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



Highlight Words

The Mystery of Death

Schmidt Number: S-3035

On-line since: 15th November, 2013


The Intimate Element of the Central European Culture

and the Central European Striving

Leipzig, 7th March 1915


We live in grievous, destiny-burdened days. Only few souls wait with full confidence what these destiny-burdened days will bring to us earth people. Above all, the significance of that what expresses itself by the events of these days, does not speak with full strength in the souls. Some human souls attempt to experience the impulses more and more that spiritual science demands to be implanted into the cultural development. They should know being connected with their deepest feeling with that which, on one side, takes place around us so tremendously and, on the other side, so painfully.

Something takes place that is matchless not only according to the way but also according to the degree within the conscious history of human development, that is deeply intervening and drastic in the whole life of the earth's development. One needs to imagine only what it means — and this is the case today with every human being of the European and also of many parts of the other earth population — to be in the centre of the course of such significant events. We have to feel that this is just a time which is not only suitable but also demands that the soul frees itself from merely living within the own self, and should attempt to experience the common fate of humankind. The human being can learn a lot in our present if he knows how to combine in the right way with the stream of the events. He frees himself from a lot of pettiness and egoism if he is able to do this. Such great events take place that almost anybody caring for himself ignores the destinies of the other human beings.

In particular the population of Central Europe — which immense questions has it to put to itself about matters that it can learn basically only now! The human being of Central Europe can perceive how he is misunderstood, actually, how he is hated. And these misunderstandings, this hatred did not only erupt since the outbreak of the war, they have become perceptible since the outbreak of the war. Hence, the outbreak of the war and the course of the war can be even as it were that what draws attention of the Central European souls to that how they must feel isolated in a certain way more or less compared with the feeling of those people who stand on all sides around this Central European population really not with understanding emotions. If anybody could arouse deeper interests in the big events of life in the souls dedicating themselves to spiritual science — this would be so desirable, especially now — events that lead the soul from the ken of its ego to the large horizon of humankind! Then one were able to deepen the look, the whole attitude of the souls who recognise the encompassing forces, because they have taken up spiritual science in themselves, and release them from the interest in the narrow forces that deal only with the individual human being! If one hears the world talking today, in particular the world which is around us Central Europeans, if one reads which peculiar things there are written about the impulses which should have led to this war, then one has the feeling that humankind has lost the obligation to judge from larger viewpoints in our materialistic time, has lost so much that you may have the impression, as if people had generally learnt nothing, but for them history only began on the 25th July, 1914 [Serbia refuses the ultimatum of Austria-Hungary].

It is, as if people know nothing about that what has taken place in the interplay of forces of the earth population and what has led from this interplay of forces to the grievous involvements which caught fire from the flame of war, finally, and flared up. One talks hardly of the fact that one calls the encirclement by the previous English king who united the European powers round Central Europe, so that from this union of human forces around us, finally, nothing else could originate than that what has happened. One does not want to go further back as some years, at most decades and make conceptions how this has come what is now so destiny-burdened and painful around us.

But the matters lie still much deeper. If one speaks of encirclement, one must say: what has taken place in the encirclement of the Central European powers in the last time, that is the last stage, the last step of an encirclement of Central Europe, which began long, long ago, in the year 860 A. D. At that time, when those human beings drove from the north of Europe who stood as Normans before Paris, a part of the strength, which should work in Europe, drove in the west of Europe into the Romance current which had flooded the west of Europe from the south. We have a current of human forces which pours forth from Rome via Italy and Sicily over Spain and through present-day France. The Norman population, which drives down from the north and stands before Paris in 860, was flooded and wrapped up by that which had come as a Romance current of olden times. That what is powerful in this current is due to the fact that the Norman population was wrapped up in it. What has originated, however, as something strange to the Central European culture in the West, is due to the Romance current. This Romance current did not stop in present-day France, but it proved to be powerful enough because of its dogmatically rationalistic kind, its tendency to the materialistic way of thinking to flood not only France but also the Anglo-Saxon countries. This happened when the Normans conquered Britain and brought with them that what they had taken up from the Romance current. Also the Romance element is in the British element which thereby faces the Central European being, actually, without understanding. The Norman element penetrated by the Romance element continued its train via the Greek coasts down to Constantinople. So that we see a current of Norman-Romance culture driving down from the European north to the west, encircling Central Europe like in a snake-form, stretching its tentacles as it were to Constantinople.

We see the other train going down from the north to the east and penetrating the Slavic element. The first Norman trains were called “Ros” by the Finnish population which was widely propagated at that time in present-day Russia. “Ros” is the origin of this name. We see these northern people getting in the Slavic element, getting to Kiev and Constantinople at the same time. The circle is closed! On one side, the Norman forces drive down from the north to the west, becoming Romance, on the other side, to the east, becoming Slavic, and they meet from the east and from the west in Constantinople. In Central Europe that is enclosed like in a cultural basin what remained of the original Teutonic element, fertilised by the old Celtic element, which is working then in the most different nuances in the population, as German, as Dutch, as Scandinavian populations. Thus we recognise how old this encirclement is.

