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The Human Soul in the Supersensible Realm and Its Relationship to the Body


Basel, 18 October 1917


You hear repeatedly if one talks about anthroposophy that it originates from the fantastic inspirations of single personalities. Many people at least judge that way who fancy themselves as capable. However, one has to say from the start that this anthroposophic spiritual knowledge wants to cover a research field that contains the most important interests of the human life generally. Hence, isolated attempts were done repeatedly at all times to cultivate this field. But one must say that these were mostly only light flashes in our time which were cast on this field by this or that outstanding personality who contemplated the human spiritual life. These light flashes with which one always has the sensation that they come from quite different origins of the human being than the knowledge that refers to the outside sense perception.

Unsurprisingly, an unaware cognitive instinct makes the human beings illuminate this field by such light flashes repeatedly, because on this field there are the most important soul riddles which the human being has to face over and over again with his feeling, thinking and willing. The human being has to feel: if he does not take a position to these questions, it has an effect on his soul that you can compare with a kind of bodily illness. The soul life becomes banal; it feels exposed to all kinds of “addictions” — I would like to say — if the doubts, the uncertainties emerge concerning these questions. However, in our times the human beings were less eager to satisfy their desire for knowledge, which arises from such impulses, with spiritual food. Who did not know the fashion of those who could afford it to visit the most different sanitariums where, actually, for many people nothing was extinguished but that desire for knowledge of which one liked, actually, to be unaware in the usual life. What the human beings searched in sanitariums and similar institutions, were, strictly speaking, only suggestions with which they did not want to be present, so to speak, with their souls and which should meet those mysterious desires about which I have just spoken and which one does not want to satisfy spiritually.

A picture repeatedly emerges to me if I have to contemplate such questions. When I was — to visit somebody — in a sanitarium just at a time when the different guests were passing and when I found out for myself after the conversation and the sight of single patients that that who mostly needed recovery of his nervous system was the doctor in charge. The others needed much less recovery of their nervous systems than the doctor in charge needed.

On this field, single persons who dealt more intensely with questions of the spiritual life have cast single light flashes that arose to them from the depths of their souls. Besides, one thing always became known that would run like a red thread also today through the considerations of this evening. The fact that in the human being, as he walks on earth today, another human being sleeps and rests who is not perceived due to the conditions of the usual life because he sleeps quieter in the usual human being than dream images exist in him which emerge and disappear.

However, one thing always struck just spirited persons when they found out for themselves how this second human being rests in the usual human being: they could not conceive this sleeping human being without bringing him together with death in any way. More or less instinctively, the one or the other personality recognised that just as the phenomena of the outer sense perceptible physical life are associated with the laws of existence, of growth, of birth and so on, this second human being sleeping in the first is associated intimately with death, with fading. You notice that it is a great, important moment for persons of knowledge if they have to think the higher human being in the usual human being associated with the forces of death.

Such a personality is the philosopher and psychologist Karl Fortlage (1806-1881). I want to take an important statement as starting point that he did in a course of eight psychological lectures in 1869. In these lectures, you can find the following, quite important place:

 “If we call ourselves living beings and attribute a quality to ourselves which we have in common with animals and plants, we inevitably understand by the living state something that never leaves us and always continues in sleep and in the wake state in us. This is the vegetative life of nourishing our organism, an unaware life, a sleeping life; it is outbalanced in the breaks of waking by the life of consumption. The brain makes an exception here because this life of nourishing, this sleeping life, is outbalanced in the breaks of the waking by the life of consumption. In these breaks the brain is exposed to prevailing consumption and gets consequently into a state which would bring about the absolute weakening of the body or death, if it extended to the other organs.”

After Fortlage has come to this strange statement, he continues this consideration with the following, profound words: “Consciousness is a little and partial death, death is a big and complete consciousness, an awakening of the whole being in its innermost depths.”

You realise that such a light flash, emerging from the depths of the soul, illuminates the coherence of death and consciousness what accompanies us during our wake life always and makes up, actually, the human being. Fortlage gets to an idea of the relationship of death and consciousness, realising that that which seizes all human beings at once at the moment of death works in microcosm if we unfold our consciousness during the wake life. Every conscious act is in microcosm the same as death is on a large scale. So that — as to Fortlage — the real death if it occurs is the emergence of an enclosing consciousness, which puts the human being into a supersensible world, while he is put into the physical world if his soul needs the physical body between birth and death.

Fortlage wrote many volumes on psychology. However, such light flashes appear only now and again in his writings. The remaining contents of his writings even deal with that which one finds so normally today in psychology: the association and course of mental pictures, the emergence of desires and so on, briefly, with all those questions on which one ventures solely in psychology and which are far away from that what, actually, interests the whole human being in psychology, which are far away from the main questions of freedom and immortality.

The considerations of this evening deal with the question of immortality while in some weeks here I hold a talk about freedom from the same viewpoint.

Even if Fortlage is concerned with the subordinate questions in his vast psychological research, and in such a way that this kind of activity cannot lead to the highest questions, at least, such light flashes are found with him. However, one reproved him for it. Eduard von Hartmann reproved Fortlage sharply that he would have left the path of science introducing such a coherence into the strict science as that of consciousness and death.

Well, one may say, not only Fortlage but also many personalities produced in single light flashes something of knowledge that refers to this characterised second human being sleeping in the sense-perceptible human being. However, these were isolated light flashes.

