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Anthroposophical Life Gifts

Life Gifts: Lecture VII: Whitsuntide Lecture

Lecture VII

Whitsuntide Lecture

Berlin, 21st May, 1918

In former years we have always at this season studied subjects connected with the Festival of Whitsuntide. I have often stated that we are now living at a time when the events which affect the march of humanity are so significant and so different from the ordinary trend of life in human history, that there is scarcely a possibility of making the ordinary festival observations — although indeed, even at the present, such are all too frequently made — if indeed, not for the definite object of forgetting what is now happening around us in such a catastrophic manner for humanity, yet with some such purpose in mind. We may however be allowed just to refer to the meaning of the revelation of Whitsuntide.

From the former lectures on Whitsuntide we know that the most important feature in the Whitsuntide event is, that the communal life of those who had taken part in the great Easter Event of mankind became individualized. The “fiery tongues” descended on the heads of each of them, and each one learnt in that language, which is like none other and for that reason comprehensible to all, to grasp what has streamed through the evolution of mankind as they Mystery of Golgotha. The fiery tongues descended on the head of each one. Formerly the souls of the individual disciples felt themselves — one might say — in the collective aura of the Mystery of Golgotha. Then through the event of Whitsuntide, that which they only comprehended through the life they lead in common, so passed over into their separate souls that each one gained illumination within himself. That is the most important thing, though naturally expressed in abstract form. We must realize this individualizing of the Easter message in the soul through the revelation of Whitsuntide, if we wish to understand it in the right sense. There is then the possibility to conceive, in the sense of this Whitsuntide proclamation, what Spiritual Science intends to do. For, in this Spiritual Science it is desired first and foremost that every human soul should find the spiritual germ of his own being within himself, which is able to illuminate it as regards the cosmic aims for which we must strive. The future life of mankind should so develop that men shall be, less inclined to turn their minds always towards the social structure which all have in common. We hope that every man will become ripe and capable of leading such a life of his own initiative, that his neighbor may be able to lead a similar life. Then an inner tolerance will prevail in the souls, and in the social structure “liberty” must be realized. In no other way can liberty be realized in the world; in no other way than by the message of Whitsuntide passing into the individual human souls.

We must work and cooperate in our souls, and must grasp what is offered by Spiritual Science in accordance with the model given in this Whitsuntide message. For that reason it may be said that in a certain sense Spiritual Science is a perennial, continuous and lasting Whitsuntide proclamation.

What the present time teaches us above all, if we wish to draw this teaching from it, is that we must furnish ourselves with patience. There are friends sitting here who have worked inwardly almost from the beginning of what we call our spiritual scientific movement. This is now more than 15 or 16, perhaps even 17 years ago; and really the thought should remain continually before our soul, how little, how very, very little has been really obtained in these 15-17 years. This should give rise to another thought; how greatly we should arm ourselves with patience, when we reflect what Spiritual Science might be to us, what it can become through us, that it can really lead to a kind of fresh impulse for human existence.

We should always compare what Spiritual Science may become, with what we have so scantily achieved in this decade and a half. Certainly, many have accepted what has been offered to mankind by Spiritual Science. But that is but the merest beginning, as has been stated in the numerous lectures which have been given. Spiritual Science is still faced with the other task — of really flowing into the social structure, into the whole life of the humanity of the present age. But if we wish to grasp this thought we must connect with another which sounds forth to us today at every hour, from all the happenings of the world, which presents a certain conflict into which the human soul is driven and which just in our present age — one might say — reaches a certain climax.

If we recollect the principal points of our spiritually scientific investigation, we shall everywhere find that it rests on the fact that super-sensible spiritual reality flows into the soul of man. Spiritual Science teaches us that in the course of humanity spiritual life continually streams into men, but that nevertheless what happens on Earth is only an “advance,” insofar as men understand how to awaken into external being what streams into them from the spiritual world. Such a thought should really be able to penetrate our whole feeling and experience. We must above all, be able to bring it into connection with what is known to us, for instance, as the Science of History; and we should be able to apply it to the present day from this point of view. We ought to be able to ask ourselves seriously (these things are of course hypotheses but they lead to realities in a true life of thought): What would have happened if Columbus, or anyone else fundamentally connected with the evolution of modern humanity — for instance Gutenberg, discoverer of the art of printing, or even Luther — had been born in the eighth or ninth century or at some other time in history? What would have become of those personalities who bear these names? They would certainly not have figured as they do in history today if they had been born in other times. Of course that could not have happened, for the evolution of the world has its karma; but the hypothetical consideration of such a possibility leads to realities. They would in all probability have become persons of whom external history does not speak. Yet, on the other hand, can you imagine that in such a case, at the approach of the modern age, the art of printing for instance would not have been discovered? Can you imagine that the Reformation would not have come about with the approach of this newer time? You can see from this that the principal thing is that we should look at the objective facts, at what has been imparted to mankind from the spiritual world, and that we should learn to a still greater degree than the present time can yet do, to look at man as an instrument, through whom reality may enter into Earth life from this virtual world.

