The Rudolf Steiner Archive

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Behind the Scenes of External Happenings

April 25, 2022

Rudolf Steiner offers us a unique perspective on world events with an exploration of spiritual impulses working behind the scenes. Through his lectures and books available in English here online, Dr. Steiner teaches that we can come to know the spiritual world through our own thinking and factual observation of the material world. Beyond merely understanding spiritual impulses manifesting in the material, we can further work with them to actively transform ourselves and participate in the evolution of mankind.

In a lecture given in Zurich on November 13, 1917, Steiner discusses the necessity for establishing real relationships with the spiritual world. This takes courage, but it is necessary to lift ourselves out of our current predicament:

Today there is evidence on all hands that when one speaks of man's concrete relationship with the spiritual world to those who as yet know nothing about Anthroposophy, they are unwilling to go into such matters; they are afraid of it all. They will not summon up courage to think about impulses that are said to come from the spiritual world. […] That, after all, is why people simply did not listen when it was said that momentous, incisive thoughts and undertakings are called for by men if the world is to be lifted out of its present pitiable state — and that such thoughts and undertakings must be born from spiritual knowledge, real spiritual knowledge. […]

Constant references to the universal Spirit, all the talk about inner, spiritual deepening and the like — none of it leads anywhere. What is essential is that men of the present time shall establish real and concrete relations with the spiritual world. […] Intimate and penetrating knowledge of these things is the only means whereby the aims of the Spirits of Darkness may be counteracted.

Certain occult brotherhoods, however, make it their business to work in exactly the opposite sense; they want to retain the wisdom exclusively within their own narrow circles, in order to exploit it in connection with their lusts for power. We are living in the midst of this struggle. On the one side there is the necessity for men to be led along the right paths by the assimilation of the spiritual truths; on the other side there are enclosed occult brotherhoods of an evil kind, desiring to prevent these truths from finding their way to men, with the result that they remain dull and stupid as regards the spiritual world, and thus make it possible for those within narrowly enclosed brotherhoods to carry on their intrigues from there.

Events of the present time bristle with such intrigues and machinations, and calamity looms ahead if men will not realise that these machinations are in full swing. You will feel at once that light is shed upon the real background of these things when I tell you of certain truths which have matured in our time — truths which must fall as it were like ripened fruit from the spiritual world into the kingdom of men but are prevented from spreading — against which, moreover, men are instinctively prejudiced because they are afraid of them.

—Rudolf Steiner, November 13, 1917 BEHIND THE SCENES OF EXTERNAL HAPPENINGS, GA 178, Lecture II

Read more of this fascinating lecture to gain a new perspective on:

  • Human thought as an actual power in the soul;
  • Monotheism and man's relationship to his Guardian Angel;
  • The battle of Michael with the Dragon;
  • Aims of occult brotherhoods in connection with the acquisition of power; and
  • Life after death.