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Lectures from the Golden Blade, 1962

Golden Blade, 1962: Lecture 1: Natural Science and Its Boundaries

Natural Science and Its Boundaries

This is the first of two lectures, hitherto untranslated, given by Rudolf Steiner at Dornach on October 2–3, 1920, in connection with the course entitled “Grenzen der Naturerkenntnis,” which had immediately preceded them.

[From a shorthand report, unrevised by the lecturer. Published by permission of the Rudolf Steiner-Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.]


HAT I have been saying about the boundaries of man's knowledge of Nature should have given some indication at least of the difference between the cognition of higher worlds, as we call it in Spiritual Science, and the cognition of which we speak in our ordinary, everyday consciousness or in ordinary science. In everyday life and in ordinary science we let our powers of cognition remain at a standstill with whatever we have acquired through the ordinary education that has brought us to a certain stage in life, and with whatever this education has enabled us to make out of inherited qualities and out of qualities possessed by mankind in general. What is called in anthroposophical Spiritual Science the knowledge of higher worlds depends upon a man himself deliberately undertaking further training and development; upon the realisation that as life continues on its course a higher form of consciousness can be attained through self-education, just as a child can advance to the stage of ordinary consciousness. And it is to this higher consciousness that there are first revealed the things we otherwise look for in vain at the two boundaries of the knowledge of Nature, at the boundary of matter and at the boundary of ordinary consciousness.

It was of consciousness enhanced in this sense, through which realities at a level beyond that of everyday reality became accessible to men, that the Eastern sages spoke in ancient times, and through methods of inner self-training suited to their racial characteristics and stage of evolution, they strove to achieve this higher development. Not until we realise what it is that is revealed to man through such higher development can the meaning of the records of ancient Eastern wisdom be discerned.

In characterising the path of development adopted by those sages, we must therefore say: It was a path leading to Inspiration. In that epoch, humanity was, so to speak, adapted by nature for Inspiration. And in order to understand these paths of development into the higher realms of knowledge, it will be a useful preparation to form a clear picture of the essentials of the path followed by the sages of the ancient East. At the very outset, however, let me emphasise that this path cannot be suitable for Western civilisation, because humanity is evolving, is advancing. And those who in their search for ways of higher development see fit to return — as many have done — to the instructions given by ancient Eastern wisdom are really trying to turn back the tide of evolution, as well as showing that they have no real understanding of human progress.

With our ordinary consciousness we live in our world of thought, in our world of feeling, in our world of will, and through acts of cognition we bring to apprehension what surges up and down in the soul as thought, feeling and will. Moreover, it is through outer perceptions, perception of the things of the physical world, that our consciousness first awakes in the real sense.

The important point is to realise that for the Eastern sages, for the so-called Initiates of the ancient East, a different procedure was necessary from that followed by man in ordinary life in regard to the manner of dealing with perceptions, and with thinking, feeling and willing.


Some understanding of the ancient path of development leading into the higher worlds can be acquired by considering the following. At certain ages of life we develop the spirit-and-soul within us to a state of greater freedom, greater independence. During the first years of infancy it works as an organising force in the body, until with the change of teeth it is liberated, becomes free in a certain sense. We then live freely with our Ego in the element of spirit-and-soul, which is now at our disposal, whereas previously it was occupied with harmonising and regulating the body inwardly. But as we grow on into life there arise those factors which in the sphere of ordinary consciousness do not, to begin with, permit the liberated spirit-and-soul to develop to the point of penetrating into the spiritual world. As men in our life between birth and death we must take the path which places us into the outer world as beings qualified and fit for life in that world. We must acquire the faculties which enable us to establish our bearings in the physical world, and also those which can make each of us a useful member in the life of social community with other men.