Now in this Central Europe an intimate culture prepares itself, a culture which was never able to run like the culture had to run in the West or the culture in the East, but which had to run quite differently. If we compare the cultural development in Central Europe with that of the West, so we must say, in the West a culture developed — and this can be seen from the smallest and from the biggest feature of this culture — whose basic character is to be pursued from the British islands over France, Spain, to Sicily, to Italy and to Constantinople. There certain dogmatism developed as a characteristic of the culture, rationalism, a longing for dressing everything one gets in knowledge in plain rationalistic formulae. There developed a desire to see things as reason and sensuousness must see them. There developed the desire to simplify everything. Let us take a case which is obvious to us as supporters of spiritual science namely the arrangement of our human soul in three members: sentient soul, intellectual soul or mind-soul, and consciousness-soul. The human soul can be understood in reality only if one knows that it consists of these three members. Just as little as the light can be understood without recognising the colour nuances in their origin from the light, and without knowing that it is made up of the different colour nuances which we see in the rainbow, on one side the red yellow rays, on the other side the blue, green, violet ones, and if one cannot study the light as a physicist. Just as little somebody can study the human soul what is infinitely more important. For everybody should be a human being and everybody should know the soul. He, who does not feel in his soul that this soul lives in three members: sentient soul, intellectual soul or mind-soul, consciousness-soul, throws everything in the soul in a mess. We see the modern university psychologists getting everything of the soul in a mess, as well as somebody gets the colour nuances of the light simply in a mess. And they imagine themselves particularly learnt in their immense arrogance, in their scientific arrogance throwing everything together in the soul-life, while one can only really recognise the soul if one is able to know this threefolding of the soul actually.

The sentient soul also is at first that what realises, as it were, the desires, the more feeling impulses, more that in the current earth existence what we can call the more sensuous aspect of the human being. Nevertheless, this sentient soul contains the eternal driving forces of the human nature in its deeper parts at the same time. These forces go through birth and death. The intellectual soul or mind-soul contains half the temporal and half the eternal. The consciousness-soul, as it is now, directs the human being preferably to the temporal. Hence, it is clear that the nation, who develops its folk-soul by means of the consciousness-soul, the British people, after a very nice remark of Goethe, has nothing of that what is meditative reflection, but it is directed to the practical, to the external competition. Perhaps, it is not bad at all to remember such matters, because those who have taken part in the German cultural life were not blind for them, but they expressed themselves always very clearly about that. Thus Goethe said to Eckermann [conversation with Eckermann, 1st September 1829] — it is long ago, but you can see that great Germans have seen the matters always in the true light — when once the conversation turned to the philosophers Hegel, Fichte, Kant and some others: yes, yes, while the Germans struggle to solve the deepest philosophical problems, the English are directed mainly to the practical aspects and only to them. They lack any sense of reflection. And even if they — so said Goethe — make declamations about morality mainly consisting of the liberation of slaves, one has to ask: which is “the real object?” — At another occasion, Goethe wrote [letter to Zelter, 20th February 1828] that a remark of Walter Scott expresses more than many books. For even Walter Scott admitted once that it was more important than the liberation of nations, even if the English had taken part in the battles against Napoleon, “to see a British object before themselves.” A German philologist succeeded — and what does the diligence of German philologists not manage — in finding the passage in nine thick volumes of Napoleon's biography by Walter Scott to which Goethe has alluded at that time. Indeed, there you find, admitted by Walter Scott, that the Britons took part in the battles against Napoleon, however, they desired to attain a British advantage. He himself expresses it “to secure the British object.” — It is a remark of the Englishman himself, one only had to search for it. These matters are interesting to extend your ken somewhat today.

You have to know, I said, that the human soul consists of these three members, properly speaking that the human self works by these three soul nuances like the light by the different colour nuances, mainly in the mineral, plant, and animal kingdoms. Then one will find out that the human being, while he has these three soul nuances, can and must assign each of these soul nuances to a great ideal in the course of human progress. Each of these ideals corresponds to a soul nuance not to the whole soul. Only if people can be induced by spiritual science to assign the corresponding ideals to the single soul members, will the real ideal of human welfare and of the harmonious living together of human beings on earth come into being.

Because the human being has to aim at another ideal for his sentient soul, for that which he realises as it were in the physical plane, at another soul ideal for that what he realises in the intellectual soul or mind-soul, and again another ideal in his consciousness-soul. He improves a soul member through one of these ideals; the other soul members are improved through the others. If one develops the soul member in particular through brotherliness of the human beings on earth, one has to develop the other one through freedom, the third through equality. Each of these three ideals refers to a soul member. In the west of Europe everything got muddled, and it was simplified by the rationalists, by that rationalism, which wants to have everything in plain formulae, in plain dogmas, which wants to have everything clearly to mind. The whole human soul was taken by this dogmatism simply as one, and one spoke of liberty, fraternity, equality. We see that there is a fundamental attitude of rationalising civilisation in the West. We could verify that in details. For example, just highly educated French can mock that I used five-footed iambi in my mystery dramas [cf. the lecture On the Mystery DramasThe Portal of Initiation” and “The Soul's Probation” 19th December 1911, Steiner's Collected Works volume 127] but no rhymes. The French mind cannot understand that the internal driving force of the language does not need the rhyme at this level. The French mind strives for systematisation, for that what forms an external framework, and it says: one cannot make verses without rhyme.

