[RSArchive Icon]
Rudolf Steiner Archive Section Name Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib

The Inexpressible Name, Spirits of Space and Time.

Conquering Egotism.

A Lecture given
by Dr. Rudolf Steiner
Dornach, August 17th, 1919
GA 296

This is the 6th of 6 lectures given by Rudolf Steiner at Dornach in August of 1919. The title of this series of lectures is: Education as a Social Problem. They were published in German as: Die Erziehungsfrage Als Soziale Frage. Die spirituellen, kulturgeschichtlichen, und sozialen Hintergruende der Waldorfschul-Pedagogik. This lecture is also known as: The Unutterable Name. Spirits of Space and of Time. Conquering Egotism. It is lecture transcribed from a deteriorating edition of The Anthroposophical News Sheet from the 1940's. The translator is unknown. It is presented here with the kind permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland. From GA# 296.

Copyright © 1944
This e.Text edition is provided through the wonderful work of:
The General Anthroposophical Society
Dornach, Switzerland
Book Cover Image

Search for related titles available for purchase at Amazon.com!

[ Cover | Lecture ]

Lovingly typed and donated by an anonymous donor, this lecture has been made available to everyone.

This document was literally crumbling in your hand when it was transcribed ... it is now saved in electronic media.

Anthroposophic News Sheet


All subscriptions, communications, notices, advertisements, etc. should be addressed to Miss DORA BAKER,
“Anthroposophic News Sheet” Goetheanum, Dornach, Switzerland.
Yearly subscription: 17.–Swiss Francs. — Single Copies: 35 cents.

Copyright and all other Rights of reproduction and translation reserved by General Anthroposophic Society, Dornach, Switzerland. Responsibility for the contents of the articles in the “Anthroposophic News Sheet” attaches only to the writers.

23rd of January, 1944. No. 3/4 12th vol.

Conquering Egotism.

Lecture by Dr. Rudolf Steiner
Dornach, 17th August, 1919

(From 23 January, 1944 “Anthroposophic News Sheet”, Dornach, Volume 12, No. 3/4 and 5/6)

[From stenographic notes unrevised by the lecturer. See also the preceding lecture: “The Metamorphoses of Human Intelligence.”]

The explanations which I gave you yesterday on the path which the human intellect will take in future, are based upon quite definite facts, which come to light through spiritual-scientific knowledge. Let me indicate some of these facts today. You should realize that practically when the human being stands before you, he is that being described in Anthroposophy. That is to say, we first have before us (you know this from my “THEOSOPHY”) a fourfold being. We have before us the Ego, the so-called astral body, the etheric body and the physical body. The fact that whenever we face a human being we always have before us these four members, implies that the ordinary way of looking at the world today does not really enable us to know the true essence of the person who stands before us. We really do not know it. We think that the person we see before us fills out space with his physical body and that we see his physical body. Yet we could not see this physical part as we generally see it with our ordinary power of vision, if it only stood before us as a physical body. We see the physical body with our ordinary eyes, as it generally appears to us, only because it is permeated by the etheric body, by the astral body and by the Ego. It may sound strange to you if I tell you that our physical body is a corpse, even during the existence between birth and death. When we see a human corpse, we really have before us man's physical body. The corpse is the physical body which is not permeated by the etheric body, by the astral body and by the Ego. It is abandoned by these bodies and then reveals, as it were, its true being. You do not have a true conception of yourself if you think that you are carrying through space what you imagine to be your physical body. You would have a far better conception of yourself, if you were to think of yourself as a corpse, carried through space by your Ego, your astral body and your etheric body.

At the present time it is more and more important to gain consciousness of man's true nature. Things were not always as they are now, at the present stage of human development, and as they have been for some time past. What I am telling you now cannot, of course, be ascertained with the aid of the ordinary science dealing with the external physical world, for they are facts revealed by Spiritual Science.

