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Three Streams in the Evolution of Mankind

Three Streams: Lecture VI: Augustus and the Roman Catholic Church, Rhetoric, Intellectual Soul and Consciousness Soul

LECTURE SIX

Yesterday we saw how the mood of soul, towards which in this age of the Consciousness Soul we have to aim, was in a certain sense prepared historically. Let us keep clearly before us the relevant situation in the external world. We may say: The year 333 after Christ represents a kind of equilibrium (see diagram), distinctly perceptible in the course of historical events, but figuring very little in external history, for the simple reason that affairs revolve round it, and the actual pivot — this holds good even in mechanical motion — does not belong to the system that is moving. Take a pair of scales. You see the movement of the scales and of the beam, but the pivot itself is an ideal point — something we cannot really see. Yet it is obviously the most important part of the balance and must essentially have proper support.

It is particularly necessary for us to grasp what happened in this important year 333, as little noticed by the external world as is the pivot in a pair of scales. The year 333 is indeed the mid-point of the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, the midpoint of that significant epoch which ran its course from the founding of Rome, 747 years before the Mystery of Golgotha, until approximately 1413, when the Graeco-Latin epoch came to an end and was followed by the epoch which will last until the middle of the fourth millennium — the epoch of the Consciousness Soul. When we consider outward events, this midpoint of 333 is as little apparent as the mid-point of a balance. But we could indicate something else, 333 years later — the year 666. Of this year we can say that what later developed as the scientific method of thinking was already then evident in the activities of the Academy of Jundí Sábúr, which were later blunted by Mohammedanism. We tried yesterday to follow up how a certain mood of spirit, or mood of soul, spread among the people of Southern Europe — that typically scientific mood which still pervades modern natural science and has extended very widely into modern ways of thought. This was 333 years from the time when people still only looked back to the old days, as Julian the Apostate did. Up to 666 is 333 years; if we then go back and take the other side of the scales, 333 years earlier, we come to the preparations for the Mystery of Golgotha through the birth of Christ Jesus.

Diagram 1

Fundamentally, we have been considering these events in such a way as to ask: What would have happened if the Mystery of Golgotha had never taken place? For the whole founding of the Academy of Jundí Sábúr and all that it brought about, was independent of the Mystery of Golgotha. The Schools of Philosophy in Athens had already come into contact with Christianity, but Justinian had closed them in 529. A purely Greek wisdom passed through Syria to Jundí Sábúr, in the new Persian kingdom. And everything else bound up with this, in so far as it was not blunted and was actually intended by Jundí Sábúr, was thought out without reference to Christianity, without reference to the Mystery of Golgotha. In reality, nothing has happened since the very beginning of our era without the working of the impulse of the Mystery of Golgotha; but of course many things have been aimed at.

In fact we may say that even the impulses which were active in non-Christian souls during the fourth century, at the time of the turning-point, can be seen in their essentials only if we ask: What would have become of the evolution of mankind in the West if the Mystery of Golgotha had never taken place? This can indeed be studied, even historically — for example, in the case of Augustine, who offered both sides for later people to contemplate. At first he is quite independent of Christianity, seeking to find in Manichaeism an answer to the problems that weighed on him, and only afterwards is drawn to Christianity.

But we can go further back and then a significant question arises. Suppose we were to look at human evolution during the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, and ask: How was it in all the regions untouched by the occurrence in Palestine of the Mystery of Golgotha? (Strictly speaking, outside the narrow circle of Christ's activity, this would apply to ail the regions of the earth.) How did people look on things, especially in Rome, when the impulse of the Mystery of Golgotha spread later on, and became particularly effective?

