense system. We can properly understand that only if we are aware that there is a regularity in the nerve-sense system that is not subject to the physical and chemical laws of earthly matter. We need to be aware that the human being rises above the laws of earthly matter through the nerve-sense system. The form of the nerve-sense system is completely the result of prenatal life. The human nerve-sense system is received by the human being in accordance with pre-earthly life. The nerve-sense system is thus capable of independently developing all activities related to the spirit-soul, because all material laws of the nerve-sense system are removed from earthly matter.
The case is exactly the opposite with the metabolic-limb system. Of the three human systems, the metabolic-limb system depends most upon external material processes. When people understand the earthly processes playing out in physics and chemistry, they also understand which processes continue within the human being, at least to the extent that human beings have a metabolic- limb system. However, they learn nothing about the laws of the nerve-sense system.
The rhythmic system lies between these two and, in a certain way, naturally balances the two extremes.
These things form quite individually within every human being. This is particularly true of children. The activity of one system always predominates over the others, and we need to do what is necessary to create a balance. For that, we must have a capacity to really listen to how children express themselves, so that expression can become a revelation of what we need to do with the child in order to help it achieve a completely harmonious health. It is important that we become clear about the fact that, for example, we can have a beneficial effect upon the nerve-sense system by adding the proper amount of salt to the foods the children eat. Thus, if we notice that a child tends to be inattentive, to be flighty and turn away from what you present, that the child is what we might call too sanguine or too phlegmatic, we will need to see to it that we strengthen the child’s pictorial forces so that he or she becomes better able to pay attention to the outer world. We can do that by providing the child with more salt. If you have, for instance, children who are inattentive or who tend to wander, then, if you look into the matter, you will find that the child’s organism does not properly process salt.
In more severe cases, it will often not be enough to simply suggest putting more salt into the child’s food. You will notice that because of some lack of knowledge, or perhaps inattentiveness, the parents salt the food too little. There, you can help with such suggestions. It is, on the other hand, also possible that the child’s organism refuses to accept salt. In such cases, you can help achieve the proper intake of salt by using a very dilute dosage of lead compounds. Lead is what, to a certain extent, enlivens the human organism to properly process salt. Of course, if you go beyond that boundary, the organism will become ill. What is important is to achieve the proper limit, which you may notice when a child has the first traces of a tendency for mental dysfunction. That is something many children have. You will then see that you will have to bring the whole healing process into line with what I have just described.
It is certainly a major deficiency that many educational systems pay no attention to such things as, for example, the external appearance of the children. You can stand in front of a school and see both large and small-headed children. We should treat those children with larger heads, in general, in the way I just presented. Those with small heads should not be treated that way, but in a way I will shortly describe. In those children with a physically oversized head, you will be able to find what I have just described as deficiencies, namely, lack of attention or a too-strongly developed phlegma. Now, however, we have all those children who have the contrasting tendency, that is, those whose limb-metabolic system is not sufficiently active throughout their being. Of course, such children feed their organic metabolism, but what the metabolism should be for the human organism does not sufficiently extend throughout their entire being. External observation of such children shows that they like to brood over things, but that they are also very strongly irritated by external impressions, that is, they react too strongly to external impressions. We can help such children improve throughout their entire organic system by taking care that they receive the proper amount of sugar.
You should also study the development of children in the following way. There are parents who overfeed their young children with all kinds of candy and so forth. When such children come to school, from the perspective of the soul and spirit, and thus also physically, they are concerned only with themselves. They sit and brood when they do not feel enough sugar in their organism. They become nervous and irritated when they have not had enough sugar. You need to pay attention, because when such children have too little sugar for a period of time, their organism slowly decays. The organism becomes fragile, the tissue becomes brittle, and they slowly lose the capacity to properly process even the sugar in their food. For that, you need to take care to properly add sugar to their food. Nevertheless, the organism may, in a sense, refuse to properly process sugars. In that case, you again need to assist the organism by giving a small dose of silver.
Now you see how, for the teacher, the spirit-soul life of the child can become a kind of symptomatology for the proper or improper functioning of the body. If a child shows little tendency for differing imaginations, if the child simply tosses everything together in a fantasy, if it cannot properly differentiate, then the nerve-sense system is not in order. In your attempts to teach the child to differentiate, you have at the same time a symptom indicating that the nerve-sense system is not in order, and you must, therefore, do what I just described.
If a child shows too little capacity for synthetic imagining, that is, for constructive imagining where the child cannot properly picture things, if he or she is a little barbarian in art, something common in today’s children, that is a symptom that the metabolic-limb system is not in order. You must, therefore, provide assistance in the other direction, in the area of sugar. From a hygienic therapy perspective, it is very important that you look at whether differentiating imagination or analytical imagination or artistic synthetic imagination is missing in the child.
There is now something else. Imagine you have a child whose analytical imagination is clearly missing. That could also be a sign that the child is directing his or her astral body and I too much away from the nerve-sense functions. You must, therefore, see to it that the child’s head is cooled in some way, for instance, that you give the child a cool wash in the morning.
You should not underestimate such things. They are extremely important. You should certainly not see it as a kind of deviation into materialism to advise the parents of a child who shows no capacity for painting or music to give the child a warm stomach wrap two or three times per week, so that the child has it on overnight.
People today have too little respect for material measures, and they overestimate abstract intellectual measures. We can attempt to correct that modern, but incorrect, perspective, by attempting to show that the divine powers have used their spirit for the Earth in order to fulfill everything materially. Godly powers allow it to be warm in summer and cold in winter. Those are spiritual activities accomplished by divine powers through material means. Were the gods to attempt to achieve through human education, through an intellectual or moral instruction, what they can achieve by having human beings sweat in the summer and freeze in the winter, then they would be incorrect. You should never underestimate the effects of material means upon children. You should always keep them in mind.
There is also another symptom for the same organic problem that arises when there is a deficiency in synthetic thinking, namely, children become pale. Children are often pale in school. We can handle that similarly to the condition of the astral body not being properly integrated into the metabolic-limb system. You can improve the paleness of children through the same means, because when you give a child, say, a warm stomach wrap, it sets the entire metabolic-limb system into motion so that the full metabolism develops greater activity throughout all systems of the organism.
If that system develops too strongly, so that you need to make only a small remark to a child and he or she immediately gets a red face and is terribly annoyed, treat that in exactly in the same way as when the astral body and the I are not properly integrated into the nerve-sense system. In that case, you need to give the child’s head a cool washing in the morning.
It is extremely important for the teacher to be able, in a sense, to foresee the child’s state of health and act preventively. Of course, there is much less thanks for that than when you heal when the illness already exists, but for children it is much more important.
Now, of course, things that have been used upon a child’s organism to direct a process in one direction or another may need to be subdued. If you treat a child for a time with lead in the way I described, you will need to stop the process at a later time. If you have, for instance, treated a child for a time with lead and have accomplished what you wanted, it would be good to treat that child with some copper compound for a short time, so that nothing remains of the lead process. If you found it necessary to treat a child with silver for a period, you should later treat him or her with iron, so that the inner process is arrested.
There is one more thing I want to say. If you notice a child is, in a sense, lost in its organism, that is, does not have the requisite inner firmness — for example, the child suffers a great deal from diarrhea or is clumsy when moving its limbs, so that it dangles its arms and legs when picking up things and then lets them fall again — such things are the first symptoms of what will develop into processes that strongly affect the person’s health later in life. You should never ignore it when a child often has diarrhea or urinates too much or picks things up so clumsily that they fall again or shows any kind of clumsiness in grasping objects. You should never simply ignore such things. A teacher should always keep a sharp eye open for such things as, for example, whether a child dexterously or clumsily holds a pencil or chalk when writing upon the board. In that way, you can act as a hygienic doctor. I mention these things because you cannot accomplish very much by simply reprimanding the child. Only someone who is always active in the class can affect anything. On the other hand, you can achieve a great deal through external therapeutic means. If you give the child in such a case a small dose of phosphorus, you will see that it will become relatively easy to reach the child with reprimands about clumsiness, even with organic weaknesses of the sort I just described. Give the child phosphorus, or if the problem is deeper, for example, when the child tends toward flatulence, use sulfur. If the problem is more visible outwardly, then phosphorus. In such cases, suggest to the parents that they should feed the child foods connected with colorfully flowering plant blossoms. Speaking in an extreme case, suppose a child often wets the bed. Then you can accomplish a great deal through a therapeutic treatment with phosphorus, but still more by working with the diet. Suggest adding some paprika or pepper to the food as long as the condition persists. You will need to determine that based upon the child’s further development.
In such questions, it is absolutely necessary that members of the faculty work together properly. We are in the fortunate situation of having Dr. Kolisko as the medical member of our faculty, and we should not undertake such therapies without speaking with him first, since a certain understanding of chemical and physiological things is necessary to arrive at the correct opinion. Nevertheless, every teacher needs to develop an eye for such things.
I once again need to take this opportunity of mentioning that in teaching it is of primary importance to take care to bring the nerve-sense system and the metabolic-limb system into a proper balance. When that is not done, it shows up as irregularities of the rhythmic system. If you notice the slightest inclination toward irregularity in breathing or in the circulation, then you should immediately pay attention to it. The rhythmic system is the organic barometer of improper interaction between the head and the limb-metabolic system. If you notice something, you should immediately ask what is not in order in the interaction of these two systems, and second, you should be clear that in teaching you need to alternate between an element that brings the child to his or her periphery, to the periphery of the child’s body, with another element that causes the child to withdraw within. Today, I cannot go into all the details of a hygienic schoolroom; that is something we can speak of next time.
A teacher who teaches for two hours without in some way causing the children to laugh is a poor teacher, because the children never have cause to go to the surface of their bodies. A teacher who can never move the children in such a way as to cause them to withdraw into themselves is also a poor teacher. There must be an alternation, grossly expressed, between a humorous mood when the children laugh, although they need not actually laugh, but they must have some inner humorous feeling, and the tragic, moving feeling when they cry, although they do not need burst into tears, but they must move into themselves. You must bring some life into teaching. That is a hygienic rule. You must be able to bring humor into the instruction.
If you bring your own heaviness into class, justified as it may be in your private life, you should actually not be a teacher. You really must be able to bring the children to experience the periphery of their body. If you can do it in no other way, you should try to at least tell some funny story at the end of the period. If you have caused them to work hard during the period on something serious, so that their faces are physically cramped from the strain on their brains, you should at least conclude with some funny story. That is very necessary.
There are, of course, all kinds of possibilities for error in this regard. You could, for example, seriously damage the children’s health if you have them work for an entire period upon what is normally called grammar. You might have children work only with the differences between subject, object, adjective, indicative, and subjunctive cases, and so forth, that is, with all kinds of things in which the child is only half-interested. You would then put the child in the position that, while determining whether something is in the indicative or the subjunctive case, the child’s breakfast cooks within the child, uninfluenced by his or her soul. You would, therefore, prepare for a time, perhaps fifteen or twenty years later, when genuine digestive disturbances or intestinal illnesses, and so forth, could occur. Intestinal illnesses are often caused by grammar instruction. That is something that is extremely important. Certainly, the whole mood the teacher brings into school transfers to the children through a tremendous number of very subtle connections.
A great deal has been said on various occasions during our earlier discussions on this topic. The inner enlivening of our Waldorf School teaching still requires considerable improvement in that direction. Even though I might say something positive, I would nevertheless emphasize that it is highly desirable, even though I am aware that we cannot always achieve ideals immediately, for Waldorf teachers to teach without preconceptions. teachers should really be so prepared that they can give their classes without preconceptions, that is, that the teacher does not need to resort to prepared notes during class. If the teacher needs to look at prepared notes to see what to do, the necessary contact with the students is interrupted. That should never occur. That is the ideal. I am not saying this just to complain, but to make you aware of something fundamental. All these things are hygienically important. The mood of the teacher lives on in the mood of the children, and for that reason, you need to have a very clear picture of what you want to present to the class. In that way, you can more easily help children who have metabolic difficulties than if you had the children sit in a classroom and taught them everything from a book.
It is a fact that in earlier periods of human development, teaching was generally understood as healing. At that time, people understood the human organism as tending to cause illness itself and knew that teaching brought a continual healing. It is extraordinarily good to become aware that, in a certain sense, every teacher is a doctor for the child.
In order to have healthy children in school, teachers must know how to overcome themselves. You should actually attempt to keep your private self out of the class. Instead, you should picture the material you want to present during a given class. In that way, you will become the material, and what you are as the material will have an extraordinarily enlivening effect upon the entire class. teachers should feel that when they are not feeling well, they should, at least when they are teaching, overcome their ill feeling as far as possible. That will have a very favorable effect upon the children. In such a situation, teachers should believe that teaching is health-giving for themselves. They should think to themselves that while teaching, they can move away from being morose and toward becoming lively.
Imagine for a moment you go into a classroom, and a child is sitting there. After school, the child goes home. At home — of course, I am referring to a different cause, I am not saying the teaching would cause this — the child needs to be given an emetic by the parents. Of course, that could not have been caused by the instruction given by Waldorf teachers, that would only occur in other schools. However, if you went into a class with the attitude that teaching enlivens me and brings me out of my morose state, you could spare the child the medicine. The child can digest better when you have the right attitude in the classroom. In general, a moral attitude of the teacher is significantly hygienic.
This is what I wanted to say to you today. We will continue to work on this later.
Is there anything in particular you would like to ask me now?
A teacher: I had wondered about how the three systems relate to the temperaments.
Dr. Steiner: Phlegmatic and sanguine temperaments are connected with the nerve-sense system; choleric and melancholic with the metabolic system.
A teacher: You spoke of flighty children having large heads. In my class, I have a very flighty child with a small head.
Dr. Steiner: A small head is connected with brooding and reflecting, whereas large-headed children are more flighty. If that is not the case, your judgment is incorrect. A small-headed child who is very flighty has not been evaluated from the proper perspective. You can orient yourself with these things. You first need to look at the nature of the child from the proper perspective. Show me the child some time. It is possible to mistake a child’s brooding for superficiality. It is possible that the brooding is hidden behind a kind of superficiality. That is easily possible with children. A teacher: Is this description valid for a specific age?
Dr. Steiner: It is valid until approximately the age of seventeen or eighteen.
A teacher asks about a girl in one of the upper grades who often wants to drink vinegar.
Dr. Steiner: You can understand that by seeing that the child has absolutely no tendency toward concentration. She lacks a capacity for concentration, but now and then she has to concentrate upon something, not because of outside demands, but from her own organism. She wants to rid herself of that requirement by drinking vinegar. She simply cannot concentrate, so the physical body demands it sometimes. She tries to overcome it by drinking vinegar, but you should not allow it.
A teacher: How can we work with children who absolutely cannot concentrate?
Dr. Steiner: With such children it might not be so bad if you tried to give them something moderately sweet, that is, to put them more on a sweet, rather than a salty, diet.
A teacher asks about a girl in the first grade.
Dr. Steiner: First try to get the parents to give her a warm stomach wrap, perhaps even a little damp, for a longer period, so that the astral body becomes more firmly seated in the limb-metabolic being. Silver would be the right remedy for her. For her, much depends upon getting the metabolic-limb system to take over the activities of the astral body. Give her silver and stomach wraps. She is a child who does not live in herself and is not in her metabolism at all. You need to have the entire picture when attempting to treat specific cases.
The school doctor: I thought we would arrange things later on so that I can see the children everyday.
Dr. Steiner: Today, I was speaking specifically about children’s organisms. Perhaps it would be good go through this again in relation to the physicians’ course, so we could be more specific.
We now have a report about the new administrative organization.
A teacher: I wrote the report about what we decided at the last meeting. It contains the results of the work of the preparatory committee. The other things we need to do are the concern of the administrative committee.
Dr. Steiner: Perhaps it would be good if faculty members said something about any of the individual points they think we need to speak about.
Current committee administrator: I think it is important that we work toward a new attitude in our meetings. There should be no one here who thinks the meetings are not necessary. The indifference we now bring to our meetings must disappear. I think we could bring an attitude to the meetings that would give them some meaning. I think our meetings would then have something that was much stronger earlier, when the effects of the seminar were still active in us. This is not a new thought. We will try to leave the concerns of the administrative committee outside the meetings.
The parents have asked for a lecture.
Dr. Steiner: We first must work with the Anthroposophical Society so that it can continue to exist, so we will have to put that off. I feel like I have contracted lockjaw from the bad attitude toward the meetings.
A teacher: We should not present things to the full plenum that we can easily take care of in private discussions. Bad forces have taken over the meetings. I have given some thought to how we could form the meetings so that only good forces are present.
Dr. Steiner: As in all such things, those who are most dissatisfied with our gatherings could do the most toward making them better by personally trying to make them better. If the meetings appear ugly, couldn’t you try to make them as nice as possible? If you notice they are difficult for you, and that you need to rid yourself of something after the meeting, then the situation will be better if you behave so that others will feel good when they leave. At the next meeting, you will also feel better. We should not ask anything from the meetings, but rather believe we should give. It is not very fruitful to criticize such things; instead try to improve things in yourself.
Much of what you have said concerns the interactions of faculty members and really requires much more consideration than you give it. We can say that, aside from some individual things that need improvement, the teaching has been very satisfactory recently. It has greatly improved. In contrast, there is a certain coldness, a kind of frigidity, in the interactions between faculty members. The meetings can create a bad atmosphere only if that coldness becomes too great. We can counteract that by working with the interactions between teachers.
When you say you cannot meet one another at the meetings, that seems rather strange to me in a group that is together from morning to night and sees one another during every break. During every break you have an opportunity for smiling at one another, for speaking in a friendly way to each other, for exchanging warmth. There are so many opportunities for developing a certain kind of vivacity, that I cannot understand why you need to do that only in the meetings. In the meetings, we should each present our best side. The problem is that you simply pass by one another and do not smile enough at each other. We can certainly speak the truth bluntly to one another, as that aids digestion and hurts nothing when said at the proper time. On the other hand, though, our relationships must be such that each one knows that the others feel that way about me not only because I am sympathetic or unsympathetic, but also because I am a teacher in the Waldorf School. That is something that is generally necessary in anthroposophy here in Stuttgart. Here, people meet one another in the Anthroposophical Society in just the same way as they would anywhere else, but what is necessary is that they meet one another in a certain way because the other is also an anthroposophist. teachers should meet one another in the Waldorf School in just the same way. That gives a special tone in every expression made during the school breaks, whether smiling or making accusations. I see too many sour faces. We need to pay more attention to that.
That is why I got a kind of lockjaw when there was so much discussion about the bad atmosphere in the meetings, because it meant that there must be a bad attitude toward one another, or an attitude of indifference. I cannot understand why there isn’t an atmosphere of great happiness when all the Waldorf teachers sit around one table. The proper attitude would be to think to ourselves, we haven’t had a meeting for a week, but now I am so happy to be able to sit with everyone again. When I see that is not the case, I get a kind of cramp. There should be no Waldorf teachers who do not look on the others with good intent. We do not need to resolve questions of conscience here in the plenum. When we have such relationships between members of the faculty, we can certainly take care of those questions individually. I can easily imagine everything moving quite smoothly.
It would certainly be quite nice if the teachers met now and then for a picnic. Each of you should try to make the meetings as lively as possible for everyone, so there is no need to complain. If someone thought of complaining, they should change their thought into asking, “What should I do so that things are better next time?” Otherwise, they would be a kind of outcast, and they would be that only if they had a bad attitude toward the meetings. Are there any other malcontents?
A teacher: The problem of discipline is continually discussed without any positive conclusion.
Dr. Steiner: In general, there are a number of things we could object to regarding discipline in the lower grades, but in the upper grades there is not so much. I do not know how you could expect to have better behaved children. They are just average children. Aside from the fact that the children in the lower grades need to be more active, I can only say that, in a certain sense, I have seen classes that are really very good in regard to discipline. This question of discipline can be a cause of distress forever, and if it were, we would have to discuss it continually. We cannot have the attitude that we do not want to discuss the question of discipline in our meetings simply because it is unpleasant. That is exactly why we do need to discuss it. I would like to mention a concern about discipline that has a kind of legendary significance. This may be important only outside of the school, in the [Waldorf-Astoria] Company. Many of you may think this is not a question for our meetings, but I do not know which members of the faculty I would call together to discuss this problem. In this question, we do not need to point to one person or another.
There may be teachers in the Waldorf School who slap the children, and so forth. That is something I would like to take care of in private discussions. I have heard it said that the Waldorf teachers hit the children, and we have discussed that often. The fact is, you cannot improve discipline by hitting the children, that only worsens things. That is something you must take into account. Perhaps no one wants to say anything about this, but my question is whether that is simply a story that has been spread like so many other lies, or have children, in fact, been slapped in the Waldorf School? If that has occurred, it could ruin a great deal. We must hold the ideal of working without doing that; discipline will also be better if we can avoid it.
A teacher: I teach English to the eighth grade, and I found the discipline there terrible.
Dr. Steiner: What do you as the class teacher have to say? The teacher reports.
Dr. Steiner: It would be pedagogically incorrect if we did not take the personal relationship to the children into sufficient account. It is certainly difficult to create, but you must create it and you can create it in individual cases. You should, however, remember that our language instruction is extremely uneven. In spite of the fact that we have a Waldorf pedagogy, there is, for example, sometimes too much grammar in the classes, and the children cannot handle that. Sometimes I absolutely do not understand how you can keep the children quiet at all when you are talking, as sometimes happens, about adverbs and subjunctive cases and so forth. Those are things for which normal children have no interest whatsoever. In such instances, children remain disciplined only because they love the teacher. Given how grammar is taught in language class, there should be no cause for any complaints in that regard. We can really discuss the question only if all the language teachers in the Waldorf School meet in order to find some way of not always talking about things the children do not understand. That, however, is so difficult because there are so many things to do. What is important is that the children can express themselves in the language, not that they know what an adverb or a conjunction is. They learn that, of course, but the way such things are done in many of the classes I have seen, it is not yet Waldorf pedagogy. That is, however, something we need to discuss here in the meetings. There are so many language teachers here and each goes their own way and pays no attention to what the others do, but there are many possibilities for helping one another. I can easily imagine that the children become restless because they do not know what you expect of them. We have handled language class in a haphazard way for too long.
A teacher: We language teachers have already begun.
Dr. Steiner: Recently, I was in a class and the instruction had to do with the present and imperfect tenses. What do you expect the children to do with that when it is not taught in Latin class? How should they understand these expressions? You need to feel that there is so much that is not natural to human beings, particularly in grammar. It is clear that in schools where discipline is maintained through external means, discipline is easier to maintain than where the children are held together through the value of the instruction. I am not saying that such expressions as present and indicative should be done away with, but that you should work with them in such a way that the children can do something with them. What I noticed was that the children did not know what to do with such expressions.
A teacher: There is examination fever in the highest grade. The middle grades are missing the basics.
Dr. Steiner: That is not what they are missing. Look for what they are missing in another area. That is not what they are missing! It is very difficult to say anything when I am not speaking about a class in a specific language, since I find them better than the grammar instruction. Most of our teachers teach foreign languages better than they teach grammar. I think the main problem is that the teachers do not know grammar very well; the teachers do not carry a living grammar within them. Please excuse me that I am upset that you now want to use our meeting to learn grammar. I have to admit that I find the way you use grammar terms horrible. If I were a student, I certainly would not pay attention. I would be noisy because I would not know why people are forcing all of these things into my head. The problem is that you do not use time well, and the teachers do not learn how to acquire a reasonable ability in grammar. That, then, affects the students. The instruction in grammar is shocking, literally. It is purely superficial, so that it is one of the worst things done at school. All the stuff in the grammar books should actually be destroyed in a big bonfire. Life needs to come into it. Then, the problem is that the students do not get a feeling for what the present or past tense is when they really should have a lively feeling for them. The genius of language must live in the teacher. That is also true for teaching German. You torture the children with so much terminology. Do not be angry with me, but it is really so. If you used mathematical terminology the same way you do grammatical terminology, you would soon see how horrible it is. All your horrible habits do not allow you to see how terrible the grammar classes are. This is caused by the culture that has used language to mistreat Europe for such a terribly long time, it has used a language that was not livingly integrated, namely, Latin. That is why we have such a superficial connection to language. That is how things are. The little amount of spirit that comes into grammar comes through Grimm, and that is certainly something we need to admire. Nevertheless, it is only a little spirit. As it is taught today, grammar is the most spiritless thing there is, and that gives a certain color to teaching. I must say there is much more to it than what we do. It is just horrible. We cannot always have everything perfect, which is why I do not always want to criticize and complain. You need a much better inner relationship to language, and then your teaching of language will become better.
It is not always the children’s fault when they do not pay attention in the language classes. Why should they be interested in what an adverb is? That is just a barbaric word. Things only become better when you continually bring in relationships, when you repeatedly come back to the connections between words. If you simply make a child memorize and yourself have no interest in what you had them memorize, the children will no longer learn anything by heart. They will do that only if you return to the subject again in a different connection so that they see there is some sense in learning.
You should not so terribly misunderstand some things, Mr. X. I got a kind of cramp when I saw how you presented The Chymical Wedding today. I said you could do that if you wanted to learn about spiritual activity for yourself, but then you did it in class. After you have done the conclusion, you will see how impossible it is to do The Chymical Wedding in school. It could be very useful if you know something about it yourself, as then you can handle other things appropriately. Now, however, you can do nothing more than present the question of the kings in The Chymical Wedding as pictorially as possible so that the children become aware of how one theme makes a transition into another.
A teacher: How should I do that?
Dr. Steiner: The theme of the three kings goes throughout it. You can find it in The Chymical Wedding and again in Goethe’s Tales. You could show how the same idea was active over centuries, and then tell stories about other themes that lived for centuries. There are a large number of such themes. If you recall, I once mentioned to you how you can see Faust and Mephistopheles as Robert and Trast in Sudermann’s Ehre.
