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



Highlight Words

Spiritual Soul Instructions and Observation of the World

Schmidt Number: S-0759

On-line since: 31st March, 2014

Course IV - Lecture I

Theosophy and Spiritism

GA 52

Berlin
February 1st, 1904

The questions of the origin and goal of the human soul have existed always and at all times. One counts these questions among the religious, theological or theosophical ones. But in ancient times the science of the everyday life went hand in hand with the investigation of the spiritual world. There were sages at that time who knew not only the facts and laws of the external nature and the science of the material life, but also the science of the spiritual life. One could also rely on those who knew the natural phenomena and physical laws if one wanted to get information about the laws of the spiritual life. At that time no one-sidedness existed with the spiritual leaders. Almost everybody of them had an overview of the whole area of knowledge, and probably nobody dared to deliver an authoritative judgment in any scientific question, we say, for example, in the field of zoology, if he did not know the higher questions of the spiritual life at the same time.

Since the 16th century this has changed. There the religious problems and the generally accepted science opposed each other. This contrast between faith and knowledge, between religion and knowledge appeared the sharpest in the 19th century. At that time the spiritual life had received another physiognomy. Great naturalists postpone the dawning of the scientific age to the thirties years of the 19th century. One has pointed rightly to this age as one of the most epoch-making of humankind. One has pointed with pride to performances of the natural sciences with regard to the control of the physical laws and the knowledge of the physical processes in the 19th century. And one has said rightly that all the preceding millennia together have not performed so much in this field as the 19th century.

However, a concomitant of this big, immense upturn is the lack of spiritual life. The harmony which existed in former times between both sides of knowledge got lost. Today the harmony between the science which limits itself to external facts in the material world and the science which deals with the facts of the soul does no longer exist. It is something peculiar that just the science of the 19th century became absolutely powerless concerning the big questions of existence, concerning the questions of the soul-life and spiritual life. It is strange that just in our time the big mass can no longer be led by the leaders of science to the higher humanities. You get no explanation from those who investigate nature if you ask them: what about the problems of the soul? What about the determination of the human being? — One has called our age in which the things are in such a way the materialistic age. Our otherwise so perfect science limits itself to natural science, as far as it is to be carried out with the external senses, as far as it is to be calculated or to be explored by combination of external sense-perception. The knowledge of nature and the knowledge of the soul-life do no longer go hand in hand.

Consider psychology, the science of the soul of our time. It is, as if it is attacked by a big incapacity. Go from university to university, from chair to chair: what you hear with regard of the life of soul and mind is absolutely powerless in the face of the most urgent questions of our existence. It is typical that the so-called soul researchers have a catchword which is as characteristic as only a catchword can be. Since Friedrich Albert Lange, the historian of materialism, the catchword of “the science of the soul without soul” has become setting the tone. This catchword characterises the standpoint of psychology in the second half of the 19th century more or less, and expresses that the human soul and its qualities are nothing else than the external expression of the mechanical functioning of the sensuous natural forces in our organism. As well as the clock consists of gear wheels and moves the hands with the help of the gear wheels, the movement of the hands is nothing else than the result of purely mechanical processes, our soul-life with its wishes, desires, ideas, concepts should also be nothing else than the result of physical processes, comparable to the forward movement of the hands in the clock; it should have its cause in nothing else than in the gears which move in our brain and which were made clear to us by science in such an epoch-making way. Nothing of the brain physiology should be criticised; everything remains completely and can be acknowledged by nobody more than by me. But even if we can say that the clock is a mechanical engine and that which it performs is a result of the mechanical gears, we must not forget that in the production of the clock a watchmaker was active. “Watch without watchmaker” is an impossible catchword just as “science of the soul without soul.” This is not a catchword, but it is something that marks the whole way of research, of the thinking and the attitude of the 19th century which observes the soul eliminating the mind and explains it only as a mechanism. Explanation and attitude correspond to this catchword. Hence, it is also no miracle, if those who thirst from the deepest need of heart and soul for the answer of the questions: where does the human being originate from? Where does he go? Which is the determination of our soul? — If those feel bored stiff of that which is presented as a scientific teaching of the soul by such people who should have a teaching of the soul. In the textbooks about the soul one finds something entirely different from a teaching of the soul.

