The Michael Impulse - Lecture VIIIDornach, December 7, 1919
This first portion of the lecture is Rudolf Steiner's response to an article published in a Swiss newspaper about his book Towards Social Renewal. It is reprinted here for historical reasons.
My dear Friends,
I am obliged once more today to trouble you first of all with a communication. This will be the last lecture before our departure (our absence this time will not be for long) and I must pass on this - to me far from pleasant - piece of information before I leave. It is another of the numerous attacks that are now being made and only differs from those we have had already in being distinctly a shade more mean. There is a paper that is published, I believe, not far from here, called Suisse-Belgique Outremer, and an issue of this paper contains an article on the book, the Threefold Commonwealth, beginning with these words:
"What an abyss lies between Emil Waxweiler and Rudolf Steiner! The one is, at first reading, obscure in his terminology, but his thought is clear as crystal. The other develops his thought in a language that his own friends may be able to follow; but his thinking seems to us eminently obscure! The writer is German and a theosophist. He is said to have been the intimate counselor, the confidant and the inspirer of William II. We refrain in deference from repeating the expression 'The Rasputin of William II' which we have heard applied to him."
Now, my dear friends, first of all for the logic of this attack. The logic has in this case an immediate moral application. We have had to speak recently about 'morals' from many aspects, and this incident comes in rather well to our considerations. A mean and base rumor is spread abroad, and at the same time the writer affirms his intention to do nothing to assist in spreading it. In other words, one declares one will not state something, and in so doing states it. That is the logic of many men of the present day.
Now let me put over against all this the actual facts. During the years since the eighties of last century, I have given a great number of lectures. And our friends will know that throughout these years my relation with William II was of one kind only, the relation namely of complete ignorance. No other was possible. I simply did not know him at all. In striking contrast to the attitude towards William II that was taken up not only in Germany but abroad, there was, here in this place, so far as I myself am concerned, an attitude of complete ignorance. Let me state quite simply what I have been able to recall as to my connections with William II, as I have thought the matter over since reading the article yesterday evening. I saw him once in a theater in Berlin, where I was sitting in the second row and he was in the Royal Box. I was thus about as far away from him as I am now from those of you in the back row of this lecture room. Another time I was crossing Friedrichstraße and he rode by with his generals; he was carrying the Marshall's staff. And I saw him on a third occasion, when he was in the funeral procession following the coffin of the Grand Duchess Sophie of Saxe-Weimar. Never in my life have I spoken one word with William II. I was never anywhere near him. That is the truth, my dear friends, and today it is not left to card players and gossips to twist and turn the truth: newspaper writers too are apt enough at that today. And the newspapers are read; and the readers do not trouble their heads as to what sort of regard for truth there is in the newspaper world.
And we are compelled to put this question: What is our standpoint towards such utterly groundless calumny? What is the attitude of a spiritual movement that wants to stand for something in the world, and that declares, out of no mere bragging, but out of true, inner necessity, out of the very innermost nerve of its existence, that 'Wisdom lies only in the truth?' Again and again in the course of the lectures of the past weeks we have had to point out how essential it is, if Spiritual Science is to make its way in the world, that we should provide for it a ground and foundation of absolute truthfulness. It is vitally necessary that those who want to take part in such a spiritual scientific movement should see to it that quite literal and utter truthfulness prevails even in the very smallest things of life, in the most insignificant words and the most trivial communications of the facts of everyday life. For inexactness in everyday affairs is a thing that grows by an inherent inner force. It has a vitality of its own, and it grows to deceptions such as really pass description, for they are beyond all bounds of common human decency. Men who are able to commit to print in this way their delight in calumny - such men bear within them the very thing which is tainting and corrupting our civilization today. And unless a serious and sincere fight is put up against what comes forth from such quarters, mankind will drift further and further in this direction.
My dear friends, it is for us to take note of symptoms such as these and to read in them what is really happening in the world. Hence the necessity to censure here everything, little or great, that offends against the sense of truth. Anyone who has the least idea of what is connected with the personality of Rasputin will know how groundless and how base is such a calumny.
