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The Fundamental Social Demand of Our Times

Fundamental Social: Lecture 5: Understand One-Another


Dornach, December 21, 1918

“Understand One-Another”

My dear friends,

Once again there comes to life in our hearts the verse that has resounded through the centuries, of the Divine Mysteries manifesting in the Heights and of the peace on Earth for men of good-will. And at this moment I imagine, especially in our time, the question will arise within our hearts: What then does mankind need, over the whole Earth's round, for the prospering of earthly evolution and of that peace of which the Gospel tells? Well, my dear friends, we have been speaking for weeks past of what is needful to mankind all the Earth over, especially in this our time — questionable as it is and so fraught with questions. And if we would gather up into a single sentence what has been passing through our souls in recent weeks — then we may say: It is necessary for men to strive ever more and more for a full mutual understanding.

This quest of a true mutual understanding among men coincides with what we explained yesterday as to the fundamental impulse underlying what we here call Anthroposophical Spiritual Science. Anthroposophical Spiritual Science strives for an insight into those things which can only be seen by spiritual vision in the world and in the evolution of the world. What is it that shall come to birth in human souls through this cosmic understanding? It is the true — not the apparent and illusory, but the true content of the social demands of the present time, and it consists in calling forth mutual understanding among men. We must strive for this understanding of humanity over the whole Earth — strive for it on the one hand with sincerity and on the other hand with strength. And this can only be done today with an active spiritual life, I mean a spiritual life which does not merely wish to devote itself to the world passively, but seeks to be inwardly active, partaking in the inner impulses of all existence and so arriving at an understanding of the world and man. Yesterday I told you, we are living in an age when new revelations of the Spirit are penetrating through the veil of outward phenomena. We cannot take this truth too earnestly. For he alone who takes it in full earnest will prove equal to the task which our age requires, of every single human being who claims to be awake in life.

If you will think back over many things which we have considered in the last few weeks, you will realize that this understanding of man over the whole Earth cannot be attained so easily as many people think. We have tried to throw light on the peculiarities of the groupings of peoples in the Western and Eastern regions of the Earth and in the Middle. Without letting sympathies or antipathies come into play in the very least, we have tried to understand what are the deepest characteristics of the peoples of the West, the Middle and the East respectively. Why did we do so? To take an example, we pointed out that our age is characterized especially by the development of intellectuality, and that in the Western — especially the English-speaking — peoples, this intellectuality comes to expression in such a way that it acts, as it were, instinctively. Whereas in the Middle peoples, intellect does not work instinctively — in fact, to begin with, it is not innate in them at all; they must acquire it by education. This, we showed, is a very significant difference between the peoples of the West and of the Middle. Thereafter we pointed to the peoples of the East and we said: There, the evolution of intellect comes to expression in such a way that, to begin with, the Eastern peoples actually recoil from it. They are loath to awaken this intellectuality to life within them; they want to preserve it for the knowledge of the Spirit-Self in the future. We pointed to other differentiations also, over the earth. Today let us ask ourselves: Why do we indicate these differentiations? Why do we seek from our point of view to characterize the different groups of people over the Earth? We do so, my dear friends, because in future the mere “Love one-another” will no longer suffice. In future, men will only attain mutual understanding as to their several tasks over the whole Earth if they know what is working in one or in another territory of the Earth. They must be able to look consciously at the several characteristics of the different groups of people. Once we can rise to the inner feeling, which is indeed essential to such understanding, this understanding will indeed be brought about. The feeling to which I refer, my dear friends, is this; the moment we begin to characterize human beings all the Earth over in this way, we must rid ourselves of the impulse to judge and value in the way we judge and value an individual human being as to his moral qualities. In seeking to characterize the nations it simply will not do to judge of their worth as we do in the case of a single human being. It is the very essence of the evolution of the individual human beings on Earth, that man develops the moral qualities as an individual being. Morality can only be evolved by the individual, not by groups of human beings. It would be the worst of illusions if we continued to believe that groups of human beings — or, as one likes to call them nowadays, nations — can enter into a like relationship to one another as man to man. One who can understand concretely what groups of human beings (nations, too, therefore) are in reality, will see the nations guided, as you know from our lecture cycle on the Folk Souls, by those Beings of the Hierarchies whom we call Archangels. He will never ascribe to the mutual relationship of nations that which he must see in the relation of one human being to another. What the nations are, they are in face of the Divine Beings. Here there arises a very different valuation from that which obtains as between man and man. It is for this very reason that man becomes an individual in the course of his evolution. He wrests himself free from the mere folk or nation, so that he may enter fully into what we call the moral order of the world. This moral order of the world is a concern of the individual man.

