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The Problem of Death

Schmidt Number: S-3018

On-line since: 30th November, 2013

The Problem of Death III

February 7, 1915
Dornach

In connection with many painful events that have recently happened we have been considering the Problem of Death.

I should like to call your attention today first to something of a more general character which is connected with the problem and which can be discovered through the means given us by Initiation Science. One must picture to oneself that when the human being passes through the gate of death he comes into a world which is quite different for him from what is often imagined. It is a tendency in human nature which may very well be understood, to picture the realm on the other side of death, the spiritual kingdom into which we enter through the Gate of Death, as being similar to the kingdom of the mind and senses in which we live between birth and death. I say it is an understandable tendency to picture this kingdom on the other side of death somewhat as a kind of continuation of the kingdom here. But one is then in error. For it is difficult to find words from the treasures of our speech which make it possible to characterise the experiences between death and a new birth, words which are even in a slight degree adequate. I have, as you know, often mentioned that our speech is calculated for the physical world and we must, as it were, adjust our relation inwardly to the words if we wish to make them words capable of expressing that which lies on the other side of death.

Moreover the mode in which these words come forth from the soul when the soul must characterise something which lies on the other side of death is quite different from the mode in which words come forth from us in the world of the mind and senses. This mode of expressing oneself about the spiritual world, its beings and its phenomena is much more a self-surrender to this spiritual world and a letting oneself be bestowed upon the words.

Such words as I have communicated to you in respect of persons who have died were not formed as one forms words when one wants to bring something to expression in the outer physical world, but they were so formed as if they poured into one's soul from the being in question. So that the being gives them, pours them in, and we now have the feeling that — we are expressing something or other that we see through these words, but we have throughout the feeling: through us something is expressing itself, something that uses us to a certain extent, as its organ, in order to express itself, in order to objectify itself in spiritual speech. So it is quite a different proceeding, it is a self-surrender with one's soul to the being with whom one is concerned, and such a self-surrender that the being finds the possibility of expressing with our instruments its own inner nature and its own inner experiences. When one frames the word it is not like the adapting of oneself to something external, but like a surrender of the word to the being in question, like a placing of the word at this being's disposal, so that the being can then itself make use of our words.

Thus it is quite a different method of placing oneself in objectiveness, from the method here in the world of the mind and senses. One of the very first conditions, therefore, of gaining a right relation to the spiritual world, is a certain mobility of the inner nature, a certain adaptability to the most varied individuals, a continuous possibility of going out from oneself and betaking oneself into other individuals. If one really wants to express with a certain surety of aim — if I may put it thus — that which is in the supersensible world and lives therein, as is the case with one who has gone through the gate of death, one must first and foremost be healed of what can be called the earthly ego-delusion. One must have succeeded in thinking of oneself as little as possible, in setting oneself as little as possible in the central point of the universe. One must, if one has a strong predilection for speaking a good deal about oneself, for brooding a good deal over oneself, conquer this tendency; since this much speaking of oneself, much brooding over oneself, is actually the very worst path to self-knowledge. If one has the tendency to speak much of oneself, to judge everything so that first of all one is mindful of how one is oneself placed in the world, and what one signifies to the world, if one has this tendency, then one is badly fitted for finding oneself rightly in the spiritual world or for bringing anything at all of the spiritual to expression.

One is most occupied with oneself in the spiritual sense when in the earthly sense one is least so occupied, thinks about oneself least, for what in the earthly sense is the most interesting of all to us, the connection of the world with our own person, is for the spiritual world the most devoid of importance. So we shall always find that the way into the true spiritual reality becomes very difficult when at every opportunity we must find occasions, according to our inner nature, to speak of ourselves, to speak of what we could be worth to the world, if need be, and so forth — less or more.

If we employ these methods in ordinary life, which is also ruled inwardly by spiritual forces and impulses, we do not get on well. Here one can find the most remarkable connections. I have met with people who for instance greatly lamented that they found it extraordinarily difficult to get up, that the decision to lift themselves up was very difficult. I have even made the acquaintance of people who have calmly acknowledged that if there were no external circumstance compelling them to rise, on the whole they would prefer not to get up at all. One can always find an inner connection between the whole being of man and such a predilection. These people as a rule would be those who tell one much, very much about themselves, who have a great deal to say about what is sympathetic or antipathetic to them, what they have come across in this or that place, to their benefit or detriment ... and similar things. One who desires to prepare himself properly for a really objective grasp of the spiritual world must pay attention to such connections. For we must observe life if we wish to enter into reality. And you may be quite sure of this: as human beings, through our natural predisposition, there is nothing as a rule to which we are less disposed, than to take life objectively. We are to nothing so much inclined as to take ourselves in too much earnest and to observe outer life with too little earnestness. One only struggles through quite gradually to words which can then become really true guiding lines of life, and with great geniuses one can often see how they go through a great deal, in order then to impress their whole life-wisdom into a single word. Then this signifies something quite different from what it would when spoken by just anyone in the ordinary daily course.

I once drew attention — it was in connection with the lectures which I held in Norrköping — to how easily one can utter the great, the impressive words of the aged John: “Children, love one another.” But it means something quite different if a foolish person, some youngster says it, or if John says it at the end of a full life in which much, very much had been undergone here upon earth.