One is not surprised if these try to satisfy their need of spiritual knowledge non-scientifically just since the official science is so powerless in the face of these questions, and if this science of soul and mind positions itself apart from the modern science of materialism which makes science deaf and dumb; deaf toward the external teaching, dumb if it should speak about the soul. Our official science is powerless in the face of the soul questions, even if it has the good will. That is why, where in science the quarrel broke out between materialism and spiritualism as for example between Wagner and Vogt, it did not end at all to the disadvantage of materialism. Everything that the materialistic researcher replied to the spiritualist is completely maintained, while that which the spiritualist brought forward was quite untenable in the light of strict research. We see that even if the scholars had the good will to deepen the question about the human soul in terms of Weber’s real spiritual science it has turned out helpless. Hence, the words “psychology without soul” is also no mere catchword, because science really lost the concept of the soul. If you want to ask the most famous psychologists’ advice, you find the same as with the physiologist Wagner. The psychologists have nothing to say because they do not have an idea of the soul. They have put about not only the catchword “science of the soul without soul,” but they have completely lost sight of the being of the soul.
This fact must be appreciated completely if one wants to understand the development of the spiritistic currents. Since the origin and development of the materialistic epoch, which was enthusiastically welcomed by the ones which was combated by the others on the liveliest, a counter-current exists which one calls the spiritualistic or spiritistic movement. Both belong together, as well as South Pole and North Pole of a magnet belong together necessarily. Because the scientific researchers and leaders could not say anything about the soul, one turned to other researchers to hear something about the soul. Because the question of the soul was so unstoppable, all objections which were done against spiritism fell on deaf ears.

Today we want to examine how we have to behave from the theosophical standpoint to the enthusiastic welcomers and to the objections of the opponents of spiritism. I presuppose that spiritism is a necessary phenomenon. We have to realise first if we study such a question that it does not concern an accidental, but a necessary phenomenon; recognisable as necessary simply from its course. We completely ignore at first that dilettantes have mainly occupied themselves with spiritism and its phenomena. Let us look at something different, namely at the fact that among the scholars researchers of the best reputation and significance were who sympathised with spiritism. Because this is the case, allow me to refrain for the moment from the spiritualistic phenomena, and to make the development of spiritism to a question of persons which refers to those at first who have occupied themselves with spiritism and certainly possess a notable judgment in spiritistic questions; they have exerted a deep influence also in the fields of natural science at the same time. These are scholars who could not be content just as many other people with the concepts of a “psychology without soul” which their professional colleagues gave them; these are scholars who performed much more in our modern science than the really materialistic researchers.

There we may probably put the question: is it not of quite particular significance if a researcher of indubitable reputation, like the great English chemist Crookes, did completely commit to spiritism? Crookes, who has the biggest merits investigating the chemical basic laws, the chemical constitution of our elements who did not only stand the test in scientific fields, but also performed the best in practical fields who takes a position in science like few other people — this man concerned himself with spiritistic experiments. One believed to argue against him that he did not exactly approach his observations. However, this objection is of secondary significance, it only shifts the point of question. Because it does not depend on that whether Crookes experimented exactly, but whether Crookes, the great chemist, knew to which extent nature follows the sensuous laws, to which extent these reach, and whether they obstruct a psychology based on spiritualistic experiments; whether the highest possible scientific efficiency is not an obstacle for a man achieving scientific knowledge in the fields of spiritism. It depends on that: can Crookes be on one side the exact scientific researcher for us if we believe on the other side that we have to doubt his researches in spiritual fields? This is almost in such a way, as if we constructed a double Crookes, a Morning- and an Afternoon-Crookes to us. In the morning, if he concerns himself with his chemistry, he has a healthy intellect; in the afternoon, if he devotes himself to the investigation of spiritistic experiments, he is crazy. The fact that this is absurd makes sense immediately, however, is not admitted by the accepted science.

