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The Mission of the Archangel Michael

Schmidt Number: S-3482

On-line since: 23rd November, 2003

Signs of the Times
Michael's Battle and its Reflection
On Earth

II

Munich, February 17, 1918

IT WILL be my task today to proceed in our spiritual observations from the foundations which we laid here the last time to such spiritual processes which lie immediately behind the events our age that speak so seriously to our souls.

If we live, in the sense of our spiritual science, with the forces that stream from the so-called dead into the realm in which we dwell during our incarnation, it is possible to observe with great vividness what it is spiritually that under-lies such a difficult time. To be sure, people of the present age have little longing to know the spiritual background of existence. Such lack of interest is closely connected with the fact that his great catastrophe has befallen mankind in the present age. I have drawn your attention to the fact that in the last third of the nineteenth century, in contrast to earlier periods of time, great changes took place in human evolution. I have repeatedly pointed to the end of the seventies of last century and have shown that the end of the seventies was an incisive moment in the evolution of mankind. Very few people of the present time are aware of the fundamental difference in the spiritual life since the end of the seventies as compared to the spiritual life that preceded it. Human beings lack the perspective to see this; for such a thing only becomes apparent if one is able to observe the differences from a certain distance. If mankind is not to expect still greater misery, this perspective must be gained as soon as possible. For, my dear friends, our present age is governed by a strange and very vivid contradiction. I shall describe this contradiction to you, and you will find it very grotesque: There is no time within historical human evolution that is so spiritual as the time in which we live, the time since the end of the 70's. From a historical point of view, we live in the most spiritual of times. Still, it is an undeniable fact that people who consider themselves spiritually developed believe that our time is completely materialistic! As far as life is concerned, our time is not materialistic; but as far as the belief of many people and its results are concerned, our time is certainly materialistic. What do we really mean if we say: “ours is a spiritual time”?

Well, my dear friends, consider the natural-scientific world conception of the present day; compared to it, the natural-scientific world conception of the past is materialistic. Today we have a natural-scientific world conception which rises to the most subtle, the most spiritualized concepts. We see this if we observe existence beyond the immediate physical present.

Most spiritual conceptions today, although well-meant, mean very little to the so-called dead. But the natural scientific conceptions of the present age, if reflected upon without prejudice, mean extraordinarily much to them. It is an interesting fact that so-called materialistic Darwinism is conceived of and employed in a completely spiritual fashion in the realm of the dead. In full life things appear quite different from the way they appear in the frequently erroneous belief produced by what people experience in the body. What do I really mean by pointing to the natural-scientific spiritual? Well, in order to be able to form these concepts, to rise to such thoughts as are developed today in regard to evolution, and so forth, a spirituality is needed which did not exist in previous ages. It is much easier to see ghosts and to take them for something spiritual than to form sharply defined concepts for that which seems to be only material. This has brought about the fact that human beings develop in their soul life the most spiritualized concepts, and then proceed to deny them. These spiritualized concepts are mistakenly believed to relate only to material things. The materialistic interpretation of the present natural-scientific world conception is nothing but a denial of its true character. It has sprung from a tendency to cowardice, pure cowardice! One cannot bring oneself to live with one's feelings in these spiritualized concepts and to grasp this spirituality in the rarefaction needed for the forming of clear-cut concepts about nature. One does not dare to acknowledge that one lives in the spirit when one develops these rarefied, spiritualized concepts. One deceives oneself by saying: these concepts relate merely to material things; for this is not true, it is mere self-deception.

The same holds good for other spheres of life. As I pointed out to you the day before yesterday, {Rudolf Steiner, Das Sinnlich-Uebersinnliche in seiner Verwirklichung durch die Kunst. Not yet translated. Anthroposophic Press, New York.} many artistic creations of the present time show values through this spiritualized, refined feeling which did not exist in the art development of earlier epochs. This change in the spiritual life has been brought about through a quite definite spiritual event which I should like to characterize today from a certain point of view.