However, this also applies to the exterior life, to everything. In the West, one wants to arrange, to systematise, and to nicely tin everything. Think only what a dreadful matter it was, when in the beginning of our spiritual-scientific striving many of our friends were still influenced by the English theosophical direction. In every branch you could find all possible systems written down on maps, boards et cetera, on top, nicely arranged: atma, buddhi, manas, then all possible matters in detail which one systematises and tins that way. Imagine how one has bent under the yoke of this dogmatism and how difficult it was to set the methods of internal development to their place, which we must have in Central Europe, that one thing ensues from the other, that concepts advance in the internal experience. One does not need systematising, these mnemonic aids which wrap up everything in certain formulae. Which hard work was it to show that one matter merges into another, that you have to arrange matters sequentially and lively. I could expand this account to all branches of life; however, we would have to stay together for days.

We find that in the West as one part of the current which encircled Central Europe. If we go to the East, then we must say: there we deal with a longing which just presents the opposite, with the longing to let disappear everything still in a fog of lacks of clarity in a primitive, elementary mysticism, in something that does not stand to express itself directly in clear ideas and clear words. We really have two snakes — the symbol is absolutely appropriate, — one of them extends from the north to southeast, the other from the north to southwest, and both meet in Constantinople. In the centre that is enclosed what we can call the intimate Central European spiritual current, where the head can never be separated from the heart, thinking from feeling, if it appears in its original quality.

One does not completely notice that in our spiritual science even today, because one has to strive, even if not for a conceptual system, but for concepts of development. One does not yet notice that everything that is aimed at is not only a beholding with the head. However, the heart and the whole soul is combined with everything, always the heart is flowed through, while the head, for example, describes the transitions from Saturn to the Sun, from the Sun to the Moon, from the Moon to the earth et cetera. Everywhere the heart takes part in the portrayal; and one can be touched there in the deepest that one ascends with all heart-feeling to the top heights and dives in the deepest depths and can ascend again. One does not notice this even today that that what is described only apparently in concepts one has to put one's heart and soul in it at the same time if it should correspond to the Central European cultural life. This intimate element of the Central European culture is capable of the spiritual not without ideal, not to think the ideal any more without the spiritual. Recognising the spirit and combining it intimately with the soul characterises the Central European being most intensely. Hence, this Central European being can use that what descends to the deepest depths of the sensory view and the sensory sensation to become the symbol for the loftiest. It is deeply typical that Goethe, after he had let go through his mind the life of the typical human being, the life of Faust, closed his poem with the words:

Alles Vergängliche
All that is transitory

Ist nur ein Gleichnis
Is only a symbol;

and the last words are:

Das Ewig-Weibliche
The eternal feminine draws

Zieht uns hinan
Us up to higher levels.

A cosmic mystery is expressed through a sensory picture, and just in this sensory picture the intimate character of the Central European culture expresses itself. We find this wonderfully intimate character, for example, so nicely expressed and at the same time rising spiritually to the loftiest just with Novalis. If you look for translations of this last sentence: “Das Ewig-Weibliche zieht uns hinan,” in particular the French translations, then you will see what has become of this sentence. Some French did explain it not so nicely, but they do not count if it concerns the understanding of Faust.

The Central European being aims at the intimacy of spiritual life most eminently, and this is that what is enclosed by the Midgard Snake in the East and the West. So far we have to go to combine completely in our feeling with that what happens, actually. Then we gain objectivity just from this Central European being to stand in front of the present great events with the really supranational human impulses, and not to judge out of the same impulses which are applied by the East and the West. Then we understand why the Central European population is misunderstood that way, is hated by those who surround them. Of course, we have to look at the mission of Central Europe for the whole humankind with all humility. We are not allowed to be arrogant, but we must also protect the free look for what is to be done in Central Europe.

The Central European population has always gone through the rejuvenating force of its folk-soul. It arrived at the summit in the ideals of Lessing, Schelling, Hegel, and Grimm. However, everything that already lived there lived more in a striving for idealism. Now this must gain more life, more concrete life. The profound ideas of German idealism have to get contents from spirituality, by which they are raised only from mere ideas to living beings of the spiritual world. Then we can familiarise ourselves in this spiritual world. The significance of the Central European task has now to inspire German hearts, and also the consciousness of what is to be defended in all directions, to the sides where the Midgard Snake firmly closes the circle. It is our task in particular because we are on the ground of spiritual science to look at the present events in such a higher sense. We cannot take the most internal impulse of our spiritual science seriously enough if we do not familiarise ourselves with such an impersonal view of the spiritual-scientific striving if we do not feel how this spiritual-scientific striving is connected in every individual human being with the whole Central European striving as it must be united with the whole substantiality of this Central European striving. We have to realise that something of what we have in mind exists only in the germ, however, that the Central European culture has the vocation to let unfold the germs to blossoms and fruits.