And so you see, my dear friends, it is not only from the side of the Church that we are threatened today. From the side of the Church the attacks will become more and more serious and severe as time goes on; but from the secular world too threats are being leveled against the turn that we here want to give to human civilization and culture with our spiritual science. As I have repeatedly said, one would gladly find words that carry more weight than mine have done up to now, with which to meet the opposition that exists in the world today to the spread of truth. I say, words that carry more weight; and for this reason. The souls of the great majority of people are, alas, asleep to the truth as it is intended here; even if the tremendous earnestness that stands behind these things has once impressed them, they very soon forget it again.
I wanted to say these words today, on a point of principle. I shall probably, for a few weeks to come, be unable to give lectures here. Try, my dear friends, to use this time in meditating about the sustaining power of the sense of truth, and the terrible, corrupting influence of the untruthfulness which is so prevalent throughout the world today. For believe me, human thoughts are real powers; though they hold sway on a small scale, untruths are the very death to the spirit which is carrying earthly evolution forward. In the long run we cannot usefully contribute to the spread of that which helps the Earth and brings it forward, if we constantly come up against untruthfulness in our midst. I had to say this once again by way of introduction, my dear friends, that you may know wherein the reason might lie, if it should come to pass that the esoteric life would gradually die away even in the spiritual-scientific movement which we are cultivating. Do not imagine that what I am now saying is unimportant. It is necessary for every single one earnestly to take counsel with himself, and indeed to meditate upon this question of the sustaining power of the truth. Untruthfulness occurs; now on a small scale in our everyday communications, and now again as the morally corrupted logic - or reverse of logic - of such an article as this. Such things are only quantitatively different; qualitatively they are the same.
What I have to tell you during these weeks culminates in the fact that we stand face to face with the fresh inpouring of a spiritual world into our present world. This present world is in the main an outcome of that evolution which began about the middle of the 15th century. About that time, all things became different in the world we know as civilized. What people had in their consciousness, prior to the middle of the 15th century, was more concerned with the inner life of the human organization. Take the old writings, in so far as they are extant. As I said yesterday, you will find they speak in terms quite similar to those of present day chemistry and physics, etc. Yet the chemist or physicist of today will not at all understand the contents of these books, for the simple reason that he presumes them to refer to outer things. In reality they describe no outer processes; they describe inner processes - processes within the physical or other body of man himself. Not till the time of Galileo and Giordano Bruno did humanity begin to turn attention more to the outer world. And by today we are so far gone along this other way that we possess a science telling of many things in the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms of Nature, yet in reality unable to give us any information about man himself in his true essence - not even about his physical body. Moreover this science has by now shed its influence over popular thought, and above all over popular feeling. Yet the time has now come when man must raise the question: How am I myself, as man, related to these outer kingdoms of Nature? How am I related to all this that surrounds me as the animal and plant and mineral kingdoms, and as the outer physical human kingdoms of man, and the realms of air and water, fire and cloud, sun and moon and stars - How am I myself as man, related to all this?
We cannot answer this question at all thoroughly without entering once more into some things we have already studied, concerning man himself. Take the human being as he stands before us - the man of senses and intellect, to begin with. We perceive the world through our eyes and ears and other organs of sense, which are essentially organs of the head, though they are there for the rest of the body, too. So we perceive the external world. We then assimilate this external world with the ideas and concepts which are bound to the instrumentality of the brain. And we retain - of all we have thus experienced - our ideas in memory. It is essential for our integrity as human beings that we should do so.
These are the things which we have in us by receiving them, to begin with, from the outer world. These are the things that take place in us through our senses and as a result of the external world. Through our intelligence we make something of what we have thus received from outside, and we retain something in memory - in the ideas of memory.