Anthroposophy has the task now to systemise, to make methodical that what has come up instinctively in single light flashes like manifestations of higher knowledge from the depths of the human soul, so that that which originates from it can place itself as a fully valid science beside the modern natural sciences. However, it is necessary that that who wants to form an opinion about anthroposophy casts off some prejudices that easily result from certain advantages of modern science.

I had to say, the human being whom spiritual science considers is something sleeping in the normally waking human being. From it, however, it is explicable that everything that refers to this second human being is generally drowned as it were at first in our consciousness by the sensory experience and the needs of our personal life. If in this usual life now and again such light flashes appear, they disappear faster than a dream does. No miracle, hence, that most people once say to themselves after the absolutely entitled judgement of our time: indeed, what emerges there from the soul and will manifest of this low sounding sleeping human being, this does — if it appears with those who call themselves spiritual researchers — the impression of something dreamish, fantastic. Our time does not want to get involved with such phantasms. It has rapidly finished its judgement: nonsense, this is something that has arisen from the imagination of single ones.

However, something else could be right. How would it be if it were right that one could get such weak images as they exist in dream of that what lives in the human being beyond birth and death what is the everlasting of the human nature compared with the transient? If this held true, one would have to renounce either any knowledge of the everlasting in the human being if one did not want to recourse to images of imagination or dream life, or one would have to bring the logical discipline into this world that usually seems to be fantastic, the sense of methodical research that one applies to the sense-perceptible world. One has to raise the images with certain soul forces, so that they do not only scurry like dreams, but also become as distinct and impressive as the images of the usual consciousness are.

Is anyone able to do this? Today it is difficult to bring home to a human being that one is able to do it even in scientific sense because today one regards natural sciences as the only science that has a strictly reasonable methodology. If one distinguishes other sciences, one accepts them, actually, only as far as they are founded methodically after the pattern of natural sciences. One has to say for certain fields: what natural sciences have brought up in modern times as mental pictures, showed that it must be that way if they want to control the area which is assigned to them. However, one must also say that one cannot approach the everlasting life of the human being with these mental pictures.

These images cannot be appropriate to the same extent to solve the riddles of nature and the riddles of the human soul. To the latter one has to add something else. Which means must be applied to make the soul so strong that it can bring up the mental pictures which rest sleeping below in our consciousness and can apply the strict discipline and methodology of thinking to them, about which I have spoken in particular in my book How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds?. As in former talks, I want again to emphasise some viewpoints of these writings. One gets no idea of the approach of the spiritual researcher what he has to do, actually, to behold into the spiritual world with his soul if one does not realise what one can experience as a whole human being with the suitable desire for knowledge at certain limiting points of knowledge to which just the modern natural sciences lead.

Modern natural sciences give that who dedicates himself to them not only explanations, which nobody admires more than the spiritual researcher does, of the outer physical course, of various things which have an impact on the practical life, but natural sciences give that who dedicates himself from certain viewpoints an inner education of the soul life. More than one was able in former stadia of scientific cognition, today one is prepared to spiritual research cognitively, actually, just by natural sciences. One should not be restricted by that what natural sciences have to say about the outside world in their own field.

One should rather be able to soar an inner discipline of the soul life by the way one does research in nature. The mental pictures that natural sciences deliver can explain the outer nature only; after their contents, they have nothing to say about the spiritual life. But while one applies them devotedly, they educate that human being by the way who is able to take care of that what goes forward in him, of certain inner living conditions which bring along him to receive a concept, an inner experience of that soul life beyond the body.

I know very well that this concept — living with his soul beyond the body — is for many people the summit of nonsense today. However, this never minds. Everybody can convince himself that the inner experience gives him the certain insight of the life beyond the body if he goes through such soul exercises as I have indicated them in my writings or as I want to pronounce them, in principle, here.

One can experience especially important things if one just arrives at that boundary area of cognitive life to which natural sciences lead so often. You know, many people speak of the big boundary questions of cognition. One speaks of the fact that the human soul comes to a border if it wants to know about whether the world is infinite or limited spatially or temporally, if the soul wants to know whether it is subject to an irresistible constraint in all its actions or whether it is free.

Indeed, these are the highest boundary questions. Du Bois-Reymond put such boundary questions in his famous speech about the limits of the knowledge of nature, about the seven world riddles. You can experience the deepest impression if you feel out of the pain of a person longing for knowledge how such a person stands at such a boundary place.

I could bring in many examples. Such an example is contained in the writings of the famous aesthetician and philosopher Friedrich Theodor Vischer (1807-1887). If one reads his writings, one has often to stop with that what he experiences at such boundary places of cognition. He wrote a nice treatise on a book that the philosopher Johannes Volkelt (1846-1930) had written about the dream fantasies.

In this treatise that reproached Vischer that he had mixed with the spiritists, Vischer states such a place where he shows what he had experienced at the boundary places of cognition. He said, it is most certain that the human soul cannot be in the body; however, it is also most certain that it is not beyond the body. Here we have such a boundary question, which is paradoxical, because it has an entire contradiction in itself, as those are which one meets just always then when one delves devotedly in strict natural sciences, in life generally. The soul cannot be in the body; however, it can also not be beyond the body! — Why does one get to such contradiction?

At such border places where such contradictions appear, the scientific cognition is not at all helpful and it is most annoying if one believes that it helps something. Then, however, most people are soon ready with their judgement. They simply say in such a case, well, up to here just the human knowledge reaches; we are not able to get further. — However, it is not that way. Because Vischer had the prejudice, he experienced the contradiction only. However, he did not experience what one can do to get further with his soul at such border places. Here the usual cognition must stop and a particular experience of the soul has to begin. Here you must be able to forget as it were what the images of the usual life are because they lead you just to this border place only. You must be able to experience this here. Here you must be able to struggle with that what faces you if you let yourself in for such a contradiction. One should experience such contradictions with the whole soul. Then something new faces the soul like from spiritual depths that it cannot experience without this experience of such contradictions.