Such things must be understood by real spiritual knowledge. The true progress of Christianity itself in our time consists in this. I said the other day: We are living in a time when the Spirits of Personality rise in a sense to creative activity. They become Creators. This is exceedingly important, for inasmuch as they become Creator-Spirits there penetrates through the veil of phenomena what we described yesterday as a new revelation. The Spirits of Personality, therefore, are taking on the character of Creators. They become different in a sense from what they were before. They in their being take on a character like that which certain other Spirits (the Spirits of Form) possessed, for earthly evolution, since Lemurian times. This means that in a certain sense man will henceforth confront an altogether changed world-picture. We must become conscious of this, for this is the great thing in our time. Man is beginning to confront an altogether changed world picture, one that comes forth — to use a Goethean expression — out of the gray depths of the Spirit. If we look back with Spiritual Science into the historic evolution of mankind — we may look back into pre-Christian times — the farther we go back, the more we find that men possessed in an old instinctive way an extensive cosmic knowledge, which inspires us with all the greater reverence the more we learn to know it. For the seer it becomes a fact that at the outset of earthly evolution an immense Wisdom was poured out as it were over the earthly life of man. In course of time this Wisdom gradually filtered away. And strange as it may sound, my dear friends, yet it is true, it had reached a kind of zero level at the time when the Mystery of Golgotha came with a blessing to mankind. During that time all that humanity had known in former ages fell into a kind of chaos in the consciousness of man. Those who have understanding of these matters express themselves with perfect agreement on this fact. During that time, they say, the evolution into which man is woven had reached once more the point of utter ignorance. Yet into this gray ignorance which overlay mankind there fell the greatest earthly revelation — the Mystery of Golgotha — the starting point of new knowledge, new revelations for humanity.

Nevertheless, through many centuries, as concerns man himself, the dark gray ignorance persisted in a sense. It does enlighten us, my dear friends, in the deepest sense, if, looking back on the last two thousand years, we ask ourselves with understanding: What, after all, did men produce out of themselves during these last two thousand years? All they possessed by way of Wisdom (independent of the Mystery of Golgotha) was old tradition — inheritance from old traditions. Let us understand one another aright. Needless to say, I will not say humanity has had no Wisdom at all during the last two thousand years, nor will I cast aspersions on the Wisdom which they had. The point is this: The Wisdom that was present in the old pre-Christian times — whose relics are still observable in the last centuries before the Mystery of Golgotha — this Wisdom was seen, albeit instinctively, seen in the Spirit of the olden times. Now however they had lost the power of relating themselves, with independent spiritual vision, to the content of the cosmic Wisdom. What had existed in olden times was preserved, as it were, in a historic memory. Even the Mystery of Golgotha, as I said yesterday, was clothed in the old Wisdom, expressed in the conceptions of the old-remembered Wisdom.

All this went on through many centuries. An advance-guard — albeit only an advance guard — for a renewed penetration of man into Cosmic Wisdom emerged in the mode of thought of modern Natural Science. True, to begin with it emerges in an apparently godless form; yet it is so. It is something which man seeks to acquire by his own activity of soul. Have I not often emphasized that for the future men must learn to regard the spiritual world anthroposophically, even [as], since Copernicus, they have regarded the purely mechanical, external order of Nature? To learn to behold the Divine just as men learned to behold the outer mechanical aspect of the universe since Copernicus, Galileo and Giordano Bruno — this is the task that must permeate us if we would come to a true understanding of our time.

Of course there are many things against this true understanding of our time. Towards such understanding, as you know, such things are necessary as are said for instance in my book on Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment where we have shown what ways the soul must take to penetrate into the spiritual world even as Copernicus, Galileo and Giordano Bruno sought to penetrate the outward mechanical order of Nature. Those who have no deeper understanding for human aspirations may well be astonished that the most vigorous opposition arises out of the spirit of the old religious faiths (if we may call them so) against this endeavor to show what ways the human soul must take to find the spiritual world. It is especially so when the old spirit appears in the form of Jesuitism.

