The Medical Faculty and Theosophy
25th, May, 1905
Note: The transcript
of the four “faculty” lectures are deficient. It shows
not only noticeable gaps; the author of the transcript is also not
familiar with the topic of the lectures. He often made summaries
in haste as far as he understood the lecturer. That is why some
connections shifted. Although notices of other participants were
used, the deficiencies of the text could not be essentially corrected
except for some big misunderstandings.
It is a preliminary work
of theosophy to illumine all fields of the present spiritual life comprehensively
and to show how theosophical thoughts and ideas can work in every field
of this modern spiritual life if they are accepted. Then they can prepare
a full understanding of that which theosophy has to say in every field
of our spiritual life. The modern human beings live in images and suggestions
of the public life which, of course, influence them strongly, images
that directly counteract our views and would gradually undermine them
unless the ideas of theosophy flowed into these views. Fichte says that
ideals cannot be applied directly in life, but ideals should be the
propelling forces of life. Theosophy aims at this.
The doctor who has set himself
the task to heal is freer than the lawyer. He is not restricted by prejudices
and authorities and, hence, some doctors are found who co-operate with
us. However, we do not want to interfere in the quarrel of the parties,
this would be a subjective behaviour; we want to explain quite objectively
only what theosophy has to say concerning the medical science. And we
want always to bear in mind that theosophy can be hard understood, very
hard by those who have lived under the constraint of studies. Only someone
who freely stands there does not find any conflict between true science
and what theosophy wants. Theosophy completely acknowledges the tremendous
progress which the natural sciences have done during the last centuries
and particularly in the last decades.
There are in all fields
of culture big cyclic laws which refer also to the negative and to the
positive sides of culture. If also in the medical science so much is
uncertain today, we have to realise that the basic cause of this uncertainty
is deeply rooted in our ways of thinking. These ways of thinking are
rooted deeper than all theories which one acquires in any science. And
they cannot be simply altered, but only replaced bit by bit with others.
Today the materialistic, mechanistic thinking of our time influences
all these ways of thinking.
How does the modern doctor
despise medical science of the Middle Ages and antiquity; and, nevertheless,
the future doctor could learn a lot from the history of the medicine
of those ancient times. He could learn some other views than they prevail
in the present medicine. The fewest doctors today know the theories
of Galen, two to three centuries AD, for example, and the medical scholasticism
of the Middle Ages. One looks wrongly down at this ancient medical science.
If the modern doctors wanted to get to know them, they would be able
to get to know something valuable. The Hippocratic doctrine, which teaches
that the human being is composed of four elements earth, water, air
and fire, excites sneer. If is spoken there of black and white bile,
phlegm, blood and their relations to the planets of our solar system,
are this no such theories as one puts up theories today. However, these
theories have made the medical intuition fertile which gave old doctors
the possibility to carry on the medical profession in quite different
way than the modern doctor can do it.
The shamans of savage tribes
have a principle that is accepted only by few reasonable persons. It
is the same principle that also forms the basis of the oriental medicine,
namely that the doctor, who wants to heal, must have absorbed qualities
in himself which enable him to understand life from quite another side.
It may be an example of
that what I mean if we look at a people that does not belong to the
present cultural nations, to the Hindus. The doctors of the Hindus apply
a principle which forms the basis of immunisation, the vaccination,
as we know it, with an antiserum. They combat a certain form of disease,
applying the cause of the disease as a remedy. The Hindu doctors heal
snakebites, while they work on the wound with their saliva. The saliva
is prepared by training, the doctors have immunised themselves against
snakebites, against snake venom, exposing themselves to snakebites.
It is their view that the doctor can also cause something bodily by
something that he develops in himself. All remedial effects of a person
on a person are based on this principle. With the Hindus a certain initiation
forms the basis of this principle. You know that the human being becomes
a different person by a certain training. The forces which another human
being does not have are developed with them completely just as a piece
of iron develops its strength by touching with a magnet.
The young doctor would receive
quite different feelings with respect to healing if he became engrossed
in the real history of medicine. Nevertheless, the words whose sense
he cannot find out nowadays contain a deep sense, even if he denies
it with a sneer.
It is pitiful that our whole
science is infiltrated with materialistic imponderables; thus it is
hardly conceivable that anybody frees himself from them and learns to
think independently. Our whole scientific foundation of anatomy, physiology,
comes from this materialistic way of thinking. In the 16-th century,
Vesalius (Andreas V., 1514–1564, Belgian anatomist) gave the first
teachings of anatomy, Harvey (William H., 1578-1657, English anatomist)
gave the teachings of the blood circulation in the materialistic sense;
according to this system the 17th and 18th centuries taught. The human
being had to think materialistically for some centuries to do all big
discoveries and inventions which we owe to these times. This way of
thinking taught us to produce certain substances in the laboratory we
owe Liebig's (Justus von L., 1803–1873, German chemist) epoch-making
discoveries to it-, but it also led to regard the human cover as the
only one. It is difficult to reconcile what we call life with the concept
which the materialistic doctor has of it. Only someone who knows by
intuition what life is can really penetrate to the understanding of
life. And somebody like this also knows that the effectiveness of chemical
and physical laws in the human body is controlled by something the term
of which is absent, which can be recognised only by intuition. Not before
the doctor himself has become another person, he can realise this. With
a certain training he has to acquire the concepts and then the insight
of the mode of action of our etheric body. The usual reason, the usual
human intellect, is incapable to understand the spiritual; as soon as
it should advance to higher fields, it fails. Hence, without intuition
everything in the medical field is only discussing; one does not touch
reality. Higher, subtler forces are necessary that must be developed
by the doctor, then only a thorough healing of certain damages is possible.