A teacher: In the tenth-grade art class I showed how Schiller developed the word into a musical effect in The Bride of Messina and how Beethoven in his Ninth Symphony moved toward the word through human voice. In the end, Beethoven met Schiller in the “Ode to Joy.” Richard Wagner felt this quite strongly.
Dr. Steiner: It may be quite important to emphasize this relationship of Schiller to Beethoven. That is something the children will feel quite deeply at their age. You can best carry out what you wanted to say about Parzival if you also put the choir in Schiller’s Bride of Messina at the center.
|GA 226. Man's Being, His Destiny and World-Evolution — Man's Being, His Destiny and World Evolution, Part II|
|The inner nature of metals, for instance, became known to him. At the age of fifty, he was instinctively able to differentiate between copper, silver, and gold. He felt the resemblance of these metals to his own organism gradually turning to earth. A rock-crystal called forth in him other feelings than furrowed soil. By aging, man gained wisdom concerning terrestrial matters.|
|GA 226. Man's Being, His Destiny and World-Evolution — Man's Being, His Destiny and World Evolution, Part II|
We cannot fully estimate the nature of man's being, as it appears at present, without fixing our eyes on extended periods through which he has passed in the course of his evolution. This will become evident when considering the facts described by me during recent days. Our souls undergo repeated earth-lives that are always separated from one another by the life between death and a new birth. In this manner our souls have passed through the most manifold periods of human evolution. By reflecting on these things, we shall clearly recognize that the nature of the human being can be comprehended only when we consider extended periods during which our souls have repeatedly lived on earth.
These matters have been discussed by me in previous Kristiania (Oslo) lectures, dealing with the sequence of evolutionary epochs, such as those that preceded and those that followed the Mystery of Golgotha. Today I wish to discuss this subject from a particular standpoint.
Mankind has undergone great changes in the course of its evolution. This fact is not sufficiently appreciated. People know that a Greek period existed, an Egyptian period, and other earlier periods. But, although they are aware of evolving culture-impulses, they believe that human beings in regard to their soul-life were just the same (at least, in historic ages) as they are today. This is not true. At a certain stage we come to a stop in this historic retrospect. We come to a long pause leading to a period which present-day scientists are very fond of describing as that of man's supposedly ape-like ancestors.
Mankind's evolution, however, was not in the least as people now imagine it. In order to understand the changes it has undergone, let us envisage the relatively great dependency, existing in the present age during the human being's first years of life, of the spirit and soul organism on the physical-bodily one.
You need only to consider the stage of early childhood until the change of teeth, and the extensive transformation accompanying the change of teeth which must strike every unprejudiced observer. The child's entire soul-constitution becomes different. We then find another life period lasting until puberty. We all know that at this age the development of spirit and soul is dependent on the development of the body. And, if we observe these things without prejudice, we notice the same dependence of spirit and soul on the body also at a later age lasting until the twenties, although today, in the time of youth movements (this is not said in a critical sense) it is just the young people who do not like to emphasize this dependence. Naturally, they consider themselves, at sixteen or seventeen, fully developed young women and young men; and those vaunting unusual mental faculties write newspaper articles at twenty-one. These young people would thus like to hush up the fact that their spirit and soul is greatly dependent on their bodily organism. At any rate, the present-day human being becomes more or less independent of the body once he has reached a certain age. A man in his twenties is an adult who does not feel himself as dependent upon his body as would a child were it to pass in full consciousness through the stages between change of teeth and puberty.
There was still a feeling in comparatively recent ages that the human being matured gradually. It was then clearly realized that the so-called apprentice had to be treated differently from the journey-man; and a master's rank could not be attained until relatively late in life.
As regards present-day man, however, it can be asserted that after a certain age, his spirit and soul are no longer greatly dependent on his body. Of course, on reaching a venerable age, we notice a renewed dependence on our physical organism. When the legs become shaky, when the face becomes wrinkled, when the hair becomes grey, we cannot then deny the influence of the body. This, however, is not ascribed to a genuine parallelism of body and soul. People of today feel that, even though the bodily forces decline, soul and spirit remain, and must remain, more or less independent of the bodily-physical. Yet this was not always the case. If we go back to earlier epochs of mankind's evolution, we find the human being even in his old age remaining as intensely dependent on his body as does a child's soul today remain dependent on its body between the change of teeth and puberty. And if we are enabled — not by external history, but by spiritual science — to go back to the first period of evolution after the great Atlantean catastrophe which caused a new configuration of the earth's continents, we come to what I called in my Occult Science the primeval Indian epoch. The human being then felt himself, even after having reached his fifties, to be just as dependent on the physical as the child's soul is dependent on the change of teeth, and the youthful person's soul on puberty. This means: Just as we experience today during childhood the ascending line of growth, so ancient man experienced, in his fifties, the descending line within spirit and soul. Then things happened in such a way that a man, on reaching his fifties, matured inwardly just by becoming older, in a similar manner as modern man matures on attaining puberty. And at that time, seven or eight thousand years before the Mystery of Golgotha, human beings eagerly looked forward, during their whole life, to this stage of existence. For everyone could say to himself: Something will be revealed to me out of my bodily constitution that I could not experience in younger years, before I became forty-nine or fifty. Naturally, such an idea is bound to shock modern men most profoundly. You only need to think of a present-day man who is absolutely sure of being a finished product after reaching the twenties. What could be said if he had to wait until the age of maturity revealed something to him which he could not know before, which he could not feel, and experience before!
In ancient India, however, man's bodily constitution enabled him to feel, already in his fifties, something like a gradual separation of the physical body from spirit and soul. He felt more and more how the physical approximated, as it were, the corpse-like. And he felt in this estrangement of the physical body, in this approach of the physical body to the earth-elements, a liberation of spirit and soul. By considering the body merely as a garment, he felt its relationship to the earth, to all that would belong to earth after death. It was less amazing to ancient than to modern men that the body had to be discarded, delivered to the earth-forces. For ancient man passed slowly and gradually through this process of discarding the body.
This sounds paradoxical, because it implies the terrifying conception of having a physical body that is slowly becoming a corpse. Ancient man, however, did not think of his body as a burdensome object passing, as it were, into a kind of putrefaction. Instead, he thought of it as an independent sheath or shell which, even though becoming earth-like, was yet full of life. Yet the physical body, at the age of fifty, assumed a sheath-like, shell-like character.
This gradual becoming similar to the earth taught ancient man something that can be known today only through abstract science. The inner nature of metals, for instance, became known to him. At the age of fifty, he was instinctively able to differentiate between copper, silver, and gold. He felt the resemblance of these metals to his own organism gradually turning to earth. A rock-crystal called forth in him other feelings than furrowed soil. By aging, man gained wisdom concerning terrestrial matters.
This fact influenced primeval civilization. The young, looking up to the old, said to themselves: These ancients are wise. Once I have become as old as they are, I shall also be wise. Such an attitude caused a profound veneration and a tremendous respect for old age.
In those ancient days of mankind's evolution (the epoch of primeval India), a lofty civilization, connected with a wondrous veneration, a wondrous respect for old age, existed in a certain part of the world (not in that part, however, inhabited by men with receding foreheads, such as are excavated today by anthropologists). And we must ask ourselves: How did it actually happen that men passed through these experiences?
It did happen, because primeval man lived less intensively in his physical body than we do. Today man crawls into the very core of his physical body, the experiences of which he shares. Thus he feels himself to be identical, at one with his physical body. And we must undergo a common destiny with whatever is felt to be at one with us. Because, in those ancient times, men felt themselves more self-dependent within the physical body; because their thinking was more imaginative; because their feeling was like an inward weaving and living in the world of reality — for all these reasons their physical body from the beginning seemed to them like a sheath in which they were encased. This sheath began to harden as life drew near its end. A man in his fifties could feel how the body developed increasingly in accord with the outer world, thus becoming a mediator that could instill in him wisdom concerning the outer world.
The situation changed when civilized mankind of those days passed into the next age, called by me in my Occult Science the primeval Persian. Then a man in his fifties could no longer experience this dependence of his physical body upon the earthly. Instead, the aging physical body exerted a different influence on those still in their forties, from the forty-second or forty-third year to the forty-ninth or fiftieth. During these years, they participated intensively in the change of seasons. They experienced spring, summer, autumn, winter within their body. As it were, their body began to bud and blossom during spring and summer, and went into decline during autumn and winter. Human life took part in the seasons, the changing air-currents ...
And this perception of the changing air-currents, the changing seasons, was connected with another thing. Man felt that his speech was being transformed into something no longer belonging essentially to him. Just as the primeval Indian felt that, once he had attained the fifties, his whole physical body did not really belong to him, but more or less to the earth, so the primeval Persian felt that the body, by producing speech, belonged to the people around him. At fifty, a member of primeval Indian culture no longer said: I am walking. If expressing his own feelings, he would say: My body is walking. He did not say: I enter through the door; but instead: My body carries me through the door. For he experienced his body as something related to the outer world, to the earth. And, five or six millennia before the Mystery of Golgotha, a member of the Persian civilization felt that speech came forth by itself, that he had it in common with his whole surroundings. At that time, people all over the world did not live in such an international way as today, but as members of definite folk communities. They felt how speech became alienated from them; how, if expressing their real feelings, they could say: “It is speaking within me.”
It was really the case that people after attaining the forties expressed the following in a certain, very respectful sense: Divine-spiritual forces are speaking through me. And the human being also felt as if his breath did not belong to him any longer, but was dedicated to the surrounding world.
On reaching his late thirties, a member of the Egypto-Chaldaean culture — which lasted from the third or fourth millennium until the eighth or ninth pre-Christian century — had a similar feeling with regard to his thoughts, his mental images. The Egyptian or Chaldaean felt in his thirty-fifth year as if his mental images were connected with heavenly forces, the course of the stars.
As the primeval Indian, at the end of his life, felt the connection of his body with the earth, as the primeval Persian felt the connection of his speech, his breath, with the seasons and the surrounding world, so a member of ancient Egyptian, of ancient Chaldaean culture felt that his thoughts were directed by the course of the stars. And he felt how divine star-powers were interwoven with his thoughts.
In Egypto-Chaldaean culture, the human being felt this dependence of his thoughts upon heavenly powers until his forty-second or forty-third year. Subsequently no new element entered into human development. The primeval Persian, too, felt as if his thoughts had been given to him by the stars; but he attained, moreover, in his forties the relationship to speech that I have described. Likewise, the primeval Indian, from his thirty-fifth year, possessed this relationship to the star-powers. Therefore he considered astrology as something self-evident. In his forties, he also attained the dependence of speech upon his surroundings. In his fifties, moreover, he experienced how his physical body became objective, became shadow-like. He accustomed himself, as it were, to the dying, because dying had approached him already in his fifties. The soul was less firmly joined to the body. Hence outer conditions could bring forth these bodily changes. This fact was perceived by the soul, experienced by the soul. And thereby man, as he grew older, merged himself more and more with the world.
Then came the Graeco-Latin era, which lasted from the eighth pre-Christian century until the fifteenth post-Christian century, for until then, the echo of Graeco-Latin culture still resounded in all civilized countries. This marked the age when man felt himself until his thirties still dependent upon his physical body, but no longer dependent on the stars, the seasons, the earth. He felt himself firmly entrenched within his physical body. The Greek felt a concord, a harmony between the soul and spirit element and the bodily-physical. Only this bodily-physical element no longer separated itself from him. This is all very difficult to express, for we are prevented, by the customary and totally inadequate historical teaching given to us in school, from forming a conception of these changes in mankind's evolution.
There then came the time when the human being became connected with his physical body in such a way that his physical body was committed no longer to participate in the course of the universe directed by spiritual laws. Now man was completely bound to his physical body. Mankind did not reach this stage until the eighth pre-Christian century.
Thus a great transformation of mankind's whole evolution occurred in as far as it concerned civilized mankind. Although the human being on reaching the thirties felt himself still at one with his physical body, he no longer was separated from it. He felt himself united with his physical body. It could no longer unveil to him the world's mysteries. During this period, therefore, mankind attained an entirely new relation to death. At an earlier time, when the human being prepared himself for dying, as it were, by undergoing a separation from his physical body, this dying signified for him nothing but a transformation in the midst of life; for, in his fifties, he became familiar gradually with the process of dying. He experienced dying as a process which merged him, in a wisdom-filled and blissful way, with the universe. He experienced death as something guiding him into a world in which he had already lived during his earth-life. Death at that time was something entirely different from what it became later. It might be said: More and more the human being was confronted by the possibility that soul and spirit might participate in death.
Let us compare Hellenism with the primeval Indian epoch. In primeval India, the body gained independence. The individual was aware of being something else besides his body which became independent and sheath-like. He could not have possibly conceived the thought that death might be the end. Such a thought did not exist among human beings of the primeval Indian period. Only by degrees, and most decisively in the eighth pre-Christian century, did man say to himself (still out of an unconscious feeling, because he was unable to think about these things in a rationalistic way): My body dies; but, with regard to soul and spirit, I am at one with my body. No longer did he notice the difference between the bodily and the spirit and soul element.
The human being became dominated by a thought that terrified him when it first arose out of dark spiritual depths in the ninth or eighth century before the Mystery of Golgotha. It was the thought: Might not my soul pursue the same path as my body — die, as my body dies?
This thought which in the primeval Indian epoch would have been totally inconceivable now came more and more to the fore. Out of this mood emerged words like those famous ones of the Greek hero: Better a beggar in the upper world than a king in the realm of the shades.
This was the time when mankind nurtured a mood that grew in the right way towards the Mystery of Golgotha. For, what brought forth in ancient human beings the ability to preserve a freshness of soul which made it impossible for them to conceive that the soul might take the same path of death as the body?
This freshness of soul, this independence of soul with regard to feeling, was given to ancient man by this knowledge: I have had a life — for he could look into this life — which was pre-earthly; through it I passed with my soul and spirit before I descended to the physical world. While dwelling in this higher world, I was united with the exalted Sun-Being.
The ancient Mysteries had evolved a teaching which pointed out that man, in his pre-earthly existence, was united with the spirit of the sun, just as in earth-life his body is united with the physical light of the sun.
The teachers in the ancient Mysteries told the following to their pupils who, in their turn, told it again to others (they did not designate the exalted Sun-Being as the Christ, but He was the Christ, and we may therefore be permitted today to use this name): The Christ is a Being Who shall never descend to the earth. You, however, dwelt in your pre-earthly existence, before descending to earth, within spiritual worlds in communion with the Christ. And the force of the Christ has given you the faculty of making your soul independent of the body.
This instinctive memory of a pre-earthly existence was lost through the soul's increasing identification with its physical body. And, in the Greek epoch, earthly man could employ his instinctive consciousness-forces only by looking at physical life. The Greek was able to live such a harmonious earth-life, because his outlook into the divine worlds of the spirit had faded away. He was so successful in subduing the sensible-physical that the spiritual vanished more or less from his life's horizon. No longer did civilized men have a consciousness of the fact that before descending to earth, they dwelt in the presence of the exalted Sun-Being Who was later called the Christ. Now darkness encompassed those who looked at pre-earthly, prenatal existence. And thus arose the mystery of death.
What happened henceforth must be envisaged as something concerning not only mankind but also the gods. The divine-spiritual powers who sent the human being down to earth gave him the impulses towards the development that I have just described. Since his spirit and soul became increasingly merged with the physical body; since, as it were, his spirit and soul became identical with the physical, and since, therefore, the mystery of death confronted also the spirit and soul, the divine-spiritual powers who had sent the human being down to earth were threatened with the danger that he might be lost to the gods, that his soul, as well as his body, might die.
Yet man would never have become a free, independent being, had he not grown into his body during this epoch. Man could only become free in evolution if his view of the pre-earthly was dimmed. He was obliged to stand on earth — totally forsaken, as it were — within his physical body's abode. Thus his independent ego could radiate and gleam up.
For this shining forth of the independent ego can be best accomplished by the human being entering completely into his physical body. When man grows upward into the worlds of spirit and soul, his ego retreats; he is being merged with the objective element of spirit and soul. Man could become a free ego-being only if given the impulse by the gods to merge himself more and more with his physical body. He was thus, however, confronted by the mystery of death; for the physical body was bound to be claimed by death.
Now, if man's vision had not been awakened in another way, all of mankind on earth would have become more and more convinced that the soul and physical body were both dying together. And, if nothing else had happened; if history had continued its course in a straight line, all of us today would have come to the common conviction that the soul as well as the body are doomed to be laid in the grave.
At this point, the divine-spiritual powers decided to send down on earth the exalted Sun-Being, the Christ, in order that men, who no longer had any knowledge of their communion with the Christ during pre-earthly existence, could gain consciousness of their communion with the Christ after He had descended on earth and had shared on Golgotha and in Palestine their human destiny in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. The God descended into the earthly world at the moment of mankind's world historic evolution when men had lost their feeling of communion with the Sun-Being beyond the earthly world.
Why did the Christ come down on earth? Because human beings, having fought their way to the attainment of complete ego-consciousness, needed Him on earth. Men had to experience the presence of a victor, who could die and resurrect himself — be the vanquisher of death.
In the course of history, this mystery had to be set before mankind at a time when man, no longer able to look back into pre-earthly existence, was granted a view of his communion with the giver of man's immortality, with the Christ. It is a divine event, and not merely for mankind, that the Christ was sent down on earth from higher worlds. For the human race would have fallen away from the gods, had they not sent down upon earth the loftiest among them, in order that He undergo a human destiny, a human existence, thus interweaving a divine event with earthly-human events and mankind's entire world evolution.
The Mystery of Golgotha cannot be comprehended unless we regard it not only as a human event, but also as a divine event. The fact must be grasped that something which could be envisaged previously only in the divine worlds could now be envisaged in the earthly world.
Possibly you might raise the objection: Not all men have become followers of the Christ; many do not believe in the Christ. Must all these have the opinion that at death their soul would be laid in the grave with the body?
This, however, is not the way in which the Mystery of Golgotha may be interpreted. It is valid through all the centuries preceding ours that the Christ, in His infinite compassion overflowing with grace, died not only for His immediate followers, but for all men in all ages, everywhere on earth.
All men on earth have been redeemed from the riddle of death by the Christ. At first, this deed did not touch human consciousness. It is natural, however, that some men were found who could consciously grasp the grandeur and significance of the Mystery of Golgotha. Yet the Christ did die and did rise as much for the Chinese, Japanese, and Hindus as for the Christians.
Just because since the fifteenth century human evolution must increasingly regard intellectualism as its highest soul-force, and just because this intellectual impulse will become more and more powerful in the future, have we approached an epoch when it is incumbent upon the earth's entire population to grasp, with its ever growing consciousness, what was brought forth by the Mystery of Golgotha.
Thus it will become necessary that the Mystery of Golgotha be penetrated by a knowledge that can be really understood by all men on earth.
In preceding centuries, Christianity developed in a way that still conformed to the peculiarities of ancient ethnic religions. Christian development had not yet attained universality. The Christian missionaries who went among the followers of other religions found little or no understanding, because the Christ was presented as a separate god who had the same qualities as those possessed by the ancient heathen folk deities. This was the manner in which Christianity had been disseminated. Why had Constantine, why Chlodvig, accepted Christianity? — Because they believed that the Christian god would be a more powerful helper than their former gods. They exchanged, as it were, their former gods for the Christian god. Hence the Christ had to take on many qualities of the ancient folk deities. These qualities have adhered to the Christ through the centuries.
In this way, however, Christianity could not become a universal religion. On the contrary, it had to retreat more and more before intellectualism. And we have seen, particularly in the nineteenth century, many a theological development which understood nothing whatsoever of the Christ-event in its super-sensible aspect. Here the desire was to speak only of Jesus, the man, although conceding that as man he towered above all other men. Yet, henceforth, the desire was only to speak of Jesus, the man, and not of Christ, the God.
We must, nevertheless, be able to speak again of Christ, the God, because this Christ, while undergoing His destiny through the Mystery of Golgotha, manifested to men on earth what He had formerly signified to them, before they had descended to earth from the high heavens.
Hence, we must state that the ancient folk religions were primarily local religions. People prayed to the god of Thebes, to the god on Mount Olympus. They were local deities who could be worshipped only in near-by places. Thus, from the beginning, these ancient faiths were bound to certain territories.
Later the local gods, who had their abode in a definite spot, were replaced by gods bound to the personalities of single men, of the guiding folk heroes. Yet a people's god was either a still living folk hero or his surviving soul, the ancestral folk soul. All religious faiths had a restricted character.
With Christianity, however, there appeared a world religion which bestowed a spiritual element upon the whole earth, just as the sun bestows a physical element upon the whole earth. The climate in the vicinity of Mount Olympus is different from the climate in the vicinity of Thebes; the latter, in its turn, is different from the climate in the vicinity of Bombay. If a religious faith nestles close to a locality, it cannot spread beyond this locality. The sun, however, sheds its light on all the earth's localities, shines upon all men as the same sun.
When, however, the human form was taken on by that God Whose physical reflection shone forth in the sun's radiance, then the human race received a God who could be accepted as God by all men on earth. If the possibility is found of penetrating the being of this Christ-Divinity, we shall be able to represent Him as the God acceptable to all mankind. Today we stand only at the beginning of anthroposophical teachings. As it were, we are still stammering the language of Anthroposophy. Yet Anthroposophy will continue to develop more and more. And a part of this development will consist in its capability of finding words to describe the Mystery of Golgotha — words of a kind that spiritual science can bring to the Hindus, the Chinese, to all men on earth; and which will elucidate the Mystery of Golgotha in such a way that the Hindus, the Chinese, the Japanese will be unable to reject what is told them concerning the Mystery of Golgotha.
For this purpose, we must attach a genuinely serious significance to all that represents Christian tradition. Throughout the centuries, people have subjected themselves more or less to the words of the Gospels. They have studied these Gospels in a way commensurate with their understanding of these ancient books. We have certainly no intention of speaking against the validity of the Gospels. Our cycles on each of the Gospels attempt to penetrate, by means of special anthroposophical interpretation, into the deeper meaning of these Gospels. Yet one thing must be said: Why is the passage at the end of one Gospel taken so lightly? There it is written: 1 have still many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. And why are the words of another Gospel not taken more seriously: And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth-cycles? For the Christ spoke the full truth. He could have said to men other things than those recorded in the Gospels. Only those Christ-words are recorded in the Gospels, for the understanding of which the men of that epoch — few in number — were ready. But mankind must become more and more mature in the course of earthly evolution. From the Mystery of Golgotha on, the Christ dwelt among men as the Living Christ, and not as the dead Christ. And He is still present among us. If we learn to speak His language, we shall recognize His presence; we shall recognize the truth of His words: And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the earth-cycles. And the anthroposophical world view desires to speak His language, His spiritual language. The anthroposophical world view desires to speak in such a way of nature, of all the beings on earth, of the starry sky and the sun that, by means of this language, the Mystery of Golgotha may be understood; that the Christ may be experienced as the One Who is ever present.
And, also after the Mystery of Golgotha, we may regard as Christ-words all that we have gained from the spiritual world; aided by that power which, through the Mystery of Golgotha, descended from heaven to earth. If as men we speak of the spiritual worlds, we may make true the word of St. Paul: Not I, but the Christ in me. For today we have entered an age in which we cannot even emulate the Greeks who, although feeling themselves still at one with their physical body, yet felt this physical body as something harmonious and independent. Today we penetrate at a still earlier age than the Greeks into that which underlies our physical body, thus separating ourselves from the spiritual around us. We can deepen our being only by seeking the union with the God Who descended from heaven to earth. And we can feel ourselves united only with that God Who entered the earthly sphere, because men on earth could no longer enter the heavenly sphere with their immediate and ordinary consciousness. By finding the Christ, we also find anew the approach to the super-sensible world; not now, however, by means of the physical body (this was the case in ancient times), but by means of heightened soul-power. And today, when the parallelism between the development of body and soul lasts only up to the age of twenty (later on it will last a still shorter period), this heightened soul-power can be attained alone by immersing ourselves, in the midst of the sensible events of earthly evolution, into the knowledge of a super-sensible event: the Mystery of Golgotha. Everything on earth took place in a sensible way. Only in the Mystery of Golgotha something super-sensible mingled with earthly events. And this can be understood only out of a super-sensible knowledge.
Hence the union with the Christ awakens in our human souls the powerful faculty of attaining a relationship to the super-sensible world — a relationship formerly attained by human beings through being connected with their physical body in such a way that the body could become sheath-like. Thus, feeling the approach of death before physical death occurred, they merged themselves with the spirit prevailing in their surroundings.
We must attain by means of the soul what could be attained, in earlier days, through the mediation of the body. For, although we admire in the highest degree what has been preserved of Indian writings — which did not originate, however, from the earliest primeval Indian epoch, but from a later period — although we admire what has been bequeathed to us through the glory of the Vedas, the grandeur of the Vedanta-philosophy, the radiant splendor of the Bhagavad-Gita, we must, nevertheless, recognize the fact that this could be attained in ancient times only because the body reflected to the human being, as he grew older, a certain spirituality. Ancient man was compensated for the waning of his physical existence, which set in after the thirty-fifth year, by having, as it were, the spirit pressing out of his body, as the latter became hard, withered and wrinkled. And this spirit was perceived by the human being. The great philosophical poems of ancient times were not composed by youths, but by patriarchs who had acquired wisdom. It resulted from what was given by the body. In the present stage of human evolution, which differs from the ancient ones, we must receive from the soul, as it grows more powerful, what was formerly contributed by the body. Our body becomes old. We must remain united with it. We cannot let the spirit emerge from this body, because we have utilized it since early childhood.
