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

How the Spiritual World Interpenetrates the Physical

Schmidt Number: S-2941

On-line since: 30th April, 2015



As we live through the day and realize all that we owe to the sun, and to what extent the tasks of life are connected with the sunlight, we forget that through the whole pleasure and satisfaction we derive from the sunlight, there runs the thread of sure knowledge that, on the following morning, after we have rested through the night, the sun will rise anew for us. This is a part of the confidence that lives in our soul — confidence in the lasting reality of the world order. We may not always consciously realize it, but if asked, we should certainly answer in this sense. We devote ourselves to-day to our work because we know that the fruit of our work is assured for to-morrow, that after the night's rest the sun will reappear, and the fruits of our labor can ripen. We turn our gaze upon the earth's covering of plants; this year we revere and admire all its display; we know that the world order ordains that the same covering of plants and fruits for next year will proceed from the seed of this year. If asked again why we live on with such a sense of security, we should in similar circumstances give the answer that the reality of the world order seems to us assured; it seems to us a matter of certainty that what has matured as far as seed in the old crops will in reality reappear.

But there is something of special significance for our inner soul-life, there is something in life which requires a pledge or guarantee of some kind, because, for those who truly think and feel, it does not bear that guarantee of certainty within itself — ‘our ideals’ — and so much is contained in the expression, ‘our ideals.’ When we think and feel in a higher sense, our ideals belong to those things that are more important to our souls than is external reality. It is our ideals which set our souls inwardly aflame, and in many connections impart to its life its value and dearness. When we look into external life, and at what assures for us the reality of life, we are often troubled by the thought: does this reality contain something that assures to us just the most precious thing in life — the realization of our ideals?

Innumerable conflicts of the human soul proceed from the fact that people doubt more or less strongly in the realization of that upon which they would fain rely with every fiber of their being; that is to say, the realization of their ideals. We need only consider the world of the physical plane in an unprejudiced way and we shall find innumerable human souls passing through the hardest, bitterest struggles owing to the non-attainment of what they hold to be of value in the ideal sense. For from the evolution of reality we cannot in the same sense conclude that our ideals in life will prove to be the seed of a future reality in the same way as the plant seeds of this year foretell the coming harvest. These plant-seeds, we know, will bear within them that which next year will be reality in the widest sense. But if we consider our ideals, we may indeed cherish in our souls the belief that these ideals will have some significance, some value for life; but certainty we cannot have. As human beings we should like our ideals to be the seeds for a later future, but we look in vain for that which can give them assured reality. Even when we consider the physical plane, we find our souls with their ideals, frequently in a parlous condition.

Let us pass from the world of the physical plane into the world of the occult, into the world of hidden spirituality. A man who has become a spiritual seer learns to know souls in the period through which they have to pass between death and a new birth, and it is very significant when one turns the spiritual gaze upon those souls who in their earthly life, were wholly filled with high ideals, with ideals brought forth out of the fire and the light of their hearts.

A man has passed through the gate of death, and has before him the well-known life-tableau, the memory-picture of his past earth life, and interwoven with it is the world of ideals. This world of ideals can come before a man after death in such a way that his feelings concerning it may be expressed as follows: ‘these ideals which have fired and illumined my heart in its innermost recesses, and which I have considered the dearest, the most intimate treasure of my heart, now assume a strange unfamiliar aspect. They look as though they would not rightly belong to all that I remember as actual earth-experience on the physical plane.’ Yet the dead man feels himself magnetically attracted to these ideals of his; he feels, as it were, fascinated by them. But they may also contain an element that gives him a mild shock; he feels that this element may be dangerous, that it may alienate him from the earth-evolution, and what is connected with the Earth-evolution in the life between death and a new birth. In order to express myself quite clearly, I should like to connect what I have said with concrete experiences, with which some of those sitting here are already familiar, but which must this evening be illumined from a certain side so that they may be brought into connection with what I have said in reference to the nature of human ideals.

