[RSArchive Icon]
Rudolf Steiner Archive Section Name Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib



Highlight Words

The Riddles of the World and Anthroposophy

Schmidt Number: S-1275

On-line since: 15th August, 2016

German Theosophists at the Beginning of the Nineteenth Century

Berlin, 15th March 1906

It is a frequently mentioned fact that it is exceptionally difficult to obtain an understanding concerning the spiritual-scientific movement with our academic leaders in scientific circles. This is a fatal fact that science is today surrounded by such a big belief in authority. Everything that is scientific exercises such an impressive power in all directions that a spiritual movement has a hard furrow to plough if the predominating part of the scholars, one can say, almost any academic circle treat such a movement like our spiritual-scientific one in such a way, as if it were dilettantism, blind superstition or anything else.

It may be deplorable, but understandable in any case, if one hears the judgements of such academic circles about theosophy or spiritual science. If one examines these judgements, it is obvious that they belong to the judgements that were obtained without any expertise. If we then still ask the so-called public opinion, as it is expressed in our journals, we need not to be surprised, if it faces the theosophical movement not quite understanding. For this public opinion is controlled completely by the impressive power of the scientific authority and is completely dependent on it.

There are different reasons, which make this clear to us. We can see one of these reasons concerning the German cultural life simply in the fact that the academic circles, actually, left an important impact on our German cultural life, a culminating point of our deepest life of thought completely out of consideration. Indeed, you find some notes about this in any manual of philosophy, in any history of literature; but a really penetrating understanding of this most significant side of our cultural life and of that which around the turn of the 18th to the 19th centuries the most important German thinkers performed does not exist. In particular, there is a lack of understanding how these results of the German life of thought are rooted in the general German cultural life a hundred years ago.

If this fact were not such a one, if our academic circles were concerned with that deepening of the German life of thought around the turn of the 18th to the 19th centuries, there would be, for example, an understanding of Fichte's, Schelling's, and Hegel's great life of thought among our philosophers. The compendia of philosophy would not contain only single inadequate extracts of the works, but one would know what generally thought achieved in Germany. Then one would also obtain access to the spiritual-scientific movement from the point of view of scholarship.

Of all pre-schools of theosophy or spiritual science which one can go through today this school of the German thought of the turn of the 18th to the 19th centuries is the very best for the present human beings. Indeed, it is not accessible to anybody, because how should the bigger national circles understand the great German thinkers really if the university circles, the academic circles lead the way to this understanding so little, if they do so little to cause a real popularity of these thinkers. One is not allowed to reproach the big audience, those who should turn to theosophy that they are not able to do it. To those, however, whose occupation it would be to let flow in the spiritual treasures of the West in the national culture, to those must be said that they fulfil their obligations in this respect in no way.

I do not name unknown names to you, but I maybe have to represent the peculiar fact that one can relate names, which you find in every philosophical compendium, with theosophy. It is peculiar that one likes to say that it is senseless to use the title “Secret Doctrine.” The Western researchers, for example, who concerned themselves with Buddhism, have repeatedly denied that Buddhism contains a secret doctrine that anything would exceed what you can read in the books.

It is not at all surprising that such academic circles assert such things. For one can conclude from it that the most important things have remained a secret doctrine to them. How should they know that there is a secret doctrine, because they have never found access to it! The most important that was performed in connection with the great German thinker Johann Gottlieb Fichte is to the majority, also even today, a deep secret doctrine. It is true, as deplorable as it may appear, the German spiritual life of the turn from the 18th to the 19th centuries originated from the so-called Enlightenment. We may characterise this Enlightenment with a few words. It was a necessary event in the modern spiritual development. The most significant spirits of the 18th century had taken up the cause of it. Kant says, enlightenment simply means what can be summarised in the sentence: “Dare to use your own reason” (first by Horace: sapere aude). This enlightenment was nothing else than an emancipation of the personality, the relief of the personality from the traditions. What one has thought for centuries, what everybody has taken up from the common spiritual substance of the people should be checked. Only that should be valid which the single personality affirms. You know, great spirits developed from the Enlightenment. One only needs to remind of the name Lessing to call one of the best. Everything that is connected with the name Kant is nothing else than a result of the Enlightenment.

