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Spiritual Science, a Necessity for the Present Time

The Relation of Man to his Folk Soul

Lecture by
Dr. Rudolf Steiner
Nuremberg, March 13, 1915
GA 159

This lecture was given at Nuremberg in March of 1915, and is included in Volume 159 of the Bibliographic Survey, 1961. It is lecture 5 of 15 from the lecture series: The Secret of Death, published in German as, Das Geheimnis des Todes. Wesen und Bedeutung Mitteleuropas und die europaeischen Volksgeister. Also known as, The Relation of Man to his Folk Soul, it has been translated from notes unrevised by the lecturer, by an unknown translator.

This lecture has been authorized for the Western hemisphere, and published here by kind permission of the Rudolf Steiner Nachlassverwaltung, Dornach, Switzerland.

Copyright © 1948
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Anthroposophic News Sheet

PUBLISHED BY THE GENERAL ANTHROPOSOPHIC SOCIETY, DORNACH, SWITZERLAND
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16th vol. No. 49/50 12th of December, 1948.

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Spiritual Science,
a Necessity for the Present Time

Lecture by Dr. R u d o l f   S t e i n e r
Given at Nuremberg on the 13th of March 1915.

My dear Friends,

If spiritual science is to be, as it can be, a life-draught for our souls, it must prove to be strong and also suited for times as important as our present epoch, in which so many things are taking place which widen the soul-spiritual vision of those who have dedicated themselves to spiritual science. This enables us to see events in a clearer light than our contemporaries, for their outlook is frequently — I repeat, frequently — kept within narrow limits by materialism. All that has been cultivated for so many years in our spiritual-scientific movement shows us that one of our goals is to increase the soul's life of feeling, so that we become emancipated from mere thought, thus transcending the narrower limits of our own being and its environment; we may then envisage to some extent the great impulses, the great manifestations of forces which pervade the whole development of mankind on earth. When we have thus striven to increase, as it were, the tension of our feelings, then the forces acquired through spiritual science should enable us to see something of all that remains externally invisible in the events, and still more, all that the ordinary intellect is unable to see. This is above all necessary in the present time with its tempestuous waves beating so painfully against our soul, but raising it, on the other hand, to special heights, just because they conceal so many significant things. We should be able to face above all the following question: Is there a prophetic meaning in the terrible torch of war burning above our heads, does this have a prophetic meaning for the whole development of the earth?

Only those who look upon these events in a light as significant as possible can face them in the right way. Some of our friends may often have asked themselves why we have in recent years spoken in these circles of times to which we must look ahead with special attention, times which will break in upon us daring the 20th century. The children and grand children of those who are now living will have to pass through great and important and at the same time tragic and painful events, and those who are now entrusted with the task of giving the souls of these children and grandchildren forces which enable them to hold out in the midst of the events which will befall mankind in the 20th century must realise that a strong inner spiritual force must be given to these children. In the 20th century our descendants will need strong inner forces as a support for their souls, to a far greater extent than can be imagined in the ordinary life of to-day, so that they may take along with them the treasures of mankind which have been accumulated throughout the centuries of human development. And other storms will also have to be experienced by the descendants of the present inhabitants of the earth! I have said that people may wonder why we speak of such things among ourselves, but now they will more easily have a feeling for such things because we are living in the midst of the greatest and most terrible war-events which have ever occurred in the historical course of development upon the earth, in the course of history of which mankind is conscious.

Indeed, it would be quite wrong, my dear friends, not to pervade ourselves as intensely and strongly as possible with the significance of the present moment and not to envisage the question: What has spiritual knowledge — the object of our soul's deepest longing — what has spiritual knowledge to do with the events which will break in upon the development of mankind? Even when considering things quite superficially, is it possible to ignore the storm which has arisen long ago in the East and which is now threatening to break out over the modern culture and civilisation of Europe. We should at least know that very strong and powerful forces live in the womb of the East and by the way in which they now assert themselves it is already possible to see that they are forces aiming at the destruction, at the breaking up of European culture. To-day we can only have a pale idea of the full extent of this danger.

We now live in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch of culture. This is the epoch of the consciousness soul and in it live souls that have something to give to mankind. If we look back upon the Graeco-Latin epoch, we see that it is essentially, but in an entirely different form, an echo, a repetition upon a higher stage, of what once existed upon Atlantis. Although there it appeared in a different form, the fourth post Atlantean epoch of culture is a kind of repetition of Atlantis. The fifth post-Atlantean epoch of culture in which we are now living is a new form; it is something quite new which has been added to the course of development which mankind has followed so far. We are now living in the midst of this epoch.