I give you an example. When the human being tries to further himself by means of meditation and concentration, by the intimate work on the development of his soul, then all soul forces take on another form than they have in the everyday life. Then the soul forces become as it were something different. If the human being works really busily on his development, by concentration of thought and other exercises as I described them in the book How Does One Attain Knowledge of the Higher Worlds?, the human being begins to understand vividly, I would like to say to grasp vividly that he does no longer think at the moment, when he approaches the real spiritual world, as he has to think in the everyday life. In the everyday life, you think that the thoughts start living in you. If you face the sensory world, you know: that is me, and I have the thoughts. You connect one thought with the other and you thereby make a judgment, you combine the thoughts and let them separate. In my writing which is entitled The Threshold of the Spiritual World, I have compared somebody developing thoughts to one putting his head into a world of living beings.

The thoughts start internally prickling and creeping, they become, if I may say so, living beings, and we are no longer those who connect one thought to the other. One thought goes to the other, and frees itself from the other, the life of thoughts starts coming to life. Only when the thoughts start as it were becoming shells and containers which contract in a small room and extend then again largely, bag-like, then the beings of the higher hierarchies are able to slip into our thoughts, then only! So our own way of life, the whole thinking changes when we settle in the spiritual world. Then you start perceiving that on the other planets other beings live not human beings like on the earth. These other beings of the other planets, they penetrate as it were our living thinking, and we do no longer think about the beings of the other worlds and world spheres, but they live in us, they live combined with our selves. Thinking has become a different soul-force; it has developed from the point on which it stood to another soul-force, to that force which surpasses us and becomes identical with that world, the spiritual world.

Here we have an example of that what humankind has to conceive if it should develop the condition in which it now lives to a higher one for the earth future. This must really become common knowledge that such thinking is possible, and that only by such a thinking the human being can get to know the spiritual world. Not every human being has to become a spiritual researcher, just as little as everybody needs to become a chemist who wants to understand the achievements of chemistry. However, even if there can be few spiritual researchers, everybody can see the truth of that using unbiased thinking and understand what the spiritual researcher says. But it must become clear that there are unnoticed soul forces in the human being during life which when the human being goes through the gate of death become the same forces as an initiate has. When the human being goes through the gate of death, thinking becomes another soul-force: it intervenes in the being. It is as if antennas were perpetually put out, and the human being experiences the higher worlds which are in these antennas.

There was a witty man setting the tone in the 19th century, who contributed to the foundation of the materialistic world view: Ludwig Feuerbach [Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–1872): the censorship confiscated his writing Thoughts on Death and Immortality (Nuremberg, 1830)]. He wrote a book Thoughts on Death and Immortality, and it is interesting to read the following in a passage of this book. Feuerbach says there for instance: the summit human being is able to reach is his thoughts. He cannot develop higher soul forces than thinking. If he could develop higher soul forces than thinking, some effects and actions of the inhabitants of the star worlds would be able to penetrate his head instead of thoughts. — This seems so absurd to Ludwig Feuerbach that he regards everybody as mentally ill who speaks of such a thing at all. Imagine how interesting this is that a person — who just becomes a materialist because he rejects higher soul forces — gets on that the soul-force is that which represents the higher development of thinking. He even describes it, but he has such a dreadful fear of this development that just because it would have to be that way, as he suspects, he declares this soul-force a matter of impossibility, a fantasy.

The spiritual development in the 19th century comes so near to that what must be aimed at, but it is so far away at the same time because it is pushed, as it were, from the inside to that what should be aimed at, but cannot penetrate the depths, because it must regard it as absurd, because it is afraid of it really, fears it quite terrifically. As soon as it only touches what should come there, it is afraid. The Central European cultural life has to come back to itself, then we will attain that this Central European cultural life just develops and overcomes this fear. That has become too strong what wants to suppress this Central European spiritual light.

Some examples may also be mentioned. Hegel, the German philosopher, raised his voice in vain against the overestimation of Newton. If you today hear any physicist speaking — you can read up that what I say in many popular works, — then you will hear: Newton set the tone in the doctrine of gravitation, a doctrine through which the universe has only become explicable. — Hegel said: what has Newton done then, actually? — He dressed that in mathematical formulae what Kepler, the German astronomer, had expressed. Because nothing is included in Newton's works what Kepler did not already say. Kepler worked out of that view with which the whole soul works not only the head. However, Newton brought the whole in a system and thereby all kinds of mistakes came into being, for example, the doctrine of a remote effect of the sun which is not useful for the judgment of planetary motion. With Newton it is real that way, as if the sun had physical arms, and stretches these arms and attracts the planets. — However, the German philosopher warned in vain that the Central European culture would be flooded by the British culture in this field.

Another example: Goethe founded a theory of colours which originated completely from the Central European thinking and which you only understand if you recognise the connections of the physical with the spiritual a little bit. The world did not accept the Goethean theory of colours, but the Newtonian theory of colours. — Goethe founded a teaching of evolution. The world did not understand it, but it only accepted what Darwinism gave as a theory of evolution, as a theory of development in a popular-materialistic way. You may say: the Central European human being who is encircled by the Midgard Snake has to call in mind his forces. It concerns not to bend under that what rationalism and empiricism brought in.