Among the many stupid accusations which have appeared in three articles in the Stimmen der Zeit this year, the following also occurs: “The Church,” they say, “forbids this treatment of the human soul to find the paths into the spiritual world.” My dear friends, for many a modern believer in authority this may sound like something new; but they fail to remember that the very same Church also forbade the researches of Copernicus and Galileo! The Church dealt with external scientific research in exactly the same way. We need not therefore wonder if it metes out the same treatment to the inner researches of spiritual science. It is only remaining true to its old habits. Even as the Catholic Church rebelled until 1827 against the Copernican doctrine, so it rebels against the conscious penetration into the spiritual world. This penetration into the spiritual worlds is no mere talking in abstractions; it is something real and concrete. It means that we transcend in fact once more the state of dark, gray ignorance and penetrate with knowledge into the underlying spiritual content of the world. Was it not also part of this gray ignorance that man looked out upon the world and saw the nations — the groups of human beings — and spoke of them as of a formless chaos. They spoke of the peoples of the West, of the Middle and of the East, but they did not distinguish nor characterize them. At best they knew that the leaders of the nations were Archangeloi, but they did not strive really to know the specific characters of the several nations — of the Archangeloi themselves. This belongs to the new revelation: — we must now observe and understand how the several Archangeloi are working over the face of the Earth. And this will be a real enrichment of man's consciousness all the Earth over. Through the very inability to rise from the dead level of gray ignorance to real differentiation, the gulf has been brought about which I described yesterday, between the subject of the Sunday sermons and what is regarded as the business of everyday life in the outer world. Within the sphere of the religious faiths they talk about the Divine World and its relation to mankind, but all this talking proves too feeble to penetrate the life and business of men on Earth. It can say no more to them than “Love one another,” which is about as sensible as if I were to say to the stove: Warm the room, that is your duty as a stove. Such teaching has not power really to take hold of the hearts of man. They cannot unite their knowledge of everyday affairs with what is brought down to them in this way as abstract precepts, customs, dogmas about the spiritual world. This gulf is there, my dear friends, and the religious faiths would only like to hold it fast.

The strangest flowers spring from the presence of this gulf and from the conscious desire to maintain it. The Jesuits, for instance, object to anthroposophical Spiritual Science because it looks for something in the human being which is capable of inner evolution so as to lead man to the Divine. To do so, they say, is heretical, for the Church teaches us and forbids us to say anything different from this — that God in His Being has nothing to do with the world, nay more, that in substantial identity He has nothing to do with the soul of man. He who declares that the soul of man bears something of the Divine Being within it in any respect whatever, is for the Catholic Church — as conceived by the Jesuits — a heretic.

Into such statements is instilled the inmost tendency of that Church, which is not to let the human beings reach to the Divine but to shut them off from it. Dogma itself assumes a form such as to prevent man from reaching the Divine. No wonder, therefore, since they have not been permitted to reach to the Divine, if in the fifth Post-Atlantean age (which had to bring the Spiritual Soul, once and for all) World-knowledge has become not a Divine but a pure Ahrimanic knowledge. For that which is recognized as Natural Science today is a purely Ahrimanic achievement. We have often characterized it thus. Strange, that the Catholic Church should prefer the Ahrimanic Natural Science to the anthroposophical; for the Ahrimanic Natural Science is no longer considered heretical today, while the anthroposophical Natural Science is anathematized.

A truly enlightened man of today needs to be clear about these things. He must recognize that the same thing must now need to be undertaken on the path of the Spirit as has hitherto been undertaken on the path of Nature. Only so can the path of Nature be saved from its aberration into a purely Ahrimanic realm. It has already suffered this aberration, because in fact the path of the Spirit could only be added to it at a later stage. But from now onwards and for the future of mankind, the path of the Spirit must be added to it, so that Natural Science may be lifted again to its Divine Spiritual height; so that the life in which we live between birth and death be reunited with the life of which the science of the Spirit has to tell, namely that life in which we live in the time between death and a new birth. Yet this will only happen in our time if we have the will really to understand this life all the Earth over, to understand it as it works in man himself.

Moreover we can only understand the single human being if we understand the character of human groupings. Only so shall we be enabled to see into the true reality.

Not long ago I drew your attention to a strange fact which may well surprise many people. I will repeat it briefly. You know that here in Switzerland there lived a worthy philosopher, Avenarius, who undoubtedly regarded himself as a good, law-abiding bourgeois citizen; who did not think himself in the remotest degree a revolutionary. He founded a school of thought written in so difficult a language that very few people can read it. Moreover, writing a rather more popular language, but in a similar sense, there lived a philosopher in Vienna and in Prague — Ernst Mach, who equally regarded himself as a good law-abiding citizen. Truly, neither of them has a vein of revolution in them. Yet the fact is, these two philosophers have become the official philosophers of the Bolsheviks. The Bolsheviks have adopted them as their State Philosophers — so we may put it, if we do not misunderstand the expression. True, Avenarius and Mach would turn in their graves if they were to discover that they are now looked up to by the Bolsheviks as their State Philosophers. As I said on the former occasion, we only do not understand such a phenomenon because we confine ourselves to abstract logic instead of holding fast to the logic of realities, the logic of facts, the logic of things seen. Though you may think that this lies far afield from your point of view, I will nevertheless refer to it again from another aspect. In particular, I will mention one point in the philosophy of Avenarius which may help us to answer the interesting questions: How could it be that Avenarius and Mach became the State Philosophers of the Bolsheviks? The very fact is after all significant enough of the utter confusion of our time.