Of recent years, a man of poetic nature joined us [Christian Morgenstern.]. As the result of a life of dedication to the purest idealism, and a life that had already in pre-anthroposophical days passed through a mystical deepening, this man entered our Movement. Despite the fact that his soul dwelt in a body that was a prey to consumption, he dedicated himself, heart and soul, to our Movement. In the spring of this year we lost him from the earth-life; he passed through the gate of death. He has left to mankind a series of wonderful poems, which have been recently published. Owing to the difficulties of his external physical life, he was in a certain sense, for long periods separated in space from our Movement, either in a lonely spot in the Swiss mountains, or in some other place, where he had to care for his health. But away there, he clung to our Movement, and his poems, which in certain circles have lately been recited over and over again, are the poetic reflection, as it were, of what we have been developing for more than ten years. Now he has passed through the gate of death, and a very remarkable thing results from the occult observance of this soul. The significance of the soul's life in that disease-stricken body has become apparent only since the death of that body. That which this soul absorbed while his soul faithfully followed the progress of our Movement, developed greater force under the surface of the gradually dying body. The diseased body concealed this so long as the soul dwelt within it. And now, when one comes into the presence of this soul after death, there shines forth, as it can only shine forth in the spiritual life, the content of the life which this soul absorbed. The cloudlike sphere, as it were, in which our friend now lives after having passed through the gate of death, is present like a mighty cosmic tableau. For the occult observer it is a most striking sight. It may, perhaps, be said that the occult seer is able to cast his gaze round the whole wide sphere of the cosmic world, but it is one thing to allow the gaze to wander round the whole sphere of the cosmic world of soul, and another to see, separated out from a particular human soul something that has the appearance of a mighty tableau, like a painting of what otherwise is there of itself in the spiritual world. Just as we have the physical world around us, and then see it reflected in the magnificent paintings of a Raphael or Michelangelo, so is it in the spiritual world in the case of which we are here speaking. Just as one never says in presence of a picture by Michelangelo or Raphael, ‘this picture gives me nothing more for I have the whole great reality before me,’ — so one does not say, in observing the tableau that mirrors in a soul all that one elsewhere perceives in the vision of spiritual reality, that this soul tableau is not an infinite enrichment. And it may be said that there is infinitely more to be learnt in the presence of this friend who after death contains in his soul a reflection of all that has been described from out the spiritual worlds through the course of many years, than from direct contemplation of the vastness of spiritual reality.

This is an occult fact. I have repeatedly mentioned it to friends in different places and I have now taken from it elements that are of importance in connection with the subject we are to-day considering. As this occult fact presents itself, it shows me something else. In face of all the opposition to-day to the promulgation of occult teaching as we give it — the question may often be put (I will not say there is ‘doubt’ but that the question is put): ‘What progress will this occult teaching find in the hearts and souls of men?’ ‘Is there any guarantee, any assurance that the work of the Anthroposophical Society will continue to influence the course of the spiritual evolution of humanity?’ The sight of what the soul of our friend has become is one such assurance from the occult world. Why? The friend who has left behind him the poems: Wir Janden einen Pfad (‘We found a Path’) lives in the immense cosmic tableau that is for him after death like a kind of soul-body; but while he was connected with us, he absorbed into his being our teaching about the Christ. He absorbed this anthroposophical teaching, binding it to his own soul in such a way that it became the very spiritual heart-blood of his soul; it contained the Christ as substance. The Christ Being flowed into him in the teaching. The Christ, as He lives in our Movement, passed over into his soul. In the face of this occult fact, the following presents itself. The man who goes through the gate of death may indeed live in a cosmic tableau of this kind; he will go forward with it through the life that lies between death and a new birth. This will work and be embodied in his whole being, or rather it will ‘en-soul’ his whole being, and it will permeate his new earth-life, when he again descends to a life on earth. There is also this in addition, that such a soul receives a germ of perfection for its own life, and progresses in the evolution of the earth's existence. All this comes to pass because of the fact that such a soul has absorbed the teaching into its being. But this particular soul accepted all the teaching, steeped through and spiritualized by the Christ Being, by the conception of the Christ Being which we can make our own. All that such a soul absorbed, however, is not merely a treasure stimulating the further evolution of this single soul, but through Christ Who is there for all mankind, it is a treasure which works back again upon the whole of mankind. And that cosmic tableau which for clairvoyant eyes is being developed in the soul of him who this spring passed through the portal of death-that Christ enfilled soul-tableau, is to me an assurance that what may be given to-day from out of the spiritual worlds will, through the love of Christ radiate into souls who will come later. They will be set on fire, inspired by it. Not only will our friend carry forward our Christ-enfilled teaching to the greater perfecting of his own life, but because it has become part of his being it will become an impulse from the spiritual world to the souls who will live in the coming centuries; into them will pour the rays of that which is Christ-enfilled. Your souls cannot take in for themselves alone the teaching which is their most precious possession, but they will bear it through epochs of evolution yet to come. If you will enfill this teaching with Christ, it will stream forth as a seed into the whole of humanity because the Christ Being belongs to the whole of humanity. Where Christ is, the treasures of life are not isolated; their fruitfulness for individuals is always there, but at the same time they become a treasure for the whole of mankind.