Three faculties come into the picture here. Three faculties bring us into the right connection and regulate our intercourse with the outer world of men: speech, the capacity to understand the thoughts of our fellow-man, and perception of the Ego of another person. In speaking of these three faculties: perception of the sounds of speech, perception of thoughts, perception of the Ego of another human being, we are expressing something that appears to be simple but is by no means found so by earnest and conscientious seekers for knowledge.

In the ordinary way we speak of five senses only, to which one or two inner senses are added by modern psychology. External science presents no complete system of the senses. I shall be speaking to you some time on this subject [See, for example, The Study of Man (14 lectures) (Anthroposophical Publishing Co.); also Anthroposophy, Psychosophy, Pneumatosophy (in typescript only).] and will now say only that it is an illusion to believe that understanding of the sounds of speech is implicit in the sense of hearing, or in the organisation which is supposed by modern physiology to account for hearing. Just as we have a sense of hearing, we have a sense of speech — a sense for the sounds of speech. By this is meant the sense which enables us to understand what is perceived in the sounds of speech, just as the auditory sense enables us to perceive tones as such. And if some day we have a really comprehensive physiology, it will be known that this sense for the sounds of speech is entirely analogous to the other, that it can rightly be called a sense on its own. It extends over a larger area within the human organism than several of the other, more localised senses, but for all that it is a definitely circumscribed sense.

We also have a sense, extending over nearly the whole of our bodily frame, for perception of the thoughts of another person. What we perceive in the word itself is not yet the thought it conveys. We need other organs, an organic apparatus different from that required for the perception of the word as such, when we want to understand through the word the thought which the other person is communicating to us.

We are also equipped with a sense that extends over the whole of our body: we can call it the sense for the perception of the Ego of another person. In this connection even philosophy has become childish in the modern age, for to-day one can, for example, often hear it argued: We meet another person; we see that he has a human form like our own, and because we know that as human beings we are endowed with an Ego, we conclude, as it were by subconscious inference, that he too must have an Ego within him. This is quite contrary to the psychological reality. A genuine observer knows that it is a direct perception, not an inference drawn from analogy, through which we perceive the Ego of the other person. There is really only one man — a friend or associate of the Göttingen school of Husserl, Max Scheeler by name — who has hit upon this direct perception of the Ego of another person.

Above and beyond the ordinary human senses, therefore, we have to distinguish three others: the sense for the sounds of speech, the sense for another person's thoughts, the sense for another person's Ego. It is primarily through these three senses that we establish intercourse with the rest of mankind. They are the means whereby we are introduced into social life among other human beings. But the path connected with the functions of these three senses was followed differently by the ancient sages, especially by the ancient Indian sages, for the purpose of attaining higher knowledge. In this quest for higher knowledge the soul of the sage did not endeavour to understand through the words the meaning of what another person was saying. The forces of his soul were not directed to the thoughts of another person in such a way as to perceive them, nor to the Ego of another in such a way as to perceive and experience this Ego. All such matters were left to everyday life. When after his efforts to attain higher knowledge the sage returned from his sojourn in spiritual worlds to everyday life, he used these three senses in the ordinary way. But when he was endeavouring to cultivate the methods for acquiring higher knowledge, he used them differently. In acts of listening, in acts of perceiving the sounds of speech, he did not allow the soul's force to penetrate through the word in order to understand what the other person was saying, but he remained with the word as such, without seeking for anything behind it. He guided the stream of soul-life only as far as the word itself. His perception of the words was thereby intensified, and he deliberately refrained from attempting to understand anything else through the word. With his whole soul he penetrated into the word as such, using the word or the sequence of words in such a way that this penetration was possible. He formulated certain aphoristic sayings, simple but impressive sentences, and tried to live entirely in the sound, in the tone and ring of the words. With his whole soul he followed the ring of the words which he repeated aloud to himself.