If we go back as far as the 8th Century, B.C., which is as you know, the beginning of the 4th post-Atlantean Epoch, we come, as you also know, to the Egyptian-Chaldean epoch of the earth's development. There, human bodies had a different constitution from that of today. The human bodies of olden times, the mummies which you can now see in museums, were not constituted, in their finer essence, as human bodies are now constituted. They were filled to a far greater extent with vegetative life, they were not so lifeless, not so corpse-like as the human bodies of today. These physical bodies were, so to speak, far more similar to the plant nature, whereas the physical body of modern man — and this is already the case from the Graeco-Latin epoch onward — has a greater resemblance with the mineral world. If through some cosmic miracle we would now be endowed with the bodies of the Egyptian-Chaldean peoples, we would all be ill. They would bring us illness. We would bear within our body tissues which tend towards an over-exuberant growth. Many an illness simply consists in the fact that the human body in part goes back to conditions which were normal in the Egyptian-Chaldean epoch. In the present time we find ulcerous growths in the human body, which are simply due to the fact that in the one or in the other person a piece of the body tends to become something resembling the whole body among the Egyptian-Chaldean population.

What I told you now, essentially depends on the development of humanity. We modern people therefore carry about with us a corpse. This was not the case with the Egyptian: his knowledge was different from ours, his intelligence worked differently from our intelligence.

Now consider carefully the following question: What does the human being recognize with the aid of that knowledge which he designates as modern science and in which he takes so great a pride? Only lifeless things! Science constantly emphasizes that the ordinary intelligence cannot grasp life. To be sure, some investigators believe that if they continue experimenting, they will one day be able to understand the alternating play of life through complicated combinations of atoms, molecules and their alternating forces. This will never arise. Along the chemical-physical path, they will only be able to understand the mineral, lifeless substance; that is to say, they will only be able to grasp that part of living matter which is now a corpse.

But that part in man which is intelligent and exercises cognizant forces, is nevertheless the physical body; that is, the corpse. What is really done by the corpse which we carry about with us? It goes furthest of all along the path of mathematical-geometrical knowledge. There, everything is transparent; but the further away we go from the mathematical-geometrical sphere, the less transparent things become. This is because the human corpse is, today, the true instrument of cognition, and because a lifeless instrument can only be used to recognize lifeless things. The etheric body, the astral body and the Ego in man are not instruments of cognition, but they remain, as it were, standing in the dark. If the etheric body were able to cognize, in the same way in which the physical body recognizes lifeless things, it would first of all recognize the living essence of the vegetable world.

With their living, plant-like body, the Egyptians perceived the plant world quite differently from the way in which we perceive it now. Many an instinctive knowledge concerning the plant world can be traced back to Egyptian insight, to what became embodied with the Egyptian culture through an instinctive form of cognition. Even certain botanical facts in the medical sphere are, in many respects, based on the traditions of ancient Egyptian wisdom. Indeed, to the lay judgment it may often appear amateurish to draw in Egyptian sources, when certain truths are transmitted which do not seem to be of great value. You know that many so-called lodges, which have not a right foundation, call themselves “Egyptian Lodges.” This is only because in these circles there still exist traditions of the wisdom which could be obtained through an Egyptian body.

We can say that with the gradual transition from the Egyptian into the Graeco-Latin epoch, man's living plant-like body died; already in ancient Greece this living, plant-like body had more or less died, or was at least dying off slowly. Now we already have a physical body which is dead to a high degree, and this lifeless condition particularly applies to the human head. I already explained to you that an initiated spiritual scientist can perceive the human head as something lifeless, as something which is constantly dying. Humanity will grow more and more conscious of the fact that it is the corpse which we use as an instrument of cognition, and that this corpse can only grasp lifeless things.

The more we advance into the future, the more intensive will be the longing to recognize only that which is living. But the ordinary intelligence, which is bound up with the lifeless body, cannot perceive what is alive. Many things will be needed in order that man, who has lost the possibility to penetrate into the world in a living way, may once more attain to this. We should bear I mind all that we have lost.

When the human being passed over from the Atlantean to the post-Atlantean age, he was as yet unable to do many of the things which he does now. You see, each one of you, from a certain time of your childhood upward, can say “I” when referring to yourself. You pronounce this word “I” very carelessly. But in the course of human development this word was not always uttered so carelessly. There were older times in the evolution of humanity — though even in ancient Egypt these olden times had to a great extent already waned — there were older times in which the Ego was designated by a name, and if this name was uttered, it dazed people. One therefore avoided pronouncing it. If the name applicable to the Ego, which was only known to the initiates, had been pronounced in the presence of people in the times immediately following the Atlantean catastrophe, the sound of this name would have dazed the whole congregation; all the people would have fallen to the ground, so strong would have been the effect of the name applicable to the Ego.