You see the gigantic task; you see the significance of the ideal. One does not notice that at all because it still passes, I would like to say, in the current of phenomena if one asserts the Central European being. I do not know how many people noticed the following. When for reasons which were also mentioned yesterday in the public lecture [ The Bearing Force of the German Spirit. Lecture of the same title in Berlin, 25th February 1915, in Steiner's Collected Works volume 185] our spiritual-scientific movement had to free itself from the specifically British direction of the Theosophical Society and when long ago as it were that happened beforehand in the spiritual realm what takes place now during the war — and preceded for good reasons, — I have discussed and explained the whole matter in those days on symptoms. There are brainless people who want to judge about what our spiritual-scientific movement is and have often said: well, also this Central European spiritual-scientific movement has gone out from that which it has got from the British theosophical movement.

I say the following not because of personal reasons, but because it characterises the situation, the whole nerve of the matter in a symptom, I would like to remind you of the fact that I held talks in Berlin which were printed then in my writing Mysticism at the Dawn of the Modern Spiritual Life, before I had any external interrelation with the British theosophical movement. In this writing nobody will find anything of western influence, but there everything is developed purely out of the Central European cultural life, from the spiritual, mystic movement of Master Eckhart up to Angelus Silesius. When I came to London the first time, I met one of the pundits of the theosophical society in those days, Mr. Mead [George M. S. Mead: last private secretary of H. P. Blavatsky. He left the Theosophical Society later.]. He had read the book which was immediately translated in many chapters into the English, and said that the whole theosophy would be contained in this book. — So far as people admitted that they could go along with us, so far we could unite with the whole object, of course; but nothing else was done.

What matters is that we reflect on our tasks of the Central European spiritual culture and that we never deviate from them. The one or the other sent the medals, certificates and the like back to the English. That is, nevertheless, less important. The important thing will be first to send back Newtonianism, the English coloured Darwinism, that means to release the Central European cultural life from it. Something is to be learnt from the way how — free of other influence — the Central European cultural life has made itself noticeable just as spiritual science. But you have to call to mind the essential part once and to stand firmly on this ground. It is very peculiar how mysteriously matters work.

Imagine the following case: Ernst Haeckel has taken care basically through his whole life to direct the German world view to the British thinking. The British thinking, the British empiricism flows into Ernst Haeckel's writings completely. He now rails against England the most. These are processes which take place in the subconscious of the soul of the Central European; these are also matters which are tightly connected in such a soul with karma. Consider please what it means that Haeckel places himself before the world and says, he himself has accomplished the first great action of the great researcher Huxley, while he stamped the sentence of the similarity of the human bone and the animal bone; that he, Haeckel, then has pointed to the big change in the view of the origin of the human being, and that he accepted nothing in the evolution theory but what came from the West. — Then one sees that he is urged now to rail against that what has constituted his whole intellectual life. It is the most tragic event of the present for such a soul which can be only thought. It is spiritual dynamite, because it bursts, actually, all supporting pillars on which such a soul stands.

Thus you can, actually, look into the depths of the present dreadful events. Only if you really consider the matters that way, are you able to consider them beyond a narrow horizon under which they are often considered today. You will be able to learn a lot — and this will be the nicest, at the same time the most humiliating and the loftiest teaching. For this teaching the prevailing active world spirit determined the Central European human being who is now embraced by the Midgard Snake, enclosed like in a fortress, surrounded by enemies everywhere. If the events become a symbol of the deepest world weaving and world being, then only we release ourselves from a selfish view of the present grievous, destiny-burdened events. Then we feel only that we must make ourselves worthy of that what, for instance, Fichte also spoke about in a time in which Germany experienced destiny-burdened days in his Addresses to the German Nation. There he wanted to speak, as he expresses it himself, “for Germans par excellence, of Germans par excellence,” and he spoke like one had to speak of the German par excellence to the German par excellence in those days. But like in those days Fichte spoke of the German mission, of the German range of tasks, we have today to experience the seriousness as the sunrise of the Central European consciousness within the containment by hating enemies. Indeed, a word which is found at the end of Fichte's addresses may be transformed: the spiritual world view must flow into the souls for the sake of humankind's welfare. The world spirit is looking at those who live in Central Europe that they become a mouthpiece for that what he has to say and bring to humankind in continuous revelation.

Without arrogance, without national egoism one can look at that which the sons of Germany and Central Europe have to defend with body, blood and soul generally. However, one has also to realise that. Then only from the immense sacrifices, which must be brought from the sufferings, must that result what serves the welfare of humankind. We stand at a significant threshold. One may characterise this threshold in the human development that one says: in future the abyss must be bridged between the physical and the spiritual worlds, between the physically living and the spiritually living human beings, between the earthly and that what lies beyond the earthly death. A time must come to us as it were when not only the souls are alive to us which walk about in physical bodies, but when we feel being integrated to that bigger world to which also the souls belong living between death and new birth disembodied in our world. The view of the human being has to turn beyond that which sensory-physical eyes are only able to see. Indeed, we are standing at the threshold of this new experience, of this new consciousness. What I said to you of the widening of the consciousness, of the ascending development of the consciousness, this must become a familiar view. The Central European culture prepares itself to make this a familiar view; it really prepares itself for that.

