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Necessity and Freedom

Lecture III:
Three Teachers with Different Attitudes

Schmidt Number: S-3188

On-line since: 30th April, 2014

(aka: Past, Present, and Future)

January 30, 1916

To continue last week's study I shall begin with a kind of hypothetical case. Where the deepest riddles of human existence are concerned the best way to avoid abstraction and to get close to reality is to give examples. My example will of course apply to every possible level of life. So let us begin with a hypothetical example.

Let us imagine we are in a school, a school of three classes, with three teachers and a headmaster. These three teachers differ tremendously in character and temperament. It is the beginning of a new school year. The headmaster discusses the coming year with his teachers. First of all it is the turn of the first teacher. The headmaster asks him what preparations he intends to make and what he thinks is the best way to proceed in the coming year. The teacher replies, “Well, during the holidays I noted down carefully all the areas where the pupils did not meet my expectations, areas that I had obviously not prepared well. And I have drawn up a new plan for next year containing all the things which I am sure were successful and got across to the children. All the work I will give them next year consists of the things that came off best last year and have proved successful.” A further question from the headmaster produced a complete schedule the teacher had made of the subject matter. He could also stipulate what work he would give the pupils to do in school and what would be set as homework in the course of the year. All his themes, both for schoolwork and homework, had been chosen from careful scanning of the previous year. The headmaster was very satisfied and said “You are doubtless a conscientious teacher, and I reckon you will achieve excellent results with your class.”

The second teacher also said, “I have gone through the whole curriculum I covered with my pupils last year and noted everything I did wrong. I have arranged the new schedule avoiding all the mistakes I made before.” And he, too, was able to show the headmaster a curriculum containing all the subjects he was going to give the pupils for schoolwork and homework in the course of the year, basing it on the experience of his last year's mistakes. The headmaster said, “The teacher I have just spoken to noted all the instances where he had achieved excellence, and tried to plan his curriculum accordingly, whereas you have endeavored to avoid mistakes. It can be done either way. I am assured that you will achieve excellent results with your class. I see with a certain satisfaction that I have teachers in my school who review their past achievements and let the wisdom of self-knowledge guide their future steps.” You see, a teacher who knows his priorities is bound to make a good impression on a headmaster.

Then it was the third teacher's turn. He said, “During the holidays I, too, have thought a lot about what happened in my class last year. I have tried to study the character of my pupils and have done a kind of review of what has taken place in the various individuals.” “Well,” said the headmaster, “you will also have seen the mistakes you made and the things you did well, and will have been able to draw up a schedule for the coming year.” “No,” replied the teacher. “I have certainly made mistakes; and some things I have done well. But I have only studied the pupils' characters and what has taken place there. I have not thought especially about whether I made any particular mistakes, or whether this or that was particularly good. I did not do that. I accepted that things had to happen the way they did. So I have just observed what I believe had to happen out of a certain necessity. The pupils had their various dispositions, and these I observed carefully. I too have a definite disposition, and the interaction of our different natures produced its own results. I cannot say more than that.”

“Well,” said the headmaster, “you seem to be a very self-satisfied person. Have you at least drawn up a schedule, and worked out the subjects you will give your pupils as schoolwork and homework during the year?” “No,” he answered, “I have not done that.” “Well, what do you intend to do with your class?” To this the teacher replied, “I will see what kinds of pupils I will have this year. And I believe I will be able to size this up better than last year, as each year I have always studied the previous year's characters during the holidays. But I cannot possibly know yet what they will be like next year. Only time will tell.” “Well, are you not intending to plan subjects for schoolwork and homework?” “Yes, but not until I have seen what my pupils' capacities are like. I will try to set the work accordingly.” “Well, really,” said the headmaster, “we would be thoroughly at sea in that case. We can hardly allow such things to happen.”

But there was nothing to be done. The headmaster had to agree to it, and the school year got under way. The headmaster inspected the school frequently. He saw the first two teachers doing exceedingly well, but with the third he always found that things were not on a good footing. There was no certainty, he said, one never really knew what would happen the following month. And it went on like this throughout the year. Then came the time for the report cards. From those of the first two teachers the headmaster was satisfied that they had been very successful. Of course, some of the pupils in their classes failed too, and others passed, but it all happened as expected. According to the report cards, the third teacher's results were no worse. Yet other people had come to the conclusion over the year that he was very lenient. While the other teachers were strict, he was so lenient that he frequently made allowances, and the headmaster was convinced that the third teacher's class had come out the worst.