This practice then led to a state of complete absorption in the aphoristic sayings themselves, in the “mantras,” as they were called. The “mantric” art, the art of becoming completely absorbed in these aphoristic sayings, consisted in this. A man did not understand only the content and meaning of the words, but he experienced the sayings themselves as music, made them part of his own soul-forces, remained completely absorbed in them and by continually repeating and reciting them, enhanced the power of his soul.

Little by little this art was brought to a high stage of development and was the means of transforming into something different the faculty of soul we otherwise possess for understanding the other person through the word. Through the recitation and repetition of the mantras, a power was generated which now led — not to the other person, but into the spiritual world. And if working with the mantras had brought the soul to the point of being inwardly aware of the weaving flow of this power — which otherwise remains unconscious because attention is focussed entirely upon understanding the other person — if a man had reached the point of feeling this power to be an actual power of the soul in the same way as muscular tension is felt when the arm is being used for some purpose, then he had made himself fit to grasp what is contained in the higher power of thought. In ordinary life a man tries to find his way to the other person through the thought. But with this power he grasps the thought in quite a different way — he grasps the weaving of thought in external reality, penetrates into that external reality and rises to the level of what I have called “Inspiration.”

Along this path, instead of reaching the Ego of the other person, we reach the Egos of individual spiritual Beings who are around us just as are the beings of the material world. What I am now telling you was a matter of course for a sage of the ancient East. In his life of soul he rose to the perception of a spirit-realm. In a supreme degree he attained what can be called Inspiration and his organic constitution was suitable for this. Unlike a Western man, he had no need to fear that his Ego might in some way be lost during this flight from the body. And in later times, when owing to the advance in evolution made by humanity a man might very easily pass out of his body into the outer world without his Ego, precautionary measures were used. Care was taken to ensure that the individual who was to become a pupil of the higher wisdom should not enter this spiritual world without guidance and succumb to that pathological scepticism of which I have spoken in these lectures. In very ancient times in the East the racial character was such that this would not, in any case, have been a matter for anxiety, but it was certainly to be feared as the evolution of humanity progressed. Hence the precautionary measure that was strictly applied in the schools of Eastern Wisdom, to ensure that the pupil should rely upon an inner, not an outer, authority. (Fundamentally speaking, what we understand by “authority” today first appeared in Western civilisation.) The endeavour in the East was to develop in the pupil, through a process of natural adaptation to prevailing conditions, a feeling of dependence upon the leader, the Guru. The pupil perceived what the Guru represented, how he stood firmly within the spiritual world without scepticism, indeed without even a tendency to scepticism, and through this perception the pupil was able, on passing into the sphere of Inspiration, to maintain such a healthy attitude of soul that he was immune from any danger of pathological scepticism.

But even when the spirit-and-soul is drawn consciously out of the physical body, something else comes into consideration as well: a connection — a still more conscious connection now — must again be established with the physical body. I said in the lecture this morning that if a man comes down into his physical body imbued only with egoism and lacking in love, this is a pathological condition which must not be allowed to arise, for he will then lay hold of his physical body in a wrong way. Man lays hold of his body in the natural way by implanting the love-instinct in it between the ages of 7 and 14. But even this natural process can take a pathological course, and then there will appear afflictions which I described this morning as pathological states. [Dr. Steiner had referred to agoraphobia, claustrophobia, astrophobia.]

It might also have happened to the pupils of the ancient Eastern sages that when they were outside the physical body they found it impossible to connect the spirit-and-soul with the body again in the right way. A different precautionary measure was then applied, one to which psychiatrists — some at any rate — have again had recourse when treating patients suffering from agoraphobia. This precautionary measure consisted in ablutions, washings, with cold water. Expedients of an entirely physical nature were used in such circumstances. And when you hear on the one hand that in the Mysteries of the East — the Schools of Initiation that were to lead men to Inspiration — the precautionary measure was taken of ensuring dependence on the Guru, you hear on the other hand of the use of all kind of devices — ablutions with cold water, and the like.

