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

Spirit and Matter, Life and Death

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document

Highlight Words

Spirit and Matter, Life and Death

Schmidt Number: S-3347

On-line since: 31st May, 2016

Immortality, the Forces of Destiny, and the Course of Life

Berlin, 1 March 1917

What makes it hard to come close to spiritual science with full understanding is that it has to think not only different from the usual consciousness about certain life riddles about life riddles of which many people believe that they are not accessible to the human cognition at all, some even that they lie beyond reality, but that it gets to a thinking that is different in its whole form from the thinking of the usual consciousness. Spiritual science gets to a thinking that has to be unfolded from the usual consciousness first. However, one can say that the development of the intellectual culture has come to many ideas and mental pictures in the nineteenth century and up to our time that are on the way to this spiritual science. Even if the suitable attempts deviate from spiritual science radically, they still demand knowledge of certain life riddles and world riddles that head to spiritual science.

There I am allowed to point in particular to the idea, to the mental picture of the unconscious or as one would better say of the subconscious in the human soul life. Let us look at this unconscious or subconscious. Although the most different people interpret it quite different, finally, one still thinks that something rests in the depths of the human soul that actually constitutes the basis of the human soul that cannot be reached with the usual day consciousness. So that one may say, those who speak of the subconscious or unconscious in the human soul speak in such a way of the fact that one realises that they are convinced that the real being of the soul with all that cannot be grasped which the human being can bring in his usual consciousness and also in the usual scientific consciousness. One can say, as far as this mental picture has just been characterised here, spiritual science can comply with it strictly speaking. But it is the destiny of spiritual science that it has to comply with some worldviews from a certain viewpoint that it has to take ways different from those which indicate these world views. There we immediately get to something that the representatives of the subconscious or unconscious mean but in which spiritual science must differ from them.

These representatives of the unconscious mean that the unconscious or subconscious has to remain in the depths of the soul at any price, that it never is able to appear in the usual consciousness. Hence, also Eduard von Hartmann (1842-1906) who made the unconscious mostly popular in the last half a century was of the opinion that one cannot get to know anything of the being of the soul or of nature by immediate knowledge, by experience, by observing. He thinks that one can form mental pictures of it only hypothetically how it looks in the world of the unconscious or subconscious. In this point, spiritual science cannot go along. Since I have characterised in the previous talks how spiritual science just realises that, indeed, this unconscious or subconscious rests for the usual knowledge in the depths of the soul that it can be brought up, however, under certain circumstances. You can bring it up if that consciousness is developed which I have called the “beholding consciousness,” referring to Goethe's concept of the “beholding faculty of judgement.” Goethe gave an important suggestion with it. This suggestion could not be developed in his time completely. But spiritual science regards it as its task not to generate all kinds of phantasms, but just to develop it on serious scientific ground for what Goethe gave the suggestion with his concept of the beholding faculty of judgement. I have explained in my book How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds? how the human soul gets to this faculty of beholding judgement or to the beholding consciousness. However, what forms the basis of this faculty of the beholding judgement will become obvious from a certain viewpoint in this talk in particular.

On the one hand, spiritual science is urged to take ways different from those that the representatives of the unconscious want to go; it is on the other hand in full harmony just with the scientific results of our time. It has to go another way than the scientific research, just because it complies more with natural sciences than the scientific view often with itself.

What concerns now the question of the real soul being, natural sciences think that the soul is dependent on the human body. I have often said here that it would be a wild-goose chase to defend myself from any viewpoint against this view. Nothing seems clearer, even if natural sciences have still to work a lot, that the course of the whole human life shows this dependence of the soul on the bodily organisation during its development. One needs only to realise how the human being develops organically from the child to the adult, and that with this development the soul development runs in parallel that with the development of the organs which natural sciences regard as tools of the soul life also this soul life grows.