This should not be taken as an abstract truth, as a theory, but it should be grasped with the deepest and most intense feeling of responsibility, and we should realise that a long time will have to go by in the evolution of the earth before the hearts and souls of men can bring forth all that the divine order of the world has given mankind during the fifth post-Atlantean epoch of culture. The impulse of the Mystery of Golgotha arose during the fourth epoch of culture, as the most important event in the whole development of the earth. During the fifth epoch of culture the Mystery of Golgotha will not work in the same way in which it worked during the fourth epoch. For the task of the fifth epoch of culture is to approach the Mystery of Golgotha little by little with full spiritual understanding, with all the forces which the human soul contains, not only with the religious forces based merely upon feeling, but with all the forces of the soul. Little by little all the truths and forces of knowledge which the soul can develop of its own accord will serve to grasp Christ fully, the Christ who passed through the Mystery of Golgotha, so that St. Paul's words, “Not I, but Christ in me”, will become a reality in a new way. After all, everything we develop through spiritual science prepares us to grasp the true essence of Christ with all the soul's inner forces of knowledge. This is a significant, important task of the fifth post-Atlantean epoch of culture.

Let us now try to penetrate somewhat into the meaning of these words. If this is the task of the fifth epoch of culture, let us first bring before our souls the way in which the Christ-Impulse has influenced mankind since the Mystery of Golgotha. If its influence were limited to what people have grasped in connection with the Mystery of Golgotha throughout the centuries which have elapsed since that time, the Christ-Impulse could only have exercised a weak influence upon men. Yet the Christ-Impulse does not only appeal in an intellectual way to human reason or to an understanding based on feeling, but it is a real impulse. The Christ-Impulse streams with living strength into the course of history itself. The Mystery of Golgotha, the external symbol of which is the blood that flowed on Golgotha, is a living force streaming into the history of mankind.


Let us take a historical event in order to understand how the Christ-Impulse worked in man before he was able to grasp it; let us try to understand how it worked, as a living, driving force in the evolution of mankind. The fifth epoch of culture is called upon to bring into human consciousness the whole inner nature and essence of the Christ-Impulse; but this Impulse already worked as a living force in the sub-conscious soul-forces of man before it could rise to full consciousness in him. And a historical character who picked out, I might say, the Christ-Impulse and brought about through it important events in history is, for example, the Maid of Orleans. But other characters might also be taken as an example. When we trace back the history of Europe to the event connected with the personality of the Maid of Orleans we must say, even if we only consider the external course of history: What the Maid of Orleans did, when she rose up from the heart of the French nation and vanquished the English forces — for she actually achieved this — really implied that the map of Europe took on the aspect which it afterwards gradually assumed. Any other concept of history relating to the past centuries, in so far as it refers to the European distribution of nations and states, is an invention that does not take into account the fact that the Christ-Impulse lived in the Maid of Orleans that a living Impulse brought about the distribution of the European nations and national forces.

One might say that while the learned people disputed over many things — for example, they already began to dispute on the question as to whether the Holy Supper should be eaten in this or in that form, and whether this or that should be interpreted by this or that formula, — while the learned people showed that their understanding, their conscious understanding could not the Christ-Impulse, this impulse worked through the medium of a simple country maid, through the Maid of Orleans; it worked in such a way as to mould and shape the history of Europe. The influence of the Christ-Impulse does not depend on the comprehension we have for it. I might say that the Christ-Impulse penetrated into the Maid of Orleans through Michael, its representative.

For this purpose the Maid of Orleans had to pass through a kind of initiation. To-day we speak of initiation, and in addition we give to human consciousness the rules collected in my book, “Knowledge of the Higher Worlds”. Of course, one cannot speak of such an initiation in the case of the Maid of Orleans. In her case we can only speak of an initiation which is a remnant of old initiations that took place more in man's sub-conscious soul-forces. These old initiations continued to exist up to the present time almost like elemental forces, and many things described in old legends and fairy-tales, for example that some people passed through experiences which roused their inner soul-forces so that they could perceive certain things connected with the spiritual world, indicate that independently of man, and through the influence of divine-spiritual forces which pervade the world, certain people are, I might say, predisposed by Karma to be natural initiates, thanks to the place given to them by the general Karma of humanity, where their own Karma flows together with the Karma of humanity.

A very beautiful echo of such a natural initiation, as one might call it, is contained in a Norwegian poem that speaks of Olaf Asteson, “the Son of the Sun”, who lived in a kind of sleep during the thirteen nights and days between Christmas Eve and January 6th, the festival of Christ's appearance. Olaf Asteson's very name indicates that he possessed unconscious hereditary forces of knowledge, for its real meaning The man in whose veins flows the blood of his ancestors. The Son of the Sun, Olaf Asteson, sleeps and dreams through the thirteen nights which are the darkest of the year's course on earth and which go from the day of Christ's birth to the day of Epiphany on January 6th.