It is not only a matter of whether the saying is true, but also from what background of the soul it is spoken, from what background it arises. Goethe, too, from a rich, full life, wrestled through to a beautiful saying, the deep meaning of which one must fathom, though it cannot be understood as people imagine, using it in every situation of life. To understand it thus is — I should like to use the paradoxical term — far too simple, for to understand it thus is possible for every child. But as it must be understood, as Goethe understood it upon the foundation of a rich, and over rich life-experience — I refer to the words, “Know thyself and live in peace with the world” — is not possible to every child. But the linking together of these two sentences shows us that there is no self-knowledge which does not really lead to the sentence “Live in peace with the world.”

I really wanted to review all these things as much as possible in detail since they are far more important than you at first believe. But I must indicate them and leave much to your own meditation. I should like only to point out that, according to the statements of many persons there is a lack of material for meditation. put there is really no lack of it, if one only has the goodwill to let the meditation material be found in life, offer itself as such from life.

Now he who passes through the portal of death is directly, through this fact, removed from all the illusory relationships in which he lives, in which he is ensnared here, so long as he dwells in the physical body. He is removed from them for they were forced upon him as we know through the fact of his being incorporated in the physical body. He is above all removed from many functions which had become sympathetic to him in the life between birth and death, and which naturally, since he lacks the physical body, he can no longer carry out after death. The whole mode of living, of the relation to the universe, becomes a completely different one, and you can get an idea when you meditate upon the Vienna cycle “Life between Death and a New Birth”, of the quite different manner in which one must place oneself to the world if one desires to make concepts about this life between death and a new birth. One must only try, falteringly to coin the words which were sought for there, to experience them quite intimately. In such matters this is imperatively necessary.

I have already pointed out recently that the moment of death is really not to be compared with the moment of birth into physical human life except superficially. In the ordinary course of life, if one is not supported by clairvoyant knowledge, one does not remember back to the physical birth in the physical body. Through the capacities given us by the earth we remember no further back than the fact of being born — not even so far. If there are people today who believe that they know everything through the senses, they do not reflect that they cannot know the very origin of their earth-life through sense-impressions. They can only know it by being informed about their birth or by being told on the foundation of an often not consciously but in fact unconsciously accepted inference. There are only these two methods of knowing that one has been born if one has not the aid of clairvoyant forces; — to have it related to one, or to make a deduction, an inference — other men were born, I am similar to other men, therefore at some time I too was born. A correct deduction.

And any other method of arriving at the fact of one's own birth with earthly forces, except to be told about it, or to make this inference by analogy, any other method than these two does not exist for the faculties of earth, so already by the effort to come to a knowledge of our own birth we discover that it is not possible to find a foundation for the truth of it in mere experience of the senses. The moment of death is utterly dissimilar from the moment of birth, for one can always behold the moment of death, whereas one cannot with ordinary earthly faculties in the physical body behold the moment of birth. In the spiritual world in the time between death and new birth one can always behold the moment of death from the instant when one has brought it for the first time to one's consciousness. There it stands although not perhaps as we see it with its terror, from this side of life, but it stands there a wonderfully beautiful event of life, as a coming forth of the soul and spirit nature of the human being from the physical-sensible sheath, it stands there as the liberation of the Willing and Feeling impulses from the fleeting, the objective fleeting Thought-being.

That directly after death a person is not in a position to behold this moment of death immediately, is connected with the fact that we have, not too little consciousness, after death, after the entrance of death, but on the contrary, that we have too much consciousness. Only remember what is said in the Vienna lectures, that we find ourselves not in too little wisdom but in too much wisdom, in an unending, overflowing wisdom pressing upon us from all sides. To be without wisdom is impossible to us after death. This comes over us like a light, flooding us from every direction, and we must first succeed in circumscribing ourselves, in orientating ourselves, where to begin with if we are not orientated. Thus through this circumscribing of the whole highly-pitched consciousness down to the degree of self-consciousness which we can bear in accordance with our earthly preparation for death, we come to that which we call “the awakening” after death.

We awake directly after death too vividly, and we must first diminish this awakening to the degree corresponding to the faculties which we have prepared for ourselves through our experiences in our various earth-incarnations. So it is a struggle to stand our ground in the consciousness breaking in upon us from all sides.

And now comes something in which we must all — both after death and also if we would rightly enter Initiation — first cure ourselves, as it were, of the habits of the physical-sensible life. In order to be thoroughly understood I should like to link this on to something. When we began in Berlin to carry on our movement of Spiritual Science in quite a small circle, we were at first joined by various people. We were at that time a very small circle. One day not long after we had begun to work, a member of this circle came and explained that he must withdraw again. He had seen that we were not on the right path, for it was not a matter of seeking all the things that we sought, but of seeking Unity. That was an idee fixe with this person. In a long conversation he developed the fixed idea of Unity and then left us in order to seek unity. He thought to arrive at the supersensible just through this seeking for Unity, through this idee fixe of Unity. But the idea of oneness or unity is something only resulting from the last abstractions of the outer physical life. This striving after oneness is in fact the most material towards which one can strive. It is precisely of this oneness-striving that one must be cured if one wishes to stand correctly in the spiritual world. Here in the sense world it is so easy to say: we must seek oneness everywhere, we must seek unity in the plurality, in the multiplicity. But that is something which only has significance for the physical sense world here. For when we pass through the gate of death then we do not have multiplicity, but something which comes before our soul as an overwhelming consciousness. When we have passed through the portal of death we have nothing but oneness around us, continuous oneness. it is then a matter of rightly finding plurality, multiplicity. We must strive there for nothing else than to come out of oneness into multiplicity.