An echo of this may still be found among the ancient Hebrews, where one spoke of the unutterable name of God in the soul, a name which could only be pronounced by the initiates, or shown to the congregation in eurhythmic gestures. The origin of God's unutterable name may therefore be seen in the facts explained to you just now.

But little by little this name was lost. And with it was lost the deep effect which radiates from such things.

During the first post-Atlantean epoch we have a deep influence proceeding from the Ego; during the second post-Atlantean epoch, a deep influence proceeding form the astral body; during the third post-Atlantean epoch, a deep influence going out from the etheric body, but one which people could bear, for, as I explained to you yesterday, it brought them in connection with the universe, made them feel their relationship with the universe. In the present time, we may pronounce the word “I,” we may pronounce all manner of things, but they do not make any effect upon us, because we now grasp the world through our lifeless body. That is to say, we only take hold of the lifeless, mineral essence of the world. But we must again ascend and return to the regions enabling us to grasp life. Whereas from the Graeco-Latin epoch, beginning in the 8th Century, B.C., up to the middle of the 15th Century A.D., the greatest value was attributed to an ever larger acquisition of knowledge through the lifeless body, our intelligence now follows the path described to you yesterday. But we must resist mere intelligence. We must add something to our intelligence.

A characteristic which we should bear in mind is that we must now retrace the path in a right way; in the present time, in the 5th post-Atlantean epoch, we must in a certain way learn to know the vegetable world; during the 6th epoch we must learn to know the animal kingdom, and only during the 7th epoch the real kingdom of man. Thus it is one of the tasks of humanity to transcend the mere knowledge of the mineral world and ascend to the knowledge of the vegetable world.

Now that you are able to understand this upon a deeper foundation, consider who is the person whose chief characteristic is this search for a knowledge of the plant world. This man is Goethe. By approaching life from the basis of lifeless things and by reaching, in opposition to the science of his days, the law of metamorphosis, the living process of plants, Goethe appears to us as the representative of the 5th post-Atlantean age, in its first beginnings. Read Goethe's small pamphlet, written in 1790, entitled: “An ATTEMPT to explain the metamorphosis of plants,” and you will find in it that Goethe incessantly tried to grasp the plant in its process of growth, not as something dead and finished, but as something in a constant process of growth, passing from leaf to leaf. Here you may find the beginning of the knowledge which should be sought in the 5th post-Atlantean age.

Goetheanism therefore strikes the fundamental note for what we should seek during the 5th post-Atlantean epoch. Science should, as it were, wake up to the meaning of Goethe and proceed from the study of lifeless things to that of living things. This is what I mean when I continually emphasize that we should acquire the capacity to abandon dead, abstract concepts and to penetrate into living, concrete concepts. The explanations which I gave you yesterday and the day before yesterday really constitute the path leading into these living, concrete regions of thought.

But it will not be possible to penetrate into such thoughts and concepts unless we take the trouble to unite the elements which form our world conception and our views on life. Through the special configuration of modern civilization, the different currents of our world conception are allowed, as it were, to run inorganically side by side. Consider how inorganic and disunited are in many cases a person's religious and natural-scientific views! Many people have both religious and scientific concepts, yet they do not throw a bridge from the one to the other. Indeed, they have a certain reluctance, a certain fear in doing this. Yet we should clearly realize that things cannot remain as they are.

During my present visit, I pointed out to you how selfishly modern people develop their world conception. I drew attention to the fact that today people are chiefly interested in the soul's life after death. Out of pure egoism they take an interest in the life of the soul after death. I have also told you that it is now necessary to take an interest in the life of the soul from birth onwards insofar as this life is a continuation of the life before birth or conception. Our world conception would become far less selfish than it is today, if we were to observe a child's development, the way in which it grows as a continuation of its pre-natal, soul-spiritual existence, with the same longing and the same interest with which we think of the life after death.

This egoistic character of our modern world conception depends on many other things besides. Now I come to a point which clearly shows that modern people must become more and more conscious of the real facts lying at the foundation of these things. During the epoch leading up to the present time, the egoistic element chiefly developed in man; the Ego has permeated our world conception and the Ego has also permeated the human will. Let us not fall a prey to any illusion in regard to this.