This question is of quite special importance just now; it is truly no mere theoretical question: How were things in Rome when the Mystery of Golgotha took place in Palestine? For presently we shall see how similar — but in another sphere — our immediate present is to the time of the Mystery of Golgotha. We should never forget something that is easily forgotten when we look back to that time: we must repeatedly feel our way back in imagination to the culture of the old Roman Empire, where people were ignorant of the fact that over in Palestine a solitary human personality had arisen with a few followers, a personality who went through a certain life, suffered death by crucifixion, and with whom was linked the knowledge, the important knowledge, that men in the future will have concerning birth and death. We must increasingly accustom ourselves to the idea that although this event, which to-day sheds its rays as a fully risen sun into the history of man, was enacted at the beginning of our era, it developed at that time in such a way that throughout the world there was little recognition, either inwardly or externally, of this Palestinian Mystery of Golgotha. Hence the question must be asked: How was it looked upon, especially in Rome?

Now we shall understand each other better if we take our start from the desire that was present later, in 666, among those who were particularly influential in bringing the Academy of Jundí Sábúr to the fore. As I said yesterday, the desire was to give men through revelation, received on an Ahrimanic path, that which can only later be acquired by the Consciousness Soul through the efforts of men themselves. The year 666 was still in the age of the Intellectual or Mind Soul, when men could not by their own efforts think in such a way as to be conscious of everything. So the desire was to give them prematurely something that was intended to come thousands of years later. The whole thing, however, was completely reversed at the very beginning of our era, during the age when the Mystery of Golgotha itself was enacted. Three hundred and thirty-three years after 333, the wish was to give men something belonging to the future, something destined for them only in the future. Three hundred and thirty-three years before 333, just at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, there was a wish to force men back to a condition which in the normal way had entered human evolution thousands of years earlier.

It is very difficult, my dear friends, to speak of these things, for the very reason that history, which itself has a history, has developed in such a way that in these matters people have actually been driven into error by history. Happenings in the southern districts of Europe — happenings with important consequences — have been covered up; people have not been allowed to know about them. In the history books we have a picture, for instance, of the personality of Augustus, the first Roman Emperor. [See Building Stones for an Understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha, lecture 5.] But in what sense he was an important, an incisively effective personality — of this no understanding is called forth, intentionally from a certain side, but for the most part unintentionally. For the Emperor Augustus was the centre-point of quite conscious Roman endeavours to bring about a world-wide form of civilisation that would cast a veil over all that the Intellectual or Mind Soul had brought to mankind — over everything that men had been able to achieve in the way of culture by their own efforts since 747 B.C. Above all, people were to be limited to what they had acquired for themselves prior to the age of the Intellectual or Mind Soul — that is, in the age particularly of the Sentient Soul, in Egypto-Chaldean times.

Thus whereas in 666 the sages of the Jundí Sábúr Academy wanted to bring to an earlier time something that was meant to come later, in the days of the Emperor Augustus there was to be an extinguishing of that which men could acquire in their own epoch. Instead, they were to have, in its ancient glory and significance, that which had been proper to the people of earlier times, the time of ancient Persia, and of the Egypto-Chaldean culture. And when, through all the undergrowth heaped up as history, we look back at the reality, we must ask: Among certain Romans there was a deliberate wish to preserve something from the past, and this project was defeated by the Christian impulse — what exactly did the Romans want to preserve?

It was above all of a twofold nature. First, there was the wish to preserve a feeling for the meaning of the old cults, those cults which thousands of years before had been customary among the Egyptians, in Asia Minor, and deeper into the heart of Asia. The aim was to render inoperative the capacity for intelligent understanding and to allow only the Sentient Soul to come to fruition. This was to be done by presenting all the significant, sublime, powerful rituals which had proved effective in earlier times, before people had acquired intelligence and when the cults of the Gods had arisen out of the Sentient Soul, so that men should not be left without Gods. There were great rituals then, full of significance, designed to take the place of reflection — rituals which, according to old, atavistic customs, were to arouse the soul in a half hypnotic condition to a living experience of the Gods and of blissfulness through the Divine, It was this experience that some people in Rome wished to infuse with new life.

We can get to know the specific character of this by observing the finer points of distinction between the Roman and the Greek outlooks — although Greek culture was then approaching its outward decline. This feeling, which the Emperor Augustus in particular, with his powerful initiation-impulse turned towards the past, wished to introduce into Rome — all this was unknown over in Greece. The Greeks had no wish to bring back the past; they preferred to keep their eyes on what they could understand and could feel at one with. And if the Christian impulse had not come at a quite early date, and if it had not worked very quickly against the intentions of Augustus and his followers, the old rituals would have been revived in Rome with a much greater display of brilliance than they actually were.