Someone who has broken with this Enlightenment in a peculiar way is Johann Gottlieb Fichte. If I say, he has broken in peculiar way with this Enlightenment, and then you do not believe that I am determined to represent Fichte as an opponent of the Enlightenment. He has broken in the way that he examines all results of the Enlightenment and has continued building on its basis, but Fichte went quite thoroughly beyond that which is only enlightenment, beyond the trivial. Just Fichte gives somebody who has the possibility to become engrossed in his great lines of thought something that one can obtain among the newer spirits only from him.

After we have heard many merely popular talks, we want to hear a talk today, which seems to be far off the usual way, which our spiritual-scientific talks take in this winter. I will endeavour to show something as comprehensibly as possible that took place in the German life of thought, actually, at that time, around the turn from the 18th to the 19th centuries. It can only be sketchy what I have to say. At first this German life of thought impeded the access to the real spiritual world and then to the living and immortal essence of the human being. Today I cannot go into the worth or worthlessness of Kant's philosophy. The official philosophy calls Kant the destroyer and regards his system of theories as a philosophical action first-rate. Today I would like only to remind of a word which is known perhaps also with those who do not have the opportunity to penetrate deeper into the matter, to the word of the “thing in itself.”

The human cognitive faculties are limited in the sense of Kant's philosophy. They cannot penetrate to the “thing in itself.” Whichever ideas and concepts we form, whatever we get to know in the world, we deal with phenomena and not with the true “thing in itself” in the sense of Kant's philosophy. This is always concealed behind the phenomena. With it, blind speculation is encouraged — and we have seen it in the spiritual development of Germany very well — which wants to define and restrict the human cognitive faculties in all directions. However, at the same time the trend of the human being to penetrate to the true, to explore the depths of existence should be stopped.

It should be shown that the human being cannot automatically approach the primary sources of existence. Now it may be true that such an attitude was necessary in the course of the spiritual life of the 18th century. However, Kant's philosophy put big obstacles in the way of the further development of the spiritual life. Indeed, I know very well that there are people who say, what did Kant different from all those great spirits who have always emphasised that we deal with phenomena that we cannot come to the “thing in itself!” That is apparently right, however, it is wrong. The real spiritual researchers of all times state quite different that the world only consists of phenomena.

No true spiritual researcher has ever denied that in such a way, as we investigate the world with senses, understand it with the intellect, it offers us only phenomena. However, higher senses are to be woken in us that go beyond the usual, which penetrate deeper into the sources of existence, can, and must lead slowly and gradually to the “thing in itself.” No Eastern philosophy, no Platonic philosophy, no self-understanding worldview penetrating into the spirit has ever spoken of the world as Maya in another sense. They always said only, to the lower human cognition, a veil is before the “thing in itself,” to the higher human cognition this veil is torn, the human being can penetrate into the depths of existence. The Enlightenment reached a blind alley concerning the question in certain respects, and this is characterised best of all with a remark which you find in the preface to the second edition of Kant's main work Critique of Pure Reason (1781) and with which the Enlightenment can be caught at its despondency because it does not want to advance further.

One reads: “I had to override knowledge to create space for faith.” This is the nerve of Kant's philosophy and of that thinking to which the 18th century came and beyond which our philosophical scholarship has not yet come which still suffers from it. As long as it suffers from this illness, philosophy is never destined to understand theosophy. What does that mean: “I had to override knowledge to create space for faith”? Kant says, the thing in itself remains concealed, consequently also the thing in our breast. We do not know what we ourselves are; we can never come to the true figure of the things. As from uncertain worlds the so-called categorical imperative sounds: you shall do this or that. —We hear it, we cannot prove it, however. We just have to believe it. We hear about the divine being. We have to believe it. Just as little as we know about the destiny of the soul, about immortality and eternity. We must believe them. There is only faith in these matters that connect the human being with the divine, because no knowledge can penetrate into the divine. The human being believes knowledge if he presumes to penetrate into the divine. This divine is thereby falsified, is cast in a wrong light due to wild speculation.

