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Occult Psychology

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Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.



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Occult Psychology

Schmidt Number: S-3546

On-line since: 31st December, 2019

Lecture 3

Dornach,
Aug 19, 1918

Yesterday I was at pains to give you a picture of man as a being of soul. Vast in connection with this picture of man as soul we want particularly to deal with today is to be the two boundary zones we learned about yesterday. The one boundary zone is seen in how man is obliged to come to a halt when he tries to look through the external world as it appears to him perceptibly. Scientists, philosophers, then speak of boundaries to knowledge. We know that these boundaries to knowledge do not in truth exist, but that in actual fact they are present for man's physical sense-perception.

The other boundary is the result of everything found in our consciousness, or entering into consciousness, being mirrored back, reflected back, on to an inner zone and, by this reflection, being enabled to become memory. What we have in consciousness does not go right into the depths of the region that lies in man's subconsciousness. We will draw these two boundaries the boundary of memory (left) and what we might at once refer to as the boundary of the capacity for love (right) which is at the same time the of our knowledge of nature.

We have indicated this in the lemniscates we drew which are open to the outside (see diagram 8) and we had here to draw lemniscates with the loop turned crack towards the inside.

This is the external region therefore into which man can no longer look with his ordinary powers of sense-perception — this, it is imperceptible. And there underneath is the inwardly directed boundary of conscious life, into which man cannot descend with his consciousness. He remains with his consciousness above this limit. Should he dive down with his conscious conceptions he would have no memory.

Diagram 8

Diagram 8

Now in connection with these two boundaries there is something quite definite to be said about this very life of the man of soul. If we go back in human evolution, go back perhaps farther than the eighth pre-Christian century (you remember that the year 747 begins the fourth post-Atlantean epoch), if we go back beyond this point of time into the earlier post-Atlantean epochs, then whet lies beyond this boundary was to a certain degree accessible to the human consciousness into which it worked. The atavistic clairvoyance still existing at that time rested indeed upon this. Certain impulses from the cosmos came through in those days and made themselves felt as atavistic powers of vision. We could therefore say that what is here outside us first became increasingly impenetrable — I mean intellectually impenetrable — after the eighth century before Christ. We are living now in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, and it is still impenetrable. And people are knocking at the boundary today, quite extraordinarily while continuing to maintain that no one is able to penetrate to the thing — call it how you will — lying beyond this boundary.

It may be said on the other hand that another tendency makes itself increasingly felt, and will make itself still more felt as the sixth post-Atlantean epoch approaches — the zone here(left) will become penetrable. The time will come when out of the depths of human nature whet I described to you yesterday as something seething, into which man should not look (above all should not look in the sense of what the imaginative, the fantastic, mystic wants), out of this sphere from the sixth post-Atlantean epoch onwards all manner of things will seep through.

This time indeed will begin before the end of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch — our epoch; all kinds of things will want to leak through. This will show itself above all in far more people than we think today understanding from purely inner experience that there are repeated lives on earth, and things of that kind. One may say that already today these things are breaking through, though not very often. I have frequently mentioned the name here of a remarkable man of the present day — Otto Weininger (Das Rätsel des Mensch {The Riddle of Man} - Lecture 1, not translated) — who is particularly well known by reason of his book Geschlecht und Charakter [Race and Character].

But still more interesting is his book published after his death by his friend Rappaport, in which all kinds of most interesting things appear. These are mostly aphorisms, and the whole bears the title Über die letzten Dinge (About ultimate questions), the greater part of it being aphorisms. One of these aphorisms is approximately to this effect — Weininger maintains that the human soul during life before birth might have developed a certain dread of itself and because of this have longed to forget this life and bury itself in oblivion — which means incarnating. Thus Weininger expressly talks of pre-earthly life and of incarnating, only he speaks in a gloomy, pessimistic way of how the soul seeks to bemuse itself about its life before birth, and seeks this oblivion through incarnation in a physical human body. Many such direct impressions are received by present-day can concerning the path of the soul and they will become ever more numerous.

