INDIVIDUAL assertions regarding Christianity which I wrote or uttered
in lectures at this time appear to be contrary to the expositions I
gave later. In this connection the following must be noted. At that
time, when I used the word Christianity, I had in mind the
beyond teaching which is operative in the Christian
creeds. The whole content of religious experience refers to a world of
spirit which is not attainable by man in the unfolding of his
spiritual powers. What religion has to say, what it has to give as
moral precepts, is derived from revelations that come to man from
without. Against this my view of spirit opposed itself, desiring to
experience the world of spirit just as much as the sense-world in what
is perceptible in man and in nature. Against this likewise was my
ethical individualism opposed, desiring to have the moral life
proceed, not from without by way of precepts obeyed, but out of the
unfolding of the human soul and spirit, wherein lives the divine.
What then occurred in my soul in viewing Christianity was a severe
test for me. The time between my departure from the Weimar task and
the production of my book
Das Christentum als mystische Tatsache(1)
is occupied by this test. Such tests are
the opposition provided by destiny (Karma) which one's spiritual
evolution has to overcome.
In my thoughts I perceived that there could result from the knowledge
of nature though this did not result at that time the basis upon
which man might attain to insight in the world of spirit. I therefore
laid much stress upon the knowledge of the foundation of nature which
must lead to the knowledge of spirit. For one who did not stand in
living reality within the world of spirit, such a sinking of himself
into a certain course of thought signified a mere activity of thought.
For one who experiences the world of spirit, it signifies something
quite different. He is brought into contact with Beings in the world
of spirit who desire to make such tendencies of thought the sole
predominant ones. Their one-sidedness in thinking does not merely lead
to abstract error; there is a spiritual and living intercourse with a
being which in the human world is error. Later I spoke of Ahrimanic
beings when I wished to make reference to this. For these it is an
absolute truth that the world must be a machine. They live in a world
which touches directly upon the sense-world.
In my own ideas I never for one moment fell into this world, not even
in the unconscious. For I took pains that all my knowledge should be
reached in a state of discriminating consciousness. So much the more
conscious was my inner struggle against the demonic Powers who would
cause to come about from the knowledge of nature, not perception of
spirit, but a mechanistic-materialistic form of thinking. He who seeks
for knowledge of spirit must experience these worlds: for him a mere
theoretical thinking about them does not suffice. At that time I had
to save my spiritual perception by inner battles. These battles stood
behind my outer experience.
In this time of testing I succeeded in advancing farther only when in
spiritual perception I brought before my soul the evolution of
Christianity. This led to the knowledge which was expressed in the
book Christianity as Mystical Fact. Before this the Christian
content to which I had referred had always been that found in existent
creeds. This was true of Nietzsche also.
In an earlier passage in this biography I have narrated a conversation
concerning Christ that I had with the learned Cistercian who was a
professor in the faculty of Catholic theology of the University of
Vienna. I was in the presence of a sceptical mood. The Christianity
which I had to seek I did not find at all in the creeds. After the
time of testing had set before me stern battles of the soul, I had to
submerge myself in Christianity and in the world in which the
spiritual speaks thereof.
In my attitude toward Christianity it can clearly be seen that I have
by no means sought and found in spiritual science by the path which
many persons have ascribed to me. These state the matter as if I had
collected together the knowledge of spirit left in ancient traditions.
I am supposed to have elaborated Gnostic and other teachings. What is
achieved of the knowledge of spirit in Christianity as Mystical
Fact is brought directly out of the spiritual world. Only when I
wished to show to those who heard my lectures and to the readers of
the books the harmony between the spiritual perception and the
historic traditions did I first take these traditions and blend them
in the content. But nothing existing in these documents have I blended
in the content unless I had first had this before me in the spirit.
At the time when I made the statements concerning Christianity so
opposed in literal content to later utterances, it was also true that
the real content of Christianity was beginning germinally to unfold
within me as an inner phenomenon. About the turn of the century the
germ unfolded more and more. Before this turn of the century came this
testing of the soul here described. The evolution of my soul rested
upon the fact that I stood before the mystery of Golgotha in most
inward, earnest joy of knowledge.
- Christianity as Mystical Fact.