Then the next year came. The holidays were over, and at the start of the school year the first two teachers spoke as before, and the third, too. Things happened similarly, with the school inspector also coming occasionally, and, of course, he noticed what the headmaster had as it were prepared him to see, namely that the first two teachers were very good, and the third only second-rate. It could not be otherwise. I hardly need mention that after a few years the two good teachers were nominated for decorations, and the headmaster received an even higher one. That is a matter of secondary importance, isn't it?

Some time later the following thing happened. The headmaster left the school and another came at the beginning of the year. He also discussed with his three teachers what their plans were, and so on, and each of the teachers answered in a similar way as before. Then the headmaster said, “There is certainly quite a difference between your methods. And I believe the first two gentlemen ought to take a little guidance from the third teacher.” “What!” said the first two gentlemen. “The previous headmaster always said that he ought to take guidance from us!” “I do not think so,” said the new head. “It seems to me that the first two should adapt to the third.” But they could not very well emulate him, for they could not see how anyone could possibly foresee what would happen in the coming year if he groped about as blindly as that teacher did. They just could not imagine it.

In the meantime the former headmaster, because of his insight into proper school administration, had himself become a school inspector, and was most astonished at the views his successor was expressing about the school he knew so well. How could such a thing happen? And he said, “The third teacher never told me anything except ‘I must first see what the pupils are like, then I can form my schedule from week to week.’ But that way you cannot look ahead at all! It is quite impossible to manage if you cannot anticipate a single thing.” To which the present headmaster replied, “Yes, but look, I have actually asked my teachers about their different ways of looking ahead. The first two gentlemen always say 'I know for certain that on February 25 next year I will present such and such items of school-work. I can say in detail what will be happening, and I know for certain that I will be talking about such and such a subject at Easter.' The third teacher says 'I do not know for certain what I will be doing at Easter, nor do I know what schoolwork I will set in February. I will set the work according to the kind of pupils I have.' And by that he meant that he can in a certain way foresee that all will be well. And,” said the new headmaster, “I actually agree with him entirely. You cannot know until afterwards whether your resolves have been entirely successful. It depends on the attitude you have to the previous year; if you study the character of last year's pupils, you acquire greater capacities to understand the character of the new pupils. I appreciate that more can be achieved this way.”

“Yes, but you still cannot know anything in advance! Everything is in the realm of uncertainty. How can you predetermine anything for the whole school year?” asked the former headmaster. “You cannot anticipate anything. But you must be able to look ahead a little bit, if you want to make proper plans.” “You can foresee that things will go well,” said the new headmaster, “if you join forces as it were with the spirit at work in the pupils, and have a certain faith in it. If you, so to speak, pledge yourself to this and depend upon it, then even if you cannot anticipate the school work you will be presenting in February, you will know that it will be the right work.” “Yes, but you cannot foresee anything with certainty, and everything remains vague,” said the school inspector, to which the new headmaster replied, “You know, I once studied the sort of thing people call spiritual science. And I still remember from this that beings on a much higher level than human beings are actually supposed to have acted in this way in much more important affairs. For at the beginning of the Bible it says 'And God made light.' And only after he made the light does it say 'And he saw that it was good.'“ To this the inspector had nothing suitable to say.

Things continued in the same way for a time. There are few headmasters like the second one I chose as a hypothetical example, aren't there? I could call him hypothetical to the second degree, for even with it being a hypothesis it is hypothetical to assume a headmaster like that. Therefore he was dismissed very soon, and another one more like the inspector was appointed. And things ran their course until one day it went so far that the completely “undecorated” teacher was driven away from the school in disgrace and another of the same style as the first two was appointed in his place. The outcome could not possibly have been any different at the time, for in all the yearbooks and personnel files it was recorded what great progress had been achieved by the first two teachers, while of the third one it was recorded that he sent out only poor students from the school for the simple reason that he made allowances; otherwise all his pupils would have failed. There was absolutely nothing that could be done about a person like this third teacher.

Many years passed. By chance a very unusual event followed. The headmaster who had been dismissed tried to go more deeply into how matters had turned out with the two teachers who had always practiced strict self-observation, for example, with the one who noted the subjects that yielded fewer successes and selected the more successful ones. The former headmaster also wanted to know what the second and the third teachers had achieved. He even followed up what their pupils had achieved under other teachers, and he discovered that with different teachers the third teacher's pupils made much less progress than those of the first two. But the former headmaster did not stop there. He went even further into the matter and traced the subsequent life of the former pupils of these teachers. He then discovered that those taught by the first two teachers, with a few exceptions naturally, had all become respectable citizens, yet they had achieved nothing outstanding. Among the pupils taught by the third teacher, however, were people of considerable importance, who accomplished things of far greater significance than the pupils of the others.