If we did not do this, we could never be free men. This must be accepted as our rightful earthly destiny. One fact, however, must be made clear to us: Our soul has to gain strength. Since the spiritual strength formerly corresponding to the waning body flows to us no longer we must attain it by strengthening our soul through our own effort. And we shall experience this strengthening of the soul by looking, in a genuine and living way, toward a great and powerful event: The divine event that took place as the Mystery of Golgotha in the midst of earthly life. In beholding the Mystery of Golgotha and becoming conscious that its after-effect is still dwelling among us, is still existing in the spiritual-super-sensible sphere, our spirit and soul become strengthened and approach the spiritual world anew.
The Christ has descended to earth in order that men, who no longer see Him in heaven by means of their memory, may be permitted to see Him on earth. Seen from today's viewpoint, this is what rightly places the Mystery of Golgotha before our spiritual eye.
The disciples, who had preserved a remnant of ancient clairvoyance, could still have the Christ as their teacher when He dwelt among them after the resurrection in the spiritual body.
Yet this power gradually fell away from them. And its complete disappearance is symbolically represented through the Festival of the Ascension.
The disciples sank into profound sadness, because they were forced to believe that the Christ was no longer among them. They had taken part in the event of Golgotha. Now, however, they had to believe that the Christ had moved away from their consciousness, that the Christ was no longer on earth. Thus they were plunged into deep sorrow, for they had seen the Christ-figure disappear in the clouds, that is, move away from their consciousness.
But every genuine knowledge is born out of sorrow, of suffering, of grief. True, profound knowledge is never born out of joy. True, profound knowledge is born out of suffering. And out of the suffering, which encompassed the disciples of the Christ at the Festival of the Ascension, out of this deep soul-anguish arose the Mystery of Pentecost. The disciples could no longer view the Christ by means of their outer, instinctive clairvoyance. But the force of the Christ unfolded within them. The Christ had sent to them the spirit enabling their soul to experience the Christ-existence in their innermost depths.
This experience gave meaning to the first Festival of Pentecost occurring in human evolution. The Christ, Who had disappeared from the outer, clairvoyant view still clinging to the disciples as a heritage of ancient evolutionary periods, appeared at Pentecost within the disciples' inner experience. The fiery tongues signify nothing but the arising of the inner Christ in the souls of His pupils, the souls of the disciples. Out of inner necessity, the Festival of Pentecost had to follow the Festival of the Ascension.
|GA 314. Anthroposophical Approach to Medicine — Lecture IV|
|We start from iron. According to the complex of symptoms, the most suitable metal may be gold, or perhaps copper. If the form of disease makes us sure of our ground, highly important results will be obtained from the pure metals. If the interplay between the functions of form-building and the breaking-down of form is such that there is too little form-building and this state of affairs becomes organic — if, therefore, the primary cause of the trouble is that the relation between the system of heart and lungs and the kidney system is upset — we shall achieve the best results with iron.|
|GA 314. Anthroposophical Approach to Medicine — Lecture IV|
In these lectures, of course, it can be a question only of describing certain ways of approach and therapeutic methods, as revealed by Spiritual Science. The short time at our disposal makes it impossible to enter into details. My own opinion, however, is that at the beginning of the work which it is the aim of Spiritual Science to carry through in the domain of medicine, the most important thing is for our point of view and our method of approach to be made quite clear. In certain specific details this point of view has been carefully followed in the preparation of our remedies. How we can proceed to form more general conceptions in special cases of illness will perhaps not be so immediately evident, but in describing certain principles of method to-day I will do my best to indicate matters which will help in this direction also.
The human organism in health and in disease — or rather in its state of health and in its approach towards health — is really unintelligible unless the so-called normal functions are regarded as being, fundamentally, metamorphoses of those functions which must be called into action in order to combat pathological conditions. And here we must always take account of the fact that the human organism is inwardly filled with processes which are not the same as those in the outer world. To begin with, let us remind ourselves that everything man takes into himself from the plant world, for instance, must be worked upon by the digestive system before it can be carried to a higher stage of life. The process of vitalization must be an activity of the human being himself; indeed, the human organism could not exist without it. Now it must be clear to us from the outset that the plant-covering of our earth is passing through the opposite process from that which takes its course within the organism of man. When we speak of a process of vitalisation along the path traversed by the foodstuffs in the organism — that is to say of a curve ascending, as it were, from the essentially inorganic to the state of vitalisation, from there to a condition which can be the bearer of feeling and finally to a condition which can be the bearer of the Ego-organisation — when we speak of the transformation of the foodstuff up to the point where it is received into the astral organism (the bearer of feeling), we are describing a process of increasing vitalisation of what is taken in through the food.
The reverse occurs in the plant. In all the peripheral organs of the plant, that is to say in the development of the plant from below upwards, in the production of the leaves and blossoms, we have, fundamentally speaking, a process of devitalisation. The vitality per se is preserved for the seed only. If we are speaking of the actual plant itself — for the seed in the ovary really represents the next plant that will come into being, that which is stored up for the future plant — if, as I say, we are speaking of the plant, it is not a process of vitalisation that is taking place from below upwards. The vitality is drawn from what is stored up by the earth out of the warmth and sunlight of the previous summer. The strongest life-force inheres in the root-nature, and there is a gradual process of devitalisation from below upwards.
In flower-petals which contain strong ethereal oils, we have an expression of the most powerful devitalising process of all. Such a process is, for instance, often connected with the actual production of sulphur. The sulphur is then contained, as substance, in the ethereal oil of the petals — or is at any rate closely akin to it and is responsible for the process whereby the plant is led over into the realm of the most delicate inorganic substance — which is still, however, on the borderline of the organic. It is essential to realise what it is that we are bringing into the human organism when we introduce plant-substances. The plant is engaged in the opposite process from that which occurs in the organism of man.
If we start from this and turn to consider illness and disease, we shall say to ourselves: Plant-substance — it is the same with other substances in outer Nature, and to a much higher degree with animal-substance — plant-substance is really opposed to that which unfolds in the human organism as a tendency to generate this or that process. So that when, without any kind of preconception, we study the process of nourishment in man, we must admit that all foodstuff introduced into the organism is something which this organism has utterly to transform. Fundamentally speaking, all nourishment is the beginning of a certain poisoning. Actual poisoning is only a radical metamorphosis of what arises in a mild form when any foodstuff is brought into touch, let us say, with the ptyalin. The further course of the digestive process, namely what is brought about by the activity of the kidneys which I described to you, is always a process of eliminating the poisoning. So that we pass through the rhythm of a mild poisoning and its elimination simply when we eat and digest our daily food. This represents the most delicate metamorphosis of the process which arises in greater intensity when a remedy is introduced into the organism. That is why in the nature of things it is nonsense to be fanatical about medicine that is ‘free from poison.’ It is nonsense because the only point at issue is this: In what way are we intensifying what already happens in ordinary digestion by introducing something into the organism that will give rise to a process more foreign to this organism than ordinary digestion?
A very profound understanding of the human organism is necessary before we can estimate the value for it of an external remedy. Let us begin with something that is always present as a remedial agent in the human organism — the iron in the blood. The iron in the blood unceasingly plays the role of a remedial agent, protecting man from his innate tendency to disease. I will describe it to you, to begin with, in a primitive way. You know that if the brain, with its weight of some 1,500 grammes, were to rest upon its base, the cerebral blood-vessels there would obviously be crushed. The brain does not rest upon its base but swims in the cerebral fluid, and in accordance with the principle of buoyancy, loses as much of its weight as the weight of the volume of fluid displaced. Thus the brain presses on its base with a weight of only about 20 grammes, instead of 1,500 grammes. This is a fact of fundamental importance because it shows us that the force of gravity is not the determining factor in that which underlies the functions of the brain, in Ego-activity, for instance. This Ego-activity and also, to a great extent, conceptual activity — in so far as it is not volitional but purely conceptual, ideative activity — is not dependent on the gravity of the substance in question but on the force of buoyancy. (I am speaking here entirely of the physical correlate, namely, the brain activity.) It is dependent on the force which strives to alienate the substance from the earth. In our Ego and our thoughts we do not live in the element of weight, but in the force of buoyancy.
The same thing holds good for much else in the human organism — above all, the iron-bearing corpuscles swimming in the blood. Each of these corpuscles loses as much of its weight as the weight of the volume of fluid displaced. And now, if our soul-being lives in the force of buoyancy, just think what this possession of iron-bearing blood corpuscles must mean for the whole life of feeling and perception, indeed for the whole life of the organism. In other words: If in a given case there is irregularity in what is going on in the blood simply as a result of the buoyancy of the iron-bearing corpuscles, we know that iron in some form or other must be introduced, but in such a way, of course, that the iron will unfold a right action in the blood, and not elsewhere.
In terms of Spiritual Science, this means that the relation of the etheric to the astral organism of man is bound up with the iron-content of the blood. And if we understand how the activities of heart and lungs lead over into the realm of life all that is taken up by the organism, and how the kidneys in turn lead this over into the astral organism, we shall not be far from the realisation that balance must reign here. If there is no balance, if either the etheric or the astral activity becomes too intense, the whole organism is bound to fall into disorder. The possibility, however, of promoting the corresponding balance, of enabling the organism to lead the necessary amount of foodstuff into the domain of the kidney activities, is provided by regulating the iron-content in the blood. And by imbuing the actual dynamic element in the blood either with weight or with the force of buoyancy — according to how we regulate the iron-content — we are thereby regulating the whole circulation of blood, which in turn reacts upon the kidney activities. In adding to or decreasing the iron-content we have brought about a fundamental regularisation of the blood circulation: that is, of the interplay between the etheric and astral parts of man.
And now let us take a concrete case. Suppose we have flatulence as a primary symptom. I am choosing a crude example for the sake of clarity. What does flatulence indicate to one who has insight into the human organism? It indicates the presence of aeriform organisations in which the astral organism is working with excessive strength and which are being dispersed too slowly. They are formations which have been brought about by the astral organism — which works, of course, in the gaseous being of man — and they conglomerate instead of forming and dissolving in the regular way. That is what is happening when flatulence is present. Now because the astral activity is excessively strong it influences the whole activity of the senses, especially the activity of the head. The astral activity congests and does not properly distribute itself in the organism; hence it does not work as it should into the metabolic processes, but turns back to the system of nerves and senses with which it is more closely related. And so we shall very soon find that something is amiss with the system of nerves and senses, too — or at all events we may assume that here is a complex of symptoms where the nerves and senses are not working in the right way. And now I must add something in connection with the irregular working of the nerves and senses.
Physiology really talks nonsense about the nerves and senses. Forgive me for saying this — I am expressing myself radically only in order that we may understand each other. You must take such statements with the familiar ‘grain of salt,’ for if I compromise too much in what I say we shall not find it so easy to understand these things.
Supersensible observation of the human organism reveals that any given function which can be demonstrated in the sense of objective empiricism, is, from the higher point of view, the material reflection of something spiritual. The whole human organism is the material reflection of Spirit. But the interaction between the Spirit and soul and the physical-organic nature of man is by no means so simple in the case of the system of nerves and senses as is generally imagined.
Take the physical organisation of man. It is not true — as many people would like to assume — that with the exception of the nervous system and the senses, the physical organisation constitutes one whole, and that the nervous system is inserted into this structure in order independently to serve the life of soul. That is putting it rather radically, of course, but if we come down to the practical considerations underlying the physiological theory, something of the sort comes to light. That is why it is almost impossible to-day to form any rational opinion of functional diseases, nerve-troubles and the like, as they are often called. There is nothing in the human organism that does not belong to the whole organism; that does not interact with other organs. It is not a question of the rest of the organism being left to its own devices and an independent nervous system being inserted, heaven knows by what divine power, in order that the organism may become soul! Look for evidence of this and you will not need to look far. The nervous system is primarily that from which the formative, rounding-off forces of the organism go out. The form of the nose, the form of the whole organism is shaped, fundamentally, by the influences proceeding from the nervous system. The kidney system radiates out the forces of matter, and the nervous system is there to give the organism its forms, both inwardly and outwardly. To begin with, the nervous system has nothing to do with the life of soul; it is the moulder, the form-giver of the human organism, inwardly and outwardly. In short, the nervous system is the sculptor.
In the early stages of individual development, a certain portion of nerve-activity which the organism does not use for formative functions separates off, as it were, and to this the being of soul adapts itself more and more. That, however, is secondary; we must observe this separation of a part of the nerve-process in very early childhood, and the adaptation of the soul-life to these formative principles, if we are to get down to the empirical facts. There is no question of the nervous system being laid into the human organism as the result of some kind of divine ordinance to form the basis for the life of volition, feeling and thought. The life of nerves and senses comes into being with a sort of hypertrophy, part of which is preserved, and to this the activity of the soul then adapts itself. The primary function of the system of nerves and senses is formative, form-giving. The forms of all the organs are sculptured by the system of nerves and senses.
If you want to verify this, begin by taking the senses that have their seat in the skin, are spread out over the whole skin — the senses of warmth and of touch — and try to envisage how the whole form of the human organism is plastically moulded by these senses, whereas the forms of the special organs are built up by other senses. Sight itself is due to the fact that something remains over from the formative force proceeding originally from the visual tract for the building of the cerebral organs, and then all the psychical elements developed in the faculty of sight adapt themselves to this “something” that has been left over.
We shall never have real insight into the being of man if we do not realise that as metabolism goes on unceasingly within us, day by day, year by year, our organs must first be provided for by all that radiates out from the kidneys, and then rounded off. The substance that is radiated out by the kidneys must continually be rounded off, worked upon plastically. Throughout the whole span of man's life this is done by the nerve-organs which extend from the senses towards the inner parts of the human organism. Higher sense-activity, image-building mental activity and the like, are simply the result of an adaptation of the being of soul to this particular tract of organs.
Now, if flatulence in the complex of symptoms confirms the fact that the astral organisation is working too strongly, this shows that the excessive astral activity is tending in the direction of the formative forces of the senses. In the upward direction and towards the periphery there is not only a congestion of astral activity, but these gas-bubbles, which are really striving to become organs, are rounded off still more completely. In other words, as the result of excessive activity on the part of the kidneys, a continual attempt is being made in the upper man to hold back the Ego-organisation above and not to allow what passes into the organism through the blood to return in the proper way. Hence, associated with the complex of symptoms of which I am now speaking, we shall often find cramp-like conditions, even fits, which are due to the fact that the astral forces are not passing rightly into the rest of the organism. If they are congested above, they do not pass into the other parts of the organism. In these other parts of the organism we notice cramp-like phenomena which are always due to the fact that the astral forces are being held back. In such cases the astral nature is being checked, and by studying a complex of symptoms of this kind in the light of the super-sensible, we can eventually relate the outer facts to their inner causes.
Think of it: the astral is held back above, and as a result the metabolism is drawn upwards; the astral body is not making proper provision for the kidneys, and even less for the stomach; the stomach which is receiving too little from the astral organism begins to fend for itself. Outwardly, there will be colic and cramp-like conditions of the stomach. Again, spasmodic conditions may arise in the sexual organs because they are not properly permeated by the astral organisation, or there may be stoppages of the periods, due to the fact that the Ego-organisation is held back above.
Now let us ask ourselves: How can we influence irregularities of this kind? The best thing, to begin with, is to realise that the magical names given to illnesses merely serve the purpose of conventional understanding; the essential point is to observe what really groups itself together and interweaves among the several symptoms. But we must be able to judge of the nature of these symptoms. Suppose we are considering the function attaching to a flower containing sulphur. If a flower contains a certain amount of sulphur, this means that an active process is on its way to an inorganic state which is still akin to the organic. If we introduce a remedy prepared from such a flower, or even the sulphur produced by the flower, into the human organism, the processes in the digestive tract will be roused to greater activity. The stomach, and subsequently the intestinal activity, will be stimulated by a decoction of flower-petals containing sulphur, because, as I have already said, a process of devitalisation which must be reversed is taking place in the plant. And again, indirectly, the irregularity which has appeared in the action of the kidneys is stimulated to a strong reaction, and we have, to begin with, the possibility of counteracting the congestion above by means of a strong counter-pressure from below. (The forces working here are for the most part only fleeting in their effect, but if we give temporary help to the organism it will usually begin to help itself.) The astral organisation will, as it were, again be drawn into the digestive tract, and the result will be a cessation of the attacks of colic and gastric convulsions. Such a remedy by itself, of course, will suffice only in the rarest cases. It will probably be adequate when the gastric trouble is slight. The organism must never be over-stimulated; whenever it is possible to use a weaker remedy we should avoid a stronger one.
Suppose we have before us a complex of symptoms such as I have just described. The disturbance being very severe, we will assume that demands are being made on the overactive astral body by an excessive activity on the part of the kidneys. The astral body works with undue strength into the sense-organisation, which is thereby weakened and undermined. As sense-organisation it is not really undermined, but the astral organism is working in it so strongly that the formative forces of the nerves and senses are, as it were, smothered by the activities of the astral organism. Neither the sense-organs nor the system of nerves and senses as a whole are in themselves less active, but they do not work in their own characteristic way. They take on, as it were, the organisation of the astral and become as active as the astral organism itself. This means that they are not rightly performing their form-giving functions. We must apply something whereby this astral activity is lifted out of the system of nerves and senses: namely, a remedy that works upon the system of nerves and senses which stands in closest connection with the outer world and which, as organisation, is nearest of all to the inorganic state.
The physiology of the senses is fortunate because in the sense-organs there are so many inorganic, so many purely physical and chemical elements. Think how much in the eye lies in the domain of pure optics. A great deal in the eye can be beautifully depicted if one treats it merely as a kind of photographic apparatus. In saying this I want only to indicate that we are co-ordinated with the outer world precisely through the sense-organs, and that the senses are channels through which the outer world flows into us by way of the inorganic.
Now when it is a question of giving support to this particular activity of the nerves and senses, we can do it very well by introducing silicic acid into the organism, for silicic acid has an affinity with these inorganic activities at the periphery. We drive the astral organisation out, as it were, by means of the forces inherent in everything that underlies the formation of silicic acid, for this inclines so very strongly, even in outer appearance, towards the inorganic state. When silicic acid is present in any flower you will invariably find that the flower is brittle or prickly, pressing on to the inorganic state. Thus we can relieve the sense-organs by administering silicic acid, and also by supplying the organism with more sugar than it has in the ordinary way. Sugar, too, is a substance that is so worked upon in the human organism that it finally comes very near to the inorganic. Thus everything we introduce by way of sugar relieves the sense-organs. If conditions allow, this process can also be strengthened by the administration of alkaline salts, which are well calculated to relieve the nervous system of astral activity. These are matters which should be verified by a series of empirical investigations.
Spiritual Science thus enables us to arrive at guiding principles. With the faculty developed by intuitive knowledge we can perceive, for instance, the after-effects of sugar, particularly in those parts of man's nervous system which run from the central nervous system to the senses; the after-effects of silicic acid tend towards the peripheral activities unfolding in the senses. These things can all be verified and proved. And so, when a severe complex of symptoms such as I have described, is present, we shall find the following of benefit: remedies composed simply of alkaline salts, which do much to relieve the nerve-activity of the astral nature; of sugar (not of course administered in the ordinary amount but in an unusual one); and of silicic acid.
The best remedial effects of these substances will be obtained simply by the administration of a proper preparation of the roots of chamomile. It may surprise you that I speak of a root, but the points of view intersect and we must realise that when the symptoms are severe, sulphur and blossom-products are not efficacious. What we do need is a substance that is contained still in a highly vitalised state in the plant, so that the long process it has to undergo will make the reaction vigorous enough. If we introduce a suitable dosage of these substances, as they are found in the root of the chamomile, into the digestive tract, the reaction in this case will not be strong enough to allow the vitalisation to take place at the point of transition from the intestines to the blood; what is contained particularly in the sugar and silicic acid, but also in the alkaline salts, will simply be forced through in an untransformed state. This gives the kidneys a chance to absorb it into their radiations, and the substances so absorbed are then impelled by the action of the kidneys towards the sphere of activity of the nerves and senses, which are thereby relieved of the astral functions.
If we really have insight into these matters, if we realise that this mode of therapeutic procedure leads to the best results, much can be learnt. Moreover, we can very easily be led to other things. We can see how what is absorbed is transformed in the human organisation: thereupon the activity of the kidneys sets to work, receiving what is supplied to it along the channels of the blood and radiating it out; the plastic activity then reacts in its turn. Then we begin to perceive that this plastic activity in its pure form is restored by the administration of silicic acid, sugar and alkaline salts. To super-sensible vision, silicic acid, alkaline salts and sugar, in the right proportions, form a kind of human phantom; something like a phantom is there before us if we think of these substances in regard to their form-building forces. They are pre-eminently sculptors; they bear the plastic principle within them — as is evident even in their outer formation.
The strong action of silicic acid is due, in the first place, to the fact that when the substance appears in the inorganic realm, it has the tendency to form itself into elongated crystals. The results obtainable with silicic acid could not be reached with substances which have the tendency to develop into rounder, less elongated crystals. With such substances it might conceivably be possible to cure a hedgehog but not a human being, whose very principle of growth shows tendencies to elongation.
Those who have no feeling for this artistry in Nature — an artistry with which the organism is moulded chiefly by the activity of nerves and senses-cannot discover in any rational sense the relations between substances in the outer world and what is taking place in the human organism. Yet there is indeed a rational therapy — a therapy which is able to perceive processes which run their course in the outer world, are broken down, as it were, in the human organism, and can then be radiated out by the kidneys and taken hold of, finally, by the plastic activity of the organisation of nerves and senses.
Let us take another example. Suppose that the radiating action of the kidneys, instead of being too strong, is too weak — that is to say, too little of the foodstuff is being drawn up into the astral organisation.
All that I described in the previous complex of symptoms is due to excessive working of the astral organism. The astral organism is active particularly in the upper man and holds itself aloof from the activities of digestion, heart and lungs; and as an accompanying phenomenon we shall find the formation of phlegm and the like, which is quite easy to understand. Thus in the previous case we have to do with an excessive astral activity.
Now suppose that the astral activity is too feeble. The radiating activity of the kidneys is unduly weak, so that the astral organism is not in a position to supply to the formative, plastic forces what it ought to give them when it enters their domain. The formative force cannot then work itself into the astral organism because the latter does not reach sufficiently to the periphery. The result is that no active contact is established between the formative force and the force proceeding from the circulation of the food-substances and their distribution. The substance is distributed without being taken in hand by the formative force. Insufficient plastic force is unfolded and the substance is abandoned to its own life; the activity of the astral body is too fleeting and does not work properly in the transformation of the substances.
Such a state of affairs may certainly be regarded as a complex of symptoms. How it will express itself? Above all, that which is coursing in the blood-vessels will not be taken up in the proper way by the feeble action of the kidneys; that is, by the astral organisation which is working with insufficient power. It collapses, as it were, resulting in hæmorrhoids or excessive menstruation. The contact fails and the metabolism lapses back into itself. In this condition of the organism it is specially easy for a state of ‘fever of occult origin’ — as it is called — to arise, or a condition of intermittent fever.
And now the question is: How can we attack this complex of symptoms? The activity of the astral organism is too feeble. We must stimulate the action of the kidneys in order that sufficient material may be sent up into the astral organism. The best thing to do here is to restore the balance between the etheric and astral organisms. Then, simply on account of what passes from the digestive tract into the system of lungs and heart, we get the proper transition to the activity of the kidneys. We obtain a kind of balance, and in many cases we can control it precisely by regulating the iron-content in the organism which governs the circulation. This will now stimulate a strong, inner activity of the kidneys which will be demonstrated outwardly in a change in the excretions of urea through the kidneys, as well as through the perspiration. This will be quite evident. But of course in very many cases we must realise that this balance is always very delicately poised, and that only in the crudest cases will the remedial agent in question here, which man already bears within him, be of assistance.
Whereas in the digestive tract substances containing sulphur in some form are the most effective, and in the system of nerves and senses (the formative principle) substances such as silicic acid and alkaline salts, pure metals are the substances which regulate the balance between the forces of gravity and buoyancy. We need only try out how they must be applied in order to restore the disturbed balance in the most varied ways. We start from iron. According to the complex of symptoms, the most suitable metal may be gold, or perhaps copper. If the form of disease makes us sure of our ground, highly important results will be obtained from the pure metals. If the interplay between the functions of form-building and the breaking-down of form is such that there is too little form-building and this state of affairs becomes organic — if, therefore, the primary cause of the trouble is that the relation between the system of heart and lungs and the kidney system is upset — we shall achieve the best results with iron.
But if, as the result of lengthy disturbances in the processes, the organs themselves are impaired, and have already suffered from a lack of plastic activity because the plastic forces have not been able to reach them, we may have to apply quicksilver. Because quicksilver already has the forces of form, the durable metallic drop-form within itself, it has a definite effect upon the lower organs of man. In the same way we can discover definite connections between metals and the organs of the head that have been attacked and injured, for instance when the nervous system itself is involved. But here it will be a good thing not to confine ourselves to setting up a stable balance as against the vacillating balance. This is extraordinarily difficult. This balance is just like a very sensitive pair of scales. We try in every possible way to make the scales balance and it is almost impossible. We shall get at it more easily, however, if we do not merely concern ourselves with the balancing, but with the pans themselves. We can give support, for instance, to the working of the iron by introducing sulphur into the digestive tract, and providing a counter-action in the nerves and senses system by means of alkaline salts. Then in the middle, rhythmic system of man we shall have iron at work; potassium, calcium or alkaline salts in the nerves and senses, and sulphur in the rhythm of digestion. That is the better way to set about restoring the balance.