Let us, therefore, to begin with, hold fast to this: it was the intention of Augustus and his supporters that there should go out from Rome — just as later a prophetic wisdom was intended to go out from the Academy of Jundí Sábúr — a powerful ritual which was to spread a haze over the whole world so that the possibility of acquiring the Intellectual Soul, as well as the later Consciousness Soul, would be ruled out. Had the Academy of Jundí Sábúr straightway given man the Consciousness Soul in order to cut off what was to come later — to cut off Spirit-Self, Life-Spirit, Spirit-Man — Augustus and his supporters in Rome would not have wanted the Consciousness Soul ever to be acquired. They would have wished — 333 years before the turning-point — to blot out all possibility of the Intellectual or Mind Soul, and to place before mankind powerful rituals, intended to lead the soul to a consciousness of God. This was one side, meant to be introduced in accordance with the wishes of the initiate Augustus.

But the Intellectual or Mind Soul has always two aspects. One of its aspects tends towards the Sentient Soul. You know that we have the Sentient Soul, the Intellectual or Mind Soul and the Consciousness Soul. The first to be developed was the Sentient Soul; its evolution came to an end in 747 B.C. The Intellectual or Mind Soul evolved from 747 to about A.D. 1413. These are approximate dates. Then follows the age of the Consciousness Soul. Now the Intellectual or Mind Soul inclines on one side towards the Sentient Soul, when it wishes to permeate itself with the past, as we have seen. This tendency is what Augustus wanted to infuse with fresh life. What then is brought about by this forcing back of the Intellectual or Mind Soul to the standpoint of the Sentient Soul — what becomes of the part that inclines towards the future, towards the Consciousness Soul? What becomes of the more intelligent inclination? We have to ask this question, and in the age of Augustus it had to be raised as a great cultural question. What happens if the Intellectual or Mind Soul is now allowed to develop further; what becomes of the human soul that wishes to strive towards the Consciousness Soul? A striving backwards towards the Sentient Soul through a renewal of old rituals is satisfying to men, more than is permissible for their normal development — but what is provided to meet a striving towards the Consciousness Soul? In this connection a certain word is always avoided, in order that a particular fact of human evolution since that time may not be seen in its true light: we need only mention this word and we shall understand what is involved. For this other side of the soul, rhetoric is provided — rhetoric which gives mere husks in place of permeating the soul with substance, with inner content; mere husks which, where living concepts should hold sway, are concerned with the forms of words and the construction of sentences.

Yes, indeed, my dear friends, under the influence of Augustus something developed in Rome very different from anything experienced earlier in Greece. However similar the Roman attire was to the Greek, a Roman in the folds of his toga no longer felt as a Greek had felt; the toga was looked on as a garment meant to be decorative. A certain glamour reflected from the exaltation of the old rituals is there in the fall of the folds of the Roman toga, quite in contrast to the Greek garment. And a strong distinction would be felt — if only people had a feeling for such distinctions — between Demosthenes, who stuttered, but still expressed the Greek nature, though not in rhetoric, and the Roman rhetoricians, among whom there was no stutterer, but men who well understood how to formulate the order of words and the structure of sentences.

From this Augustan age came the wish to give mankind, on the one hand, the incomprehensible old cults; there was indeed an endeavour to keep people from understanding them, even from asking what anything in the ritual meant This attitude is still prevalent in all sorts of realms even to-day. There are Freemasons who say the most curious things. For instance, one says to them: “You have an extensive symbolism in which very much is concealed, but modern Freemasons do not bother about the real meaning of the symbols.” One may say this to people who answer: “That is just what I find so beautiful about Freemasonry to-day; everyone can think what he likes about the symbols.” A person of this kind mostly thinks what his simplicity allows him to think, and this is far, very far, from the profound significance of the symbols — a significance that leads us deeply into the hearts and souls of men.