I said that just at the present time man, in regard to these things, is placed in a sharp conflict. The present day does not recognize that such a thing as the streaming down of a spiritual stream of evolution into the events of the Earth can take place; it does not recognize that man is only an instrument, and it wishes to build up a social order which does not recognize this. It wishes to build up a social order which really only reckons with the quite personal man standing here on the Earth, and to fix attention on him. The most extreme caricature of the plan of only viewing man from the most individual point of view, is Leninism or Trotskyism, to which I have already alluded. This conception of society only recognizes the man who stands here on the Earth. I do not only mean by this the theoretical side alone — that would be the least harmful — I am referring to the consequences in life of this view. Men like Lenin or Trotsky seek — even in a sphere where it is least suitable — so to establish the framework of society as if nothing else came into consideration that the individual man of flesh and blood. That however is an ideal which has been forming for decades in the sphere of so-called socialism, and Leninism and Trotskyism are indeed only the latest grotesque flutterings of such a conception, which has been forming for a long time.

You see what our object must be? To find the way back again to the feeling of the Whitsuntide Event. Certainly, individual spiritual life was to arise illuminatingly in the different disciples on whose heads the flames descended; but that was to be spiritual life; for the greatest imaginable impulse towards the essential thing, as regards which man is but an instrument, was divided among the individual members.

There is also another meaning to this Whitsuntide proclamation, and it is the most important — the strengthening of the realization that a man does not lose his value when he allows the other aspect to count; viz, that the spirit is continually flowing into mankind, and that man has to form the instrument for the spirit streaming down into humanity. Man retains his personal value notwithstanding. That is something which we cannot only see theoretically today, but for which it is necessary to draw the consequences for life and to carry over into our way of thinking about the construction of the state, about moral and social life. The point is that a thought should have an awakening effect, and an “awakening” it certainly was when the flames descended on the head of each one of the disciples. To be asleep today to the events of the time, a state which is only too prevalent today, is a sinning against the events of the time. But in the cycle of evolution which we are now entering, we cannot possibly be awake to the events if we do not observe them with a certain inner mobility of soul-life, if we are not able to distinguish the essential, the right thing, from what is unessential and wrong. What floods us today, especially in reading the newspapers, cannot be regarded as all of like value; for in the columns of a thousand books and newspapers there may be two lines which are of tremendous fundamental importance, pointing in a highly indicative way to the origin of the “phenomena,” to use the expression of Goethe — to what is really going on. The rest may all be a waste of printer's ink. It is a question of awakening an inner feeling in one's self as to what is important and essential, and what is unimportant and unessential. This feeling arises in the soul, if a man unconsciously acquires a vision for the great world perspectives of the present day, which Spiritual Science can disclose; only he must absorb this into his feeling, must try gradually feel as he will when Spiritual Science becomes alive in him. It is certainly necessary to create an inner trust in what one feels inwardly, a much greater degree than men are accustomed to do today. Anyone who expects that what he acquires today points immediately too far-reaching events tomorrow, while not as a rule attaining a true observation. It may be something right and correct, but events may so discount this that perhaps it may only come to expression in a distant future. It is necessary for us to have the right attitude to the world, and have correct ideas as to what is taking place.

Thus, in the present stream of evolution extraordinarily important things are happening, which are already to be observed in external occurrences if we grasp these in the manner just indicated: viz. by distinguishing the essential from the nonessential, and by having the courage to do so.