We theosophists know, for
example, from occult investigations that vivisection works deeply damaging
in certain respect. What happens in this field is deeply damaging. We
theosophists cannot appreciate the ostensible merits of the vivisectors.
Indeed, we would not be understood if we expounded the reasons why we
refuse vivisection; without getting involved in theosophical concepts,
one would not understand just these reasons. Vivisection originated
from the materialistic way of thinking which is destitute of any intuition
which cannot look in the works of life. This way of thinking must look
at the body as a mechanical interaction of the single parts. Then it
is quite natural that one takes the animal experiment where one believes
that the same interaction takes place as with the human being to recognise
and combat certain illness processes. Only who knows nothing about the
real life can do vivisection.
A time comes when the human
beings figure out the single life of a creature in connection with the
life of the whole universe. The human beings get reverence for life.
Then they learn to realise: any life that is taken away from a living
being, any harm that is caused to a living being lessens the noblest
forces of our own human nature because of a connection which exists
between life and life. Just as a quantity of mechanical work can be
transformed into heat, something changes by the homicide of a living
being in the human being, so that he becomes unable to have an curative
and beneficial effect on his fellow men. This is an unbreakable principle.
Here everything nebulous, everything unclear is strictly impossible.
Here rules mathematical clarity.
If the human beings got
involved in that which forms the basis here, they would also see the
influence that must be exercised to be able to heal, to be a healer
as a doctor. If the person concerned wants to be a doctor and a healer,
he must improve and purify his nature at first. He has to develop it
to that stage where only certain sensations and feelings can appear
to us. Here it depends on trying! There one has to learn to realise
first that the usual reason can be extended, can be spirtualised. It
is a triviality saying: here and there are the limits of our knowledge
methods. There are still other knowledge methods than those are which
our reason uses. But, unfortunately, few persons realise this. Here
it depends on wanting to defer to the theosophical attitude. Not before
the sense-perceptible facts of anatomy and physiology are not only taught,
not before one approaches them with “the eyes of the spirit,”
as Goethe says, another study of the human body takes place. And only
then all discoveries of the last decades concerning the medical science
receive the correct light to recognise, for example, certain relations
of the thyroid gland with other functions.
Not before one approaches
theosophical knowledge, one sees every matter in its right hue and receives
quite different values. The knowledge of the spiritual that connects
the facts in these fields is still missing in the search for knowledge.
Certain concepts which one has obtained may be absolutely correct, but
the methods of application may be wrong. Often two great authorities
of a certain field say just the opposite about the same subject. Where
from do such things result? From the fact that thinking itself has been
urged in a certain one-sided direction with each of these authorities.
You may ask now: would it
not be possible that the human being if he always lives a healthy life
develops the things in himself that make him immune against illnesses,
and could he not educate his organism to be able to endure illnesses?
You have to bring the thinking into another direction, then truths appear
in this field, and you get another direction of researching. The modern
thinking has something absolute, final and is penetrated with the confidence
in its infallibility; you can realise something papal in the way someone
acquires such concepts. Research is determined by the way how one puts
the questions to nature. If one asks it wrongly, it gives wrong answers.
The experiments, the questions to nature bear a peculiar imprint in
the 19-th, 20-th centuries: that of coincidence. You can often notice
all possible attempts that are put next to each other grotesquely. This
comes from the lack of intuition, especially in the medical science.
However, it is really also possible to come to a free thinking within
the medical science.
The modern doctor who has
left the university and is unleashed on the suffering humanity is often
in a unenviable state. The medical study has thrown him into a confusion
of concepts where he cannot form an opinion. Then he finds a way of
thinking with his patients, which does not want to get involved in thoroughness,
they regard that as a Gospel which refers to any authority. The doctor
often suffers hard from the prejudices of the patients. The doctor is
only capable of something if he studies the subtle processes that happen
in an ill body with the aid of life itself; but the patient must also
Certain illnesses are connected
with certain cyclic developments and conditions; certain illnesses are
based on [gap in the shorthand] and occur according to certain
physical laws. This appears to somebody who investigates certain illness
forms with theosophical spirit. Big lines are developed in such thinking,
which are the guidelines of life itself. And they give that certainty
which is connected with a relentless striving and fulfils with confidence.
Some regular world relations were revealed to someone thinking that
way which fulfil the soul with deep, religious feelings at the same
time. The Tübingen doctor Schlegel (Emil S., 1852–1935) is
a typical and symptomatic example of all those who seek for a way out
from the labyrinth of modern medicine. This doctor is at the beginning
of a big career; he has some intuitions of a natural medicine, and he
dares to connect religion and healing power with each other.
A human being whose thinking
is spiritual can never take part in those attempts symptomatic for our
present in the medical field. For he knows: all single attempts are
only really effective if one gets down to the root of the evil, to the
core of the thing. All polemic cannot cause any radical reversal; only
a quite different thinking is capable of it.
A materialistically trained
person cannot understand this. But we human beings must not misunderstand
ourselves in this world. The theosophically thinking person understands
that the materialistically minded person does not understand him because
he is not able of it. Goethe expresses what is meant here saying: “a
wrong doctrine cannot be disproved, because it is based on the conviction
that the wrong is true.” The ways of thinking of our time must
experience a radical reversal; then an improvement of the feelings and
sensations results completely by itself up to intuition. Not before
the medical science gains this, it will have something again that works
in a salutary way, then only a religious feature inspires it again and
then only the doctor is that which he should be: the noblest human friend
who feels obliged to bring up his profession by his own perfection as
high as possible.