This is what it was intended to bring about in Rome at that time — a cult with no questions asked as to what it all meant, no attempt to approach the ritual with intelligence and will. The other pole, necessarily connected with this, is rhetoric devoid of content — rhetoric which does not take effect only in speeches, but which as rhetoric went into the laws of Justinian, and afterwards flooded the Western world as so-called Roman law. This Roman law bears the same relation to what should be active in souls approaching the development of the Consciousness Soul as rhetoric does to a soul-warming substance of speech. The frigidity inherent in Roman law has been the cause throughout the world of Roman law being related to warmth of soul in the same way that rhetoric is related to what is spoken out of the warmth and light of the soul — even if spoken with a stuttering tongue.

My dear friends, the fact that nothing willed by Augustus in this connection came fully to fruition was a result of the influence of the Mystery of Golgotha flowing in from the East. Yet just as the aftermath of the Academy of Jundí Sábúr has been preserved in our present-day science, so has the after-effect of what Augustus aimed at been preserved. It could no more come to fruition in the form he intended than could the Academy of Jundí Sábúr achieve its purpose. It was simply the super-sensible that was banished from the impulse of the Academy of Jundí Sábúr, and this is still evident in the scientific attitude of our own time. But the super-sensible was driven out also from what Augustus aimed at — at least the grander super-sensible element through which he wished to bring about a real renewal of the old religious feeling of the Sentient Soul. The super-sensible was driven out, and of the rest — which in the time of the Mystery of Golgotha was founded chiefly in Rome — there remained only Catholicism, the Catholic Church; for the Catholic Church is the continuation, the true continuation, of the Augustan age. The fact that the Catholic Church has taken the form it has is the result of its not being founded upon the Mystery of Palestine, not upon the Mystery of Golgotha. Only a breath of this has passed over it. The most active element that runs through the Catholic Church is at best its ritual. And into this ritual there are woven only some threads derived from the Mystery of Golgotha; in its forms and ceremonies it has come over from the age of the Sentient Soul.

At the centre of this ritual there is something truly great, truly holy, because it brings the holiness that from primeval times has been woven into mankind (everything has its great and powerful aspects and needs only not to be developed one-sidedly), but we can relate ourselves rightly to this central point, the sacrifice of the Mass, which is an image of the highest Mysteries of all time, only if new life is brought into what is dead and was intended for the age of the Sentient Soul. The new life must come from all that Spiritual Science has to say in our modern lime concerning the Mystery of Golgotha. All that is found again, in the normal course of human evolution, by the researches of Spiritual Science — all this can be carried into the designs of Augustus, in so far as these have been preserved by Catholicism. In the same way, that which Spiritual Science can bring from the spiritual world must be carried into what has remained — physically blunted — of the aims of the Jundí Sábúr Academy. Spirit must be drawn into science.

Spirit must be drawn down into all that is enacted in the sacraments, to which men must turn again.

The weighty, momentous content of what I have just said will be taken in only by those who feel — and anyone who has studied Spiritual Science for more than a short time can feel it — how like our age is, in terms of what lives for the most part unconsciously in our souls, to the time when the Mystery of Golgotha was approaching mankind. I have often mentioned, and you will find it brought out in the first of my Mystery Plays, The Portal of Initiation, that as at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha men stood facing the turning-point of the fourth post-Atlantean age, the year 333, so we to-day are facing a turning-point. The time is rather shorter because the movements of the higher Spirits change in velocity; we cannot reckon that to-day we have 333 years again before the turning-point. It changes somewhat in the course of time, this speed with which the various separate Spirits of the higher Hierarchies move on. Thus to-day, in the first third of the twentieth century, we are facing the approach of an important event for mankind. And all the convulsions, all the catastrophes, are nothing else than the earth-shaking occurrences which precede a great spiritual event of the twentieth century. It is not an event now in the physical world, but an event that will come to men as a kind of enlightenment, reaching them before the first third of the twentieth century has run out. If the phrase is not misunderstood, one can call it the reappearance of Christ Jesus. [See True Nature of the Second Coming. Two lectures given at Carlsbad and Stuttgart in January and March, 1910.] But Christ Jesus will not appear in external life, as at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, but will work in man and be felt supersensibly. He is present in the etheric body. Those who are prepared can constantly experience Him in visions, constantly receive His counsel; in a certain sense they can enter into a direct personal relation with Him. All this that lies before us is comparable with what the Romans felt prior to the Augustan age, as the physically real Mystery of Golgotha that was approaching.