Therefore, Kant wanted to save all spiritual for the mere faith and apply cognition — what one can know — only to the external impressions, to the appearance. Whatever you may read and study, otherwise, about Kant's philosophy, this thought is the essentials that it depends on. This thought became the essentials in the further development of Kant's thinking. However, someone who broke with this thought definitely out of a courageous attitude was Johann Gottlieb Fichte (1762-1814).

It is a peculiar thing that the theosophical thinkers of modern India, the renovators of the Vedanta philosophy made an astounding discovery — namely that the Germans have a great thinker, Johann Gottlieb Fichte. An Indian says this who writes under the name Bhagavan Das (1869-1958). I have got to know German theosophists who have only found out from him that Johann Gottlieb Fichte is a deep German thinker.

You can experience a lot in this regard. Weeks ago, I was in a South German city. One of the theosophical friends there said to me, now we have a university lecturer here who means, it would be good if people studied Fichte, because he got the idea that many deep thoughts were in Fichte. — That is a strange confession of a German university professor! If more than one century after Fichte a German university professor makes the discovery that Fichte achieved something great, throws a characteristic light on this kind of German scholarship.

Fichte represented the doctrine of the ego, of the human self-consciousness not speculatively, but out of the whole depth of his being, among his Jena students in the last decade of the 18th century. He did not represent it in the same way as we do it today from the spiritual-scientific point of view. He represented it in such a way that a number of persons would have come to theosophy if they had educated themselves according to his great conceptual demands; they would have come to it in a healthy way, illumining the real inside brightly. Not without reason his speeches inspired the Jena students in those days. For the following lived in him. Although he walked on the heights of thought, although he spoke in the purest, clearest, and logically sharpest thoughts, a quite warm and deep immediate personality and being expressed themselves in his thoughts at the same time. He himself pronounced the word that characterises him deepest that everyone has a philosophy, depending on which sort of a person he is.

If one expresses this trivially, one could say, it does not depend on whether anybody can think logically well or badly, because one can reason a hollow philosophy very logically, it does not depend on astuteness but on the internal experience, on that which one has fathomed with all his soul forces. This expresses itself in the language. If one is also a flat materialist, nevertheless, he can be a sharp logician, and on the other hand, someone can be a spiritualist and be logically weak. One proves no worldview, but the worldview is the expression of the innermost human being, the inner experience. Fichte pronounced this not only, but lived it also. Kant stimulated him. However, as one is stimulated by that to which one can add the drawback in his inside — because there the deepest organs emerge in the human being —, nevertheless, this was clear to Fichte.

Now follow me, I would like to say, for a short moment into the icy, but not less important regions of thoughts from which Fichte got the being of self-consciousness. I do not describe with his own words, because this would be too difficult here, but in outlines, which do not contain less truth. I would like to say what he conjured before his Jena students at that time: there is one thing for everybody in which the “thing in itself” announces itself to him, in which he expresses himself. That is his own inside. Look into it and you discover something that you can discover nowhere else at first. — We see that Fichte knew that not anybody discovers what he has to discover there, because he says a very nice word, even if it is rude to most human beings. He says, if the human beings were able to come to real self-knowledge, they would find the most significant in themselves. However, a few are successful, because they rather regard themselves as pieces of lava on the moon than as self-conscious beings.