Now the remarkable thing is that we find the very opposite state of affairs in the leaves of certain plants. If, for instance, we prepare the leaf of urtica dioica, the ordinary stinging-nettle, in the right way, we have a remedy composed of sulphur, iron and certain salts. But we must really know how to relate the devitalising force that is present in the plant to the vitalising force that is present in the human organism. In the root of urtica dioica it is indeed true that the whole sulphur-process is tending gradually to the inorganic state. The human organism takes the opposite course, and so transforms the sulphur by way of the albumen that it gradually brings the digestion into order. The iron in urtica dioica works from the leaves in such a way that in the very seed, and thereby once more in next year's leaves, this plant thrusts apart the very thing that brings together the rhythmic process in the human organism. In fact, the stinging power of the nettle leaves is this destructive process that must be overcome if the rhythmic process in the human organism is to be regulated. Again, the alkaline salt content of the plant is least of all transformed into inorganic matter. Therefore it has the longest way to go. It goes right up to the nerves and senses organisation; goes up quite easily because, in any case, with the complex of symptoms we are now considering, the activity of the kidneys is asleep and suppressed. In the human organism we have actually the opposite of what is expressing itself outwardly in the formation of the plants. But there is no need to confine ourselves merely to plant-remedies; synthetic remedies may also be prepared and cures effected by combining the substances I have mentioned in a suitable dosage.
These are matters which will gradually transform therapy into a rational science, but a science that is really an art, for it can no more exclusively be science than a man who is not an artist can be a sculptor. He may have a splendid knowledge of how to guide his chisel and how to mould the clay, but there must always be an element leading over into the realm of art. Without this, true therapy is impossible. We must really get the right touch — in a spiritual sense, of course — for determining the dosage. This will not suit all those who would like to turn medicine into a pure science, but it is true, nevertheless.
And now let me indicate, merely by way of example, another state of affairs that may arise. There may be a disturbance of the interaction between what the organism produces by way of inorganic material, as a preliminary to leading it over into the realm of organic life, and the subsequent intervention of the etheric body and the action of heart and lungs. A disturbance may arise here. The greater the age of a man, the more apparent is the disturbance. The digestive tract and the vascular system are not working properly together. When this sets in, we must remember that the consequence will be an accumulation of the products of metabolism. If the substances are not being properly distributed in the organism, the natural result is an accumulation of the products of metabolism. And here we come to the whole domain of diseases of metabolism, from the very mild to the most severe forms. We must realise that in such cases something is amiss with the activity of the kidneys, too, for the reason that because of the antecedent congestion the kidneys are receiving nothing which they can radiate out.
This gives rise to highly complicated forms of disease. On the one hand the action of the digestion and the kidneys provides nothing by way of material upon which the plastic, form-giving activity can work, and on the other, as the result of a stultification of this plastic activity, we have a disturbance of the organic balance from the other side. The plastic force, too, gradually ceases to function. The products of metabolism spread themselves out in the organism but fail, little by little, to be received into the field of the plastic activities and used as modeling material. And then there arise certain metabolic diseases which are so highly resistant to treatment. The proper course is to stimulate in the digestive tract, and then also in the domain of heart and lungs, all that is akin to elements that are on their way to the inorganic state — akin, that is, to the sulphuric or phosphoric elements connected, in the blossoms of plants, with the ethereal oils. We attempt to stimulate this in the digestive system and in the system of heart and lungs; also we stimulate the activity of the kidneys and thereby help the plastic forces. In this type of disease it is of great importance to bring influence to bear on the digestive apparatus.
Now the activity of the kidneys and the excretion of sweat are in a certain sense polar opposites; in other words they are intimately related to one another. And if, as a consequence of what I have described, the kidneys are not acting properly, we shall always find that there is less perspiration. Great attention should be paid to this, for whenever there is a decrease in the perspiration, we may be sure that something is amiss with the action of the kidneys. What is happening, as a rule, when the perspiration decreases, is that the kidneys are like a machine which has nothing to work upon but continues to act, while the products of digestion are already congested and are spreading unduly over the organism. If by the outer or inner application of sulphur treatments (for we can work just as well from the skin as from the kidneys themselves) we succeed in stimulating the digestive tract to such an extent that it, in turn, stimulates the activity of heart and lungs so that material is again supplied to the kidneys, instead of lying fallow before it reaches them, we may also succeed in getting the better of these diseases of metabolism.
But in all these matters we must be quite clear that the human organism is something that does not want to be absolutely cured, but only stimulated to unfold the healing process. This is a fact of supreme importance. In the state of illness, the human organism wants to be stimulated to unfold the healing process. If the healing is to be permanent we must actually limit ourselves to giving a mere stimulus. For a cure which apparently happens at once leads much more readily to relapses than a cure which merely stimulates the healing process. The organism has first to accustom itself to the course of the healing process, and is then able to continue it by virtue of its own activity. In this way the organism binds itself much more intimately to the healing process, until such time as the reaction again sets in. If for a certain length of time the organism can be made to adjust itself to the healing process, that is the best possible cure, for then the organism actually absorbs what has been transmitted to it.
I have been able only to give you certain hints as to method, but you will realise that in what I call a spiritual-scientific enlightenment of physiology, pathology and therapy, it is a question of understanding that man is not an isolated being but that he belongs to the whole Cosmos, further, that in connection with any process taking place in the human being in an ascending curve, let us say, we must seek outside man, in Nature, for the descending curve. In this way we shall be able to modify curves that are ascending too abruptly. Medicine indeed demands in a certain respect a knowledge of the whole world. I have given only a tiny fragment, but it indicates that there must be an entirely different understanding of the nature of urtica dioica, colchicum autumnale, or indeed of any other plant. The plants themselves must tell us whither their descending tendency is leading.
Take the case of colchicum autumnale, the autumn crocus. First you must perceive when you approach this plant that the time of the year in which it appears is not without significance for its whole structure, for this brings about a certain relation to the devitalising process. That the devitalisation is very slight in colchicum autumnale, you can see from the very colour of its petals and the time of its flowering. If you then experiment with colchicum autumnale, you will find that the human organism must exert itself up to a very high level to bring about the opposite vitalisation, that is to say — if I may express it crudely — to get the plant dead and then alive again. Indeed, this whole process plays right up into the thyroid gland. And now you have the basis for a series of investigations with colchicum autumnale as a remedy for enlargements of the thyroid gland.
Let me assure you once again that there is no question of a profitless, amateurish abuse of modern scientific methods, but rather of giving guiding lines which will actually lead to more tangible results than mere experimentation. I do not by any means say that this cannot also be fruitful. It does indeed lead to certain goals, but a great deal passes us completely by, especially many things we can learn by observing Nature. Although it is not difficult to produce a synthetic preparation composed of iron, sulphur and alkali, it is a good thing to know how all these substances are brought together by Nature herself in a particular plant. Even in the production of synthetic remedies we can learn very much by understanding what is going on in Nature outside.
It would be fascinating to enter into many things in detail, and I think that some of our doctors will have done so in other lectures. A great deal, too, can be found in our literature, and there are many subjects which I hope will soon be dealt with there. I am convinced that as soon as these matters are presented in a clear, concise form and people are not afraid to go straight ahead, they will take this point of view: “Yes, I must above all heal if I want to be a doctor, and so I will turn to what, in the first place, seems rather against the grain. If it really helps, I cannot do otherwise than try to profit by it.”
In this sense I think it would be a good thing if as soon as possible we could produce literature of a kind that would be a bridge between Spiritual Science and modern material science. It would encourage the opinion that these things help and so they cannot after all be such utter nonsense! I am quite sure that when our work is properly in train, the verdict will be that it does indeed help. — And here I will conclude. Try it all out and you will find that it will help. That too, will not be without significance, for many things that are used in orthodox medicine do not help. And between what does and does not help there must play all that we would like to introduce from the side of Spiritual Science.
Lawrence Bros, Ltd.
|GA 314. Fundamentals of Anthroposophic Medicine — Lecture IV|
|We begin with iron. According to the complex of symptoms, the most suitable metal may be gold, or perhaps copper. If we determine the form of the disease of the human organism, we will be able to achieve the most important results with the pure metals. If in the interplay between the functions of form-building and breaking down form there is too little form-building and this state of affairs becomes organic — if, therefore, the primary cause of the trouble is that the relation between the heart-lung system and the kidney system is upset — we will achieve the best results with iron.|
|GA 314. Fundamentals of Anthroposophic Medicine — Lecture IV|
In these lectures we are naturally able to present only a few indications as to a method of approach to therapeutic issues, as revealed by spiritual scientific study. The short time at our disposal makes it impossible to enter into details. My own opinion, however, is that at the beginning of the work that it is spiritual science's aim to carry through in the domain of medicine, the most important thing is to make our viewpoint quite clear. This viewpoint has been carefully applied in certain specific details in the preparation of our remedies. It may not be immediately evident how this more general viewpoint can be extended to specific cases, but in describing certain principles of method today I will do my best to suggest thoughts that may help in this direction also.
The human organism in its states of health and disease — or, to say it better for our purpose today, in its states of being healthy and becoming healthy — cannot really be understood unless the so-called normal functions are regarded as being, fundamentally, simply metamorphoses of the functions that must be called into action in order to combat pathological conditions. We must always take into account the fact that the processes within the human organism are different from those unfolding in the outer world. To begin with, we must remember that everything the human being takes into his digestive tract from outside in the plant world, for instance, must be worked through so that man can further enliven it. The process of vitalization, the enlivening, must be an activity of the human being himself; indeed the human organism could not exist without undertaking this enlivening.
We must be clear from the outset that the plant covering of our earth is passing through the opposite process from that which takes its course within the human being. When we speak of a process of vitalization along the path taken by human nourishment through the organism, we have to do with an ascending curve, a curve ascending from the essentially inorganic, as it were, to the state of vitalization — to the living state — and from there to a condition that can be the bearer of sensation and finally to a condition that can be the bearer of the ego organization. When we speak of working through our nourishment up to the point where it is received into the astral organism, to the point where it is received into that which bears the world of sensation, we are speaking about a process of increasing enlivening of what is taken in through nourishment.
The reverse occurs in the plant. In all the peripheral organs of the plant, that is to say in the development of the plant from below upward, in the production of the leaf and blossom processes, we have a process of devitalization, fundamentally speaking. The vitality is preserved for the seed alone. If we are speaking about the initial plant — for the seed in the ovary really represents the next plant that will come into being, that which is stored up for the future plant — if, as I say, we are speaking of the initial plant, vitalization does not take place from below upward. The vitality is sucked up from what is stored by the earth out of the forces of the sun's warmth and light from the previous year. We find the strongest life force in the root nature, and there is a gradual process of devitalization from below upward.
When we reach the flower petals of plants that contain strong ethereal oils in their blossoms, we have an expression of the most powerful devitalizing process of all. Such a process is often connected with an actual working through of sulfur, for instance. Sulfur is then contained, as substance, in the ethereal oil of the blossom, or it is at least near the ethereal oils of the blossom and is actually responsible for the process whereby the plant is led over into the realm of the most weightless inorganic substance — which is still, however, on the borderline of the organic, of the living. It is exceptionally important to realize what we are bringing into our organism when we introduce plant substances. The plant is engaged in the opposite process from that which occurs in the human organism.
If we proceed from this and turn to consider actual illness, we must say to ourselves that the plant element — and it is the same with other substances in the outer world, and to a much higher degree with the animal element — is really opposed to what unfolds in the human organism as a tendency to call forth this or that process. When we look into the process of nourishment in the human being without prejudice, therefore, we must admit that all food introduced into the human organism is something that this organism must utterly transform, reverse. Fundamentally speaking, therefore, all nourishment is the beginning of a kind of poisoning. We must be clear, then, that actual poisoning is only a radical metamorphosis of what arises in a mild form when any food is brought into contact, let us say, with the ptyalin. The further course of the digestion, particularly what is brought about by what I have described to you as the kidney activity, is always a process of eliminating the poisoning. Thus we pass through the rhythm of a mild poisoning and its elimination when we simply eat and digest our daily food. This represents the most mild metamorphosis of the process that arises in greater intensity when a remedy is introduced into the organism. That is why it is nonsense to be fanatical about medicine that is “free from poison.” It is nonsense, because the only point at issue is this: in what way are (we intensifying what already happens in ordinary digestion by introducing something to the human organism that is more foreign to this organism than what we ordinarily digest?
Real understanding of the human organism is necessary before we can estimate the value of an external remedy for this organism. Let us begin with something that is continually present within the human organism as a remedy — the iron in the blood. The iron in the blood continually plays the role of remedy, protecting us from our innate tendency to become ill. I will describe this to you, to begin with, in a primitive way. You know that if our brain were to rest upon its base with its weight of some 1,500 grams, the cerebral blood vessels there would obviously be crushed. The brain does not rest upon its base but floats in the cerebral fluid and, in accordance with the principle of buoyancy, loses as much of its weight as the weight of the volume of fluid displaced. Thus the brain presses on its base with a weight of only about 20 grams instead of 1,500 grams.
This is a fact of fundamental importance because it shows us that the force of gravity is not the determining factor in what underlies the functions of the brain, in ego activity, for instance. This ego activity and also, to a great extent, conceptual activity — in so far as it is not will activity but purely conceptual activity (I am referring now to the physical correlate of this, the brain activity) — is not dependent on the gravity of the substance in question but on the force of buoyancy. It relies on the force that wants to alienate substance from the earth. With our ego and with our thoughts, we are living not in gravity but in levity, in buoyancy. This comes to light in a powerful way when we study the matter.
The same thing that is true for the brain holds good for much else in the human organism — above all, for the iron bearing blood corpuscles floating in the blood. Each of these corpuscles loses as much of its weight as the weight of the volume of fluid displaced. Now, if we live with our soul-being in a force of buoyancy, just think what having more or less of these iron-bearing blood corpuscles must mean for the whole life of feeling, indeed for the whole life of the human organism. In other words, if in a given case there is an irregularity in what is going on in the blood simply as a result of the buoyancy of the iron-bearing corpuscles, we know that iron must be introduced in some way, but in such a way, of course, that makes it possible for the iron to unfold its proper activity in the blood and not elsewhere.
In terms of spiritual science, this means that the relationship of the etheric organism to the astral organism of the human being is bound up with the iron content of the blood. And if you understand how the heart-lung activity leads over into everything that is taken up in the human being in the vitalizing process, and how the kidney activity in turn leads what has been vitalized over into the astral organism, you will not be far from the insight that balance must prevail here. If balance does not prevail, if either the etheric or the astral activity becomes too intense, the whole organism is bound to fall into disorder. You can provide the means, however, of calling forth the appropriate balance, of enabling the organism to lead the necessary amount of food into the domain of the kidney activity, by regulating the iron content in the blood. And by imbuing the actual dynamic element in the blood either with weight or with buoyancy — according to how you regulate the iron content — you regulate the general circulation of blood, which in turn reacts upon the kidney activity. In adding to or decreasing the iron content you bring about an essential regularization of the blood circulation, that is, of the relation between the etheric and astral organisms of the human being.
Now let us take a concrete case. Suppose we have flatulence as a primary symptom. I am choosing a crude example for the sake of clarity. What does flatulence indicate to one who has insight into the human organism? It indicates the presence of aeriform organizations in which the astral organism is working too strongly and that are not being dissolved quickly enough. They are effects of the astral organism — which works, of course, in the gaseous being of man — and they conglomerate instead of forming and dissolving in the regular way. Thus we have a predominance of the astral organization's activity, which expresses itself physically in the airy aspect of the human being. This is what is happening when flatulence is present. Because the astral activity is too strong, it influences the whole activity of the senses, especially the activity of the head. The astral activity becomes congested and does not distribute itself properly in the organism; hence it does not work into the metabolism as it should but recoils on the nerve-sense system with which it is more closely related. We soon find something amiss with the nerve-sense system too — or at least we may assume that we have a complex of symptoms in which the nerve-sense system is not working properly.
Now I must say something in connection with the irregular activity of the nerve-sense system. Physiology really speaks nonsense about this nerve-sense system. Forgive me for saying this — I am expressing myself radically simply so that we may understand each other better. You must naturally take such statements with the familiar grain of salt, but if I compromise too much in what I say we will not find it as easy to understand these things. Supersensible observation of the human organism reveals that any given function that can be demonstrated by sense-oriented empiricism is, from the higher point of view, the sense-perceptible reflection of something spiritual. The whole human organism is the sense-perceptible reflection of something spiritual. But the interaction between the soul-spiritual realm and the physical-organic in the human organism is by no means as simple in the case of the nerve-sense system as is generally imagined.
If you look only at the physical organization of the human being, it is not true — as many people would like to assume — that with the exception of the nervous system and the senses the physical organization constitutes one whole, and that the nervous system is inserted into this structure in order to serve the life of soul separately. It is not usually described quite so radically, of course, but if we come down to the practical considerations underlying the physiological theory, something of this sort comes to light. This is why it is almost impossible today to form any rational opinion of what are often called functional diseases, nervous disorders and so on. There is nothing in the human organism that does not belong to the entire organism and that does not interact with other organs. The rest of the organism is not simply left to its own devices while a separate nervous system is inserted, heaven knows by what divine power, in order that the organism can bear a soul.
If you look for evidence of what I am maintaining here you will find it in a twinkling! The nervous system is primarily that from which the formative, rounding-off forces of the organism proceed. The form of your nose, the form of your whole organism is shaped, fundamentally, from the nervous system. The kidney system rays out the forces of matter in a radial direction, and the nervous system is there to give the organism its forms, both inwardly and outwardly. To begin with, the nervous system has nothing to do with the life of soul; it is the shaper, the form-giver of the human organism, inwardly and outwardly. It is the sculptor.
In the early stages of individual human development, a certain portion of nerve activity that the organism does not use for formative functions separates off, as it were, and the soul element increasingly adapts itself to this position. This is secondary, however. If we notice this separation of a part of the nerve process in very early childhood, and the adaptation of the soul life to these formative principles, then we really get down to the empirical facts. There is no question of the nervous system being incorporated into the human organism as the result of some kind of divine ordinance in order to form the basis for the life of will, feeling, and thought. The nerve-sense life is born through a sort of hypertrophy, part of which is preserved; to this preserved part the activity of the soul then adapts itself, while the primary function of the nerve-sense system is formative. All the organs are shaped from the nerve-sense system.
If you want to verify this empirically, begin by taking the senses located in the skin, spread out over the entire skin — the senses of warmth and of touch — and try to see how the whole form of the human organism is sculpturally formed by these senses, whereas the forms of the special organs are shaped by other senses. That we are capable of seeing is due to the fact that something remains over from the formative force proceeding originally from the visual tract for building the cerebral organs, and then the soul elements we develop in the faculty of sight adapt themselves to this “something” that has been left over.
We shall never have real insight into the human being if we do not realize that as metabolism is going on within us continually, day by day, year by year, our organs must first be provided for by what rays out from the kidneys in a radial direction and is then sculpturally rounded off. The substance that is radiated out by the kidneys must be continually rounded off sculpturally. Throughout the whole span of man's life this is done by the nerve organs that extend from the senses toward the inner parts of the human organism. Higher sense activity, image-forming activity and the like, are simply the result of an adaptation of the soul element to this particular tract of organs.
This should convince us that if the astral organization is working too strongly in the complex of symptoms of flatulence, the excessive astral activity is tending in the direction of the formative forces of the senses. Thus there is a congestion of astral activity in the upward direction and toward the periphery of the human organism; not only do we find congestion, but there are actually gas bubbles that are rounded off still more completely, which are really striving to become organs. In other words as the result of excessive kidney activity, a continual attempt is being made in the upper human being to hold back the ego organization above and to prevent what passes into the organism through the blood from returning in the proper way. Associated with this complex of symptoms, then, we often find cramps that are due to the fact that the astral forces are not passing in the right way into the rest of the organism. If they are congested above, they do not pass into the rest of the organism. In the rest of the organism, then, we notice cramp-like phenomena that are always due to the fact that the astral forces are being held back. By studying inwardly a complex of symptoms of this kind, looking at it with the help of the super-sensible, we can eventually relate what we behold outwardly to what can be beheld inwardly.
Think of it: the astral is held back above, and as a result the entire metabolism is drawn upward; the astral body is not making proper provision for the kidney organs and even less for the stomach; the stomach, which is receiving too little from the astral organization, begins to fend for itself. What you see outwardly is colic and cramp-like conditions of the stomach; cramps may also arise in the sexual organs because they are not properly permeated by the astral organization, or there may be stoppages of the menstrual periods, due to the fact that the ego activity is held back above.
Now let us ask ourselves: how can we influence irregularities of this kind? If you want to be clear about this it is best to realize that the magical names given to illnesses merely serve the purpose of conventional understanding. What is really essential is to see what groups itself together and interweaves the individual symptoms. But we must be able to appraise the importance of these symptoms.
Suppose we are considering the function associated with a flower containing sulfur. If a flower contains a certain amount of sulfur, this means that a process is strongly on its way to the inorganic, a process that is still akin to the organic. If we introduce into the human organism a remedy prepared from such a flower, or even from the sulfur itself, the processes in the digestive tract will be stimulated to greater activity. The stomach and especially the intestinal activity will be stimulated by a decoction of flower petals containing sulfur, because, as I have already said, a process of devitalization that must be reversed is taking place in the plant. The irregularity that has appeared in relation to the kidney activity is indirectly stimulated to a strong reaction, and we have, to begin with, the possibility of counteracting the congestion above by means of a strong counterpressure from below. (The forces working here are for the most part only fleeting in their effect, but if we give temporary help to the organism, in most cases it will begin to help itself.) The astral organization will again be drawn into the digestive tract, as it were, and the result will be a cessation of the attacks of colic and stomach cramps. Of course such a remedy by itself will suffice in only a few cases. It will probably be adequate when the stomach cramps are slight. We must never over-stimulate the organism; whenever it is possible to use a weaker remedy we should avoid a stronger one.
Suppose we encounter a complex of symptoms like the one I have just described. The disturbance being very severe, we will assume that demands are being made on the over-active astral body by an excessive kidney activity. The astral body works with undue strength into the sense organization, which is thereby weakened and undermined in a certain way. It is not really undermined as a sense organization, but the astral organism is working in it so strongly that the formative forces of the nerve-sense organization are drowned, as it were, by the mere activity of the astral organism. The sense organs or the nerve-sense organization in general is not less active, but it does not work in its own characteristic way as nerve-sense organization. It takes on the organization of the astral organism, as it were, and is active in the way that the astral organism is active. This means that it is not performing its form-giving functions properly. We must use a remedy here through which the astral activity is lifted out of the nerve-sense organization. We can only do this if we use a remedy that stands in closest connection with the outer world and that works upon the nerve-sense organization which, as organization within the human being, is nearest of all to the inorganic.
The physiology of the senses is fortunate because in the sense organs there are so many inorganic, which is to say so many purely physical or at most chemical, elements to be explained. Think how much in the eye lies in the domain of pure optics. A great deal in the eye can be depicted beautifully if it is treated merely as a kind of photographic apparatus. In saying this I only wish to indicate that we are coordinated with the outer world precisely through the sense organs, and that in our senses we have channels through which the outer world flows into us by way of the inorganic.
Now when we need to give support to this specific nerve-sense activity, we can do so very well by introducing silicic acid into the human organism, for silicic acid has an affinity for this inorganic aspect at the periphery. We drive the astral organization out, as it were, by means of everything that underlies the silicea, which inclines very strongly, even outwardly, toward the inorganic. When you find silicic acid in a flower, you invariably discover that the flower is thorny, bordering on the inorganic. Thus we can relieve the sense organs by administering this silicic element on the one hand, and on the other hand by supplying the organism with more sugar than it ordinarily has. Sugar, too, is a substance that is worked through in the human organism in such a way that it finally closely approximates the inorganic. Thus everything we introduce by way of sugar relieves the sense organs. If you are able to, you may also strengthen this process by the administration of alkaline salts, which are particularly able to relieve the nervous system of astral activity. These things must be verified by a series of empirical investigations.
Spiritual science thus enables us to arrive at guiding principles. In the activity developed by intuitive knowing, for example, we can see the aftereffects of sugar, particularly in those parts of the human nervous system that run from the central nervous system to the senses; the aftereffects of silicic acid tend toward the peripheral activities unfolding in the senses. These things can all be verified and proven. When a severe complex of symptoms such as I have described is present, it will therefore prove beneficial to administer remedies composed simply of alkaline salts, which work very strongly to relieve the nerve activity of the astral nature, of sugar (not, of course, administered in the ordinary amount but in an unusual one), and, as I have suggested, of silicic acid.
The best remedial effects of these substances will be obtained if you simply administer the roots of camomile boiled in the appropriate way. It may surprise you that I speak of the root, but the different aspects under consideration here intersect, and we must realize that when the symptoms are severe, blossom products are not enough. What we really need is a substance that is still contained in a highly vitalized state in the plant, so that the long process it has to undergo will make the reaction vigorous enough. If we introduce into the digestive tract a suitable dosage of these substances as they are found in the root of the camomile, the reaction in this case will not be strong enough to allow the vitalization to take place at the point of transition from the intestines to the blood; what is contained particularly in the sugar and silicic acid, but also in the alkaline salts, will simply be forced through in an untransformed state. Thus the kidney activity has a chance to absorb it into its radiations, and the substances absorbed in this way are then impelled by the kidney activity toward the nerve-sense activity, which is thereby relieved of the astral functions.
If we really have insight into these matters, if we realize that this way of proceeding therapeutically leads to the most healthy results, much can be discovered. Furthermore, we can very easily be led to other things. We can see how what is absorbed is transformed in the human organization, how the activity of the kidneys sets to work, receiving what is supplied to it by the channels of the blood and radiating it out; we can see how the plastic activity then reacts in its turn. Then we begin to see how this plastic activity in its pure form is restored by the administration of silicic acid, sugar, and alkaline salts. To super-sensible vision, silicic acid, alkaline salts, and sugar, mixed in the right proportions and viewed intuitively, form a kind of human phantom. Something like a phantom is there before us if we picture these substances in their formative force. They are pre-eminently sculptors, these substances; they bear the plastic principle within them. This is evident even in their outer formation through intuitive vision.