Another naturalist is the English scholar Wallace, the founder of the theory of evolution. Darwin and he found — independently of each other — the great thought of this theory, Darwinism. If one studies his works, one finds that he has dealt with the concerning question even more splendidly than Darwin himself. His merit in these fields is not denied. Because he stood up spoken and written for the reality of spiritistic phenomena later, one also split him, so to speak, in two parts. He fights on one side for his scientific view and on the other side for his psychology which is similar to that of Crookes. Everywhere you can find that he is shown as a poor lost because he occupied himself with spiritism and supported it. Dwarf-like intellects simply rebel against the way of thinking and the attitude of these great men.

The fact that also a researcher of spiritism can be on the high level of a naturalist, like the mentioned researchers, caused me to make the matter a question of persons at first.

Indeed, the 19th century has the advantage over all former centuries that these exceptionally important questions are treated as scientific questions. These researchers do not at all regard it as impossible to expand the scientific research also to this area. Therefore, it may be also quite right to refer to them as authorities; because it does not depend on the question whether anybody observed exactly or inexactly, but merely whether they regard it as possible or impossible. The exactness or inaccuracy of an experiment can be ascertained later. What was made wrong can be corrected later under other conditions. This with regard to this kind of psychology while it depends only on the question: can one disprove this kind of psychology scientifically?

We do not register a scientific psychology, and the weakest and most unimportant what has been written by the scholars in the course of the 19th century is written against spiritism. Some opponents of my view may sit here; they must admit one matter with unbiased judgment: even if the writings should be right which are directed against spiritism, they all are trivial and unscientific; one may also be right if one states brainless stuff.

After we have recognised the spiritistic movement as a cultural-historical necessity this way, let us look a little at the differences which exist between the spiritistic movement and other attempts of investigating the soul facts.

You know that there is a theosophical current, a theosophical movement since 1875, which — just as spiritism since forty years — endeavours to confirm the truth that the material existence is not the only one, but that a higher existence is in the world that there are spiritual facts and beings which are not to be reached and investigated using the outer senses. Just as spiritism dealt with the question of the existence of a spiritual world according to its methods, theosophy also deals with these higher worlds. It is a simple historical fact that the founders of the theosophical movement stood in the spiritistic movement before they realised that they had to work in theosophical sense. Helena Petrowna Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott, the great emissaries of the Theosophical Society, went out from the spiritistic movement, and one even called the theosophical association, which they established at first, a society of dissatisfied spiritists. They sought for nothing but truth in the spiritual fields, after they had gained the knowledge that the theosophical movement is right. They only changed the method of investigation, and we want now to talk about the reason why they changed it.

It is the task of all spiritists and of all religious movements to produce evidence that there is a higher spiritual life; that in the human being something spiritual lives that the human being has a spiritual nature in himself that his life between birth and death is only a part of the whole human life, and that the human being is something else beside his physical being. The spiritual researchers endeavour to produce evidence of that. It is that which they have in common. They strive collectively for that, and in this goal they will also meet to constitute a necessary contrast to the materialistic current. One can achieve truth not on separate ways, but only in full unity, in harmonious striving. Not only the common goal but also the knowledge of the common origin of these two movements may contribute to this unity. It was a common site of origin from which spiritistic movements as well as theosophy took their starting point. So not only the goal, but also the origin is the same. Those people know this who are able to look a little deeper into the internal driving forces of the spiritual movement. What we see externally, what of the spiritual movement is immediately open before our external eyes happens in the world of effects, not in the world of causes. The spiritual researcher knows that the causes of something that happens before your senses are found in much higher spiritual worlds. We grope in the dark if we walk in the sensuous world up and down, and have no idea what takes place behind the scenery where higher spiritual powers pull the strings of that which takes place before our sensory eyes. Thus the spiritual researcher also recognises that spiritistic and theosophical movements have a common origin.