One can already see in such a man as Weininger how today the ego is lying hold of man inwardly in what I may call a more solid and compact way; one can already see very clearly in Weininger's case how this boundary is becoming as it were penetrable, and all manner of things are pressing through. What he has written down about his death, for instance, is interesting. In his early years, when only twenty-three, he committed suicide. He made a whole series of notes which are extraordinarily interesting because they exactly represent Imaginations seen in the astral. All this is in accordance with a certain trend of character that led him to take Beethoven's room in Vienna one day and then the next day to kill himself — at the age of twenty-three. And it was all noted now he would be driven to suicide because otherwise he might become haunted by the fear of a vague impulse urging him on to murder and he would have to kill someone else.

It can be seen how most terrible things are here making their presence felt in the soul of an extraordinarily gifted man who cannot act in accordance with the dictates of his consciousness because so much rises up from his subconscious. You will understand that one is in certain way justified in showing how the ordinary cleverness that man is now able to develop does not extend to knowledge of what arises from the unexplored depths. For it should not arise: it should remain, nevertheless it will arise. Just as, up to the year 747, something came in from outside, henceforward something will rise up from within.

What man attains through his ordinary normal cleverness will not be able — will in fact be far from able — to overcome this. For what is here is the understanding of the wor1d acquired through Spiritual Science. It is possible for harmony, inner firmness and inner dignity, to permeate man's life of soul only when there is the desire to order and harmonise this life of soul through what can be acquired by working for knowledge of the spirit. In his development man is striving towards a condition where more will spring up out of his innermost depths than is the normal case today.

The things of which I am speaking now were actually quite well known in the various centres of Initiation. The whole of eastern spiritual life, the whole life of the spirit in Asia, is still redolent of that ancient knowledge which was accessible to man up to the eighth century before Christ. Indeed it is not only the spiritual life in Asia that tells of it. Fundamentally it is Asiatic culture as a whole. This it is that makes it so difficult for a European to understand what is said by an oriental about the civilisation of the East. If we would understand these people it is necessary indeed for us to have different conceptions and to form our thoughts differently. For example, it must be very interesting for many people today to consider anything so characteristic as the address about the spirit of Japan given by the Indian, Rabindranath Tagore. (Tagore as you know is the Indian author who has been awarded the Nobel prize for literature). He gave a lecture about the spirit of Japan.

What he said about the spirit of Japan is of less moment than the spirit out of which he spoke, the spirit of the oriental today, which can be understood only when we know how in the oriental something still remains of that rising-up and that coming-in — no longer perceptible to the external world. When speaking to most Europeans in the spirit of the spirit of their civilisation men of the East are really almost unintelligible. Usually there is no understanding whatever for what they are saying.

And we also have this other phenomenon — that what actually should only arise in the future can be experienced in a way in advance. I might compare this with children who as children have the characteristics of old age; they assume these characteristics when quite young. Irregularity enters evolution when something is thrust into it that should only come later. Whereas in oriental thinking, in oriental conceptions, even in the most outstanding spirits there rules, as I have shown, what is left over from a previous age, there is dominant in the spirits who think in accordance especially with what is American, something that is to enter later, something is introduced which belongs to a later time.

If one can go deeply into such matters it is clearly distinguishable that the most outstanding minds receive a great deal that seeps through here (left). You get an idea of what thus seeps through if you read, for example, the address given by Woodrow Wilson concerning the evolution of the American people, in particular the North American people. One cannot imagine anything more to the point nor more apt than this lecture of Woodrow Wilson's about the evolution of the American people! Every word of it gives the feeling that the whole matter is characterised and dealt with in the most shrewd manner. And this is particularly surprising since in this case, Wilson emphasises how a great number even of Americans hold the view that is justified only if one considers the American people as still being a dependency of the English — which is certainly not Wilson's opinion. Woodrow Wilson is most definitely in opposition to those who look upon the Americans as originating in — being a branch of — the English in Europe, and consider that they do not at all understand the actual evolution of the American people during the nineteenth century. And Wilson speaks right out of the spirit of America, most pregnantly and to the point, when he says that Americans first begin to oe Americans at the moment when they sever the links binding their souls to what proceeds from England, and start blazing their trail from East to West, from the eastern coast of America to its western coast.

In this trekking through the primeval forest, in the work with pickaxe and spade, in the labour with horse and plough, in overcoming all obstacles on the road from east to west, there developed what he calls the western man. And in a way that is direct and convincing Wilson sees in this manner of conquering the ground, the actual nerve of American evolution. In all this one has the definite feeling — the "how" must be understood here, not merely the "what" — the feeling that in all this something greater is speaking than Wilson. For when Wilson himself speaks — well, what is said is not very clever; it sounds much more as though the man were speaking out of whet lived within him as a kind of possession; demonic natures speak, giving out indeed grandiose secrets of the future, secrets that would have to be penetrated by man for himto understand evolution.