At the beginning of the forties of the nineteenth century, when the middle of that century had not quite been reached, the Archangel Michael gradually rose from the rank of an Archangel to that of a Time Spirit. He began at that time to undergo an evolution which enabled him to work into human life not merely from the super-earthly standpoint, but directly from the standpoint of the earthly. He had to prepare himself to descend to the earth itself, to emulate, as it were, the great procedure of the Christ Jesus Himself, to take his starting point here upon the earth and to be active henceforth from the point of view of the earth. From the forties to the end of the seventies of the last century this spiritual being prepared himself for this task. Thus is may be observed that the period between the forties and the year 1879 presents a significant battle in that super-earthly sphere which borders immediately on the earthly sphere. {See Rudolf Steiner, Geistige Wesen und ihre Wirkungen, Vol. II: Der Sturz der Geister der Finsternis. (Not yet translated) Anthroposophic Press, New York.} This spiritual being whom we call the Archangel Michael had to fight a hard battle against certain opposing spirits. If we wish to understand what actually happened there, we must consider these opposing spirits.

These spiritual beings who had to be fought by the Archangel Michael becoming a time spirit have always affected the life and evolution of mankind; during the past millennia, prior to the middle of the nineteenth century, their task in the spiritual world was to create differentiation among human beings. Those spiritual beings who are the direct followers of the Archangels strive to lead human beings back to the group soul, to spread uniformity over the whole of mankind. If these beings alone had been active, mankind would have become one indistinguishable species, similar to the animal species, but on a somewhat higher level. These spiritual beings, however, against whom the Michaelic principle had to fight had the task of spreading differentiation among mankind, to split humanity into races and peoples; to bring about all those differences that are connected with the blood and with the nerved temperament. This had to happen. They may be called Ahrimanic beings, and we must realize that the Ahrimanic principle was a necessity in the course of mankind's evolution.

Now at time of great significance arrived in the evolution of mankind, beginning with the forties of the nineteenth century. The time arrived when the old differentiations had to vanish, when the divided human race had to be formed into a unity.

You see, the cosmopolitan views which, to be sure, sometimes turned into cosmopolitan slogans in the eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth century are simply a reflection of what occurred in the spiritual world. The tendency exists in mankind to wipe out the various differences which were fostered by the blood and the nerve temperament. It is not a tendency of the spiritual worlds to create further differences among mankind, but it is a tendency of the spiritual worlds to pour a cosmopolitan element over mankind. Although, under the impressions of our catastrophic times, people have little understanding for this, still it has to be stated as a true fact. If this fact, mirrored in the earthly events, is observed in it spiritual background, clairvoyant vision shows that it was the spirit who was to become the time spirit of the modern age that from the forties onward fought against the race spirits, the folk spirits that produced the difference between peoples. What has always been represented by a significant symbol took place here, although at a different stage. The symbol refers also to other stages of evolution, for matters repeat themselves at various stages, and what I am telling you now is only a repetition at a certain stage of a spiritual event that took place at other stages. It is the event that is represented by the symbol of the conquering of the dragon by the Archangel Michael. This conquering of the dragon by the Archangel Michael, which means that the counter-striving powers have been cast out of the realm in which the Archangel Michael rules, took place in a certain sphere, beginning with the forties of the last century. Certain spiritual beings whose task in the spiritual world it was to divide mankind into races and peoples were cast out of heaven down upon the earth. These spiritual beings who up to the forties produced these differentiations among mankind have no longer any power in the region bordering the earthly world. They have been cast down among men upon the earth with everything they could bring with them.

This is what spiritual science designates as the victory of the Archangel Michael over the counter-striving spirits, which took place at the end of the seventies; the pushing down upon the earth of certain spirits resisting him.

Thus, since the end of the seventies, since 1879, we have two things: we have on earth for those who may be said to be of good will — if we understand the expression in a qualified sense — the rulership of the Time Spirit Michael who enables us to acquire spiritualized concepts, a spiritualized intellectual life. We also have on earth the counter-striving spirits who deceive us into denying the spirituality of the present time. If we fight against the materialism of our time, we should be constantly aware of the fact that we must not fight against what is good in our age but against the lies of our age. For the spirits that have been pushed out of heaven down upon the earth are chiefly spirits of falsehood who, as spirits of hindrance, prevent us from looking for the spiritual in our grasp of natural existence.

If one learns to know those human beings who descended to earthly incarnation from the spiritual world after the year 1841 and who have died since, one can indeed see how these things are considered from the other side, as it were. One is then in a position to correct much of that which here in the physical world, is very difficult to see through.

