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

Highlight Words

From Symptom to Reality in Modern History

Symptom 2 Reality: Lecture IX: The Relation Between the Deeper European Impulses and Those of the Present Day

Lecture IX

Let us resume our observations of yesterday. I showed how, in the main, through factors I have mentioned, the People of the Christ was diverted eastwards and how, as a consequence of other factors, the Peoples of the Church developed in the centre of Europe and spread from there in a westward direction. I then pointed out how the various conflicts which arose at the turning-point which marked the beginning of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch were connected with this basic fact. I also showed how, within that territory where the true People of the Church developed, through the fact that the Christ impulse to some extent no longer exercised a lasting influence, but was associated with a definite moment in time and had to be transmitted through tradition and written records, there arose the troubled relationship between Christianity and the politically organized church, subject to the Roman pontiff; and how then other individual churches submitted to Rome. These other churches, though manifesting considerable differences from the papal church have, however, many features in common with it — in any case certain things which are of interest to us in this context and which seem to indicate that the state church of the Protestants is closer to the Roman Catholic Church than to the Russian Orthodox Church, in which however the dependence of the church upon the state was never the essential factor. What was of paramount importance in the Russian church was the way in which the Christ impulse, in unbroken activity, expressed itself through the Russian people. I then showed how the radical consequence of this dragging down of the Christ impulse into purely worldly affairs was the establishment of Jesuitism, and how Goetheanism [ Note A ] appeared as the antithesis of Jesuitism.

This Goetheanism endeavours to promote a countermovement, somewhat akin to Russian Christianity. It seeks to spiritualize that which exists here on the physical plane, so that, despite the circumstances on the physical plane, the soul unites with the impulses which sustain the spiritual world itself, impulses which are not brought down directly to the plane of sensible reality, as in Jesuitism, but are mediated by the soul. As was his custom, Goethe seldom expressed his most intimate thoughts on this subject. But if we wish to know them we must again refer to that passage in Wilhelm Meister to which I have already drawn attention in another context. It is the passage where Wilhelm Meister enters Jarno's castle and is shown a picture gallery depicting world history, and in the framework of this world history the religious evolution of mankind. Wilhelm Meister is led by the guide to a picture where history is portrayed as ending with the destruction of Jerusalem. He drew the attention of the guide to the absence of any representation of the Divine Being who had been active in Palestine immediately before the destruction of Jerusalem. Wilhelm was then led into a second gallery where he was shown what was missing in the first gallery — the life of Christ up to the Last Supper. And it was explained to him that all the different religions represented in the first gallery up to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem were related to the human being in so far as he was a member of an ethnic group. All these scenes represented an ethnic or folk religion. What he had seen in the second gallery, however, was related to the individual, was addressed to the individual; it was a personal and private matter. It could only be revealed to the individual, it could not be an ethnic religion for it was addressed to the human being, to the individual as such.

Wilhelm Meister then remarked that he still missed here, i.e. in the second gallery, the story of Christ Jesus from the time of the Last Supper until His Death and Ascension. He was then led to a third and highly secret gallery where these scenes were represented. But at the same time the guide pointed out to him that these representations were a matter of such intimacy that one had no right to portray them in the profane fashion in which they were usually presented to the public. They must appeal to the innermost being of man.

Now one can claim with good reason that what was still valid in Goethe's day, namely, that the representation of the Passion of Christ Jesus should be withheld from the public, no longer applies today. Since that time we have passed through many stages of development. But I should like to point out that Goethe's whole attitude to this question is revealed in this passage from Wilhelm Meister. Goethe shows quite clearly that he wishes the Christ impulse to penetrate into the inmost recesses of the soul; he wishes to dissociate it from the national impulse, from the national state. He wishes to establish a direct relationship between the individual soul and the Christ impulse. This is extremely important for an understanding not only of Goethe, but of Goetheanism. For, as I said recently, in relation to external culture, Goethe and the whole of Goetheanism are in reality isolated, but when one bears in mind the more inward religious development of civilized mankind one cannot say the same of the progress of evolution. Goethe, for his part, represents in a certain respect the continuation of something else. But in order to understand how Goethe is to some extent opposed to everything that is usually manifested in the Church of Central Europe, we must now consider a third impulse.

This third impulse is localized more to the West, and to a certain extent is the driving force behind the nations — one cannot say that it inspires them. That which emerged in its extreme form as Jesuitism, as the militia of the generalissimo Jesus Christ, is deeply rooted in the very nature of the civilized world. In order to understand this we must turn our attention to the controversy dating back to the fourth century which was felt long afterwards. From your knowledge of the history of religions you will recall that, in its triumphal march from East to West, Christianity assumed divers forms and amongst them those of Arianism and Athanasianism. The peoples — Goths, Langobards and Franks — who took part in what is mistakenly called the migration of nations were originally Arians.

Now the doctrinal conflict between the Arians and Athanasians [ Note 1 ] is probably of little interest to you today, but it played a certain part and we must return to it. It arose from a conflict between Arius and Athanasius which began at Alexandria and was given new impetus in Antioch. Athanasius maintained that Christ is a God, like God the Father, that a Father-God therefore exists and that Christ is of the same nature and substance as the Father from all eternity. This doctrine passed over into Roman Catholicism which still professes today the faith of Athanasius. Thus at the root of Roman Catholicism is the belief that the Son is eternal and of the same nature and substance as the Father.

Arius opposed this view. He held that there was a supreme God, the Father, and that the Divine Son, i.e. Christ, was begotten of the Father before all ages. He was a separate being from the Father, different in substance and nature, the perfect creature who is nearer to man than the Father, the mediator between the Creator, who is beyond the reach of human understanding, and the creature.