One has formed mental pictures of how, for example, lower animals that still have no senses develop senses in contact with the outside world. An inner life existed; it is confronted with the outer world, adapts itself to the outer world, and experiences the impulses of the outer world. While before the life pulsates in the organism and then everywhere stumbles against the sensory outside, it develops, we say, a sense of touch. First, it is a kind of internal tunnelling, then bumping against the borders of the externally spatial. Nevertheless, the being learns in the contact with the outside world to adapt itself; it forms a kind of picture of the outside world by the sense of touch; by the collisions with the border, this sense of touch develops.

One can compare to this image of that what develops the outer senses in the lower organisms what the soul experiences if it gets to such border places of cognition. There the soul really experiences in such a way, as if you bump against anything in the darkness that you have outside at first. Then that differentiates itself, which you experience there in such contradictory mental pictures that one forms at boundary places of knowledge. As the sense of touch arises as a physical sense from the undifferentiated cells, a spiritual existence arises from the mental, while the soul bumps against the border of the spiritual world. You really bump against the spiritual world. However, you also adapt yourself to it. You experience the significant that you have the soul first as it were as an undeveloped soul organism, which the outside spiritual world faces, then however, this soul develops spiritual senses of touch and spiritual eyes, spiritual ears in the further process to perceive that with which it is confronted at first.

I gladly believe that today those people who feel the urge to experience something of the spiritual world would prefer if one could teach the ability of perceiving the spiritual world while one imposes them mystically or as the case may be. Some people believe this. Nevertheless, it is not that way. What opens the spiritual world to us is inner soul work. This inner soul work really leads to that which I have indicated. The human being who changes his soul into an organised soul knows that his soul gets free from the body, when pushing against the spiritual and perceives the spirit. Getting free from the body is a result of inner perception. Since also that which I have explained just now appears repeatedly with persons of knowledge.

It is strange, how the course develops which I have described spiritual-scientifically with those who have worked through the longings for knowledge.

Let me bring in an example of Vischer once again, the example of a quotation by him by which he shows how he felt placed repeatedly at those boundary places of cognition where one cannot help perceiving contradictions, but contradictions that cannot be solved while you solve them logically, but while you settle down into them and develop your spiritual organs.

In particular, the following contradiction appeared to Vischer over and over again: the brain should be the organ of the soul, should produce mental pictures as it were; but if one becomes engrossed in the being of the mental pictures, one cannot regard them as cerebral products. This is such a boundary place of cognition; Vischer says referring to it:

“No mind, where no nerve centre, where no brain, the opponents say.” — Vischer himself does not say it — “No nerve centre, no brain, we say if it were not prepared from below on countless levels. It is simple to jibe at a spirit rumbling about in granite and lime — it is not more difficult than if we ask mockingly how the proteins in the brain soar ideas. The human knowledge cannot measure the level differences. It will remain a secret how it appears and happens that nature behind which the spirit still must slumber is such perfect counterblow of the spirit that we get bumps from it. It is a diremption of such apparent totality that with Hegel's alterity and exasperation, as witty as the formula may be, nothing is said; the asperity of the imaginary partition is simply covered. One finds the right recognition of the cutting edge and the thrust of this counterblow with Fichte, but no explanation of it.”

This portrayal is very strange. Friedrich Theodor Vischer feels facing a limit of knowledge; he describes his experience. How has he to describe it?

He gets to the expression: “we get bumps from it.” He gets to the expression: “cutting edge and thrust of the counterblow.” — One sees the soul that wants to differentiate to develop internal spiritual organs by which it can experience the supersensible outside world, in which it lives.

For a long time in the history of humanity, it was an obstacle to soar spiritual organs in the right way because one believed only the human thinking that takes the sense impressions as starting point could solve certain questions, just the questions of God, freedom and immortality.

Well, thinking is important, because strictly speaking a big part of those exercises that one must do to attain spiritual organs consists of a higher development of thinking than the thinking is which one uses in natural sciences. However, if you only abandon yourself to the usual thinking, that originates from the usual human being not from that second human being sleeping in you. This thinking does not lead into the spiritual world; this thinking can only realise that it is in the spiritual world. However, no unbiased person concedes that thoughts are something that lives in the sensory world; however, these thoughts contain nothing but impressions of the sensory world if they are taken from the usual human nature. People with deeper inner life have always felt like in flashes of inspiration where to the human thinking leads if it is left to itself, emancipated from the outer sense perception.

You can find — if you have experience of the spiritual-scientific literature — such light flashes with numerous personalities which sometimes are, however, darkness flashes. With them, one has to stop and observe to which cliffs the human cognitive life leads if this life is sincere and honest to itself and does not fool itself with all kinds of prejudices, and does not apply all kinds of methods taken from other, verified fields to the soul life itself. Again an example of many:

A man who really struggled with knowledge problems and riddles is Gideon Spicker (1840-1912) who taught philosophy at the University of Münster until few years. Gideon Spicker took the education for the spiritual as starting point. The deepest knowledge questions arose to him from theology. Some years ago, he wrote two nice booklets: From the Cloister to the Academic Lectureship. Destinies of a Former Capuchin (1908) and In the Turning Point of the Christian World Period. A Philosophical Confession of a Former Capuchin (1910); in the one he describes his life, in the other his knowledge desire.