When human nature is understood in the way made possible by Spiritual Science, customs that otherwise seem very puzzling in these ancient Mysteries become intelligible. Man was protected from a false feeling of space, due to a faulty connection of the spirit-and-soul with the physical body — a feeling that might cause him to have a morbid dread of public places, or also to seek social intercourse with other human beings in an irregular way. This is indeed a danger, but one that every form of guidance to higher knowledge can and must avoid. It is a danger, because when a man is seeking for Inspiration in the way I have described, he does in a certain sense by-pass the paths of speech and of thinking, the path leading to the Ego of the other person, and then, if he leaves his body in an abnormal way — not with any aim of gaining higher knowledge but merely owing to pathological conditions — he may fail to cultivate the right kind of intercourse with other men.

In such a human being, a condition which through properly regulated spiritual study develops normally and profitably, may develop in an abnormal, pathological form. The connection of spirit-and-soul with the body then becomes one which causes the man to have such an intense feeling of egotism in his body — because he is too deeply immersed in it — that he reaches the point of hating all intercourse with others and becomes an utterly unsocial being. The consequences of a pathological condition of this kind can often take a truly terrible form. I myself have known a remarkable example of this type of person. He came from a family in which there was a tendency for the spirit-and-soul to be loosened from the physical body in a certain way and it included individuals — one of whom I knew very well indeed — who were seeking for the path leading to the spiritual worlds. But in a degenerate member of this family the same tendency developed in a pathological form, until he finally came to the point where he would allow nothing whatever from the outside world to contact his own body. He was naturally obliged to eat, but ... we are speaking here among grown-ups ... he washed himself with his own urine, because any water from the outside world put him into a panic. I will not describe what else he was in the habit of doing in order to shut off his body entirely from the outside world and make himself into an utterly anti-social being. He did these things because his spirit-and-soul was too deeply immersed in his body, too strongly bound up with it.

It is entirely in keeping with Goetheanism to contrast the path leading to the highest goal at present attainable by us as earthly men with the path leading to pathological phenomena. Only a slight acquaintance with Goethe's theory of metamorphoses is needed to realise this. Goethe is trying to detect how the single parts of the plant, for example, develop out of each other, and in order to recognise the process of metamorphosis he has a particular preference for observing the states arising from the degeneration of a leaf, or of a blossom, or of the stamens. Goethe realises that precisely by scrutiny of the pathological, the essence of the healthy can be revealed to a perceptive observer. And it is also true that a right path into the spiritual world can be taken only when we know where the essence of man's being really lies, and in what diverse ways this complicated inner being can come to expression.


We see from something else as well that even in the later period of antiquity men of the East were predisposed by nature to live in the word itself, not to penetrate through the word to what lies behind it. An illustration of this is afforded by the sayings of the Buddha, with their many repetitions. I have known people in the West who treasured those editions of the Buddha's sayings in which the repetitions had been eliminated and the words of a sentence left to occur only once. Such people believed that through this condensed version they would get at the essentials of what the Buddha really meant. This shows that Western civilisation has gradually lost all understanding of the nature of Eastern man. If we simply take the literal meaning of the Buddha's discourses, the meaning which we, as men of the West, chiefly value, we are not assimilating the essence of these teachings; that is possible only when we are carried along with the repetitions, when we live in the flow of the words, when we experience that strengthening of soul-force induced by the repetitions. [From the book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds, revised edition, 1958, p. 158: “The many repetitions in the sayings of the Buddha are not comprehensible to people of our present evolutionary stage. For the esoteric student, however, they become a force on which he gladly lets his inner senses rest, for they correspond with certain rhythmic movements in the etheric body. Devotional surrender to them with perfect inner peace, creates an inner harmony with these movements, and because the latter are an image of certain cosmic rhythms which also at certain points repeat themselves and revert to former modes, the individual listening to the wisdom of the Buddha unites his life with that of the cosmic mysteries.”] Unless we acquire a faculty for experiencing something from the constant repetitions and the rhythmical recurrence of certain passages, we do not get to the heart of what Buddhism really signifies.