I have shown you how the best heads of the 19th century are afraid even today to get into their consciousness what the soul has in its depths; only its earthly soul forces cannot yet turn the attention to it. That thinking exists, into which the supersensible forces and supersensible beings extend, and this thinking also opens straight away after the human being has gone through the gate of death. The materialists are afraid of admitting that the human consciousness can be extended that really the barrier between the physical and the spiritual experience can fall, between that what lies on this side of death and beyond death. Because they are afraid, they reject it as something fantastic, dream-like, nay as mentally ill. However, one will recognise that the human being when he has gone through the gate of death develops only the forces which he also has now already between birth and death. Only they work in such depths that he does not behold them. They cause processes in him which are done, indeed, in him, but escape his attention in the everyday life. With the forces of thinking, feeling and willing, about which the human being knows, he cannot master the physical-earthly life. If the human being could only think, feel and will, as well as now he is able to do it, he would be never able to develop his body, for example, plastically that the brain matched its dispositions. Formative forces had to intervene there. However, they already belong to that what the soul does no longer perceive in the physical experience what belongs to a more encompassing consciousness than to the segment of consciousness which we have in the everyday life.

When the human being goes through the gate of death, he has not a lack of consciousness, but then he lives at first in a consciousness which is much richer and fuller of contents than the consciousness here in the physical life. Because from a more encompassing consciousness the body cuts out a piece and shows everything that can be shown only in a mirror. However, what is in the body and the human being bears through the gate of death that has an encompassing consciousness in itself. When the human being has gone through the gate of death, he is in this encompassing consciousness. He then does not have not enough, but on the contrary too much, too rich a consciousness. About that I have spoken in my Vienna cycle [ Inner Nature of Man and Life Between Death and Rebirth, eight lectures (Vienna, 1914), Steiner's Collected Works volume 153] at Easter 1914. The human being has a richer consciousness after death. When the often described retrospect, caused by the etheric body, is over, he enters into a kind of sleeping state for a while. However, this is not a real sleeping state, but a state which is caused by the fact that the human being is in a richer consciousness than here on earth. As our eyes are blinded by overabundant light, the human being is blinded by the superabundance of consciousness, and he only must learn to orientate himself. The apparent sleep only consists in the fact that the human being orientates himself in this superabundance of consciousness that he then is able to lessen the superabundance of consciousness to that level he can already endure according to the results of his life. This is the essential part. We do not have not enough, but too much a consciousness, and we are awake when we have lessened our sense of direction to the level we can endure. It is reducing the superabundance of consciousness to the endurable level what takes place after death. You must get such matters clear in your mind by the details of the Vienna cycle [ Inner Nature of Man and Life Between Death and Rebirth, eight lectures (Vienna, 1914), Steiner's Collected Works volume 153].

I want to illustrate that today only with the help of two obvious examples. I could state many such examples, because many of our friends have gone through the gate of death recently and also before. But as a result of characteristic circumstances, just by the fact that it concerns the last deaths, these considerations are more obvious. I would like to take the starting point from such examples to speak to you of that which makes our hearts bleed because it has happened in our own middle out of the circle of our spiritual-scientific movement.

Recently we have lost a dear friend (Sibyl Colazza) from the physical plane, and it was my task to speak words for the deceased at the cremation. There it turned out to me automatically by the impulses of the spiritual world, in such a case speaking clearly enough, as a necessity to characterise the qualities of this friendly soul. We stood — it was in Zurich — before the cremation of a dear member of our spiritual-scientific movement. Because her death occurred on a Wednesday evening and the cremation took place in the early Monday morning, it is comprehensible that the retrospect of the etheric body had already stopped. Actually, without having wanted it, I was induced by the spiritual world to begin and close the obituary with words which should characterise the internal being of this soul. This internal being of the friend deceased in the middle of life was real that I had to delve in this being and to create it spiritually by identification with this being. That means to let the thinking dive in the soul of the dead and that what wove in the soul of the dead let flow into the own thoughts. Then I got the possibility to say as it were in view of this soul how the soul was in life and how it is still now after death. It has turned out by itself to dress that in the following words. I had to say the subsequent words at the beginning and at the end of the cremation:

You walked among us.
Your being's gentle spirit
Spoke through the quiet power of your eyes —
Ensouled, alive, peace
Flowed in waves,
With your glance
To things and people
Bearing your inner weaving;
And your voice ensouled this being —
Your voice that eloquently,
More in the kind of words
Than in the words themselves,
Revealed what worked hidden
Within your beautiful soul;
Yet your sacrificial love
Unveiled itself completely
To sympathetic people without words —
This being, who, from noble, quiet beauty,
Heralded the sensitive awareness
Of worlds-and-souls creation.

The being of this soul appeared to me that way during the days before the cremation, when I identified myself with it, after the retrospect of the etheric body was over. The soul was not yet able to orientate itself in the superabundance of consciousness. It was sleeping as it were when the body was about to be cremated. The above-mentioned words were spoken in the beginning and at the end of the cremation. Then it happened that the flame — that what looks like the flame, but it is not — grasped the body, and while the body was grasped from that what looks like the flame what is, however, only the ascending warmth and heat, the soul became awake for a moment. Now I could notice that the soul looked back at the whole scene which had taken place among the human beings who were at the cremation. And the soul looked particularly back at that what had been spoken, then again it sank back into the superabundance of consciousness, you may say: in the unconsciousness. A moment later, one could perceive when such a looking back was there again. Then such moments last longer and longer, until finally the soul can orientate itself entirely in the superabundance of consciousness.