If one adds the fact that by deterioration of health or of the organic coherence of certain body parts the soul life is undermined, it results from it that the scientific world view is right in this field. In addition, it can also show that again with the gradual decrease of the forces, with growing old, these soul forces decrease in parallel with the bodily organisation. Only a dilettante could make an objection to this view. Against it, spiritual science stands absolutely on the ground of the scientific results. However, I would like to note that spiritual science still complies in a much deeper sense just by its knowledge with these results than natural sciences themselves can do it. This can become obvious in particular if one looks at a direction of soul life that many people confuse with spiritual science. All possible unclear mystic mental pictures and experiences are brought forward if one criticises spiritual science, and then one confuses it with these unclear, mystic reveries.

If you occupy yourself just spiritual-scientifically more thoroughly with that what has been called mysticism in different times, something very noteworthy appears not with all, but with many things. You can look at the most respected mystics and you clearly realise with them that the modern scientific worldview is right if it often assigns no epistemological value to these mystic attempts for the real riddles of soul and humanity.

Indeed, the experiences of the mystics are interesting. I would like to argue nothing against the objective consideration of the mystic experiences but more against the fundamental of the matter; I would like to characterise this simply. Mystics try what is a right way also in the spiritual-scientific sense to get to deeper experience by that which they call the “union of the soul with the universal spirit or with the divine” which leads away from the outer sensory reality. However, how do they try this mostly? They try it while they refine the usual everyday consciousness and deepen it with all kinds of inwardness, but they stop at this usual consciousness. Now spiritual science knows that the scientific view is right that this everyday consciousness is dependent on its tools. If you deepen the everyday consciousness in the mystic sense, even if you may make it ever so internal and subtle, you stop in it and you attain nothing but something that is dependent on the bodily organisation. You can find mystics who raise the human heart by high poetic beauty, by wonderful imagination, by a strange intuition for all kinds of averted things and refresh the human soul so that they almost amaze you by these things.

However, at last you wake from this amazement repeatedly with the sensation: yes, the whole is nothing but an, indeed, more intimate, often ingenious imagination and thinking which is bound with finer, ingeniously developed forces of the bodily organisation. You can find kind, imposing mystics about whom you must still say: their mystic experiences are nothing but refined, or we say, spiritualised passions, affects, feelings that are similar, however, to those of the usual life. Such mystics have only brought along their bodies by all kinds of ascetic means or predispositions so that the body maybe becomes able to feel in quite different directions as it is the case with usual human beings, but it is, in the end, the bodily organisation. Often the liveliest explanations and outpourings of such mystics show that they are averted, indeed, from the usual sensory life, but that they have brought that in this sensory life, only spiritualising, which their imagination can experience. Hence, someone who thinks scientifically calls the experiences of such mystics unusual with a certain right because they deviate from the usual experience. He calls them maybe unhealthy, but he will be right also while he says, they prove nothing at all against the dependence of the human soul life on the bodily organisation, even if it appears in mystic-refined way. The bodily organisation has only been trained as it were, so that that which appears, otherwise, in crude sensuousness expresses itself in spiritual pictures, in metaphors, in symbols in the soul behind which the expert can still find nothing but refined expressions of the usual passions.

On the other hand, spiritual science says, if one refines the usual consciousness so mystically if one may “spiritualise” it ever so much, so that it brings a feeling of the union with the spirit, within this usual consciousness one does not get to that sphere which one searches, actually, if one speaks of the deeper soul riddles. In particular just the trained observation of the spiritual researcher shows that also everything that the human being can have in the usual experience in his soul and can keep his memories is bound to the bodily organisation. So that the human being does not come out of this bodily organisation with his memories, and one is allowed to say, a real spiritual-scientific introspection just shows that the more exactly memory keeps the experiences, the more the activity of memory is bound to the bodily organisation. — Hence, spiritual science takes methods, which are quite different from those of the usual consciousness. Even if this usual consciousness keeps the memories exactly because the bodily organisation functions well and the experiences are exactly brought up after long time: spiritual science has to take methods different from those, which the usual consciousness knows. In the last talks, I have already pointed to that what just arises as observation of the thinking and want only to repeat it from another viewpoint.