Now I should like to give you a correctly formed idea of how a person comes into multiplicity out of oneness. Let us suppose that one passes through the portal of death, enters into this world of surging spiritual life of wisdom. One enters first into this world, which to begin with stupefies us when we awaken there. We do not distinguish ourselves within it at all. So much is it oneness that we do not distinguish ourselves in it, we do not make a differentiation between ourselves and the universe, but rather we belong completely to the universe; all is one.

But now let us answer the question, and I pray you to ponder not a little but very much upon the answer that I will give. Now we reply to a question: What actually is this oneness into which we are there received? Remember all the beings of the higher hierarchies of which nine are known to you, or ten if we count mankind. In each hierarchy is a whole host of beings. These all think. It is not man alone who thinks. All the beings of these higher hierarchies think. Consider therefore this whole host of beings in whom we are received when we have stepped through the portal of death. They are around us, for in stepping through the portal of death we are received by the complete fullness of being. At first we do not perceive them. We are within them, but we do not perceive them. That which surges around us at first is just this oneness. But what is this oneness? It is the thoughts of all the hierarchies merging into one another. What all the hierarchies think together; this thought-world of the hierarchies indistinguished as to what one hierarch, what the other hierarch thinks; — this is the Light-Being of Thought that surges round us, this oneness.

Therefore we live in the thoughts of the hierarchies flowing together to a oneness. Therein we live.

And now what is the further course of our life after death? Our concern is to gain a relation to the separate beings, to lift ourselves out of the ocean of thought where all the thoughts of the hierarchies flow together, and to gain a relation to the single beings, to the multiplicity. After death we must not only gain a relation to the commingled unity of the surging Thought-essence of the hierarchies — for that is given to us, but we must work through so that we gain a relationship to the single beings of the hierarchies. How do we gain this?

Now at first we are flooded with this ocean of the thoughts of the hierarchies merging and flowing together. Through what we have acquired for ourselves in our physical body there condenses at the gate of death to which we look back, our own inner being lifting itself out of the material coverings. That gives us strength of will. That gives a will-impulse of a feeling nature, and a feeling-impulse of a will-nature. These we inwardly become aware of in beholding the being which ascends from the body which we are after death. Through this we are in the position to some extent of attracting our “will-rays.” And when we place such a will-ray somewhere, which we create out of the force of death, which is born with death, then we obliterate at another place, and at a third place, etc. at various places through the strength of our will-impulse we obliterate the thought-world surging around us. And inasmuch as we obliterate it there comes to meet us in the hollow space of the surging ocean of thought, if I may say so, the thought of a hierarch, the being that lives within it in the spiritual world.

Whereas here in the physical world we exert ourselves to find a thought for the thing which we see, in the spiritual world, where, as I have pointed out, thought stands in profusion at one's beck and call, we must obliterate the thought, drive it away. Then the beings approach us. We must be master of the thoughts, then the beings approach us. And the strength to become master of the thought, to cast the thought out of our field of sight, as it were, whereby the being approaches us in the sea of the surging thought-world, this strength we receive through the fact that as a beautiful beginning of our spiritual life after death the vision of dying, of death itself, comes to meet us, and becomes our teacher in the obliterating. For death becomes to us after death the teacher of obliterating, the stimulator of that will force wherewith we must obliterate the thoughts in the surging sea of light.

Herewith is indicated the entirely different manner in which the human being stands to his surroundings after death and before; how he must proceed in the world of the senses by establishing himself there, having the atmosphere around him and then being obliged to wait until something comes into the atmosphere. On the other hand, after death he must so proceed that he has the Light-sphere of Thought around him and within it he must then himself obliterate the thoughts that lie before him in his field of vision, in which the beings concerned then appear to him. For here one has to do with beings, as I have indicated in my book, “The Threshold of the Spiritual World.” Thus one comes out of unity into multiplicity. Monism in the sense understood by many people is only a world-concept for the Gate of Death. For there in the most marked degree an urgent necessity arises for seeking multiplicity. To seek oneness is a last fetter, a theoretical fetter of life as understood by the senses.

But what is it then that we actually accomplish there? Well, it is an activity by which we make room for the hierarchies to approach us. Our being, as you know, is then spread over the whole universe (I have repeatedly spoken of this,) and we make room by creating these hollow places, as it were, so that what is objective to us after death, can appear. Never can what is objective in the spiritual world appear to us if we take our own being into the spiritual world; we can only discern the other in the spiritual world if on the spot where the other is to appear we obliterate our own being; and that happens in this way.

This is an inner characterization of the process which is also necessary if we wish to reach the dead in the manner I described to you at the beginning of the lecture, where one has to acquire the power of letting the dead speak, of letting the dead express themselves. One must then try to drive away one's thinking and feeling from where the dead is, to drive away oneself, and where one has driven that away, impulses come forth from the depth of being which, without our will, place the words in our mouth which must come to us if we wish to express the objective being of one who is not incorporated in the physical body.

