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The Peoples of the Earth in the Light of Anthroposophy

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The Peoples of the Earth in the Light of Anthroposophy

Rudolf Steiner Archive Document

Lectures Section

This is the 3rd of 12 lectures given by Rudolf Steiner at Stuttgart, in March of 1920. The title of this series of lectures is: The Way to Healthier Thinking and Exigencies. They were published in German as: Der Weg zu gesundern Denken un die Lebenslage des Gegenwartsmenschen.

A Lecture given
by Rudolf Steiner
Stuttgart, March 10th, 1920
Bn/GA 335

This is the 3rd of 12 lectures given by Rudolf Steiner at Stuttgart, in March of 1920. The title of this series of lectures is: The Way to Healthier Thinking and Exigencies. They were published in German as: Der Weg zu gesundern Denken un die Lebenslage des Gegenwartsmenschen.

This lecture first appeared in English in The Golden Blade of 1980, edited by Adam Bittleston and Jonathon Westphal. It is presented here with the kind permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland. From Bn/GA number 335.

Copyright © 1980
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The Golden Blade, edited by Adam Bittleston and Jonathon Westphal, Rudolf Steiner Press, London, 32nd issue, 1980, pp.9–24.


THE PEOPLES OF THE EARTH IN THE
LIGHT OF ANTHROPOSOPHY

RUDOLF STEINER

A lecture given in Stuttgart, 10th March, 1920.

Translation revised by C.D.

THE last few years have shown what intense feelings of hatred and antipathy are capable of flowing through the souls of the peoples of the Earth. In his life of feeling, at any rate, no one can blind himself to the truth that earthly life can never progress fruitfully along such paths. And so it may be useful today to speak of elements which, in the light of spiritual-scientific knowledge, can unite at all events the whole of civilised mankind.

Knowledge and feeling, of course, are two very different matters, but spiritual-scientific knowledge is much more intimately bound up with the whole being of man, with his innermost nature, than are the abstract truths current in the world of materialism. The truths of Spiritual Science are able to kindle ideas, feelings and impulses of will in human beings. Inner strength develops from a spiritual-scientific knowledge of the elements uniting the different peoples of the Earth and this also intensifies feelings of sympathy and mutual love.

Just as it is true that in the course of evolution man has progressed from an instinctive and unconscious to a conscious life, to a full and free understanding of his mission, so, as regards the future it must be said that vague sentimentality alone will not suffice to unite the peoples of the Earth. A conscious and mutual understanding of what the one may expect of the other — that is what is needed.

In another sphere of life it is comparatively easy today to see the necessity for this unification of men all over the Earth, for we have but to look at the disastrous things that are happening in the world of economics. When we seek for the root cause of these disasters and destructive tendencies, we realise that a striving to make the whole Earth into one economic sphere is an unconscious urge in the whole of mankind today. On the other hand, the peoples of the Earth have not yet reached the point of ennobling their national egoisms sufficiently to enable a collective economy of the whole Earth to arise out of the economic values they individually create. One nation tries to outdo the other in matters of economic advantage. Unreal points of view thus arise among the peoples, whereas the new instincts of mankind call out for a common economic life of the whole Earth — in effect an Earth economy. The leading minds of the times are forever laying stress upon this. There is indeed a striving for a uniform Earth economy in contrast to the separate national economies which have existed right up to the twentieth century, and it is this opposition of the national economies to an Earth economy that has caused the present havoc in economic life.

When it is a question of one nation understanding another or assimilating its spiritual riches, it is not enough simply to travel among other peoples or to be led there by destiny. Mere knowledge of everyday dealings between man and man will never bring about mutual understanding between the peoples. To travel and live among other peoples is not enough, any more than cursory observation of a man's gestures and movements enables us to understand his whole being. It is true that if one has a feeling for such things, a great deal may be conjectured about the inner being of another man from his gestures and movements, but if circumstances are such that his speech is understood, the knowledge is much more fundamental, for one can then receive from him what his own inner being wants to communicate. Is it then possible for something akin to this transmission of inner force, of inner being, to arise between peoples and nations? It cannot inhere merely in speech or language or in those things we observe in the daily life of the peoples, for this is but the intercourse between man and man. Something which transcends the individual human element must be revealed by knowing and understanding another man. We are really faced with a difficulty when we want to speak intelligibly of a nation or people as an entity. Is there anything as real as an external object, as real as external life, which justifies us in speaking of a nation or a people as an entity? We can speak of an individual human being merely from sense-perception of him; but for sense-perception a nation or a people is only a totality of so many individuals. Before we can recognise a nation as a reality we must rise to the super-sensible — it is the only way.