The strong effect of silicic acid is due, in the first place, to the fact that when the substance appears in the inorganic realm it has the tendency to shape itself into elongated crystals. The same results attainable with silicic acid could not be achieved with substances that have the tendency to develop into rounder, less elongated crystals. With such substances it might conceivably be possible to cure a hedgehog but not a human being, whose very principle of growth shows tendencies to elongation.
Those who have no sense for this artistry in nature — an artistry through which the organism is shaped, shaped chiefly by the nerve-sense activity — cannot discover in any rational sense the relationships between substances in the outer world and what is taking place in the human organism. Yet there is indeed a rational therapy — a therapy that is simply able to perceive processes that take place in the outer world, that are broken down in the human organism and can then be radiated out by the kidney activity and taken hold of by the plastic activity of the nerve-sense organism.
Let us take another example. Suppose that the radiating action of the kidneys, instead of being too strong, is too weak — that is to say, too little nourishment is being sucked up into the astrality. Everything I described in the previous complex of symptoms is due to excessive working in the astral organism, because it is active particularly in the upper human being and holds itself aloof from the activities of digestion, heart, and lungs. As a phenomenon accompanying this complex of symptoms, we find the formation of phlegm and the like, which is quite easy to understand. Thus in this complex we have to do with an excessive astral activity. Now suppose that the astral activity is too weak. The radiating activity of the kidneys is too weak, so that the astral organism of the human being is not in a position to supply what it should to the formative forces when it penetrates into their domain. The formative force cannot then work itself into the astral organism, because the latter does not reach sufficiently to the periphery. The result is that no active contact is established between the formative force and the force proceeding from the circulation of the food substances and their distribution. The substance is distributed without being taken in hand by the formative force. Not enough of the plastic force is present, and the substance is abandoned to its own life; the activity of the astral body remains too fleeting and does not work properly in the transformation of the substances.
We can certainly regard such a state of affairs as a complex of symptoms. How does it express itself? Above all, what is coursing through the blood vessels will not be absorbed in the proper way by the weak kidney activity, that is, by the astral organization working insufficiently. It collapses, as it were, resulting in hemorrhoids or excessive menstruation. The contact fails, and the metabolism lapses back into itself. In this condition of the organism it is particularly easy for a state of “fever of unknown origin” — as it is called — to arise, or even a condition of intermittent fever.
Now the question is: how can we approach this complex of symptoms? The activity of the astral organism is too weak. We must stimulate the renal activity so that through this activity enough substance may be drawn up into the astral organism. Something occurs now to which I have already pointed. The best thing to do here is to restore the balance between the etheric and astral organisms. Then, simply due to what passes from the digestive tract into the system of lungs and heart, we get the proper transition to the activity. We obtain a kind of balance, and in many cases we can control it precisely by regulating the iron content in the organism, which governs the circulation. This will now stimulate a strong, inner kidney activity, which will be evident outwardly in a change of excretions of urea, both through the kidneys and through the perspiration. This will be quite evident. But of course in many cases we must realize that this balance is always very unstable and that only in the crudest cases will the remedy in question here, which we already bear within us, be of assistance.
In the digestive tract substances containing sulfur in some form are the most effective, and in the nerve-sense system (which we now understand as the formative principle) substances such as silicic acid and alkaline salts are most effective; it is pure metals that are the substances to regulate the balance between gravity and buoyancy. We must only explore how best to apply them in order to restore the disturbed balance in the most varied ways. We begin with iron. According to the complex of symptoms, the most suitable metal may be gold, or perhaps copper. If we determine the form of the disease of the human organism, we will be able to achieve the most important results with the pure metals. If in the interplay between the functions of form-building and breaking down form there is too little form-building and this state of affairs becomes organic — if, therefore, the primary cause of the trouble is that the relation between the heart-lung system and the kidney system is upset — we will achieve the best results with iron.
If as a result of lengthy disturbances in these processes the organs themselves are already impaired, however, and have already suffered because the plastic activity has not been able to reach them — if the organs are already formed incorrectly due to an inadequate amount of plastic activity — we may have to apply mercury. Because mercury already contains the forces of form, the durable metallic drop-form within itself, it has a definite effect upon the lower organs of the human being. In the same way we can discover definite connections between metals and organs of the head that have been attacked and formed incorrectly, for instance when the nervous system itself has been attacked. In such a case, however, we must not confine ourselves to simply setting up a stable balance in opposition to the vacillating balance. This is extraordinarily difficult. This balance is just like a very sensitive pair of scales: we try in every possible way to bring the beam of the scale into balance, but it is very difficult. We shall approach it more easily, however, if we concern ourselves not merely with the beam but with the pans of the scale themselves. We can achieve a state of balance, for instance, by supporting the effect of the iron, introducing something sulfurous into the digestive tract and providing a counteraction in the nerve-sense organism by means of alkaline salts. Then in the middle, rhythmic system of the human being iron will be at work, which in this situation distributes itself beautifully; in the nerve-sense organism potassium, calcium, or alkaline salts will be at work, and in the rhythm of digestion sulfur will be at work. This way of attempting to restore the balance is better.
The remarkable thing is that we find the very opposite in the leaves of certain plants. If, for instance, we prepare the leaf of urtica dioica, the ordinary stinging nettle, in the right way, we have a remedy composed of sulfur, iron, and certain salts. But we must really know how to relate the devitalizing force that is present in the plant to the vitalizing force that is present in the human organism. In the root of urtica dioica, the whole sulfur process is tending gradually to the inorganic. The human organism takes the opposite course and transforms the sulfur by way of the protein in such a way that it gradually brings the digestion into order. The iron in urtica dioica works from the leaves in such a way that in the seed (and thereby in next year's leaves) this plant shatters the very thing that brings together the rhythmic process in the human organism — the process in the stinging nettle is the opposite. In fact, the stinging power of the nettle leaves is this destructive process that must be overcome if the rhythmic process in the human organism is to be regulated. Again, the alkaline salt content of the plant is least of all transformed into inorganic matter. Therefore it has the longest way to go, going right up to the nerve-sense organization; it goes up quite easily because, with the complex of symptoms we are now considering, we know that the kidney activity is asleep, is suppressed. In the human organism we actually have the opposite of what is expressing itself outwardly in the formation of the plants. But there is no need to confine ourselves merely to plant remedies; synthetic remedies may also be prepared and cures effected by combining in a suitable dosage the substances I have characterized.
These are matters that will gradually transform therapy into a rational science, but a science that is really an art, for without art, therapy cannot become a complete science any more than a person who is not an artist can be a sculptor. An individual may have a splendid knowledge of how to guide his chisel and how to mold the clay, but there must always be something leading over into the realm of the artistic. Without this, true therapy is impossible. We must really achieve the right touch — in a spiritual sense; of course — for determining the dosage. This will not suit those who would like to turn medicine into a “pure” science, but it is true nevertheless.
And now let me describe another possible situation. There may be a disturbance of the appropriate interaction between the inorganic element that the human organism produces as a preliminary to leading it over into organic life, and the subsequent intervention of the etheric body, of the heart-lung activity. The older an individual is, the more apparent is this disturbance in human development. In this case the digestive tract and the vascular system are not working together properly. When this happens, we must remember that the consequence will be an accumulation of the products of metabolism. If the substances are not being distributed properly in the organism, the natural result is an accumulation of the products of metabolism. Here we come to the whole domain of diseases of metabolism, from very mild cases to the most severe forms. We must realize that in such cases something is also amiss with the kidney activity due to the fact that because of the preceding congestion the kidneys receive nothing to radiate out.
This gives rise to highly complicated forms of disease. On the one hand the activity of digestion and the kidneys provides no material upon which the plastic, form-giving activity can work, and on the other hand, as the result of a stultification of this plastic activity, we have a disturbance of the organic balance from the other side, so that the plastic force, too, gradually ceases to function. The products of metabolism spread themselves out in the organism but fail, little by little, to be received into the field of the plastic activities and used as modeling material. When this happens, certain metabolic diseases arise that are very difficult to treat. The proper approach to treatment here is to stimulate in the digestive tract, and then also in the heart-lung tract, everything that is akin to elements that are on their way to the inorganic state — akin, that is, to the sulfuric or phosphoric elements in the blossoms of plants, connected with or bordering on the ethereal oils. By doing this we stimulate a renal activity in the organism and thereby help the plastic forces. In this type of disease it is very important to bring influence to bear on the digestive apparatus.
The kidney activity and the excretion of sweat are in a certain sense polar opposites, and they are intimately connected to each other. If the kidney activity is disturbed as a consequence of what I have described, we will always find that there is less perspiration. Great attention should be paid to this, for whenever there is a decrease in perspiration, we may be sure that something is amiss with the kidney activity. When perspiration decreases, what is happening as a rule is that the kidneys operate like a machine that has nothing to work upon but continues to act, while the products of digestion are already congested and are spreading improperly in the human organism. We may succeed in getting the better of these metabolic diseases if we apply sulfur treatments either inwardly or outwardly (for we can work just as well from the skin as from the kidneys themselves). By doing this we may succeed in stimulating the digestive tract to such an extent that it in turn stimulates the heart-lung activity so that material is again supplied to the renal activity; then this material does not lie fallow without reaching the renal activity.
In all these matters, however, we must be quite clear that the human organism does not wish to be absolutely cured but only to be stimulated to unfold the healing process. This is a fact of supreme importance. In the state of illness, the human organism wishes to be stimulated to unfold the healing process. If the healing is to endure we must actually limit ourselves to giving a mere stimulus. A cure that apparently takes place immediately leads much more readily to relapses than a cure that merely stimulates the healing process. The organism must first accustom itself to the course of the healing process, and it is then able to continue it through its own activity. In this way the organism binds itself much more intimately to the healing process, until such time as the reaction again sets in. Before this happens, however, the organism settles down. If the organism can be made to adjust itself to the healing process for a certain length of time, this is the best possible cure, for then the organism actually absorbs what has been transmitted to it in the healing process.
I have only been able to give you certain hints as to method here, but you will realize that with what I call a spiritual scientific illumination of physiology, pathology, and therapy, we are trying to understand that the human being is not an isolated being but belongs to the whole universe. We must also see that with any process taking place in the human being in an ascending curve, let us say, we must seek outside the human being in nature for the descending curve. In this way we will be able to modify curves that are ascending too abruptly, and so forth. Medicine demands knowledge of the whole world in a certain sense. I have been able to offer only a tiny fragment, of course, but this fragment should make clear to you that there must be an entirely different understanding of the nature of urtica dioica, colchicum autumnale, or indeed of any other plant, the plants themselves must tell us where their descending tendency is leading.
When you approach the colchicum autumnale, the autumn crocus, you must understand that the time of year in which it appears is not without significance for its whole structure, for this brings about a certain relation to the vitalizing process. That the devitalization is very slight in colchicum autumnale you can see from the very color of its blossom and the time of its flowering. If you then experiment with colchicum autumnale as a remedy, you will find that the organism must exert itself to a very high level to bring about the opposite vitalization, that is to say — if I may express it crudely — to kill the plant and then make it alive again. Indeed, this whole process unfolds right up into the human thyroid gland. Now you have the basis for a series of investigations with colchicum autumnale as a remedy against enlargements of the thyroid gland.
Let me assure you once again that there is no question here of a wasteful and amateurish abuse of modern scientific methods. Instead we are giving guidelines that will actually lead to more tangible results than pure experimentation. I am not by any means saying that such a pure experimentation cannot also be fruitful. It does indeed lead to certain goals, but with this method a great deal passes by us completely, especially many things we can learn by observing nature. Although it is fine to produce synthetically a preparation composed of iron, sulfur, and alkali, it is good to know how, in a particular plant, all these substances are synthetically brought together in a certain way by nature herself. Even in the production of synthetic remedies we can learn a great deal by understanding what is going on outside in nature.
It would be fascinating to enter into many things in detail, and I think that some of our doctors will have done so in other lectures. A great deal, too, can be found in our literature, and there are many subjects that I hope will soon be dealt with there. I am convinced that as soon as these matters are presented in a clear, concise form and people are not afraid to go straight ahead, they will take this point of view: “I must above all heal if I want to be a doctor, and so I will turn to what appears antipathetic to me at first. If it really helps, I can only try to profit from it as well as from what is to be found in the standard literature.”
I think it would be good if as soon as possible we could produce literature of a kind that would offer a bridge between spiritual science and modern sense-oriented science. It would encourage the opinion that these remedies help, so they cannot after all be such utter nonsense! I am quite sure that when our work is properly in motion, the verdict will be that it does indeed help. And here I will conclude. Try these things and you will see that they help. This too will be significant, for many things that are used in orthodox medicine do not help when they are applied. Everything that we would like to introduce from the viewpoint of spiritual science can unfold in the struggle between what does and does not help.
|GA 178. The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric — Individual Spirit Beings III|
|The notion will also spread from this direction that man becomes good not by learning all sorts of ethical principles, through which man can become good, but rather by, let us say, taking copper under a certain constellation of stars or arsenic under another. You can imagine how these things could be exploited for power by groups of egotistically inclined people. It is only necessary to withhold this knowledge from others who are then unable to participate, and one has the best method of ruling over great masses of people.|
|GA 178. The Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric — Individual Spirit Beings III|
Today I would like to connect and amplify individual observations that we have made in the course of our studies with this or that detail. If you follow the times attentively, you will have been able to notice here and there that, in the thoughts, experiences, and impulses that in the past man felt had “brought him so wonderfully far,” he can no longer find what can help him reach into the future. Yesterday, one of our members pressed into my hands last week's issue of the Frankfurter Zeitung, dated November 21, 1917. In that journal is an article by a very learned gentleman — it must have been a very learned gentleman, because he had in front of his name not only the title Doctor of Philosophy but also the title Doctor of Theology, and in addition there is also Professor. He is thus Professor, Doctor of Theology, and Doctor of Philosophy. He is therefore, of course, a very clever man! He has written an article that deals with all sorts of contemporary spiritual needs. In the course of this article there is a section that is expressed in the following way: “The experience of being that lies behind things has no need of pious consecration or religious estimation, because it is in itself religion. Here it is not a matter of the feeling and comprehension of one's own individual values but of the great Irrational that is hidden behind all existence. He who touches it so that the divine spark leaps across undergoes an experience that has primary character, the ‘primeval experience.’ To experience this, along with all that is moved by the same stream of life, endows him with, to use a word beloved in modern times, a cosmic feeling for life.”
Forgive me, dear friends. I am not reading this to arouse within you some particularly lofty mental pictures to correspond with these washed-out sentences but rather to lead before you a symbol of our time. “A cosmic religiosity is in the process of growing among us, and the extent of the longing for it is shown by the perceptible growth of the theosophical movement that undertakes to discover and unveil the circulation of life behind the senses.” It is indeed difficult to stagger over all these washed-out concepts, but is it not nevertheless true that as a symbol of our time this is quite peculiar? Further on he says, “In this cosmic piety, it is not a question of mysticism that begins with rejection of the world . . .” etc.
One cannot conceive of anything clever in these sentences! Since the Professor, Doctor of Theology, and Doctor of Philosophy represents it, however, one must naturally consider it as something clever. Otherwise one would perceive it as something that is brought falteringly to expression in an unclear tirade, reminding one of the learned gentleman who can no longer continue on the path on which he has traveled and who feels obliged to point to something that is there, something that apparently seems to him not completely hopeless. One should not be at all delighted with these utterances; such things must not lull us into slumber just because we notice that from some direction someone has again observed that something lies behind the spiritual scientific movement. That would indeed be very harmful, because those who make these remarks are often the same ones who feel satisfied with such utterances, who do not go further. They even point with these washed-out things to an event that will enter the world, and this would thereby belong precisely to those who are altogether too comfortable to become involved in something that requires earnest study of spiritual science. This event must really break in and take hold of human feeling (Gemuet) if what is bound up with reality is to flow into the time-stream of evolution so that healing forces are able to rise from it. It is naturally easier to speak of the “surging waves” and of “cosmic feelings” than to enter seriously into the things that are demanded by the signs of the time and that must be made known to humanity. For this reason it seems to me necessary to say things here that have been stated previously in public lectures but that will be spoken of further, now with a strong emphasis on the difference between what is worn out, what is no longer capable of life, which has led to these catastrophic times, and what must really take hold of the human soul if any progress is to be made.
With the old wisdom by which human beings have reached the present, thousands of congresses can be held — world congresses and national congresses, and whatever — thousands of societies can be founded, but one must be clear that these thousands of congresses, thousands of societies, will not be effective unless the spiritual life-blood of the science of the spirit flows through them. What man is lacking today is the courage to enter into the real exploration of the spiritual world. It sounds strange, but it must be said that all that is needed to begin with is to circulate to a broad public, for example, the small brochure, Human Life in the Light of Spiritual Science. Something new would be achieved through this in calling forth knowledge of man's connection with the cosmic order. Attention is drawn precisely to such knowledge in this brochure. Concrete attention is drawn to the way in which the earth annually alters its conditions of consciousness and the like. What is said in this lecture and in this brochure is said with particularly full consideration of the needs of our time. To receive this would be of greater significance than all the wishy-washy talk of “cosmic feeling” and of entering some sort of “surging waves,” or what have you. I have only quoted these things to you, because to reword them is impossible for me, as they are too senseless in their formulation.
One is not hindered, of course, by being attentive to these things, because they are important and essential. What I wish to draw to your attention is that we must not “mystify” ourselves, that we must be clear. Utter clarity is necessary if we wish to work for an anthroposophically oriented spiritual science.
I wish to point out once again that what is essential for humanity in this fifth post-Atlantean period is to enter into a special treatment of great issues of life that have been obscured in a certain way through the wisdom of the past. I have already pointed this out to you. One great issue of life can be characterized in the following way: an attempt will have to be made to place the spiritual etheric in the service of outer practical life. I have brought to your attention that the fifth post-Atlantean period will have to solve the problem of how human moods, the motions of human moods, allow themselves to be translated into wave motions on machines, how man must be brought into connection with what must become more and more mechanical. For that reason I called your attention a week ago to how superficially this mechanizing will be accepted by a certain portion of the surface of the earth. I presented an example to show how, following the American way of thinking, an attempt was made to extend the mechanical over human life itself. I presented the example of the pauses that were to be exploited so that, instead of far fewer tons, up to fifty tons could be loaded by a number of workmen. For this one need only carry the Darwinian principle of selection actually into life.
In such situations the will is there to harness human energy to mechanical energy. These things should not be treated by fighting against them. That is a completely false view. These things will not fail to appear; they will come. What we are concerned with is whether, in the course of world history, they are entrusted to people who are familiar in a selfless way with the great aims of earthly evolution and who structure these things for the health of human beings or whether they are enacted by groups of human beings who exploit these things in an egotistical or in a group-egotistical sense. That is what matters. It is not a question of the what in this case; the what is sure to come. It is a question of the how, how one tackles these situations. The what lies simply in the meaning of earthly evolution. The welding together of the human nature with the mechanical nature will be a problem of great significance for the remainder of earthly evolution.
I have deliberately drawn attention often, even in public lectures, to the fact that the consciousness of the human being is connected with the forces of disintegration. On two occasions I have said in public lectures in Basel that within our nervous system we are dying. These forces, these forces of dying away, will become more and more powerful. The bond will be established between these forces dying within man, which are related to the electric, magnetic forces, and the outer mechanical forces. Man will to a certain extent become his intentions, he will be able to direct his thoughts into the mechanical forces. Hitherto undiscovered forces within human nature will be discovered, forces that will work on outer electric and magnetic forces. The first problem is to bring together human beings with the mechanical, which will have to prevail increasingly in the future. The second problem consists in calling upon the help of the spiritual circumstances. This can only be done, however, when the time is ripe and when a sufficient number of people are prepared for it in the right way. The time must come, however, when the spiritual forces are made mobile enough to master life in relation to illness and death. Medicine will become spiritualized, intensely spiritualized. Of all these things, caricatures are being made from certain directions, but these caricatures show only what really must come.
Again it is a question of whether this problem is attacked from the same direction to which I pointed regarding the other problem, in an outer egotistical or group-egotistical way.
The third problem is to introduce human thoughts into the actual evolution of the human species, in birth and education. I have pointed out that conferences have already been held on how in the future a materialistic science would be founded regarding conception and the relationships between man and woman. All these things indicate to us that something most significant is in the process of evolving. It is still easy today to say, “Why is it that people who know about these things in the right sense do not apply them?” In the future it will become clear just what is involved in this application and which forces are still actively hindering the foundation of large-scale spiritualized medicine or spiritualized national economy. No more can be accomplished today than to talk about these things, until people have enough understanding of them, people who are inclined to accept them in a selfless way. Today many people believe that they are able to do this, but many circumstances of life hinder what they are able to do. These life circumstances can be overcome in the right way only when a deeper and deeper understanding gains ground and when there is willingness to renounce, at least for a time, the immediate, practical application of these things on a larger scale.
These things have all developed in such a way that one can say that little has been retained of what was once hidden behind the ancient, atavistic strivings until the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. There is much talk today about the ancient alchemy. The proceedings of the procreation of Homunculus are also recalled at times, and so on, but what is spoken of here is for the most part groundless. If one once understood what can be said in connection with the Homunculus scene in Goethe's Faust, one would be better informed about these things, because what is essential is that, from the sixteenth century on, a fog has been spread over these things; they have receded in human consciousness.
The law that governs these things is the same as the law that regulates within the human being the rhythmical alternation of waking and sleeping. Just as man cannot rise above sleep, so, in regard to spiritual evolution, he cannot disregard the sleeping of spiritual science that has marked the centuries since the sixteenth century. It was necessary for humanity to sleep through the spiritual for a time in order that it could appear again in another form. One must comprehend such necessities, but one must also not allow oneself to be depressed by them. For this reason one must be very clear that the time of awakening has come and that one must take an active part in this awakening, that events often hurry ahead of knowledge and one will not understand the events that take place around us unless one accustoms oneself to knowledge.
I have repeatedly pointed out to you that certain egotistical groups are striving esoterically, and their influence is active in the ways that I have often indicated in these studies. First of all, it was necessary that a certain knowledge should recede within humanity, a knowledge that is designated today with such misunderstood words as alchemy, astrology, and so on. This knowledge had to recede, fall into a sleep, so that man would no longer have the possibility of drawing what pertains to the soul out of observation of nature but would have to become more dependent on himself. Through this he would awaken the forces within him, for it was necessary that certain things appear first in abstract form and later take on again concrete, spiritual form.
Three ideas have gradually arisen in the course of evolving during the last centuries, ideas which, in the way they have entered human life, are essentially abstract. Kant has named them falsely, while Goethe has named them correctly. These three ideas Kant called God, freedom, and immortality; Goethe called them correctly God, virtue, and immortality. When one sees the things that are hidden behind these three words, it is clear that they are exactly the same as what modern man views more abstractly but that were viewed more concretely until the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. In the ancient atavistic sense they were also viewed more materially. They experimented in the ancient way, indeed, they sought at that time with alchemical experiments to observe the processes that showed the working of God in process. They tried to produce the Philosopher's Stone.
Behind all these things is hidden something concrete. This Philosopher's Stone was to present human beings with the possibility of becoming virtuous, but it was thought of more materially. It was to lead human beings to experience immortality, to put them into a certain relationship to the universe, through which they would experience within themselves what goes beyond birth and death. All these washed out ideas with which one seeks today to grasp the ancient things no longer coincide with what was intended at that time. These things have become simply abstract, and modern humanity speaks from abstract ideas. They have wished to understand God through abstract theology; virtue is also regarded as something purely abstract. The more abstract the idea, the better modern humanity likes to use it in speaking about these things, even immortality. One speculates about what could be immortal in man. I spoke about this in my first Basel lecture, saying that the science that occupies itself today philosophically with questions about immortality is a starved science, an undernourished science. This is only another form of expression for abstract thinking in which such matters are pursued.
Certain brotherhoods in the West, however, have still preserved a relationship to the old traditions and have tried to apply them in a corresponding way, to place them in the service of a certain group egoism. It is really necessary for these things to be pointed out. Naturally, when these things are spoken of in public, from this comer of the West, in exoteric literature, then God, virtue or freedom, and immortality are also talked about in an abstract way. It is only in the circle of the initiates that it is known that all of this is only speculation, that these are all abstractions. For themselves, they seek what is being striven for in the abstract formulas of God, virtue, and immortality in something much more concrete, and for this reason, these words are translated for the initiates in their respective schools. God is translated as gold, and one seeks behind the mystery to come to what can be described as the mystery of gold. Gold, representing what is sun-like within the earth's crust, is indeed something within which is imbedded a most significant mystery. In fact, gold stands materially in the same relationship to other substances as within thinking the thought of God stands to other thoughts. It only matters in which way this mystery is understood.
This relates to the egotistical group exploitation of the mystery of birth. One is striving to wrestle here with real cosmic understanding. Modern man has completely replaced this cosmic understanding with a terrestrial understanding. When man today wishes to examine, for example, how the embryo in animals and man develops, he examines with a microscope what exists precisely in the place on earth onto which he has cast his microscopic eye; he regards this as what is to be examined. It cannot be a matter only of this, however. It will be discovered — and certain circles are coming close to this in their discoveries — that the active forces are not in what one meets with the microscopic eye but are rather within what streams in from the cosmos, from the constellations in the cosmos. When an embryo arises, it arises because into the living being in which the embryo is being formed are working forces from all directions of the cosmos, cosmic forces. When a fertilization takes place, what will develop out of the fertilization is dependent upon which cosmic forces are active.
