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The Crossing of the Threshold and the Social Organism

Spiritual Life, Economic Life, Juridical Life

By Rudolf Steiner

GA 193

From a lecture dated 12.IX.1919. (Stenographic notes unrevised by the lecturer.) All rights reserved. Lecture given in Berlin. GA# 193.

Copyright © 1940
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THE CROSSING OF THE THRESHOLD AND
THE SOCIAL ORGANISM

From a lecture dated 12.IX.1919. (Stenographic notes unrevised by the lecturer.) All rights reserved.

By R u d o l f   S t e i n e r .

From the description contained in my book “KNOWLEDGE OF THE HIGHER WORLDS” you know that when the human being will be able to look into the spiritual world, he will, to a certain extent have that experience which we designate as the “crossing of the threshold”. In my book I have described this crossing of the threshold by pointing out that the three soul-forces of man, which have a rather chaotic and intermingling activity during his physical life begin to organise themselves; the forces of thought, feeling and of the will become independent. These forces become independent through the fact. that the human being crosses the threshold. In many respects, the whole course of mankind's development resembles the life-course of the individual human being. But things have become displaced. What the individual human being experiences consciously when he strives to attain clairvoyance in the spiritual world, namely, the crossing of the threshold, must be experienced unconsciously by the whole of mankind, during our fifth post-atlantean epoch, Humanity has no choice in regard to this; it must experience this unconsciously — not the individual human being, but HUMANITY, and the individual human being together with humanity. What does this mean?

What is now a joint activity of thought, feeling and will within man, will in future take on a separate character and this will come to the fore in various spheres. We are just passing through a time in which humanity is unconsciously crossing the threshold of a significant portal, a fact which is clearly evident to the clairvoyant power. Humanity passes through this crossing of the threshold in such a way that the spheres of thought, feeling and will become separated. This imposes duties upon us, the duty of shaping external life in such a way that the great change which takes place in man's inner life may be experienced even in his EXTERNAL life. Through the fact that thinking grows more independent within the life of humanity, we must build up a foundation upon which the activity and influence of thinking can become sounder; we must moreover create a foundation upon which feeling can develop independently, and also a foundation upon which the will can reach its particular development. What has hitherto exercised a chaotic and intermingling activity in public life must now be organised into THREE SPHERES. In public life, these three spheres are: ECONOMIC LIFE, POLITICAL or JURIDICIAL LIFE and CULTURAL or SPIRITUAL LIFE. This need of a three-partition is connected with the mystery of human evolution which pertains to the present time.

Do not think that the “threefold social organism”, which is now being advanced, is just some sort of invention. It has been born out of the most intimate knowledge of human evolution, out of the knowledge of what must occur if the goal of human evolution is not to be renounced. During the past years, we have been involved in the fearful catastrophe of the great war, because of the difficulty which existed in recognising a goal of a spiritual character, and because people withdrew themselves more and more even from the mere act of recognising at least the existence of such goals. We must extricate ourselves from this chaos. The very course of human evolution demands that we should extricate ourselves from this chaos. Indeed, for this reason I think that the necessity of a threefold social organism will only be recognised thoroughly by those who depart from anthroposophical feelings and from a knowledge of the events which are taking place in the evolution of humanity. At present, people do not like to acknowledge such things. The present time likes to turn to tasks connected with the things which lie closest at hand, and it does not like to penetrate into the deeper mysteries of life.

What grieves the heart of one who is able to look into these mysteries, is the fact that humanity has such a strong aversion to the very things which it needs most. Yet it is impossible to abide by the thought which has just been expressed. We may say: every kind of pessimism is wrong. But this does not imply that every kind of optimism is right. Right and justified is, however, the APPEAL TO THE WILL. It is not at all a question of whether something takes place in this or in that way, but that we should WILL things in accordance with the direction of human evolution. We should realise over and over again that the old time has come to an end and that we must close our accounts with it. A real understanding of the present can only be gained if we rightly close our accounts with the old time. For the NEW time can only be taken into account from a SPIRITUAL standpoint! We should not delude ourselves that we can carry over into the new time the things which we have cherished in the past. In our external life, we must begin to turn to the new thoughts, which are now beginning to be active.