Indeed, the usual thinking is the starting point of any spiritual-scientific research, and only someone finds this starting point who already brings to his mind by a true observation of this thinking that it is already something spiritual. However, one cannot stop at this point. One cannot stop with the view that this thinking, as well as it arises in the usual life, is the last. It is not the last even if it has apparently spiritualised itself mostly, namely in the mental pictures of memory. Hence, I said, everything that the human being can feel, think, and will in the usual life does not lead to a knowledge of the nature of the soul. Rather — this is only one of many measures that must be experienced the human being has to develop his thinking in such a way that he is no longer involved with his personality, with his subjectivity. If we advance with our thinking so far only that mental pictures develop and are searched which can be kept and appear again, we get, nevertheless, only to that which comes about by the tools of the bodily organisation.

Therefore, you have to develop this thinking in such a way that you are no longer present at this development. However, it requires also that you have the patience and perseverance not to believe that the big world riddles can be decided in the twinkling of an eye; you need something quite different for that. It requires the secrets of the whole course of human life. It requires the patience to develop such inner methods the life of which cannot be taken in at a moment, but can only develop if you leave them to the development that they can experience in the course of the human life.

I have indicated that one calls this “meditative life” if one brings in certain mental pictures, best of all those which one can exactly survey, so that some unaware or other memories of life do not appear, and then experiences these mental pictures really in all directions with quiet consciousness. If you observe not only how you remember these mental pictures in the usual consciousness again, but also leave these mental pictures as it were from the usual consciousness because you are no longer present at their development, then you will always find if you have perseverance and patience enough that the mental pictures submerge in the subsoil of the human consciousness where you do no longer know anything about them. Then you can find out how they appear again in memory.

Spiritual research has no use for that at first. But something else takes place. For someone who develops his soul life it becomes apparent that the mental pictures, indeed, appear again as memories just as the others after months, years, but that these mental pictures show no true recollection, but that they have developed his soul life that they have changed it in a certain area. These mental pictures do not emerge in the same form, but they emerge and announce themselves in such a way that you have to say to yourself, they have worked not in your personal, but in that which is beneath your conscious personal. They have developed their power and appear in another figure now. You can say without thinking, if the mental picture meets again with that which has become from it, without being present with our consciousness, this meeting of the mental picture of the usual consciousness with the changed mental picture emerging from the unconscious shows that you can see its efficacy for the human soul life. This meeting shows that the human being still stands in a life area that is quite different from that of the physical-sensory reality that really in the subsoil of the soul life something unconscious or subconscious lives that can be brought up by suitable methods, and that penetrates consciousness different from the usual memory.

Spiritual science stands on the viewpoint that by suitable treatment of our soul life the unconscious can emerge in the conscious, but should emerge only if it has reached its development in the unconscious. Thereby spiritual science reaches the beholding consciousness. Since something is experienced that can be compared with the transition from the usual dream life to the wake consciousness. We get to know the subjective pictures in the dream that we regard as realities, while we are dreaming. While we are waking, we know by the immediate contact with the outer reality that the dream has only brought pictures, namely the pictures that ascend from our organic inside and appear as symbols.

Nobody will be tempted to believe that one develops a consciousness for that which the dream is in reality; nobody can dream what the dream is. Against it if you come from the dream into the usual consciousness and try to explain the dream from the usual consciousness, you recognise its fantastic-chaotic-pictorial nature. The same applies if you move from the usual consciousness to the beholding one in the described way. There you come from the outer physical-sensory reality to the the word is contestable higher, spiritual reality. You awake in another world that throws light on the usual physical-sensory world while the world of the usual consciousness throws light on the dream world. Hence, spiritual science does not only think different about the world riddles and soul riddles, but above all, it realises that you have first to attain another consciousness from the depths of the soul to enter into the spiritual worlds. Now I can bring in certain results only.