What is happening today — I will only mention one thing — is the lessening importance of the outer British Empire, as such. What the world has up till now really known historically as Britain itself and which was specifically British, is now merging into Pan-Anglo-Americanism. That such a thing actually forms part of the developments which we have already indicated in different ways, does not contradict these developments. On the other hand it is of tremendous importance to grasp such a significant thought, for much depends on whether we take correct or false forces into our life of idea. The times can teach us much in this respect; that must be pointed out again and again. Certainly, the men at the fronts have become different. Everyone who is familiar with the facts is aware of that. This is not the place to discuss in what way they have changed. But among those who have lived at the front there are still many who think just as they did in July 1914, who have learned nothing since, who use exactly the same concepts as were used to then. When you talk with the men, they just say the same things as they might have said in July 1914. Yet no man today can be really awake if all his ideas have not acquired a different impression, a different value. For this reason the question will have to be put — everyone should put it to himself, as a quite serious and I might say Christian question of conscience: Where are the men to be found today who, before July 1914, held the possibility in view that that might happen which has come to pass up to the present day? I might formulate the question differently. In the cycle of lectures which I held before the war in Vienna, there is among other things an expression which runs thusly: The human social life bears something within it which can be compared to a cancer; a cancerous disease is in the life of humanity. That had to be realized at that time; but there are many people who have not yet realized it at the present time. I ask: In how profound a sense has it been understood that a “cancer” in human development was spoken of just at that time?

By this I only wish to point to the seriousness with which Spiritual Science ought to be taken if it is to be applied to the events of the present. Indeed one great reason why Spiritual Science is rejected is the fact that this seriousness required for Spiritual Science is frightfully inconvenient. The “theories” of Spiritual Science please many people, but the serious demands it makes on life is very, very inconvenient to many who otherwise like the theories. All this leads us perhaps to understand better what I must now introduce into these observations, and which it is important to grasp, if one wishes to understand Spiritual Science in its essentials.

If a man wishes to understand something in the world today, he really always has the feeling that the means to this understanding must somehow be sought in what belongs to the present day. But the spiritual element cannot be sought in the present alone. For instance, if one wishes to become acquainted with the spiritual aspects of the human being — the being of man, even between birth and death, can never be fathomed merely through knowledge of the man of today. Why? Suppose you have reached the age of 50 and you developed some kind of soul-life connected with the powers of the sentient soul. You will unconsciously conceive of it according to the ideas of the present day: :That is my sentient soul, which I have within me; it expresses itself when the sentient life of the soul is externalized. That however is not the case. Now your sentient soul developed between your 21st and 28 year, and what was in your soul at the time came to an end with the 28th year, but the after-effects continue; they go on working; you use them today when reviewing the powers of the sentient soul. You do not use the present powers of the sentient soul but the powers existing within it at that age. The past works on. It is not the case that the present time includes the whole of what is at work, for the past continues to work on. The spiritual world must be conceived as music, but as real music. You could not possibly grasp a melody if, when you heard the third note, you have lost the first; the first works on in the third, it works within it. In spiritual action something goes on working, not only because we hold it in our memory, but through its after-effects it works on in reality. The effects of former forces of spiritual life in the different parts of the soul are continually at work, as part of the spirit and soul nature, and in yet another sense. Our 21st to 22nd year works on within us still later; it is there because it was there in the past, not because it is there in the present. To form new ideas is uncomfortable to man, and what I have just disclosed is a new idea; it is nowhere to be found among the concepts of the present day. For instance you do not want to admit: “When I am old and gray-headed, or bald, I still speak and think with the forces of my youth, of my childhood.” Yet it is absolute truth that what you learnt at school, or where you spent your time from your 18th to your 28 year, works on through your whole life. You cannot replace it later by other powers, except as you make use of those sources which Spiritual Science opens up; that is the only means by which many things in life can be replaced. You will not find it difficult to understand that many people nowadays remain essentially unfruitful. That is connected with the present system of education. We can develop nothing except what was placed in us during our childhood, nothing but just what was placed in us through the ordinary powers by which we turn to man himself.

Much is required before we can grasp such ideas aright. I must declare over and over again from many different aspects that for this it is necessary above all for men once more to learn, in a much higher sense than they wish to today, to believe in life, to believe in the spiritual side of life. To-day it may perhaps occur to man to believe in his spiritual origin. It will be relatively easy to get him to believe that a spiritual element which proceeds from a spiritual world has united with what developed materially through heredity in the course of generations; but that does not suffice. What is necessary is that we should not only believe in the spiritual origin of a “part” of our life, but in the spiritual origin of our whole life. What does this imply?