But, my dear friends, for things such as these one must have the true feeling. In face of various external phenomena that have come about, and have finally led to this terrible world-catastrophe, we must feel how the urge towards religious ritual exists once again in men. It has been long in coming. Just reflect, just consider — but with real attention, I beg you — how for more than a century sensitive spirits have repeatedly felt this urge to move away from the prosaic, rational intellectualism of the Protestant religion towards ritual. See how just those spirits among the Romantic writers who were able to feel something of the whole significance of ritual for the soul, strove after Catholicism. Because they were still incapable of gaining illumination from Spiritual Science as to what was seeking to enter the world sacramentally, they looked to Catholicism. Such spirits as Novalis — and just because of the specially deep spirituality that arose in him at a comparatively youthful age, he is a particularly characteristic personality — such spirits as he are not satisfied with prosaic Protestantism and strive after the forms of Catholicism, but they are healthy enough by nature to be shielded from stepping over into Catholicism. Such spirits give expression to what our age must express if it is to be healthy — the endeavour to feel once more in the world something sacramental, something corresponding to ritual. But they have no use for anything that wants to drag in merely an old cult, as is so often done to-day, when seeds appear which are no longer capable of growth, where spiritual invalids appear — among whom I would certainly place my old one-time friend, Hermann Bahr. Where these invalids of the soul are concerned, we see how even to-day they incline towards a misunderstood Catholicism, as with Herman Bahr, Scheler, Börres von Münchhausen. With all these people — they are very numerous and I know many of them — in the weakness of their soul-life they strive after Catholicism. One knows very well this attitude of soul; it springs from these people being unable to make the effort towards a life of soul that is inwardly active, a genuine, courageous activity in their soul-life, because in their soul-life they have become invalids and so they turn to what is offered them as a finished article. This permeates all Scheler's books of myths, which are very gifted, and all the quite mythical writings of Hermann Bahr's later period, and so on and so forth. It is all invalidism of the soul in a certain sense. It is the comfortable attitude that refuses to call forth out of the soul's depths what the times demand, in order to rediscover in the age of the Consciousness Soul, the way towards a true natural science, and to see in the whole of nature herself something sacramental — to see all nature as an expression of the divine-spiritual World-Order.

In the age of the Consciousness Soul, man must very soon develop the possibility of having not merely the abstract, dry natural science which petrifies the whole of him — a science which is to-day extolled as the salvation of the world — but a science that can deepen itself to a reverent perception of all the sacred symbols spread out over the world by the Godhead, in all the deeds giving joy to man, but also in everything by which the Godhead puts man to the test. If man is able once more to do his laboratory experiments sacramentally, on a higher level, and to make the operating table an altar, instead of a carpenter's workshop and a shambles, then the time will have come which is demanded for and souls to-day by divine evolution. Hence it is not surprising that at such a time as this much can be misunderstood, misunderstood above all through the aftermath of the Jundí Sábúr Academy, and is therefore taken up into natural science without any wish for a connection with the Mystery of Golgotha. Because of this, natural science becomes a purely Ahrimanic science, corresponding to all the Ahrimanic needs of mankind, corresponding to the state of mind which wants to organise the world according to externals alone. It may be said that the impulse of the Mystery of Golgotha has always to be sought anew; we must take in earnest the words: “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” — even to the time when all the cycles of the earth have been accomplished. These words have to be taken seriously. If we wish to remain connected with the Mystery of Golgotha, we must keep our souls fresh, so that we can take up the new impulses which flow out repeatedly from the spiritual world — not always in cycles but because of the wish to approach mankind from time to time.