At a place, one has to pause particularly where this former Capuchin, who then became a professor, expresses himself about the experience that he had with thinking that he had emancipated from the sensory experience. However, he did not have the courage to go into spiritual science; he did not develop the power of thoughts so far that it wakes the spiritual organs, so that he faced a spiritual world, felt with his soul being in the realm of the supersensible. Because he was at such a border place where he experienced something with the thinking, he expressed himself as follows:

“To which philosophy one confesses, whether to a dogmatic or skeptical, to an empiric or transcendental, a critical or eclectic one: all without exception take an unproven and unprovable proposition as starting point, namely the necessity of thinking. No investigation gets to this necessity, as deeply as it may prospect one day. It must be absolutely accepted and can be founded by nothing” — he means the necessity of thinking — “every attempt to prove its correctness always requires it. Beneath it a bottomless abyss yawns, a nightmarish darkness illuminated by no beam of light. We do not know, where from it comes, neither where to it leads. Whether a merciful God or a bad demon put it in the reason, both are uncertain.”

However, no human being speaks this way who has learnt a little bit only, has maybe learnt very much, and puts up all kinds of philosophy from the learnt concepts. Thus a human being speaks who has worked through what the knowledge researcher can go through if he submerges with his soul forces only deeply enough into that undergrounds of inner experience into which one can submerge where one is confronted with the cliffs, the partitions which one only penetrates if the spiritual organs really awake if they become consciousness.

In my life, I became acquainted with a number of such persons like Gideon Spicker, and I have tried to reflect such characters in the picture of Strader in my mystery dramas. However, I had to experience with it that just those who are often called followers of anthroposophy misunderstood me to the greatest extent. While the persons whom these dramas show are taken out of the real, comprehensive life, from that life that should just show the necessity and the validity of spiritual science from the other areas of modern existence, weird persons believed, I would write such roles that are tailor-made for those who should represent them, whereas I was just a far cry from this.

I could show with a comparison what such a person experiences who does not get to the knowledge of spirit but to the insight of the necessity of thinking. Someone who gets to the knowledge of spirit knows that if one not only wants to consider the thinking but experiences it, he does not experience, indeed, that beyond the thinking that Gideon Spicker describes, the bottomless abyss, the nightmarish darkness illuminated by no beam of light, but he experiences the spiritual world beyond this thinking that bears the sense-perceptible reality. He experiences with his soul in this supersensible area. He also experiences that there is no uncertainty whether a merciful God or a bad demon has been put in the reason, but he experiences and observes the spiritual that penetrates the reason, as the sense perceptible world penetrates the sensory observation.

However, one must say that the thinking — if it is left to itself if it is only thought, and is not experienced — that such a development of the soul life can be compared — you forgive for the somewhat odd comparison — with a hungry organism. If one believes to be able to recognise something of the highest questions by mere thinking — God, freedom, immortality —, then one resembles a person who does not want to still his hunger with food from the outside, but lets the hunger develop. As little as you can develop a hungry organism, so that it balances out its needs in itself, just as little you can attain any spiritual content of the soul and any solution of the questions of God, freedom, immortality if you abandon yourself only to the thinking. As you starve on and on unless you eat, you cannot attain the spiritual development if you think only on and on.

The older philosophical metaphysics wanted this. As hard as it is, it is true: this outdated metaphysics that is something new, however, to some people is nothing but a science that suffers from mental malnutrition.

However, it is not enough that you gain this knowledge only to understand the inner experience correctly. As you have to understand that mere thinking leads to mental malnutrition if this thinking does not brace itself up for inner experience, you have also to understand that much knowledge of the outer sense-perceptible reality and its processing by the intellect, by methodical research do not lead to any knowledge of the soul.

You will convince yourselves if you take common textbooks of psychology that one normally starts speaking about the nervous system. What one says, otherwise, about the human organism is borrowed from physiology, from natural sciences.

Now I have to stress repeatedly not to be misunderstood that spiritual science is a far cry from misjudging what natural sciences have reached concerning the secrets of the nervous life, the secrets of the human organism. I do not want to discount its value. Nevertheless, the value is in another area than in that of the soul knowledge. You may abandon yourself to the mere thinking, then you starve; but abandoning yourself to the outer observation for the knowledge of the soul life only resembles the supply of all kinds of stuff that is indigestible. If you fill your stomachs with stones or the like, the human organism cannot make anything from this indigestible stuff.

Thus you cannot suppose, if you take the scientific results simply in such a way as they are and do not process them mentally, that you receive any enlightenment of the spiritual world, of the life of the soul in the supersensible realm. In our times, people abandoned themselves to the most different mental pictures that should explain how actually the soul relates to the body. Not only that there the oddest fairy tales are bustling about in that what one often calls science. One wants to eradicate fairy tales and superstition from the outer life, in science they often flourish, one only notes it in science just as little as one noted it in the outer life of former times. That fairy tale also belongs to it that the nerves are telegraph wires to the soul that pass on the outer sensory impressions, then again other nerves are there which direct the will impulses to the periphery. About this fairy tale, one would not like to talk at all, because what is meant with this comparison is far away from reality and arises only from an unnoticed scientific superstition.

However, I would like to emphasise two mental pictures that are also widespread today with those who contemplate the relationship of the body and the soul.