Today we indeed believe from the evolutionary tendencies of mankind to which I have often referred that, as a rule, with the 20th year of our life we have brought our life to its perfection. We believe that we are then ready to be elected to a municipal assembly, to Parliament and so forth, because we are then capable of deciding on all subjects. Men believe they have long ago outgrown those bygone times when people waited for the fullness of years, in the belief that each new year of life brings new revelations. Today we expect that when the age of puberty is reached the soul-powers of the child are also transformed. For the other years of childhood we may have a like expectation, though perhaps not in such a strong degree. We look at evolution and are convinced that human life develops up to the 20s. From then we cease to believe in further development. We then believe ourselves to be ready for anything. We no longer expect the later years of life to bring new revelations. We cannot do so if we keep the usual ideas. We know however that humanity becomes younger in the course of evolution, that at the present day it never grows older than 27. The bodily development produces nothing further after that. Therefore what constitutes the further development must be drawn from the spirit. But when it is drawn from the spirit it unites with our soul. Just consider how few people today at the age of 22 admit that when they reach the age of 45, something can come about through inner revelation which could not have come earlier, for the simple reason that at an advanced age one has different experiences from those of youth. Who now believes in the productivity, the fruitfulness of old age? But although it is not believed in, it is nonetheless there; only people do not pay attention to the new revelations each new year brings. Just consider how much would be altered in human life, if the belief really became general, if all men believed that they must wait for old age, when they will learn things through their own experience which they could not have learnt before. Where is life full of expectation, full of hope to be found today? But if such a thought, such a feeling were carried into the everyday life of the community, just imagine what a tremendous significance this would have! What a tremendous significance it would have if in the life of men that consciousness were added to all the different “struggles for equality” which play such a part at the present time — the consciousness that for the simple reason that a man has reached the age of forty he may have learnt something which he could not have learned at 27. Imagine how a young man of 27 would regard one of 40 if that were a natural feeling! Of course it cannot be so today, because often today the men of 70 have not grown beyond the age of 27, and often just the most representative men are no older, though they are not aware of it. Thus one cannot demand this is a real requirement today.

What life must bring forth and what the future requires is that people should begin to look upon the spiritual as a reality. What is alone known to man today as “spirit”? On the whole, nothing but a mass of abstract concepts. Man acquires a mass of abstract concepts, such as are characterized by the fact that they can be quite well received up to the 27th year. But besides the fact that we live here on the Earth between birth and death and have at first a sprouting and budding life, then with our 28th year stand still in our development and then begin our descending life, we have also a real concrete spirituality, which changes just as the exterior man changes, but undergoes a reverse process to that of the outer man. The outer man grows old and wrinkled; but his etheric body, his formative-forces by, it becomes ever younger; only man does not trouble himself today about this formative-forces body which grows younger in old age. Men go about with bald heads and gray hair and do not know that they have a body of formative forces, which has a sprouting and budding life just when they begin to get gray, and which only than can give them certain things which could not be given earlier. Certainly this depends upon the character of the times. But the times in this respect need a reversal. Times need a change of ideas. One thing which must especially be brought about by the change is that thoughts should become more forceful and healthy and not cling to what only comes from outside; otherwise we shall become frightfully one-sided in all spheres. What we must do is to penetrate reality with our thoughts in all spheres. We cannot understand the historical life of man unless we are able to bring inner wisdom to bear on what is considered externally as wisdom. For various reasons connected with the schism, with the rent which is going on in human evolution, we have ceased to understand much that is great and which has still been found in an atavistic way. In many domains men today believe themselves to be original.