It is true that over against this we have a natural science without any desire to know of such influences; a science which wants simply to install its scientists in laboratories or in hospitals where the work is a matter of routine. There, as we know, research is carried on which works like invisible radiations and no-one concerns himself about what is thereby let loose in the world. Things are tried out, aspirin or phenacetin, and given to patients. When such things are administered one after another, all that has to be done is to record what is perceived physically — there is no need to call upon any activity of the soul. This is the state of mind which in essentials has come from the impulse of the Academy of Jundí Sábúr. For if men had been permeated by those impulses in the past, they could have taken their ease to-day, with no need to do anything more. They would have been endowed through grace with everything they would otherwise have to work for in developing the Consciousness Soul. Translated into physical terms, this attitude is present in external science.

The other attitude comes from what has been poured out into the world by Rome. It lives on in the most varied impulses, derived, not from Palestine, not from the Mystery of Golgotha, but from Rome, and it has developed in two directions — the burning of incense for the carrying out of a ritual which makes no demand on intelligence but only on the Sentient Soul; and, secondly, rhetoric, which is concerned only with the forming of sentences, or with giving human actions a character such that there is rhetoric even in the resulting laws that are made. Both these two attitudes have lived on. There can be no help for either unless it is clearly seen how in the future there should not be a science devoid of spirit; without fighting against science, we shall have to recognise its limits. There is no need to fight against it, for if it is studied in a positive way it offers magnificent and powerful gifts, and no-one has the right to say anything against science who is not well acquainted with its fruits. Anyone who is not acquainted with science, and yet harshly criticises it, is wrong; only someone who believes in it, is thoroughly acquainted with it, has gone into it deeply and made its methods his own — only such a person has acquired the right to judge it, to specify its limits and point out how science itself will have to advance towards a spiritual comprehension of the world.

Hostile opinion has found among other things in my writings that I have spoken with appreciation of Haeckel and modern science. My dear friends, from the standpoint of Spiritual Science, out of which I speak, I should never dare to utter a word of criticism about science had I not previously made it every acknowledgement. For from the ground of the positive life of spirit we have the right of negative criticism only if we are able to show that within its acceptable limits we fully appreciate what we are fighting against. I believe I have fully earned the right to make known a spiritual development of mankind, a spiritual evolution, in doing which I have given out what the senses do not teach, because I have shown also what significance Darwinism and Haeckelism have for scientific life.

On the ground of Spiritual Science it must be asked that the words one speaks should be taken rather differently from the way in which they are generally taken. Hence I should not like anything I may say about Catholicism, or any other present-day movements, in the way I have been speaking to-day, to be understood from the standpoint of the ordinary philistine, or confused with criticism put forward about Catholicism or similar movements by one or other society with liberal views. Nothing is meant beyond what has been stated here; nothing is meant that cannot be fully justified from the standpoint of spiritual-scientific research. Research in natural science needs to be deepened so that it gradually leads into spiritual life. What has been preserved from ancient times, what has fallen into disuse — to some extent rightly — in the course of human life, is now appearing anew for reasons I have mentioned — man's need for the sacramental and his need for expressive forms. To see in forms the signature of the Divine in the world, but to understand these forms; not to speak in terms of dogma about Lucifer, Ahriman and Christ, but to have this trinity before us in artistic forms — this is what we need.

Out of this thought will arise the creation that is to be the centre-point of our Building, the wood-carving of Christ-Lucifer-Ahriman; out of this thought, the creation in an expressive unity of forms demanded by human evolution; but in such a way that while looking at the forms we penetrate to the spirit. The creation of such forms had to be the very foundation of our Building. No-one has the right to take this Building in a trivial sense; it must be understood in accordance with the essential aims arising from the great demands of our age, and with the needs of an age which once again, and now in a new way, has to approach the Mystery of Golgotha.