Most egoistic of all have become religions, religious creeds. Even superficial facts can show you that religious beliefs have become egoistic. Consider how much a modern priest must reckon with people's egoism. The more he takes into account human egoism, the more promises he makes for the soul's life after death, the more easily he reaches his aims. Among modern people we do not really find much interest for any other thing, for they do not care much for that weaving spiritual life of the soul which manifests itself so wonderfully after birth; i.e., after conception.

One result of this egoistic interest in the life after death is the way in which modern people think about God in the different religions. To think of God as the highest Being, does not imply anything special. In this connection it is necessary to eliminate every delusion. What do most people imply when they speak of “God”? I have already mentioned this before. What kind of Being do they mean, when they speak of God? It is an Angel, an Angelos — their own Angel whom they call God! It is nothing else, my dear friends! People still have some inkling of the fact that a guiding spirit accompanies them in life; to this guiding spirit they look up, and it is this Angel-being whom they call God. Though they do not speak of it as an Angel, though they name it “God,” they nevertheless only mean their Angel. The selfish note of religious faiths is that their idea of God does not go beyond the Angel. As a consequence, human interests have grown narrower, a trait which may be clearly seen today in public life.

What are the questions which people ask today? Do they inquire after the general destinies of humanity? Oh, in a certain sense it is very painful today to speak to people of general human destinies! People also have no idea how many changes have taken place in this connection, even in a comparatively short space of time. You see, today we may tell people that the war which has been waged on earth during the past four or five years will be followed by the mightiest spiritual battle ever waged, a battle which will spread over the whole world, which never existed before in this form, a battle which is a consequence of the fact that the Occident designates as a Maya or as an ideology what the Orient designates as reality, and that the Orient designates the ideology of the Occident as a reality. Today we may draw attention to this important, weighty fact, yet people do not even realize that if this same thing had been said only a hundred years ago, it would have stirred the souls so much that they would have had no peace!

The most striking fact of all is this change in humanity, this indifference in regard to the great destinies of human existence. Today nothing penetrates into the human souls, but rebounds, as it were. The most encompassing, the most important and intensive facts are now taken as sensational facts. They do not shake the human souls enough. This is only dependent on the fact that the constantly increasing, intelligent egoism restricts human interests.

People may now have democracies or parliaments — they may come together in parliaments, but the destinies of humanity do not breathe through these parliaments, for the men who are elected into parliament are not filled with the breath of mankind's destinies. They are filled with the breath of egoistic interests. Each person has his own egoistic interest. External schematic similarities in these interests, often due to a common profession, induce people to form groups. And if these groups are sufficiently large, they become majorities. In that case it is not human destinies which pass through parliament, or through these representative groups of people, but only human egoism, multiplied by so and so many persons.

Even religious faiths have been transferred to the sphere of egoism, because the human souls are only filled by interests which appeal to their egoism. Religious faiths will pass through the renewal which they need, when human interests have grown wider, when they have acquired a form which transcends the purely personal destiny and ascends to the destiny of mankind as such, when people will once more be stirred, deeply stirred on hearing that in the West there is a civilization which differs from that of the East, and that in the Centre there is a civilization differing from that of the two poles of East and West; a religious renewal will come when human souls will be stirred to hear that in the West the great goals of humanity are sought (if they are sought at all!) by turning to mediumistic people, who in a trance condition are, as it were, consciously brought into a sub-earthly connection with the spiritual worlds so that they reveal, mediumistically, something about the great historical aims.

In Europe, one could so frequently explain, though people will not believe it, that there really exist societies in Anglo-American countries where people with mediumistic faculties are brought into a kind of trance, in order to discover from them, by cleverly formulated questions, something about the great destiny-goals of humanity.

People also do not believe that the Orientals, too, obtain information concerning the great destiny aims of humanity, not mediumistically, but mystically. This is almost palpably evident today, for one can everywhere buy Rabindranath Tagore's beautiful speeches, revealing on a large scale how an Oriental thinks about the goals of humanity. People read his poems, as if they were the feuilletons of some cheap writer, for today they do not distinguish cheap writers from men endowed with great spirituality such as Rabindranath Tagore. They do not realize that today the most varied racial substances live, as it were, side by side. I already explained to you, in many lectures, the standpoints which should be applied to Central Europe, but these explanations were not taken as they should have been taken.