Strange as it may seem this appears at first sight to be a doctrinal dispute. But it is a doctrinal dispute only in the eyes of modern man. In the first centuries of Christianity it had deeper implications, for Arian Christianity, based on the relationship between the Son and the Father, as I have just indicated, was something natural and self-evident to the Goths and Langobards — all those peoples who first took over from Rome after the fall of the empire. Instinctively they were Arians. Ulfilas's translation of the Bible [ Note 2 ] shows quite clearly that he was an adherent of Arius. The Goths and Langobards [ Note 2 ] who invaded Italy were also Arians, and only when Clovis [ Note 2 ] was converted to Christianity did the Franks accept Christianity. They adopted somewhat superficially the doctrine of Athanasius which was foreign to their nature, for they had formerly been Arians at heart. And when Christianity hoisted its Banner under the leadership of Charles the Great [ Note 2 ] everyone was instructed in the creed of Athanasius. Thus the ground was prepared for the transition to the Church of Rome. A large part of the barbarian peoples, Goths, Langobards, etcetera, perished; the ethnic remnants who survived were driven out or annihilated by the Athanasians. Arianism lived on in the form of sects; but as a tribal religion it ceased to be an active force.

Two questions now arise: first, what distinguishes Arianism from Athanasianism? Secondly, why did Arianism disappear from the stage of European history, at least as far as any visible symptoms are concerned? Arianism is the last offshoot of those conceptions of the world which, when they aspired to the divine, still sought to find a relation between the sensible world and the divine-spiritual, and which still felt the need to unite the sense-perceptible with the divinespiritual. In Arianism we find in a somewhat more abstract form the same impulse that we find in the Christ impulse of Russia — but only as impulse, not in the form of sacramentalism and cultus. This form of the Christ impulse had to be abandoned because it was unsuited to the peoples of Europe. And it was also extirpated by the Athanasians for the same reason.

In order to have a clearer understanding of these questions we must consider what was the original constitution of soul of the different peoples of Europe. The original psychic make-up of the peoples who took over from the Roman Empire, who, it is said, invaded and settled in its territory (which is not strictly true, but I have not the time at present to rectify this misconception), the psychic disposition of the so-called Teutonic peoples was originally of a different nature. These peoples came from widely different directions and mingled with an autochthonous population of Europe which is rightly called the Celtic population. Vestiges of this Celtic population can still be found here and there amongst certain ethnic groups. Today when there is a wish to preserve national identity, people are intent upon preserving at all costs the Celtic element wherever they find it, or imagine they have found it. In order to form a true picture of the national or folk element in Europe we must imagine a proto-European culture, a Celtic culture, within which the other cultures developed — the Teutonic, the Romanic (i.e. of the Romance peoples), the Anglo-Saxons, etcetera.

The Celtic element has survived longest in its original form in the British Isles, especially in Wales. It is there that it has retained longest its original character. And just as a certain kind of religious sentiment had been diverted towards the East, with the result that the Russian people became the People of the Christ, so too, by virtue of certain facts which you can verify in any text-book of history a certain impulse emanated in the West from the British Isles. It is this impulse, an echo of the original Celtism, which ultimately determined the form of the religious life in the West, just as other influences determined that of the East and Central Europe.

Now in order to understand these events we must consider the question: what kind of people were the Celts? Though widely differentiated in many respects, they had one feature in common — they showed little interest in the relationship between nature and mankind. They imagined man as insulated from nature. They were interested in everything pertaining to man, but they had no interest in the way in which man is related to nature, how man is an integral part of nature. Whilst in the East, for example, in direct contrast to Celtism, one always feels profoundly the relation between man and nature, that man is to some extent a product of nature, as I showed in the case of Goethe, the Celt, on the other hand, had little understanding for the relationship between human nature and cosmic nature. He had a strong sense for a common way of life, for community life. But amongst the ancient Celts this corporate life was organized on the authoritarian principle of leaders and subordinates, those who commanded and those who obeyed. Essentially its structure was aristrocratic, anti-democratic, and in Europe this can be traced to Celtic antiquity. It was an organization based on aristocracy and this was its fundamental character.

Now there was a time when this aristocratic, Celtic, monarchical element flourished. The king as leader surrounded by his vassals, etcetera, this is a product of Celtism. And the last of such leaders who, in his own interests, still relied upon the original Celtic impulses was King Arthur with his Round Table in Wales. Arthur with his twelve Knights whose duty, so it is recorded — though this should not be taken literally — was to slay monsters and overcome demons. All this bears witness to the time of man's union with the spiritual world. The manner in which the Arthurian legend sprang up, the many legends associated with King Arthur, all this shows that the Celtic element lived on in the monarchical principle. Hence the readiness to accept commands, injunctions and direction from the King.

Now the Christ of Ulfilas, the Christ of the Goths was strongly impregnated with Arianism. He was a Christ for all men, for those who, in a certain sense, felt themselves as equals, who accepted no class differences, no claims to aristocracy. At the same time he was a last echo of that instinctive feeling in the East for the communion between man and the cosmos, between man and nature. Nature was to some extent excluded from the social structure of the Celtic monarchical system.

These two streams converged first of all in Europe (I cannot now enter into details, I can only discuss the main features). Then they were joined to a third stream. As a result of this confluence Arianism at first gained ground; but since it was a survival of a conception that linked nature and man, it was not understood by those who, as heirs of the Teutonic and Frankish peoples, were still influenced by purely Celtic impulses. They understood only a monarchical system such as their own. And therefore the need arose, still perceptible in the Old Saxon religious epic Heliand [ Note 2 ], to portray the Christ as a royal commander, a sovereign chief, as a feudal lord with his liege men. This reinterpretation of the Christ as a royal commander stemmed from the inability to understand what came over from the East and from the need to venerate Christ as both a spiritual and temporal King.