Somebody who pursues the development of humankind with open spiritual eye knows that there is a development also within the spiritual life of humankind like within the physical nature. As well as there are within the physical nature beings which grope in the dark, and others which grope in the dark and also hear et cetera, there are in the spiritual life all gradations between the undeveloped soul of a savage and the genius soul of Goethe or Newton. We see which immense differences exist in the gradation of the development of senses as well as in the scale of mental development. There are highly developed beings among humankind, and those who have found them are able to give evidence of them. These great beings are the leaders of the spiritual development. They are not only — as Schopenhauer said — an ideal brotherhood which joins the hands together through times, but a real community of beings which work together. The theosophist knows about its existence and calls it the great brotherhood of the so-called adepts. Who believes honestly in a development must believe in this possibility; who has, however, experience of it can give evidence that there are such beings.

When around the middle of the 19th century the materialistic turning point took place when the higher beings saw that a materialistic high tide must come up, they caused the counter-pole. They did not criticise this materialistic movement at any moment. They knew that the modern technology would thereby take an immense upward trend, and this was a necessity. That is why the materialistic movement should not be combated. Only with regard to the soul question a counter-pole had to be created, a spiritual current, a spiritual wave against the material one in humankind. This spiritual wave expresses itself at first in the appearance of spiritistic phenomena. It should be shown to the human beings that there is something else than what natural science can seize with its means. Those brothers who knew how to interpret the signs of the time who were always the leaders of humankind sent the spiritistic tidal wave about humankind. They are working for centuries. Unknown, misjudged, they will come to the fore in single individualities working extensively for humankind. As long as the mass of humankind could turn to the scientific leaders, as long as it could receive information about the burning soul questions, however, those older brothers could lead the spiritual humankind in concealed mysteries. Then they sent their scouts into the world on ways which only the so-called occultist knows. Somebody who really studies history encounters such spiritual influence which he does not know how to explain if he is only a materialistic researcher which become clear to him, however, if he turns to the right spiritual researchers.

The situation changed in the 19th century. Just because the scientific leaders failed, it was necessary that obvious proofs of the existence of a spiritual world were delivered. Now, however, it became apparent that the three decades of the spiritistic movement from 1840 to 1870 caused quite different interests at first as one had intended. Do not argue that the wise leaders can also be mistaken, because they would have had to foresee this otherwise. This is a matter which must be discussed in other way. It turned out at first that the interests connected with the spiritistic phenomena were not intended. One wanted to obviously show the fact that there is still a purely spiritual life beside the physical one. However, only interests of overly human, personal nature were nourished at that time. It was the contact with the dead, which was sought above all. But this was not at all what the emissaries should bring to humankind. The purpose of these phenomena was not to satisfy human curiosity, even if of nice and noble kind. Humankind should get knowledge, insights which should lead it — using them correctly — to itself, to a higher, spiritual life. Unfortunately, one sought for too much curiosity, and investigated the spiritual world in a way which cannot lead to the real purification of humankind. This is the reason why the Theosophical Society was then founded.

Let me make a reference shortly what it concerns here. The human being is not created by purely natural forces. What constitutes the human nature what forms the cover of the soul-life and spiritual life is not created by means of physical strength. Wisdom created the world. Wisdom also created every human being. I presuppose this here; it could be the task of a particular lecture to prove it to you. That is why I only make an outline today.

You know that no clock comes into being by means of mere natural forces, but that human astuteness is necessary to produce the necessary combinations. Those are right who say: if we investigate the organism of the living body, we find no God, no divine creativity, but only natural forces. They do not find the spiritual, creative forces. Already if you think about that a little bit, you can get it clear to your mind. Even if you study a clock, you can explain it quite mechanically, and, in the end, you are forced to raise the question about the wisdom, about the human reason and about the watchmaker who made it, and you cannot find him in the clock, too. One sees from it: the question is put wrongly. The comparison of the human organism with a clock absolutely holds good, but it must be properly applied. It is correct if one says: as little as a clock and its clockwork can originate without the mental influence of a watchmaker as little as the human soul came into being without the spiritual influence of its creator — this human soul with the present consciousness, as we know it, which teaches us of the environment, which calculates, deduces, and informs us about our moral life. Imagine what was necessary — I have to talk figuratively — to create the basis for this peak of the organic life, for the human mind within this human organic development.