With these words, my dear friends, I only wish to prove that it is possible to grow conscious of something which transcends egoistic human destinies, something which is connected with the destiny of whole groups of man, so that differentiations can be made throughout the world. If we raise our soul's eye with understanding to these destinies of mankind in the whole world, if we take a deep interest in this element transcending the personal destinies, we attune our soul for the comprehension of something higher and more real than the Angel; namely, the Archangel. Thoughts revealing the true nature of the Archangel cannot come to us if we only move in spheres pertaining to purely egoistic, personal human interests. If preachers only move in the regions of human egoism, their sermons may be full of words dealing with the Divine, yet they will only preach of the Angel. The fact that they give it another name constitutes an untruth, and does not change it. Only if we begin to take an interest in human destiny extending over wide spaces do we attune our soul for the comprehension of the Archangel.

Let us now pass over to something else. Let us try to develop a feeling of the successive impulses in the evolution of humanity, indicated in recent lectures. Consider the fact that a great number of our leading men are given a classical education during the years in which the human soul can still be shaped and molded; they are taught in schools which are not the product of modern civilization, but of a past culture, of the Graeco-Latin epoch. You see, if the Greeks and Romans had done the same thing which we are doing now, they would have established Egyptian-Chaldean schools. But they avoided this. They took their subject of instruction from life itself. We take it from the preceding epoch and train the human beings accordingly. This has a great significance in human life, but we have not recognized it. Had we recognized the importance of this fact, the feminist movement would have struck a different note, voicing the following truth; Men who are to learn how to use their intellectual powers are now being trained in antiquated schools. This hardens their brain. Women fortunately were not admitted to these schools (the “gymnasiums” of the Continent). Let us therefore develop our intellectual powers more originally; let us show how they can unfold in the present time, if they are not dulled in youthful years by a Graeco-Latin schooling.

But the feminist movement did not strike this note. On the contrary, it often advanced the following claim: Men have crept under the Graeco-Latin schooling, let us women also creep into it. Let us also have a gymnasium training.

You can therefore see, my dear friends, how the understanding of the things which were really needed, did not exist. We should know that in the present time we are not being educated in keeping with modern requirements, but in accordance with standards pertaining to the Graeco-Latin culture. Consequently this Graeco-Latin culture fills modern life. We should be aware of this. We should feel the Graeco-Latin ingredients of culture in the leading personalities of our days, in the so-called intelligentsia, among the intellectuals; this is one stratum which exists in the present time. Our whole spiritual culture is permeated by it. We do not read any newspaper which does not contain traces of Graeco-Latin culture, for we write in a Graeco-Latin style, even though we write in our own language.

As already explained to you, our juridical views are steeped in Roman thought — which is again something obsolete and antiquated. Roman life fills modern law. Sometimes the old native law comes into conflict with Roman law, but it cannot assert itself. This, too, should be felt: That what we call justice or injustice in public life is steeped in the impulses of a past epoch.

In the economic sphere alone we really live in the present. It is a significant fact that we only live in the present in the economic sphere. Some things will therefore have to be modified. Let me say in parenthesis that many women collect modern concepts only in regard to cooking; i.e., in domestic economy, so that there they are truly modern; but everything else is antiquated; it is something which we graft into the present. I do not say that this is a specially desirable thing — in any case, the other thing is not at all desirable; namely, that in the present time even the souls of women turn back to antiquated cultures.

When we survey our cultural environment, we do not find in it only that which is active in space, but also the impulses which come from very remote times. And if we acquire a feeling for such things, we discover not only the influence of the past, but also that of the future. In fact, it is our task to introduce into the present these impulses of the future. For, my dear friends, if a kind of rebel against the past would not live in each one of us, opposing the Greek character of our culture and the Roman character of modern legislation, if the future were not to shed its light into these spheres, our fate would be a sorry one.

In regard to modern culture, we should therefore consider, in addition to space, also time; that which penetrates into the present, into the history of our times, from a remote past and from the future. As modern people we should realize that in the same way in which America, England, Asia, China and India exist in the present time, so the past and the present exist in the human soul and send their influences into it, insofar as we are Europeans, for past and present represent the two poles of East and West. We thus have within us ancient Greece and ancient Rome and the future. And if we take the trouble to envisage this fact, if we realize that past and future, or things to come, live in our soul, we are filled by a new feeling, which can transcend egoism in human destiny; it is a feeling which differs from that of a mere spatial contemplation of life.