What are we really, inasmuch as we confront the world in this way as human beings? Let us take our start from an elementary phenomenon of sense perception. I drew your attention to it a few days ago. You see a flame by means of your eyes. You close your eyes, and you retain an after-image of the flame. This after-image of the flame which you carry in your eye gradually disappears. Goethe, who always expressed himself graphically in such matters, speaks of it echoing away. The original constitution of the eye and of the nervous organization which belongs to it is gradually re-established, after having been modified by the impression which the light made upon it. Now the fact is that this event in your sense organ is but the simpler process corresponding to what takes place as to your memory when you receive outer impressions quite generally speaking and you think them over and they remain with you as memory-ideas. The difference is only this: When you receive an impression with your eye - say for example it is the flame and you then have the after-image of the flame which gradually dies away again - it lasts a short time only. Not so when you receive an impression with your whole human being and you think it over and are afterwards able to recall it. When this larger after-image of a memory comes to you, it lasts for a long time; under certain conditions it may even last all your life. Nay more; take the simple after-image which you have in your eye, which goes on echoing away, it may be, for a few minutes only, or even less than a minute. The fact that you are able to make it die away again, is only due to the fact that it does not go through your whole organization but remains behind in a part of your organism. That which becomes a memory-idea goes, to begin with, through a considerable part (which I shall presently describe more in detail) of your entire human organization, and from thence it beats into your etheric body and through the etheric body into the surrounding cosmic ether. The moment an image does not merely remain as a sensory image in an individual sense-organ, but passes through a considerable part of the human being as a whole, and impresses itself on the etheric body and beats outward, it can remain as an after-image for the whole of life. The point is that the impression must go deep enough and take hold of the etheric body; moreover the etheric body does not retain it in itself but transmits it to the outer ether of the cosmos and inscribes it there.
You must not imagine, when you remember things, that it is merely a process taking place in your own inner life. It is quite true, you cannot always inscribe what you experience in your notebook and afterwards read it off again there - although many people do that today with a great many of their experiences. But you inscribe what you remember in the cosmic ether and the cosmic ether calls it forth in you again when you desire to recall it. It reproduces it in you, just like the impress of a seal. Thus, my dear friends, your remembering is no mere personal concern, for with it you relate yourself to the entire universe. To be a human being with an inner hold and continuity of life, remembering your past experiences, you cannot be alone with yourself.
Now memory is essential to the very being of man. Not to remember his experiences destroys his very being. Think for a moment what it signifies. I have often related the following example.
A man I knew well, who had an important position in life, on one occasion suddenly conceived an impulse to go to the railway station and without any reason at all to purchase a ticket and travel into distant places quite unknown to him, where he had nothing whatever to do. He did all this in another state of consciousness. While he was traveling he knew nothing of the things in which he was otherwise engaged; he only came back to himself when he found himself received in a poorhouse in the Kurfurstenstraße in Berlin. The entire space of time - from the moment he boarded the train at Darmstadt - was now blotted out from his consciousness. Subsequently, from the information of a variety of people, it was ascertained that he had been to Budapest and Lemberg and had returned again from Lemberg to Berlin, where he came to consciousness in a house of refuge. Think what it means. His intellect was perfectly in order; there was nothing wrong with his intellect. From the time he got into the train at Darmstadt until he was received into the house of refuge in Berlin, he knew exactly what one has to do to buy a ticket, to get board and lodging in the intervening time, etc., and yet throughout the time while he was doing all these things he had no memory of the remainder of his life. Afterwards, when he came to himself, while he remembered once again his former life until the moment when he left Darmstadt, he had now no memory at all of the journey. It was only possible from external evidence to piece together what had happened to him in the meantime.
That is a single example. I could relate many similar instances, but this one will suffice to show us what life would be like if we had not the continuous flow of memory passing through all our experiences. Think what it would mean if for a certain period of time (apart, of course from the times of sleep, which you certainly do not remember) you had no memory. How would you have to think of your Ego; how would you have to think of yourself as a human being?
That which belongs to the receptivity of our senses and our intelligence is our own personal affair; but the moment it begins to come within the sphere of memory, what man experiences in his life of soul is a relation between himself and the universe. Men today are not aware of this fact as intensely as they should be. It will be an essential part of the general culture and education of a future humanity, to regard thoughts which lead through the etheric man to memory, not as a merely personal affair but as a thing for which man is responsible to the universe.
At the beginning of this series, my dear friends, I described how there existed in the historic time to which we normally go back - among the ancient Greeks, for example - a consciousness of country, which certainly did not extend very far. This consciousness was then transformed - albeit not until comparatively modern times - into a consciousness of the whole earth. And I also told you how for the future of mankind there must arise a cosmic consciousness - a consciousness of the whole universe. Man will then have to know himself once more, as indeed he did in primeval times, as a citizen of the entire cosmos. The way to this will be, clearly and vividly to feel in oneself the responsibility for all one's thoughts that can lead to memory.