There is one thing that will come to be understood today that is not yet understood. Today one looks at some living being, let us say a chicken. When in this living being a new embryo arises, the biologist examines how, so to speak, out of this chicken the egg grows. He examines the forces that are supposed to allow the egg to grow out of the chicken. This is a piece of nonsense. The egg does not at all grow out of the hen; the hen is only the foundation; the forces work out of the cosmos, forces that produce the egg on the ground that has been prepared within the hen. When the biologist today works with his microscope, he believes that what he sees in the microscopic field also includes the forces on which what he sees depends. What he sees there, however, is subject to the forces of the stars that work together in a certain constellation, and when one discovers the cosmic here, one will discover the truth, the reality: it is the universe that conjures the egg from the hen.
All of this, however, is connected above all with the mystery of the sun and, observed from the earth, with the mystery of gold. Today I am offering a kind of programmatic indication; in the course of time these things will become clearer.
In the same schools about which we are speaking, virtue is not called virtue but is simply called health, and one endeavors to acquaint oneself with those cosmic constellations that have a connection with the health and illness of human beings. Through acquainting oneself with the cosmic constellations, however, one learns to know the individual substances that lie on the surface of the earth, the juices and so on, that are connected with health and illness. From certain directions, a more material form of the science of health is increasingly being developed, one that rests, however, on a spiritual foundation.
The notion will also spread from this direction that man becomes good not by learning all sorts of ethical principles, through which man can become good, but rather by, let us say, taking copper under a certain constellation of stars or arsenic under another. You can imagine how these things could be exploited for power by groups of egotistically inclined people. It is only necessary to withhold this knowledge from others who are then unable to participate, and one has the best method of ruling over great masses of people. One does not need to speak about these things at all; one need only introduce, for example, some new delicacy. Then one can seek a market for this new delicacy, which has been tinged appropriately, and thus bring about what is necessary, if these things are comprehended materialistically. One must be clear that in all matter there are hidden spiritual workings. Only one who knows in the true sense that there is nothing really material but only the spiritual will penetrate beyond the mysteries of life.
Likewise, the attempt will be made from this direction to bring the problem of immortality into materialistic channels. This problem of immortality can be led into materialistic channels in the same way, by exploitation of cosmic constellations. One does not, of course, attain through this what is often speculated as being immortality, but one attains a different immortality. One prepares oneself — so long as it is impossible to influence the physical body to prolong life artificially — to undergo soul experiences that will enable one to remain in the lodge of a brotherhood even after death, to help there with the forces that one has at one's disposal. Immortality is simply called prolonging life in these circles.
You can see outer signs of all these things. I do not know whether some of you have noticed the book that for a time provoked a sensation, a book that also came from the West bearing the title, The Disturbance of Dying (Der Unfug des Sterbens). These things all move in this direction. They are only the beginning. What has gone further than the beginning is carefully preserved for the group egotism, is kept very esoteric. These things are actually possible, however, if one brings them into materialistic channels, if one makes the abstract ideas of God, virtue, and immortality into concrete ideas of gold, health, and prolonging life, if one exploits in a group-egotistical sense what I presented to you as the great problems of the fifth post-Atlantean times. What is called in a washed-out way “cosmic feeling” by Professor, Doctor of Theology, Doctor of Philosophy, is presented by many — and unfortunately by many in an egotistical sense — as cosmic knowledge. While science for centuries has beheld only processes occurring on earth, has rejected all study of what is approaching as the most important extraterrestrial occurrence, it will be precisely in the fifth post-Atlantean time that exploitation will be considered of the forces penetrating in from the cosmos. Just as it is now of special importance for the regular professor of biology possibly to have a much-enlarged microscope, possibly to use much more exact laboratory methods, so in the future, when science has become spiritualized, what will matter will be whether one carries out a certain process in the morning, evening, or at noon, or whether one allows what one did in the morning to be somehow further influenced by active factors of the evening, or whether the cosmic influence from morning until evening is excluded, paralyzed. In the future such processes will prove themselves to be necessary; they also will take place. Naturally much water will run over the dam until the materialistically oriented university chairs, laboratories, and so on, are handed over to the spiritual scientists, but this exchange must take place if humanity is not to come completely into decadence. This laboratory work will have to be replaced by work in which, for example — when it is a matter of the good that is to be attained in the future — certain processes take place in the morning and are interrupted during the day; the cosmic stream passes through them again in the evening, and this is preserved rhythmically until it is morning again. The processes are conducted in such a manner that certain cosmic workings are always interrupted during the day, and the cosmic processes of morning and evening are studied. To achieve this, manifold arrangements will be necessary.
You can gather from this that when one is not in a position to participate publicly in what happens, one can only talk about these things. From the same direction that wishes to put gold, health, and prolonging life in place of God, virtue, and immortality, the effort is made not to work with the processes of morning and evening but with something totally different. I called to your attention last time that the impulse of the Mystery of Golgotha was to be eliminated from the world by introducing another impulse from the West, a kind of Antichrist; from the direction of the East, the Christ impulse, as it appears in the twentieth century, is to be paralyzed by directing the attention, the interest, away from Christ appearing in the etheric.
Those concerned with introducing the Antichrist instead of the Christ have endeavored to exploit what could work especially through the most materialistic forces, yet working spiritually with these materialistic forces. Above all they strive to exploit electricity and especially the earth's magnetism to have influence over the entire earth. I have shown you how, in what I have called the human double, earthly forces arise. This mystery will be penetrated. It will be an American mystery to make use of the magnetism of the earth in its “doubleness,” to make use of the magnetism in North and South to send guiding forces that work spiritually across the earth. Look at the magnetic map of the earth and compare it with what I am now saying. Observe the course of the line where the magnetic needle swings to East and West and where it does not swing at all. (I can only give indications at this time.) From a certain celestial direction, spiritual beings are constantly at work. One need only put these spiritual beings at the service of earthly existence and, because these spiritual beings working in from the cosmos are able to transmit the mystery of the earth's magnetism, one can penetrate the mystery of the earth's magnetism and can bring about something very significant of a group-egotistical nature in relation to the three things, gold, health, and prolonging life. It will simply be a matter of mustering the doubtful courage for these things. This will certainly be done within certain circles!
From the direction of the East, it is a matter of strengthening what I have already explained: the in-streaming and actively working beings from the opposing sides of the cosmos are placed at the service of earthly existence. A great struggle will arise in the future. Human science will move toward the cosmic. Human science will attempt to move toward the cosmic but in different ways. It will be the task of the good, healing science to find certain cosmic forces that, through the working together of two cosmic streams, are able to arise on the earth. These two cosmic streams will be those of Pisces and Virgo. It will be most important to discover the mystery of how what works out of the cosmos in the direction of Pisces as a force of the sun combines with what works in the direction of Virgo. The good will be that one will discover how, from the two directions of the cosmos, morning and evening forces can be placed at the service of humanity: on the one side from the direction of Pisces and on the other side from the direction of Virgo.
Those who seek to achieve everything through the dualism of polarity, through positive and negative forces, will not concern themselves with these forces. The spiritual mysteries that allow the spirituality to stream forth from the cosmos — with help from the twofold forces of magnetism, from the positive and negative — emerge in the universe from Gemini; these are the forces of midday. It was known already in antiquity that this had something to do with the cosmos, and it is known even today by exoteric scientists that, behind Gemini in the Zodiac, positive and negative magnetism are hidden in some way. An attempt will be made to paralyze what is to be won through the revelation of the duality in the cosmos, to paralyze it in a materialistic, egotistical way through the forces that stream toward humanity especially from Gemini and can be put completely at the service of the double. With other brotherhoods, which above all wish to bypass the Mystery of Golgotha, it is a matter of exploiting the twofold nature of the human being. This twofold nature of the human being, which has entered the fifth post-Atlantean period just as man did, contains the human being but also, within the human being, the lower animal nature. Man is to a certain extent really a centaur; he contains this lower, bestial, astral nature. His humanity is somehow mounted upon this astral beast. Through this cooperation of the twofold nature within the human being there is also a dualism of forces. It is this dualism of forces that will be used more by the egotistical brotherhoods of the Eastern, Indian stream in order also to mislead Eastern Europe, which has the task of preparing the sixth post-Atlantean period. For this, forces from Sagittarius are put to use.
The question standing before humanity is whether to master for itself the forces of the cosmos in a doubly wrong way or simply to master them in the right way. This will give a real renewal to astrology, which was atavistic in its ancient form and would not be able to continue in this form. There will be a struggle among the knowledgeable ones in the cosmos. Some will bring about the use of the morning and evening processes, as I indicated; in the West, the midday process will be preferable, excluding the morning and evening processes; and in the East the midnight processes will be used. Substances will no longer be prepared according to forces of chemical attraction and repulsion; it will be known that different substances will be produced depending upon whether they are prepared with morning and evening processes or with midday or midnight processes. It will be known that such substances work in a totally different way upon the three-foldness of God, virtue, and immortality — gold, health, and prolonging life. From the cooperation of what comes from Pisces and Virgo one will not be able to bring about anything harmful. Through this one will achieve what in a certain sense loosens the mechanism of life from the human being but will in no way found any form of rulership and power of one group over another. The cosmic forces that are called forth from this direction will beget strange machines but only ones that will relieve the human being from work, because they will have within them a certain force of intelligence. A cosmically oriented spiritual science will have to concern itself so that all the great temptations that will emanate from these mechanized beasts, which man creates himself, will not exert a harmful influence upon the human being.
To all of this the following must be added: it is necessary for human beings to prepare themselves by not taking realities for illusions, really entering into a spiritual conception of the world, into a spiritual comprehension of the world. What is important is to see things as they are. One can only see things as they are, however, when one is in the position of applying to reality the concepts, the ideas, that emerge from an anthroposophically oriented spiritual science. The dead will actively participate for the remainder of earthly existence. How they will participate is what matters. Here, above all, the great distinction will appear. Through man's conduct on earth, the participation of the dead will be guided from a good direction in such a way that the impulses of the dead to work will be able to originate from themselves, impulses taken from the spiritual world that the dead are experiencing after death.
Opposing this will be many endeavors to lead the dead in an artificial way into human existence. By the circuitous route through Gemini, the dead will be led into human life in such a way that human vibrations will reverberate in a definite way, will continue to vibrate within the mechanical performance of the machine. The cosmos will bring motion to the machines through the circuitous route that I have just indicated.
For that reason, it is important that nothing inappropriate be applied when these problems appear; only elementary forces that are part of nature should be applied. One will have to renounce introducing inappropriate forces into mechanical life. From the occult sphere one must refuse to harness human beings themselves into mechanical factory work, a practice through which the Darwinian theory of selection is used for the determination of the work force, as I presented to you as an example last time.
I make all these suggestions, which naturally cannot exhaust the subject in such a short time, because I think that you will meditate further upon these things, that you will seek to build a bridge between your own life experiences and these things, above all those life experiences that can be won today in these difficult times. You will see how many things will become clear to you when you observe them in the light that can come to you through such ideas. In our time, we are not really concerned with forces and constellations of forces confronting one another, the sorts of things about which one is constantly speaking in outer, exoteric life, but with entirely different things. Some intend actually to cast a kind of veil over the true impulses that are involved. There are bound to be certain human forces at work to save something for themselves. What is there to be saved? Certain human forces are at work to defend impulses that were justified until the French Revolution and were even defended by certain esoteric schools; they are being defended now in the form of an Ahrimanic/Luciferic retardation, being defended so as to maintain a social order that humanity believes has been overcome since the end of the eighteenth century.
There are mainly two powers that stand in opposition to each other: the representatives of the principle that was overcome at the end of the eighteenth century and the representatives of the new age. It is quite clear that a large number of people instinctively are representatives of the impulses of the new era. The representatives of the old impulses — still of the eighteenth, seventeenth, sixteenth centuries — must therefore be harnessed to these forces by artificial means, to forces emanating from certain group-egotistical brotherhoods. The most effective principle in the new age to extend power over as many people as one needs is the economic principle, the principle of economic dependency. That is only the tool, however. What is involved here is something entirely different. What is involved is something that you can deduce from all my suggestions. The economic principle is bound up with all that is involved in making a large number of human beings from all over the earth into an army for these principles.
These are the things that oppose each other. The one points essentially to what is fighting at present in the world: in the West, a rigid, ironclad principle of the eighteenth, seventeenth, sixteenth centuries, which makes itself noticeable by clothing itself in the phrases of revolution, the phrases of democracy, a principle that assumes a mask and has the urge to gain in this way as much power as possible. It helps this endeavor when as few people as possible exert themselves to see things as they are, when they allow themselves to be lulled to sleep again and again in this realm by maya, by the maya that one can express with these words: there is a war today between the Entente and the Central Powers. There is nothing at all like this in reality. We are concerned here with entirely different things that exist behind this maya as the true realities. The struggle between the Entente and the Central Powers is only maya, is only illusion. One can see what stands side by side in the struggle if one looks behind these things, illuminating them in the way that I, for certain reasons, have only suggested. One must at least endeavor not to accept illusions for realities, because then the illusion will gradually dissolve, in so far as it must be dissolved. One must endeavor today above all to consider the things as they present themselves to truly unprejudiced thinking.
If you consider in a coherent way all that I have developed here, then a seemingly incidental remark that I made in the course of these lectures will not seem to you to be merely incidental. When I quoted a certain remark that Mephistopheles made in confronting Faust, “I see that you know the devil” — he would definitely not have said this about Woodrow Wilson — it was no incidental remark. It is something that should illuminate the situation! One must really study these things without antipathy and sympathy; one must be able to study them objectively. One must be able above all to reflect today about the significance of constellations in something that is at work and the significance of individual strength, because behind individual strength often lies something completely different from what lies behind the mere constellation. Think for a moment upon the problem, “How much would Woodrow Wilson's brain be worth if this brain were not sitting in the Presidential chair of the United States?” Assume that this brain were in a different constellation: there it would show its individual strength! It all depends upon the constellation.
I will now speak abstractly and radically — I will not, of course, characterize the aforementioned case; it would never occur to me to do that in such a neutral country — but independent of that there is a very important insight in relation to the question, for example, about the brain. Does it have value because it is actually illuminated and made active by a particular spiritual soul force — does it thereby have a spiritual weight in the sense that I have spoken in these studies of spiritual weight — or does this brain actually have no more value than would show if one laid it on a scale and on the other side placed a weight? In the moment in which one penetrates beyond the mysteries I presented to you last time concerning the double, one arrives at the point (and I am not speaking of something unreal) of bringing value to the brain, which before had value only as a mass on the scale, because one is capable, if the brain is to be revived, of allowing it to be revived merely by the double.
All these things strike human beings today as being grotesque. What seems to them grotesque, however, must come to be something self-evident if these things are to flow into a healthy stream from an unhealthy one. And what use is it if one only chatters about them constantly? You must accept the idea that all this wishy-washy talk about “cosmic religiosity” or “the extent of the longing for it” or “the movement that undertakes to discover and unveil the circulation of life behind the senses,” and so on, does nothing but spread a fog over things that must come into the world only in clarity. They can be effective only in clarity, and they must be carried in clarity above all as practical, moral-ethical impulses in humanity.
I can only make single suggestions. I leave it to your own meditation to build on these realms further. These things are in many respects aphoristic, but you will have the possibility of gathering a great deal from such a summary as this picture of the Zodiac if you truly use it as the substance of meditation.
|GA 173c. The Karma of Untruthfulness - Volume II — Lecture XVIII|
|A Rechtsstaat, a state subject to the law, is a contradiction in terms, like saying — perhaps not iron made of wood, but certainly iron made of copper. The two concepts are disparate, to use a term from the sphere of logic; they have nothing to do with one another. But this conclusion can only be reached by one who takes things really seriously. From the same viewpoint Nietzsche arrived at his concept of ‘the will to power’.|
|GA 173c. The Karma of Untruthfulness - Volume II — Lecture XVIII|
It seems to me today more then ever necessary that the members of our Movement should be knowledgeable about what is going on in the world. Indeed this purpose has been served to a greater or lesser degree by the discussions we have been having here. To speak of spiritual science in the way we understand it means to fill ourselves with knowledge of how our world, which we observe with our physical understanding and senses, is in fact a revelation of the spirit. As long as the spiritual world is taken in the abstract, as long as the human being is divided up into his constituent parts, as long as all kinds of theories about karma and reincarnation are expounded — something we have really never done here in such a theoretical way — spiritual science cannot become fruitful for life. That is why I have been directing your attention in all kinds of ways to external reality, whereby I never lost sight of all that stands behind this external reality, either by way of direct occult factors, or by way of impulses being used in one way or another by human beings.
Those who understand the true situation today to some extent will find it becoming increasingly obvious in future, when looking back at this time, that the old way of looking at history is no longer sufficient for an understanding of the present. Circumstances will make certain occult teachings necessary for the increasingly mature understanding of human beings, and those who shut out such possibilities will in future have to bear the mark of ignorance, of lack of understanding,
Since the nineteenth century it has been the custom to construct history purely materialistically, on the basis — as people put it — of the available documents. Today it is not yet realized that this does not lead to a true depiction of historical impulses, but merely to a description of materialistic spectres — paradoxical though this may sound: a description of materialistic spectres. Even in the best history books, the description of people and events of the past right up to the present shows nothing but spectres without any real life, however realistic it is meant to be. It can, indeed, only be a description of spectres because all reality is founded on spiritual impulses, and if these are omitted, what remains are spectres. Thus up to today, the recounting of history has been spectral, yet in a certain way it has satisfied human souls; it has worked in a certain way.
In many respects, today's great tragedy is the way in which karma is lived through in such untrue, spectral ideas which people have gradually amassed. But within our Movement, too, we must not allow the process of history to fall into two disconnected halves — though there are some among us who would like this: On the one hand to luxuriate in so-called super-sensible ideas, which remain, however, more or less abstract concepts, and on the other hand to become firmly stuck in habitual opinions, no different from the ordinary vulgar understanding of external reality viewed entirely materialistically. These two aspects, external physical reality and spiritual existence, must unite, that is, we must understand that in place of traditional historical methods something must be developed which I have called symptomatic history, a history of symptoms which will teach us that the historical process expresses itself in some phenomena more strongly than in others.
Recently I have perhaps described things rather too realistically, though only for those whose feeling makes them ask: Why is he telling us things we anyway hear elsewhere? Look more closely, however, and you will find that you do not, actually, hear them elsewhere in the way they are described here. You do not find them juxtaposed as they are here, as symptoms in which various characteristic details unite to form a living concept of reality. The obvious question now is: How do symptoms such as the ones I have quoted come about? Let me go a little further into this.
During the course of these lectures I have mentioned a whole series of facts, some of which people might well consider excessively minute, such as that of the descendant of the Voidarevich family, the voivodes of Herzegovina, or that matter of the Russian-Slav Welfare Committee and so on. Such things could, in one way, be viewed as utterly insignificant. In another way, though, you could say: What is the connection between such things? What is this way of looking at history that collects widely different and separate details and then endeavours to fit them together in a total picture? A more direct way of asking me this question could be: How has it come about that as you have gone through life you have collected and know all about just these particular events, which have to be seen as characteristic of our time? I should like to answer this question in a way which I hope will give you a living idea of how spiritual science can intervene in life.
During the course of life one comes to know about certain things if one's karma leads to them, and if one's karma is allowed to take its course honestly and truthfully. Many people believe they are giving their karma a free reign, or are surrendering themselves to their karma, but this can be a great illusion. No one can follow external events in such a way that the truth is revealed to him, if he fails to surrender himself genuinely to his karma, if he fails to leave much in the subconscious realm, if he fails to let much pass unnoticed before his soul, for every morsel of sympathy or antipathy clouds free vision. Nothing is more likely to cloud free vision than what is today called the historical method. This historical method brings spectres into being because today's historian is unable to surrender himself to his karma. Obviously if he did so from his earliest years, he would fail every exam. He is not allowed to surrender himself to his karma and thus learn to know those things to which his karma leads him; he has to learn to know what the exam regulations and so forth require of him. But they require all kinds of things which of course tear his karma to shreds, and he can never arrive at the actual truth if he follows the stream of those requirements.
The actual truth can only be reached if these things about which spiritual science speaks are taken as seriously as life — if they are not taken as mere theories but as seriously as life. Another way of not taking them as seriously as life is to allow one's view to be clouded by all kinds of sympathies and antipathies. You have to approach things objectively, and then the stream of the world will bring you what you need in order to reach an understanding.
Now one aspect of surrendering to one's karma with regard to present events may be found in the fact that you, my dear friends, have been brought into the Anthroposophical Society by your karma. So it really should be possible in the Anthroposophical Society to speak about the facts without being hampered by sympathies and antipathies. If not, it would mean that, even within this Society, karma was not being taken as seriously as life.
I wanted to give you this introduction to what we still have to discuss because I wish to show you certain important spiritual facts which cannot, however, he understood unless we can link them to life, and unless we can penetrate the really tangled undergrowth of untruths which today buzz about in the world. The world today is filled with untruthfulness, and the sense for truth must be cultivated in the Anthroposophical Society for as long as it exists — and regardless of how long it is likely to exist under present circumstances — if it is to have a real meaning, a real sense for life.
I have — you could say — burdened you with a great variety of things recently, not simply to throw light on them in one way or another, but because I am filled with the conviction that it is important to correct certain concepts. Those who believe that I say these things from any kind of nationalistic feeling, simply do not understand me.
Terrible accusations are being continuously hurled at the centre from what is today the periphery, all of which end, in some form or other, in the phrase: Never mind, the German will be burnt. Of course, people are ashamed to quote this directly. Among these insults is the fact that in the widest circles certain personalities, whose works are of course not known or understood, are pilloried as being the despoilers, the corrupters of the German people. One of those brought to the forefront in this way is the German historian Heinrich Treitschke.
Now, as I have said, I should like to view such a personality not from a national, but from a purely human standpoint. I told you that I never had much to do with Treitschke but that I did meet him once. I said that he was a somewhat blustering character. Today let me add that at that meeting I did form a picture of his being and his character, for we covered much more than just those first few words which I have already quoted to you. We spoke about historical interpretation, about publications on history which were causing rather a sensation then, in the nineties, and there was time — banquets usually last for several hours — to go into many questions of principle with regard to scientific history. I was well able to form a picture of this man at the end of his life — he died soon afterwards — quite apart from the fact that his work as a historian is very well known to me.
The main thing I want to say is that Treitschke is a personality who gives us cause to approach him to some extent from an occult standpoint. Socrates spoke, in a good sense, of a kind of daimon. In the case of Treitschke you could say that he was indwelt by a form of daimon; not an evil demon, a kind of daimon. You could sense that he was not merely driven by considerations of the materialistic intellect but that his driving force came from within, from what Socrates called the daimonic forces. I could even say that this is what led him throughout the course of his life. This man from Saxony was an enthusiastic champion of the nascent German state; for he worked in a most significant way even before this state was founded. His German History, though, was written after its founding. In a manner characteristic of Central Europe, there lived in him something that is not known in the periphery, not only not wanted but also not known, something which people do not wish to understand. This was a sense for reality, for what is concrete. There lived in him a certain aversion to abstract theories and to everything expressed in empty phrases. This aversion was present with daimonic force to such an extent that you could look, you might say, through the personality to the spiritual forces speaking out of it.
In addition to this, Treitschke went profoundly deaf very early in life, so that he heard neither his own voice nor that of others, but associated only with his own inner being. Such a destiny turns a person in upon himself. The complete absence of a sense of hearing, far more than the absence of one of the other senses, brings a person who is so inclined into contact with occult powers which are at work and which usually remain unnoticed because people are distracted by their sense-perceptions from what speaks to them over and above their senses. So there is definitely a significance in a karma which makes a person totally deaf early on in life, and it is connected in this case with what I have called a daimonic nature.
This nature, this human being, in contrast to many — indeed most — people today, was formed and shaped as a whole. His intellect never worked in isolation; his whole soul was always involved. There are plenty of plain truths in the world, truths which can easily be confirmed by ‘logical proof’. But special note should be taken, whether one agrees with them or not, of truths with which human blood accords, truths filled with warm human feeling. For the human being is the channel linking the physical world with the spiritual world, and we approach the spiritual world not only by studying the theories of spiritual science, but also by acquiring a sense of how each individual represents a channel between the physical world and the spiritual world.
Above all else, Heinrich Treitschke was a personality who strove to form his knowledge and his thoughts on the basis of a broad understanding, an understanding always founded on judgements of the soul and not of the intellect. His judgements were always warm because they were formed by the critical faculty of his soul. They may have had a blustery quality, but they were always warm through having been formed by his critical faculty of soul. From this angle Treitschke always placed at the centre of his considerations the question of human freedom, which — since he was a historian and prepared himself early on to become the historian of his people — for him was always linked with the question of political freedom, freedom from the state.
There is among German literature a work which deeply penetrates the question of the relationship between the overall power of the state and the freedom of the individual, not only the freedom living in the individual soul, but freedom as it can be realized in social life. I know of no other work in world literature which penetrates so deeply into this question. It is entitled The Sphere and Duties of Government and is by Wilhelm von Humboldt, the friend of Schiller and brother of the writer Alexander von Humboldt. This work, written at the turn of the eighteenth to the nineteenth century, defends most beautifully the human personality in its full, free unfolding, against every aspect of state omnipotence. It is said that the state may only intervene in the realm of the human individual to the extent that such intervention leads to the removal of obstacles standing in the way of the personality's free unfolding.