Only if we develop this mood in our soul, will we acquire the possibility to develop thoughts concerning the sphere of the Spirits of Time, or the Archai. That is to say, we come to the third Divine element in the hierarchic order. It is good to envisage these three Hierarchies in thoughts and concepts, with the aid of the means just explained. For the Spirits of Form, which come after the Archai, are far more difficult to understand. But for modern people it suffices to make the attempt to transcend egoism and to penetrate into the unegoistic sphere; they should repeat this attempt again and again and occupy their minds with the things just characterized!

This should particularly be the case with teachers (let me emphasize this). What I explained to you just now should be borne in mind particularly in the training of teachers. Teachers should not have the right to educate and train children unless they acquire a concept of that egoism which only reaches up to the nearest Divinity; i.e., the Angel, and unless they acquire a concept of the unegoistic powers which determine destiny and which exist spatially side by side here on earth; i.e., the Archangels. And they should also acquire a concept of the influences of past and future in modern culture — the Roman character of law, the Greek spiritual substance — and of the undefined rebel of the future in man, who can rescue him.

At the present time, however, people are not much inclined to penetrate into such things. A short time ago, I emphasized again and again in my lectures that one of the social tasks of the present time is to extract our educational substance for the years which young people now pass in schools, from the present, to do the same thing which the ancient Greeks also did: to extract our educational substance from the present.

At the same place where I repeatedly spoke of this matter as one of the most important social problems, there appeared a short time after my lectures — I do not wish to construct a casual connection; this is indifferent, but it is symptomatic! — a large number of advertisements in all the local newspapers making propaganda for the local “gymnasium.” I gave lectures in which I characterized, as I have now done, the classical gymnasium education and at the same time advertisements appeared in praise of a gymnasium education, stating all that the youth of Germany owes to its gymnasiums for the “strengthening of national consciousness” of “national strength”, etc., etc. And this, a few weeks before the Peace of Versailles! These advertisements were signed by the local school celebrities, etc. What one has to say today from a truly objective foundation of human evolution always rebounds, flies back again. People reject it — it does not touch the depths of their souls.

This explains the difficulty of acting in regard to the social question. For the superficial attitude with which people approach the social question will never be of any use. The social question is a deeply significant one; it is a problem which cannot be solved unless one is willing to look into the depths of man's being and of the universe. This very fact should be able to show us how necessary it is to set up certain truths contained in the threefold structure of the social organism.

But we must acquire an organ capable of grasping what our present time really needs. It will be difficult to acquire this organ in the spiritual sphere, for the spiritual substance in education, which has gradually been assimilated by the ruling body, the state, drew out of the human being every active force, every true striving, thus transforming him into a “resigned” member within the structure of the state. I have already spoken to you here, I think, of the question: How does the great majority of the people really live? (Exceptions are, of course, always borne in mind). Up to the sixth year of his life a human being is allowed to live unhampered, for he is still too grubby for the state! The state would not like to take over the tasks entailed by the care of young children; the state therefore leaves the human being in the care of powers outside its own sphere. But then it lays claim on the human being, the state then trains him so that he may fit into the state economy, into the stereotyped model; he ceases to be a real human being and becomes something which bears the imprint of the state. In that case he can be “of use” to the state. He strives after this, for it is inculcated into him; in that case, the state does not only look after him while he is working, but also when he ceases to work, by according him a pension until he dies. To many people a position entailing the right of a pension is a great “ideal”! And the religions speak of a kind of pension for the time after death! The soul obtains a pension; without any effort on its own part it obtains eternal life through the church itself. The church sees to this! It is uncomfortable to hear that salvation can only be attained by a free spiritual striving, independently of the state, and that the state should limit itself to the juridical sphere. The right of having a pension will NOT exist in a juridical state! This alone is for many people one reason ... for rejecting it! One can see this again and again.

And in regard to the most intimate life of the spirit, we must say that religious life will, to be sure, require a world conception valid for the future; it must demand from man that he should work for his immortality, that he should be active in his soul, so that he may take up the divine impulse, the Christ Impulse, through his own activity.

During my life I received innumerable letters from church people stating that Anthroposophy is a fine thing, but that it contradicts the “simple”, “plain Christian faith” of the soul's salvation through Christ, of eternal life attained through Christ, without having to do anything for it. “Faith in the salvation through Christ” is something which they cannot abandon. When people write or say such things, they think that they are especially pious. But they are simply selfish, thoroughly selfish and egoistic, for they do not wish to make any effort in their soul, they wish to leave everything to God, who will carry their soul safely through the portal of death and pension it off.