It is easy to imagine that these legitimate creators of the organism could have built only up to one of the lower steps that they would never have been able to create this intricate human organism which was to be used for the human soul as a useful tool. They had to reach a peak of their capacity. We go back to those times which preceded the development of the human soul in which the development did not yet get to a human peak. Then we find that these beings are built up wisdom-filled, and it becomes clear to us at the same time that the forces which created these beings can be seen by us human beings just as little as the watchmaker of the clock can be seen. The human being knows about the spiritual powers, forces and beings which carefully prepared this in which his soul lives as little as the mechanical clockwork in the clock knows about the mental activity of the watchmaker.

Spiritual forces worked on the construction of our organism and are still working in us. Those forces which formed our organism so that it is able to breathe, to send blood through the veins, to digest that it concentrates substances and forces in the brain and makes the brain the suitable tool of the soul, until the human soul could come into being — still today these soul forces are at work. But as little as gravitation, as magnetism can be seen, as little we see the forces which manifest themselves as our desires, passions, wishes and impulses, just as little we can recognise the creative forces which were effective with the construction of the organism. Imagine the human being would not yet be at the height where he has a clear consciousness. Imagine him being transported in that time when these forces of consciousness had not yet taken possession of his organism.

Before our highly developed brain could be built in the course of world evolution, other forms of the brain developed which are even today always in us, covered and controlled by the highly developed perfect brain of the human being of our time. In an certain way — unaware to the human being — the spiritual creators of the world built up the nature of desires and impulses of the human being; that nature which the human being has with the animals in common to produce the tool of the soul as their peak. Still today these spiritual beings which built up us are active; they are beside us, in us, and are as real as this lamp is real here in the physical world. We move in our physical world and know about the things of the world because we have attained a clear consciousness. Round us many beings live which fell behind on former levels of existence. Exactly the same way as the human beings advanced, certain beings fell behind and constitute a spiritual world for themselves. But also for them the development will not come to a standstill. Just as our consciousness developed to our height and clearness, their development also advances. One cannot deny further advancement to higher and higher levels to our consciousness. However, if the human being has developed not only up to this clear consciousness, but to an even higher view, then we recognise the spiritual worlds again which always surround us.

You can receive knowledge from the spiritual world surrounding us in double way. The first way is that we investigate the condition of the human being after his clear consciousness has been eliminated. This clear consciousness is like a light which outshines the spiritual influence which is round us. We do not see it because our consciousness outshines it. If we eliminate our consciousness, however, we approach the spiritual beings who were our creators before we had the clear consciousness. Then we attain the knowledge that the development does not advance straight ahead, but it ascends and descends in circles. While we eliminate our clear consciousness, we move as it were back to former stadia of our development where we were more spiritual, whereas we stand with our consciousness above that sphere today. We really come from a spiritual world, and this spiritual world has done in advance, so to speak, what can be the flat, the home of the soul in the physical world. We approach the divine being in certain respect if we lower the level a little which we have reached. This is the way spiritism has gone.

The other way is the way of the modern spiritual science, of theosophy. Theosophy tries to investigate the spiritual world not through elimination of the consciousness, but through higher development of the consciousness. The ideal of the theosophist is to attain knowledge about the spiritual world surrounding us with perfect continuity, with maintenance of his clear consciousness. This is the difference between the theosophical student and the spiritistic medium. The medium delivers information of the spiritual world, but it is only a tool. It is the organ through which the spiritual world speaks. The theosophical researcher tries to lift his clear consciousness to those heights where he perceives this spiritual world again. The theosophical researcher considers it as an restriction of the human independence, as an obstruction of the human right of self-determination if he should give up that level of clear consciousness which he has once reached in the course of development and should transport himself back to the state which he has already gone through in former phases of his development.