You see, that which here in the physical world is in a way the weakest in man, willing and feeling, (they are the weakest parts of the human soul and the most unclear), over which we are least master, gains a special significance if we are to perceive in the spiritual world. On the other hand, that which here in the physical world is the strongest of all, thought-concepts — we prefer to live, as you know, in illusion and concepts, since there we can be most dominant — is the weakest in the spiritual world. One cannot make much beginning there with illusions, for illusions still disguise for us this overflowing oneness of thought-essence. Our concern is not an exercising of the life of thought, but a development of our life of will and feeling, and this too is the essential in meditation. In meditation it does not matter so much what we picture, but, as I have emphasised repeatedly, to picture with inner strength. it is a matter of inner energy, of feeling and sensation while we meditate, that is, of a will element which we develop in meditation, and which we develop more strongly if we have so to exert ourselves as in meditation we ought to exert ourselves, spiritually exert ourselves. What is most opposed of all to real progress in the spiritual world is the longing to dream, the longing to form illusions about outer reality, because in this way we make our will continually weaker and weaker. One makes the will weakest of all if one cultivates the parasites of the life of idea, if one makes illusions for oneself over all sorts of external things. Above all, the way into the spiritual world does not draw near to us by our holding life at a distance, but by understanding that not an impoverishment of the outer life, but only an enrichment, can lead into the spiritual world. People would like so much to grow into the spiritual world through weakness and not through strength. One grows into the spiritual world by weakness if the outer world, the world of life, does not interest one, when one cannot fulfill the Goethe maxim “Know thyself, and live in peace with the world.”

I should like to point out before I go further in these studies of death, that in all human activity of an artistic nature there must lie as foundation a “playing in” of that activity of the human soul which is necessary for this human soul after death. As regards artistic activity it is precisely the will-element which must be impregnated into the artist from the spiritual world, not so much the element of observation. In our age of the decay of art and especially of artistic labour, the opposite is taking place. In our age of degeneration that element is being elaborated even in the artistic world, which makes the conceptual life more sophisticated. Therefore in our age, artists are becoming more and more dependent on models and copies. They can do extremely little if they have no models or copies. Hence in our age it will come about more and more that the artist will isolate himself in his art. But it can never reach real art if one isolates oneself in art. That is the opposite of what ought to be.

What happens, then, if someone is creating a human being through art, in painting or sculpture, and he does not occupy himself with the inner forces which build up this human being, with the dynamic forces, but merely goes out and gets a model and uses the model as one uses things in looking at them? He is then departing from the real principle of artistic creation. Artistic creation begins when one creates an inwardly willed picture of how the nose stands out here, of how the forehead is vaulted there; one does not see the things outwardly, but can penetrate into them inwardly. That is what matters.

And so in a special way it is also the case with nature. In nature it is a matter of really living within the activities of nature. And here I will call your attention to something which the human being immediately experiences when he has passed through the portal of death, which here, in the physical world, however, remains more or less unknown to him.

When we paint, we paint preferably that which is spread, one might say, over the surface of things. We paint light and shade. We paint colours. Now outer nature is furnished with light and colour from the fact that she does not accept them, but throws them back. Over there is the object and it throws us back light and colour. That is between us and the object. Mineral things are, for instance, minerals, because they cannot receive light and colour, within, because they reflect them externally. There within the colour, man lives with his soul. After death he withdraws into it at once; there he knows himself in light and colour, but here he does not know himself within them. When he comes before the landscape as landscape painter, he must have something of what is between him and the landscape, he must be able to rise into it, he must, as it were, bring something into the physical world which only actually becomes reality when the human being has passed through the gate of death. This gives the similarity between artistic creation and the standing within the spiritual world, although the artist is for the most part unaware that the spiritual world pulsates and flows through him, nor is he conscious of the necessity of being pulsated through by the spiritual world. Precisely on this account the design of our building has been made as it has been made, because we must pay attention as I have often said, just to what is not there, not to what is there. Just the hollow forms which have been left free have to be considered, not what is actually there. In so far, through carrying our stream of Spiritual Science into the practical domain, a beginning has been made which had to be made in our present epoch of culture.

You see, such inter-penetrations of the spiritual world into human life as through, let us say, the Death Spectrum, were by no means so unusual in times lying not so very far behind us. Today it is something unusual, and as a natural gift it will become more and more unusual. It will occur less and less as a natural gift. But the less the human being here in the physical world can form some kind of connection with the spiritual manifoldness, the more he will be fettered when he has passed through the gate of death. The possibility of creating those hollow forms would entirely cease if mankind should quite lose connection with the spiritual world, as must necessarily happen in the mere external progress of world events. We know that the old clairvoyance must become entirely lost. but if that inner relation to the spiritual world were not to be re-established through Spiritual Science, a man would gradually lose the possibility, after death, of actually living in the spiritual world, of having a real, actual existence. Through the backward-survey of his life, which always remains for him, where the beholding of death is something quite actual, he would be spell-bound, almost as if confined in a prison.

Therefore in the case of those who, if I may say so, go through the gate of death strengthened by Spiritual Science, it is to be seen that comparatively quickly after death they gain freedom, free activity in the spiritual world. Hence the point is for a man to replace by the strengthening of Spiritual Science what was earlier given to him by natural aptitude — the gaining of a relation to the super-sensible, to spiritual phenomena.

If from a natural aptitude one can see something like a Death Spectrum (and people in earlier times which do not lie so far behind us used always to see the death-spectrum — only it is a lost faculty) — one sees this death-spectrum through the separation from the body. This enables one to see the single, individual phenomena. These single phenomena are carved out of the oneness ... and that is the important thing ... this carving out of the oneness ... to learn how to do this. But the possibility of learning how to do it is entirely lost with the loss of the natural, atavistic clairvoyance, and it must be replaced by growing into Spiritual science. It will be this strengthening given by Spiritual Science, through which the necessary faculty for artistic creation in every sphere will be called forth in the future. The sculptor, the painter, the poet, will not be able to create if they do not strengthen themselves through Spiritual Science. Today people are still afraid of this. But the fear which comes to expression when a musician, a painter, a poet, says: ‘Since I have to engage in and struggle with all manner of things this kills the original artistic creative power in me’ — can be heard everywhere. This is only a fear of the strength that is necessary if the domain of human art is really to last into the future. Men are still afraid today of what in their inner being must come forth precisely as the strongest force. Times will come in human evolution where artistic faculties must ripen through the strengthening acquired through Spiritual Science.