The third stream came from the South, from the Roman Empire. It had already been infected earlier with what one might perhaps call today the bureaucratic mentality. The Roman Empire — (it was not a state; it could best be described as a structure akin to a state) is very like — but different, in that the different territories are geographically remote from each other and different conditions determine the social structure — this Roman Empire is very like what emerged from the monarchical system though starting from different principles. Formerly a republic, it developed into an imperial organization, into an empire akin to what developed out of the various kingdoms of the Celtic civilization, but with a Teutonic flavouring.

Now the intellectual and emotional attitude towards social life which originated in the South, in the Roman Empire — because it envisaged an external structure on the physical plane — could never really find any common ground with Arianism which still survived as an old instinctive impulse from the East. This Roman impulse needed, paradoxically, something that was incomprehensible, something that had to be decreed. And as kings and emperors governed by decree, so too the Papacy. The doctrine of Athanasius could be brought home to mankind by appealing to certain feelings which were especially developed in the peoples I have mentioned; after all, these sentiments exist in everyone to some extent. The faith professed by Athanasius contains little that appeals to human feeling or understanding; if it is to be incorporated in the community it must be imposed by decree, it must have the sanction of law after the fashion of secular laws. And so it came to pass: the strange incomprehensible doctrine of the identity of the Father and the Son, who are co-equal and co-eternal, was later understood to imply that this doctrine transcended human logic; it must become an article of faith. It is something that can be decreed. The Athanasian faith can be imposed by decree. And since it was directly dependent upon authoritarian directives it could be introduced into an ecclesiastical organization with political leanings. Arianism, on the other hand, appealed to the individual; it could not be incorporated in an ecclesiastical organization, nor be imposed by decree. But authoritarian directives were important for the reasons I have mentioned.

Thus that which came from the south, from Athanasianism with its authoritarian tendency, merged with an instinctive need for an organization directed by a leader with twelve subordinates. In Central Europe these elements are interwoven. In Western Europe, in the British Isles and later also in America, there survived however a certain remnant of the old aristocratic outlook such as existed in the feudal nobility, in the old aristocracy, in that element which is responsible for the social structure and introduces the spiritual into the social life. That the spiritual element was regarded as an integral part of the social life is evident from the Arthurian legend which relates that it was the duty of the Knights of the Round Table to slay monsters and to wage war on demons. The spiritual therefore is operative here; it can only be cultivated if it is not imposed by decree, but is a spontaneous expression and is consciously directed. Thus, whilst the People of the Church developed in Central Europe there arose in the West, especially amongst the English-speaking peoples, what may be called the ‘People of the Lodges,’ to give a name to this third stream. In the West there had existed originally a tendency to form societies, to promote in these societies a spirit of organization. But in the final analysis an organization is only of value if it is created imperceptibly by spiritual means, otherwise it must be imposed by decree. And this is what happened in Central Europe; it was more in the society which later developed as a continuation of Celtism, in the English-speaking peoples, that attempts were made to rule in conformity with the lodges. Thus arose the ‘People or Peoples of the Lodges’ whose conspicuous feature is not the organization of mankind as a whole, but rather the division of mankind into separate groups and orders.

The division into orders stems from this continuation of the feudal element which is associated with the legend of King Arthur. In history things are interwoven. One can never understand a new development if one imagines that the effect follows directly from the cause. In the course of development things interpenetrate. And it is a strange fact that, in relation to its mode of representation and to everything that is active in the human soul, the principle of the lodges (of which freemasonry is a grotesque caricature) is inwardly related to Jesuitism. Though Jesuitism is bitterly hostile to the lodges, there is nevertheless great similarity in their mode of representation. And a Celtic streak in Ignatius Loyola certainly contributed to his consummate achievement.

In the East therefore the People of the Christ arose; they were the bearer of the continuous Christ impulse. For the man of the East accepts as a matter of course that throughout his life he receives the continuous influx of the Christ impulse. For the People of the Christ in Central Europe this impulse has become blunted or emasculated because it has been associated with a unique event at the beginning of our era and was later supplemented by the promulgation of decrees, state decrees, and by traditional transmission in conformity with Catholic doctrine. In the West, in the system of the Lodges, the Christ impulse was at first very much in question and so became still further emasculated. Thus the modes of thinking which really originate in this lodge impulse, which stems from Celtism and is a last echo of Celtism, gave birth to deism and what is called modern Aufklärung. [ Note 3 ] It is extremely interesting to see the vast difference between the attitude of a member of the People of the Church in Central Europe to the Christ impulse and that of a citizen of the British Empire. But I must ask you not to judge this difference of attitude by the isolated individual, for obviously the impulse of the Church has spread also to England and one must accept things as they are in reality; one must take into account those people who are associated with what I have described as the lodge impulse which has invaded the state administration especially in the whole of the West.

The question is: What then is the relationship of the member of the People of the Christ to Christ? He knows that when he is really at one with himself he finds the Christ impulse — for this impulse is present in his soul and is continuously active in his soul. The member of the People of the Church speaks, perhaps, like Augustine who, at the age of maturity, in answer to the question, how do I find the Christ? replied: ‘The Church teils me who is the Christ. I can learn it from the Church, for the Church has preserved in its tradition the original teaching about the Christ.’ — He who belongs to the People of the Lodges — I mean the true member of the Lodges — has a different approach to the Christ from the People of the Church and the People of the Christ. He says to himself: history speaks of a Christ who once existed. Is it reasonable to believe in such a Christ? How can the influence of Christ be justified historically before the bar of reason? This, fundamentally, is the Christology of the Aufklärung which demands that the Christ be vindicated by reason.

Now in order to understand what is involved here we must be quite clear that it is possible to know God without the inspiration of the Christ impulse. One need only be slightly mentally abnormal — just as the atheist is a person who is physically ill in some respect — to arrive at the idea of God or admit the existence of God by way of speculation or of mysticism. For deism is the fundamental belief of Aufklärung. One arrives directly at the belief of the Aufklärung that a God exists.