What I have now been describing belongs, as I said, to a considerable part of the human being; yet it is not the whole human being. To describe the facts in this regard I shall have to indicate them with a kind of diagram. Suppose this is the region of the senses - I include all the senses together - and of the intellect.
|Eventually we come to the thoughts we harbor, thereby enabling them to become memories. It is that element in man where he impinges on the objective nature of the cosmos. I once pointed out to you what are the places in the human body where man impinges on the cosmos. Take for example a nerve, passing from any part of the body to the spinal cord; I draw it purely diagrammatically. For every such nerve - or at least approximately so - you will find another, leading in turn to somewhere else.|
I have, of course, many times referred to the nonsensical idea
that there are "sensory" and "motor" nerves.
But the important thing is that every nerve path, taken as a
whole, begins somewhere or other at the periphery of the human
organism and leads eventually again to the periphery; only at
one place it is broken, like an electric wire where the spark
flies across. It is a kind of jump - a kind of sensitive medium
- from the so-called sensory nerve to the beginning of the so-called
motor nerve. These are the places (there are of course an untold
number of them, or at least very many, in our spinal cord, for
example, and in other parts of the body) - these are the points
in space where man does not belong to himself alone but to the
universe. Join all these points together, including the ganglia
of the sympathetic system, and you get this boundary.
Thus, as it were, you halve the human being - the one part is more than half, but let us say you halve him, and you regard him on the one hand as a great sense-organ. There is the process of sense perception, the receptivity of the senses generally speaking. And the assimilation of impressions by the intellect - that you may regard as a continued sensory activity of a more delicate kind. Finally, you have the rise of memory-pictures - after-images, which, however remain for the rest of our life between birth and death. For when a memory is formed, we actually impinge upon the cosmic ether. Our own ether beats upon the cosmic ether; living activities take place between ourselves and the universal ether.
The other part of the human being is one that has the limbs, as it were, for terminal organs - the limbs and all that belongs to them. Just as this part has the sphere of the senses for terminal organs, so does the other part grow limbs, if I may draw it thus crudely: the feet grow on to it, the arms . . . it is of course crudely and diagrammatically drawn. This is the part from which I should have to draw lines going inward to represent all that which is of the nature of volition, just as I draw lines inward from the senses for all that which is of the nature of intelligence. And now the one man is connected with the other. For the volitional nature is the other pole of the human being. Between the two there lies the frontier, the inner boundary which you obtain by uniting all the nerve endings and all the ganglia. And in the midst, between the two, you have the sphere of feeling. Suppose you cross the frontier a little from the one side. Think of this frontier as a kind of sieve and suppose that the will from the one side and the intelligence from the other presses forward through the holes of the sieve: then you have the sphere of feeling in the middle. All that belongs to feeling is in fact half will and half intelligence. The will presses forward from below and the intelligence from above - and this gives feeling. In feeling we always have the intelligence in a dreamlike way on the one hand and the will, the sleeping will, on the other.
Having thus made, as it were, a spiritual-scientific anatomic demonstration of the human being - on the one side the pole of intelligence and on the other side the pole of will - having seen moreover, that it is the physical organs above which express the pole of intelligence, now we may ask: What is there in the outer world to correspond to all this which the human being carries within him? If this be man (for we have now perceived the two poles, the two aspects of man's being), what is there in the outer world to correspond to this? The answer is: Nothing at all, in reality. In the outer world we have a mineral kingdom, a plant and an animal kingdom. That which man is in his inner nature - even in the bodily sense - is in no true correspondence with any of these Nature kingdoms.
You will be able to make a weighty objection at this point, my dear friends - a very obvious objection. After all, you will say, do we not consist of the very same substance of which the outer world consists? We surely eat these substances. We unite with ourselves the substance of the mineral kingdom whenever we salt our foods or take in other mineral constituents. So too we unite ourselves with the plant substances. And there are even meat-eaters, are there not? They then unite with themselves the substances of the animal kingdom. And so on. But the truth is, my dear friends, this belief that we in our bodily nature have something to do with the substances of the outer world contains an appalling error. What our own bodily nature really does - and constantly must do - is to ward off the influences of the outer world, even those influences which come into us with the food we eat. It is admittedly difficult to make this fact plausible to our contemporaries. The essential thing for our human bodily life is not that we receive the foodstuffs into ourselves, but that we get rid of them again. Some we get rid of very quickly, some only in the course of seven to eight years. Nothing of what you have eaten today will you have in you eight years hence. It will all have been replaced, for the essential activity of your body is not to receive things but to get rid of them. That you need to take in the food, signifies no more for your body than the ground beneath your feet for your walking. If you had no ground beneath your feet you could not walk, yet as a human being you have nothing to do with the ground; it only has to be there to sustain you. So must your bodily activity have an inner ground of resistance. It must constantly impinge on something. That is to say, it must constantly be eating, so that the bodily activity has something to impinge on - something to come up against. As you might sink into the empty floor, so would your bodily activity sink into nothingness if it did not constantly come up against the ground which is thus prepared. This "ground," of course, is one that permeates the body through and through. You do not eat in order to unite the foodstuffs with your own nature, but to make way for the activity which is necessary in getting rid of the foodstuffs. Your true human nature consists in the activity of getting rid of the foodstuffs. No more than you can count the floor beneath you as belonging to the soles of your feet, no more - if you would think truly - may you count the content of the foodstuffs (in so far as it is there in the outer world) as belonging to your human nature. Man, altogether, is a reaction against that which constitutes his environment. Man is altogether a reaction. In fact he is activity: activity through and through.