Then, at all events, there will be less of the scandalous thing that is prevalent today, namely, that in very early youth and out of nothingness, people vaunt themselves artists and are, in their own opinions, artists.

When this kind of art does not succeed, they think it is entirely due to lack of appreciation on the part of the world. This nonsensical state of things will gradually cease. The art of the future will be an art of maturity and it will not be until a comparatively late age in life that a man will feel inwardly mature enough to engage in art. it will no longer be believed that in later life it is impossible for a man to have the forces requisite for artistic creation — forces of youth as they are often called; far rather will it be found that only by the deepening and strengthening acquired through Spiritual Science can the forces that will lead to artistic creation in the future be liberated from the inner being. But people are still afraid of these forces today. They are afraid of what has to be attained. Many artists have a holy terror of this emergence of the inner depths of their being, and when they hear that it is not the external, earthly man, but the higher man within them who should be the creative artist, they are thrown into the most utter confusion. It is difficult to imagine more complete confusion than that of a certain modern artist when he realised that it is the Genius in the inner man, the being who belongs to the spiritual world, who is really the creator in the artist. An artist of modern times expressed his holy terror of the spiritual world in approximately the following words:

“Genius is a terrible disease. In the heart of every writer there is a monster who devours his feelings directly they have been born. Who will be victorious — the disease over the man or the man over the disease? A man must be great indeed if he is to hold the balance between his character and his genius. If a poet is not a giant, if he does not possess the strength of a Hercules, he must either forfeit his heart or his talent.”

The very flesh of one's soul, so to speak, creeps when such words are uttered. For they are simply an expression of the holy terror which exists in the human being in regard to things that are connected with the spiritual world. Moreover the last sentence is quite consistent, although the author is unaware of how consistent it is ... The fact that he speaks of giants, of Hercules, is very characteristic. It is very significant that precisely these words come into his mouth — or rather into his pen.

So the view may actually be held that the human being must be victorious by virtue of what he is in earthly life ... for this is contained in the words, whereas true knowledge will reveal that the healthy genius within a man will penetrate and take hold of him, will make him into its instrument.

Another modern writer refers and adds to the sentences I have just read, in strange, extremely strange words. He says: “Let us picture the tragic destruction of Laocoön as described in the Aenead. With natural horror and repugnance the citizens of Troy witness the gigantic snakes strangling Laocoön and his sons. The spectators feel fear, compassion and certainly wish to save the victims; however different their conditions of soul may be, nevertheless the moment of will undoubtedly plays a very important part ... but just imagine a sculptor in the midst of this shocked and excited crowd, a sculptor who sees the terrible catastrophe taking place before his eyes as the subject of a future work of art. Amid the general excitement of these shouting, frenzied, praying people, he remains the unruffled observer. All moral instincts in him are at this moment suppressed by the desire for aesthetic experience.”

This, forsooth, is supposed to be necessary for the creation of a work of art: A crowd of people who are not artists stand there with deep compassion, unable to help, and together with them, a simpleton, a dunderhead, who has no inkling of the pain caused by it all. And this dunderhead is supposed to be the true artist who is capable of portraying the scene; he stands there in his stupidity merely as an observer: Things have come to such a pass at the present time that people dare to demand of the artist that he shall be a dunderhead when faced with life's phenomena, in order that he may be “objective.” He must tear compassion and sympathy out of his heart; he must become a dull-headed simpleton and only then, according to what is said here, will he be able to depict something capable of interesting other human beings.

When people have it in them to evolve such a view of art, they cannot help being seized by the most terrible of all Ahrimanic forces. Such a view denotes the decadence of art that is produced by the fear and dread of spiritual reality. People do not know that if a man wants to be an artist he must feel events with still deeper sympathy, still deeper compassion and must be able, at a later moment to look at the same events objectively out of this deep sympathy, making us love them as we may love a being who is strange to us. Out of this still deeper quality of sympathy we must be capable of art that is creative. The perversion of outlook has reached such a point today that the opposite of truth is trumpeted forth to the world as consummate wisdom. And I am convinced that there are infinite numbers of people who consider this dullness very clever and who regard this laudation of insensitive stupidity in the artist as the final discovery of what art really is. Such is the present day and it is for us to seek in Spiritual Science that support and strengthening which enable us to realise that we ourselves are living in the world into which the human being also enters, in the natural course of events, when he passes through the Gate of Death.

For us, art is related to death; it is related to the higher life: to be related to death means to be related to higher life.

In order to enter the spiritual world we must in many respects be capable of ideas and mental pictures quite different from those which must fill us for the purpose of understanding the world we experience between birth and death. We must pierce through Maya not only in such a way that we take this Maya to be the same everywhere, thinking that when we have broken through it at one point we are already in the spiritual world. The density of Maya is different at different places in life. This we shall find when we confront diverse spheres of life. — Maya is woven out of different materials. Although it is Maya, it is woven out of different materials at different places in life.