Some people believe that they have to regard the body or the nervous system as a kind of tool of the soul, as if the soul is a being that uses the body like a tool. The others who cannot realise how a mental-spiritual being should find a working point to work on something material like the body got even to the weird mental picture of the mental-bodily parallelism. There the processes of the body should proceed for themselves. Without the soul working on the body like a cause or the body reacting on the soul, the soul life should proceed in parallel with the bodily processes. One current always accompanies the other, but the one does not work on the other. Wundt (Wilhelm W., 1832-1920), Ebbinghaus (Herman E., 1850-1909), Paulsen (Friedrich, 1846-1908) and many others dedicate themselves to this weird parallelism theory.

All these theories suffer from the fact that they do not realise what the coherence of the soul with the body is based on. This coherence can be expressed neither by the fact that one says, the body is the tool of the soul, nor that one says, the soul processes proceed in parallel with the bodily phenomena.

However, I am able to bring only forward that what I can say that encompasses a wide field as a result and observation of anthroposophy. Everybody can find the other reasons in my various writings. Nevertheless, I would like to show the essentials briefly today.

If one wants to express the relationship of soul and body correctly, one has to say, as far as one considers the human being, everything bodily of the human being turns out to be for a real observation neither as tool nor as a process running alongside but as a creation of the soul in microcosm and on a large scale.

It is nothing bodily at the human being that is no creation of the soul. However, one has to cast off some prejudices and to take up new concepts from spiritual science if one wants to envisage this far-reaching idea that everything bodily is a creation of the soul.

Already in microcosm, this is in such a way if we form any mental picture if a feeling emerges in us. Yes, only because one has not learnt to observe spiritually and bodily, one believes that there something exterior works on a finished body; the exterior effect spreads to the finished body through the eye or ear, then the effect continues inwardly. Have an unbiased look at the suitable theories. You will find everywhere that they are not at all based on real observations but on prejudices. Since what really goes forward if we perceive if we hear anything, is already carried out, actually, for the most part when we become aware of it, and is strictly speaking always a developmental process in the body. A beam of light hits us and causes something. It is in the same world in which our body is. In our body, something goes forward. What goes forward in it is of the same kind, only in microcosm, as it is if on a large-scale forces form our organism on a large scale. As the forces of growth and other forces form our organism, something is formed in us if a beam of light hits us if a tone hits us and so on. That which is formed there as something subtle in us is reflected in the soul that is not in the body but always in the supersensible realm. We become aware of the reflection. The process, however, which must take place there for the wake consciousness must be a destructive process, a little death.

We cannot completely convince ourselves of the consciousness, of the soul being with the help of the usual consciousness processes, and with bodily-spiritual observation. Nevertheless, if we come on what also accompanies our usual awake life, on the forming of memories, we come already nearer to that which I have just said. Someone who is able to observe what goes forward in the human being knows: what makes a mental picture aware to us does not lead straight away to memories. No, something has always to run alongside, another process has to take place. If you have sense for observation, look at a pupil who studies hard ever so much; what he must perform as auxiliary exercises, so that that which he takes up also goes over into his memory. For a subconscious accompanying process must proceed always. That which we know does not remain to us, but that which goes alongside the consciousness in the subconsciousness. However, that which happens there in our organism by this side flow of the consciousness is still very similar to the growth processes of childhood.

The origin of mental pictures is a growth process in microcosm. Usually we grow like with tremendous power in proportion to the small growth process that takes place in us, unnoticed in the usual life if memory forms. Under the surface of the current of the conscious mental pictures, events happen which carry the memories; and this is very like the growth processes. Do you ask why one can well train the memory just in your youth? Because you still have fresh growth forces in yourselves, because they have not yet withered. However, I can always give such single proofs only; you can prove what I have said with many single observations.

Our usual imagining, feeling and willing intervenes already in such a way that it is reflected not only and makes aware what happens; but in such a way as concerning the memory an undercurrent is there for our conscious life, there is also an upper current. As one does not note the undercurrent — one notes it at most if the pupil studies hard and does movements and knocks its head to support this undercurrent —, one does not note the upper current all the more. However, this upper current belongs above all to that second human being who sleeps there in the usual human being, while we think, feel, and will in our usual life.

Just as the current of memory proceeds beneath the consciousness, something purely mental proceeds above the consciousness, something that does not intervene at all anyhow in the body. Because this conscious soul life has such hyper-experience, I would like to say, the forces of growth are not sufficient for this conscious soul life, for the entire soul life at all. The forces that lead the human being to birth are not sufficient. These forces could only evoke that in the human being that we perceive with the sleeping organism.

At the moment when the consciousness intervenes with its upper currents in the organism, those forces which also destroy this organism finally at death must intervene in the organism. These forces are destructive forces, so that the forces of growth must balance out them in sleep. Only then, one understands the supersensible life of the soul if one knows how far the purely organic reaches subsensibly.

I do not like speaking about personal experiences; what I tell, however, is associated substantially with that which I generally have to bring forward. I confess that I intensely pursued the problems about which I speak today and in my writings since for more than thirty years on all ways that may arise. These ways have to lead the soul into the area of spiritual life and in the coherence of this spiritual-mental life with the bodily life. I have found that — if you go about your work scientifically in the sense of our time honestly and sincerely — you really can obtain many fertile things, while you discipline yourself scientifically. On this way then you just find those questions for whose solution the usual natural sciences do not suffice. Yes, just from scientific thinking one gets other observation results about what is in natural sciences, actually.