Knowledge must be gained of the essence and inner nature of Eastern culture. Without this knowledge there can be no real understanding of the religious creeds of the West, for when all is said and done they stem from Eastern wisdom. The Christ Event itself is a different matter — it is an accomplished fact, and present as such in earth-evolution. During the first Christian centuries, however, the ways and means of understanding what came to pass through the Mystery of Golgotha were drawn entirely from Eastern wisdom. It was with this wisdom that the fundamental event of Christendom was first of all understood. But everything moves on, and what had once existed in the Eastern primeval wisdom, attained through Inspiration, spread across to Greece and can still be recognised in the achievements of Greek culture.

Greek art was, of course, bound up with experiences different from those usually connected with art to-day. Greek art was still felt to be an expression of the ideal to which Goethe was again aspiring when he spoke of the deepest urge within him in the words: He to whom Nature begins to unveil her manifest secrets, longs for her worthiest interpreter — art. The Greeks still regarded art as an initiation into the secrets of world-existence, as a manifestation not merely of human imagination but of what comes into being through interaction between this faculty and the revelations of the spiritual world received through Inspiration. But the spiritual life that still flowed through Greek art grew steadily weaker, until finally it became the content of the religious creeds of the West. Thus we must conceive the source of the primeval wisdom as a spiritual life of rich abundance which becomes impoverished as evolution proceeds, and when at last it reaches the Western world it provides the content of religious creeds. Therefore men who by then are fitted by nature for a different epoch can find in this weakened form of spiritual life only something to be viewed with scepticism. Fundamentally speaking, it is the reaction of the Western soul to the now decadent Eastern wisdom that gradually produces in the West the atheistic scepticism which is bound to become more and more widespread unless it is confronted by a different stream of spiritual life.

As little as a living being who has reached a certain stage of development — a certain age, let us say — can be made young again in every respect, as little can a form of spiritual life be made young again when it has reached old age. Out of the religious creeds of the West, which are descendants of the primeval wisdom of the East, nothing can be produced that would again be capable of satisfying Western humanity when this humanity advances beyond the knowledge acquired during the past three or four centuries from the science and observation of Nature. Scepticism on an ever-increasing scale is bound to develop. And anyone who has insight into the process of world-evolution can say with assurance that a trend of development from East to West is heading in this direction. In other words, there is moving from East to West a stream of spiritual life that must inevitably lead to scepticism in a more and more pronounced form when it is received into souls who are being imbued more deeply all the time with the fruits of Western civilisation. Scepticism is simply the outcome of the march of spiritual life from the East to the West, and it must be confronted by a different stream flowing henceforward from the West to the East. We ourselves are living at the point where this spiritual stream crosses the other, and in the further course of these studies we shall see in what sense this is so.

First and foremost, however, attention must be called to the fact that the Western soul is predisposed by nature to take a path of development to the higher worlds different from that of the Eastern soul. The Eastern soul strives primarily for Inspiration and possesses the racial qualities suitable for this; the Western soul, because of its particular qualities — they are qualities connected less with race than with the life of soul itself — strives for Imagination. To experience the musical element in mantric sayings is not the aim to which we, as men of the West, should aspire. Our aim should be different. We should not keep particularly strictly to the path that comes after the spirit-and-soul has emerged from the body, but should rather follow the later path that begins when the spirit-and-soul has again to unite consciously with the physical organism.