But already with reference to the nearest scientific spiritual science has to deviate from science, just as it agrees with natural sciences. Spiritual science completely agrees with the scientific conscience and attitude of modern natural sciences. However, it cannot stop at the scientific thinking. That is why the spiritual scientist will have a good basis if he has developed his thinking, his imagining, his feeling with the most scientific mental pictures, and today these are those which are imbued with mathematics most of all.

It will be different once if the biological sciences, physiology and so on, are as far as the inorganic natural sciences are. But the spiritual researcher cannot stop thinking about the world as natural sciences think about the world. He can keep his thinking as it were in strict discipline, while he trains it based on the strict thinking of science. If he has educated himself in such a way, he has created the best ground as a spiritual-scientific researcher. Hence, one can compare the nature of spiritual science to that which happened with the impetus of modern scientific thinking. I have often pointed out that with the Copernican worldview the human beings had to rethink the outer world, that that which Copernicus asserted seemed to be absurd to the human beings at first because it contradicted the phenomena of the outer sensory world. If one just argues against spiritual science that it contradicts the statements of the outer sensory world, then one has to point out repeatedly that just astronomy attained its big progress by Copernicus because it did not remain at that which the outer senses showed, but that it overcame it courageously. If one recognised the inner nerve of such a reversal just in scientific field, then one would put fewer ignorant objections forward against spiritual science, as it still happens. However, today I want still to allege one point where spiritual science is in a similar situation as the Copernican worldview was when it contributed to the progress of natural sciences.

Even if the Copernican worldview has to undergo some corrections, if we want to advance, we cannot put the earth in the centre of the planetary system and let the sun circle around it. But we have to turn the sensory false fact completely upside down: we have to put the sun in the centre of the planetary system and let the planets circle around the sun. You know that the Copernican worldview long was not accepted by certain circles. One had to develop new mental pictures; one had to get used to having other mental pictures than those were which one had for centuries.

Now it is somewhat more difficult in the area of spiritual science to figure an analogous out just in its area, but only because it is in the position today in which the Copernican worldview was at the moment of its appearance. The mental pictures which spiritual science has to develop are quite unusual, and they have to cover a similar distance with reference to a certain point in the human soul life, as the Copernican worldview had to cover once. For the usual soul life, for the usual observation is nothing clearer than that the human being is born with his soul, experiences the course of his life that his soul or his ego changes in the course of this life gradually. One considers the soul being as walking through life from birth to death, as if it goes along. However, spiritual science shows the strange fact that the soul being with which the idea of immortality is connected does not take part in the course of life in the usual sense. As little as the sun circles around the earth, the human ego or the human soul experiences the way from birth to death. Therefore, the matter is different:

We remember in the later life up to a certain point that lies some years after our birth. Only up to this point, the ego or soul being goes along with our development. Then it stops in time, and the proceeding course of life does not take along the ego. The course of life reflects that what proceeds in it to the resting soul. The mental picture is so difficult because it is just easier to imagine the rest in space, than the rest in time. However, if you think that certain circles accepted the Copernican worldview only in 1827, you can also assume that spiritual science can take its time, until the human beings are able to imagine that resting in time is possible. One can say, the soul just stays behind resting in itself, and life proceeds up to death, while the experiences are reflected to that what stays behind at the mentioned time. With it, however, something else is connected: the fact that the soul being does not emerge in those events and facts that are connected with the bodily life that the soul remains in its real being in the spiritual. That is why it does not enter the usual course of life because this course just flows into the sensory-physical events. The soul remains in the spiritual.

The usual consciousness absolutely proceeds with the usual life between birth and death. But the true soul being does not pervade this bodily being, but stops in the spiritual. That is why this soul being cannot attain knowledge in the usual life, but only if the consciousness blanks out itself if the thought remaining in the consciousness meets the subconsciously working thought. Then, however, this subconscious work spreads about the whole human life gradually, as far as life is passed through. The human being knows himself standing in the spiritual life in his inner experience at the starting point of his life on earth, before the border up to which memory reaches, but raised above the time in which the usual consciousness runs. Hence, no mysticism that wants to bring a subtler experience than the usual one deeply into the consciousness, which proceeds in time, can reach the soul being. However, this soul being can be reached only if time is overcome, if the human being advances with his inner experience beyond this time developing his soul to find the soul first, as it is in its inner nature.