Mankind now faces two paths: One of these leads through the mechanization of the spirit. In more recent times, the spirit has become very mechanical, particularly in regard to the abstract laws of Nature, which have also been applied to social life, as ruling laws. Mechanization of the spirit — vegetalization of the soul! Vegetals sleep — and the human soul also tends to sleep. In a sleeping state we pass through the most important events. The most important events of the past years have literally been slept away! Even to-day, most important events are being slept away.'

Let us now turn our gaze to the East. There we can see that the animalization of the bodies is coming up in a very strong measure. Just as the Americanization of the spirit represents a mechanization of spiritual life, so the Bolshevism which tends to spread out in the East represents an animalization of the bodies. Emotions lead people to reject and criticize this or that, yet they do not wish to grasp real life.

At the present time, humanity has therefore the choice of advancing in a direction where it can find, on the one hand, the mechanization of the spirit, the vegetalization of the souls and the animalization of the bodies, or else it may, on the other hand, seek the path leading to an AWAKENING OF THE SPIRIT, discover this awakening of the spirit in the impulses which correspond to the epoch of the consciousness-soul, discover it in the connection of the human soul with the higher Hierarchies, discover, it in the recognition of the conscious human soul which comes from earlier conditions of earthly existence, discover it in the three-partition of social life! All these things are connected. And the human beings who unite in that movement which we designate as a spiritual-scientific movement oriented towards Anthroposophy, should feel that they are a KERNEL from which the forces ray out that can give rise to a new social structure. Everything which comes from other directions and seeks to transform social life may be very useful; but humanity should strive after the goal of transforming social life in a real and true way, and this can only be the outcome of SPIRITUAL IMPULSES!


* * *


At present, the human beings still ignore a secret of life which is intimately connected with the present moment of evolution. In the past, before the middle of the fifteenth century, it was not necessary to attach great importance to this mystery, but to-day it is necessary to bear it in mind. This Secret of life consists therein that man, such as he is constituted to-day, from the aspect of body, soul and spirit, contemplates in a certain way every night the events of the following day, but so that it is not always necessary for him to be fully conscious of these coming events, to have them in his day-time consciousness. The one who, is fully conscious of these coming events, is his angel, his ANGELOS. What we experience during the night in common with that Being whom we call our “angel”, is a FORESIGHT, a prevision of the next day. But. you must not consider this from the standpoint of human curiosity, for this would be quite wrong; you must instead consider it from the standpoint of PRACTICAL LIFE. Only if the human being is intimately pervaded by this feeling, will he be able to make the right decisions and take over thoughts into the course of his day. Let us assume quite concretely that someone wishes to do a certain thing at a definite time, say, at midday. What he thus intends to do, has already been arranged during the preceding night between himself and his Angelos. This is the case with the human being ever since the middle of the fifteenth century, but it is not necessary that he should be conscious of it, for it has nothing to do with his curiosity. Man should instead be pervaded with the feeling that the things which he has arranged with his angel during the preceding night should become fruitful in the course of his day.

Many things of the present can show us in an overwhelming way what I have explained to you just now. Particularly the years of sorrow, the past four or five years, can send a great truth trickling into humanity, namely, that the consciousness of being connected day by day with the higher Beings, through the experiences of the preceding night, unfortunately did not exist. What a different course would the events of the past four or five years have taken, had the human beings been pervaded by the feeling: “Whatever you do, is in agreement with the arrangements which you have made with your Angel, during the past night!” These are the things which must be discussed to-day. We must speak of the fact that the human being should, learn to consider his life between birth and death as a CONTINUATION of his soul-spiritual life before birth. We must speak of the fact that throughout his life the human being should be able to feel the revelations of the god within him, and we must speak of the fact that the human being should carry into the life of daytime the conscious feeling: “Whatever you do, from morning, to night, has been arranged between you and your angel from the time of your falling asleep to the moment of waking up!”

The human beings should turn to these kinds of feelings, which are far more real in the face of the spiritual world than the more abstract feelings of to-day pertaining to religious beliefs; they should turn to feelings which do not depart from selfish, but from unselfish human impulses. Feelings of this kind can give rise to the connection which we need with the Beings that belong to the hierarchy of the Angeloi. These Beings can then once more interest themselves in the human beings. Man's attitude and feelings towards the spiritual world should move in the direction which I have just now indicated.