The question of the nature of the nervous system was one of the biggest ones to me for decades, which the scientific psychologists, the psychological scientists regard as the organ of the soul who imagine that in the nerves an inner activity takes place, which is similar to other organ activities. Well, such activities also proceed in the nerves, but they do just not serve the forming of mental pictures, of feelings and will impulses. They serve the nutrition of the nerves, the production of the nervous substance if it has been consumed. They just do not serve the soul life; however, they must be there, so that the soul life can take place. I use a comparison that I have used here already once.

If you consider the nervous system as something that must be there for the soul life, you just have something, as if you say, the ground must be there, so that I do not fall into the depth if I want to go. However, if I go and the ground is soft, I leave behind tracks. Then someone will completely err who checks the ground and searches the forces in it, which my footprints have produced from inside. As little as these forces produce tracks from inside, any inner forces of the brain and nervous system produce the tracks that originate from imagining, feeling, and willing. There the mental works which prevails in the supersensible area.

Before one does not realise this and experiences it as real observation, one can generally come to no understanding of the true nature of the soul. That which is on the bottom of the soul life in the nervous life is not the organic processes of the nervous system — they lead to another direction —, this is that which I would like to specify now. I have brought in the preceding personal remark, so that you realise that I do not frivolously pronounce something such substantial that it is hard gained what I say about the nervous life: while organic forces go into the nervous ramifications, the human being goes over from life to death. In the nervous ramifications, the human being dies perpetually, if he uses these nervous ramifications for thinking, feeling, or willing.

The organic life does not continue as the growth conditions do, but it dies away, while ramifying in the nerves. While it dies away, it prepares the ground for the spiritual development, for the purely supersensible mental. As I remove the air with a pump from a container, produce vacuum, and then the air completely flows again into the container by itself, in the same way mental life flows in the dead part of the nervous system perpetually if the organism sends the partial death into it.

Hence, the partial death is the basis of consciousness. If one recognises that the human being does not need to pour his organic forces into his body to make this body the place of the soul, but that the human being needs to kill his organic experience to withdraw this organic life constantly from the places to which the nerves give the opportunity, you notice how the supersensible soul life can develop in the sensory body, however, after it has created this sensory body first. Since the same soul, which thinks, feels and wills in the time from conception to death, exists also before. The spiritual world is not anywhere in a cloud-cuckoo-land, it is there where the sense-perceptible world is also; it penetrates it. Where sensory effects are, they originate from supersensible, spiritual effects. This same soul lives in the supersensible world that has formed the body and has changed it into the apparatus reflecting the processes to it of which you can become aware. Before it came to conception, it lived in the supersensible world, and in this life on earth, it is connected with the supersensible world. This soul exists already since centuries, before it enters the sense-perceptible existence at conception. As in the life between birth and death this soul has created the body as its image and unfolds its life with this image of the body, the life of the soul unfolds the forces that develop the forces of heredity from the supersensible world.

It is correct that that which we pass on originates in the successive generations. However, our soul works already on them. We insert the forces in our ancestors by the effects of our soul that we receive then as inherited. Thus, we develop our whole organism from the spiritual world as we form something with the memory in microcosm; and only the base, the opportunity of it is given by the sensory heredity. The body is completely a creation of the mental-spiritual. As well as the single experience between birth and death is based on a creation of the spiritual, the entire human body is also based on the spiritual-mental. However, there are incorporated not only the forces of growth in this developmental current but also the forces that appear finally in the total sum as death which is only the outside of immortality.

Since while the mental-spiritual puts the body in the world, is reflected with it, it experiences its own life in the supersensible area. However, at the same time it destroys the body because the upper current mentioned just now develops. As every consciousness is based on a partial death, the complete death is nothing but the withdrawal of the soul from the body that is the beginning of a different experience of the soul. We know: as we develop memories between birth and death, we developed the inner human being in the supersensible current who goes through births and deaths who is everlasting.

What I have indicated as soul experience is not anything that the spiritual researcher produces, it is the characterised second human being whom one only oversleeps, otherwise, but is always in the human being. Spiritual research is nothing but making people aware of that what is perpetual and eternal in the human being, so that he can go through death. If you are able to move with your mental in the spiritual in the intimated way as you move with your senses in the physical-sensory, then you know that you live as a human being also in a spiritual world as one lives with the senses in a physical world. As one distinguishes the mineral, plant and animal realms in the physical world, one distinguishes realms in the spiritual world, which are full of beings that become more and more spiritual the higher you ascend to which the human being belongs with his soul, as he belongs with his body to the physical realms. Briefly, the soul consciously enters in the spiritual world.

I would like to call this worldview Goetheanism after its origins, as well as I would call the building in Dornach Goetheanum that is dedicated to this worldview. Since not on some daydreams but on the healthy condition on which the Goethean worldview is based that is also based what I mean as anthroposophy. Goethe differed in his view of the physical things just by such conditions from that what originated later as natural sciences. However, Goethe developed such scientific concepts that these concepts may sit heavily in the soul's stomach like stones, but can be transformed, so that you reach the mental realm with these scientific concepts. Goethe himself did not yet found spiritual science; he did not get around to doing this. Nevertheless, he developed his theory of metamorphosis so that you only need to develop the internal experience from the principles further, then you also attain knowledge of the mental-spiritual experience.