Matters will not be so comfortable in the world conception which will in future create the religious substance. We will have to grasp that the divine essence within us must be developed within the soul. It will then no longer be possible to submit passively to churches who promise to carry the human souls safely through death ... one objectionable custom at least has now ceased; namely, to do this in exchange FOR MONEY, but secretly this still plays a certain role, even in regard to the attainment of eternal life. This transition to a stage of inner activity, so that we look up to a world to which we belong, is an urgent requirement, yet it does not attract mankind greatly.

In order to acquire a feeling for the requirements in this sphere, we must envisage the facts explained today — the metamorphosis of humanity since the times of ancient Egypt, where even the body had a more plant-like character. But if it were now to fall back into this plant-like condition, it would grow ill — ulcerous growths, etc. would appear — and then the fact that we really carry a corpse about with us, which is the true instrument of cognition. These truths enable us to gain a feeling for the requirements of humanity, showing us how to progress in the right direction, how progress can now be made in regard to the social question. We should no longer be content to regard an important matter such as the social question in as simple a way as possible.

You see, this is the extraordinary difficulty of the present time, and you should bear in mind the fact that modern people like to hear explanations on the most important facts of life in a few abstract sentences. When a book like the “Fundamental Points of the Social Question” contains more than a few abstract sentences, when such a book contains the results of an observation of life itself, then people say that they cannot understand it, and that it seems confused to them. But it is the misfortune of the present time that people do not like to penetrate into the very things into which they should penetrate. For abstract sentences which are quite transparent, only deal with lifeless things; but the social sphere is a living sphere. Here we must apply elastic conceptions, elastic sentences, elastic forms. It is therefore necessary, as I frequently explained to you, to consider not only the transformation of single things, but we must also learn to think differently in regard to the innermost structure of our thoughts and reflections.

On taking leave from you again for a couple of weeks, my dear friends, I wished to speak of these things, for now we must feel that we are standing under the sign of cooperation in our anthroposophical or social movement. I would like you to be filled more and more with the understanding that if anything is to be attained in the social sphere, the spiritual science of Anthroposophy must flow into human souls. Let me recommend one thing to you, although I repeated it again and again — it really is essential that the anthroposophical truths which we are able to gain for ourselves should be recognized as the true rule of conduct for our activities and for our striving in the present time; we should have the courage and the will to push through with anthroposophical truths. The worst thing of all is that modern people lack the courage to push through with something which is really needed. They allow the best forces of their will to be broken; they are not willing to carry them through, although this is so sorely needed.

You see, my dear friends, learn to stand courageously by the fact that the people who take an interest in the representative edifice of our spiritual efforts, in the Goetheanum, are well accepted by you; be glad for each person who shows but a grain of understanding, and go towards him, but do not set store on the fact that people bring bad will, or what is more frequent today, lack of understanding towards Anthroposophy — limit yourselves to reject this in a corresponding way. The essential thing is the courage to push through with these things. Let us consider ourselves as that small group of men whose destiny it is to know and to communicate to the world the very things which it needs most of all. Let the people mock at us, let them say that it is conceit to think this; it is nevertheless true. To say to ourselves that “it is nevertheless true,” to say this earnestly, so that our whole soul is filled by it, calls for an inner courage which we must have. Let this courage fill our soul with anthroposophical substance. This will enable us to do what must be done by each one in the place where he is standing. This is what I wish to tell you today.

We can really say that we are welcoming each day which brings us nearer to the goal (which now encounters the greatest obstacles) of working in the world through our Building. For this Building is, after all, the only thing which takes into account even in its architectural forms, the great destinies of humanity. And it is good that people already begin to take notice of the Goetheanum. But another thing is needed for a progressive activity in regard to the social question; namely, that through a means such as the Goetheanum, with its forms which are stronger than any other architectonic forms of the present, an influence should be exercised on the spiritual improvement of the human forces; people should once more become accessible to truths which must be known, so that they may rise up not only to the sphere of the Angel world, but also to the sphere of the Archangel world and that of the Time Spirit.

Last Modified: 29-Apr-2017
The Rudolf Steiner Archive is maintained by:
The e.Librarian: elibrarian@elib.com