You see, at the beginning of the twentieth century it gradually became apparent how necessary it is to point again to the most varied fields of spirit in life; and those who drew attention to this fact were the human beings who, after the year 1848 — more precisely, after 1840 — had participated in the hard battle which was carried on by the Archangel Michael in the spiritual world and which ended in 1879 with the casting down of the counter-striving spirits into the life of the earth, where they now are among human beings. One participates in the battle of the Archangel Michael if one rises against these spirits and tries to drive them from the field. {See: Rudolf Steiner, Goethestudien und goetheanistische Denkmethoden. (Not yet translated) Anthroposophic Press, New York.}

Now, there exists a certain law which states that from every point in world history evolution may be traced in two directions: backward as well as forward. If we focus our attention on any point in the historical development of mankind, we may say: At this point of time this or that happened. Now, as time goes on, the events may be observed; but time may also be observed retrospectively. We may go back from 1879 to 1878, 77, 60, 50, and so on, and may then observe the spiritual world in retrospect. The following then presents itself: In the deeper structure of events as they proceed we may discover a repetition of what preceded them. If one expresses something great in a simple way, it may easily sound trivial. But I shall speak simply. If we consider the year 1879, we can proceed to 1880, or we can go back to 1878. If we proceed to 1880, we shall observe in the deeper spiritual structure of that year that what has happened in 1878 is still active within it; behind the events of 1880, there stand, as active forces, the events of 1878, and behind the events of 1881 there stand, as active forces, the events of 1877. As we go back, it is as if the line of time reversed itself, and the events which lie back of a certain point of time placed themselves behind the events which lie ahead of that point of time. Much can be understood if we grasp these things.

Now I beg you to remember that I have for many years spoken about the year 1879, and not only since 1914, which would be cheap. This is important, my dear friends, and I ask you now to make a simple calculation with me. Count back from the year 1879, count back to the year which I have often designated as the other boundary. I have always stated that the battle of which I am now speaking started at the beginning of the forties, around 1840, 1941, count back: 1879, 1868, 1858, 1848, and 8 or 9 years more; this is 38 or 39 years. Now count forward: 1879, 1889, 1899, 1909, 1914, and right up into our days (1918), and you also have 38 or 39 years. If you observe the year 1917, you will find a surprising result. You will realized the deep significance of the occultist's statement that, in starting from an incisive historical event, you will find the preceding spiritual event repeated in the subsequent one. Behind the earthly events of our days there stand the spiritual events that began in the forties and which we designate as the Archangel Michael's battle against the counter-striving spirits. These events stand behind present-day events. We have a repetition today of what took place at the beginning of the forties. You can imagine how differently one looks at the events of our time if one pays attention to this law. One will develop a deeper understanding of events that now pass unnoticed, that do not penetrate into one's soul. One will realize that the battle of the Archangel Michael against the counter-striving powers has, to a certain degree, returned to its starting point.

It is, in general, very difficult to speak to human beings of the present day about these deeper relationships, because they violently reject that which would help them to understand the present time and enable them to act in the proper manner. It is necessary today to rid ourselves of old prejudices and consciously to understand the facts.
For things happen here on the physical plane which are of a much more spiritual nature than events in general. This is connected with the descent of the Archangel Michael into our earth region. Many people speak of this descent. But if they are seriously called upon to take this fact on its true background, then they do not follow, they do not want to follow. Yet it is extremely necessary that a spiritual understanding of the most important impulses of our age lay hold of ever more extended circles of our contemporaries. Therefore it was very important, during all these years of our group meetings, to draw attention to the necessity of not sleeping away the stream of events which in our time is so strongly influenced by the spirit. For to sleep away events is a characteristic trait of our time. People pass by the events as though asleep, and it can be said that the more incisive, the more significant an event is that enters the physical plane, the more human beings sleep through it.

The events of March, 1917 — if I may indicate a concrete fact {Outbreak of the Russian Revolution. Abdication of the Czar. (Editor)} — were of tremendous significance and will produce results of such great importance of which mankind does not even dream today; and it is really unbelievable how little understanding exists among people for the necessity of a complete revision of their judgments, of a complete revision of all that people have believed prior to 1914.