One more thing should be grasped clearly. You know that the religions of to-day talk a great deal of “God” and of the “Divine”. To WHAT do they really refer? They merely refer to something which at least exists in the human soul as a pale inkling. It is not so important to consider HOW certain things are named, but rather what exists in the human soul. People speak of “God”, they speak of “Christ” — yet they always mean nothing but their ANGEL! They can still turn to their Angel, for this touches a familiar note in their souls. It is quite an indifferent matter whether the religions of to-day speak of God, of Christ, or of anything else, for the THOUGHT-material which gives rise to their talk merely reaches as far as the Angel-beings that belong to man, as far as the Angeloi. At present, people do not rise beyond this hierarchy, for to-day they feel averse to seek a connection with the spiritual world which is more encompassing than the one which rises out of their egoism. The connection with the ARCHANGELOI, with the hierarchy of the Archangels, must be sought in another way. The present field of human interests must be considerably enlarged, so that the human beings may rise in their feelings from their inclination for the Angeloi as far as the Archangeloi.

The human beings should experience in their souls more or less the following and say to themselves: Terrible events have taken place in the whole civilised world, during the past four or five years. Many people have searched for the cause of these happenings; many have accused one another; they have spoken a great deal of “guilt” and “lack of guilt”. Even if we discard the most extreme form of superficiality, we shall soon lose interest in this empty talk of “causes”, “guilt”, or “lack of guilt”, simply because we can see that what has risen to the surface during the past four or five years resembles the waves Of the sea, which are driven to the surface from below by the sea's own forces. The forces of humanity had been stirred up from year to year. One nation after the other began to participate in the great foolishness which had taken hold of humanity during the past few years and one could say: Something which has the nature of elemental forces has been stirred up and has been driven to the surface; the sea of human life has grown restless. What is that?

A clear view of things is impossible unless we extend this fact, that a great restlessness has taken hold of mankind, to that space of time which we designate as “history”. We must say to ourselves: The armed contest of the past four or five years is only the beginning of events which will be enacted upon an entirely different sphere, events of a kind which has not hitherto existed in the development of humanity. We are not facing an end — for to say this, can only result from a superficial observation of human evolution — but we are facing the BEGINNING of the greatest battles, of the SPIRITUAL battles of the civilised world! Let us concentrate our efforts upon the task of being ready to cope with these, battles. In the near future, the East and the West threaten to face one another AS SOULS, in an ever growing measure!


* * *


When we pass through birth, we bring along with us into our physical-sensory existence the forces of the super-sensible world, taken from our super-sensible existence. These forces continue to be active. At the present time, this can only be grasped with greatest difficulty. How do these forces continue to be active? — They are active in everything we develop in the physical world in the form of SPIRITUAL LIFE. It would be impossible to have poets among us, it would be impossible to develop a world-conception or a science, it would be impossible to develop impulses for the education of man, and there would be no possibility whatever for the development of a spiritual life, if we would not bring along with us through birth the impulses that come from our pre-natal life.

On the other hand, what we develop within the economic life as impulses Of the will — brotherliness, human love, thinking for others and not only for ourselves, working for others and not only for ourselves — what we do, as it were, “on the quiet”, through the fact that we stand within the economic life, gives us the most important impulses for what we then carry along into the spiritual world in the form of impulses. In the same way in which we bring along with us from the spiritual world forces that constitute, above all, our spiritual life upon the earth, so do we bring back again into the spiritual world those forces that we develop through our economic life in the form of love for humanity and brotherliness. These forces accompany us in the spiritual world; there, they are important impulses for us. If we contemplate that which develops from year to year in the life of a child, we can see in it the inheritance coming from the spiritual world, enabling us to develop a spiritual sphere of activity upon the earth; and if we look upon that which occurs through our economic life, namely, that through our will we develop activities for others, we can see therein the impulses which we carry along with us into the spiritual world when we pass through the portal of death.

What we develop ONLY between birth and death, appears to one who is able to contemplate the spiritual world as a contrast to what we develop in the spiritual world between death and a new birth. Read my descriptions of the “Soul-region” and of the “Spirit-region” in the book “THEOSOPHY”, for there you will find that these things are described in concepts that arise altogether from a living contemplation of those conditions. Everything that constitutes the sphere of law is the, very opposite of the impulses that arise during the life between death and a new birth.

Our spiritual life is based upon the forces that come from the time before our birth, or conception; we develop an economic life in order to carry into the spiritual world forces that we unfold through it; and what we unfold HERE, what pertains exclusively to the earth, is the political, juridical life, the life of the State. This has no connection with the spiritual world.




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