13 July 1924
TO ALL MEMBERS • XVII
Understanding of the Spirit and conscious Experience of Destiny
This week something will
be given in the communications addressed to members in these columns,
which may serve to bring us to a further understanding of the weekly
understanding of anthroposophical truth can be furthered if the
relation which exists between man and the world is constantly brought
before the human soul.
man turns his attention to the world into which he is born and out of
which he dies, he is surrounded in the first place by the fullness of
his sense-impressions. He forms thoughts about these
bringing the following to his consciousness: ‘I am forming
thoughts about what my senses reveal to me as the world’, he
has already come to the point where he can contemplate himself. He
can say to himself: In my thoughts ‘I’ live. The world
gives me the opportunity of experiencing myself in thought. I
find myself in the thoughts in which I contemplate the world.
continuing to reflect in this way, he ceases to be conscious of the
world; he becomes conscious of the ‘I’. He ceases to have
the world before him; he begins to experience the self.
the experience be reversed, and the attention directed to the inner
life in which the world is mirrored, then those events emerge into
consciousness which belong to our life's destiny, and in which our
human self has flowed along from the point of time to which our
memory goes back. In following up the events of his destiny, a man
experiences his own existence.
bringing this to his consciousness: ‘I with my own self have
experienced something that destiny brought to me’, a man has
already come to the point where he will contemplate the world. He can
say to himself: I was not alone in my fate; the world played a part
in my experience. I willed this or that; the world streamed
into my will. I find the world in my will when I experience this will
thus to enter into his own being, man ceases to be conscious of the
self, he becomes conscious of the world; he ceases to experience
himself, he becomes feelingly aware of the world.
send my thoughts out into the world, there I find myself; I sink into
myself, there I find the world. If a man experiences this strongly
enough, he is confronted with the great riddles of the World and Man.
to have the feeling: I have taken endless pains to understand the
world through thinking, and after all there is but myself in this
thinking ― this gives rise to the first great riddle. And to
feel that one's own self is formed through destiny, yet to perceive
in this process the onward flow of world-happenings ― this
presents the second riddle.
the experience of this problem of Man and the World germinates the
frame of mind in which man can so confront Anthroposophy that he
receives from it in his inner being an impression which rouses his
Anthroposophy asserts that there is a spiritual experience which does
not lose the world when thinking. One can also live in
thought. Anthroposophy tells of an inward experience in which one
does not lose the sense-world when thinking, but gains the
Spirit-world. Instead of penetrating into the ego in which the
sense-world is felt to disappear, one penetrates into the
Spirit-world in which the ego feels established.
shows, further, that there is an experience of destiny in which one
does not lose the self. In fate, too, one can still feel oneself to
be active. Anthroposophy points out, in the impartial, unegoistic
observation of human destiny, an experience in which one learns to
love the world and not only one's own existence. Instead of staring
into the world which carries the ego on the waves of fortune and
misfortune, one finds the ego which shapes its own fate voluntarily.
Instead of striking against the world, on which the ego is dashed to
pieces, one penetrates into the self, which feels itself united with
the course of events in the world.
destiny comes to him from the world that is revealed to him by his
senses. If then he finds his own activity in the working of his
destiny, his real self rises up before him not only out of his inner
being but out of the sense-world too.
person is able to feel, however faintly, how the spiritual part of
the world appears in the self, and how the self proves to be working
in the outer world of sense, he has already learned to understand
Anthroposophy correctly. For he will then realise that in
Anthroposophy it is possible to describe the Spirit-world which the
self can comprehend. And this will enable him to understand that in
the sense-world the self can also be found ― in a different way
than by diving within. Anthroposophy finds the self by showing how
the sense-world reveals to man not only sense-perceptions but also
the after-effects of his life before birth and his former earthly
can now gaze on the world perceptible to his senses and say: It
contains not only colour, sound, warmth; in it are active the
experiences passed through by souls before their present earthly
life. And he can look into himself and say: I find there not only my
ego but, in addition, a spiritual world is revealed.
an understanding of this kind, a person who really feels ― who
is not unmoved by ― the great riddles of Man and the World, can
meet on a common ground with the Initiate who in accordance with his
insight is obliged to speak of the outer world of the senses as
manifesting not only sensible perceptions but also the impressions of
what human souls have done in their life before birth and in past
earthly lives, and who has to say of the world of the inner self that
it reveals spiritual events which produce impressions and are as
effective as the perceptions of the sense-world.
would-be active members should consciously make themselves mediators
between what the questioning human soul feels as the problems of Man
and the Universe, and what the knowledge of the Initiates has to
recount, when it draws forth a past world out of the destiny of human
beings, and when by strengthening the soul it opens up the perception
of a spiritual world.
this way, through the work of the would-be active members, the
Anthroposophical Society may become a true preparatory school for the
school of Initiates. It was the intention of the Christmas Assembly
to indicate this very forcibly; and one who truly understands what
that Assembly meant will continue to point this out until the
sufficient understanding of it can bring the Society fresh tasks and