What is self-consciousness for our time? One shows it as a conglomerate of cerebral atoms. However, one does not strive for recognising himself; one does not do this. There is no great difference whether one says that it is a conglomerate of cerebral atoms or molecules or a piece of lava on the moon. — Here Fichte draws attention clearly to the fact that that knowledge of the inside which only wants to observe how it is not the right knowledge of the inside. For the nature of the human being differs in its inside from any other being. By which does it differ? It differs by the fact that decision and action belong to the nature of the human being. From this icy region of thoughts, we want to come to flowery fields soon. Fichte calls self-knowledge not brooding in oneself, not looking into oneself, no, Fichte regards it as action. This word leads you from the wrong self-knowledge to the true self-development. The human being is not able to look simply into himself in order to recognise who he is. He has to give that to himself, which he shall become. He must become engrossed in the divine of the world and get the sparks from the divine with which he has to kindle his self perpetually. We look at a stone. It is what it is. We recognise it. We look at the plant. It is what it is. We look at our own body, our etheric body, and astral body. They are also that which they are. The human being is only that which he makes of himself, and self-knowledge is an intimate activity, no dead knowledge. While Fichte uses the (German) word “Tathandlung” (~ self-conscious action and result of the action), he says something that only the old Vedanta philosophy says in this significant kind. He reached the point that just the theosophists seek again. Often and often, I have said here that theosophy wants to show how the human being soars the divine, how it should stimulate the divine strength slumbering in the human being with which then he also becomes aware of the divine round himself. Fichte completely strives for the same. The wrong self-knowledge, he says, consists of the fact that one says, look into yourselves and you find the god in yourselves.

The right self-knowledge says something completely different. It says, if you brood in yourself, it is in such a way, as if you look into your own eye. However, this is not the task of the eye. We get to know the light with the eye. Thus, we also get to know the light of the ego with the soul. One can compare the eye with waking the inner self. As little as you find the soul in the organism, the light in the eye, just as little you find the god in yourselves. However, we find the possibility to develop the organs to find this god. The activity in the ego, which develops our spiritual organs, is the being that the human being gives himself. This is the “Tathandlung,” this is Fichte's self-knowledge. From this point, Fichte advances gradually. If you completely settle down, you educate yourselves to his thoughts, then you find a healthy access to theosophy, and nobody has to regret it one day if he settles down into the clear lines of thought of Johann Gottlieb Fichte, because he finds the way to the spiritual life.

However, there is a peculiar fact. When Johann Gottlieb Fichte has ascended to these etheric heights of thought, he lacks the view to which he did not come at that time, which the spiritual-scientific worldview brought back like a solution of the world riddle: the teaching of karma and reincarnation. If you see this, then you know to apply it to your own development. The human beings would like to judge all times, according to the same pattern. However, the human spirit is in perpetual development, and every age has other tasks. That century whose end forms in conceptual respect Johann Gottlieb Fichte had the task to emancipate the human personality. This was the good side of the Enlightenment. However, the personality is that member of the human nature, which just does not return, as well as it is. Our deepest essence that expresses itself within the personality returns in the various earth-lives. However, the single life on earth expresses itself in the personality.

Let us consider the being of the personality properly. We have four human covers basically that are not to be imagined, however, like onion skins: the physical body, the etheric body, the astral body and in them that which the human being works for, his refined astral body, that part on which the human ego has already worked. We have these four covers. However, in them only the imperishable everlasting essence of the human being, the so-called spiritual triad exists: manas, buddhi, and atman — spirit self, life spirit, and spirit man. These go from earth-life to earth-life and ascend then to higher states of existence. The last external cover expresses itself in the personality. It has still another importance and it has received it more and more in the human development. If we go back to the old times, we find that the human beings appreciated the individuality during the former centuries less and less; instead, the personality became more and more powerful. Today one easily confuses the concepts of individuality and personality. The individuality is the everlasting that runs through the earth-lives. Personality is that which the human being develops during an earth-life.

If we want to study the individuality, we have to look at the bottom of the human soul. If we want to study the personality, we have to observe how the essence expresses itself. The essence is born into the people, into the occupation. All that determines the inner being, it personifies it. With a human being who is still on a subordinated level of development one can perceive a little of the work on his inside. The mode of expression, the kind of the gestures and so forth is just in such a way as he has them from his people. However, those are the advanced human beings who give themselves the mode of expression and gestures from their inside. The more the inside of the human being is able to work on his appearance, the higher this develops the human being.