What I have here explained takes place in different ways for the organs of the sensory and intelligent sphere, and for the organs of the sphere of the will. Man is in this respect, as we have said, a being with two different poles. But the processes that go on in the one and in the other pole of the human being have little to do with what is there in the outer world.
In the outer world we have the mineral and the plant kingdoms. This mineral and this plant kingdom have no great inner kinship with our own nature. To find something akin to the mineral and plant kingdoms, we must look into the world which we pass through before our birth - before we come down through birth and conception out of the spiritual world into the physical. Casting our gaze over the surrounding vegetable and mineral world, we should really say to ourselves: Before my birth I was in a spiritual world. That spiritual world I do not behold with my physical senses, nor do I think it with physical intelligence. As human being of the senses, it is hidden from me as if by a veil. Yet it reveals itself in the plant world which is around me and in the mineral world from which the plants spring forth. The truth is that mineral and plant nature have far more to do with our life outside this present world than with our life between birth and death. I am not of course referring to the plants as we actually see them with our senses; but they are none the less the outcome of the forces with which we are connected between death and a new birth. Nor has the animal kingdom very much to do with what we are as human beings in our human nature here; it rather has to do with the time immediately after death, whereof it is an outward revelation - whereof it is, as it were, the other pole. Thus we may truly say that in learning to know man's environment through Science and Natural History we do not learn to know what is in man. The Science which our present time values most highly is precisely the kind of science which contains nothing at all of the human being. You may be thoroughly familiar with all the results of modern science and research; yet you learn nothing thereby of the being of man; for in the knowledge and method of this modern Science the essential being of man is not contained.
Now since the last four centuries all our prevailing ideas have sprung from the popularization of the scientific method. Even the peasant in the country thinks by this time in the way of Natural Science, though he may clothe it in his own words. Even Roman Catholicism with its dogmatic materialism thinks in the way of Natural Science. Natural Scientific thinking dominates everything. But we have reached the point of time, my dear friends, when it is necessary to build up a social order. Through a great part of the civilized world it has become urgently necessary to re-establish the social order. Moreover this 'part' grows even larger and will at length become the entire civilized world. Men are taking thought about social reconstruction. Social demands are alive today in civilized mankind. Whence have they sprung? Out of the deep subconscious impulses in human nature. And by what means is it sought to satisfy them? By means of the results of scientific thinking. Thus in wide circles today "scientific results" are described as "social thoughts"; they are applied to the social life of men.
Thus it has come to pass that in the East of Europe a new social order of the State is about to be erected out of purely natural-scientific, materialistic thinking. The men who were imported into Russia by Dr. Helphand who calls himself Parvus, under instructions from Ludendorff and Hindenburg, to bring about Bolshevism there - they are the very incarnation of the scientific method. There, then, they are, by the kind services of Helphand as railway guard. For it was he who conducted the sealed railway carriage through Germany, taking the men of Bolshevism to Russia under the aegis of Ludendorff and Hindenburg. The incarnated natural-scientific method is having a free hand today in Russia. We should not underestimate its bearing, my dear friends. I have already drawn your attention to certain facts. There are two philosophers; most bourgeois, respectable, pedantic and correct philosophers they were. One, at the University of Zurich, was Avenarius, a man who was certainly anxious to develop none other than a highly respectable and bourgeois way of thinking. The other was Ernst Mach, who taught at Prague and in Vienna; I myself heard him speak in 1882 at the Vienna Academy of Science. He always seemed to me the very embodiment of bourgeois respectability and good manners - a fellow of sterling worth, Ernst Mach! But if you ask today what is the "State Philosophy," the official philosophy of Bolshevism - and it is no mere matter of chance - the answer is that by an inner necessity it is none other than the philosophy of Avenarius and Mach. These things belong together. This is what happens when the most consequential natural-scientific method is transmuted, with unflinching logic, into social thinking. Therefore it must be taken very much in earnest. It is in the East that the thinking of Natural Science has first blossomed forth into social life. Nor will it stop there, unless we tackle it at the root, namely at the natural scientific and materialistic life itself.