A long time ago I put a query in a lecture in Dornach as to what the public would say if at a performance of “Faust,” after Faust has risen against the Spirit of the Earth, the manager were to allow Wagner to appear in slightly altered form but otherwise exactly like Faust in external appearance. And yet something of the sort must be done someday. I will tell you the reason why. What do we read today in the books on Faust, what have people in their mind when they speak of this to which I refer about Wagner and Faust? You need only recollect the absurd declamations made by many “Fausts,” and the insipid tones which come from Wagner, to gain an idea of what lies before us; if besides this we think of the great Faust towering up to the heavens and the pedantic Wagner, who is always represented on the stage as limping a little, and so on. But what is really in question here? Faust despairs of the various sciences — it is already considers trivial today by many people who are not very “deep.” What strange things are considered “deep” today! How often among many other demands for an elucidation of the world of spirit, does one hear this: that one should consider among the deepest thoughts of Faust that of the “Omnipotent One” who “holds and contains me and thee and Himself,” in the conversation with Gretchen? People forget that Faust says this to the sixteen-year old Gretchen, and coins it for her intellect and sentiments. All humanity is willing to be catechized by being reduced to the standpoint of the 16-year-old Gretchen! I have even known professors of philosophy who consider these Gretchen-catechisms as the height of wisdom. At the beginning of the poem, Faust does not despair of all the sciences. But the main point lies in the fact that he turns from what is revealed to him through the sign of the macrocosm, of the cosmos. First of all he does not wish to know anything of the relations of man to the whole comprehensive great universe. He turns to the Earth-Spirit, to that which wishes to reveal to him that which man has from the forces of the Earth alone. What reveals itself to him out of the macrocosm is only a drama to him. He turns away from it. But the Earth-Spirit dismisses him. Faust believed he would be able to grasp through the Earth-Spirit something connected with his deepest being. The Earth-Spirit brings about his overthrow. Then come the words: “Thou resemblest the spirit whom thou understandest, not me!”

Now let us ask: Who is it whom Faust understands? He says himself: “Not thee — whom then? — whereupon Wagner enters. “All that thou hast developed till now is only a desire for feeling; what thou art already carrying within thee, behold it is Wagner!” That is the other nature of Faust. That is the dramatic, real answer! In the drama the development is shown by the facts. It had to be made comprehensible to Faust that in everything concrete which he had till then developed he is as yet nothing more than a Famulus, and just through this stage of self-knowledge he is to be led a step further. The reality might be represented if the two were to step onto the stage at the same time, side by side. That would need the courage to take much more seriously than before such words as: “Thou resemblest the spirit whom thou understandest, not me! — Not thee — whom then?” One would have to enter thoroughly into the situation in thought. Thus is it represented in a drama.

And again — let us consider something else. Faust has turned away from the sign of the macrocosm; he does not wish to experience the forces which bind man to the macrocosm, to the great cosmos. That was how the thoughts lived in the soul of Goethe himself, when he had written the first part of his Faust. When Faust had retrieved what he neglected in his youth — at least in the retrospect through the Easter-walk and all through the Easter-night — he passes beyond the stage of self-knowledge which he encountered in Wagner, and reaches the point of regaining what he had allowed to pass him by, which may be the Easter message to him. Read the sentences: Wagner does not wish it. The separate words are extraordinarily pregnant, for instance:

“As not all hope vanishes from the head
Which claims to empty husks,
which digs for treasure with the greedy hand
and is content if he finds earth-worms.”

It cannot possibly be otherwise: “all hope vanishes” from this head. That is the motive of self-observation. Faust only suffers the consequences, but he regains what he has neglected in his youth. He tries to regain it, and does regain it. Through this he is led a step higher. This justifies his asking once more the question: “Whom then?” Of the one who approaches him in the form of a poodle: Mephistopheles. But what is this? It is the counterforce of the human striving forces, which opposes man as Faust opposes the Earth-Spirit when he does not wish to have anything to do with the macrocosm. These are the Luciferic forces which come from the inner soul of man. For that reason Mephistopheles is at first decked out with Luciferic features, and the Mephistopheles of the first part of Faust's poem is essentially a Luciferic being.