These are difficult mental pictures, but they are difficult because the human beings got used to thinking different in the course of centuries. The human being must not search a union with the spiritual, while he wants to develop spiritual-scientific methods, in the sense of the usual mysticism with the usual consciousness. However, that what he searches must be an object to him. He has to approach it with the consciousness that it is something strange, actually, to the usual life that it has stopped, before this usual soul life has appeared. Then only he knows: this soul worked with the forces that it also had before in the spiritual, on the arrangement of the whole life down to the bodily organisation, while it connected its power with that which the human being has attained from the physical heredity. Thus, the human being reaches the immortal of the soul.

The question of immortality changes for spiritual science compared with the form that one gives this question, otherwise. One always thinks, one can answer it if one puts it in the following way: is the soul with its usual thinking, feeling, and willing in such a way that it keeps anything of them as immortal? Thinking, feeling, and willing in the usual life are as they are because the soul has to use the bodily tools. If these bodily tools are cast off at death, the form of thinking, feeling, and willing also stops, of course. Against that lives in every human being which is just hidden for the usual soul observation that stops before the gate of memory. This can take up the events of the usual life, while it is reflected. And if that which is in this usual life is taken away from the human being at death, then that which never has left the spiritual world will also walk through the gate of death. This has not developed within the usual consciousness, but this has developed in the subconscious that can be brought up just only in the described way.

Thus, the question changes for spiritual science in such a way that the spiritual researcher shows above all in what way the true soul being is found, and while he shows this way, immortality turns out as truth by the way how this true soul being is. As one does not need to prove that the rose is red if one has led somebody to a rose, and he faces it, one does not need to prove by all kinds of hypotheses, conclusions and so on that the soul being is immortal if one shows the way by which the human being finds the soul being so that he realises: it is the producer of the mortal, the mortal is its revelation if one can indicate immortality as a quality of this soul being, as well as one indicates the red colour as a quality of the rose. It just matters that the question completely changes if spiritual science approaches this soul riddle.

It becomes somewhat clearer what I have only indicated sketchily by a side lighting, one would like to say, if you throw a glance on something that plays such a significant role in the human life that seems inaccessible, however, to most philosophers: if you throw a side glance on the human destiny. The human destiny appears in the succession of events to many people as a sum of contingencies; it appears to many people as a predetermined necessity, as a necessity of providence. However, all these mental pictures approach the riddle of destiny again from the viewpoint of the usual consciousness. Even if these mental pictures are deepened so mystically, one does not get closer to such riddles by these mental pictures. Hence, I have shown last time just with reference to the question of destiny that you have to prepare yourself first in the right way for this question of human destiny. I have to repeat this once again from a certain viewpoint, so that I can more exactly speak about this question. I said, if the spiritual researcher dedicates himself to certain developments, one kind of which I have shown with the development of thinking, this inner development signifies a real lifting out of the usual consciousness; it is no mystic deepening of this usual consciousness only, but an ascent to that what does not at all enter into the usual consciousness. Then you need much patience and perseverance to continue this inner development. It does not need to interfere with the outer life in the slightest. Those human beings are bad spiritual researchers who become impractical for the usual life by spiritual research. They show that they are still materialistically minded people.