Avenarius, you see, raises various questions. If we spoke in his technical language — of “introjections” and the like, of all the purely epistemological concepts he evolved — we should be speaking a pretty unintelligible language for most people. Yet in this unintelligible language he raises a question which is after all very interesting from the point of view of Spiritual Science. Avenarius asks: If a man were all alone in the world, would he still speak of the distinction between that which is in his own soul and that which is outside in the world? Would he still distinguish the subjective and the objective? Richard Avenarius is clever enough to declare: We are only tempted to speak of the difference between “subjective” and “objective” through the fact that we are not alone in the world. When we stand face to face with another man, we assume that that which we carry in our brains — of a table or of any other object — is in him too. By projecting into his brain the same picture which we carry in ourselves, the whole thing acquires a picture-like character, and this leads us to distinguish the things in our soul from the things outside — the things that we confront. Avenarius opines that if there were not other people outside us in the world we should not speak of the differences between that which is in our own soul and that which is outside us. We should regard ourselves as one with the things, merged with the things of the world. We should not distinguish ourselves from the world.

We may truly say, my dear friends, from a certain point of view Avenarius is right in his assertion, but from another point of view appallingly mistaken. It is indeed of some importance that in the course of our earliest childhood (though in our conscious memory we know nothing of that time) we came into touch with human beings. Our whole ideation — our whole way of thinking — was influenced by this. It is quite true, things would be very different if we had not come into touch with others; but they would not be as Avenarius supposes. He who can apprehend the underlying facts by spiritual vision arrives at the real truth. Our whole world-picture would indeed be different if at the time in life when we cannot yet think consciously we did not meet with other human beings. But this is the curious thing, my dear friends. The different world-picture which we then should have would contain the spiritual Beings who underlie the world. It would not be as Avenarius supposes. Incidentally, what a dreadful abstraction! We should not fail to distinguish ourselves from the world if we were alone in the world and there were no other human beings. Behind the minerals and plants (for there would have to be no animals, they too would disturb the world-picture by their presence) we should perceive the Divine-Spiritual World. In other words, my dear friends, our living-together with other men is the reason why, in the ordinary way of life, we do not perceive the spiritual world behind the plants and minerals. Our fellow-men place themselves before this spiritual world and hide it from us. Think what this means! At the cost of not perceiving the Divine world of the Hierarchies, we acquire all that comes to us through our living together with other men on the physical Earth. Our fellow-men place themselves before the world of the Gods and hide it from us, as it were. Naturally, Avenarius was unaware of this, hence he carried the question in an entirely wrong direction. He imagined that if no human being were there we should see ourselves unseparated from the world — should not distinguish ourselves from the world. The truth is we should distinguish ourselves — not indeed from other men or from plants and minerals — but from the Gods whom we should then have all round us. That is the truth.

If you consider this you will realize what is very important to realize in our time. Strange to say, it is in many respects our destiny today! Precisely the most penetrating spirits of our time will often touch on the most vital questions — yet always so as to lead them in the most wrong direction, so as to lead away from the perception of the Spirit. It would indeed be difficult to lead away from the perception of the Spirit more radically than Avenarius does. His philosophy is extremely sharp-witted — written with all the refinement of professorial language — and it is therefore well-adapted to lead men away from the Spirit in a state of sleep. And when men are led asleep away from the Spirit they regard this leading away from the Spirit as a necessity — a kind of mathematical necessity. So long as they do not observe that they are being led away from the Spirit, they take it all as scientifically proven. That is the one thing, my dear friends.

Here we have a philosopher (and much the same could be said of Mach) the inmost nerve of whose thought is to found a system which shall lead man radically away from the Spirit. In Bolshevism, my dear friends, the intention is to found a social order to the exclusion of all things spiritual — to group mankind in their social life so that the Spiritual plays no part in it at all. That is the real inner connection of the two, and it makes itself connection of the two, and it makes itself felt in the logic of facts. Not for a mere external reason but by a deep inner kinship, Avenarius and Mach became the State Philosophers of the Bolsheviks.

You see, it is quite possible — with judgments that are prevalent today — to stand more or less fixedly before these things in blank astonishment. How do the Bolsheviks come to have Avenarius and Mach as State Philosophers? For us however it is possible even now to see the real inner connections. Only to do so, we must look for the underlying spiritual facts, as we have done in this instance, where we perceive how it would be in reality if man [were] alone on the physical Earth without any other men. There are many facts and phenomena entering into our life today — especially in the mutual relationships of men — which paralyze men's minds to contemplate, because they can gain no understanding of them without Spiritual Science. I have just given an instance from the spiritual life; quite everyday facts, however, might also be mentioned in this way.