The truth which we receive in a state of the lowered consciousness may be quite untouchable, no one may doubt the correctness of the results of spiritistic experiments, however, the question whether the method of research is right or permissible is not thereby touched. It particularly depends on it whether it corresponds to the laws of development and the intentions of the cosmic powers if steps are done again backward which nature has already done forward. Not without reason steps are done in nature, and, hence, the human being should also not transport himself back to phases of development which nature has already overcome with him. We do not want to investigate truth because of curiosity, not on wrong, underhand ways, but merely on the way about which the lofty cosmic powers have instructed us, on the way which leads through our clear consciousness. Hence, it is the striving of the theosophical movement to hear not to those who reveal truth from the unconsciousness or subconsciousness, but to those who tell truth from full waking consciousness. Somebody who stands in the theosophical movement and has direct knowledge of truth has investigated truth in no other way as maintaining the full waking consciousness. He is not allowed to eliminate his consciousness for a moment. Higher development of the consciousness, full, clear beholding, as the adepts have it, must be his striving. If we have reached this goal, then we fulfil our human determination.

Why should we believe the medium being in trance more than somebody who speaks from his clear waking consciousness? Trust is necessary here and there. However, it is more comfortable to investigate truth eliminating the consciousness, but the research method maintaining the clear consciousness is more humane. Hence, the theosophists have preferred the latter way as the natural one, so that any work out of the unconsciousness or subconsciousness is not what the theosophical movement would have wished. The theosophical movement tries to get to the spiritual world out of the full, clear consciousness, and it realises that the human being is a spiritual being which is more or less independent of his body, depending on his level of development. Hence, theosophy turns to the incarnated human beings above all, to such human beings who, living in the body, can attain forces of spiritual beholding and become independent of their physical bodies temporarily, with full, clear consciousness. The human being independent of the body has the possibility to obtain experiences in the spiritual world, not because he returns to the times in which the bright waking consciousness was not yet developed, but because he ascends to times and periods of evolution in which the consciousness will be higher than the average consciousness of the present human beings.

The medium is a reminiscent sign of past times of evolution. In former times all human beings were media and had an astral perception, once they all could perceive the spiritual world. However, from this astral consciousness our consciousness, our bright, clear waking consciousness has developed gradually. With the rise to the spiritual worlds which all human beings will have to carry out, they will go — if I may say so — through this astral world again, become clairvoyant again. However, this is only a transitory state like any development state can be considered as a transitory state. Our earthly career is a lesson which we must work through which we have to learn. Therefore, we should also not become unworldly, not hostile to the earthly matters, but completely live in the earthly and should recognise the same forces, the same beings in the earthly world which we perceive in the super-sensible world, because these work on our earthly world and on the human souls, and gain influence on the organisation of the earthly life that way.

The bee allegory of the mystery priests of the ancient Greece wanted to express this. The bee allegory is therefore not without significance for us, because the human soul was compared with the bees. As well as the bees are sent out from the beehive to the flowers to collect honey, the human soul is sent out from higher regions to collect experiences in the earthly world. The realm of flowers is assigned to the bees, the earthly world to the human beings. It would not at all correspond to their determinations if bees and human beings visited other fields of research, were active in regions which do not contain the material to be collected or to an unsuitable degree. Therefore, the theosophical movement has made this allegory the allegory of its work which consists, briefly expressed, in the striving for the higher development of knowledge and of the clear consciousness to an encompassing one, so that it can also take part in the life in spiritual worlds. So the Theosophical Society strives for a higher development of the human beings. If it succeeds in doing so, those interests become active in the human nature and develop the human being further. Curiosity should not drive us to get to know anything of the spiritual world. What we learn has to give us the strength, the capacity to arrive at the goal which is set to us by the cosmic powers.

The spiritistic movement causes the consciousness in its followers that there is a spiritual world. In this endeavour theosophy and spiritism agree. But the method to arrive at this goal, as already explained, is different. The reasons why the Theosophical Society does not favour the research method of spiritism can be given with a few words: it is a big danger in the present stage of our cosmic development to eliminate the human consciousness. According to the whole course of the cosmic development the human being must work with this consciousness on the earth. If he eliminates it, he is exposed will-lessly, unconsciously to the spiritual powers.