Since someone who is torn out of the usual life who is torn out of life praxis by a kind of spiritual research shows that he has not understood the nature of true spiritual research; since this proceeds in the spiritual which cannot immediately conflict with the usual life. Someone who believes that he can enter into the spiritual world, for example, by fasting or by another outer means shows just that he is completely permeated with materialist mental pictures. However, if the human being goes the way of true spiritual research or spiritual science, then at the right time that becomes gradually a question of destiny, an inner twist of fate what the human being experiences there internally. He experiences an inner penetration that carries him into the sphere of the spiritual, so vividly, so intensely that this experience that completely proceeds without interference of the outer experience, becomes a twist of fate which is more important than anyone of the outer life. Yes, just in that the significant of spiritual science appears that it can become a twist of fate for the human being. The human being does not need to become emotionally dulled for the other twists of fate; he may fully feel the outer destinies, not only those of him, but also those of others if he has also experienced the higher twist of fate that proceeds completely internally.

Someone is not on the right way who dulls his compassion and sympathy for the outer world and the human beings. But with someone who is in the social life and stands in a spiritual world it can still be that a time enters at which he feels this inner experience as a twist of fate, which is bigger and more urgent than the most dreadful strokes of fate or the happiest twist of fate which he can otherwise experience. However, the fact that such a twist of fate can happen deepens the mind and internalises the soul; it endows the soul with the forces that rest, indeed, always in the soul but that are not brought up normally.

Firstly, the soul is prepared above all: while the soul has experienced a destiny completely internally, so that it faces this destiny now with the internally experienceable soul forces, the human being gets to know the biggest twist of fate so intimately that he gains a yardstick of knowledge for the outer destiny. You need a yardstick for everything in life. You receive the yardstick for the judgement of destiny by the fact that you do not only consider the dark destinies by all kinds of speculation, but that you consider such a bright destiny as one experiences it by the fact that one has gradually developed the power in his inner soul life that one has watched everything. You realise that it has become this way for years; we have gradually attained inner, true conviction of the spiritual world without self-deception in which we live. We were there with the twist of fate, there it faces us not as something that remains dark, with which we can be pleased, or from which we can suffer only, but there it faces us in bright inner clearness.

If we have developed the forces that face us in bright inner clearness, then only we can light up that with inner light what remains dark, then we can also consider the events of the outer destiny. These events of the outer destiny are dark for the usual consciousness. However, the usual consciousness has become the beholding consciousness for the consideration of the question of destiny just because it allows such a twist of fate to happen. For the question of destiny, this consciousness has advanced to the beholding consciousness. Thereby one attains that generally only which is necessary to approach the question of destiny in such a way that one can elucidate it to a certain degree. However, thereby appears that all statements about destiny remain hypothetical or empty fantastic assumptions. Since it becomes apparent that destiny appears only in its revelation, in its projection into the usual consciousness that, however, this destiny works in the subconscious on the human soul, so that it lives in the subconscious in the stream of destiny. Thus, it lives in the stream of destiny that its involvement appears as little in the destiny to the usual consciousness as that appears to the dreamer, which surrounds him as physical reality in the outer world.

If one exercises the beholding consciousness, one can look at the question of destiny with quite different spiritual eyes. Then the soul can look quite different at the connections of a twist of fate from anyone who looks at them with the usual consciousness. One recognises only upon which one has to direct the attention in the question of destiny if one is prepared for it because one was deeply moved by a wholly spiritual twist of fate. Let us take any twist of fate that can easily face us in the outer life. As typical for that which faces us in the outer life one could tell the following: a person has completely prepared himself for any outer occupation. His predispositions show that he could fully be up to this work. The things were thriven so far that the post was already found which the person concerned should get. Everything was prepared. Then, just before this person receives the answer that he is transferred to the post, an accident happens by which he becomes incapable to occupy this post.

If one looks at the human life with the usual consciousness, one does it in such a way that one looks at that which has preceded any fact in life. One looks at the world in such a way that one always strings effect and cause together and again effect and cause so that one always goes back from the later to the former. If the person is ready to recognise this twist of fate that can teach us something, it appears that we are concerned with that twist of fate with a convergence of two series of events. Here in the typical example we deal, on one side, with the fact that the human being has become something by which he forced processes of the outer world to be directed towards him.