We must place this clearly before our souls. We see then what a significant difference there is between Wisdom that is not filled with Christ, and Wisdom that is illuminated by the Light of Christ. When we come together in a narrower circle of our Society we are not there for the sake of abstract considerations, but in order to follow up true occultism, undismayed by what the modern world has to say against this occultism. Consequently we may speak of matters which only come to our knowledge through investigation in the spiritual.

A second example shall be mentioned. In recent years we have had occasion in Munich to perform what we call the Mystery Dramas, and Swedish friends have frequently been present. The performances of these Mystery Dramas had to differ in many respects from other performances. There had to be a sense of responsibility to the spiritual ·world. One could not attend these Mystery Plays as if one were going to an ordinary theatre. What is done in such a case must proceed from one's own soul-powers. But let us understand clearly that when in our physical life we want to carry something out through the will of our souls, we are compelled to use our muscular power, which is imparted to us from without, as it were, but which belongs to us. If we lack this muscular power that comes to us from outside, we cannot carry out certain things. In a certain sense muscular force belongs to us, and yet again not to us. So it is with our spiritual faculties, only there, our physical forces, our muscular forces do not help us when these faculties are to be active in the spiritual spheres. The powers of the spiritual world itself must come to our aid; the powers and forces which stream out of the spiritual world into our physical world must irradiate and permeate us. Undertakings of a different character may indeed begin with another consciousness. It was always clear to me that the facts could only be presented as the years went on, that the different impulses might only be used when definite spiritual forces, moving in this direction, flowed into our human forces, when spiritual ‘Guardian-Angel’ forces flowed into our human forces.

In the early days when we were beginning our activities in a very small circle — and when we gathered together in Berlin, at the beginning of this century, it was always very easy to count the number present. For a short time a faithful soul was always among them, a soul who through her Karma possessed a special talent for beauty and art. Even though it was for a short time, this soul worked with us, in all our most intimate activities. With an inner depth of feeling, and an enlightened enthusiasm, this soul worked among us, and absorbed the cosmological teachings which it was possible to give at that time. And I remember even to-day how at that time a fact came before my soul which may perhaps seem unimportant, but which may be mentioned here. When our Movement began, a periodical which, for well-considered reasons, was called ‘Lucifer,’ came into being. At that time I wrote an article under the title of ‘Lucifer’ which was meant to lay down, in germ at any rate, the direction along which we wished to work. That article, even if it does not say so in words, adhered to the direction in which the then Theosophical — and now Anthroposophical Society — should be maintained, and I may say that that article too is Christ-enfilled. The lifeblood of Christianity is in that article, and as such it can flow into those souls who absorb what that article contains. It may perhaps here be mentioned that at that time this article met with the most heated opposition among the circle of the few who had joined us from the old theosophical Movement. Everywhere was this article considered entirely ‘untheosophical.’ The personality of whom I have been speaking entered into this article with the warmest possible heart and the deepest inner feeling; and I was able to say to myself: when it is a question of the actual truth, her acquiescence is of far more importance for the progress of the Movement than all the rest of the opposition together. In short, this soul was deeply interwoven with all that was to flow into our anthroposophical Movement. She soon died; as early as 1904 she passed through the gate of death. For a while after death she had to struggle through in the spiritual world to that which she really was. Not so early as 1907, but from the time of our plays in Munich, from 1909 onwards, and then in an increasing degree as time went on, this soul was always there guarding and illuminating what I was able to undertake in connection with our Munich Festival Plays. All that this soul, owing to her talent for the beautiful, was able to give to the artistic realization of our anthroposophical ideas, worked down out of the spiritual world, as though from the guardian angel of our Mystery Plays, in such a way that one felt in oneself the power to take the necessary initiative. Just as in the physical world our muscular energy supports us, so the spiritual force streaming down from the spiritual worlds flowed into one's own spiritual force. Thus do the dead work with us, thus they are present with us. That was yet another case — and here comes the point about which I must specially speak to-day — that was again a case in which all that the personality had absorbed in the field of Anthroposophy manifestly assisted progress not only in her individual life, but it flowed back again to us in something that we ventured to do for the whole Movement. Two possibilities existed; this personality had accepted all that she could, she had it in her soul, and so she could apply it for the sake of her further progress through life and also through the life after death. ... That is right — it ought to happen so — for the human soul must, if it is to attain its divine goal, become ever more and more perfect; it must do all that is possible to help forward this perfecting. But because this soul had taken into herself the whole purport of what it is to be ‘Christ-enfilled,’ what she had taken into herself was able to work not merely for herself but it was able to flow down to us — and become in its effectiveness, a kind of common possession for us all. That is what Christ brings about when He permeates the fruits of our knowledge. He does not take away all that these fruits of our knowledge represent for our individuality; Christ died for all souls; and when we rise up to that knowledge which must be possessed by all true earth-men: — ‘Not I, but the Christ in me’ — when we realize the Christ within us in all that we know, and when we attribute to Christ the forces which we ourselves employ, then, what we take into our being works not for ourselves alone, but for the whole of humanity. It becomes fruitful for the whole of humanity. Look at the souls of men over the earth. Christ died for them all, and that which you receive in His Name you receive for your own perfecting, but also as a most precious possession that is effective for all mankind.