Now one could say, the individuality is expressed in the personality. Someone, who has his own gestures, his own physiognomy, has a peculiar character in his actions and in relation to the surroundings, has a distinct personality. Is that lost at death forever? No, this does not get lost. Christianity knows for sure that this is not the case. What one understands by resurrection of the flesh or of the personality is nothing else than the preservation of the personal in all following incarnations. What the human being has gained as a personality remains to him because it is attached to the individuality and this carries it further into the following incarnations. If we have made something of our body that has a peculiar character, this body, this strength, which has worked there, resurrects. As much we have worked on ourselves, as much we have made of ourselves, we do not lose it. Generating awareness of this knowledge is something that has not yet happened. This happens by theosophy. However, it was the task of the Enlightenment to acquire an uncertain feeling. It showed the task of the personality. Johann Gottlieb Fichte has put the idea of the personality in its everlasting importance in his construct of clear ideas. There the right thing immediately emerges for the epoch of the recognition of the everlasting and imperishable in the personality. Fichte accomplished that.

One has often said, the great human beings have the big mistakes of their big virtues, and because Fichte was able to measure out the personality with the thought uniquely, he did not penetrate to the individuality; also not his successors. However, they have implanted the thought in the personality. Someone who finds it there carries it in a healthy way through the repeated earth-lives if he approaches spiritual science. It does not depend on dogmas, but on the education that we can obtain in his spirit. Johann Gottlieb Fichte was an educator in the proper sense.

It does not depend on the fact that we become servile students of such a man, but that we also go through that strength which he went through. Then we may get other thoughts by his forces in another age. One faces such a spirit in this way. This was expressed in a certain way at his time. His personality can educate us and find pleasant expression in the distant future.

Spiritual science is so little dogmatic that it leads to the great human beings and shows that we can learn from them even more than what they have said. The expression of that which they are is the language. However, more than the expression lives in every human being, the immortal soul lives in them to which we can rise as to the true essence. Therefore, Fichte was already in the highest degree stimulating for those, at the end of the 18th century, who were sitting at his feet and listening how he measured out the human personality with world-spanning lines of thought. He inspired them to penetrate conceptionally to the soul and to acquire still quite other treasures from it than Fichte himself did.

One of those who sat at Fichte's feet and looked reverentially to him, one of those who got out the philosophical ideas, was the young short-lived German theosophist Novalis (pseudonym of Friedrich von Hardenberg, German Romantic poet and author, 1772-1801). He died around the turn of 18th to the 19th century, not yet thirty years old. Who becomes engrossed in his works goes through the finest training of theosophy. Perhaps it could be to that who is educated in the western science a much better elementary training to go through his tremendous light flashes, than through the Bhagavad Gita or similar writings that remain more or less strange to the West. Just now, it is possible to become engrossed completely in that which this great soul achieved.

He wrote a book in which he describes how a young person is introduced in the subterranean structure of the earth, in the geologic layers of the rocks and minerals by great geologists and mineralogical works. There he readily gets thoughts such as, you, rocks, I look only for you, however, what you say I look for continually. — Runes, letters, words were the stones to him, which he investigated as a miner underground; spiritual beings created in the earth and produced every single rock. He saw the spirit and soul in the earth, and every stone was to him the expression of that which the earth has to say to him. Mineralogy and geology became a runic science to him, and he attempted to penetrate to the spirit of the earth, while his great teacher made the layers and resemblances of the rocks clear to him. Just those who work in the depths of the earth are often led to deeper worldviews. Not least, miners did deep looks into the spiritual world. Staying underground has a peculiar effect on the spiritual experience.

However, something else appeared with Novalis. To understand it we only need to remember that at the front gate of Plato's school one could read the words: let none but geometers enter here. — The Platonic school demonstrated its elementary knowledge in geometrical forms, and Novalis, who illumined the secrets of existence with so big light flashes, revered mathematics like a religion. It is something sacred to him. Take this as a psychological phenomenon of peculiar kind. These strange human beings are able to feel something sacred and something like music with the abstract lines of mathematics and geometry. How circles and angles form a group together, how the different forms like polyhedra, dodekahedra and such build themselves up, then one can feel something that comes from Novalis speaking about mathematics. However, you can only take up that if you do not take up it in such a way as in our schools, but if you become engrossed in the inner music of space. Mathematics is the access to the infinite truth.