But even at the end of the nineties Goethe was ready to grow out of what dated from his youth. Read the prologue in heaven. What is developed therein is no longer connected with the revelations of the Earth-Spirit; there Goethe already busies himself with the impulse which comes from the macrocosm. Goethe has grown beyond his own beginning, and now something enters his soul which is tremendously significant and important, and which, when we recognize it, allows us to look deeply into his soul. Goethe had the tradition of the Faust-legend, the tradition of the North-German myth. Mephistopheles was one of the characters in that. But when, compelled by Schiller, he further develops his Faust, then Mephistopheles — Goethe himself is not properly conscious of this — becomes a figure which worries him inwardly, with which he does not really come to rights. Jacob Minor, also an interpreter of Faust, who said many intelligent things, had a remarkable explanation for the fact that Goethe could not get on at all when he took up Faust again. He thinks that Goethe at about 50 years of age had grown “old”! I should like to know how anyone could write “Faust” at all if poetic power is exhausted at 50 and yet one has to bring into poetry the forces belonging to the years after 50 — unless the powers of youth could flourish in a life such as Goethe understood how to lead. But his soul was worried about Mephistopheles, instinctively worried, and it did not allow him to go any further, because the conflict of Faust and Mephistopheles did not go well. Goethe had introduced Faust to the biggest questions of humanity and that did not now fit in with Mephistopheles, who has taken on a Luciferic character. In that character, one only has to contend with the forces which proceed from the sentient life, the life of feeling. As soon as Goethe develops the Prologue in Heaven, Faust is confronted with the macrocosm. It would be no longer possible to allow Faust to fight only with the powers living in the inner soul of man; it is no longer possible to give Mephistopheles only a Luciferic character: Goethe perceived this; and really not in order to be pedantic, but only to point out some important things, I should like to draw your attention to some little details.

“Of all Spirits who deny
Is the rogue is the least burdensome to me.”

Then there must be other spirits who deny! Yet in Faust there is but one: Mephistopheles. And consider how Mephistopheles says in the Prologue:

“Dearest to me are full, fresh cheeks,
To a corpse I am not at home.”

And recollect the end, when he really busies himself earnestly enough about the corpse. What does this mean? It signifies that Goethe perceived that what he had received from the myth, from the Faust-legend as the unitary Mephistopheles-figure, when one goes out into the macrocosm divides into two. Goethe possesses the power of feeling the twofold nature of Lucifer and Ahriman. He did not then get any further because there was not yet any Spiritual Science in his day. He was brought to a standstill. As, however, he had later to unite macrocosmic happenings with human happenings in the classical Walpurgis-night, and at the end where macrocosmic happenings and humanity's experience became woven into one, he had to make his Mephistopheles take on an Ahimanic character. To a great extent he succeeded in this. But really everything that Goethe himself said concerning his own personal relationship to his Faust is said under the impression that he would not be able to go on with it. If the Faust of the pedantic but nevertheless popular national drama of the Middle Ages is to be placed on the great cosmic stage, then it is necessary to divide Mephistopheles into a Luciferic and Ahrimanic being. For that reason Goethe could go no further. He then succeeded, as he was nearing the second part of the poem, by giving his Mephistopheles Ahrimanic features. A Luciferic being loves “fresh and rounded cheeks;” an Ahrimanic one has to do with the corpse, because it permeates our consciousness between birth and death with what we experience in our perceptive life. When we contemplate a personality like that of Goethe we recognize how it preserves the forces of youth, and with these he has constantly new and fresh life-experiences. Not because he has grown old did that appear which can be seen in such a remarkable manner in Goethe's life-history at the end of the nineties of the 18th century, but because he had passed through a crisis which brought certain forces of his youth to life again, made them arise anew, and made him experience them as a Whitsuntide miracle.

What I have just said about Faust is further developed in the pamphlet which is just about to be published: “Goethe's Faust as a measure of his esoteric cosmic conception.” This is to form the first part of a little book about to appear: “Goethe's Standard of the Soul” (Goethes Geistesart). The second part is to give Goethe's thoughts about his Faust, and the third part some development of thoughts on the “Fairytale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily.”

I mention this because I wish to draw your attention to the fact that it is really necessary to grasp with penetrative thoughts what is contained in the spiritual substance of humanity — also as regards the past; that we should take seriously what is to be found there. For the last four or five decades we have completely forgotten how to take in full earnest what is greatest in the past of humanity. A tremendous amount has been missed and lost in the last 40 to 50 years, and it is necessary for what was there spiritually to reappear, though certainly in a new form; for it was in some respects atavistic and could not break through a certain crust.