The corresponding natural phenomenon is to be observed in the birth of the love-instinct. Whereas the man of the East sought his wisdom more by sublimating the forces working in the human being between birth and the 7th year, the man of the West is better fitted to develop the forces at work between the time of the change of teeth and puberty, inasmuch as the being of spirit-and-soul is now led to new tasks in keeping with this epoch in the evolution of humanity. We come to this when — just as on emerging from the body we carry the Ego with us into the realm of Inspiration — we now leave the Ego outside when we plunge down again into the body; we leave it outside, but not in idleness, not forgetting or surrendering it, not suppressing it into unconsciousness, but allying it with pure thinking, with clear, keen thinking, so that finally we have this inner experience: Your Ego is charged through and through with all the clear thinking of which you have become capable. This experience of plunging into the body can be very clear and distinct. And at this point it may perhaps be permissible to speak about a personal experience, because it will help you to understand what I really mean.


I have spoken to you about the conception underlying my Philosophy of Spiritual Activity. This book is a modest but real attempt to achieve pure thinking, that pure thinking in which the Ego can live and maintain a firm footing. Then, when this pure thinking has been achieved, we can endeavour to do something else. This thinking that is now left in the power of the Ego, the Ego which now feels itself a free and independent spiritual being — this pure thinking can then be achieved from the process of perception, and whereas in ordinary life we see colour, let us say, and at the same time imbue the perception with the mental concept, we can now lift the concepts away from the process of elaborating the perceptions and draw the perceptions themselves directly into our bodily constitution.

That Goethe had already taken the first steps in this direction is shown by the last chapter of his Theory of Colours, entitled “The Sensory and Moral Effects of Colour.” With every colour-effect he experiences something that at once unites deeply, not with the faculty of perception only, but with the whole man. He experiences yellow, or scarlet, as active colours, as it were permeating him through and through, filling him with warmth: while he regards blue and violet as colours that draw one out of oneself, as cold colours. [See Goethe's Theory of Colours, Part VI. Translated by Charles Eastlake, F.R.S. (published by John Murray, 1840).] The whole man experiences something in acts of sense-perception. The perception, together with its content, passes down into the organism, and the Ego with its thought-content remains as it were hovering above. We detach thinking inasmuch as we take into and fill ourselves with the whole content of the perception, instead of weakening it with concepts, as we usually do. We train ourselves in a particular way to achieve this by systematically practising something that came to be practised in a decadent form by the men of the East. Instead of grasping the content of the perception in pure, strictly logical thoughts, we grasp it in symbols, in pictures, allowing it to stream into us, so that in a certain sense it by-passes our thoughts. We steep ourselves in the richness of the colours, in the richness of the tone, by learning to experience the images inwardly, not in terms of thought but as pictures, as symbols. Because we do not permeate our inner life with the thought-content, after the manner of association-psychology, but with the content of perception expressed through symbols and pictures, the living forces of our etheric and astral bodies stream out from within and we learn to know the depths of our consciousness and of our soul. It is in this way that genuine knowledge of the inner nature of man is acquired. The obscure mysticism often said by nebulous minds to be a way to the God within leads to nothing but abstraction and cannot possibly satisfy anyone who wishes to experience the fullness of his manhood.

So, you see, if it is desired to establish a true physiological science of man, thinking must be detached and the picture-forming activity sent inwards, so that the organism reacts in Imaginations. This is a path that is only just beginning in Western culture, but it is the path that must be trodden if the influence that streams over from the East, and would lead to decadence if it alone were to prevail, is to be confronted by something equal to opposing it, so that our civilisation may take a path of ascent and not of decline.

Generally speaking, however, it can be said that human language itself is not yet sufficiently developed to be able adequately to characterise the experiences that are here encountered in a man's inmost life of soul. And it is at this point that I should like to tell you of a personal experience of my own.

Many years ago I made an attempt to formulate what may be called a science of the human senses. In spoken lectures I did to some extent succeed in putting this science of the twelve senses into words, because there it is more possible to manipulate the language and ensure understanding by means of repetitions, so that the deficiency of our language — which is not yet equal to expressing these super-sensible things — is not so strongly felt. But strangely enough, when I wanted many years ago to write down what I had given in lectures as pure Anthroposophy in order to put it into a form suitable for a book, the outer experiences, on being interiorised became so delicate and sensitive that language simply failed to provide the words, and I believe the beginning of the text — several sheets of print — lay for some five or six years at the printer's. It was because I wanted to write the whole book in the style in which it began that I could not continue writing, for the simple reason that at the stage of development 1 had then reached, language refused to furnish the means for what I wished to achieve. Then came an overload of work, and I have still not been able to finish the book.