Then he heard Fichte, and from him the great truth of the ego as a personality. Then we see in this strange spirit almost the whole occultism reflected in certain ways. For someone who has knowledge in this respect Novalis is a peculiar personality. He is a personality who had already experienced the deepest initiation in former incarnations. Everything was a recollection that he experienced in the last, the third decade of his life. It becomes apparent in his life that it was more recollection of former incarnations than of the current one. This comes out in his imagination. The former incarnations completely became imagination in Novalis because they cast their shadows and found their expression as pieces of art.

Thus, we have to understand Novalis as a peculiar, tender, and intimate being. If Fichte arranges his razor-sharp thoughts and carries us off by this sharpness, then Novalis is wonderfully gentle and shows the spiritual life from a completely different side. Thus, he is the necessary supplement for someone who wants to go through the German preliminary stage of theosophy. Our best went through this pre-school in those days. We can call names of many people who attempted to penetrate in their kind, according to their character in those days into the truth which spiritual science gives humanity back today. These are names that are known more or less, however, whose bearers one has to deeper consider.

At first, we have Schelling (Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Sch., German philosopher, 1775-1854). If we open ourselves to his youth writings, where he became independent, he works so strongly on that who gets involved with him because he expressed a thought of Paracelsus (Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, German-Swiss physician, occultist, 1493-1541) in the way usual at that time. This thought was expressed not only by Schelling, but also by the great Steffens (Henrik St., Danish philosopher, 1773-1845), and in particular by the naturalist Oken (originally Lorenz Okenfuß, 1779-1851), by the great predecessor of the modern theory of evolution and founder of the Society of German Naturalists and Physicians. This thought is an eminently theosophical one.

It was usual in natural sciences, also in the philosophy of Schelling and Steffens, also in that of Novalis. These thinkers said: if we look out at the world, we see a number of animals. Every animal shows certain human qualities one-sidedly developed. What the amphibians have, what the snails have is also found in the human being. Those snails, amphibians and so on have something one-sidedly physical. If one makes, however, a whole of it, one gets the harmoniously developed human body that summarises everything that is spread out outdoors. As Paracelsus says, we find letters outdoors in nature, and if we compose them, they yield a word and this word is the human being. A great theosophist — not a German one — of the 18th century (presumably Claude de Saint Martin, 1743-1803) just took this principle as the basis of his theosophical investigating. Therefore, he came so far to say, if we look at the human being, we see the remaining animal realm. This is the opposite principle of that how one studies these things today. The theorists of evolution of that time said something different from those of today.

They said, if you face a person about whom you do not know that he is, for example, a great watchmaker, and then you are not able to recognise the person. At first, you have to become engrossed in his astuteness that makes him create what he produces. What he produces, that is the point. However, nature has produced the human being as a keystone. There you have the compendium of the whole nature. If you understand this in such a way, you understand nature. — One must recognise the remaining nature from the human being and not the human being from nature. If you carry out that really, you also understand how it could emerge as a certain reflection with Schelling and Oken. With Schelling and Oken you can read, the snail is a groping animal, the insect is a light animal, the bird a hearing animal, the amphibian a feeling animal, the fish a smelling animal. Thereby they express how the senses are spread over the single animals. They are harmoniously contained in the human being. One only needs to distribute the qualities of the human being to understand the remaining nature.

In 1809, Schelling published a writing, which is of big significance for theosophy. He had got to know the deep German thinker Jacob Boehme. He became engrossed in him, and thus he got to know the nature of the bad and its coherence with freedom. You find this in his Philosophical Inquiries into the Essence of Human Freedom. There he shows that God is the light and that from the light everything comes that shines that, however, the light has to shine into the darkness and that where light is shadow originates. Only by this comparison, one can realise what one reads in this writing. If you let the sun shine into darkness, there originates shadow; shadow must appear if the light is there, but the light does not generate it. Hence, he says, from the divine primal ground of the light everything great arises in the world. However, as well as the light is opposed to the darkness, the non-ground faces the primal ground, and from this the shadow of the good emerges, the bad. This is the indication of an infinitely deep involvement. Again, you can educate yourselves to the theosophical life if you take up that in yourselves.