Do not imagine that it was so in all ages. Such phenomena also existed in ancient times, but they were instinctively intelligible to men — intelligible by the old instinctive clairvoyance. Then, through the long gray period of ignorance, such phenomena were absent from the mutual intercourse of men. Now they are making their appearance once more. Not that the souls of men are evolving; the world is evolving. The world itself is changing, and it reveals its change to begin with in the mutual intercourse of men. In the next epoch it will also reveal the change in the relation of man to the other kingdoms of Nature. Life will remain unintelligible to men, in the present and in the immediate future, so long as they are unwilling to consider it through Spiritual Science. Illusion after illusion will take hold of the soul, if man will not have recourse to the spiritual-scientific concepts. There are some here present to whom at the outbreak of the present War-catastrophe I repeated one thing again and again. It is quite possible, I said, to write of the so-called world-historic facts of the last few centuries according to the records in the archives — by looking up the records and writing histories in the style of Ranks of the rest. But of the outbreak of this War-catastrophe it is impossible to write so. However much they delve into the archives, if they do not observe what was the mood of soul of those who were concerned in the outbreak of this War, and how this mood of soul gave entry for the Ahrimanic powers into the Earth's affairs, and how thereby the causes of this War-catastrophe came from an Ahrimanic side — if, in a word, they are willing to observe the starting-point of this catastrophe with Spiritual Science, it will remain forever dark. This War-catastrophe, my dear friends, is a real challenge to mankind, to learn from it. Much can be learned from what happened during the last four or five years as a consequence of the preceding events. Above all things, we should learn to put certain questions, not so one-sidedly as heretofore, but in keeping with the real needs of the time.

As I have often said, we have no reason to comfort ourselves too lightly about the misfortunes of our time, still less to shut our eyes to them. But we have also no reason to be pessimistic. Only consider the following. We can say to ourselves: immense and terrible events have taken place in the last four or five years over the Earth. And yet, what is the essential thing in all these terrors? It is what human souls have experienced through them. That is the essential thing — what human souls have experienced through these events, with respect to their soul's evolution, needless to say throughout all Earth-existence. Seen in this light, a question fraught with deep significance emerges. The question is strange and paradoxical, but so only because it is fraught with such deep meaning, unaccustomed to our everyday thought. Could we really desire that mankind should have lived on without any such catastrophe, in the way they had grown accustomed to live until the year 1914? Can we really say that that would have been desirable? In putting this question I may be permitted once again to point to what I said before the outbreak of this War, in my lecture cycle at Vienna (April 1914, Cycle XXXII). I said: If we really see what is living in the world of man today, the mutual relationship of men, their social life, appears to us like a social carcinoma — a cancerous growth — eating its way through mankind. Men had only shut their eyes to this carcinoma of the social commonweal. They were unwilling to look the real facts in the face. No one who sees things at their deepest could say that it would have been good for mankind to go on in that way. For on the lines which I have indicated they would have gone more and more downhill, farther and farther from the Spirit. And as to those to whom we look with souls full of pain — the millions who have been swept away from the physical plane by this dread catastrophe and who are now living on as souls — they it is who ponder most of all how different now their situation is, inasmuch as they are spending the rest of their life in the spiritual world; how different it would have been if their Karma had still kept them on the physical Earth.

Sub specie aeterni — from the aspect of eternity — things after all appear quite different, and this must not be left unsaid. Only on the other hand we must not take these things lightly or superficially. True as it is, it is infinitely sad that this catastrophe has taken place, yet it is no less true, my dear friends; by this very catastrophe man has been preserved from an appalling downfall into materialism and utilitarianism. And though it does not yet show itself today, yet it will show itself — above all in the Middle Countries and the East, where, in place of an order that had been imbued with materialism, a state of chaos is now developing. Truly we cannot refer to this chaos without an undertone of pain and suffering. I mean the social chaos which has overcome the Middle and Eastern countries, and that shows outwardly little prospect of transforming into any kind of harmony. And yet there is another aspect. Wherever this chaos exists, the world in the near future will give men very, very little through the purely physical plane. The blessings of the physical plane will truly not be great in the Middle and the Eastern countries. Of all that can be given to man so that he feels his life sustained by external powers — of this there will be precious little. Man will have to take hold of himself in his own soul in order to stand fast, and in the very act of doing so he will be able to set forth along the path into the spiritual world. He will resolve to go towards the Spirit, whence alone the salvation of the future can come. This, my dear friends, will be the essential thing for the future. Our outer bodily existence will, as it were, be slipping away from us. The outer bodily nature, as I said yesterday, will no longer be so sound and healthy as in times past; it has more death in it than it had in bygone ages. The content of the World-riddle is not to be found with that with which our bodily nature is connected; no, we must rise into the spiritual world to find the necessary impulse, and also the impulse which we need for the social order. This insight will arise when men are able to find as little as possible in the physical world. For the physical world itself will only be able to assume a form of harmony when it seeks for this form out of the spiritual life.