Another series of events thwarts the first. You just get to know if you look at such processes of destiny, that it is proper to regard the human life as one regards processes of nature, while one pays attention how the later follows from the former. However, you also get to know that this view is extremely one-sided. You get to know that you cannot only consider the ascending series of events if you want to look at the complete existence, but that you have also to consider the descending series, which always thwarts and destroys the ascending one. Then you get to the point by the meeting of both series where the spirit reveals itself to you. Since the human being has not become different, while on one side that was thwarted which he has become; two streams of life have met with each other, but the human being has not become different. Just the fact that you come across with your soul forces into this thwarting of both life streams shows how at the moment when something should work fatefully on the human soul it has to withdraw from the outer life. You get to the inside of the soul this way, which is not at all taken up in the outer sensory life. While one seizes the existence, where it reveals itself not only, but where it disappears from the outer manifestation, one finds the way into that area which the soul does not at all leave and in which destiny works on it.

Now you also realise that it absolutely is in the nature of the soul that destiny relates to the soul as I have just shown it. Since let us accept that the matter would be in such a way that the human soul approaches the concatenation of destiny with mental pictures of the outer sensory reality. What would follow from it? It would follow that the soul would remain internally dead that it would internally face the destiny as calm not to say as indifferently as it faces the statements of natural sciences. However, the human soul does not face destiny this way. I do not only develop ideas of purposefulness. Someone who dwells on the methods of that which I brought forward here will realise that I do not regress to teleological ideas or ideas of purposefulness, but that I put the question in such a way: what is necessary to the being of the soul?

As far as the soul is in destiny, it does not experience at all by cognitive mental pictures, but it experiences it in such a way that affects, sensations, feelings of joy, feelings of grief appear in this soul, and that clear mental pictures of these sensations do not exist as one has them, otherwise, of knowledge. However, if clear mental pictures of them existed, they would be just such mental pictures that work only in the sphere of the usual consciousness. Just while the experience of destiny is lifted out from these mental pictures that are bound to the body, it remains in the subconscious or more precisely is led down into the subconscious. The experience of destiny thereby works beyond the consciousness on the soul being as the experiences of the outer world happen round the dreamer, without penetrating his consciousness at least not immediately.

How the human being experiences his sufferings and joys causes that his destiny is led into the deeper subconscious regions of the soul life, so that destiny urges the human being in life below the threshold of the usual consciousness. Down there, however, where the consciousness does not reach, is order; down there the experiences of destiny are reflected to the soul which has stopped before the border of sensation. Destiny is perpetually working there on our soul, so that the human being cannot figure the way out with the usual consciousness how he stands in his destiny. The destiny combines with the soul below the threshold of consciousness. There, however, it appears, howsoever this destiny may be designed, that it is connected intimately with the soul that it is just the worker who forms our soul life. It is one of the workers who cause that that which we experience in the life between birth and death is carried over to the soul which goes through birth and death to repeated lives on earth. Thus, this soul is carried through repeated lives on earth by performances, by forces, by effects which do not reach the usual consciousness. There we see the conjunction of the human destiny with the human soul. There we get by destiny to the subconscious, everlasting grounds of the human soul. Only where immortality prevails, destiny also prevails in its true figure.

It is carried to it because we are at the mercy of it in the usual life that we do not penetrate it recognising. Because we experience destiny emotionally, it is carried over into that region where it can work on the immortal soul part. Then destiny turns out to be the great teacher of life. Destiny carries us forward. It is true what single persons feel about the continuity in the human destiny. I would like to read out such an example to you. Goethe's friend Knebel (Karl Ludwig von K., 1744-1834) got to mental pictures of destiny in old age, which did not arise to him really by speculations, not by philosophical pipe dreams, but they shine as it were from the subconscious soul life when destiny works on the soul. There Knebel says:

“One will find with precise observation that in the lives of most human beings a certain plan exists which is predetermined for them as it were, by their own nature, or by the circumstances. The states of their lives may be ever so varied and variable, a whole still appears at the end that shows a certain accordance among them. The hand of a certain destiny appears, even if it works covertly, it may be moved by any outer effect or inner emotion: yes, contradicting reasons often move in its direction. May the course be ever so confused; reason and direction always shine through.”