Goethe could not rise to the division of the Mephistophelian figure into two, a Luciferic and an Ahrimanic, the time was not yet ripe for that. But the sense of this cleavage lived in Goethe's nature. In that we must learn to believe in the whole of man's life, not only in his childhood. We must learn to be able to lead a life full of expectation. Imagine if one were curious and were to ask: What shall I be like when I am 50? How many people foster such thoughts today? How many lead a life in which they believe that ever new content streams into the human soul? What alterations would come about in the social life of mankind if this believe in the whole life were held! What simple thought could lead to this believe in the whole life of man. The thoughts contained in the question: Would there be any sense in living to the age of 70, if we had finished our development at 28. If that were so why then should we grow older? But for that some assistance from natural science is certainly necessary, so that what appears as Spiritual Science can be connected with what is by science today taken seriously.

Spiritual Science has really achieved very little in our movement; and yet it is not without prospects. One notices that on many occasions. One sees it best when (as not infrequently happens) young people, who are busy with their university studies come forward to find something which can link up there special studies with Spiritual Science. Young people, who are novices in life today, feel from their study of the sciences that each science can be led over into Spiritual Science. This may perhaps become the most fruitful germ possible; for people would then have to take things seriously. But difficulties arise immediately if these young people wish to write an essay for their Doctor's degree on what they learn from Spiritual Science and which might well be introduced into their studies. They are not allowed to do so; they cannot do what they want. Spiritual Science is really something essentially rich in prospects, but people are kept away from it, they are forced away from it. We must understand this too in the fullest sense of the words. I know a case in Berlin (it is so long ago that I can now mention it; more recent cases of the present day would not be so permissible) in which a Doctor's thesis was handed in, with which no other fault was found than that my “Christianity As Mystical Fact” was mentioned in it. It was a dissertation on philosophy, not on theology. The writer said: “What shall I do now? Paulsen will not take it; he said ‘You cannot introduce Steiner here.’” I could only answer: “Go to Münster and take your Doctor's degree under Gideon Spicker, perhaps you can test there.” It came off. We must look at things as they really are, must examine them closely. The points of view developed when a man seeks to build up his career on an academic basis are sometimes extremely remarkable. Thus a young University teacher, who certainly overcame this obstacle as you will hear immediately, became one in the following manner, of which he told me himself. He had written an aesthetic treatise on the works of a certain poet (I will not mention his name for the story might come out in some way or other); he then wrote a treatise on Schopenhauer, besides his Doctor's thesis, of course. Now he wished to become a university teacher. He went to the suggested University, to the professor mentioned, who liked him well and considered him a very able man; and he thought that this professor could easily arrange for him to become a teacher. This professor said: “I'm afraid this will not be possible — You have written a treatise on a poet, on an aesthetic question, but this poet lived in the 19th century; that is too recent. Then you have written one on Schopenhauer, that cannot be regarded as scientific.” Thereupon the young man said: “Then what am I to do?” The professor replied: “Take any old catalog of books of a former century and look up and aesthetician as unknown as possible, whom nobody knows — this will be very easy, for as there is no literature on the subject you will not need to study hard, write what will be easy to write, for you will simply look it up in a book-catalog.” The prospective teacher did so, looked up an old Italian Aesthetician about whom nothing had yet been written, and composed a treatise, which he considered extremely inadequate, in which the man who had to judge it also considered very poor, but it was sufficient foundation for becoming a teacher in the University! I did I mention this to blacken any one particular person. It is not a question of persons, I am only mentioning an example. For the man who had to judge the treatise laughed at what he had to recommend the other man to do on account of the prejudices of the times. The other who wished to become a teacher at the University laughed also! Two extremely nice people, one old and the other young, but the fault was not theirs! It lies in the mental substance in which our age is firmly fixed, against which one can only prevail with strong and powerful thoughts. And strong and powerful thoughts are only possible today if mankind is replenished from out of the spirit, if it will build on what Spiritual Science can give. Thus whether we direct our attention to Goethe or to the immediate present, this ever sounds forth to us from the immediate circumstances of the times; we must renew our world of ideas, we must renew our thoughts, so that they may oppose the present in a powerful manner. It depends on the Whitsuntide Mystery fulfilling itself in the soul of every individual and all humanity in our catastrophic times, revealing itself as a renewal of life; when men, illuminated by the Spirit, so stand to one another as individual beings that through their combined willing, thinking and growing, a spiritual structure of mankind can be formed. From man, from the individual man, must come what is necessary for the future. We must not wait for a universal message which mankind should follow. There will be no such message. But there will be the possibility of every single human soul being illumined by what can come from the spiritual world. Then through the social life of man will arise what is to arise and must arise.

Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
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