Now a man who undergoes spiritual training, who develops those forces of super-sensible knowledge which otherwise lie slumbering in his daily life, will gradually begin to see a nation or a people as a real being — of a super-sensible order, of course. When he perceives the spiritual, a foreign people is revealed to him as a spiritual being, a super-sensible reality, which — if I may use a somewhat crude expression — pervades and envelops the sense-nature of the individuals belonging to it, like a cloud. Supersensible knowledge alone enables us to penetrate into the real being of a nation or a people, and super-sensible knowledge cannot be acquired merely from the observation of daily life. I want to speak in outline today of how Spiritual Science strives to gain a really profound knowledge of the relationships among the peoples of the Earth. And here it is above all necessary to understand the being of man in the light of Spiritual Science. In a previous lecture here, as well as in my book Riddles of the Soul, published a few years ago, I said that man, as he stands before us in daily life, is not a unitary being, but that three divisions or members, clearly distinct from each other, are revealed in his bodily structure.

In the human organism we have, in the first place, all that is related to and centralised in the head system — the so-called system of nerves and senses. By means of this system man has his sense-perceptions, his thoughts and ideas. Today, as the result of an unenlightened science, it is thought that the whole being of Spirit and soul in man is based upon the system of nerves and senses — is, in fact, a kind of parasite upon the rest of the organism. This is not so. If a brief personal reference is permissible, I may say that more than thirty years' study of the nature and being of man — a study which has always tried to reconcile Spiritual Science with the results of natural science — has led me to confirm this threefold nature of the human organism. It is a general assumption of modern natural science that the life of Spirit and soul runs parallel with the life of nerves and Senses. In reality it is only the thought-life of man that is bound to the system of nerves and senses. Sentient life (feeling) is bound up with the rhythmic processes in the human organism. The feeling-life of man is connected directly with the rhythms of breathing and blood circulation, just as the life of thought and perception is connected with the system of nerves and senses. Similarly, the life of will is connected with the metabolic system (digestion and assimilation) in man. The seemingly lowest division of the human organism — the metabolic system (in the sense of a process, of course, and not of substance) — is the bearer of man's life of will.

In his nature of soul and Spirit, man is also a threefold being. The spiritual will, the feeling-life of the soul, the thinking, ideation and perception directed to external material phenomena — these are the three members or divisions of man's nature of soul and Spirit. These three members correspond to the three members of the physical organism — to the system of nerves and senses, to the rhythmic life of blood circulation and breathing, and to the metabolic life.

Now if we observe human beings in any given regions of the earth, we find that in terms of this threefold organisation they are by no means absolutely the same the whole Earth over. Another great error in modern thought is to imagine that one common social programme could be issued for the whole of the Earth and that men could adjust themselves to it. Human beings are individualised, specialized, in the different regions of the Earth. And those who would learn to know the true being of man as he lives on the Earth must be able to develop love not only for an abstract, universal humanity — for that would be merely an ‘idea’ of humanity, a dead, empty idea. Those who would really understand their fellow-beings must develop love for the individual forms and expressions of human nature in the different regions of the Earth.

In the short time at our disposal it is impossible to characterise all the individual peoples. All that can be done is to consider the main types of earthly humanity. We are led, in the first place, to a very characteristic type and also one of the very oldest — to the oriental, as expressed in many different ways in the ancient Indian peoples and in other Eastern races. This oriental type reveals one common element, especially in the Indian people. The man of the East has grown together, as it were, with the Earth which is his own soil. However clearly it may appear that the oriental has received the Spirit with intense devotion into his heart and soul, however deeply oriental mysticism may impress us, if we study the racial characteristics of the oriental, we shall find that the lofty spirituality we so justly admire is dependent, in his case, upon the experiences of the will flowing in the human being, the will that is, in turn, bound up with the metabolic processes. However paradoxical it may appear at first sight, this very spirituality of the oriental peoples, and especially of the ancient Indian, is something that — to use a crude expression — wells up from the metabolic processes. These processes are, in turn, connected with the processes of Nature in the environment of the oriental. Think of the Indian in very ancient times. Around him are the trees and fruits, everything that Nature in her beauty and wonder gives to man. The oriental unites this with the metabolic processes within him in such a way that the metabolism becomes a kind of continuation of all that is ripening to fruit on the trees and living under the soil in the roots. In his metabolic nature, the oriental has grown together with the fertility and well-being of the Earth. The metabolic process is the bearer of the will — hence the will develops in the inner being of man. But that which develops in the innermost being, in which man is firmly rooted and by means of which he relates himself to his environment — this does not enter very vividly into consciousness. A different element streams into the conscious life of the oriental. Into the feeling and thinking life of the oriental — especially of the most characteristic type — the Indian — there streams something that to all appearance is experienced in the metabolic processes in a material sense. In its spiritual ‘mirror-image,’ however, it appears as spiritual life.