Another writing by Schelling is still significant: Bruno or On the Divine and Natural Principle of Things (1802/1843). In pleasant dialogue form, like with Plato, he discusses here about the coherence of soul and spirit in the theosophical sense. Therefore, Schelling would be able to become a theosophist. He understood how to practice inner sight. Schelling was also an eager teacher at the Jena University first, and then he worked still at other sites and, finally, withdrew completely. In Munich, he lived a long time and was together with Baader (Franz Xavier von B., philosopher and theologian, 1765-1841), that spirit who renewed Jacob Boehme in such a fine way in the 19th century again. He stimulated Schelling. He wrote scarcely anything in that time. In 1809, his writing about freedom originated. Then he wrote almost nothing up to his call to Berlin by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who may be challenged in certain ways, who is not yet appreciated enough concerning insights into big, deep, and internal spiritual connections. In 1841, Schelling was appointed to Berlin. He should explain before the students what he had lived through such a long time.

He held two courses of lectures: about the Philosophy of Mythology (1856) and about the Philosophy of Revelation (1858). There he led into the essence of the old mysteries and showed how Christianity originated from them and what Christianity concerns. Then we who live more than half a century later are led automatically to reincarnation and karma. If you become engrossed in the philosophy of mythology and in the philosophy of revelation, you find, this is theosophy. However, all trivial people of that time railed against that. They could not understand what Schelling reported at that time. If the theosophists wanted to become engrossed in these writings, they would see from which depths all that is taken.

Fichte could speak of a special spiritual sense because he was one of those who wanted to open the eyes of the human beings. Fichte gave the definition of theosophy already in 1813. He said, “Appear as a sighted man in a world of blind people and speak to them of colours and light. Either you talk to them of nothing — and this is the more fortunate case if they say it, because in this way you soon notice the mistake and stop talking without success — or the more gifted people say, you are a daydreamer.” — All those experience that who are gifted with a special sense. They appear like among blind people. However, this sense can be evoked with everybody, slowly with the one, faster with the other. By the special sense, Fichte shows quite clearly that he knew what depends on in theosophy. This was the real definition of theosophy. Others scooped from such sources, from such currents of the spiritual life.

However, I would like to remind of Hegel (Georg Wilhelm Friedrich H., 1770-1831, philosopher) above all. I cannot get involved to explain Hegel's peculiar view. I would also like to remind of the name of an exceptionally gentle person, of Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert (1780-1860, physician and naturalist), who wrote books about the essence of the soul. Schelling wrote to Schubert still in 1850 when the sixth edition of a book about the essence of the soul had appeared: you are, actually, in a more fortunate position than I am. I must get involved with the world-spanning thoughts, which introduce in the spiritual life. However, you live the intimate side that the human being meets if he investigates all intimacies of the soul.

Schubert studied that soul life which is the border area between consciousness, semi-consciousness and unconsciousness, but also the border area between everyday consciousness, dream, and clairvoyance. With Schubert, you already find explanations about the principle that controls the dream world. About that, you can find a lot with him. He studied Swedenborg (Emanuel S., 1688-1772, scientist, philosopher, and mystic) in the time in which it was possible to point to these characteristics of the human spiritual life with great thoughts in a healthy way. He represented the view that there is an etheric body and an even higher etheric body than that which decomposes after death with every human being. Schubert already pointed to that which the Vedanta philosophy calls the “fine body” (sukshma-shariram). He wrote a very nice consideration about this higher body of the human being. You can find there fine remarks with him.

You can see how at that time already the single currents flowed into each other, you can see this with a poet who interlaced these things in his poetries, with Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811), who represented a peculiar prince in his Prince of Homburg and created Katie of Heilbronn, a peculiar figure, too. He was stimulated to them by talks on somnambulism and on higher spiritual life.