The fact is, my dear friends, a wave of thought and feeling is passing through the world today - kindled by materialistic scientific thinking upon social matters. As it spreads out, it takes hold of that social thinking which is absolutely necessary in our time, and it grows then to a destructive power - an utterly destructive power for mankind. The leading classes of our time had not the power or the force to pour into human thinking a spiritual wave which would have had real sustenance. Hence in the masses of the proletariat, in their social thinking, the materialistic wave has risen high. Marxism which has come to life so grotesquely in the last four or five years, is the fruit and flower of the materialistic scientific method in social thinking. We should not fail to recognize that such is the configuration of the civilized world at the present. Failing to see this, we are asleep to the most important facts and symptoms of our present life. We are not fully man in the present time, if we are all the while asleep to these things.
There are a few individuals, here and there, who rise above the level of prevailing judgments. They are becoming aware that if we go on thinking and feeling in the same way as hitherto we shall make no progress; we shall only go further and further down into chaos. Rare as they are, there are at least a few such awakening calls as I shall now read out. It is in No. 31 of the weekly paper Neue Erde, published in Vienna: a very interesting article by Karl Polany, entitled "The World Outlook." The author states that there is now a very prevalent antipathy to the capitalistic order, yet at the same time a very decided rejection of Marxian Socialism:
"The amalgamation of Marxism and Socialism that prevails today is the outstanding abuse in modern thought. Every attempt at intellectual clarity upon the burning social problems of the time comes to grief in this spiritual quagmire. . . . The outbreak of the War was the fatal moment for capitalist thinking, and therefore for Marxist thinking too. The leaders of mankind clearly recognized, and the masses dimly felt, that the world is not ruled by so-called material interests, but by quite another kind of forces. The economic interests, pursued by Imperialists and vainly fought against by Socialists, proved to be not only most unreal and abstract but even in the economic sense mere superstition, and figments of the mind. It was made evident that the real driving force is not the material things themselves but the idea of the material things, however mistaken it may be. The masses are not led by material things at all but by ideas. Even the thought of material interests, with all their alleged reality and concreteness, only became an historic power when it was raised to the level of a faith. To this faith untold sacrifice was offered up; its inherent value was supposed to justify, to compensate for all the irrational things done in its name. This age of unbelievable paradoxes actually had faith in egoism. People no longer pretended to deny it or to gloss it over with idealistic words. Quite the contrary. The masses of humanity went out to die in the hallowed name of economic interests, or of a sacro egoismo self-enthroned in Heaven. The material world had declared itself to be the one ideal value. Such was the logical culmination of a materialistic age. Had not the capitalists already sanctified with the name of patria or fatherland or "king and country," this idealized material world as the only thing or real importance? Had not the Marxians quite openly sanctified it with the name of "Socialism?" Utilitarian ethics, materialist conception of history, positivist science, determinist philosophy - one and all are done with; they can no longer live in the new atmosphere. Yet the Marxian world conception is built upon these very pillars. Truly its days are numbered."
