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The Balance in the World and Man, Lucifer and Ahriman

Schmidt Number: S-2977

On-line since: 3rd January, 2001

Lecture II

IN the lecture on the Kalevala [ 14th November, 1914. Not yet published in English. ], I made a statement which you will probably not have found easy to understand. You will remember, I spoke of a “being” that stretches across Europe from west to east; and I spoke of it as having three limbs that reach out in an easterly direction. I said that for the ancient Finnish folk these three limbs were known as Wainamoinen, Ilmarinen, and Lemminkainen, and that they were what we today, in our more materialistic language, call the gulfs of Riga, Finland and Bothnia. You will probably have wondered how I could say that these gulfs had anything to do with a being, when they are obviously nothing else than extensions of the surface of the sea. There is no body; how then can it be possible to speak of a being?

I can well imagine that this difficulty might arise in your minds, and it is typical. For again and again you will find that truths which come from the spiritual world lay themselves open to the charge of being contradictory. The very fact that they do so is significant and is quite as it should be; and the only way to arrive at a satisfactory solution of the contradiction is in every case to make a still deeper study of the matter in question. And this I want to do today in respect of certain problems in spiritual knowledge. But first let me preface what I have to say with a few introductory words.

We will glance, to begin with, at some of the prejudices concerning the nature of man that are prevalent in the materialistic thought of our time. Let us take one example. Various physical processes are to be found in man, among others processes of the brain and nervous system; and it is common knowledge that when these processes take place, processes take place also in the soul. The conclusion is drawn that the processes in the soul are no more than the expression of the physical processes. The materialist studies what goes on in the body of the human being, finds there — or rather pre-supposes hypothetically — delicate nerve-processes, and says: The thinking, feeling and willing processes are in reality only accompanying phenomena of what is going on all the time as physical processes. This view is quite commonly held today and it will undoubtedly strike deeper and deeper root into the materialistic thinking of the near future. From the point of view of logic it is about as clever as the following would be. — Suppose someone walking along a road discovers tracks on it — here, parallel ruts, and here again, marks like the soles of human feet. He thinks this over and says to himself: “The material of which the road is made has undergone certain changes and influences, with the result that it has in some places become packed together so as to form ruts, whilst at other places it has been sucked downwards and we see on the surface what looks like the impress of a human foot.”

Such a conclusion is of course a crudely mistaken one, the truth being that a wagon has passed and made the two ruts with the wheels, and a man has also been walking on the road and made the other impressions with his feet. Not the nature of the soil, but the man and the wagon are responsible for the tracks.

The case is no different with the processes that go on in our nervous system! Whenever we think or feel or will, we are setting up processes that are of the nature of soul-and-spirit. And so long as we live in the physical world, these processes are united with the physical body, they leave their tracks in it — just as the wagon and the man leave their tracks behind in the road. But these tracks in the body have no more to do with the material of which the body is made than have the tracks in the road to do with the materials of which the road is constructed. In reality, the processes that take place in the matter of the brain and in the matter of the nerves have nothing whatever to do with the actual thought-processes. The relation between them is no nearer than the relation between what the man and the wagon are doing and what is going on in the surface of the earth over which they are moving. It is really quite important to take a little trouble to consider the matter in this light. For it reveals to one that the anatomist or physiologist who investigates merely the physical processes in the organism is like a sp