The Bible, my dear friends, in its first pages, does not tell us that is was Lucifer or Ahriman who drove man out of Paradise; it was the Jahve — God Himself who did so. And as we know, this very expulsion from paradise signifies man's becoming free — the conscious experience of freedom by mankind. The possibility, the seed of freedom, was given by the expulsion from Paradise. Is it then contrary to the Biblical wisdom if we say: Once more, it was Divine Wisdom which drove men out of the present age that was leading them down into materialism and utilitarianism, thus planting seeds, which, spiritually taken hold of, can really help the world. It sounds to us out of the painful depths of the last four-and-a-half years: “Spiritual life is wishing to reveal itself through the veil of the outward phenomena; men shall learn through misfortune to turn their eyes to these revelations of the Spirit, and it will be for their salvation.”

This too is a language which will seem paradoxical to many a modern man and yet, it is the language which Christ Himself is guiding us to speak. Today it lies inherent in the very progress of Christianity to grasp the Christian truths in a new way. This can only be done if they are taken hold of spiritually. The Mystery of Golgotha, my dear friends, is a spiritual event which has entered into the evolution of the Earth. It can only be fully understood by a spiritual way of knowledge. As in the last resort it was through misfortune that mankind found the Christ, we too shall have to seek through our misfortune for the Christ through the new way of comprehension.

I admit, my dear friends, this is no ordinary comfort. Yet if we are ready to put all trivialities aside in the deeper sense of the word it is after all no little comfort, nay perhaps, it is the only comfort in our time, worthy of the dignity of man. It is not the kind of comfort which says to man: Only wait, and without your cooperation all the divine things will be vouchsafed to you! Rather does it say: Make use of your own forces, and you will find that the God is speaking and abounding in your souls. Then, through this God, you will also find the God in the great Universe, and — which is the most important — you yourselves will be able to work in communion with Him. We must depart from the mere passive attitude to super-sensible knowledge. Man must bestir himself within to find himself, and as he does so, recognize himself as part of the World-Order. Let the religious faiths rebel, which want to make things nice and comfortable for lulling a man's spirit to sleep in clouds of incense (I speak figuratively) so that he may then find his way to the Divine passively and without active cooperation on his part. Let them rebel however much against the call that now springs forth out of the spiritual worlds! — “Man shall now look for his true worth in inner spiritual activity — in the active inner development of spiritual life!”

This, my dear friends, must be; and it must be so especially if we are to reckon with the social demands of our time. I have said so already in these weeks. We are living — at any rate, a great part of our educated humanity are living — from the achievements of Greek culture; but we do not always remember how these achievements, by which we live, were created. Greek civilization was unfolded on a basis of slavery. A great proportion of mankind had to live as slaves in order to bring about at all what we now feel as the blessings of Greek culture. Let us face the fact fully and clearly. All that Greek Art, Greek learning signifies — all this and many other things arose on the foundation of slavery. Then, my dear friends, we shall ask ourselves with renewed intensity: What is it that has brought about the inner change? We today no longer think as did the great philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, who took slavery as an absolute matter of course. At that time it went without saying, even for the wisest of men, that nine-tenths of mankind must live as slaves. For us today it no longer goes without saying. On the contrary, we regard it as an offence against the dignity of man that anyone should think so. What was it then that brought it about for Western humanity — this radical change in men's way of thought? It was Christianity which freed men from slavery and led them to recognize, at least in principle, that all men are equal before God, as to their soul. For this was the principle which uprooted slavery out of the social order of mankind. But as we know — for we must refer to it again and again from many points of view — one thing has been left behind until our day. It is that of which I told you that it is the salient point in the consciousness of the modern working man. One thing has been left behind, namely the possibility — in our social order — for a part of the human being to be bought as a commodity and sold by himself as a commodity. Moreover it is a part of man that takes its course in his very body. The salient point of the social question — the perpetual irritant, the thing that continually incites — is the fact that human labor-power can be paid for. This too creates at the very foundations of all our social order the character of Egoism. For egoism cannot but prevail in the social (I say once more, in the social order — please understand me aright) if to obtain what he requires for his own needs a man must get his labor paid for. He is obliged to earn for himself.

This is the next and necessary stage — after the overcoming of slavery — it must be made impossible for any man's labor to be a commodity. This is the true salient point of the social question, and it is this which the new Christianity will solve. In recent lectures I have told you something of the solving of the social question. For that three-folding of the social order, of which I told you there, sets free the commodity from the labor-power of man. In future, men will only buy and sell commodities — outer objects, things separate from man himself — which (as I wrote already in my essay on Theosophy and the Social Question which appeared in 1905) one man will work for another from motives of brotherly love.