Thus when we enter into all that has come forth from the soul and the thought of the really creative peoples of the East, it appears as a spiritual product of the Earth itself. When we steep ourselves in the Vedas that we pervaded by the light of the Spirit and speak with such intensity to our souls, if we respond to the instinctive subtlety of Vedanta and Yoga philosophy or go deeply into such works as those of Laotze and Confucius, or are drawn to devote ourselves to oriental poetry, oriental wisdom, we never feel that it flows in an individual form from a human personality. Through his metabolic processes the oriental grows together with Nature around him. Nature lives and works on, seethes and surges within him, and when we allow his poetic wisdom to work upon us, it is as though the Earth herself were speaking. The mysteries of the Earth's growth seem to speak to mankind through the lips of the man of the East. We feel that no Western or Central European people could ever interpret the inner Spiritual mysteries of the Earth herself in this way.

The highest types of oriental peoples seem to move over the face of the Earth, expressing in their inner life something that really lives under the surface of the Earth. This grows up from below the Earth and bursts forth in blossoms and fruits, just as it does in the Spirit and soul of the man of the East. The inner essence of the Earth becomes articulate, as it were, in the oriental peoples. We can therefore understand that in accordance with their whole being, they have less feeling for the physical phenomena on the surface of the Earth and the external facts of the material world. Their innermost nature is one with the sub-earthly forces of which the external sense-phenomena are the outcome. They are therefore less concerned with what is taking place on the surface of the Earth. They are ‘metabolic-men.’ But the metabolic processes are expressed, in their case, in the life of soul and Spirit.

Now when an ideal arises before the peoples of the East, what form does it take? The injunction given to pupils by oriental sages was somewhat as follows: ‘You must breathe in a certain way; you must enter into the rhythm of life.’ These teachers instructed their pupils in certain rhythms of breathing and blood circulation. The way in which they taught their pupils of the higher life of soul is highly characteristic. The whole organisation of man as we see him in the ordinary life of the East, belonging to an Asiatic people, and especially to a Southern Asiatic people, is based upon metabolism. When he forms a concrete ideal of how he can become higher man, he develops his rhythmic system, by an act of free-will he strives for something that is higher, that is not given him by Nature.

Now the strange thing is that the further we pass from the Asiatic to the European peoples, and especially to those of Middle Europe, we find an outstanding development of the rhythmic system in the ordinary daily life of man. The peoples, not of Eastern or of Western Europe, but of Middle Europe, possess as a natural characteristic that for which the Indian strives as his ideal of a superman. But it is one thing to have to acquire a quality by dint of self-discipline and free spiritual activity, and another to possess it naturally and instinctively. The man of Middle Europe possesses by nature what the oriental has to develop from out of his metabolic life which is inwardly connected with the Earth. Thus, what is for the oriental an ideal, is for the European a natural possession of daily life; his ideal, therefore, must necessarily be different. The ideal of the European lies one stage higher; it is the life of thought bound up with the life of nerves and senses.