On this occasion, I may perhaps be permitted to point to the fact that in 1910 I delivered a number of lectures in Kristiania (Oslo) about the European folk souls. In the first of these lectures you may read that human beings will soon be called upon to understand something about the relations of the European folk souls. {Rudolf Steiner, the Mission of Folk Souls in Connection with Germanic-Scandinavian Mythology. Anthroposophic Press, New York.} The following has been repeatedly emphasized in our lectures: turn your gaze toward the immediate East; what happens there is important for human evolution. How often has this been said! Every one of my listeners has heard it. And in the spring of 1914, in my Vienna lecture cycle about the life between death and a new birth, {Rudolf Steiner, The Inner Being of Man and Life Between Death and a New Birth. Anthroposophic Press, New York.} I dared to make the emphatic statement that the social life of our time may be compared with a special form of disease, namely, with a carcinoma; I stated that a creeping cancerous disease permeates social life. Naturally, my dear friends, under our present conditions these things cannot be stated in another form; but they must be understood.

We must not think of world events following one another in continuous progression, as historians imagine. They believe that the later event develops out of the preceding one, which has in turn developed out of the one preceding it, and so forth. The prejudice which maintains that the later must develop in the most tranquil fashion out of what preceded it we may leave to those who do not have the sense for reality which is expected of the anthroposophist. We may leave this prejudice to the politicians. Reality, however, is quite different. We must think of the course of events as of a pair of scales in full motion, the scale-beam descending first on the right side, and then on the left. Therefore, the time since the beginning of the forties may be characterized as follows: Great possibilities existed if only the attempt had been made during the period from 1840 to 1914 — the year 1879 divides this period into two parts — to prepare in an adequate manner the spiritualization of mankind which is striven for by the Archangel Michael; if the attempt had been made on a larger scale to imbue mankind with spiritual concepts, spiritual ideas. Mankind, however, must depend in our age on its own free will; and if, out of its own free volition, mankind fails to grasp such possibilities, then the scale-beam sinks to the other side. What could have been reached on the spiritual path is now discharged through the blood. What we experience in our catastrophic times is an equalization of the scales. Mankind who has rejected spiritualization must be forced to accept it. This can happen through a physical catastrophe.

This idea may be verified if we place ourselves upon the following firm foundation: We live here in this physical world; but we are awake in this physical world only through our perceptions and our concepts, as I described the day before yesterday. We dream with our feelings and sleep with our will impulses. This is a matter of course for man. But if we familiarize ourselves, through imagination, inspiration and intuition with the spiritual world which is always around us like the air, and in which the so-called dead exist, together with us, in which their impulses are active, then we perceive how life, here in the physical world, is connected with the life of the so-called dead. The dead are able to receive from human hearts only spiritual thoughts.

Recall what I told you the day before yesterday. I said: If a human being dies in his youth, he has, in a spiritual sense, not actually left his family; he has, in reality, remained here. Something of great importance to the dead is connected with this and I beg you to take this very seriously. For the departed one it is not merely a question of being here. For him it is a question of being able to bear this existence. If the dead person is present in a materialistically inclined family which does not cultivate spiritual thoughts, he is constantly oppressed and distressed; the family constitutes a nightmare for him, comparable to the nightmare we experience when we inhale too great an amount of air. Only spiritual thoughts among those with whom he has remained can rid him of this nightmare and make life among them bearable for the departed one.

And again, I told you: If an older person is torn from his family, he takes their souls with him, in a certain respect. He draws them after him; but if they are not permeated by spiritual thoughts, they likewise constitute a nightmare for him.

Now let us consider the following: We can learn a great deal if we observe the sudden death of a human being caused by outer or abnormal inner conditions. Let us say, a human being is slain or shot. In such an instance, death is brought about in a way which is very different from gradual death through illness. Imagine the following case: A human being is shot in his thirty-fifth year; his life is destroyed through outer circumstances. If the bullet had not struck him (certainly, there are karmic connections, but what I am going to say nevertheless holds good) this human being's constitution might have enabled him to live another thirty-five years. He bears within him the constitution for another thirty-five years. This, now, produces a quite definite effect.