Suppose we get to know a child in its physical existence; we form ideas about the being of the child, ideas built up from our experiences of meeting the child in the physical body. There could be no greater error than to carry this picture into the spiritual world for the purpose of really getting to know this being when it has passed through the Gate of Death.

In the death of Theo Faiss, a terribly touching karmic event has happened among us recently. It would be a false picture of him if we were merely to enlarge the idea we formed of this child as we met him in the physical world, if we were simply to project this picture into the spiritual world. In just such a being the very greatest maturity can be observed soon after death. We can find the forces which brought the child into the physical world through birth — and which have not been allowed by karma to live themselves out in the physical world — we can find these forces interwoven in the cosmic forces and we gradually realise that a mature soul has struggles through death to cosmic existence, is growing little by little towards the heavenly spheres. And when such a soul was a child in the last incarnation we can perceive that this soul is able, comparatively quickly, to develop to the point where it directs the forces that are now merging into the cosmos. Then we learn to know the human being as he is after death; it is as though with his own being he were directing the forces which were contained in his death spectrum and are now weaving themselves into the cosmos. Thus the human being grows into that creative activity which we may call the heavenly creative activity. Then his feeling that is coloured by will, and the element of will that is coloured by feeling, grow together with the universe outside him. Just as when we, as children in the physical body, gradually adapt ourselves with our sense-organs to the external world, just as we then grow into the faculty of vision, so do we grow, after death, into the essential realities we grow into the unfolding of will.

If we allowed these things to work upon us in the sense of Spiritual Science, we should observe, little by little, how the Maya of external life is woven with different strengths at different places. Maya is difficult to pierce in cases like the death of a little child, because most of the external manifestations disturb what must replace them if we are to have a true picture of what the human being is after death.

But there are also human beings with whom it is comparatively easy to pierce through the warp and woof of Maya; it is easy because the truth of their being has been able to connect itself deeply even with the Maya existing in them in the physical world between birth and death. There are such men, men who bring down treasures of inner, spiritual richness at their birth into the physical world and who are able to weave into their being and life what they have brought down from the spiritual world. They are those human beings whom we needs must love because of what the Creators in their love have made of them; often we do not ask why we love them; love for them is a matter of course. Such human beings are like living witnesses to the spiritual world, because even here in the physical world they are extraordinarily like their own spiritual being, and because the web of Maya only through the existence of love, of course, but through this very love — can very soon be dispersed, enabling us to gaze into the depths of the soul.

Our attitude to such human beings must have a certain delicacy, a certain intimate delicacy because they have brought down a very, very great deal from the spiritual world into physical existence and because then, after death, they stand like living witnesses to the profound truth that the impulses of the spiritual world live on in all the manifestations of this physical world. If we behold such human beings after their death, it is as though they were wanting to say to us: Thus were we before and the fact that we lived in such deep, and inward truth is now confirmed when we have passed through the Gate of Death. — Thus do they stand as apostles of faith after death too, as apostles of the faith which allows us to have belief in the life we spend here in the physical world.

Since the death of our friend Sybil Colaxxa, she too stands there like an apostle of the faith that the world in which we live is permeated with spirituality. And here it is necessary to explain why the strange thing happened in her case that the sight of her spiritual being confirmed what she revealed through the sheaths of external life in the physical world to everyone who knew and learned to love her. Hence the different tone in the words that had to be spoken out of her soul; it was because her essential quality as an individual was precisely that quality of which I have just spoken:

... Und es durchaseelte diesse Wesen

... And permeated are these beings

Deine Stimme, die beredt

Through thy voice so eloquent

Durch des Wortes Art mehr

By the nature of the Word

Als in dem Worte selbst

Rather than the Word itself

Offenbarte, was verborgen

Revealing what is latent

In deiner schönen Seele weset ...

Within thy noble soul.

Mark well that the presentation of the past, the use of the imperfect tense, passes over into the present, the present tense, because observation of the life in the body harmonised with the vision of the life after death. This is expressed in the words themselves. Words that are coined out of the spiritual world contain their own necessity. Thus the words had to be: This Being filled with soul they voice, a voice which, eloquent more through the quality of the words than the words themselves, revealed what lay hidden within that soul, and is working on, existing. “... Existing” therefore, not “existed.”

Doch das hingebender Liebe

But this being, silently unveiling

Teilnahmsvoller Menschen

Itself to sacrificing love

Sich wortlos voll enthullte: (one can also say, Enthüllt)

Of sympathetic man;

Dies Wesen, das von edler stiller Schonheit

This being, proclaiming lofty, calm beauty

Der Welten-Seelenschöpfung

To the susceptible perception

Empfänglichem Empfinden kandete.

Of World-Soul creation.

(verkundet — the present tense — can also be used. Here the two periods of time flow together.)