As we are given the necessary point of time in this age for finding the Christ anew, for finding the Christ on a higher level, so opposition to the Christ must also occur. These opposing forces were there in the past. We know that Christianity prevented the aims of the Academy of Jundí Sábúr from coming to fruition. We know that Augustus in Rome was aiming at something quite unconnected with the Christ Impulse. The persecution of the Christians by Nero, by Diocletian, even the rejection of Christianity by Apollonius of Tyana — all this came about because some people in Rome did their utmost to resist Christianity. It was meant to be quite rooted out — but it did not allow itself to be rooted out. So it is that Romanism, by taking from Christianity as much as suited it, became the Catholic Church, which developed also in this spirit; for directly there comes to mankind a new revelation, leading to further knowledge of the Mystery of Golgotha, the Catholic Church turns not towards it but away from it.

Only think — we must constantly look this fact in the face — when Copernicus, who was himself Canon of a cathedral, and therefore a true Catholic, advanced his theory, the Catholic Church condemned it as heretical. Up to the year 1827 orthodox Catholics were forbidden to accept the Copernican theory; since that time they have been allowed to believe in it. It has also become possible for a university professor of Catholic philosophy to say: Certainly the Catholic Church proscribed the Copernican theory and treated Galileo in the way it did. But it is no longer appropriate to think in that way (so said Professor Müllner, a Catholic philosopher, in his inaugural address as Rector of Vienna University); to-day it is appropriate to say that through these very discoveries of Copernicus and Galileo concerning the secrets of the external universe, the miracle of Divine Omnipotence has become all the more clearly a miracle of Divine Omnipotence. That, it is true, was spoken in a Christian way, but if it were judged critically by former standards, it would certainly not be regarded as spoken in a Roman Catholic way. Thus it has taken a good deal of time for the Catholic Church to be compelled by external pressure to recognise that knowledge of the cosmos does no harm to Christianity but helps it forward. How long it will take the Catholic Church to recognise the results of Spiritual Science — well, we will wait and see; we must certainly resign ourselves to the probability of no such outcome during our present incarnations. That is one side of the matter, my dear friends.

Confusions and misunderstandings, however, can very easily arise. They can arise from the subconscious urge in souls to experience the sacramental. The whole of mankind to-day is striving for a higher level of sacramental experience. Naturally, the Catholic Church makes use of this for its own advantage. And to-day, when men, alas, are so deeply asleep, one must earnestly wish that they would at least be awake to the most important things that are happening, even if as individuals they can do little to change them in many cases. There is no need to say: How can I alone change anything?

Often we must let time tell; in many cases we can work only when conditions are right. We need not apply the same prescription to everything; but we do need to be clear in our consciousness, to know how to observe, so that when something is asked of a man in his own sphere he really knows what he has to do. Above all, we must realise that most people nowadays who believe they do a great deal of thinking, in fact go to sleep whenever they can; they sleep when they might be won over — though this is difficult — to real knowledge of the impulses at work in human evolution. But others are awake! And these powers make use of every opportunity, every channel, in order to prevent human life from developing so as to meet the demands of the Consciousness Soul, and to make it develop only in accordance with their own aims. If people would only wake up to what is being willed in this direction, if they would only recognise things that often lie close at hand and are judged from quite another point of view, this would be of tremendous significance for the solution of those questions which arise out of the chaos of the present day and in the near future will have to be solved. Hence a recognition of such a fact as we have been speaking about yesterday and to-day is of very great importance. We should not judge the world to-day in accordance with abstract principles, for then we only fall into a deeper doze; we should make it our aim to judge with actual knowledge. For what must happen in these coming years can be brought about only by those who draw their principles, the impulses for what they do and will, from a spiritual knowledge of world-evolution. From this point of view — I must add — we dare not allow the healthy, genuine, welcome and refreshing trend that leads human souls towards sacramentalism — we dare not allow this to be used for the revival of ancient cults. For this would be using it not to gain knowledge of the Mystery of Golgotha, but to preserve a symbolism without spirit, the very thing that was inaugurated in the Augustan age and is now promoted in certain quarters for their own advantage. This is one aspect of what can be done to expose men's souls to misunderstandings — misunderstandings about sacramentalism, misunderstandings about ritual, misunderstandings about rhetoric, about living in concepts, in mere words. The formalization has indeed not sprung from the endeavours of Demosthenes in Greece, who put pebbles on his tongue because he stuttered, but wished to share with his countrymen the warm, loving content of his soul. It derives from rhetoric, and people who are not fully awake to the impulses at work in the evolution of mankind absorb it with enthusiasm.