Whereto does the common psychology, actually, come? A very significant philosopher of the present, Franz Brentano (1838-1917), who died recently, had a rich knowledge life behind himself. He was a fighter in this area; last, he found asylum during this war in Zurich. He attempted to cope with thinking, feeling, and willing his whole life through, beside his other profound researches in the psychological field. These three concepts play a particular role in psychology. Franz Brentano did not advance further than to a classification, did not advance where one can grasp the mental itself only as something living. If one clusters imagining, feeling, willing so simply mechanically, one has three classes. To grasp the mental as something living, one has to grasp the mental, now, however, the spiritual-mental, in such a way as Goethe tried to grasp the outer physical things with his theory of metamorphosis, as Goethe imagined the green leaves of the stalk transformed into the petals, even into the fruit organs. As he attempted to explain all organs by a transformation into each other, one must not only leave thinking, feeling, and willing side by side, but also gain the living transition of them.

There I can bring in the research results again which matured in myself for a long time. Our will is not only put so externally beside the feeling and the imagining, but the feeling has simply originated as a metamorphosis of the will in such a way as the petal forms from the stalk leaf; and imagining develops from feeling. At the end the anthroposophist gets to the result that the will is basically a young being which if it becomes older changes into feeling, and if it becomes even older into thinking, into mental pictures. In the imagining the same is always mysteriously contained which is also inside feeling and willing. However, we do not experience how mental pictures arise from feeling.

However, if the soul has developed its spiritual organs, it experiences a mysterious feeling in all its mental pictures, but not a feeling which is bound to our body, but which leads us on the detour of the mental picture into the vastnesses of the spiritual world. You experience — if you are not led by the feeling into your bodily, but are led into the vastnesses of the spiritual world — that supersensible in which we are between death and a new birth. Then you experience the supersensible world with higher knowledge than the usual mental pictures are, with spiritual-mental knowledge.

However, most people would like to experience this supersensible world after the methods of the sensory world. They are not contented to experience it only in pictures, in Imaginations. They would like to experience it with the senses. However, as the body has to die to become pure spirit, one has to cast off the sensory knowledge that combines with the material. Knowledge has to become Imagination, so that in the Imaginative experience which is as subtle as imagination, but not so arbitrary, the sensory-material is cast off, and a picture of that reality is already attained between birth and death that the human being experiences after death.

Hence, nobody can hope to recognise the supersensible who would like to hear voices or to get other material effects like the spiritists do, while because of a weird self-deception these want to tackle, actually, the supersensible and put something sense-perceptible to themselves. With that subtle spiritual experience, which must happen if one wants to experience the imperishable human being, just many people are not content today. Only this supersensible experience can lead us to the real knowledge of the soul being in the supersensible field that leads us to a true view of the relationship of the body to the soul and that of the soul to the body.

As the feeling changes into imagining, the willing does it too. As one can find a feeling mysteriously in every mental picture, one also discovers a will impulse, which does not lead us to the movements of the limbs, to sensory actions, but leads us from imagining into the supersensible world.

If one discovers the young soul being of willing in the old-grown soul being of imagining, one discovers in this willing which is experienced purely spiritually those forces which work from the preceding life on earth on this life on earth. Then the repeated lives on earth and the intermediate lives in the purely supersensible world become real observation; then the human being gets to the real supersensible knowledge.

One could think that the supersensible knowledge is there only to satisfy the human need of knowledge. Let me quite briefly, at the end, only indicate with few words that this does not hold true. One could believe that only the human need of knowledge is satisfied, but this has its deep practical significance. Indeed, one is concerned with progress in the evolution of humanity. The Copernican worldview, the modern natural sciences came only, after humanity had gone through other levels before. Thus, the anthroposophical spiritual science only originates if the urge to recognise the supersensible is strong enough in the human beings. Many people who know that there is a supersensible world still believe that today the human beings are not ripe to develop those free cognitive forces to wake the sleeping human being. The opposite is the case! Today the human being thirsts for supersensible knowledge. He numbs himself only as I have said at the beginning of this talk.

This cannot go on this way for other reasons, too. One can recognise nature without ascending to laws that make the soul life explicable. You can even say that you can recognise nature the better, the more you keep away from any mental-spiritual while developing physical laws. The physical laws will be the more suited for their field, the less one confuses them with laws that refer only to the mental-spiritual. One has already to say this. However, as soon as it concerns the complete understanding of human life, so that our understanding can intervene in the development of this human life, as soon as it concerns the social and political living together, as soon as it concerns generally finding a right relation from human being to human being, something else is necessary. Then the thoughts that are formed only after the pattern of natural sciences are not sufficient.

Unfortunately, humanity has got used very much to thinking life after such thought forms after which one imagines natural processes. Thus people also have instinctively familiarised themselves with the social life, with the political living together in such a way and also to form it as the spirit forms which only is just used to thinking physical laws. More and more this has developed that way during the last four centuries. As it is correct if natural sciences exclude the spirit from their field, it is insufficient for the human living together, for everything that is connected with society, with sociology to develop thought forms that originate only from natural sciences. One does not become ready with how the human beings have to live together all over the world if one wants to develop this living together after political, after social ideals that are produced after the pattern of scientific principles.

One example of many: when this tragic war broke out, one could hear from many sides, just from the people who called themselves experts of the laws of human living together: this war can last no longer than at most four to five months. — In full seriousness, these persons said this from their scientifically developed thinking, which also exists with that who is not a physical scientist. Just the greatest experts spoke this way. How sadly has reality disproved these mental pictures! Nobody who figures spiritual-scientifically out the world can dedicate himself to such mistakes because he knows which difference exists between escapist mental pictures and realistic ones.

What fulfils our souls as spiritual science brings us together with reality; it puts us into the full reality. A social science, which really copes with this living together of human beings around the whole world which should not bring in instincts, impulses to the human beings which discharge as the today's dreadful, catastrophic events discharge — such a social science can arise only from the conditions which spiritual science gives. Since it deals not with a part of life but with the whole life; hence, it only can generate mental pictures and concepts that cope with reality.