He was able to prove these things in this particular case. But it made no special impression on people, for they said, “We cannot always wait to follow up the pupils' whole subsequent lives! That is impossible, isn't it? And that is not the point, anyway.”

Now why am I telling you all this? There is an important difference between the first two teachers and the third. Throughout the holidays, the first two teachers kept focusing their attention on the way they had done their work the previous year. The third teacher did not do this, for he had the feeling that it had to happen as it did. When the headmaster, the first one, kept telling him again and again, “But you won't have any idea how to avoid mistakes next year, or how to do the right thing, if you don't study what you did well last year,” he did not answer immediately, for he did not feel like explaining this to him. But afterwards he thought to himself, “Well, even if I did know what mistakes happened in the course of the work my pupils and I did together, I will after all have different pupils this year, and our working together is not affected by the mistakes made last year. I have to work with new pupils.”

In short, the first two teachers were wholly entrenched in a dead element, while the third teacher entered into what was alive. You could also say that the first two teachers always dealt with the past, the third teacher with the immediate present. He did not brood over the past, but said, “Of necessity it had to happen as it did according to the conditions that prevailed.”

The point is that if things are judged in a superficial way according to external judgments, one can indeed go astray where actual facts are concerned. Because if you were to do things the way the first teachers did them you would be judging the present according to what is dead and gone and what ought to be allowed to remain so. The third teacher took what was still alive from the past, arriving at it by simply studying character, and made himself more perfect by doing so; in fact, he did it with this in view. For he told himself, “If I can make myself more efficient in this way, the greater capacities I thus acquire will help me achieve what I have to do in the future.”

The first two teachers were somewhat superstitious about the past and told themselves, “Past mistakes must be avoided in the future and evident good qualities must be used.” But they did this in a dead way. They had no intention of enhancing their abilities but only of making their decisions according to outer observation. They did not have the wish to be effective as a result of working in a living way on themselves; they thought the only means to gain anything for the future was observation and its results.

In accordance with spiritual science we have to say that the first teacher, who investigated so carefully the good qualities he had established in the past and wanted to incorporate them in his future work, acted in an ahrimanic way. It was an ahrimanic approach. He clung to the past, and out of personal egotism looked with complacent satisfaction at everything he had done well and prided himself on it.

The second teacher's character was governed more by luciferic forces. He brooded over his mistakes and told himself, “I must avoid these mistakes.” He did not say, “The things that happened were necessary, and had to happen like that,” but said, “I have made mistakes.” There is always something egotistic about it when we would like to have been better than we actually were, and tell ourselves we made mistakes that ought to have been avoided and that we must now avoid. We are clinging to the past, like Lucifer does, who, on a spiritual level, brings past happenings into the present. That is thinking in a luciferic way.

The third teacher was, I would say, filled with the forces of divine beings who are progressing in a normal way, whose correct divine principle is expressed right at the beginning of the Bible, where we are told that the Elohim first of all create and then they see that their creation was good. They do not look upon it egotistically as though they were superior beings for having made a good creation, but they admit that it is good in order to continue creating. They incorporate it into their evolution. They live and work in the element of life.

What is important is that we realize that we ourselves are living beings and a part of a living world. If we realize this, we will not criticize the gods, the Elohim, for instance. For anyone wishing to set his own wisdom above that of the gods might say, “If gods are supposed to be gods, could they not see that the light would be good? Those gods do not even sound like prophets to me. If I were a god, I would of course only create light if I knew beforehand what light was like, and did not have to wait till later to see that it was good.” But that is human wisdom being placed above divine wisdom.

In a certain way the third teacher also saw what would come about, but he saw it in a living way in that he surrendered himself to the spirit of becoming, the spirit of development. When he said, “By incorporating what I have gained through the study of last year's characters and not focusing on the mistakes I made of necessity, simply because I was as I was, nor applying criticism to what I encountered as my own past, I have enhanced my capacities and acquired in addition a better understanding for my new pupils.” And he realized that the first two teachers were considering their pupils merely in the light of what they had done the previous year, which they could not even estimate properly. So he could say, “I am quite certain I will give my pupils the right schoolwork in four weeks time, and I have every confidence in my prediction.”