Schubert speaks of a pre-being of the soul; he also discusses the question of reincarnation. At that time, he did not yet regard it as Christian. However, he speaks of a pre-being whose destiny he exactly pursues. Then from this, the brilliant book originates by Justinus Kerner (1786-1862, practical physician, poet and writer): The Seeress of Prevorst (1829). When in the 19th century the book about this strange woman appeared, he used a lot of theosophy for its explanation. The occultist already recognises Justinus Kerner as an expert in the basic definition that he gives about this seeress (Friederike Hauffe, 1801-1829). He was an expert because he lived in the time, which had such thoughts as I characterised them. He says of the seeress of Prevorst — she had two children and was somnambulistic in the extreme — that the mental-spiritual world was open round her and that she could observe the spiritual side of the human beings. He describes her in such a way: imagine somebody retained at the moment of death, so that the peculiar state continues for some years; the emergence of the etheric body and the odd relationship of the astral body to the etheric body lasted for years. Because her soul condition was in such a way, she was able to behold the still existing part of the etheric body of someone who had lost a limb. She could also perceive many things besides. Kerner gives appropriate explanations even if they are not at the height of our time.

You can find explanations also with Eckartshausen (Karl von E., 1752-1803, philosopher, mystic) who also wrote about the inner spiritual development. Kosti's Journey or also The Hieroglyphics of the Human Heart are writings that are adapted to open the human soul to a higher vision. He also described what he calls a soul body appropriately. Another writer is sometimes rather stimulating: Ennemoser (Joseph E., 1787-1854, physician, mesmerist) who wrote theosophy, too, informed a lot of animal magnetism and the mysteries in his works, and contributed much to show the Greek mythology in the right light.

Thus, you see a painting of the first time of the 19th century, from the first thoughts that can work educationally on the human being up to the facts that bring theosophy together with immediate spiritualistic experiences. At that time, you find everything in a pure and sometimes nobler way expressed than it was shown later by the respective authors. You can learn much more about magic spiritual life there than in that which was published by Schindler (Heinrich Bruno Sch., 1797-1859, physician and author) and Albertus (?, perhaps hearing defect, probably Carus, Carl Gustav C., 1789-1869, physician, scientist, and naturalist).

Later the interest changed more and more into an interest, similar to curiosity, the mere urge for knowledge. In the first half of the 19th century, even such spirits who could not go very deeply had the desire of ascending to spiritual heights, developing inner soul organs, and knew something concerning self-knowledge and self-development. Novalis knew how to speak in miraculous tones in his Heinrich of Ofterdingen about that all. He put the big treasure of former initiation memory in that which he has like a recollection of former lives. In the Novices of Sais he shows how Hyazinth gets to know the girl Rosenblüth (rose flower). Only the animals of the wood know something of this extremely subtle love. A wise man comes and tells about the magic life, about spiritual secrets. Hyazinth and Rosenblüth get the desire to walk to the initiation temple of Isis. However, nobody can give some indication, which is the right way to the temple. He walks and walks. There he sits down, tired among nice physical things, in particular also because of that which nature speaks to him. He drops off to dream in a ghostly way.

The temple is round him. The curtain is lifted from the veiled picture, and what does he see? Rosenblüth. He lovely describes how Rosenblüth is that feeling of unity, that uniform idea of the whole nature, how it extends over the whole nature, and how he looks for the hidden secret that life often shows to us that we only need to understand. This is wonderfully indicated. Thus, you can prospect with Novalis wonderfully if you get yourselves in how intimately he expressed the experiences of the world at that time.

I was allowed here to speak about Goethe, Herder, and Schiller and to show how they were theosophists. In a theosophical way, Novalis just pronounces what is a characteristic trait of that time what controlled it like a theosophical motto spiritually. It is included in the words: “Someone succeeded; he lifted the veil of the goddess at Sais. — However, what did he see? He saw — miracle of miracles — himself.”

Thus, the human being comes out, after he has developed the spiritual organs in himself, and searches for himself all over the world. He does not search for himself in himself, he searches for himself in the world, and with it, he searches for God. This search of God in the world, as he expresses it so nicely in this saying, is theosophy.




Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
The Rudolf Steiner Archive is maintained by:
The e.Librarian: elibrarian@elib.com
[Spacing]