Now for those who are heirs of the People of the Lodges it is a question of finding a rational justification for the existence of Christ alongside the universal God. Amongst the various personalities characteristic of this rational approach I have selected Herbert of Cherbury [ Note 4 ] who died in 1648, the year of the peace of Westphalia. He attempted to find a rational justification for the Christ impulse. A true member of the Russian people, for example, i.e. of the People of the Christ, would find a rational approach to the Christ impulse unthinkable. That would be tantamount to demanding of him to justify the presence of his head upon his shoulders. One possesses a head — and equally surely one possesses the Christ impulse. What people such as Cherbury want to know is something different: is it reasonable to accept alongside the God, to the idea of whom enlightened thinking leads, the existence of a Christ? One must first study man from a rational point of view in order to find a justification for this approach.

Not every member of the People of the Lodges of course responds in this way! The philosophers express their views in definite, clear-cut concepts; but others are not given to reflection; but all those who are in any way connected with the impulse of the Peoples of the Lodges, instinctively, emotionally and in the conclusions they unconsciously draw, adopt this rational approach. Cherbury started from an examination of the common factor in the different religions. Now this is a typical trick of the Aufklärung. Since they themselves cannot arrive at the spirit, at least as far as the Christ impulse is concerned, but only at the abstract notion of the god of deism, they ask: is it natural for man to discover this or that? Cherbury, who had travelled widely, endeavoured first of all to discover the common factor in the different religions. He found that they had a great deal in common and he tried to summarize these common factors in five propositions. These five propositions are most important and we must examine them closely.

The first proposition states: A God exists. Since the various peoples belonging to widely differing religions instinctively admit the existence of a God, he finds it natural therefore to admit that a God exists.

Secondly: The God demands veneration. Again a common feature of all religions.

Thirdly: This veneration must consist in virtue and piety.

Fourthly: There must be repentence and expiation of sins.

Fifthly: In the hereafter there is a justice that rewards and punishes.

As you see, there is no mention of the Christ impulse. But in these five propositions one finds the most one can know when one relies only upon the religious impulse emanating from the Lodges. Aufklärung is a further development of this way of looking at things. Hobbes, [ Note 5 ] Locke [ Note 5 ] and others constantly raised the question: since there is a tradition which speaks of Jesus Christ, is it reasonable to believe in His existence? And finally they are prepared to say: what is written in the Gospels, what is handed down by tradition on the subject of Christ Jesus agrees with the fundamental tenets common to all religions. It seems that the Christ wished to collate the common factors in all religions, that a divinely inspired personality (this can be envisaged more or less) had once existed who taught what is best in all religions. The Aufklärer found this to be reasonable. And Tindal who lived from 1647–1733 wrote a book entitled Christianity as Old as Creation. This book is very important for it gives us an insight into the nature of Aufklärung which was subsequently diluted by Voltaireism etcetera. Tindal wanted to show that in reality all men, the more enlightened men, have always been Christians, and that Christ simply embodied the best in all religions.

Thus the Christ is reduced to the status of a teacher: whether we call Him Messiah or Master, or what you will, He is nothing more than a teacher. It is not so much the fact of the Christ that is important, but that He exists and dwells amongst us, that He offers a religious teaching embodying the most precious element, the element which is common to the religions of the rest of mankind.

The idea I have just expressed may of course assume widely different forms, but the basic form persists — the Christ is teacher. When we consider the typical representatives of the People of the Christ, the People of the Church and the People of the Lodges, representatives who show wide variations, when we seek the reality behind the appearance, then we can say that for the People of the Christ: Christ is Spirit and therefore He is in no way concerned with any institutions on the physical plane. But the mystery of His incarnation remains. For the People of the Church: Christ is King, a conception which may assume various nuances. And this conception lives on also in the People of the Lodges, but in its further development it is modified and becomes: Christ is the Teacher.

We must bear in mind these different aspects of the European consciousness for they are deeply rooted not only in the individual, but also in what has developed spiritually in Europe in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch and also in many of the social forms. They are the principal nuances assumed by the Christ impulse. Much more could be said on this subject; I can only give a brief outline today since my time is short.

Let us now return to the three forms of evolution of which I spoke yesterday. In its present stage of development the whole of mankind is now living in the Sentient Soul, corresponding to the age of twenty-eight to twenty-one in man. Every single man, qua individual, develops the Consciousness Soul today in the course of the post-Atlantean epoch. Finally a third evolution unfolds within the folk-souls of which I spoke yesterday. We have, on the one hand, the historical facts and the influence they exert, and on the other hand the folk-souls with their different religious nuances. As a result of this interaction, for the People of the Christ: Christ is the Spirit; for the People of the Church: Christ is the King; for the People of the Lodges: Christ is the Teacher. These different responses are determined by the different folk characteristics. That is the third evolution.

In external reality things always interpenetrate — they work upon each other and through each other. If you ask who is representative of the People of the Lodges, of the deism of the Aufklärung then, strangely enough, a perfect example is Harnack [ Note 6 ] in Berlin! He is a much more representative example than anyone on the other side of the Channel. In modern life things are much confused. If we wish to understand events and trace them back to their origin we must look beyond externalities. We must be quite clear that the third stream of evolution which is linked to the national element is connected with what I have described here. But because of the presence of the other evolutionary currents a reaction always follows, the assault of the Consciousness Soul upon this national element, and this assault manifests itself at divers points. It starts from different centres. And one of these waves of assault is Goetheanism which, in reality, has nothing to do with what I have just described, and yet, when considered from a particular angle, is closely related to it. Parallel with the Arthurian current there developed early on the Grail current which is the antithesis of the Arthurian current. He who wishes to visit the Temple of the Grail must follow dangerous and almost inaccessible paths for sixty miles. The Temple lies remote and well concealed; one learns nothing there unless one asks. In brief, the purpose of this whole Grail impulse is to restore the link between the inmost core of the human soul (where the Consciousness Soul awakens) and the spiritual world. It is (if I may say so) an attempt artificially to lift up the sensible world to the spiritual world which is instinctive in the People of the Christ. The following diagram shows this strange interpenetration of the religious impulses of Europe. We have here an impulse which still exists today instinctively, in embryo and undeveloped, in the People of the Christ (red); philosophic spirits such as Solovieff come to accept this Christ impulse as something self-evident.