And now let us return to our introductory words this evening. It was said that when, after death, we look back upon our life-tableau, on that which we have lived through, it appears to us as though our ideals might have something strange about them. We feel in regard to our ideals that they really do not bear us forward to the common life of men, that they have no inherent guarantee of reality in the general life of men, that they carry us away from it. Lucifer has a powerful influence over our ideals because they flow in such beauty out of the human soul, but only out of the human soul, and are not rooted in external reality. This is why Lucifer has such power, and it is really the magnetic impulse of Lucifer which we experience after death. Lucifer approaches us, and the ideals we have are especially valuable to him, because by the indirect path of these ideals he can draw us to himself. But when we permeate with Christ all that we attain spiritually, when we feel the Christ in us, knowing that what we receive, is also received by the Christ in us — ‘Not I, but the Christ in me’ — then, when we pass through the gate of death we do not look back upon our ideals as though they tended to alienate us from the world. Our ideals have been committed to Christ and we know that it is Christ Who makes our ideals His own concern. He takes our ideals upon Himself. ‘Not I alone can so take my ideals upon myself that they are seeds for humanity upon the Earth, as surely as the plant-seeds of the present summer are seeds for the earthly plant-robe for the coming summer; but the Christ in me can do this; the Christ in me permeates my ideals with the reality of substance.’ And of those ideals we can say: ‘Yes, as man we give expression to ideals upon the earth, but in us lives Christ, and He takes them upon Him.’ These are the real germs of future reality. Christ-enfilled Idealism is permeated with the Seed of Reality, and he who truly understands Christ looks upon these ideals in this way; he says: Ideals have not as yet in themselves that guarantee of their own reality, their own actuality, which inheres in the plant-seed for the coming year; but when our ideals are committed to the Christ within us, then they are real seed. Whoever has a true Christ consciousness making into his life substance St. Paul's words ‘Not I, but the Christ in me is the Bearer of my ideals,’ he has this realization. He says: there are the ripe germinating seeds, there are the streams and seas, the hills and valleys — but close by is the world of idealism; this world of idealism is taken over by Christ, and it is like the seed of the future world in the world of the present, for Christ bears our ideals on into the next world as the God of Nature bears the plant-seeds of this year on into the coming year.