The other side is made up of those who swear by the crudest science, who refuse to accept the spiritual, who value science only as technology, rejecting all that can be discovered concerning the spiritual content of the world through the great and powerful phenomena of nature. I once said, and this was truly not said rhetorically, but out of the deeper knowledge of the soul: Until our physics, our mechanics, the whole of our external science, come to be permeated by the Christ Impulse, science will not have reached its goal. Not only history should speak of the Mystery of Golgotha: men should also realise that since the Mystery of Golgotha natural phenomena have to be observed in such a way that Christ is known to be on the earth, whereas He was not on the earth before. A truly Christian science will not seek for atoms, not for atoms and their laws, nor for the conservation of matter and of energy; it will seek for the revelation of Christ in all the phenomena of nature, and these will thereby reveal to men their sacramental character.

From a contemplation of nature in this light there will spring a feeling for moral, social, political and religious principles in human life which will really answer to the demands of human living. If we absorb the divine element in nature, if we draw upon the power of Christ in our knowledge of nature, then we shall carry into the rules of conduct that we set up for mankind, and into all that we want to exemplify, whether in caring for the poor or in any other realm of social service — we shall carry Christology into all our works. If we are unable to look upon nature around us as permeated by Christ, if we are unable to discover the activity of Christ in all that lives in human deeds even when they are halting deeds, neither shall we be able in our social, moral or political life to meet the real demands of our time. In that case we should be left on the one hand with our crude science, which simply refuses to know anything about the super-sensible, or with mere rhetoric, which is a legacy of Romanism, the ghost of Romanism. And if, when we speak of sacramentalism and ritual, which are both misunderstood, we must refer to Rome, in fact to present-day Rome, to the Rome that has become great especially through the shrewdness of Pope Leo XIII, then we have also to find the name which goes with the empty phrase-making of rhetoric — the kind of phrase-making which anyone really permeated by anthroposophical understanding of spiritual life must recognise.

We have often referred to this rhetoric. I must now go into actualities. I generally do this when enough time has been spent on other aspects of a subject. Where do we find the rhetoric that confronts a no longer healthy ritual, just as the Roman pulpit rhetoric of the Jesuits does? Where do we find the rhetoric that confronts modern science, which is craving for spirituality, the rhetoric that threatens our contemporaries because in a sleeping condition they are absorbing something which for external reasons is perhaps necessary for them? But should the people who recognise these things remain inwardly aloof, entirely aloof, from what is spreading through the world as mere rhetoric? This is Wilsonism! Woodrow Wilson is the name which has to be imprinted on this life in rhetoric, on the stringing together of words without substance. Call it a League of Nations, call it what you will, it is all a wallowing in mere rhetoric. This is something that mankind should not sleep through. People should feel impelled in one way or another to wake up to what is here emphasised — that Wilsonism is essentially opposed to the true progress of mankind; and this must be recognised in the very nature of its rhetoric; an idol with feet of clay.

These things, my dear friends, cannot be expressed through a few bourgeois, philistine ideas. That which threatens our time from the direction indicated, and has to be looked at soberly when present events are considered, must also be recognised in all its significance. We must not allow the world to be Wilsonised because everyone is asleep. Let there be followers of Wilson in America, in Europe, or anywhere else, but there must also be people who know that a deep connection exists between Jesuitism on the one hand and Wilsonism on the other. There must be people who realise this. Certainly they will have to grow beyond the philistinism of to-day; they must not form their opinions according to what the day brings, or even the years; they must be able to take account of what the centuries conceal, and yet reveal to us, if really and truly, with the innermost active force of the soul, we are able to look up to the hill where stood the Cross of Golgotha, the symbol for everything that as a revelation of the primeval Mysteries has poured into human life. But it will remain always youthful, always bringing fresh revelations to mankind.




Last Modified: 16-Oct-2017
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