The others were better prophets. They could actually say “I will present the schoolwork I have written down; I will give them that for sure.” But that was a foreseeing of facts, not a foreseeing of the course of the forces of movement. We must hold very firmly to this distinction. Prediction as such is not impossible. But predicting in detail what will happen when these details are interwoven with a living element that is to work out of itself is possible only when we consider the phenomena that Lucifer and Ahriman carry over from the present into the future.

We are gradually getting closer to the big problem occupying us in these lectures on freedom and necessity. However, as this particular problem affects so profoundly the whole matter of world processes and human action, we must not fail to look at all the difficulties. For instance, we must realize clearly that when we look back at events that have happened and in which we have been involved, we look at them as necessity. The moment we know all the circumstances, we consider the events as necessity. There is no doubt about the fact that we look upon what has happened as a necessity.

But at the same time we have to ask, “Can we really, as so often happens, always find the causes of events in what immediately preceded them?” In a certain way natural science has to look at what has just happened to see what will happen next. If I carry out an experiment, I have to realize that the cause of what takes place later obviously lies in what took place previously. But that does not mean at all that this principle applies to every process in the world. For we might very easily deceive ourselves about the connection between cause and effect if we were to look for it along the lines of what comes first and what comes later. I would like to explain this with a comparison.

When we penetrate external reality with our senses, we can say, “Because this thing is like this, then the other must be like that.” But if we apply this to every process, we very often arrive at the error I want to illustrate. For the sake of simplicity let us take a man driving himself in a cart, an example I have often taken. We see a horse with a cart behind it and a man sitting in it holding the reins. We look at it and quite naturally say that the horse is pulling and the man is being pulled. The man is being taken wherever the horse takes him. That is quite obvious. Therefore the horse is the cause of the man's being pulled along. The pulling being done by the horse is the cause, and the fact of the man being pulled is the effect. Fair enough! But you all know very well that that is not so; that the man sitting up there driving himself is leading the horse where he wants him to go. Although the horse is pulling him, it is taking him where he wants to go.

Such mistakes happen often when we judge purely externally, on the basis of happenings on the physical plane. Let us look once more at the hypothetical examples I gave you a few days ago, in which a party of people set out for a drive, got into the coach, but the driver was delayed, and they were five minutes behind time. Therefore they arrive beneath an overhanging boulder at the moment it falls, and it crushes them all. Now if we trace the cause on the physical plane, we can naturally say, “This happened first and then that and then the other.” And we will arrive at something. But in this case we could easily make the same mistake we make if we say the horse pulls the driver wherever it wants and overlook the fact that the driver is leading the horse. Perhaps we make this mistake because the controlling force in this case is possibly to be found in the spiritual world. If we merely trace events on the physical plane we really judge in the sense of saying the man is going where the horse takes him. However, if we penetrate to the hidden forces at work in the occurrence, we see that events were directed toward that point and that the driver's belated arrival was actually part of the whole complex of circumstances. It was all necessary, but not necessary in the way one might believe if one merely traces events on the physical plane.

Again, if you believe you can find the cause by assuming it to be what has happened immediately beforehand, the following might happen. Seen externally it looks like this. Two people meet. We now proceed in the proper scientific manner. The two have met, so we enquire where they were during the hour before they met, where they were an hour before that, and how they set out to meet one another. We can now trace over a certain length of time how one thing has always led to another, and how the two were brought together. Someone else who does not concern himself with this sort of thing hears by chance that the two people had arranged five days beforehand that they would meet, and he says, “They have met because they planned to do so.”

Here you have an opportunity to see that the cause for something is not necessarily connected with the immediately preceding event. In fact if we break off looking for the chain of causes before we come to the right link in the chain, we shall never find it, for after all we can only follow the chain of causes up to a certain point. In nature, too, we can only follow it up to a certain point, particularly in the case of phenomena involving human beings. And if we do this, and go from one event to the other, tracing what was before that and before that again, and imagine we will find the cause this way, we are obviously laying ourselves open to error, to deception.

You have to grasp this with what you have acquired from spiritual science. Suppose a person carries out some action on the physical plane. We see him doing it. If we want to limit our observations to the physical plane, we will look into his behavior prior to the action. If we go further, we will look into how he was brought up. We might also follow the modern fashion of looking at his heredity, and so on. However, let us assume that into this action on the physical plane something has entered that is only to be found in the life of that person between his previous death and rebirth. This means that we must break off the chain of causes at his birth and pass over to something that resembles the prior arrangement made by the two people in my example. For what I have just described may have been predetermined hundreds of years before in the life between the last death and the birth into the present life. What was experienced then enters into our present actions and resolves.