Today a real distinction has to be made between the understanding of the world that is scientific and in accordance with time — an understanding that is easy and universally popular — and the true understanding of the world. This true understanding of the world must be able to recognise such contrasting things as I have here been discussing, namely, the entering in of something from the peoples of the east that lies there outside (see right of diagram 8) and the arising of something from the American people that lies here (left). And what arises here is not necessarily something to be looked down upon, in a certain sense it can be a majestic ahrimanic, manifestation. For it is essentially an ahrimanic manifestation which is given in this excellent utterance of Woodrow Wilson's upon the evolution of the American people.

The initiates of the East and the initiates of the American people know what it is necessary to make of these things. There is the will absolutely to guide the evolution of mankind from both directions into a certain course. The eastern peoples, that is to say their initiates, have quite definite views for the future evolution of mankind. These people see what is right for evolution and, as far as it lies in man's power, seek to influence this right evolution. They try to give it a definite direction, a definite impulse. And the impulse that the initiates of the East wish to give to evolution rests essentially upon man no longer reclining on human generation after the first half of the sixth post-Atlantean epoch.

After this time it will be sought to renounce the earthly human race. The desire will be to bring human evolution to the point when man no longer returns to a physical body, when souls are so spiritualised that they do not descend to earth any more in bodily form. From the middle of the sixth post-Atlantean epoch man will already be seeking to found for himself the Kingdom of the spirit. This would be possible only were certain ingredients of culture rejected. It is not only the initiates of the East who feel a decided aversion to certain European characteristics but every cultured oriental instinctively feels it also — he feels an aversion for just those characteristics on which the European particularly prides himself. For example, he has no use for the purely technical, material culture which has arisen both in Europe and in its off-shoot America. Those who study man's evolution, particularly in the nineteenth century and on into the twentieth, find they have to admit that technics has carried things very far, that technics has deprived man of his power for work.

When it is said today that the earth has so and so many hundred millions of inhabitants, this is not, actually entirely correct, for it can also be reckoned how many inhabitants the earth has according to how much work is done. Now we are perfectly justified in saying that since the last third of the eighteenth century man's power of labour has been fixed by the machines that have been increasingly produced. It can be reckoned, and reckoned pretty exactly, how many millions more men would have to be apportioned to the earth if all the work produced by machines were to be produced by men. The earth would have to have 500,000,000 more men. It can indeed be said that the earth today has not so many men if they are to be counted according to their two legs and their head, but according to labour power the earth has 500,000,000 more men; machines do duty as labour-power.

But, my dear friends, there is nothing material that has not behind it what is spiritual. These 500,000,000 human forces are the opportunity for the same number of ahrimanic demons to take up their abode in human culture! These ahrimanic demons are certainly there. And the man of the East instinctively turns right away from these ahrimanic demons, and will have nothing to do with them. You see this in every manifestation of a highly culture oriental; he turns from this ahrimanic demonology. For this ahrimanic demonology weighs men down, weighs them down and deprives them of the possibility to bring about the aim of oriental initiation, namely, the end of the human race on earth from the middle of the sixth post-Atlantean epoch. This will be held back by what is developed in this demoniacal ahrimanic way.

American initiates are striving towards another goal; they strive towards the opposite goal. They endeavour to form a more inner bond than is normal in the course of man's evolution between the human soul and that bodily nature that is to be found upon earth, the dense, coarse corporeality which from the sixth post-Atlantean epoch on, will be found on earth. The culture of the soul will be deepened, what is of a bodily nature will coarsen. A more inward connection with this bodily nature then is normal is, however, striven for in the least, in America, a more intensive descent into the body. Man will go towards what seeps through, will approach it by an intensive penetration into what is of the body. Whereas the Orientals wish to found a culture that takes no account of the human body, in the future earthly evolution, in the American culture of the West there will be an endeavor to chain the soul to the future evolution of the earth. There is a desire so to form the body that when souls have passed through the gate of death, they will be able to return as quickly as possible into a body and spend as short a time as possible from sojourning in the spiritual world and there will be the desire to return to earth as soon as possible, to be as closely united as possible with earthly life.