But one can recognise something significant from that. I could notice that the words spoken at the cremation lighted up the retrospect, because the words have come from the soul itself which had something awakening in them. From that you can learn that it is most important after death to overlook your own experience. You have to begin as it were with self-knowledge after death. Here in the life on earth you can miss self-knowledge, you can miss it so thoroughly that is true what a not average person, also a not average man of letters, but a famous professor of philosophy, Dr. Ernst Mach [Ernst Mach (1838–1916), Austrian physicist and philosopher] — not Ferdinand Maack, I would not mention him — admits in his Contributions to the Analysis of Sensations, a very famous work: as a young man I crossed a street and saw a person suddenly in a mirror who met me. I thought: what an unpleasant, disgusting face. I was surprised when I discovered that I had seen my own face in the profile. — He had seen his own face which he knew so little that he could make this judgment. The same professor tells how it has happened to him later when he was already a famous professor of philosophy that he got in a bus after a long trip, surely exhausted, there a man also got in from the other side — there was a big mirror opposite, — and he confesses his thoughts quite sincerely, while he says that he thought: what a disagreeable and down-and-out schoolmaster gets in there? — Again he recognised himself, and he adds: so I recognised the type better than the individual. — This is a nice example of how little the human being already knows himself by his external figure in life if he is not a flirtatious lady who often looks in the mirror. — But much less the human being knows the qualities of his soul. He passes those even more. He can become a famous philosopher of the present without self-knowledge. But the human being needs this self-knowledge when he has passed through the gate of death.

The human being must look back just at the point of his development from which he has gone through death, and he must recognise himself there. As little the human being, who stands in the physical life and looks back with the usual forces of life is able to see his own birth, as little this stands before the usual soul-forces — there is no one which can look back with the usual soul-forces at the physical birth, — in the same way it is necessary that the moment of death is permanently there at which one looks back. Death stands always before the soul's eyes as the last significant event. This death, seen from the other side, seen from beyond, is something different than that from the physical side. It is the most beautiful experience which can be seen from the other side, from the side of the life between death and new birth. Death appears as the glorious picture of the everlasting victory of the spiritual over the physical. Because death appears as such a picture, it wakes up the highest forces of the human nature permanently when this human nature lives in the spirituality between death and new birth. That is why the soul looking back or striving for looking back must look at itself at first. Just in these cases which we have gone through recently it was clear in which way the impulse originated to characterise this soul. The so-called living human being works together with the so-called dead that way. More and more such a relation will come from the so-called living to the so-called dead.

We experienced another case in the last time, that of our dear friend Fritz Mitscher. Even if Fritz Mitscher is less known to the local friends, nevertheless, he worked by his talks among many other anthroposophists, by that what he performed wonderfully from friend to friend by the way he familiarised himself with the anthroposophical life. His character has just to be regarded as exemplary, because he whose soul forces were directed to go through a learnt education was keen to take up and collect everything in himself according to his disposition of scholarship, to embrace it intimately in his soul-life, to insert it then in his spiritual-scientific world view. We need this kind of work, in particular, while we want to carry the spiritual-scientific ideals into future in a beneficial way. We need human beings, who try to penetrate the education of our time with understanding to immerse it in the stream of spiritual education; who offer that as it were as a sacrifice. Also there — and I speak only of matters that resulted from karma with necessity — karma caused that I had to speak at the cremation. Out of internal necessity it turned out that I had to characterise the being of our dear friend again in the beginning and at the end of the funeral speech. I had to characterise this being:

A hope, filling us with happiness:
You entered the field
Where, through the power of soul being,
Earth's spirit blossoms
Reveal themselves to investigation.

Your longing was bound from the beginning
To pure truth-loving being;
To create out of spirit-light
Was the earnest life goal
For which you strove without rest.

You nurtured your beautiful gifts
To tread with steady steps
Bright paths of spirit-knowledge
As truth's true servant
Unperturbed by worldly contradiction

You trained your spirit-organs
That, with courage and persistence,
On both sides of the path
Repelled error for you
And made a space for truth for you.

For you, to form your Self
For the revelation of pure light
So the soul's sun-power
Might shine mightily within you
Was your life's concern and joy.

Other cares, other joys
Barely touched your soul,
For knowledge seemed to you to be
The light that gives existence meaning,
Seemed to you life' s true value.

A hope, filling us with happiness:
You entered the field
Where, through the power of soul being,
Earth's spirit blossoms
Reveal themselves to investigation.

A loss that pains us deeply,
You disappeared from the field
Where the Spirit's earthly kernels
In the womb of soul being
Ripened your senses for the spheres.

Feel how we lovingly gaze
Into the heights that now
Call you to other works.
Give to the friends left behind
Your power from spirit-realms,

Hear our souls' entreaties
Sent to you in confidence and trust:
For our earthly work here we need
Strong forces from spirit-lands,
For which we thank dead friends.

A hope, filling us with happiness,
A loss that pains us deeply:
Allow us to hope, that you, far-near,
Un-lost, light our life
As a soul-star in spirit-realm.