Diagram 1

On account of its ethnographical and ethnic situation, Central Europe is not disposed to accept the Christ impulse as something self-evident; it had to be imposed artificially. And so we have an intervention of the current of the Grail radiating in the direction of Europe — a Grail current that is not limited therefore to the folk element. This Grail atmosphere was active in Goethe, in the depths of his subconscious. If you look for this Grail atmosphere you will find it everywhere. Goethe is not an isolated phenomenon in this respect and therefore he is linked with what preceded him in the West. He has nothing in common with Luther, German mysticism and its forerunners; this was in part a formative influence and helped to shape him as a man of culture. It is the Grail atmosphere which leads him to distinguish three stages in man's relation to religion: first the religion of the people; secondly, the religion of the philosophers portrayed in the second gallery, and finally the most intimate religion in the third gallery, the religion which touches the inmost depths of the soul and embraces the mysteries of death and resurrection. It is the Grail atmosphere which inspires him to exalt the religious impulse active in the sensible world and not to drag it down after the fashion of the Jesuits. And paradoxical as it may seem today the Grail atmosphere is found today in Russia. And the future role that the Russian soul will play in the sixth post-Atlantean epoch depends upon this unconquerable spirit of the Grail in the Russian people.

So much for the one side. Let us now consider the other side. Here we have those who regard the Christ impulse neither as an inspiration, as in the East, nor as a living force transmitted by tradition and the Scriptures, but as something rational. It is in this form that it spread within the Lodges and their ramifications. (In the diagram I indicate this by the colour green.) Later it became politicized in the West and is the last offshoot of the Arthurian current. And just as the Christ impulse in the Russian people is continued in the Grail quest and irradiates all men of good will in the West, so the other current penetrates into all members of the People of the Church and takes on the particular colouring of Jesuitism. That the Jesuits are the sworn enemy of that which emanates from the Lodges is not important: anyone and anything can be the declared enemy of the outlook of the Lodges. It is a historical fact that the Jesuits have not only infiltrated the Lodges, that high-ranking Jesuits are in contact with the high dignitaries of the Lodges, but that both, though active in different peoples, have a common root, though the one gave birth to the Papacy, the other to freedom, rationalism, to the Aufklärung. I have now given you a kind of picture of what may be called the working of the evolution of the Consciousness Soul. I described to you earlier the three stages of evolution proceeding from the East to the West which are based on the ethnic element. That they assumed the form of Aufklärung in the West, as a consequence of interaction, is due to the fact that every individual is involved in the evolution of the Consciousness Soul.

Then we have a third current of evolution in which the whole of mankind is involved and by virtue of which mankind ceases to develop physically at an ever earlier age. Today mankind as a whole is at the ‘age’ of the Sentient Soul, i.e. between the ages of twenty-eight and twenty-one. This applies to the whole of mankind.

In describing the first current, the ethnic current when folk or tribal religions arise within Christianity such as the religion of the Christ, the religion of the Church and the religion of the Lodges, we are speaking from the standpoint of the evolution of peoples (or nations) which I usually characterize as follows: the Italian peoples = the Sentient Soul; the French peoples = the Intellectual or Mind Soul, etcetera. We have described how the Consciousness Soul develops in every individual in the course of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. In this consciousness we have the element that streams into religion. But from that moment begins the interaction with the other current, with the evolution of the Sentient Soul (common to all men) which follows a parallel course and is a far more unconscious process than that of the evolution of the Consciousness Soul.

If you study how a man like Goethe — though the impulses are often subconscious — nevertheless determines consciously his religious orientation, you see the working of the Consciousness Soul. But at the same time another element is at work in modern mankind, an element which finds powerful expression in the instinctive life, in unconscious impulses, and is intimately associated with the evolution of the Sentient Soul. And this is the trend towards socialism which is now in its early stages and will end in the way I have described. The initial impetus, it is true, is always given by the Consciousness Soul (as I have already indicated); but the development of socialism is the mission of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch and will end in the fourth millennium when it will have fulfilled its purpose. This is owing to the fact that mankind collectively is at the age of the Sentient Soul, corresponding to the age of twenty-eight to twenty-one in man. Socialism is not a matter of party politics, although there are many parties within the community, within the body social. Socialism is not a party political question as such, but a movement which of necessity will gradually develop in the course of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. And when this epoch has run its course an instinctive feeling for socialism will be found in all men in the civilized world.

In addition to the interaction of these currents in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch there is also at work that which lies in the depths of the subconscious, the desire to find the right social structure for all mankind from now until the fourth millennium. From a deeper point of view it is not in the least surprising that socialism stirs up all sorts of ideas which could be highly dangerous when one recalls that they derive their impulses from the depths of the subconscious, that everything is in a state of ferment and that the time is still far distant before it will come into its own. But there are rumblings beneath the surface — not, it is true, in the souls of men at present, i.e. in the astral body — but in the etheric body, in the temperaments of men. And people invent theories to explain these stirrings in the temperaments of men particularly. If these theories do not explain, as does spiritual science, what lies behind maya, then these theories, whether they are the theories of Bakunin, [ Note 7 ] Marx, Lassalle and the like, are simply masks, disguises, veils that conceal reality. One only becomes aware of the realities when one probes deeply into human evolution as we have attempted to do in this survey. All that is now taking place (i.e. in 1918) in the external world are simply tempestuous preparations for what after all is now smouldering, one may say, not in the souls of men, but in their temperaments. You are all socialists and you are often unaware how deeply impregnated you are with socialism because it is latent in your temperament, in the subconscious. But it is only when we are aware of this fact that we overcome that nebulous and ridiculous search for self-knowledge which looks inward and finds only a caput mortuum, a spiritual void, an abstraction. Man is a complex being and in order to understand him we must understand the whole world. It is important to bear this in mind.