These are tendencies that must be recognised, my dear friends. Strange as it may seem to man today when one speaks of such tendencies, it will all the same be harmful to him should they happen. For it is necessary for man to take his stand consciously where he himself is concerned, in what is sought after, and in connection with which he is, unfortunately, often placed in a position to justify the remark that he lets just anything happen to him.

This western ideal, however, to give man over to demonology, will be possible only should the American tendency, this soul and spirit tendency in America, receive the support of another stream of world-outlook far more closely connected with that of America then is recognised. The most striking feature of the American tendency, as you have seen, is essentially its leaning towards an ahrimanic culture. But this American characteristic would be increased were it supported by another world conception, and the relation between the two is closer than is supposed. I refer to Jesuitism.

The outlook of the Jesuits and that of the Americans are very closely related. For at the beginning of the fifth post-Atlantic epoch it was a question of an impulse having been found in which man was placed in a position to be lead as far as possible from the understanding of Christ. And the endeavor in cultural development that took on the task of obliterating the understanding of Christ, of completely eradicating all understanding of Christ, this is Jesuitism. Jesuitism strives gradually to root out every possibility of understanding the Christ. For what lies at the bottom of this is indeed closely connected with a deep mystery.

Now, with man's ability always to receive within him what came from without, was connected as I have told you, his old atavistic clairvoyance, possessed by him before the seventh, eighth century of the Christian era; moreover with this atavistic clairvoyance men perceived Christ in the cosmos. The Christ was something that could be seen with ancient clairvoyance. I have often pointed this out. I have pointed it out in Occult Science, and the whole meaning of my book Christianity as Mystical Fact ultimately centres in this. Christ was seen in the cosmos; Christ was seen in the universe. But think now from the seventh, eighth pre-Christian century we men have been losing the possibility of seeing into the universe. What then would men have lost had nothing else arrived but this possibility of knowing anything about a Christ spirit at all had not the Christ come to them through the Mystery of Golgotha, had not Christ descended to earth.

In the historic moment of time when man was no longer able to see Christ in the cosmos, Christ came down to earth and united Himself with Jesus. From then it has been man's task to apprehend the Christ within man. We have to save the possibility of recognising the Christ by what seeps through here (see right of diagram 8). For Christ descended to mankind; Jesus is a man in whom lived the Christ. Real knowledge of the human self must bear the seed of Jesus — through which man will be able to move on into the future. There is deep meaning when we speak of a Christ-Jesus. For the Christ corresponds with what is cosmic; but what is thus cosmic has come down to earth and has dwelt in the Jesus. And Jesus corresponds with what is of the earth, with the whole of the future of the earth. (see From Jesus to Christ)

If there is a desire for man to be cut off from the spiritual he will also be severed from the Christ. And then the possibility arises to make use of the Jesus in such a way that the earthly aspect of the earth alone remains. You will therefore find in the Christology of the Jesuits a continual fight, a strong emphasis on there being a host, an army to fight for Jesus. Yes, indeed it is natural that Spiritual Science should be the means for making these things known, and for removing the scales from men's eyes! For this reason some who wish to remain unknown become increasingly angry about the aims of Spiritual Science; one sees this growing anger — the July number of the Jesuits publication Voices of the Times contains not only one article against me but two at the same time. And those who can put this in connection with what is now developing elsewhere among the Jesuits will be able to see something deeper in all this.

Today, however, one speaks of these things unfortunately to men who are asleep. Where the most important things are concerned men like to sleep through them and to close their ears to what is now actually determining the future. As I said the day before yesterday, everything will come upon men as a surprise. They will have it thus. When at the earliest possible moment one speaks of the things lying in the womb of time, men look upon it as something upsetting. For they are worthy members of the bourgeoisie who would like, as long as they can, to sit comfortably in their easy chairs, even if they have responsibilities as leaders of their fellow men. Those, however, who are interested in Spiritual Science should have it engraved on their souls that everything will be done to make Spiritual Science ineffective. Above all, it is not good when we within our circle are too fast asleep where what is going on in the world is concerned.