In the following night the soul which was not yet able to orientate itself returned of own accord something like an answer what is connected with the verses, which were directed to its being at the cremation. Such words like those are spoken that the own soul writes them down really without being able to add a lot. The words are written down while the soul oriented itself to the other soul, out of the other soul. It was unclear to me at all that two stanzas are built in a quite particular way, until I heard the words from the friend's soul who had gone through the gate of death:

For me, to form my Self
For the revelation of pure light
So the soul's sun-power
Might shine mightily within me
Was my life's concern and joy.

Other cares, other joys
Barely touched my soul,
For knowledge seemed to me to be
The light that gives existence meaning,
Seemed to my life's true value.

I could only know now, why these stanzas are built that way; I spoke them exactly the same:

For you, to form your Self
For the revelation of pure light
So the soul's sun-power
Might shine mightily within you
Was your life's concern and joy.

However, any “you” came back as “I,” any “your” came back as “my;” thus they returned transformed, expressed by the soul about its own being.

This is an example in which way the correspondence takes place, in which way the mutual relation already exists between the world here and the world there in the time after death. It is connected with the meaning of our spiritual-scientific movement that this consciousness penetrates the human souls. Spiritual science will give humankind the consciousness that the world of those who live between death and a new birth also becomes a world in which we know ourselves connected with them. Thus the world extends from the narrow area of reality in which the human being lives provisionally. However, this is connected intimately with that what should be in Central Europe. Somebody who has well listened finds just in the words directed to Fritz Mitscher's soul what is deeply connected with this meaning of our spiritual-scientific movement, because the words are spoken from a deep internal necessity:

Hear our souls' entreaties
Sent to you in confidence and trust:
For our earthly work here we need
Strong forces from spirit-lands,
For which we thank dead friends.

Sometimes one may doubt, even if not in reality but concerning the interim period, whether the souls, which are embodied in the flesh here on earth, do really enough for the welfare of humans and earth what must necessarily be made concerning the spiritual comprehension of the world. However, somebody who is engaged completely in the spiritual-scientific movement may also not despair. For he knows that the forces of those who ascended into the spiritual worlds are effective in the current, in which we stand in this incarnation. In their previous lives those souls felt stronger here because they had taken up spiritual science in themselves. It is as if one communicates with a friend's soul who has gone through the gate of death if one says to him what one owes to the friend's force for the spiritual movement, if one is able to communicate as it were with the soul to remain united with its forces. We have it always among us, so that it always works on among us. We take up not only ideas, concepts and mental pictures in our spiritual science, that does not only concern, but we create a spiritual movement here on earth to which we really bring in the spiritual forces.

It suggests itself to us just at this moment, out of the sensations which perhaps inspire our local friends to turn the thoughts to the soul of somebody who has always dedicated his forces to this branch. We want to feel united also with him and his forces, after he has gone through the gate of death; therefore, we get up from our seats. The Leipzig friends know of which friendly soul I am speaking, and they have certainly turned their thoughts to this soul with moved hearts.

It was my responsibility to bring these ideas home to you today, while we were allowed to be together. These words were inspired through the consciousness that the grievous and destiny-burdened days in which we live must be replaced again with such which will pass in peace on earth in which the forces of peace will work. But a lot will be transformed, nay, must absolutely be transformed by that what happens now in the earthly life of humankind. We who bear witness to spiritual science must particularly keep in mind how much it depends on the fact that must take place on the ground — for which so much blood flows for which so often now souls go through the gate of death on which so many fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters are mourning — what can be done by those whose souls can be illumined through the forward-looking thoughts of spiritual science.

Those thoughts which come from the consciousness of the living relationship of the human soul with the spiritual world have to ascend from the earth into the spiritual heights. Souls now enter these spiritual worlds, and there will be spiritual forces which are produced just by our destiny-burdened days. Imagine how many people go through the gate of death in the prime of their lives in this time. Imagine that the etheric bodies of these human beings who go between their twentieth and thirtieth years, between their thirtieth and fortieth years through the gate of death are etheric bodies which could have supplied the bodies still for decades here in the physical life. These etheric bodies are separated from the physical bodies; however, they keep the forces still in themselves to work here for the physical world. These forces keep on existing in the spiritual worlds, separated from the unused etheric bodies of the souls which went through the gate of death. The bright spirituality of the unspent etheric bodies of the heroic fighters turns to the spiritual welfare and progress of humankind. However, that what flows down there has to meet the thoughts coming from the souls which — aware of spirit — they can have by spiritual science. Hence, we are allowed to summarise the thoughts of which we made ourselves aware today in some words showing the interrelation of the consciousness based on spiritual-scientific ideas with the present events. They express how for the next peacetime the room has to be filled with thoughts which have ascended from souls to the spiritual worlds, from souls which experienced spiritual science. Then that can flourish and yield fruit in the right sense what is gained with so big sacrifices, with blood and death in our time, if souls are found, aware of spirit, which turn their senses to the realm of spirits. That is why we are allowed to say taking into account the grievous and destiny-burdened days today:

From the courage of the fighters,
From the blood of the battles,
From the grief of the bereaved,
From the nation's sacrifices
Will grow up the fruits of spirit
If souls aware of spirit turn
Their senses to the spirit-land.




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