Consider from this point of view the evolution of mankind in the course of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. First, the People of the Christ in the East with its fundamental impulse: Christ is Spirit. It is in the nature of this people to give to the world through Russianism, as if with elemental force and from historical necessity, that for which the West of Europe could only have prepared the ground. To the Russian people as such has been assigned the mission to develop the essential reality of the Grail as a religious system up to the time of the sixth post-Atlantean epoch, so that it may then become a cultural ferment for the whole world. Small i.vonder then that when this impulse encounters the other impulses the latter assume strange forms.

What are these other impulses? Christ is King and Christ is Teacher. One can scarcely call ‘Christ is Teacher’ an impulse, for, as I have already said, the Russian soul does not really understand what it means, does not understand that one can teach Christianity and not experience it in one's soul. But as for the conception ‘Christ is King’ — it is inseparable from the Russian people. And we now see the clash between two things which never had the slightest affinity, the clash between the impulse ‘Christ is Spirit’ and Czarism, an oriental caricature of the principle which seeks to establish temporal sovereignty in the domain of religion. ‘Christ is King and the Czar is his representative’ — here we have the association of the Western element manifested in Czarism with something that is completely alien to Czarism, something that, through the agency of the Russian folk soul, permeates the sentient life of the Russian people.

A characteristic feature of external physical reality is that those things which inwardly are often least related to each other must rub off on each other externally. Czarism and Russianism have always been strangers to each other, they never had anything in common. Those who understand the Russian nature, especially its piety, must have found the attitude to the elimination of Czarism as something self-evident when the time was ripe. But remember that this conception ‘Christ is Spirit’ touches the deepest springs of our being, that it is related to the highest expression of the Consciousness Soul and that, whilst socialism is smouldering beneath the surface, it collides with that which dwells in the Sentient Soul. Small wonder then that the expansion of socialism in Eastern Europe assumes forms that are totally incomprehensible: a chaotic interplay of the culture of the Consciousness Soul and the culture of the Sentient Soul.

Much that occurs in the external world becomes clear and comprehensible if we bear in mind these inner relationships. And it is vital for mankind today and for its future evolution that it does not neglect, out of complacency or indolence, its essential task, namely, to comprehend the situation in which we now find ourselves. People have not understood this situation, nor have they attempted to understand it. Hence the chaos, the terrible catastrophe which has overtaken Europe and America. We shall not find a way out of the present catastrophic situation until men begin to see themselves as they are and to see themselves objectively in the context of present evolution and the present epoch. We cannot afford to ignore this.

That is why it is so important to me that people should realize that the Anthroposophical Movement, as I envisage it, must be associated with an awareness of the great evolutionary impulses of mankind, with the immediate demands of our time. It is tragic that the present age shows little inclination to understand and to consider the Anthroposophical Weltanschauung precisely from this point of view.

I should now like to round off what I said last week in connection with The Philosophy of Freedom by a consideration of more general points of view. From what I have said you will realize that the rise of socialism [ Note B ] at the present time is a movement deeply rooted in human nature, a movement that is steadily gaining ground. For those endowed with insight the present negative reactions to the advance of socialism are simply appalling. Despite its ominous rumblings, despite its noisy claims to recognition, it is evident that socialism, this international movement which is spreading throughout the world, prefigures the future and that what we are now seeing, the creation of all kinds of national states and petty national states at the present time, is a retrograde step that inhibits the evolution of mankind. The dictum ‘to every nation its national state’ is a terrible obstacle to an understanding of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. Where this will end nobody knows; but this is what people are saying! At the same time this outlook is entirely permeated with the backward forces of the Arthurian impulse, with the desire for external organization. The antithesis to this is the Grail quest which is intimately related to Goethean principles and aims at individualism, at autonomy in the domain of ethics and science; it concerns itself especially with the individual and his development and not with groups which have lost their significance today and which must be eliminated by means of international socialism because that is the trend of evolution.

And for this reason one must also say: in Goetheanism with its individualism — you will recall that I emphasized the individualism in Goethe's Weltanschauung in my early Goethe publications and also in my book Goethe's Weltanschauung when I showed that this individualism is a natural consequence of Goetheanism — in this individualism, which can only culminate in a philosophy of feedom, there lies that which of necessity must lead to the development of socialism. And so we can recognize the existence of two poles—individualism and socialism — towards which mankind tends in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. In order to develop a right understanding of these things we must ascertain what principle must be added to socialism if socialism is to follow the true course of human evolution. The socialists of today have no idea what, of necessity, socialism entails and must entail — the true socialism that will be achieved to some extent only in the fourth millennium if it develops in the right way. It is especially important that this socialism be developed in conjunction with a true feeling for the being of the whole man, for man as a tripartite being of body, soul and spirit. The religious impulses of the particular ethnic groups will contribute in their different ways to an understanding of this tripartite division of man. The East and the Russian people to the understanding of the spirit; the West to an understanding of the body; Central Europe to an understanding of the soul. But all these impulses are interwoven of course. They must not be systematized or classified, but within this tripartite division the real principle, the true impulse of socialism must first be developed.