This work stems from the same source as Schiller's wonderful Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man. I could say that Wilhelm von Humboldt's work on the limitations of the state is the brother of Schiller's Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man. It stems from an age when people were endeavouring to assemble every thought from cultural life capable of placing the human being firmly on the soil of freedom. For various reasons it was not much used during the nineteenth century, yet it was often enough consulted by those who, during the course of the nineteenth century, were endeavouring to reach an understanding of the more external aspects of the concept of freedom. Of course the nineteenth century was in one way the time when in many respects the concept of freedom was laid in its grave. But people were still keen to come to an understanding of the concept of freedom, and in this connection Wilhelm von Humboldt's work The Sphere and Duties of Government gained a degree of international importance in Europe.
Both the Frenchman Laboulaye and the Englishman John Stuart Mill took it as their point of departure. This work was an important point of departure for both these thinkers. Both, in their turn, and each in his own field, endeavoured to come to grips with the concept of freedom. Laboulaye considered that the institutions of his country, in so far as they concerned the relationship between state and individual, were suited only to the smothering of any true freedom, any free unfolding of the personality, by the state. John Stuart Mill, once he had discovered Wilhelm von Humboldt's work, took his departure from it and argued forcefully, in his own work on freedom, that English society could only undermine a true experience of freedom. With Laboulaye it is the state, with John Stuart Mill society. John Stuart Mill's work poses the question: How can an unfolding of the personality be achieved in the atmosphere of unfreedom generated by society?
Then Treitschke, with the critical faculty of soul I mentioned just now, and linking his work to that of Laboulaye and Mill, himself wrote about freedom at the beginning of the eighteen-sixties. Treitschke's paper on freedom is of particular and special interest because as a historian and as a politician he is immersed in that schism which invades the human soul when, on the one hand it recognizes the necessity of a social structure called the state and, on the other, is filled with enthusiasm for what we call human freedom. In this way, in the sixties of the nineteenth century, Treitschke set himself to discuss the concept of freedom on the basis of Laboulaye and John Stuart Mill.
In this paper Freedom he endeavoured to work out a concept of the state which, on the one hand, does not deny the necessity of a state structure, yet, on the other hand, does make of the state something that is not the gravedigger of freedom; but its cultivator and guardian. A state structure that could achieve this was what he had in mind: This was the time, remember, when a German, asked to name his fatherland, might easily have replied: Schwarzburg-Sondershausen, or Reuss-Schleiz, or something similar. At the beginning of the sixties what we now call the German Reich did not yet exist. At a time when a great many people were thinking about bringing together in some way all the individual groups in which Germans lived, Treitschke, too, was thinking about the necessity of a state structure. But for him it was axiomatic that no state should be allowed to come about which did not guarantee, to the human personality, conditions in which it could unfold as freely as possible. Even if it cannot be maintained that Treitschke achieved any rounded-off philosophical concepts, nevertheless his paper on freedom does contain many points worth considering very deeply.
In appreciating Treitschke and taking into account those aspects which are important for an occult understanding of him, we must not forget that he was a fearless person willing to serve no god other than truth. Many things that are said today without any objectivity about Treitschke are the height of stupidity. Such judgements buzzing about in the world today cannot be given even the flimsiest of foundations, for the simple reason that something is missing. I mentioned it the other day when I said that if people were willing to investigate what spiritual science has to say about the differences between the folk spirits, then fewer stupid statements would be made. I said this apropos of various stupid remarks made both by and about Romain Rolland. I had to say it because a really penetrating view of what is called a folk spirit can only be undertaken through spiritual science. Those who do not want to become involved in this can only reach subjective and therefore stupid judgements such as those of Romain Rolland.
Those who are willing to take into account what arises out of a spiritual scientific view of the folk spirits must be clear above all about one thing: that a person who is typical of his people will bear certain traits characteristic of that people. What made Treitschke typical was his daimonic nature. And it is true to say that to understand Treitschke is to understand much — not all, but much — of what was characteristic of the German people in the second half of the nineteenth century. Those for whom it is possible to gain a point of view from spiritual knowledge must investigate — not through cosmopolitan, but through national individuals — the fundamental difference that exists between western European and Central European judgements.
This cannot be taken into account for matters which are general and human, but they are relevant in so far as the daimon of a people lives in the folk spirit. With this reservation I shall say what I now have to bring forward. When the characteristics of a people are seen working through individuals it is possible to say what a certain American said. It is better if I tell you what this American said, because if I use my own words they might be taken amiss. He said: A French judgement, if it comes out of the nature of the people — not an individual, whose judgement might indeed be cosmopolitan — a judgement that comes out of the very substance of the French people lives in the word; an English judgement lives in practical political concepts; and a German judgement lives in an a-national, a non-national, search for knowledge.
This was said by an American travelling in Europe. It means that certain judgements formed in the West turn into something different when they are taken into the substance of the German people. In the West they are abstract in character. But a German belonging to the German people tends to translate judgements into their concrete components. He thus calls many things by their true name which are never touched upon by their true name in the West. Let us take a concept we have been discussing: the concept of the state.
In his lectures on politics, which were later published, Treitschke spoke about the state. Of course very many people speak about the state; but let us for the moment consider only what it means when someone speaks about the state by drawing on the very substance of the people to whom he belongs. In the West people tend to speak about it by using the state as a hook from which to suspend all sorts of concepts which, for one reason or another, they want to link with the concept of the state. Thus they attach to it such concepts as freedom, justice and many others, and they might even come up with the peculiar statement: The state must be divested of any concepts to do with power; the state must be a Rechtsstaat, a state subject to the law. You can say this only so long as you are not obliged to look squarely at the concept of the state.
But if you approach the concept of the state in the way Treitschke did, you discover the mystery of the state. Instead of demanding that the state must be based on the principle that power is above the law — an assertion slanderously attributed to Treitschke — you come to realize that the concept of the state is unthinkable without the concept of power. Power is simply a truth in this situation because it is impossible to found a state except by basing it on power. If you refuse to admit this, you are quite simply not representing the truth. So Treitschke could not avoid speaking about the state in connection with power. This is then distorted by those who claim Treitschke to mean that in the German concept of the state, power is above the law. Yet there is no question that Treitschke ever thought like this. His soul was far too strongly imbued with the meaning of what Humboldt said in his Sphere and Duties of Government. Just because the state cannot avoid unfolding a certain power, it must not be allowed to become omnipotent. A Rechtsstaat, a state subject to the law, is a contradiction in terms, like saying — perhaps not iron made of wood, but certainly iron made of copper. The two concepts are disparate, to use a term from the sphere of logic; they have nothing to do with one another. But this conclusion can only be reached by one who takes things really seriously.
From the same viewpoint Nietzsche arrived at his concept of ‘the will to power’. Again, it is nothing but a monstrous defamation to impute that Nietzsche defended the ‘principle of power’. The only thing he defended was the need to consider how far power is indeed one of the basic drives of human beings. It is quite in character that Nietzsche should postulate the following. He says: There are people who from certain principles of asceticism defend the thesis that power should be opposed. Why do they do this? Because by their very nature they can achieve quite a degree of power by means of opposing power! To oppose power is their particular will to power! To stress powerlessness is merely their particular will to power! To stress powerlessness in an ascetic way gives them in their own way a particular power! What lay at the foundation of what Nietzsche said, and also what pervades Treitschke's considerations is: not to try and convince oneself that black is white; to see things as they are in very truth and not to turn out empty phrases.
So you see, neither Treitschke nor Nietzsche intended to introduce into social life any kind of principle of power. Their concern was simply to show that power lives wherever the state manifests, and that it would be untruthful to maintain anything different. One could say that the karma under which Treitschke worked was: to come upon the idea that it is a monstrosity to live with the illusion of abstract, empty concepts which one trumpets forth into the world. He wanted to take a straightforward hold on reality and this is what is so attractive about his writings. From the same standpoint he could say of the concept of freedom: The question as to whether the state exists in order to promote, or not to promote, freedom, is no question at all. In other words, his object was to seek things where they live in their reality. I do not want to defend this, but simply to describe it.
Surely a fearless human being who only wanted to state things as he saw them with his sense for truth cannot be weeded out by means of inciting opinion against him. And yet everywhere these days people are weeded out by means of incitements against them. Treitschke is a fearless spirit whose aim, no matter what he is discussing, is truly never to mince his words. It would be far more to the point — I really must repeat this again — to indicate how Treitschke was in reality a kind of teacher for those who wanted to listen to him. There were not nearly as many who listened as is claimed nowadays. When Treitschke speaks about freedom he does this far less as a critic of other nations than as an educator of his own. I should now like to read you a passage from his article Freedom, which ought to be at least as well known as so much that is quoted out of context and which cannot possibly be understood without proper context. Having first discussed what aspects of society promote freedom, Treitschke writes:
‘It is still most timely’ — he is speaking in the eighteen-sixties — ‘to speak of class prejudices. How truly discouraging to discover that this great civilized nation’ — he means the Germans — ‘continues to acknowledge the legal concept of misalliance in marriage, a concept thrown overboard by the ancients at the beginning of their rise to civilization. We do not, of course, refer to that crude titled gentry who hold a career in the stable to be more respectable than a scientific calling, and the rule of the fist more noble than the free citizen's respect for the law. That caricature of aristocracy has had its comeuppance. But even the motley crowd of the so-called educated, well-to-do classes cherishes a multitude of unfree, intolerant class conceptions. How hard are the loveless judgements passed on the shamefully misnamed dangerous classes! How heartless the deprecation of “luxury” for the lower orders, when a free and noble individual ought to be overjoyed to see the poor beginning to take some pride in themselves and the decency of their appearance! What abject fear at every sign of defiance and of self-respect among the lower classes! German goodness of heart has perhaps preserved our educated classes from developing this attitude in a form as crude as that held among blunter Britons; but so long as aristocradc interests, of which the cleverer among us have never been entirely free, take these forms, there is not much hope for our inner freedom.
We enter a field in which unfreedom and intolerance flourish in abundance when we enquire after the class concepts of that most mighty and exclusive of all “classes” — or whatever else you would like to call this natural aristocracy — the male sex. Unbelievably widespread amongst us, lords of creation, are the ramifications of a silent consipiracy, thoroughly to defraud women of a portion of harmonious human culture. For women gain a part of their culture only through us. Yet we take it for granted amongst ourselves that religious enlightenment is a duty of the educated man but a bringer of corruption to the populace and to women. Indeed, how many of us find a woman most particularly winsome the moment she displays some glaring superstition. And as for “politically-minded females”, they are an abomination we prefer not to mention. Is this indeed our manly faith in the divine nature of freedom? Is religious enlightenment really only a matter of sober understanding and not to a far greater degree a need of the soul? Yet we imagine a woman's warmth of heart might suffer if we let her take her own delight in the great spiritual works of the last hundred years. Do we truly understand German women so little as to imagine that they could ever become “political” and start to worry their heads over ground rents and commercial agreements? Yet the political poverty of our people has to it a human side which might be more deeply, more delicately, more intimately understood by women than by ourselves. Of this abundance of enthusiasm and love, which we so often confront with coldness, inner poverty and heartlessness, could not a small fraction be reserved for our fatherland? Must the shame of the French occupation return once more if our women are to feel themselves, as do their neighbours in East and West, daughters of a great nation? With our unfree lack of magnanimity we have maintained silence towards them for far too long about what stirs in our breast; we felt that they were great enough to be told no more than the most trifling of trifles; and because we were too small-minded not to begrudge them the freedom of culture and education, there is now only a minority of German women capable of understanding the earnest gravity of this momentous era.’
You see how it is possible to quote from Treitschke passages which refer to matters of general humanity, even though on his part he wrote them out of a national spirit for his own nation. If any of the nations who today abuse Treitschke had among them a spirit who meant to them what he means to Germans, you would see that they would place him on the highest pedestal. Imagine an Italian Treitschke. What would the Italians say if the Germans were to speak of their Italian Treitschke in the way they and many others speak of the German Treitschke. The infinite tragedy of our age is that it is stamped with ignorance and with all that counts on ignorance. It would be utterly impossible for such untruths to buzz about in the world today if it were not at every moment feasible to count on people's ignorance. By ignorance I do not, of course, mean the fact that not everybody has time to inform himself about everything. What I do mean is that a little self-knowledge is what is needed.
Of course certain situations cannot be judged if certain things are not known, and judgements born of ignorance, made about whole nations, work in the most terrible way. Today so very much is born out of ignorance. This is, as a matter of fact, caused by that black magic — I have described it like this on other occasions too — known today as journalism. It is a kind of black magic, and there was a certain truth in the way folk legend felt the inventors of the art of printing — with all the perspectives this opens up — to be black magicians.
You might now exclaim: As if there were not enough follies and oddities in anthroposophical spiritual science — now the art of printing is described as black magic! But I did only say ‘a kind’ of black magic. I have often stressed that it is wrong always to say: I must not let Ahriman anywhere near me; away with him! I must not let Lucifer anywhere near me; I only want to have dealings with the good gods! If this is what you want, you can have no dealings with the world, for whether you like it or not, the world hangs in the balance between Ahriman and Lucifer. It is impossible to have dealings with the world if you have this attitude of mind, an attitude which appears particularly frequently in our circles. One must achieve truthfulness even in the smallest matters. This must be the practical outcome of our efforts in spiritual science — the practical outcome. You can feel this in yourselves: If you cannot develop the urge for truthfulness in yourselves, you will always be open to the danger of being infected, influenced, by the untruthfulness that lives in the world.
That is why I said the other day: In future all the efforts that have been made towards peace will be forgotten, and in the periphery the only thing to be remembered will be the shouting-down of peace; but it will not be remembered as a shouting-down but as something that was justified; everything else will be forgotten. This is sure to be what will happen. So at least our discussions here should be a contribution to making it possible to sense the truth of the situation. For today one of the foremost demands made of those who are truly concerned with the welfare of mankind and the progress of mankind is that they should not allow themselves to be taken in by untruthfulness.
Let us look at one of the facts of today totally sine ira but not sine studio; without sympathy and antipathy but with a basis of facts. You have, I am sure, all read the note from the Entente to President Wilson. From a certain standpoint this note, in contrast to all the earlier ones, ceuld be regarded as a favourable symptom for the future. For if things are taken too far, if the bowstring threatens to snap, then there is once again hope, the hope that if spiritual powers are challenged, then the blow will also be returned by the spiritual side. This note certainly outdid all the earlier ones.
Let us now look at the facts. Here, roughly, is Austria-Hungary as it is today. [The lecturer drew.] Here is the Danube and this is where Vienna would be. Now assume that the demands of the note from the Entente are met. It says that the Italians — that is the Austrian Italians — want to be liberated. The worst thing about this note from the Entente is that it suffers from that inner untruthfulness which arises out of total ignorance. That is why it is difficult to make the drawing I now want to make. There will be difficulties, as you will see. Assume that the Italian Austrians are liberated. Now the southern Slavs are also to be liberated. This is rather difficult. If the southern Slavs were liberated, the map would look like this, for they live everywhere over here.
Further it is said, funnily enough: The Czecho-Slovaks are to be liberated. We know the Czechs and also the Slovaks. It goes without saying that only the Entente has heard of Czecho-Slovaks. Let us presume that it is the Czechs and the Slovaks who are meant. If we go by what the Czechs themselves think, the result would be like this. Then on to the liberation of the Romanians. This is what it would look like. Also to be liberated, as the note says ‘... in accordance with the will of His Majesty the Tsar’, are the Poles inhabiting Galicia; but this is to be done by Austria herself. In the end, Hungary would look something like this, and Austria something like this.
This map is the result of carrying out what is said about Austria in the note from the Entente. And at the same time it is said that there is no intention of doing anything to the peoples of Central Europe!
The whole note demonstrates, for instance, a total lack of awareness of the difficulties of managing all this here, where the Slavs are in the majority, compared with there, where they are a tiny minority. The whole note lays bare the most arrogant, unscrupulous ignorance of the situation! With this ignorance, historical notes are written. And to add insult to injury it is further said that the only intention is ... I really don't know, for it is almost too repulsive to repeat these empty phrases.
What could be better proof than this note from the Entente of the fact that Austria was forced to defend herself? What could give better proof? In short, this note can only be seen as something pathological. It is a challenge to truth and reality. It is taking things too far. So let us hope, since it is a challenge to the spiritual world, that this spiritual world will find it necessary to put things right, even though, of course, human beings will have to be the tools with which the spiritual world will work.
It really is time for an illustration such as the one I have sketched here to be shown all over the world in order to demonstrate this utter historical ignorance and lack of understanding about Central Europe. Obviously, where power rules, reason cannot have much effect. But a start must be made by understanding that, when rights and freedoms are mentioned, power is meant, actual power. Things must be called by their true names. This is what our time is suffering from: That people cannot bring themselves to call things by their right names, that people cannot make the resolve to call things by their right names. Many people fail to understand a great deal. When you come up against something like this absolutely idiotic division of the Austrian nations, it becomes perfectly obvious that this note stems from people who know nothing of what exists in Central Europe, yet who possess the arrogance to judge things about which they know nothing and who want nothing other than to extend their power over these territories. They could not care less what the real situation is.
But you do have to ask how such things could come about in the first place. For instance in some versions it says: Liberation of the Slavs, the Czechs and the Slovaks. But the Swiss newspapers, whose translation is probably more accurate, speak about Czecho-Slovaks. You will agree, if someone makes a correct statement, you are not curious about the source of his information; but when someone speaks absolute balderdash, such as the description of the nations in the note from the Entente, you do begin to wonder about its source. It is indeed not uninteresting to take note when situations seem to run, in a way, parallel, though of course without basing any hypothesis on this, or drawing any conclusions. I naturally asked myself: What is the source of these nonsensical terms? I repeat: Without forming any kind of hypothesis or conclusions, let me give you an aperçu.
In the last few days — I am not judging the fact, but simply telling you this — a sentence passed in Austria on the Czech leader, Kramar, has been made public. He was for a long time one of the most influential people in Austria. He was sentenced to death, and this sentence was then commuted to fifteen years hard labour. The wording of the sentence also includes the statement that certain articles that had appeared in The Times — in English, of course — had been found in the possession of Kramar in his own language. Now Dr Kramar has a friend, the university professor Masaryk, who has fled from Austria and now lives in London and Paris. So let us consider certain sentences from Kramar's programme which were the basis on which he was sentenced. If you understand nothing about the situation in Austria and you read these sentences in The Times, or wherever else — they also appeared in Paris in Revue tchèque — and play about a little with the wording, not forgetting that Kramar of course uses the proper terms, you arrive, curiously enough, at the sentences about the peoples of Austria as they appear in the note from the Entente. And if the term ‘Czecho-Slovaks’ is indeed used, you gain the strange impression that Kramar was hoping to found a state consisting of Czechs and Slovaks, which would be meaningful. But those in western Europe who know nothing about the actual situation would make of this: ‘Czecho-Slovaks’.
It is indeed necessary today, when so many underground channels play their part, to clarify certain questions about interconnections. I do not want to build any hypotheses, nor draw any conclusions in connection with what I have said, but the fact remains that a curious conformity exists between the sentence that was passed and the text of the note from the Entente. Obviously you can have different opinions about this sentence, depending on your point of view. Kramar could be seen either as a martyr or a criminal. But I do not want to pass judgement. The important thing is to be in a position to observe this curious conformity. As I said, I simply noticed this when I was puzzling about the origin, apart from everything else, of the stupendous ignorance on which the note is based.
We must certainly speak about this stupendous ignorance. For it is significant, and is one of the characteristics of our time, that on a basis of this kind of reality an opinion is expressed by those who dominate one half of the habitable earth. It is a challenge indeed to the spirit of truth.
[The next few sentences in this lecture refer to a quotation from an ‘article’ dated 25 July 1914 mentioning Rasputin, which the stenographer unfortunately did not record. Since they are meaningless without the quotation, they have been omitted. Ed.]
It will always be possible, if one has the power, to give the facts an impudent slap in the face — and the periphery does have this power. But you cannot slap truth in the face. Truth speaks and will — let us hope — also be an impulse which, when things are at their worst, can lead mankind to some kind of salvation.
We shall continue tomorrow.
|GA 319. Polarities in Health, Illness and Therapy — Polarities in Health, Illness and Therapy|
|That can happen when one combines the remedy phosphorus — in a way which becomes clear through a more exacting study of the matter — with calcium or a calcium salt. When dealing with tuberculosis of the small intestine one will mix some kind of copper compounds in the right dosage with the phosphorus. When dealing with a pulmonary tuberculosis, one will add iron to the phosphorus. But still other additions come under consideration since pulmonary tuberculosis is an exceedingly complicated disease.|
|GA 319. Polarities in Health, Illness and Therapy — Polarities in Health, Illness and Therapy|
Since I was asked to speak about the therapeutic principles which have developed out of the anthroposophical view of the world, I will gladly meet this request. However, it is difficult to be brief, especially about this kind of subject matter which is so extraordinarily extensive. In one brief lecture, which can only be aphoristic, one can hardly develop correct ideas of what is important. In addition, certain deliberations must be undertaken in such an attempt which are quite removed from what people generally think about. Nevertheless, this evening I will attempt to present the relevant issues in as generally comprehensive a manner as possible.
The fact that within our anthroposophical movement there is also a medical-therapeutic endeavor is certainly not based upon our desire as anthroposophists to participate in everything and to stick our noses, so to speak, into everything. That is absolutely not the case; but as the anthroposophical movement sought to make its way through the world, physicians too found their way to this movement. They are seriously striving physicians; and a relatively large number of such physicians had come to a more or less clear awareness of how uncertain, how vacillating the views of contemporary, official medicine actually are, of how in many cases the foundations for the actual comprehension of processes of illness and healing are lacking. These foundations are lacking in official medicine because today the claims for scientific validity are actually based exclusively upon generally accepted natural science. This natural science in turn believes itself to be moving with certainty only with what it can determine in a mechanical, physical or chemical manner from outer nature. It then applies the discoveries made through physics and chemistry about outer natural processes in order to come to an understanding of the human being. But even if there is a kind of concentration, a microcosmic concentration of all world processes within the human being, nevertheless, the outer physical and chemical processes never proceed within the human organism in the same form in which they proceed outside in nature. Man takes the substances of the earth into himself, substances which are not merely passive, but which are actually always permeated by nature processes. A substance only appears outwardly as if it were resting within itself. In reality, everything lives and weaves in the substance. Thus man also takes into his organism these processes, this living and weaving activity, proceeding chemically and physically in nature; but he transforms it immediately in his organism — he makes it into something different.
This something different, which develops out of the nature processes in the human organism, can only be understood if one attains a comprehensive observation of the human being based on reality. But contemporary natural science actually excludes from its realm what proceeds in the human being as intrinsically human. Even, for example, what proceeds as intrinsically human in the physical body is attributed exclusively to physical and chemical processes; for in the physical body of man nothing takes place which is not at the same time subject to the influences of etheric processes, of astral processes, of ego processes. But as natural science totally ignores these ego processes, these astral processes, this etheric living and weaving, it actually does not at all approach the human being. Therefore this natural science can not really look into the inner activities of the human being in order to comprehend how the outer chemical and physical processes continue to work in him: how they continue to work when he is healthy, and how they continue to work when he is diseased.
How shall it then be possible to properly judge the effects of medicaments, of a remedy, if one has not acquired an understanding for how some substance of nature which we introduce into the human organism, or with which we treat the human organism, continues to work in that organism.
It could indeed be said that the greatest progress imaginable in medicine in more recent times has actually only been made in the area of surgery where one is dealing with external mechanical manipulations, as it were. In contrast, in the area of actual therapy, there reigns great confusion — (this is not my judgment, but the judgment of those physicians who have become conscious of all this). The reason for this confusion is that the connection between any object of nature and its effect upon illness cannot be understood if, by virtue of a specific point of view which one has about natural science, one actually excludes the human being from scientific considerations.
Since anthroposophy strives to know the human being comprehensively — insofar as he is a super-sensible as well as a material being — it is also possible that anthroposophy can yield knowledge concerning the treatment of illnesses with various natural substances.
Fundamentally speaking, we are already confronting today a kind of boundary in medicine if we ask only for the actual nature of illness. What is illness? This question cannot be answered out of contemporary scientific knowledge. For, what, according to these natural scientific views, are all the processes which proceed in the healthy human being? From the head to the tip of the toes these are processes of nature. But then what are the processes which take place during illness in the liver, kidney, head, heart, wherever? What kind of processes are these? These are also natural processes! All healthy processes are processes of nature; all processes of illness are also processes of nature. Why then is the human being healthy with one sort of natural process and ill with the other sort of natural process?
It is not a matter of speaking in vague generalities: well, yes the healthy processes of nature are normal, but the sick processes of nature are not. One can get the impression that, if one doesn't know anything, there arises “at the proper time,” a word, a label for our ignorance.
What is actually going on when customary natural science is applied in approaching the human being? The predominant practice is not to look at the living being, but at the corpse; here and there a piece of the organism is sampled and then various abstractions are made about what kind of healthy or sick natural processes proceeded within it. Thus it actually doesn't matter whether one takes some kind of tissue out of the head, out of the liver, out of the big toe, or the like. Everything is finally reduced to the cell. Gradually histology, the study of tissues and cells, has actually become the most highly developed teaching of the human being. Of course, if one goes into the smallest parts and ignores all other forces, all other relationships, then, as at night all cows are grey, all organs are the same. The result is a benighted “grey cow science,” not a true science which acquaints itself with the uniqueness of the separate organs in man.
What must provide the basis there I actually dared to express only a few years ago. Although it is generally imagined that it is easy for spiritual science to come to its results, this matter has occupied me for more than thirty years. It is thought that one only needs to look into the spiritual world to find out everything, while it is difficult if one has to work in laboratories or in a clinic — there one must really struggle. In spiritual science it is only a matter of looking into the world of the spirit and then one finds out everything. It really isn't that simple. Thorough and responsible spiritual investigation demands more effort and above all more responsibility than the manipulations in the laboratory or in the clinic or observatories. And so it is that the first conception of what I will now briefly indicate in principle stood before me approximately thirty-five years ago. I was only able to speak about it a few years ago after everything was worked through and, above all, verified completely on the findings of the entire contemporary official natural science. It was under the influence of these principles of the membering of the human being that what I just told you about developed — this medical-therapeutic endeavor within our anthroposophical movement.