My dear friends, if a human being dies by violence with his life forces are still very active, he has tremendously significant experiences at the moment of death. Condensed into one moment, he experiences things which would have been spread over long periods of time. What he could have experienced during the next thirty-five years he now experiences in a single moment. For the important experience in the hour of death is the following: the human being sees in truth his body from outside; he sees the transition it passes through; he sees that it relinquishes the control of the forces it possessed when the soul dwelt in the body, and that it now becomes a nature-being, given over to the nature forces, to the external physical forces. The tremendously significant experience at the moment of death is that the human being then beholds the relinquishing of his organism to the physical nature forces. If a human being suffers a violent death, he is suddenly delivered not only to the normal nature forces, but his organism is treated by the bullet shot as if it were an inorganic, lifeless body; it is completely relegated to the inorganic world. There is a great difference between a slow death through illness and a sudden death through the interference of the external world with the human organism, be it in the form of a bullet or in any other form. In this moment there is a sudden flaring up, a sudden flashing forth of a tremendous amount of spirituality. The flaming up of a spiritual aura takes place, and the one who has passed through the portal of death looks back upon this flaming up. This flaming up greatly resembles the event that takes place only when the human beings devote themselves to spiritual concepts. These are values, my dear friends, which are interchangeable. It is extremely interesting to see the following similarity: the departed one perceives from the other side the sentient thought which arises in a person when he enjoys or creates an image, a painting, that is born out of spiritual life; the departed one then sees how similar this sentient thought, seen from the beyond, is to the sensation a person has (who is of course unconscious of this) when he suffers an external injury, let us say, to his arm and pain arises from it. There is a great relationship between the two events; one may take the place of the other.

Now you will grasp the karmic connection between the two events. Naturally, quite a number of people knew the “aspect of the stars” when the forties of last century approached. If occultists wish to designate such an event as the battle of the Archangel Michael with the dragon, they do so by using the technical expression: “this is the aspect of the stars.” There existed at that time quite a number of people who knew that such a significant event was taking place. There were some who wanted to take precaution, but one of the scales of the balance was too heavily weighted: the materialistic inclination was too strong. Thus the worse measures possible were restored to. People who understand the signs of the times were fully aware of the fact that spiritual life must enter mankind. If this spiritual life had entered mankind from the beginning of the forties onward, mankind would have been spared many catastrophes. For what took place would have taken place, but in another form. What is karmically necessary happens; but it may occur in various forms. This must always be kept in mind.

I shall express myself more explicitly. There are two ways of thinking about what ought to happen in the social sphere or any other field. We may present a program, may form programmatical concepts; we can think out how the world should develop in a certain field; this can be presented in beautiful words. We can swear by these words, take them as dogmas, but nothing will result from them, nothing at all! We might have the most beautiful ideas about what ought to happen, but nothing will come of them. Ideas, however beautiful, need not result in anything. Thought-out programs are the most worthless things in life. In contrast to this, we can do something else, and many a person does it without any special clairvoyance. We may, simply through a naive, intuitive knowledge of the condition of the times, ask ourselves: What is bound to happen in the next twenty or thirty years? What is it that in our time wishes to become reality? Then, if one has discovered what will inevitably happen, one can say to oneself: Now we can choose; people can either come to their senses and guide the course of events in the direction it must take in any case: then matters will turn out well. Or they can fail to do this by being asleep and simply allowing matters to run their course: in which case that which must take place will be brought about by catastrophes, revolutions, and cataclysms. No statistics, no programs, however well thought out, are of any value. Only the observation of what wills to appear out of the hidden depths of the times is of value. This must be taken up into our consciousness; by this the intentions of the present must be governed.

In the forties of the last century the many people who adhered to programs have won the victory over the few who understood what I have just stated. From this sprang all kinds of attempts to spiritualize mankind: spiritism (spiritualism,), for instance, is one of them; it is an attempt to spiritualize and reform mankind with inadequate means; to reveal the spiritual worlds materialistically. Even our thinking may be materialistic. It is a materialistic thought that says: This or that particular group of mankind is in the right. Why do the spiritual powers not intervene and help them vindicate their rights? — How often do we hear people say today: Why do the spiritual powers not intervene? The day before yesterday I gave an answer to this in a more abstract form: Mankind today must rely on its own freedom. Those who ask: why do the spiritual powers not intervene? proceed from the assumption that ghosts instead of men should make politics. That would certainly be easy progress if ghosts instead of human beings were to introduce the necessary reforms. This, of course, they do not do, because human beings must rely on their freedom. The expectation of help from ghosts is what most decidedly confounds human beings; it draws their attention away from what ought to happen. Thus the period in the life of mankind in which refined spiritual concepts were gradually developed was precisely the time when mankind was exposed to the strongest materialistic temptations. Human beings simply are unable to distinguish between refined spiritualized concepts and sensations on the one hand and that which, on the other hand, approaches them as temptation and counter-acts the grasping of the spiritualized element within them. Therefore, because people did not comprehend at the right time how evolution must proceed, our catastrophic age, our present difficult times have become a necessity. Without the present hard experiences mankind would have sunk still deeper into doubt of itself. To be sure, it would have developed spirituality, but it would have rejected it to a still greater degree.