Sometimes it is hard to see all that is particularly important and essential at the present time, namely, watching the way in which the great affairs of mankind are gradually developing. You see, my dear friends, what starts great impulses of will really comes from various sources which are to be taken seriously. Such an impulse as the one I have referred to, for example, is indeed to be taken in a certain more serious sense. We must be able to give it its right value. Naturally in this connection we need not take those nice little attacks seriously that are constantly rising up from what is sub-earthly in our Society, attacks that look rather bad simply because there is so frequently a noticeable tendency for people to sympathise greatly with those who seek maliciously to slander what is striven for earnestly in our midst. When the harm is actually done gradually people decide to open their eyes; up to now several people have been made much of who afterwards caused harm.

I am not saying this because I think this or that ought to be different, but because I really feel it my duty to draw attention, my dear friends, to the necessity for men to wake up, and above all of the necessity for joining those who are striving for the truth.

In certain spheres today we can do everything within out power. But what I refer to as man's sleep which can be overcome only by his penetrating into the spiritual world, this sleep of man is extraordinarily difficult to surmount. And in connection with spreading the knowledge of Spiritual Science this sleep can be as great an obstacle as an opponent. I will not dwell on any particular instance of this, but in all our culture at present there is something of a sleepy nature about the very impulses everywhere sprouting above men's heads. Two things are necessary, my dear friends, two things that like golden rules must be engraved upon our souls.

Never was there more necessity than in our fifth post-Atlantean epoch for men to exert themselves more and more to attain what is of particular value, namely, the understanding of what is known as Spiritual Science. For there is no doubt that there are men able to do this. It is certainly a necessity for the knowledge of Spiritual Science to be sought by seeing into the spiritual world clairvoyantly. It goes without saying that there must be clairvoyants to penetrate into the spiritual world, that there must be those who strive after supersensible knowledge. This is, first, something obvious and, secondly, something that is not so important as for people to find the intellectual power to understand the matter, where the knowledge of Spiritual Science, is concerned. Today it is particularly necessary to have a reasoning, intellectual grasp of Spiritual Science, for it is this by which the opposing cultural powers can be overcome. Man's intellect today is so great that if the desire is only there the whole of Spiritual Science can be understood. And to strive for just this understanding is not an egoistic cultural interest but one that is universal and human. For this understanding can be our goal when those intellectual forces applied today in scientific spheres on all kinds of pedantry, when those intellectual forces applied so fruitlessly in the modern economic sphere and, finally, those forces used in soul-destroying technics — when all these forces will be suitably applied and men are no longer misguided from their earliest childhood. Then will be seen how easily spiritual gifts of the spirit can be brought to the understanding of the human being! This is one side.

The other golden rule is this — that we men today need some tiling more in our culture for the gifts of the spirit to become fruitful. The first is something that must be wrested from Ahriman. Men today are very clever, Ahriman sees to it that men should be clever — oh, men are clever! But they apply their cleverness only to what is of material interest. Men are not merely clever, they are more than clever. We shall speak more of this in our next lectures for you to recognise what an enormous influence this ahrimanic element has at the present time upon human super-cleverness, but there is something else necessary. There is much still to be wrested from another spirit. We do not need only cleverness with which to permeate our gifts of the spirit, but above all we need most urgently — how shall I express it? — we need in the human soul receiving these gifts of the spirit, feeling, enthusiasm, fire, warmth. We have need of men who approach what they receive from the spirit with their whole undivided soul. In the spiritual sphere this is just what must be wrested from the luciferic forces which are so active in the world in other ways!

There is a lovely vista, my dear friends, it is a picture of someone who quietly, clearly accepting knowledge of the spirit can produce within himself, because it is a necessity for him, a glow of inner fire and enthusiasm. There is another picture — this is one of seeking to receive spiritual knowledge as if it were a lullaby to make us dreamy, to let warmth pour into us, to enable us to go out into universal forces and unite ourselves with the divine all. These are contrasting pictures which present-day man may do well to contemplate, which it is necessary for him to contemplate. For it will not be easy for us to incorporate into human culture what we receive from the spirit. And it must be incorporated, for man has need of it.

Man will not only have to learn to think very differently, he will also have to learn to feel and experience in quite another way!

I might, it is true, add a great deal more to what I have just been saying, but perhaps it will better to stop now, to give you the chance for reflection. There is much that can be reflected upon in what has been suggested by certain malicious incidents I have intentionally introduced into the truths that have just been spoken.


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