There is a quality of unbridled phantasy in the artistic creations of the oriental. It seems to rise from inner Earth activity, just as vapour rises from water into the clouds. The inner, rhythmic ‘wholeness,’ which is the essence of the life of Middle Europe, enabled the ancient Greek people — who accomplished so much for the whole of modern civilisation — to create what we call European Art. The Greek strove for all that makes manifest the inner harmony of earthly man. The material elements and the etheric-spiritual elements are balanced — and the ‘middle’ man is expressed. The creations of oriental phantasy always run to excess in some direction or other. It is in the artistic conceptions of Greece that the human form was first imbued with harmonious roundness and inner wholeness. This was because man realised his true being in the rhythmic system. When the man of Greece set himself an ideal, it was one he strove to reach by dint of inner discipline of soul, by dint of education. He used the organ of thinking just as the oriental uses the organs connected with rhythm in the human being. The Yogi of India endeavours to regulate his breathing according to the laws of Spirit and soul so that it may bear him above the level of ordinary humanity. The man of Middle Europe trains himself to rise above the instinctive processes of the rhythmic system, of the blood circulation, of the breathing, to what makes him truly man. Out of this the life of thought is developed. But these thoughts, especially in the highest type of Middle European, become merely an ‘interpreter’ of the being of man. This is what strikes us when we turn to the productions of European culture after having steeped ourselves in those of oriental humanity. In the highly spiritual creations of oriental culture we see, as it were, the very blossoming of earthly evolution. Human lips give expression to the speech of the Earth herself. It is not so in the man of Middle European nor was it so in the ancient Greek.

When the man of Middle Europe follows the promptings of his own true nature, when he is not false to himself, when he realises that self-knowledge is the noblest crown of human endeavour, that the representation of the human in Nature and in history is a supreme achievement of man — then he will express as his ideal everything that he himself is as a human being. The very essence of the man of Middle Europe is expressed when he gives free play to his own inherent being. Hence we can understand that the wonderful thought expressed in Goethe's book on Winckelmann could arise only in Middle Europe. I refer to the passage where Goethe summarises the lofty perceptions, profound thought and strong will-impulses of this wonderful man into a description of his own conception of the world, for it is like the very sun of modern culture: “In that man is placed on Nature's pinnacle, he regards himself as another entire Nature, whose task is to bring forth inwardly yet another pinnacle. For this purpose he heightens his powers, imbues himself with perfections and virtues — summons discrimination, order and harmony and rises finally to the production of a work of art.” Man's own spiritual nature gives birth to a new being.

This application of all the forces to the understanding of man himself is especially manifest in the man of Middle Europe — when he is true to his own being. It is only in more modern times that this has fallen into the background. The man of Middle Europe has every motive to consider how he should develop this veneration, understanding and penetration of what is truly human.

If we now look at the East and its peoples from a more purely spiritual point of view, we shall find that the oriental peoples, just because they are ‘metabolic men,’ develop the spirituality which constitutes the connection between the human soul and the Divine. If man's nature is to be complete, he must bring forth, in his inner being, those qualities with which he is not endowed by the elemental world; in his own consciousness he must awaken the antithesis of all that he possesses by nature. Thus the oriental develops a spirituality which makes him conscious of the connection between the human soul and the Divine. The oriental can speak of man's connection with the Divine as a matter of course, in a way that is possible to no other race, in words that touch the very heart. Other peoples of the Earth may subjugate and conquer oriental races and try to instil into them their own idiosyncrasies, laws and regulations, but they do, nevertheless, assimilate what the East has to say about the connection of man with the Divine as something which applies to themselves also.

In modern times we have seen how Western peoples, steeped in materialism though they may be, turn to oriental philosophers such as ancient Laotze to Chinese and Indian conceptions of the world, not so much in search of ideas but in order to find the inner fervour which will enable them to experience man's connection with the Divine. Men steep themselves in oriental literature much more in order that their feelings may be warmed by the way in which the oriental speaks of his connection with the Divine than for the sake of any philosophical content. The abstract nature of the European makes it difficult for him really to understand oriental philosophy. Again and again people who have studied the sayings of Buddha, with all their endless repetitions, have expressed the opinion to me that these sayings ought to be abridged and the repetitions eliminated. My only answer could be: ‘You have no real understanding of the true greatness of oriental philosophy, for it is expressed in the very repetitions which you want to cut out.’ When the oriental steeps himself in the sayings of Buddha, with the repetitions which only irritate people of the West, he is on the way to his ideal the rhythmic recurrence of the motif. The same phrase is repeated over and over again. Now, as we have seen, the oriental lives naturally in the processes of the metabolic system. When he gives himself up to the recurring phrases of Buddha, there arises within him a spiritual counterpart of the system of breathing and blood circulation; he has brought this about by dint of his own free endeavours.