This is part of the background of historical development. I should like very much, indeed, to throw light from this background upon much that lies in the foreground; but you will appreciate the reasons why this cannot be done in our present age. I must leave it to the individual to illuminate for himself what lives in our immediate present, seen from the background I have just described.

You see, my dear friends, the sleeping away of events which I have characterized causes an inward overlooking of the sharp angles and contours of life. But if we overlook the sharp angles and contours of life, compromises arise. Now, there may be times which are suitable for compromises. The time that preceded the forties of the nineteenth century was one; but this is not true of our time. Our time demands that we see things as they are, with all their angles and contours, in sharp relief; but it also arouses in the human soul the urge — just because of the presence of these sharp angles and contours — to close its eyes sleepily to them. What I have just stated may be observed even in regard to the greatest, the most significant events in human evolution.

In regard to the greatest event in world history, human evolution has brought about just these angles and contours! Indeed, even in regard to the greatest event of world history, namely, the Mystery of Golgotha. We know all the observations made in the course of the theological development of the nineteenth century concerning the Mystery of Golgotha. From the time Lessing began to speak about the Mystery of Golgotha right up to the time of the theologian Drews, all kinds of statements have been made regarding it. And it may well be said that the whole theological development of the nineteenth century offers complete proof of the fact that people have entirely forgotten how to understand the mystery of Golgotha. But there are some very interesting publications concerning the Christ Jesus. Very interesting publications, indeed! Take for instance, a Danish one {Emil Rasmussen Jesus, A Comparative Psychopathological Study.} This Danish publication is written entirely from the standpoint of the modern natural-scientific thinker. The author states: I am a psychologist, a physiologist, and a psychiatrist; I observe the Gospels from this standpoint. And at what conclusion does he arrive? Quite factually, in the sense of modern psychiatric judgment, he arrives at the following one: The picture which the Gospels sketch of the Christ Jesus is a pathological one. We can only conceive of the Christ Jesus as a person suffering from insanity, epilepsy, morbid visions, and similar conditions; he possesses all the symptoms of a serious mental illness. — If one reads the most important passage of this book to people, as I have recently done, {See: Rudolf Steiner, Geistige Wesen und ihre Wirkungen (Spiritual Beings and Their Effects), Vol. IV, first lecture (not yet translated) Anthroposophic Press, New York.} they are shocked. This is comprehensible; for, if what they consider sacred is described as a pathological case, people are horrified. But what are the real facts in the matter? My dear friends, the facts are as follows; Among the great number of dishonest compromisers one arose who takes his stand completely upon the natural-scientific viewpoint; he makes no compromises whatsoever but states: I am a scientist: therefore I must speak as I do; for these are the facts. — If people would place themselves honestly upon the standpoint of natural science, they would have to hold such views. There are these sharp angles and contours from which they cannot escape. They cannot escape unless they forsake the natural-scientific standpoint and go over to the spiritual-scientific standpoint: in this case they will remain honest, — or they may choose to remain honest upon the natural-scientific standpoint; then they are obliged to observe matters, without compromising, in the way of such a scientist who, although entirely honest in his field, is thoroughly limited in his views and does not try to conceal his limitations. He is thoroughly limited, but consistent. This has to be understood. If people would see today what must of necessity result if certain things are consistently carried through, they would see life without compromise.

Someone recently handed me an interesting slip of paper mentioning a book that is already known to me, but since I do not have it with me here, I can only read you what is written on this slip of paper. It was handed to me in order to show me what things are possible today.

“Anyone who has attended high school will remember the unforgettable hours when he had to ‘enjoy’ in his studies of Plato the conversations of Socrates with his friends. Unforgettable because of the fabulous boredom which was engendered by these conversations. He will perhaps remember that these conversations of Socrates struck him as extremely stupid; but, of course, he did not dare utter this opinion, for after all, the man in question was Socrates, ‘the greatest philosopher.’ Alexander Moszkowski's book, Socrates the Idiot, (published by Heysler & Co., Berlin) completely does away with the unjustified overestimation of the good Athenian. In this small, entertainingly written book, the historian Moszkowski undertakes to divest Socrates thoroughly of his philosophical honors. The title, Socrates the Idiot, is to be taken literally. We shall not go wrong in assuming that this book will call forth scientific discussions.”