Anyone who is less conscientious about what he communicates from the spiritual world might perhaps smile at the idea of being held up in this way by a temporarily insurmountable difficulty. But one who feels a full sense of responsibility and applies it in all descriptions of the path that Western humanity must take towards Imagination knows that to find the right words entails a great deal of effort. As a path of training it is comparatively easy to describe, and this has been done in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. But if one's aim is to achieve a definite result such as that of describing the essential nature of man's senses — a part, therefore, of the inner make-up and constitution of humanity — it is then that the difficulties appear, among them that of grasping Imaginations and presenting them in clear contours by means of words.


Nevertheless, this is the path that Western mankind must follow. And just as the man of the East experienced entry into the spiritual world through his mantras, so must the Westerner, leaving aside all association-psychology, learn how to penetrate into his own being by reaching the world of Imagination. Only so will he acquire a true knowledge of humanity, and this is essential for any progress. Because we in the West have to live in a much more conscious way than men of the East, we must not adopt the attitude which says: “Whether or not humanity will eventually master this world of Imagination through natural processes can be left to the future.” No — this world of Imagination, because we have passed into the stage of conscious evolution, must be striven for consciously; there must be no coming to a standstill at certain stages. For what happens then? What happens then is that the ever-increasing spread of scepticism from East to West is not met with the right counter-measures, but with measures ultimately due to the fact that the spirit-and-soul unconsciously has united too radically, too deeply, with the physical body and that too firm a connection is made between the spirit-and-soul and the physical body.

Yes, it is indeed possible for a man not only to think materialistically but to be a materialist, because the spirit-and-soul is too strongly linked with the physical body. In such a man the Ego does not live freely in the concepts of pure thinking. And when he descends into the body with perceptions that have become pictorial, he descends with the Ego together with the concepts. And when this condition spreads among men, it gives rise to the spiritual phenomenon well known to us — to dogmatism of all kinds. This dogmatism is nothing else than the translation into the domain of spirit-and-soul of a condition which at a lower stage is pathological in agoraphobia and the like, and which — because these things are related — shows itself also in something which is merely another form of fear, in superstition of every variety. An unconscious urge towards Imagination is held back through powerful agencies, and this gives rise to dogmatism of all types. These types of dogmatism must be gradually replaced by what is achieved when the world of ideas is kept firmly in the sphere of the Ego; when progress is made towards Imagination and the true nature of man becomes an inner experience.

This is the Western path into the spiritual world. It is this path through Imagination that must establish the stream of Spiritual Science, the process of spiritual evolution that must make its way from West to East if humanity is to achieve real progress. But it is supremely important at the present time for humanity to recognise what the true path of Imagination should be, what path must be taken by Western Spiritual Science if it is to be a match for the Inspiration and its fruits that were once attained by ancient Eastern wisdom in a form suited to the racial characteristics of the people concerned. Only if we are able to confront the now decadent Inspiration of the East with Imaginations which, sustained by the spirit and charged through and through with reality, have arisen along the path to a higher spiritual culture, only if we can call this culture into existence as a stream of spiritual life flowing from West to East, are we bringing to fulfilment what is actually living deep down in the impulses for which mankind is striving. It is these impulses which are to-day breaking out in cataclysms of the social life because they cannot find other expression.

In the next lecture we will speak further of the path of Imagination, and of how the way to the higher worlds is envisaged by anthroposophical Spiritual Science.

Translated by Dorothy Osmond.

Last Modified: 25-Apr-2017
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