Even if we confront the human being as a solely physical being, we must definitely distinguish three members which differ one from another. These three different members can be labeled in the most varied ways, but we can best approach them if we characterize them by saying that one system of the physical being is the nerve-sense system which is primarily localized in the head. The second system is the rhythmic system, which encompasses respiration, blood circulation, the rhythmic activities of the digestive system, and so forth. The third system is represented in the interconnection between the movement system, the system of the limbs, and the actual metabolic system, This interconnection becomes immediately evident to you if you think of the fact that the metabolism is enhanced especially through the movement of the limbs and that inwardly the limbs are organically connected with the metabolic organs. That is directly evident also in anatomy. Just look at how the legs are continued inwardly into the metabolic organs and, similarly, how the arms are continued inwardly. Thus we can now distinguish the nerve-sense system, located primarily in the head; the rhythmic system, located primarily in the chest; and the metabolic limb system, located primarily in the limbs and the attached metabolic organs.
This membering, however, may not be done as a professor once did who wanted to ridicule the anthroposophical movement. He did not attempt to penetrate into what is actually meant with this membering. He said: these anthroposophists maintain that man consists of three systems: a head, a rump consisting of chest and abdomen, and limbs. Of course, in this manner it is easy to ridicule the matter.
What matters is not that the nerve-sense system is only in the head. It is primarily in the head, but it extends over the entire organism. The head organization spreads out through the entire organism. Similarly, the rhythmic system extends upwards and downwards through the entire organism. Spatially speaking the human being is entirely metabolic-limb system. If you move the eyes, the eyes are limbs. So these systems are not spatially next to one another; instead they interpenetrate one another. They totally interpenetrate and one must accustom oneself a little to an exact thinking if one wants to evaluate this membering of the human being in the right way.
Now both these systems, the first and the third, the nerve-sense system and the metabolic-limb system, are placed polarically opposite each other. What the one creates destroys the other. What destroys the other is created by the one. They thus work in completely opposite ways. And the middle system, the rhythmic system, establishes the connection between the two. There is a kind of vacillation, oscillation, between them, so that a harmony can always exist between the destruction of the one system and the construction of the other system. If, for example, we look at the metabolic system, we recognize that it naturally works with its greatest intensity in the lower body of the human being; but that which goes on within the human abdomen, or the lower body, must call forth the polar opposite activity in the head, in the nerve-sense system, when the person is healthy.
Imagine now that the activity actually inherent in the human digestive system intensifies so much that it extends right up to the nerve-sense system, so that the activity which should actually remain in the metabolic-limb system reaches over to the nerve-sense system. Then you have a natural process, so to speak, but you can see immediately how that natural process becomes an abnormal one. It should remain in the metabolic system, but breaks through, so to speak, upwards into the nerve-sense system.
That results then in the various forms of the illness treated by medicine today as insignificant, but not treated in that way by a large part of humanity because these various forms of illness are known everywhere. What develops is known as the various forms of migraine. In order to understand migraine in its various forms we must comprehend this process which ought only to take place in the metabolic system but which breaks through to the nerve-sense system so that the nerves and senses are so affected that the metabolism shoots into them instead of remaining in its own place.
The reverse can also take place. The process which ought to be most intensive in the nerve-sense system, and which is completely opposite to the metabolic process, can in a certain sense also break through to the metabolic system. Consequently an enhanced nerve-sense process takes place in the metabolic system where normally a merely subordinated nerve-sense process should be active. Thus what belongs to the head, as it were, breaks through into the lower body. If this happens then the dangerous illness develops which is known as typhoid fever.
Thus we can see how a fundamental understanding of this three-fold human being makes it possible for us to understand how a process of illness develops out of a healthy process. If our head, with its nerve-sense system, were not organized as it is, then we could never have typhoid fever. If our lower body were not organized as it is, we could never have migraine. The head activity should remain in the head, the lower body activity in the lower body. If they break through then such forms of illness develop.
And just as we can point to two especially characteristic forms of illness, so can we point to other forms of illness which always develop when an activity which belongs to one organ system asserts itself in another place, in another organ system.
If one proceeds only anatomically one merely observes the status of the smallest parts in the tissues of the organism. But one does not see the working of polar opposite activities. When studying the nerve cell you can only study that its organization is opposite to that of the liver cell, for example. If, however, you were able to look into the totality of the organism in such a way that it appears to you in its three-foldness, then you will also notice how the nerve cell is a cell which continually tends to dissolve, which continually tends to be broken down if it is healthy: and how a liver cell is something which continually tends to be built up if it is healthy. Those are polar activities. They work in the right way upon one another if they are appropriately distributed in the organism; they work incorrectly within one another if they penetrate into one another.
The rhythmic system is in the middle and always strives to create the balance between the two opposed polar activities of the nerve-sense system and the metabolic-limb system.
I would now like to select a special example to let you have insight into how one can find the relationship of a remedy which has been taken from nature with its forces to the health-giving and illness-generating forces active within man.
Let us direct our gaze to an ore which can be found in nature, so-called antimony. As soon as we look at it externally we see that it has an extraordinarily interesting property. Its form in nature is such that certain rods develop — stem-like, lance-like structures which lie next to one another — so that if we were to draw the ore schematically we could draw the following:
It grows almost like a mineral moss or a mineral lichen. One can see that this mineral wants to order itself into threads. One can see this even more clearly if we subject it to a certain physical-chemical process. Then the thread-like crystals become even thinner. It orders itself into clusters of very fine threads. Especially important, however, is what occurs when this antimony is subjected to a certain kind of combustion process. You get a white smoke which can then condense on the walls and becomes mirror-like. That is called the antimony mirror. It is hardly respected at all today but in older medicine it was widely used. This antimony mirror, which first arises out of the combustion process and condenses on the walls so that it shines like a mirror is something exceptionally important.
In addition there is another property. I will emphasize only this: if antimony is subjected to certain electrolytic processes and it is brought to the so-called electrolytic cathode, then it is only necessary (after the antimony was subjected to the electrolytic process on the cathode), to exert a slight action on it and a small antimony explosion will occur. In brief, this antimony has the most interesting properties.
If antimony is introduced into the human organism in a moderate dose one can study various processes which show how in fact the same forces which behave as I have just described experience a kind of continuation in the human organism and how they take on all kinds of forms of forces and effects within it.
I can naturally not explain all the details and proofs to you: I only want to briefly sketch for you what is inherent in these forms of activity. These processes which arise in the human organism occur especially strongly wherever blood coagulates. Therefore they strengthen or enhance the coagulation of blood. However, if we use those methods of study which are consistent with an understanding of the threefold human organism, we are permitted to gradually look into the human being and gain knowledge of how the separate systems behave in the different organs. If we look into the human organism in this way, we find that what lives in antimony lives not only outside in the mineral antimony, but also is active as a force-system in the human organism. This force system is always present in the healthy human organism. In the sick human organism it takes on forms of the kind which I have just explained to you.
This antimony process existing in the human organism is opposed in a polar way to another process. It is opposed to that process which arises where the plastically active forces, for example, the cell-forming forces occur. These are the forces which round out the cells, which form the cellular substance of the human organism. I would like to call these forces, because they are primarily contained in protein substance, the albuminizing forces. Thus we have in the human organism the forces which we find outside in human nature in antimony if we subject antimony, for example, to combustion, and bring about an antimony mirror. In addition we also have the opposing forces active, the albuminizing forces, which immobilize, which take away the antimonizing forces.
These two force systems, albuminizing and antimonizing, work against one another in such a way that they must be in a certain state of equilibrium in the human organism. One must now recognize that the process which I have described to you before in principle, and which lies at the basis of abdominal typhus, is essentially based on a disturbance of the balance between these two force systems.
In order to look properly into the human organism one must be able to take recourse to that which I have described to you from the most varied — although not medical — points of view in these morning lectures.
In them we have seen how man has not merely his physical body, but also an etheric body — a body of formative forces, an astral and an ego organization. And just yesterday I was able to explain to you how there is an intimate connection on the one hand between the physical body and the formative force body, and on the other, between the ego and the astral body. There is a looser connection between the astral body and the formative force body, for they separate every night.
This interconnection, which consists of a working into one another of the forces of the astral and etheric bodies, is radically disturbed in typhoid fever. In this illness the astral body becomes weak and is unable to work with a corresponding intensity into the physical body because it works for itself thereby bringing about that excess which presses downward, so to speak, the nerve-sense organization, which is primarily subject to the astral body. Instead of transforming itself into metabolic activity, it remains active as astral activity. The astral body works for itself. It does not work properly into the etheric body. The consequences are the symptoms of illness which give us the symptomatology of typhus.
Now that which occurs as antimony is active in such a way that antimony denies its mineral nature. It gets crystalline threads, so that even the antimony mirror, wherever it deposits, appears like ice-flowers in the window, thereby showing the inner force of crystallization as in nature. This force of crystallization, which becomes active in antimony, if it is properly incorporated into a remedy and introduced into the organism, works in such a way that it supports this organism enabling it to insert its astral body with its forces into the etheric body in the right way, so that it can bring these bodies again into the right connection.
With antimony prepared in a proper way into a remedy we support that process which opposes the typhus process. And just with this antimony remedy, to which other substances are added, one can battle against the illness by stimulating and supporting processes in the organism so that it unfolds its own, I would like to say, antimonizing force which has as its goal to call forth the proper rhythm in the working together of astral body and etheric body. Other substances must be mixed in to establish a proper connection to the organism depending on whether an illness takes one or another course.
Thus an anthroposophical consideration leads to the recognition of a relationship between what is active in the objects of nature, as I have shown you with the example of antimony, and that which is active within the human organism. You will be able to follow up this albuminizing, this plastically rounding force, and the other force which works linearly right into the germ cell.
Whoever has truly gained knowledge in this field — however uncomfortable it may be for him to say so, because he knows he will call forth hate and antipathy in certain people — and who thus looks into the operation of the human organism will consider the otherwise amazing and wonderful microscopic studies about the germ cell, exceptionally dilettantish. There people look externally at the egg cell, observe the development of the so-called centrosomes — you can read about that in any textbook about embryology, — without knowing how these albuminizing forces, which also rule throughout the entire human organism, are opposed, polarically opposed, to the antimonizing forces. The rounding of the egg cell as such is brought about by the albuminizing forces; the centrosomes, after fertilization, are called forth by the antimonizing forces.
That, however, goes on in the entire human body; and by preparing remedies in the right way, and knowing through the diagnosis where one must support the human organism, one introduces into this organism the forces which can work against a process of illness.
By bringing anthroposophical points of view into medicine a connection is established between the macrocosm and the human being. Naturally I would have to say much more about antimony if I wanted to scientifically explain it in detail, but I only want to point out general principles here. In addition I wanted to tell you about the processes which antimony is able to bring forth out of itself, which it has in itself, depending on how one treats it.
I could also show you now, as an example, the entire behavior within nature and its processes for that which we call quartz, or silicic acid. It is one of the constituents of granite. It is transparently crystalline and so hard that you can't score it with a knife at all. If we treat this substance in the proper way and administer it to the human organism — in the proper doses that are determined from the diagnosis — then it gains the characteristic of being able to support that which is to be active in the nerve-sense system, which the organism through the nerve-sense system is to bring forth as the intrinsic forces of this system. So what, by rights, the senses actually should do is supported by the remedy, which is prepared in the right way from quartz, or silica and administered in the proper doses. It is necessary then, depending upon the accompanying symptoms, to add still other substances, but here it is primarily a matter of the effect of that which lies in the silicic acid formation process. Thus if one brings this silicic acid formation process into the human organism, then a weak activity in the nerve-sense system is supported so that it then works with the proper strength. Now if this nerve-sense activity becomes too weak, then the digestive activity is able to penetrate through to the head and the migraine-like symptoms develop.
If one then supports the nerve-sense activity in the right way with a remedy which is produced in the proper manner out of silicic acid, the nerve-sense system becomes so strong in the person suffering from migraine that it can again press back the digestive process which broke through.
Naturally I am characterizing these matters somewhat crudely, but you will see what is significant here. What matters is to really be able to see through the healthy or ill human organism, not merely in accordance with its cellular composition but according the forces active in it, whether they work co-operatively, rhythmically or in opposition. Then one can look in nature for what in the human organism can fight against this or that process of illness.
Thus one can find, for example, how the process which is contained in phosphorus is in outer nature a process which, if introduced into the human organism, works in a supportive way upon a certain kind of inner disability of the human organism; namely, when the human organism becomes incapable of allowing to act in the right way certain forces, which should always work in the healthy organism. This is when a person has too little strength and cannot let certain forces be active within him which are a kind of organic combustion process which is always present in the transformation of substances in the human organism. This takes place in every movement, in all that man does, and also in what is active within organic combustion processes. Now the human organism can become too weak to regulate these organic combustion processes in the proper way, for they must be inhibited in a certain manner. If they are insufficiently inhibited, they develop an excessive activity. The organic combustion processes in themselves actually always have an immeasurable, unlimited intensity. If that were not so, an excessive fatigue would arise immediately, or one would be unable to keep moving. However, the organism must also continuously have the possibility of inhibiting the boundless intensity of the organic combustion processes.
If now these inhibiting forces are neither in an organ system nor in the entire organism, if the organism has become too weak to inhibit its organic combustion processes in the proper way, then there develops something which manifests itself as tuberculosis in the most various forms. The suitable nutrient soil for the bacilli is created through this organic loss of strength, through the inability of the organism to inhibit the combustion processes.
Nothing will here be said against the bacterial theory which to a certain extent is very useful. In the various ways by which bacilli arise here or there one can naturally find out many things; for purposes of diagnoses one can generally get a lot of information. In no way do I want to say anything against official medicine, except that it needs to be augmented and developed further when it arrives at certain boundaries — and it can be developed further when the points of view of anthroposophy can be applied to it.
If phosphorus is then introduced into the human organism, then these capacities of containing the organic combustion process are supported. But one must see to it that this containment can emanate from the various organ systems. Let us begin by looking at the system which primarily works in the bones. There the activity of phosphorus in the human organism must be supported in that one directs it towards the bones. That can happen when one combines the remedy phosphorus — in a way which becomes clear through a more exacting study of the matter — with calcium or a calcium salt. When dealing with tuberculosis of the small intestine one will mix some kind of copper compounds in the right dosage with the phosphorus. When dealing with a pulmonary tuberculosis, one will add iron to the phosphorus. But still other additions come under consideration since pulmonary tuberculosis is an exceedingly complicated disease. Thus you see that the possibility of a true therapy is based on how the chemical and physical processes continue to work on in the human organism.
Official medicine often starts out from the opinion that the working of the antimony forces outside in nature is the same as it is in the human organism, but that is not the case. One must be clear about how these processes work on in the human organism, and this can be seen if one applies actual anthroposophical insights to the experiments which must be done.
We have seen how antimony establishes the rhythm between the astral body and the etheric body. Now we can see how the forces which are active in quartz are especially suitable to reestablishing the proper relationship, when it has been disturbed, between the ego and the astral body, in order thereby to work in a healing way upon the nerve-sense system. We can also see how calcium — especially that calcium which is obtained from the calcium excretions of animals — provides remedies which establish the proper relationship between the body of formative forces, the etheric body and the physical body.
Thus one can say that a correct view of the human being leads to the use of calcium or something similar, namely, what is secreted from the animal organism, — oyster shells, for example — in order to establish the proper relationship between the etheric body and the physical body, which, if out of balance, always expresses itself in physical processes of illness. That is what one must reflect upon when preparing remedies from such calcareous or similar excretions.
When dealing with an arhythmic working together of the body of formative forces and the astral body, one must look for what is present in antimony, and also in numerous other metals. If one wants to use remedies prepared from plants, one must also look especially into those constituents which are contained in the middle parts of the plants, those which are particularly present in the leaves and stem, whereas those forces which correspond to the phosphorus process are contained primarily in the blossom organs of the plants. Those processes which correspond to the silicic acid process are contained in the root organs of the plant. Thus one finds relationships between the forces which are in the various parts of the plant and the human organism. The root forces have a definite relationship and connection to the human head and to the nerve-sense system; the leaves and the stem organs have a specific connection to the rhythmic system; the blossom organs have a special connection to the metabolic system.
If one therefore wants to give assistance in a simple way to the digestive, metabolic system, that can often successfully be done — after having made the diagnosis in the correct way — by choosing certain blossoms of which one makes a tea. In this way one can assist the digestive organs. If one wants to gain a remedy which works especially upon the nerve-sense processes, upon the head organization, one would have to extract the salts from the roots by a special extraction process.
Thus it is necessary to penetrate into nature on the one hand and into the human organism on the other. Then it is possible to really find the remedies in nature so that one can see how the two are connected. Otherwise one does things by trial and error in order to find out how something works only to discover that it is not valid, or to write up a number of cases where 90% or 70% showed a favorable result, but 40% were unsuccessful. Then the matter is statistically treated, and depending on what result the statistics yielded, a determination is made whether or not a particular remedy should be used.
Because of the brief time available I can only speak about these matters aphoristically in order to indicate how in fact, without succumbing to dilettantism or medical sectarianism, one can proceed strictly in accordance with science in approaching illness processes through remedies which come out of a full perception of man.
Just as the correct knowledge of natural substances and natural processes is important in order to create a remedy, so it is equally important to know the specific manner of application of the remedy.
One can either work upon the nerve-sense system in bringing about, in the right manner, the process of healing, or one can work on the rhythmic system, or on the metabolic-limb system. In order to work on these different systems it is essential to know how the method of treatment must be initiated, for almost every remedy can be used in three different ways. To begin with it can be taken orally. This makes it possible for a person to take up the remedy through the metabolic system, which then in turn works upon the other systems. Some remedies are meant to be used in just this way.
There are also, however, remedies which can be used in a way which allows them to work directly on the rhythmic system. (In this connection antimony will provide a good example for finding the proper method of treatment.) This is where administration by injection must be introduced. Injecting the remedy intravenously or sub-cutaneously is the mode of administration which can best work upon the rhythmic processes in man.
In those remedies used in ointments, or in baths, or even wherever there is a question of treating the human organism in an external, mechanical way, for example in massage, then one can count upon this method of treatment as working primarily upon the nerve-sense system.
One can thus work through every organ system in the most varied ways in an effort at working towards a healing process. Let us assume we have silica, or quartz. It makes quite a difference whether we prepare this remedy to be taken by mouth or to be injected. If we count upon the fact that it will be taken by mouth then we will be preparing it to work through the digestive system, and the digestive system in turn can send forces into the nerve-sense system. We are then introducing the quartz processes by detour through the digestive system. If, however, we see that more quartz processes need to be transmitted to the nerve-sense system by introducing them via the rhythmic system, via the blood and breath, then we inject the remedy and thereby attempt to heal by way of the rhythmic system.
If we want to work therapeutically by way of the digestive organs with aromatic ether substances contained in the blossom of the plant, then we will prepare a tea and introduce it into the gastro-intestinal tract by having the patient drink it. If we want to bring etheric oils which, through their aromatic properties, work directly upon the nerve-sense system — or working first upon the nerve-sense system and then into the rhythmic system — then we could make some kind of bath to which we add the juices of the blossoms. In this manner we work upon the nerve-sense system.
Thus we see how the healing effect of the different substances brought into a relationship to man depends on the various methods of application and treatment. This will become transparently clear if anthroposophical knowledge is more and more applied to bringing about a connection between nature processes and the human being. It can then become evident through anthroposophy which remedies one needs to apply and how one needs to apply them.
In this way something can be brought about in the laboratories within our clinical-therapeutic institutes and other endeavors in which physicians are involved making it possible that on the one hand, remedies and therapeutic methods can be tried out, and on the other hand, the remedies themselves can be prepared. We have such clinical institutes as well as chemical-pharmaceutical laboratories in Arlesheim, near Dornach, as well as in Stuttgart.
I must point here especially to the Clinical-Therapeutic Institute in Arlesheim (now the Ita Wegman Klinik) which is under the exceptional direction of Frau Dr. Ita Wegman, who unfolds an activity full of blessing for that institute because she has that which I would like to call “the courage to heal.” It is evident that this courage to heal is necessary, especially if you look on the one hand into the complexity of natural processes out of which healing processes must be drawn forth, and on the other hand into the immense complexity of processes of illness and health in man. — If a physician confronts this vast field even if he only has a certain number of patients, then she or he is required to have courage in order to heal.
Attached to this Arlesheim Institute is the International Pharmaceutical Laboratory (now the Weleda) in which remedies are produced. They can be used today in the entire world. The pharmacy produces the remedies and it is up to others to find the ways and means to make use of them. That is the essential point. People must find the right ways and means to arrive at the right remedies without being dilettantes. Then contemporary science will not be negated; rather, it will be taken further, extended.
If this knowledge becomes widely known, the success of such an endeavor as the International Pharmaceutical Laboratory in Arlesheim will not be a problem. But it is difficult in the face of the prevalent, purely materialistic direction of medicine to bring into the world effective therapeutics which are based upon a full knowledge of man. To bring about a change one would have to count upon the insight of every person who has a heartfelt interest in the health of his fellow man.
In pointing to that which can be achieved through natural remedies and their appropriate application, I certainly do not want to exclude what can be achieved by more soul-spiritual processes of healing. In this realm one can make especially fruitful observations. If we now carry hygienic-therapeutic considerations — as always must be the case in a proper pedagogy — into the school, one can see how the manner in which one works upon the children in a soul-spiritual manner in instruction can have an effect on the health and illness of a person — if not immediately, then certainly in the course of life. When I give pedagogical lectures I naturally speak about these matters in greater detail. I will mention only one example: the teacher can proceed properly in relation to the memory of the child only if he expects neither too much nor too little. If he proceeds improperly, if he places too many demands on the memory in the eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh years of life, then he does not have the proper pedagogical tact. What the soul must go through in an excessive activity of memory, or artificially nurtured activity of memory, will live itself out later in life as all kinds of physical illnesses. It is possible to establish a connection between diabetes and erroneous methods in education in relationship to memory. So too can the use of memory in education to the opposite extreme also have unfavorable effects upon a child.
I can mention this only in principle, but one can see from it not only how the natural remedies work in health and illness, but also how the special manner in which the soul itself works can be significant to health and illness.
Starting from there one can also find one's way to those methods whereby we attempt, through purely soul-spiritual influences, from person to person, — which I naturally cannot describe in detail any more today — to bring about processes leading to healing. Especially in this realm, however, it is very easy to get into dilettantism. One can, for example, harbor the belief that the so-called mental illnesses can be most easily healed through spiritual influences (for example by discussion). However, mental illnesses especially distinguish themselves by the fact that one can hardly approach the ill person with rational discussion. As a matter of fact it is just that impossibility of rational exchange which closes off the soul against outer influences in the so-called mentally ill. But one will find over and again that especially in so-called mental illness — which actually has been, as such, incorrectly named — physical processes of illness are present in a hidden way somewhere. Before one wants to meddle in a dilettantish way with mental illness, one ought actually, with the proper diagnosis, to determine which physical organ is involved in the illness. Only then will one be working beneficially through a corresponding healing of the physical organism.
One can help physical illnesses much sooner through all kinds of soul-spiritual (mental-psychological) influences, This is being done today but generally in a dilettantish way. I will not go into that now, Especially in physical illness much benefit will come in this way and the outer process which is brought about through remedies and the like will be supported in different ways.
I can only indicate this, Those methods which are based on the foundation of anthroposophy certainly do not exclude therapeutic soul-spiritual influences; rather, they include them. You have evidence of this in the Clinical Therapeutic Institute in Arlesheim-Dornach. Besides the physical-therapeutic methods you also find curative eurythmy.
This curative eurythmy consists in taking what you have seen here as artistic eurythmy and transforming it into health-giving movements for the person moving them, The vowel aspect is transformed so that the person makes healthy movements which are drawn out of eurythmy and are applied specifically in support of those forces which earlier I have called the albuminizing forces in man, while the consonant forces in many ways support the antimonizing forces, Thus it is possible through the working together of consonant and vowel eurythmy to bring about a balance between these two kinds of forces, And it can show there, if things are done properly, not in a dilettantish manner, how other healing processes, also in chronic illnesses, can be immensely supported through this curative eurythmy.
This curative eurythmy is actually based upon the fact that soul-spiritual processes are awakened through that which man does with his limbs. If one knows which movements want to come directly forth out of the healthy human organism, then one can also find the corresponding movements which will work in a healing way if one works back from the limbs, i.e. from the human movement, upon the processes of the inner organs.
In the Clinical Therapeutic Institute in Arlesheim the possibility exists to look at this curative eurythmy and to see how it, as a therapy, can be a specialized branch within the entire therapeutic process, a therapy which can be discovered out of true anthroposophical knowledge of man. It would naturally be going too far to discuss details in this area. The principles are actually given in what I have presented to you.
Thus it has happened that in the most varied ways we have had to develop this therapeutic endeavor within the anthroposophical movement because those involved in therapy have approached us. It has been a demand arising from the condition of the times. It was so-to-speak demanded by contemporary civilization. Anthroposophy has only given the answers to questions which were posed to it.
I really could only present the principles aphoristically to you today. More has not been possible during the available time. If I wanted to present matters in their totality, then I would have to do what I refused to do two days ago during the lecture on eurythmy. I would have to invite you to stay here through the night and listen to me till tomorrow morning, until the morning lecture. But that is something that would make you sick, and it would certainly be inappropriate for someone who wants to speak about bringing health to make people sick in this way. Therefore I must send you home for a healthy sleep following this sketchy presentation.