It may be a long way to go to attain this end. Yet this and this alone will solve the social question. Whoever will not believe today that this must come about in the world-order is like a man who would have said, at the time of the origin of Christianity: “Slaves there must always be.” Even as he would have been wrong at that time, so likewise today the man is wrong who says: “Labor must always be paid for.” At that time it seems unimaginable that a certain number of men should not be slaves. Not even Plato or Aristotle could conceive it. Today the cleverest of men cannot conceive a social order wherein Labor would have quite another value — quite another meaning than of being paid for. Needless to say, even then the product will proceed from the labor, but the product alone will be able to be bought and sold. Socially, this very fact will be the salvation of men.

To realize these things it is indeed necessary to have the knowledge of spiritual vision, the logic of things seen. Without it humanity will not go forward. The logic of spiritual vision is the fuel to create what must arise among mankind in future, namely that human love which springs from the understanding between man and man. Strange as it sounds, my dear friends, today, when all manner of atavistic remnants are still there in men in one way or another — today everything is still regarded with sympathies and antipathies. So it is, for instance, when we explain such distinctions as I here did a little while ago. I said that of the three members of human nature the Western peoples are called especially to develop the abdominal nature, the Middle peoples the heart-nature and the Eastern peoples the head nature. Nowadays, such things are nearly always treated as judgments of relative value, in one way or another. At least, somewhere inside him every man still has a little pigeon-hole where he does so. Such valuation must absolutely cease, for this very vision of the differentiations of mankind over the whole Earth's sphere will become the basis of sympathetic, understanding love. From understanding, not from ignorance, true human love — reaching over the whole Earth — will spring, during this age of the Spiritual Soul. Then will men know, over the whole Earth, how to find themselves in Christ. Christ is no concern of one nation or another. He concerns all mankind; but to recognize this, many an illusion must first give way.

Men must be able to raise themselves, to look without illusions into the true nature of things. Today, in many spheres of life, they are unwilling to do so. And yet, I know I am speaking in the spirit of the true Christmas peace in placing the following paradox before you. My dear friends, you know well that I am not speaking of the individual human beings but of the nations as a whole when I refer to these differentiations. It is so easy to misunderstand these things unless one has good will. As I have pointed out so often, the single human individuality who grows out of the nation is not intended; only nations as such. I beg you to bear this in mind when I now say the following: —

You see, my dear friends, let us consider the one or other of the judgments which have been passed during the last four years on the countries, or States, of the Middle of Europe. I can thoroughly understand such feelings. I do not want to say anything in the least against those who are filled with enthusiasm for the Entente. Far be it from me — everyone has his opinion, and that is justified from a certain point of view. But, my dear friends, suppose we now look away from the opinion which prevailed in the past few years and consider its prolongation in the present time. Then after all, perhaps we may find something rather hard for understanding. For we may ask ourselves: Is it necessary for the judgments which were passed, while the potentates of the middle countries held the reins of power, to be continued now? Nay is it necessary to do all that one can — and by the most refined of methods — so as to be able to prolong these judgments? Is it necessary? Is it equally explicable? Superficially considered, it is certainly not so easy to explain as many such things were before. More deeply considered however, it is still explicable, my dear friends. More deeply considered we can understand it — albeit not out of the character of the individuals (for the individuals themselves in Western countries will want to bring about a healing of these matters). Those, however, whose judgments merely spring from their respective nationalities, or rather, national prejudices — they have in their subconsciousness something which we may characterize as follows: —

Some weeks ago I explained that in our conception of the world and notably our way of thinking at the present time much that belongs to the Old Testament is still alive, while the essential nerve of Christianity has only entered to a slight extent as yet. Now it is characteristic of Jahve-worship that it concerns all those things to which we do not bring ourselves up between our birth and death, but which are given to us as an inheritance — i.e., the things which lie inherent in our blood, which in the normal course only have influence on us while we sleep, while we ourselves are outside the body. This Jahve-conception still lives and throbs in our time to a very large extent, and it can only rise into the Christ-conception if we turn in this intellectualistic age with all our power to the conquest of the spiritual world, not through birth, not through what is inspired into us with our birth, but through our own self-education in this life. Now by nature the West is not predestined to pass from the service of Jahve to that of Christ. Such predestination only begins in the Middle of Europe and goes towards the East. This applies once more, needless to say, not to the individual but to the nation. Hence, my dear friends, the characteristic form of Wilsonian thought, steeped as it is entirely in Old Testament conceptions. However much it may deny the fact, the form of thought stands out as though it would fain exterminate what is trying spiritually to emerge in the Middle Countries and in the East. Hence it is outwardly so hard to understand. Under all manner of pretexts, these people still prolong the same hostile spirit, though they have swept away what they professed they wanted to sweep away, and only the peoples themselves are left, against whom — so they assured us — they had no ill intentions. They do so because in reality they are resisting what has arisen in spiritual evolution in the Middle Countries and in the East during the last few centuries, which, nonetheless, is necessary to mankind. Subconsciously, they want to expunge it. They do not want to enter into these things.