If a European really tries to understand all that is great and holy in the oriental nature, he gains a knowledge which will elude him unless he consciously develops it. It is quite natural that the European should want to eliminate the repetitions in the sayings of Buddha, for he lives in the breathing rhythm and his ideal is to raise himself to the element of thought. When the thought is once grasped he wants no repetitions — he strives to get beyond them. If we are to study these oriental repetitions, we must, in effect, develop another kind of quality — not an intellectual understanding but an inner love for what is expressed in individual forms by the different peoples. Our whole attitude should make us realise that the particular qualities which make one people great are not possessed by the others, and we can understand these qualities only when we are able to love the other Peoples and appreciate the full value of their particular gifts.

It is just when we penetrate into the inner nature and essence of the Peoples of the Earth that we find the differences of their individual natures. And then we realise that the all-embracing sphere of the ‘human’ is not expressed in its entirety through any individual man, or through the members of any one race, but only through the whole of mankind. If anyone would understand what he is in his whole being, let him study the characteristics of the different peoples of the Earth. Let him assimilate the qualities which he himself cannot possess by nature, for only then will he become fully man. Full and complete manhood is a possibility for everyone. Everyone should pay heed to what lives in his own inner being. The revelation vouchsafed to other peoples is not his and he must find it in them. In his heart he feels and knows that this is necessary. If he discovers what is great and characteristic in the other peoples and allows this to penetrate deeply into his own being, he will realise that the purpose of his existence cannot be fulfilled without these other qualities, because they are also part of his own inner striving. The possibility of full manhood lies in every individual, but it must be brought to fulfilment by understanding the special characteristics of the different peoples spread over the Earth. It is in the East, then, that man is able to express with a kind of natural spirituality his connection with the Divine.

When we turn to the peoples of Middle Europe, we find that what is truly characteristic of them is hidden under layers of misconception — and these must be cleared away. Think of all the great philosophers who, having thought about Nature and God in a human sense, have with almost no exception raised another question as well. Nearly every great German Philosopher has been occupied with the question of equity, of rights as between man and man. The search for equity, misunderstood and hindered though it be, is a characteristic of the Middle European peoples. Those who do not recognise this have no understanding of the peoples of Middle Europe, and nothing will divert them from the prevailing materialism (which has quite another source) back to what is fundamentally characteristic of true Teutonic stock.

Just as the man of the East is the interpreter of the Earth because his spiritual life is a blossom or fruit of the Earth herself, so is the Teuton an interpreter of himself, of his own being. He faces himself questioningly, and because of this he faces every other man as his equal. The burning question for him, therefore, is that of equity, of right. Wherever Teutonic thought has striven to fathom the depths of the universe, in men such as Fichte, Hegel or Schelling, it has never been a question of adopting the old Roman tradition of equity but of investigating its very nature and essence. The abstract results of these investigations, to be found in Fichte, Hegel, Schelling and Humboldt, are fundamentally the same thing as we find in Goethe when he seeks along multifarious paths for the expression of the truth, harmony and fullness of man's nature. In this sense Goethe is the representative of the Teutonic, Middle European nature. Just as the oriental faces the Earth, so does the Middle European face man, with self-knowledge.

If we pass to Western Europe and thence to America, we find the figure of the true Westerner expressed in abstract thinking. To use a figure of speech employed, I believe, by that deeply spiritual writer, Rabindranath Tagore, the Westerner is pre-eminently a ‘head-man.’ The oriental is a ‘heart-man,’ for he experiences the process of metabolism in his heart; the Middle European is the ‘breath-man.’ He stands in a rhythmic relationship to the outer world through the rhythmic processes within him. The Westerner is a head-man and Tagore compares him to a ‘spiritual giraffe.’ Tagore loves the Westerner, for when it is a question of describing characteristics, sympathy and antipathy do not necessarily come into play. Tagore compares the Westerner to a spiritual giraffe because he raises everything into abstractions — into abstractions such as gave rise, for instance, to the ‘Fourteen Points’ of President Wilson. Speaking in the sense of spiritual reality, one feels that the Westerner's head is separated from the rest of his body by a long neck and the head can only express in abstract concepts what it offers to the world. A long path has to be trodden before these abstract concepts, these husks of words and ideas, finds their way to the heart, the lungs and the breathing system, and so to the region where they can become feelings and pass over into will.