Here, then, you have the awakening call of a soul who is at least aware of the negative aspect of our time - of that which is leading into chaos. And now there comes the question, fraught with heavy fate: "What is to take the place of these things?" He himself raises the question, and he goes on to say:
"It is not the fate of Marxism which depends upon the answer. This for sincere minds - minds which are striving for clarity - is a minor question. For if the sun were extinguished we would rather grope in the dark than proclaim a will o' the wisp for the sun. Moreover, that which darkens the sun for our generation is a still more radiant sun, coming up on the horizon. Are we not now becoming free from the nightmare of a theory of evolution, in the treadmill of which we were condemned to an eternal slavery, spending our meaningless days, homeless and restless in the world? . . . Have we not now awakened from the hallucination of a false idea of history, which, instead of hearing in the world's happenings the echo of the battle cry of living beings, fondly supposed that in the battle cry it heard the echo of world-happenings? Have we not grown away at last from the fixed idea of a clownish determinism, representing the freedom of our will as the fortuitous result of forces behind the scenes? From the belief in the dead mass, we are born at last to a belief in our own selves. Now therefore we shall find the strength and the high calling to turn into reality the true requirements of Socialism: Justice, Liberty and Love."
Yes, my dear friends, this is indeed a soul filled with longing, seeing quite clearly that we are steering into chaos and even raising the dread question: "What is to take the place of these things?" Yet when he comes to give an answer he only serves up once more the old and empty phrases, phrases which have become mere husks of words: Justice, Liberty and Love. They have been preached for long enough. The real way assuredly is not contained in pretty phrases.
"Marxian Socialism," he goes on to say, "merely eclipses the great question which stands before mankind today. It hampers the free powers which could achieve a radical solution. It holds our thinking back in the penumbra of a world of dogma out-of-date. It breeds misgiving by dark auguries, obscure authorities and mystic symbols. It blocks the open outlook of mankind."
Perfectly true: "It blocks the open outlook of mankind"; yet will the outlook not be opened up by empty phrases! Our author continues:
"The church has outlived her mission by a thousand years. Marxism itself may outlast our time, but the new spirit in mankind which has been born of all the suffering of the world war, will in the long run triumph. Yet where is this new spirit?"
So the same writer asks, who, it appears, has a real feeling for the dead-point of our time - for that which leads us into chaos. A friend of ours - one who has stood for years in our world-conception - adds a few lines to the words which I have just read out. What I have read to you so far is said by one who sees that something new must come, yet in the end returns to the old phrases. Our friend now adds the words:
"This is indeed a vision of the world's affairs which perceives that Marxism (Marxism appearing as it does today in its most logical form as Bolshevism) belongs to the old way of thinking. Marxism is but a counterpart of the old capitalistic world, and, like the latter, it is sick in spiritual life. In economic matters capitalism's adversary, it is at one with it in spiritual background. It, and the modern scientific outlook altogether, will need to be replaced by something new - by the anthroposophical world-conception, born of the philosophy of Freedom."
Such is the comment of a friend of our movement. To anyone who sees into the workings of present-day mankind it is in fact abundantly clear that anthroposophical spiritual science is coming forward today precisely because these things are so. Until it is admitted that the sickness of our present life can only be healed by spiritual science, we shall not escape from the chaos. Hence we can say without immodesty: Would that as many as possible were found, prepared to give the same answer to the question "What is to take the place of these things?" as is given by Dr. Kolisko of Vienna to this Karl Polany. So long as our friends suppose that the good of our movement is to be looked for in any kind of sectarianism, they will not recognize what this movement really means. Only when we perceive that it is something of a worldwide importance, shall we recognize the sense of this movement. He alone can be a true bearer of the anthroposophical world-conception, who not only recognizes its meaning in this sense, but takes it to heart, makes it the inmost impulse of his own will. I will not cloud with many words what I have wanted to convey to you today. We shall meet again and continue these considerations in no distant future. We need not even take leave of one another, for the time will not be long. Yet I must say that it would answer to a deep desire of my heart if many of you, my dear friends, would take to heart most earnestly during these weeks the words which I have spoken, in pointing out a most important factor in the present situation of the world.
We have been speaking of harmful influences proceeding from the elemental world in our time. You are aware, my dear friends, of an old and true conception - one which needs only to be rightly understood. It tells us how at the close of the civil year, when Christmas is approaching, the days draw nigh when the most spiritual influence which can ever come to man within the earthly sphere is strongest. For centuries, this time was felt by men as a time of great importance, though today it is scarcely more than a season for giving one another presents. Let us endeavor in this time, in keeping with a good old custom of the soul, to find refuge with the good spiritual powers, who after all, can still gain influence upon the destinies of man. Albeit, they can only gain an influence if we will fill our souls with the full earnestness of the relation of the spiritual world to the human world.
These are the things, my dear friends, which I wished to say today. When I shall lecture here again, will be announced.
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Last update: November 29, 1997