If people do not force themselves to build up their social thinking based on spiritual science, humanity will not come out of the calamities that discharge today so frightfully. I can appreciate what goes out from the people who one calls pacifists or similarly. However, such things cannot be decided by mere orders, cannot be decided by the fact that one decrees: this and that must be.

One can absolutely agree with that which must be. However, if one only produces the orders, only the laws of the usual thinking, it is in such a way, as if one says to a stove: dear stove, it is your duty to heat the room; hence, heat the room. — It will not heat the room, without putting wood into it and making a fire.

Just as little all the usual ideas of peacekeeping et cetera are sufficient. It concerns that one not only says, human beings, love each other, but that one puts heating material into the human souls. However, these are concepts that arise from the living conception of spiritual life.

Since the soul does not only belong to the material, it belongs to the spiritual life. One does often not understand even today, what it means that this human soul belongs to the supersensible area. One usually thinks that one is with the laws which one develops today already in the supersensible area. One does not do this.

Just in the fields of serious science one often starts realising already that it is also significant to check for human experience not only that which scientific prejudice has sketched out in the last decades but also that there other concepts, other ideas are necessary.

Did we not experience the strange play in the last time that one of the most loyal disciples of Haeckel, Oscar Hertwig (1849-1922), the famous physiologist, wrote a book in which he says farewell to the whole outwardness of Darwin's theory which wants to explain the evolution only with a sum of contingencies, of coincidences, which does not want that forces intervene in this evolution that one cannot recognise with mere outer observation. Thus, one experienced the strange case that Oscar Hertwig wrote a significant book in the last time: The Origin of Organisms a Refutation of Darwin's Theory of Chance (1916). In this book in which serious science itself attempts to come out from the only material, to ascend to the spiritual, Oscar Hertwig closes his explanations with the following considerations:

“The interpretation of Darwin's theory which is so ambiguous with its indefiniteness also permitted a versatile use in other fields of the economic, social, and political life. From it everybody could get desired answers, like from a Delphi oracle, concerning its practical applications on social, political, hygienic, medical, and other fields and refers as affirmation of his assertions to the Darwinian biology with its immutable physical principles. However, if now these putative principles are no real ones” — Oscar Hertwig believes to have proved that —, “should there not be social dangers with its versatile practical application on other fields? Nevertheless, do not believe that the human society can use phrases like the relentless struggle for existence, the selection of the fittest, the natural perfection etc. transferring them to the most different fields without being deeper influenced in the whole direction of its ideation. One could easily prove this assertion with many phenomena of modern times. Just therefore the decision of truth and error of Darwinism is beyond the scope of biological science.”

There you recognise how a naturalist realises: what the human beings think and what of their thoughts changes over into their impulses, that prepares and develops what then in the outer reality comes into being; the spiritual is also the creator of the material in the social field.

If the material appears in such figure as today, one has to search other reasons in the spiritual than someone searches them who goes forward with his concepts of the social only after the pattern of natural sciences. Spiritual science that is based on occultism will work different on the social life; it will not speak only of a relentless struggle for existence, but it will figure out what positions itself as something spiritual in that which appears in nature only as struggle for existence. It considers not only the existence after the outside, but after that which the spirit has poured into it; it will not only judge the course of evolution by its functionality but also by that which has been put as something ethical in the course of purposefulness. It will not only speak of perfection by natural selection but of the creative spirit that flows into the developmental current and creates the natural selection as well as the soul creates its body. It will search the bases of the social laws above all in the supersensible.

There we can already realise that spiritual science is not something that satisfies mere knowledge, but something that is intimately associated with the practical need, with the whole course of life. The future will demand those bases of thinking just for the practical life that can originate only from spiritual science.

Why are the human beings reluctant even today to accept spiritual science? Just from that which I have said now one can get an answer. We were mainly concerned this evening how spiritual science pursues the riddle of immortality. However, death separates us from immortality. We have realised that just in the course of life we have to recognise the perpetual intervention of death. In ancient times, one always said, someone who enters into the spiritual world must experience death symbolically.

It is maybe a radical diction, but it is true. Between our world of the senses and the intellect that analyzes the sensory observations and the world of immortality is no world of growth but of death. One has to envisage death; one has to look at the destructive forces that counteract the forces that just natural sciences regard as the forces of growth.

This produces something similar in the area of knowledge, as it is the fear of death in the outer life. One can already speak of the fact that people do not have the courage to penetrate that area through which one must go if one wants to enter into the supersensible. The human beings shrink from it. They do not know it. They deceive themselves with all kinds of theories and prejudices of limits of knowledge, with any only material significance of life. They rather deceive themselves than that they pass that gate courageously through which one can come only from the sensory to the extrasensory world. However, the gate is that by which one must recognise the nature of death. Since it is true: the human being will find adequate harmony of his soul only if he can absorb the secrets of immortality.

Nevertheless, to the fruit of knowledge that can be enjoyed as immortality one gets only if one ploughs over the ground of death. However, one must not be afraid of it. As the human being overcomes the deadly fear of knowledge in the area of cognition, a science of the immortal, of the supersensible will originate. Tomorrow I speak about the fact that this science of the supersensible disturbs nobody's religious confession. I hope that I do not engage your attention tomorrow as long as today; but I was not able to shorten this basic talk.

Last Modified: 29-Apr-2017
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