The characteristic quality of the Western man inheres, then, in what I will call the thinking system. The ideal for which the Middle European strives — which he endeavours to attain as a result of freedom, of free spiritual activity — does not have to be striven for by the Westerner and especially not by the American through this free Spiritual activity, for the Westerner possesses it instinctively. Instinctively he is a man of abstractions. As I have said, it is not the same to possess a quality instinctively as to strive for it by dint of effort. When it has once been acquired it is bound up with man's nature in quite another way. To acquire a quality by dint of free spiritual activity is not the same thing as to possess it instinctively, as a gift of Nature.

Now here lies a great danger. Whereas the Indian in his Yoga philosophy strives upwards to the rhythmic system, and the Middle European to the thinking system, the Westerner, the ‘spiritual giraffe,’ must transcend the merely intellectual processes if he is not to lose his true humanity. As I recently said quite frankly to a gathering attended by a number of Westerners, this is the great responsibility facing the West at the present time. In the case of the Middle Europeans it will be a healthy, free striving that leads them to spirituality, to Spiritual Science. The whole nature of Western man will be lost in an abyss, if, as he strives to rise beyond the thinking-system, he falls into an empty ‘spiritualism,’ seeking for the qualities of soul in a region where the soul does not dwell. Here lies the danger, but also the great responsibility. The danger is that the Westerner may fall into soul-emptiness as he strives to transcend the qualities bestowed on him by Nature; his responsibility is to allow himself to be led to true Spiritual Science, lest by virtue of his dominant position in the world he should lend himself to the downfall of humanity.

It is a solemn duty of the peoples of Middle Europe — for it is part of their nature — to ascend the ladder to spiritual knowledge. But on their path of ascent from the rhythmic, breathing-system to the thinking-system, they gain something else in the sphere of the human. The danger confronting Western peoples is that they may leave the sphere of the human when they set up an ideal for themselves. This really lies at the root of the existence of the many sectarian movements in the West — movements which run counter to the principle of the ‘universal human’ at the present time.

In the oriental, whose metabolic system is so closely related to the Earth, a spiritual activity along the paths or Nature herself arises. The man of the West, with his predominantly developed thinking-system, turns his gaze primarily to the world of sense. It is as though something under the surface of the Earth were working in the oriental; the man of the West seems to pay heed only to what is above the Earth's surface, the phenomena which arise as a result of sun, moon, stars, air, water and the like. The thought-processes themselves, however, have not been derived from what is happening at the periphery. I said in a previous lecture that the spiritual in man cannot be explained by the study of the earthly world around him. The spiritual fruits of the Earth arise in the very being of the true oriental and he knows himself, as man, with the living Spirit within him, to be a Citizen of the whole Cosmos — a member not only of the Earth but of the whole Cosmos. The Westerner, with his more highly developed thinking-system, has been deprived of this Cosmos by modern science, and is left with nothing but the possibility to calculate it in mathematical and mechanical formulae. The Westerner must realise that the origin of his soul is cosmic, that indeed he could not exist as a thinking being if this were not so, and he must also realise cold, barren mathematics is the only science which remains to him for the purpose of explaining the Cosmos. The outpourings of the Earth herself have become part of the very being of the oriental — his poetic wisdom is like a blossom of the Earth. The Middle European has to recognise that his essential human quality is revealed in man and through man. In effect the human being confronts himself.

The qualities of most value in the man of the West are those bestowed not by the Earth, but by the Cosmos. But the only means he has of approaching these cosmic, super-sensible gifts is by mathematical calculation, by equally dry spectro-analysis or by similar hypotheses. What the Middle European seeks as an expression of equity between man and man is sought by the Westerner through his dedication to economic affairs, for the human rights he values as an expression of the spirit seem to him to emerge only as the fruit of economic life. Hence it is not surprising that Karl Marx left Germany, where he might have learnt to recognise the nature of man in a Goethean, humanistic sense, and went to the West, to England, where his gaze was diverted from the truly human element and he was misled with the belief that what man can know is nothing but an ideology, a fact of economic life. This is not a truth in the absolute sense, but is fundamental to the nature of the man of the West, just as it is fundamental to the oriental peoples to behold Nature side by side with the being of man and then to speak of the connection of the human soul with the Divine as a self-evident fact. That is why many men of the West who feel the necessity for looking up to the Divine — for, as I have already said, all men feel the need at least to become complete man — are aware of a longing, even when they try to conquer oriental peoples, to receive from them what they have to say about man's connection with the Divine. Whether we apply this to smaller races and individual peoples, or confine ourselves to what is typical everywhere we see that man in his whole nature is not expressed in the members of any one people or race. Full manhood is as yet only an urge within us, but this urge must grow into a love for all humanity, for those qualities we do not ourselves possess by nature but can acquire if we sincerely seek for knowledge of the nature of other peoples of the Earth.