An example should make this clear to you. It is a great difference whether you go into a den of criminals with clear consciousness and bright mind and know a lot about it, or whether you go into it without this clear knowledge. It is not only in the extreme case of the dive, it is everywhere in the world that way. We must grasp the things which move up to us with clear consciousness and mind. We must not become will-less tools, also not of the spiritual powers, because these could do everything imaginable with us. It is just that which contributed to inhibit the culture, the development of media to such a high degree. The insight that the human being should contact the spiritual beings only maintaining his full, free self-determination is accepted more and more by the leading spiritists, and it may be only a question of time that the other method of spiritual research, cultivated by the theosophists, is also adopted by the spiritists.

The theosophist and the spiritist strive for clairvoyance. Both are also tools, the theosophical student and the spiritistic medium; but only the spiritistic medium is will-less. Somebody who knows the dangers can speak about the immense powers facing him in that world; powers which have a destroying, pressing down effect on us; powers which have a beneficial influence on one side, on the other side a damaging effect. That was profitable to the human being when he still lived in his subconsciousness; today this is injurious to him. If we leave ourselves will-lessly to the powers which formed us once, then we are their tools for better or for worse. This is why we should never let cloud our consciousness. This has enabled us with our researches to recognise big truth, while the spiritistic researcher must fish more or less in troubled waters. We have recognised what leads to the goals; it has revealed what hinders us. Above all we must learn to find the way in the spiritual world. We must possess that knowledge which makes this possible which is the precondition of knowledge in the spiritual world. Who wants to become a competent mechanic must study mathematics. Who wants to be at home in the spiritual world and not to move staggering and will-lessly in it must have penetrated the theosophical profundities. What the theosophists have recognised in 1875 will bring more and more spiritists gradually to their side. Both currents do not need to combat each other even if the research method is radically different as I have pointed out; they should balance out. What the followers of the one current have to offer, they may bring this; what the followers of the other current have to bring, they may lay down this on the altar of humankind for the welfare of the whole. Humankind is really supported by both movements this way, while fight between both directions could lead only to lose track of the great goal. Not fight, but unity between both movements is necessary which should lead to the common goal: to lift humankind out of the materialistic current of the present.

Imparting of the knowledge of the spiritual world is necessary for that. Imparting of the knowledge of eternity and the true nature of the soul, as well as the possibility to look up again to the big spiritual powers of nature leading and showing us the paths. How few have so much self-knowledge that they understand the origin and the determination of the human being, the home of the soul, that they can find what gives sense and significance to life! To receive that, the human being must have got to the conviction which Johann Gottlieb Fichte expressed when he spoke of that spiritual world which opens our eyes for the eternal: “Not only, after I have been torn away from the connection of the earthly world, I will receive the entry into the supernatural world; I am and live now in it, truer than in the earthly one; it is my only steady point of view now, and the eternal life, which I obtained long ago, is the only reason, why I may still continue the earthly one. What they call heaven does not lie beyond the grave; it is spread already here around our nature, and its light rises in every pure heart.”


Notes:

The translator uses the terms spiritism, spiritist etc. instead of the terms spiritualism, spiritualist etc. which are more common in English-speaking countries. Steiner uses the latter terms for the opposite of materialism, materialist etc. as it became usual since Allan Kardec (1804–1861) had differentiated these terms.

Rudolf Wagner (1805–1864), German anatomist and physiologist, adversary of philosophical materialism

Carl Vogt (1817–1895), German naturalist (zoology, geology)

Presumably Joseph von Weber (1753–1831), German Catholic clergyman and naturalist, in his book Metaphysics of the Sensuous and the Supersensible (1802)

William Crookes (1832–1919), English chemist and physicist, investigator of spiritism, theosophist, member of the Order of the Golden Dawn

Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913), British naturalist, On Miracles and Modern Spiritualism (1874)

Johann Gottlieb Fichte, quotation from his work The Vocation of Man, vol. 3: Faith (1800)



Last Modified: 02-Dec-2018
The Rudolf Steiner Archive is maintained by:
The e.Librarian: elibrarian@elib.com
[Spacing]