Now let us think of a soul like Fritz Mitscher, a friend who, to our great pain, has died so recently. The nature of this soul can best be described by those who knew him in words which may sound abstract and dry, but which really do express it: he was an objective human being. Fritz Mitscher was an absolutely objective human being. There can hardly have been any occasion when he spoke about himself. Even if he ever did, it only seemed that he was speaking of himself in describing his relations to something or other in the external world. His “I” was practically never even on the horizon ... let alone at the centre of what he said. It is natural for an elder person when he is speaking with a younger one about all kinds of things in life to bring the conversation back to himself, but it was characteristic of Fritz Mitscher that when opportunity was there for him to speak of himself, he avoided it, and diverted the conversation from himself to what he had experienced round about him, describing it with the art he had acquired from Spiritual Science. In the true sense of the word he was an objective human being. He did not think about what he signified to the world, about the position of his own “I” in the world. His interests were all purely objective, interests which express themselves so characteristically when a man is little concerned about the position he gains in the world. Fritz Mitscher was one of those men who, from the very beginning, was passionately eager, even in passing conversation, to convey to others with absolute objectivity the truths he held most sacred; this eagerness was always present because he was one of those who are interested in the cause itself and not in the person and the position of the individual personality in the world. And when he spoke before an audience he entered into the subject with the greatest purity, never losing his way in the psychical impurity of speaking about himself. It was this that was so characteristic of him. And it was this that made him so eminently capable of grasping the world in such a way that through the medium of the idea, the thought, the mental picture, he really entered into the world; he did not become remote from the world but really entered into it. And so through thought, through idea, he lived right into world-connections, lived together with the world, lived in his “I” — because he spoke so little of himself — and not only in his skin, but right into the heart of things. it is really only human beings of this kind who truly understand ideals in the world, life in ideas and in morals. To live in ideas and ideals is not merely to have ideas and ideals; ideas and ideals are easily come by, they can be picked as easily as blackberries. What matters is not that a man has ideas and ideals, but that he has them in the purity of the life of thought, and human beings without number shirk this purity. They flee from thought in hosts. My dear friends, we need only call up the Imagination, the real imagination of pure thinking, of the life in pure thought, in sense-free thoughts and ideas; we need only picture this pure wellspring of soul-existence and then try to place the specters of human beings around it, and we shall find that in whole hosts they flee from this pure spring of the sense-free world of thought. They say: “But this is barren, dry, it is something that tears love out of one's heart, it is cold, icy.” And they flee in hosts; only a few stand steadfast in purity of soul. These few are the true philosopher-souls, the men who are really gifted for philosophy. And such men as Fritz Mitscher belong to them.

That is why it is almost a matter of course for such souls to grow into their connections in the most natural possible way — or, better said, for their karma to bring them into these connections. In the case of Fritz Mitscher this was so in a high degree. It could never be noticed in him that he sought any position out of an intention formed in physical life. He always allowed himself to be led to his tasks by the flow of karma. Here again you have those truly philosophical natures who will always have to be led to their tasks rather than that they will press forward to some task out of egotistical will. For these truly philosophical natures know all too well in their deep feelings and in their impulses too, that a man is, in reality, never ripe for a task, that only immeasurable vanity can give rise to the belief that he is mature, and he always anticipates in advance something that can only be achieved later on. when a man has only a little of this attitude, he feels in his life something of an inner calling. And the life then will be filled, as it were, with the: “Know thyself!” Knowledge of the self is best attained when a man speaks and thinks little of his “I”. his work and labours in life will then be permeated by the: “Know thyself, live with the world in peace!”

Such was Fritz Mitscher's motto. A life like this continues in the spiritual world and remains what it was, save that in the spiritual world the fruit grows from the seed. In such cases we must abandon the point of view — for it would be unreal — which would make us ask: “What would have come out of such a being if he had been able to stay longer in the physical world?” This is an unreal point of view. The real point of view leads us to the greatness, the wonder of such a soul being taken up into the spiritual worlds. What this soul is now called upon to achieve in the spiritual worlds is related to the experiences between birth and death as the fruit of the plant to the seed, so that the life here is actually revealed as a seed for the spiritual life after death. And so when a being who has lived in objectivity is seen after death, words which characterise this objectivity of outlook in life inevitably sink into the soul, but they are words which also characterise the relationship to the surrounding world, how the whole being stood right within the world. It was necessary to speak of Fritz Mitscher in this way. The characteristic element in these words was precisely this difference between the seed here and the plant which develops in yonder world. This is how I explain to myself the words being as they were

... Ein Verlust, der tief uns schmerzt,

... A loss that deeply pains us,

so entschwindest du dem Feld,

So you vanish from the field

Wo des Geistes Erdenkeime

Where the Spirits earthly germs

in dem Schoss des Seelenseins

in the lap of Soul-existence

Deinem Sphärensinne reiften ...

Matured to vision of the spheres ...


Eine Hoffnung uns begluckend,

As a hope and as a blessing

So betratest Du das Feld,

You appeared upon the field

Wo der Erde Geistesblüten

Where the earthly blooms of Spirit

Durch die Kraft des Seelenseins

Could to seekers be revealed

Sich dem Forschen zeigen möchten.

Through the powers of the Soul.


LautrerWahrheitsliebe wesen

To essential love of truth

War dein Sehnen urverwandt;

Your desire was related;

Aus den Geisteslicht zu schaffen

Creation from the Spirit light

War das ernste Lebensziel,

Was your fervent aim in life

Dem du rastlos nachgestreby ...

To which you restlessly aspired ...


Eine Hoffnung uns begluckend,

As a hope and as a blessing

So betratest du das Feld

You appeared upon the field

Wo der Erde Gestesblüten

Where the earthly blooms of Spirit

Durch die Kraft des Seelenseins

Could to seekers be revealed

Sich dem Forschen zeigen möchten..

Through the powers of the Soul.


Höre unserer Seelen Bitte

List to our Souls' petitions

Im Vertraun dir nachgesandt:

Sent to you with confidence;

Wir bedurfen hier zum Erdenwerk

Here we need for earthly labours

Starker Kraft aus Geistes-Landen,

Vigorous pow'rs from Spiritland

Die wir toten Freunden danken.

Which we owe to our dead friends.