Thus it is inevitable that unless we include the sphere of the spirit, we cannot find the causes of human actions at all, certainly not here on the physical plane, and that a search for causes similar to the way people look for causes of events in outer nature may go very wrong.

Yet if we look more closely at the way human action is interwoven with world processes, we will arrive at a satisfactory way of looking at things, even of looking at what we call freedom, although we have to admit that necessity exists also. But what we call the search for causes is perhaps for the time being limited most of all by the fact that on the physical plane one cannot penetrate to the place where causes originate.

Now we come to something else that has to be considered. The two concepts freedom and necessity are extremely difficult to grasp and even more difficult to reconcile. It is not for nothing that philosophy for the most part fails when it comes to the problem of freedom and necessity. This is largely due to the fact that human beings have not looked fairly and squarely at the difficulties these problems entail. That is why I am trying so hard to focus in these lectures on all the possible difficulties.

When we look at human activities, the first thing we see everywhere is the thread of necessity. For it would be biased to say that every human action is a product of freedom. Let me give you another hypothetical example. Imagine someone growing up. Through the way he is growing up, it can be shown that all the circumstances have gone in the direction of making him a postman, a country postman, who has to go out into the country every morning with the mail and deliver letters. He does the same round every day. I expect you will all agree that a certain necessity can be found in this whole process. If we look at all that happened to this lad in his childhood and take into account everything that had its effect on his life, we will certainly see that all these things combined to make him a mailman. So that as soon as there was a vacant position he was pushed into it of necessity, at which point freedom certainly ceased to exist, for of course he cannot alter the addresses of the letters he gets. There is now an external necessity that dictates the doors at which he has to call. So we certainly see a great deal of necessity in what he has to do.

But now let us imagine another person, younger perhaps. I will assume him to be younger so that I can describe what I want to describe without your objecting too strongly to the way he behaves. Well then, another, younger person, not out of idleness but just because he is still so young, makes up his mind to go with the mailman every morning and accompany him on his round. He gets up in good time every morning, joins the postman and takes part in all the details of the round for a considerable while.

Now it is obvious that we cannot talk of necessity in the case of the second fellow in the same sense as we can of the first. For everything the first fellow does must happen, whereas nothing the second fellow does has to be done. He could have stayed at home any day, and exactly the same things would have happened from an objective standpoint. This is obvious, isn't it? So we could say that the first man does everything out of necessity and the second everything out of freedom. We can very well say this, and yet in one sense they are both doing the same thing. We might even imagine the following. A morning comes when the second fellow does not want to get up. He could quite well have stayed in bed, but he gets up all the same because he is now used to doing so. He does with a certain necessity what he is doing out of freedom. We see freedom and necessity virtually overlapping.

If we study the way our second self lives in us — the one I told you about in the public lecture, [ See lectures of December 3 and December 10, 1915, in Berlin in Aus dem mitteleuropäischen Geistesleben (Of Central European Cultural and Spiritual Life), GA/Bn 65. Not yet translated. ] our actual soul nature, which will pass through the gate of death — it could, after all, be compared with someone accompanying the outer human being in the physical world. An ordinary materialistic monist would think this was a dreadful thing to say. But we know that a materialistic monist takes the view that people are terrible dualists if they believe water consists of hydrogen and oxygen. For them everything must be undifferentiated. They think it is nonsense to say that the monon “water” consists of hydrogen and oxygen. But we must not let monism deceive us.

The crux of the matter is that what we are in life really consists of two parts that come together from two different directions, and these two parts can indeed be compared with the oxygen and hydrogen in water. For our external physical nature comes through the line of heredity, bringing not only physical characteristics with it but also social status. It is not just our particular form with its nose, color of hair, and so on that we get from our father and mother, but our social position is also predestined through our ancestors' positions in life. Thus not only the appearance of our physical body, the strength of our muscles and so on, but our position in society and everything pertaining to the physical plane comes through the line of heredity from one generation to the other.

Our individual being originating in the spiritual world comes from a different direction, and at first it has nothing to do with all the forces in the stream of heredity through the generations, but brings with it causes that may have been laid down in us centuries before, and unites them on a spiritual level with the causes residing in the stream of heredity. Two beings come together. And in fact we can only judge the matter rightly if we regard this second being coming from the spiritual world and uniting with the physical being as a kind of companion to the first one. That is why I chose the example of the companion who joins us in everything. Our soul being in a certain sense joins us in the external events in a similar way.