The internationalism prevailing in the age of Goethe assumed this form. It is this kind of internationalism that permeates such thoughts as are found, for instance, in The Boundaries of the State by William Von Humboldt. It is the striving of a true cosmopolitanism which, by assimilating all that can be acquired from a love extended to other races, ennobles and uplifts the individual people; knowledge of one's own race is sought by assimilating all that is idealistic, great and beautiful in other peoples of the Earth. It is because of this that in Germany's days of spiritual prime there arose from out of the rhythmic life of her people a lofty cosmopolitanism which had been sought from among all other peoples. Just think how Herder's search took him among other peoples, how he tried to unravel the deepest being of all peoples of the Earth! How penetrated he was by the thought that permeating the individual ‘man of flesh’ there is another man, greater and more powerful, who can be discovered only when we are able to pour ourselves out over all peoples.

We cannot help contrasting this spirit, which at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was the germ of greatness in Middle Europe, with the internationalism of today. In its present form, internationalism is not a living pulse in the world; it is preached throughout the world in the form of Marxism — and Marxism believes only in human thinking. Internationalism nowadays is a more or less weakened form of Marxism. There is no longer any inkling of the differentiation of full and complete humanity over the Earth. An abstraction is set up and is supposed to represent humanity, to represent man. Such internationalism is not the first stage of an ascent but the last stage of a decline, because it is devoid of all endeavours to reach after true internationality, which always ennobles the individual stock. The kind of internationalism which appears in Marxism and all that has developed from it is the result of remaining stationary within a one-sided and wholly unpractical system of thought that is applied merely to the world of sense and has not penetrated to the real national qualities. True internationalism, by contrast, springs from a love which goes out to all peoples and races in order that the light received from them may be kindled in the deeds, concepts and creations of one's own people. Each individual race must so find its place in the great chorus of the peoples on the Earth that it contributes to the full understanding which can alone unite them all in real and mutual knowledge.

In this lecture it has not been my object to speak of matters which might seem to indicate a ‘programme.’ I wanted to speak of the spiritual-scientific knowledge that is kindled in the spiritual investigator as a result of his higher knowledge of the communal life of man on the Earth, for this true communal life is indeed possible.

One can, of course, speak from many different points of view of what is necessary for the immediate future of humanity; one can speak of this impulse or that. But it must be realised that a spiritual comfort flowing from the knowledge I have tried to indicate, more in fleeting outline than in detail, may be added to all that can be said in regard to social, political or educational affairs. It is a comfort that may flow from knowledge of the rhythm, I say expressly the possible rhythm, of the historical life of humanity.

This lecture should show you that the hatred and antipathy in the world today can indeed be followed by international love with healing in its wings. This is indeed possible. But we are living in an age when all that is possible must be consciously, deliberately and freely striven for by men. There must be knowledge of the conditions requisite for uniting the peoples of the Earth, in order that, as a result of this knowledge, each individual people may help to make the waves of love follow those of hatred. Human love alone has power to heal the wounds of hatred. If mankind has no wish for this love, chaos will remain. That is the terrible alternative now facing men who have knowledge. Those who realise its terrors know that the souls of men dare not sleep, for otherwise, as a result of the powerlessness caused by the sleep into which the souls of the peoples have fallen, the healing waves oflove will not be able to flow over the waves of hatred.

Men who realise this will acquire the kind of knowledge that flows from a spiritual conception of the relationships between the peoples. They will take this knowledge into their feeling — love for humanity will be born. They will take this knowledge into their will-deeds for humanity will be accomplished. The evolution of the age, with all the terrible paralysis that is appearing at the present time, places a solemn duty before the soul: to gather together all that can unite mankind in love and array it in opposition to the destructive elements that have made their appearance in recent times. This quest for loving unification, for unifying love is not merely a vague feeling. To those who understand the conditions of life today, it is the very highest duty of man.




Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
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