The real impulse of socialism consists in the realization of fraternity in the widest sense of the term in the external structure of society. True fraternity of course has nothing to do with equality. Take the case of fraternity within the same family: where one child is seven years old and his brother is newly born there can be no question of equality. One must first understand what is meant by fraternity. On the physical plane the present state-systems must be replaced throughout the whole world by institutions or organizations which are imbued with fraternity. On the other hand, everything that is connected with the Church and religion must be independent of external organization, state organization and organizations akin to the state; it must become the province of the soul and be developed in a completely free community. The evolution of socialism must be accompanied by complete freedom of thought in matters of religion.

Present-day socialism in the form of social democracy has declared that ‘religion is a private matter’. But it observes this dictum about as much as a mad bull observes fraternity when it attacks someone. Socialism has not the slightest understanding of religious tolerance, for in its present form socialism itself is a religion; it is pursued in a sectarian spirit and displays extreme intolerance. Socialism therefore must be accompanied by a real flowering of the religious life which is founded upon the free communion of souls on earth.

Just think for a moment how radically the course of evolution has thereby been impeded. There must be opposition to evolution at first, so that one can then work for a period of time towards the furtherance of evolution; this, in its turn, will be followed by a reaction and so on. I spoke of this in discussing the general principles of history. I pointed out that nothing is permanent, everything that exists is doomed to perish. Think of the opposition to this parallel development of freedom of thought in the sphere of religion and in the sphere of external social life, a development that can only be realized within the state community! If socialism is to prevail the religious life must be completely independent of the state organization; it must inspire the hearts and souls of men who are living together in a community, completely independent of any kind of organization. What mistakes have been made in this domain! ‘Christ is the Spirit’ — and alongside this, the terrible ecclesiastical organization of Czarism! ‘Christ is the King’ — complete identification of Czarism and religious convictions! [ Note C ] And not only has the Roman Catholic Church established itself as a political power, it has also managed, especially in the course of recent centuries, indirectly through Jesuitism, to infiltrate the other domains, to participate in their organization and to imbue them with the spirit of Catholicism. Or take the case of Lutheranism. How has it developed? It is true that Luther was the product of that impulse [ Note D ] of which I have already spoken here on another occasion — he is a typical Janus who turns one face to the fourth post-Atlantean epoch and the other to the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, and in this respect he is animated by an impulse in conformity with our time. Luther appears on the stage of history — but what happens then? What Luther wanted to realize in the religious sphere is associated with the interests of the petty German princes and their Courts. A prince is appointed bishop, head of synod, etcetera. Thus we see harnessed together two realms which should be completely independent of each other. Or to take another example — the stateprinciple which permeates the external organization of the state is impregnated with the Catholic religious principle, as was the case in Austria, the Austria which is now disintegrating; and to this, fundamentally, Austria's downfall must be attributed. Under other leadership, especially that of Goetheanism, it would have been possible to restore order in Austria.

On the other hand, amongst the English-speaking population in the West the princes and the aristocracy have everywhere infiltrated the Lodges. It is a characteristic feature of the West that one cannot understand the state organization unless we bear in mind that it is permeated with the spirit of the Lodges — and France and Italy are thoroughly infected by it — any more than one can understand Central Europe unless one realizes that it is impregnated with Jesuitism. We must bear in mind therefore that grievous mistakes have been made in respect of freedom of thought and social equality that must necessarily accompany socialism.

The development of socialism must be accompanied by another element in the sphere of the spiritual life — the emancipation of all aspiration towards the spirit, which must be independent of the state organization, and the removal of all fetters from knowledge and everything connected with knowledge. Those ‘barracks’ of learning called universities, which are scattered throughout the world are the greatest impediment to the evolution of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. Just as there must be freedom in the sphere of religion, so, too, in the sphere of knowledge all must be free and equal, everyone must be able to play his part in the further development of mankind. If the socialist movement is to develop along healthy lines, privileges, patents and monopolies must be abolished in every branch of knowledge. Since, at the present time, we are still very far from understanding what I really mean, there is no need for me to show you in any way how knowledge could be freed from its fetters, and how every man could thus be induced to participate in evolution. For that will depend upon the development of far reaching impulses in the sphere of education, and in the whole relationship between man and man. Ultimately all monopolies, privileges and patents which are related to the possession of intellectual knowledge will disappear; man will have no other choice but to affirm in every way and in all domains the spiritual life that dwells in him and to express it with all the vigour at his command. At a time when there is a growing tendency for the universities, for example, to claim exclusive rights in medicine, when in widely different spheres people wish to organize everything with maximum efficiency, at such a time there is no need to discuss spiritual equality in detail, for at present this is far beyond our reach and most people can safely wait until their next incarnation before they arrive at a complete understanding of what is to be said on the subject of this third point. But the first steps of course can be undertaken at all times.

Since we are involved in the modern world and the modern epoch, all we can do is to be aware of the impulses at work, especially socialism and what must accompany it—freedom of religious thought, equality in the sphere of knowledge. Knowledge must become equal for all, in the sense of the proverb which says that in death all men are equal, death is the great leveller; for knowledge, even as death, opens the door to the super-sensible world. One can no more acquire exclusive rights for death than one can acquire exclusive rights for knowledge. To do so nevertheless is to produce not men who are vehicles of knowledge, but those who have become the so-called vehicles of knowledge at the present time. These words in no way refer to the individual; they refer to what is important for our time, namely, the social configuration of our time. Our epoch especially which saw the gradual decline of the bourgeoisie has shown how all rebellion against that which runs counter to evolution is increasingly ineffective today. The Papacy firmly sets its face against evolution. When, in the seventies, the ‘Old Catholics’ [ Note 8 ] rejected the dogma of papal infallibility, this consummation of papal absolutism, life was made difficult for them (and is still made difficult for them today); meanwhile they could render valuable service by their resistance to papal absolutism.