The other person accompanying the postman did it all voluntarily. This cannot be denied. We could certainly look for causes, but compared with the necessity that binds the first postman the causes for the second man's actions lie in the realm of freedom. He did it all voluntarily. But look closely and you will see that one thing follows with necessity from this freedom. You will not deny that if the second person had accompanied the first person long enough, he would doubtlessly have become a good mailman. He would have easily been able to do what the man he accompanied did. He would even have been able to do it better, because he would avoid certain mistakes. But if the first fellow had not made these mistakes, the second man would not have become aware of them. We cannot possibly imagine that it would be of any use if the second fellow were to think about the first one's mistakes. If we think in a living way, we will consider this to be an utterly futile occupation. By specifically not thinking about the mistakes but joining in the work in a living way and just observing the proceedings as a whole, he will acquire them through life and will as a matter of course not make these mistakes.

This is just how it is with the being that accompanies us within. If this being can rise to the perception that what we have done is necessary, that we have accompanied it and will furthermore take our soul nature into the future in so far as it has learnt something, then we are looking at things the right way. But it must have learnt those things in a really living way. Even within this one incarnation, we can really confirm this. We can compare three people. The first person plunges straight into action. At a certain point in his life, he feels the urge to acquire self-knowledge. So he looks at the things he has always done well. He revels in what he has done well, and thus he decides to go on doing what he has always done well. In a certain sense, he is bound to do well, isn't he?

A second person is inclined to be more of a hypochondriac, and he looks more at his failings. If he can get over his hypochondria and his failings at all, he will get to the point of avoiding them. But he will not attain what a third could attain who says to himself, “What has happened was necessary, but at the same time, it is a basis for learning, learning through observation, not useless criticism.” He will set to work in a living way, not perpetuating what has already happened and simply carrying the past into the future, but will strengthen and steel the companion part of himself and carry it livingly into the future. He will not merely repeat what he did well and avoid what he did badly, but by taking both the good and the bad into himself and simply letting it rest there, he will be strengthening and steeling it.

This is the very best way of fortifying the soul: to leave alone what has happened and carry it over livingly into the future. Otherwise we keep going back in a luciferic-ahrimanic way over past happenings. We can progress in our development only if we handle necessity properly. Why? Is there a right way of handling things in this area? In conclusion, I want to give you something like an illustration of this too, about which I want you to think a little between now and next Tuesday. Then, taking this illustration as our starting point, we shall be able to get a little further with our problem.

Suppose you want to see an external object. You can see it, though you cannot possibly do so if you place a mirror between the object and yourself. In that case you see your own eyes. If you want to see the object, you must renounce seeing your own eyes, and if you want to see your own eyes, you must renounce the sight of the object. Now, by a remarkable interworking of beings in the world, it is true with regard to human action and human knowledge that all our knowledge comes to us in a certain sense by way of a mirror. Knowing always means that we actually know in a certain sense by way of reflection.

So if we wish to look at our past actions, we actually always look at them by putting what is in fact a mirror between the actions and ourselves. But when we want to act, if we want to have a direct connection between ourselves and our action, between ourselves and the world, we must not put up the mirror. We must look away from what mirrors ourselves. This is how it is with regard to our past actions. The moment we look at them, we place a mirror in front of them, and then we can certainly have knowledge of them. We can leave the mirror there and know them in every terrible detail. There will certainly be cases where this will be a very good thing. But if we are not capable of taking the mirror away again, then none of our knowledge will be any good to us. The moment we take the mirror away we no longer see ourselves and our past actions, but it is only then that they can enter into us and become one with us.

This is how we should proceed with self-observation. We must realize that as long as we look back, this review can only be the inducement for us to take what we have seen into us livingly. But we must not keep on looking at it, otherwise the mirror will always be there. Self-observation is very similar to looking at ourselves in a mirror. We can make progress in life only if we take what we learn through self-observation into our will as well.

Please take this illustration to heart, the illustration of seeing one's own eyes only if one renounces seeing something else, and of the fact that if one wants to see something else, one must renounce seeing one's own eyes. Take this illustration to heart. Then, taking this illustration as a basis, let us talk next Tuesday about right and wrong self-observation, and get nearer and nearer to the solution of our problems. In this most difficult of human problems, the problem of freedom and necessity and the interrelationship of human action and world events, it is certainly necessary that we face all the difficulties. And those who believe they can solve this problem before they have dealt with all the difficulties in fact are mistaken.




Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
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