Eine Hoffnung uns begluckend,

A firm hope — for us a blessing

Ein Verlust, der tief uns schmerzt:

A great loss that deeply pains:

Lass uns hoffen, dass du ferne-nah,

Let us hope that far or near

Unverloren unsrem Leben leuchtest

You may still ilume our life —

Als ein Seelen-Stern im Geistbereich.

A soul-star in the Spirit Sphere.

Fritz Mitscher was an individuality who became, in an outstanding degree, what many of our dead friends have actually become since they entered into the spiritual world. They become our most effective co-workers in the field of the spiritual life we have to cultivate; they become those to whom we look upwards with special gratitude when we have to think of the tasks of the present and future spiritual evolution, tasks that can be fulfilled only slowly and with difficulty within earth-existence with the forces that are incarnated in physical bodies. In thinking of friends who have passed through the Gate of Death, including our friend Morgenstern, it always seems to me to be right to ask that they will remain among us in order that through their forces much will be able to be done in our spiritual movement that it is impossible to do with earthly forces alone.

It is this that must be sent as a last greeting from the Earth to such individualities, and it must be expressed clearly and emphatically in connection with Fritz Mitscher, a dear friend who with his youthful forces will be our strong helper, a true consolation when consolation is needed. And it is often needed.

Especially during the most recent period of our work, creative activities and striving, so many things have made us realise how great are the hindrances of the physical plane — truly they are not imagined hindrances — how stubbornly the prejudices of human beings oppose what must be achieved among us, and how violent the opposition often is.

We need only take one such example. — People outside our stream of Spiritual Science write pamphlets ... Truly I am not saying these things for personal reasons, because I feel myself to be only a feeble instrument of the spiritual movement that has to bear us ... Pamphlet after pamphlet is written with the object of declaring that our adherents accept everything without putting it to the test, accept it in faith and belief and confidence; it is suggested that nothing exists among us except blind faith. Our movement is described by the outside world as if all our adherents were credulous simpletons, simply running after the confidence they feel. So it is in the outside world.

But within the precincts, this confidence — if we mean a confidence that exists in the deep foundations of souls and does not merely lie in words — this confidence is often by no means so conspicuous. There is a great contradiction between what we are accused of in pamphlets and what ought to exist in such rich abundance within the precincts of our society. There is yawning contradiction! I say what I have to say here without criticism and above all without bitterness, without in the least wanting to hit at any single personality — but concerning many things I said here in the autumn, it has been stated in writings that Dr. Steiner hawks about his occult researches into such matters — meaning matters about which I have spoken ... he hawks about his occult powers in connection with the things that were spoken about. If it has been possible for such a thing to have been written, then it is a clear proof of the fact that the element of which we are accused in the world is by no means so firmly rooted in the deeper forces of the souls among us, although in many ways it may exist in the upper maya of consciousness. Let it be said once and for always that the teaching presented here is based upon no principle of authority whatever, and belief in it as dogma is never demanded. It is given in order that it may be tested in all details. But for anyone to set himself up as a kind of judge as to what I myself should include in my occult investigations and exclude from them — this is a spiritual tyranny which most certainly is not born of the element that must be present in the Society, although up to a certain point it need not be present for the purpose of taking in spiritual Science; this is a spiritual tyranny emanating from unconscious lack of confidence. Confidence is not needed for the purpose of receiving teachings; but confidence is needed for the realization that it is not for the spiritual investigator to be told what he has to bring from the spiritual world but that it must be Presumed that the representative of Spiritual Science knows himself what he has to do; he has himself to decide what falls within the field of his investigations. Confidence is needed here; this kind of confidence can never be unprofitable to the movement, because it does not transcend the limits of the personal and does not touch the teaching. But a fact like this denotes — as many similar facts denote — that great obstacles and hindrances do exist and that within our spiritual movement we must carry out as a duty — far removed from anything that looks like desire in our work — what leads from insight into inner necessity. This duty will always be done, however sourly, it is done (‘sourly’ according to the ordinary meaning of the word.) But precisely when we realise that we may give to our dear Dead a kind of personal charge to be together with our forces, then there arises for our movement a feeling of security which the physical world could never afford.

And so, in thinking of our beloved Dead, there flows into our movement and into its impulses, something that is supersensible, not springing from what we have here, something that could never, in the physical world itself, give wings to our work. It is possible for supersensible impulses to flow into the Maya of our society-activities, for us to feel secure — because what we do, contains not merely the forces of the physical plane but supersensible forces too. Our beloved Dead have remained with us, although not in physical existence, and we therefore feel security in work which feels itself to be within the flow of spiritual evolution:

“Höre unserer Seelen Bitte,

“List to our Souls' petitions

Im Vertraun dir Nachgesandt:

Sent to you with confidence:

Wir Bedurfen hier zum Erdenwerk

Here we need for earthly labours

Starker Kraft aus Geistes-Landen,

Vigorous pow'rs from Spiritland

Die wir toten Freunden Danken.”

Which we owe to our dead friends.”

So do we speak with reality of our beloved Dead as companions, co-workers, as those who are invisibly among us. Thus concretely do we seize the invisible being, giving the hand physically for the last time to the friend in the visible world and then receiving this hand spiritually, after death from the supersensible world. In this exchange of hand-clasps we have the symbol for work within a Society that is not intended to be a mouthpiece for the physical world but is to call the supersensible worlds too, into its activities. For such work, for such activities, we want to build a centre on this hill. May there be a home here for this work!




Last Modified: 02-Aug-2018
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