He did not speculate this, but this is a result that the soul has taken out of the region where destiny works on it. Hence, only human beings who with full internal interest participate in the events not only of the own life, but of many human beings, see such a view about destiny shining up from the depths of their souls at a certain time of their life.

Well, questions of science, also of spiritual science do not depend on any outer events questions of science, questions of knowledge take their course , rather the outer life is determined in many of its peculiarities by that which science brings to light. However, on the other side certain outer circumstances contribute that people can appreciate knowledge in the right way. One has only to remind of the fact that the Venus courses in front of the sun that happen only twice a century must be waited until they happen that there the outer circumstances must be, so that a certain knowledge appears in a certain area. Thus, it can also be with the questions of spiritual science that refer to the soul life. Although it does not really belong to spiritual science, the feeling, living in our destiny-burdened time, can still be directed to the fact that just our time brings that home to the human beings in the deepest sense of the word what spiritual science can give.

The old Heraclitus said once, while he pointed to the dream life: in relation to the dream world, every human being has his own world. Most different persons can sleep in a room, and everybody can dream the most different; there everybody has his own dream world. When they wake, they all are in common outer surroundings. These common surroundings stimulate a big soul picture; there they are in a unity. In an even bigger, more important unity are the human beings if they look at that what the beholding consciousness gets from the spiritual world. There the human beings get together, and it is a delusion if one believes that the one claims this, the other that. The one may calculate correctly, the other wrongly, but the arithmetic method remains right. In a higher sense, the human beings form a unity if they move up to the beholding consciousness and enter into the spiritual world. However, the outer relations can also lead the human beings to a certain unity in life. Then these experiences can stimulate something that strives for the unity of life: for spiritual science. We live in fateful events that unite the human beings in another way than they are united from the outside. Common fateful experiences spread about the human beings. This can be a suggestion, and will be a suggestion, as I hope, to turn the human beings to the serious ways of spiritual science in this destiny-burdened time.

Then we can also accept: even if spiritual science has always to say most important things concerning the everlasting questions, the questions of destiny and life arise especially deeply in our time. Spiritual science can thereby give the human beings particular forces, so that they go through all twists of fate with the consciousness what destiny signifies for immortality, for the everlasting life and wait for that which is born from this destiny-burdened time. If one learns to understand destiny, one also learns when it is necessary to face destiny with true tranquillity. The soul often works more powerfully in its rest than it can work if it is carried on the waves of the outer life.

Maybe just the consciousness of the standstill of the soul in our life as abstract this mental picture even today may appear is a mental picture which can go over in the basic forces of the human mind and can there become a big mover that does not destroy the soul but invigorates it. Since just as it is inaccurate for somebody who has a magnet to say, this is nothing but a piece of iron in form of a horseshoe, and you are a daydreamer if you believe that there are particular forces inside as it is wrong to consider someone who cannot show the forces at first by the attraction of iron, but only claims them, to consider him as a daydreamer. It is wrong to consider someone as a daydreamer who speaks of the outer life proceeding in the physical-sensory existence in such a way that this life is not only that as it appears to the outer senses, but that it is penetrated with the spiritual, in which the soul is rooted and lives. Since the words of Heraclitus remain true:

“Eyes and ears are witnesses of that which goes forward in the world, witnesses towards the human being; however, they are bad witnesses towards those human beings whose souls do not understand the true language of the eyes and ears.”

Spiritual science wants to speak the true language of the eyes and ears and find the way with them into that which for the usual consciousness eyes and ears cannot show. Hence, the human being works best if he is aware that he not only comes as an everlasting from this everlasting source of life, but lives also always in it.

Last Modified: 16-Aug-2019
The Rudolf Steiner Archive is maintained by:
The e.Librarian: elibrarian@elib.com