If you recall what I have said you will find that, at the present time, there exists on the physical plane something which in reality belongs to the soul life and to the spiritual life of men whilst on the external physical plane fraternity seeks to manifest itself. That which does belong directly to the physical plane, i.e. freedom, has manifested itself on the physical plane and has organized it. Of course in so far as men live on the physical plane and freedom dwells in the souls of men, it belongs to the physical plane; but where people are subject to organizations on this plane there is no place for freedom. On the physical plane, for example, religions must be able to be exclusively communities of souls and must be free from external organization. Schools must be organized on a different basis, and above all, they must not become state-controlled schools. Everything must be determined by freedom of thought, by individual needs. Because in the world of reality things interpenetrate it may happen that today socialism, for example, often denies its fundamental principle. It shows itself to be tyrannical, avid for power and would dearly like to take everything into its own hands. Inwardly, it is, in reality, the adversary of the unlawful prince of this world who appears when one organizes externally the Christ impulse or the spiritual in accordance with state principles, when, in the external organization, fraternity alone does not suffice.

When we discuss vital and essential questions of the contemporary world we touch upon matters which mankind finds unpalatable today. But it is important that these problems should be thoroughly understood. It is only by gaining a clear understanding of these problems that we can hope to escape from the present calamitous situation. I must repeat again and again that we shall only be able to contribute to the true evolution of mankind by acquiring knowledge of the impulses which can be found in the way I have described.

When I discussed here a week ago my book The Philosophy of Freedom I tried to show how, as a result of my literary activities, I was rejected everywhere. You will recall no doubt that in many fields my work met with opposition. Even when I attempted in the recent fateful years to draw attention to Goetheanism I was ignored on all sides. Goetheanism does not mean that one writes or says something on the subject of Goethe, but it is also Goetheanism to search for an answer to the question: What is the best solution, anywhere in the world at the present time, when all nations are at each others throats? But here too I felt myself ignored on all sides. I do not say this out of pessimism, for I know the workings of Karma much too well for that. Nor do I say it because I would not do the same again tomorrow if the opportunity presented itself. I must say it because it is necessary to apprise mankind of many things, because only by insight into reality can mankind, for its part, find the impulses appropriate to the present age.

Must it then be that men will never succeed in finding the path to the ‘light’ by awakening that which dwells in their hearts and their inmost souls? Must they then come to the ‘light’ through external constraint? Must everything collapse about their ears before they begin to think? Should not this question be raised afresh every day? I do not ask that the individual shall do this or that — for I know only too well that little can be done at the present moment. But what is necessary is to have insight and understanding, to avoid false judgement and the passive attitude which refuses to see things as they really are.

A remark which I read in the Frankfurter zeitung this morning made a strange impression upon me. It was an observation of a man whom I knew intimately some eighteen or twenty years ago and with whom I have discussed many different questions. I read in the Frankfurter zeitung an article by this man; it was from the pen of Paul Ernst, [ Note 9 ] poet and dramatist, whose plays have been performed on the public stage. I knew him intimately at that time. It was a short article on moral courage and in it I read a sentence — it is indeed very encouraging to find such a sentence today, but one must constantly raise the question: must we suffer the present catastrophe for such a sentence to be possible? A cultured German, a man who is German to the core writes: in Germany people have always maintained that we are universally hated. I should like to know (he writes) who on earth really hated the creative genius of Germany? And then he recalls that in recent years it is the Germans themselves who have shown the greatest antipathy to the creative genius of Germany.

And in particular they harbour a real inner antipathy to Goetheanism. I do not say this in order to criticize in any way, and certainly not — you would hardly expect this of me — to say something that would in any way imply making concessions to Wilsonism. It is tragic when things happen only under constraint, whereas they could be truly beneficial if they were the fruit of freedom. For today that which must be the object of freedom must stem from free thoughts. I must constantly reiterate that I say these things not in order to evoke pessimism, but in order to appeal to your hearts and souls so that you, in your turn, may appeal to the hearts and souls of others and so awaken insight — and therefore understanding! What has suffered most in recent years is judgement that has allowed itself to be clouded by submission to authority. How happy people are, the world over, that they have a schoolmaster for their idol (i.e. Wilson), that they no longer need to think for themselves! This must not be accounted a virtue or defect of any particular nation. It is something that is now widespread and must be resisted: we must endeavour to support our judgements with sound reasoning. One does not form judgements by getting up an one's hind legs and pronouncing judgements indiscriminately. Those who are often the leading personalities today — and I have already spoken of this in a different context — are the worst possible choice, the products of the particular circumstances of our time. We must be aware of this. It is not a question of clinging to slogans such as democracy, socialism etcetera; what is important is to perceive the realities behind the words.

That is what one feels, what comes to mind at the present time when one sees so clearly that the few who are shaken out of their complacency awaken only under constraint, when compelled to do so by constraint. That is why one says to oneself: what matters is judgement, insight and understanding. In order to gain insight into the evolution of nations we must bear in mind these deeper relationships. We must have the courage to say to ourselves: all our knowledge of ethnology and everything that is concerned with the social organization is valueless unless one is aware of these things. We must summon up the courage to say this and it is of this courage that I wanted to speak. I have spoken long enough, but I felt that it was important to show the direct connection between the deeper European impulses and those of the present time.

As you are aware one can never know from one day to the next how long one is permitted to remain in a particular place — one may be compulsorily directed at the behest of the authorities. Whatever happens — one never knows how long we may be together — in any case, though I may have to leave very soon, the present lecture will not be the last. I will see to it that I can speak to you again here in Dornach.

Translator's Notes:

Note A: See also Goethestudien und Goetheanische Denkmethoden (in Bibl. Nr. 36).

Note B: See Soziale und antisoziale Triebe im Menschen, [Social and Anti-Social Forces in the Human Being] Bern, 12th December, 1918 (in Bibl. Nr. 186).

Note C: Note — the stenogram is unclear.

Note D: See 17th and 18th September, 1917, Das Karma des Materialismus (in Bibl. Nr. 176).

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