We are now living in a most important crisis of the world. I have often heard people ask; how is it that the men of the West especially the English and the French — have such a dreadful hatred of the Germans? There is a very simple answer, my dear friends, and yet it is an exhaustive answer. Man always sees himself differently (especially himself as member of a nationality) than he sees his fellow men. I can assure you, my dear friends, such thoughts as Mach had when he got into the bus or walked along the street are very often there in the subconscious lives of men. You know how Mach himself relates the story. Once, very tired, he got into a bus and did not notice that there was a mirror on the side opposite the door. Someone else, he thought, got in at the same time from the other side, and he said to himself: What a horrid old schoolmaster that is! He knew himself very little in his outward person and when he saw himself he did not like it at all.

Now, my dear friends, observe the spiritual history of Middle Europe — not in its more intimate features but as a whole. Down to Lessing, far down into the last third of the 18th century, the Germans took pains to be like the French. You could see it in everything. From a certain moment onward (approximately in the 12th century) till far beyond the middle of the 18th century, the Germans endeavored to be like the French — to behave in such a way that they also might become Frenchmen. What the French could not see in themselves — or, if they saw it, were inclined to rate it highly — all this they hated with a dreadful hatred when they saw it in the imitation. Unconsciously, man does indeed practice a strange form of self-knowledge. At bottom, in their deepest being, the Germans were never hated by the French. The French only hated themselves when they saw their mirrored image in the German soul.

Since then a very remarkable English influence has arisen, the extent of which is by no means adequately realized. The English naturally see themselves just as little as Mach did; but they notice themselves well enough when they see themselves in this mirrored image which has entered so strongly into the German soul since the 18th century. It is the Englishman whom they now judge in the German. There is the simple psychological solution, my dear friends. If the world-crisis had not arisen, this state of affairs would have gone on for a long time, and we should have a great mixture, as it were a broth, out of which single individualities would nevertheless have arisen, possessing the intimate qualities of the true German. Now, however, out of the world-crisis, chaos and misfortune will cause to arise what must arise: that which was always present, though under the power of the West it was unable to unfold. These are the real facts. There is no ground for pessimism, even in Middle Europe. We must only dive to the deeper foundations which underlie the process of evolution.

My dear friends, what the Entente Powers are doing today may appear thus, or thus. It matters very little how it appears, for at the bottom of their hearts they are wanting what is quite impossible. They are wanting to prevent the rise of something which absolutely must unfold in the Middle of Europe and in the East, for it is connected with the spiritual progress of mankind; it cannot be prevented. But it must also call forth this, my dear friends: — If man is to take the future of the Earth in earnest he must truly have faith in the Spirit; only out of the power of the Spirit will there come what must come, even for the solving of the burning social needs of our time. In the machine age it was necessary for these 50 million invisible human beings — that is to say, human beings visible as machines — to arise, so that men might gradually learn to feel that they must not be paid like machines are paid. And it was also necessary for this appalling catastrophe to arise, wherein the machine age has celebrated its greatest triumphs. Out of this catastrophe man will begin to unfold his real strength, and as he does so, he will gain a certain power once more to unite himself with the Divine and Spiritual. If we may now compare what many people have rightly called the most appalling event in the Earth's history with the beginning of Earth-evolution we may say: just as it was no mere misfortune for men to be driven out of Paradise, so too it is no mere misfortune that such a catastrophe has overtaken mankind.

In the end, my dear friends, the most valuable truths are paradoxes today, as I have often pointed out, we may well say: Men were so infamous as to nail to the Cross the greatest Being Who ever appeared on the Earth — Jesus Christ. They killed Him. We may well say that it was infamous of them. And yet this Death, my dear friends, is the very content of Christianity; for through this Death there took place what we call the Mystery of Golgotha. Without it there would be no Christianity. This Death is the good fortune of men; this Death is the abounding strength of earthly man. So paradoxical are things in their reality. For on the one hand we may say: how infamous it was of men to nail Christ to the Cross; and yet, with this Death — this nailing to the Cross — the greatest event on Earth is brought about. A misfortune is not always merely a misfortune; often it is the starting-point for the achievement of human greatness and of human strength.

Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
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