Now, you will think it dreadful that such things are written. But I do not find it dreadful at all. I think it is self-evident and quite honest of Moszkowski; for, according to his concepts and sentiments, he cannot do otherwise, if he wishes to remain consistent, than to call Socrates an idiot. In doing so he is more honest than many others who, in keeping with their views, should call Socrates an idiot, too, but who prefer to make compromises instead.

I do not need to say, my dear friends, that you should not go out now and spread the news that I am in agreement with Moszikowski when he declares Socrates to have been an idiot. I hope that you understand what I really mean.

But I must acknowledge the fact that people arrive at certain judgments in our time because they make dishonest compromises. It is impossible to think about soul-pathology as modern psychiatrist do and not write a book such as that by the Danish author concerning the Christ Jesus. It cannot be done. One is dishonest if one does not either reject these concepts and replace them by spiritual concepts, or take the standpoint that the Christ Jesus was a mental case. — If one is acquainted with the views of such people, if one knows Moszkowski's opinion concerning the whole structure of the universe, his peculiar views about the theory of radiation and the theory of the quantum, one can appreciate why he, if he wishes to remain honest and consistent, must consider Socrates an also Plato idiots.

What is especially necessary for mankind is the rejection of compromises. Human beings should not make compromises, at least not within their souls. It is very important to consider this as a demand of our age, for it belongs among the most significant impulses of the Time Spirit, Michael, to pour clarity, absolute clarity into human souls. If one wishes to follow the Archangel Michael, it is necessary to pour clarity into human souls, to overcome sleepiness. This sleepiness arises in other spheres also, but above all it is an absolute necessity today to gain insight into the consequences of things. In previous ages this was different. During the centuries prior to the Michael age, in which European mankind was governed by the Archangel Gabriel, the compromises which human beings made in their thinking were lessened by the influence of the spiritual world. Michael is the spirit who works, in the most eminent sense, with the freedom of man. Michael will always do what is necessary. You must not believe that Michael fails to do the right thing. In the unconscious regions of the soul of every human being there is today, sharply outlined, every contour and angle of the spiritual life. It is there. Anyone who is at all capable of bringing to the surface what exists in the depths of the soul life as latent visions knows what it is that lives today in the souls as discrepancies and unrelated facts. He knows that in the souls there live side by side the modern materialistic psychiatry which does not shrink from seeing an epileptic in the Christ Jesus, and even the acknowledgment of the Christ Jesus. Anyone who is at all capable of raising these things into consciousness becomes aware of these facts. It would be interesting if a good painter, with a real understanding of our present time, would paint “Christ, seen from the point of view of a modern psychiatrist,” depicting it expressionistically. The result would be very interesting if the painter had a real understanding of what takes place at the present time in the depths of human soul life.

You see, in our time we have to plumb the depths if we wish to grasp what takes place at the surface of existence. But one can understand, on the other hand, that people are seized by a certain cowardice and discouragement if they are to approach the indicated matter.

This is the other quality necessary today: courage, even a certain audacity, in perceiving, in thinking; an audacity that does not dull our concepts but makes them highly acute. Everything that has to be said today may be found in outer events; the spiritual researcher simply describes it more precisely because he sees it against its proper background. And if the spiritual researcher then describes this background, the outer events will corroborate all the more what has, for example, been indicated today.

Many people ask: “What shall I do?” It is so obvious what one should do! One should open one's eyes! One's spiritual eyes, to be sure. If one opens one's eyes, the Will will follow. The Will depends upon our life situation. It is not always possible in one's particular circumstances, according to one's karma, to do the right thing; but one must try to open one's eyes spiritually. Today, however, the following often happens: If one tries to impart to people in words what is necessary for the present age, they quickly close their eyes, they swiftly turn their minds away form it. This is the descending of the scales on the other side. — What I am saying here might be considered a criticism of our age, but this is not my intention. My purpose is to draw attention to the impulses that must enter human souls, human minds out of the spiritual world, if we wish to get beyond the catastrophic times in which we live. As I have stated, it is not possible to enter into concrete details. Each of you can do that for himself.




Last Modified: 29-Aug-2017
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