This gives reality to idealism; it removes from the soul those bitter, gloomy doubts which can arise in the feeling: What becomes of the world of ideals that are intimately bound up with external reality, and with all that I must consider of value? He who takes the Christ-Impulse into himself perceives that all that ripens in the human soul as wisdom-treasure is permeated, saturated through and through with reality. And I have brought two examples before you, in order to show you out of the occult world, how different is the working of that which is committed, Christ-enfilled, to the soul, from that which is committed to it only as wisdom which is not Christ-enfilled. What the soul has filled with Christ in this earth-life flows down to us in quite a different way from that which is not filled with Christ.

A terrible impression is produced, when clairvoyant consciousness looks out into the spiritual world and sees souls, in whom full Christ consciousness has not arisen during their last incarnation, fighting for their ideals — fighting for what is dearest to them, because in their ideals Lucifer has a power over them, which enables him to separate them from the fruits of reality which the whole world ought to enjoy.

Quite different is the aspect of those who have allowed their soul-wealth, their wisdom-wealth, to become Christ-enfilled. Such souls work upon us already in this life, evoke in us an after-glow, they animate and vitalize our souls, even in bodily life. What can be felt as most precious inner soul-warmth, as comfort in the most difficult conditions of life, as support in the blackest abyss of life, is this very condition of being filled with the Christ Impulse. And why? Because he who is really permeated with the Christ Impulse feels that in the conquests of his soul, however imperfect they may appear in earthly life, there lies this Christ-Impulse as the assurance and the guarantee for their fulfillment. This is why Christ is such a consolation in the doubts of life, such a support for the soul. How much for the souls of earth remains unfulfilled in life! How much seems to them to be of value, although in the outer physical world it can only appear to be like vain hopes of spring. But what we honestly feel in our soul, what we can unite with our soul as a valued possession — that we can commit to Christ; and whatever may be the prospects of its realization, when we have committed it to Christ He bears it forth upon His wings into Reality. It is not always necessary to have knowledge of this, but the soul that feels the Christ within it, as the body feels its life-giving blood, senses the warmth, the element of realization in this Christ-Impulse in respect of all that cannot be realized in the external world, though the soul with perfect justification longs for its realization. The fact that clairvoyant consciousness sees these things when it surveys souls after death is only a proof of how justifiable is the feeling of the human soul, when in all that man does, in all that he thinks, he feels himself Christ-enfilled, takes the Christ into his soul as its comfort, as support, saying in earth life: ‘Not I, but the Christ in me!’ For man may say: ‘Not I, but the Christ in me’ in this earth-life! Recall to your souls a passage which stands in my book Theosophy and which is meant to indicate one of those points where, at a certain stage of the spiritual life, there is a realization, a fulfillment of what fills the soul in this earthly-life. In a certain passage of my Theosophy I have drawn attention to the fact that ‘Tat wam asi, ‘Thou art That,’ upon which the Eastern sages meditate, comes before man as a reality at that moment when the transition from the so-called soul-world into the spiritual world takes place. Look up the passage in question. But something else can become a reality, in a matter that is of immense human significance in reference to St. Paul's words: ‘Not I, but the Christ in me’ which the Christ-enfilled soul may say in this life. If man knows how to experience in such a way that it is inner truth, this ‘Not I, but the Christ in me,’ it comes to fulfillment after death with mighty import. For what we accept in the world under the aspect of life which can be expressed in the words ‘Not I, but the Christ in me,’ becomes our own possession, our inner nature between death and a new birth, to such an extent that we may impart it as fruit to the whole of humanity. What we so take that we accept it under the point of view ‘Not I’ Christ makes into a common possession for all humanity. What I accept from the point of view ‘Not I,’ of this I may dare, after death, to say and to feel, ‘“Not for me alone” but for all my fellow men I And then only may I say the words: “Yes, I have loved Thee above all, even above myself,” therefore have I hearkened to the command, “Love thy God above all.”‘ — ‘Not I, but Christ in me’ And I have fulfilled that other command, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ for that which I have attained for myself will, through the fact that Christ bears it in reality, become the common property of all earth-humanity.

We must allow such things as these to work upon us, and then we experience what Christ has to signify in the human soul. Christ can be the bearer and supporter, the comforter and illuminator of the soul of man; and so we gradually become familiar with that which may be called the relation of Christ to the human soul.

The Rudolf Steiner Archive is maintained by:
The e.Librarian: elibrarian@elib.com