These old legends dealing with the thirteen holy nights are not based on superstition. For it is indeed a fact that there are two seasons of the year which are cosmically like opposite poles in relation to the soul-life of man living in his physical body. The festival around St. John's day, which, is celebrated in the summer, is specially suited to draw out into the cosmos, through the forces of the sun which then reach their greatest strength, all the passionate impulses of the human soul, so that it becomes united with the cosmos: In ancient times, when people forgot themselves and lost themselves in the strong physical forces outside in the cosmos, the festival of St. John was called upon to pour into the human souls the divine-spiritual forces surging through the cosmos. But the spiritual forces which are also active in the darkness unfold their greatest strength in the middle of the winter, when the sun's forces reach the lowest point of their physical unfolding. And one may rightly say that it is in accordance with cosmic laws that the festival of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth should be celebrated in the winter season. When the external physical world is darkest of all, then the soul that unites with the forces spiritually pervading the aura of the earth, may have the strongest experiences. It is during these days that Olaf Asteson sleeps and sleeps and experiences everything connected with what we call Kamaloka, also what we designate as the Soul-World, and finally what we call the Spirit-land. The Norwegian legend relates that when Olaf Asteson woke up again after thirteen nights, he could describe what he had experienced and what souls he had met in the Soul-world and in the Spirit-land. These are pictures corresponding to an imaginative knowledge, but they indicate living realities which are accessible to human souls when they transcend the body during these days of physical darkness, which are, however, days of spiritual enlightenment, — when the human soul lives in forces that surge and weave through the aura of the earth. And the end of the legend describes the forces of the Christ-Impulse which strongly take hold of Olaf Asteson, but of his sub-conscious understanding.

These legends speak, as it were, of natural initiations which could still be attained in ancient times; they speak of the spiritual world into which one could still look in the darkest season of the year. The earth's aura then truly acquires forces which it does not have when it is flooded and illuminated by the physical forces of the sun. And because Christ is united with the aura of the earth ever since the Mystery of Golgotha, also the forces of the Christ-Impulse can in those days particularly influence human souls, if only they are open to receive them.

I might therefore say that before investigating anything historically, one should take for granted that the Christ-Impulse must have worked subconsciously for thirteen days also in the soul of a character such as the Maid of Orleans; she too must have experienced, as it were, what Olaf Asteson experienced in a sleeping condition during those thirteen days and nights; her sub-conscious soul-forces must, as it were, have been enlightened by the Christ-Impulse. In that case, the Maid of Orleans must once have been in a kind of sleeping condition during the thirteen days which lie between December 25th and January 6th, and on January 6th the Christ-Impulse must have taken hold of her soul, after a sleep-like state of existence.

What we may thus take for granted, really exists in a strange way, but during a special period, when the human being lives in a kind of sleep. Before he draws his first breath in earthly life, before he leaves his mother's body and is able to receive the first earthly-physical ray of light, he passes through a state of development which is really a sleeping state of experience. When we are within our mother's body, we live in a dreamlike sleep, a state of existence into which we enter at night when we fall asleep, and the last days of existence within our mother's body are those which are, so to speak, most accessible to the unconscious influences coming from the spiritual world.

In the Maid of Orleans these must have been the days chosen to implant the Christ-Impulse into her being, the days before she opened her physical eyes to the physical sunlight and before she drew her first breath outside her mother's body. This was indeed the case, for the Maid of Orleans was born on January 6th. On that day something occurred which caused a stir in her whole village; there was something undefined in its aura. This is a historical fact. The villagers did not know what had happened; they did not know that the Maid of Orleans had been born.

A great deal lies concealed in such facts. Only when these mysterious things are seen in their true light will it be possible to understand what is really taking place below the surface of the external physical world. The divine forces seek many different ways of entering human souls. Of course, the Karma of the Maid of Orleans had to be suited to these events. Because her Karma brought about the fact that she was born on January 6th, it provided the historical basis which enabled the Christ-Impulse to influence history in a special way through the Maid of Orleans. This fact gave Europe a completely new form.

When history is studied with a little more understanding it is possible to investigate such happenings. A spiritual way of looking at the world will in future enable us to refer to such facts, for by that time the fifth post-Atlantean epoch of culture will really have extracted from human souls all their latent forces of knowledge. Human souls will then experience more and more consciously the existence of the Christ-Impulse, but only if mankind will cease to look upon spiritual science as an abstract theory and will instead feel it livingly, experience it inwardly. Spiritual science will then be able to fulfill its true mission in the development of humanity.

We must be conscious, especially in a time such as the present one, that it is necessary to bridge the chasm between the human souls living here on earth in a physical body and those that have already gone through the portal of death. In a materialistic age this chasm widens. We shall more and more learn to consider as part of mankind as a whole not only the souls that live in a physical existence between birth and death, but also the souls that live between death and a new birth. The consciousness that throughout the earth's round we are united, also united with the souls that have passed on before us into the super-sensible worlds and that these souls are working in our midst, only with different forces than those of the souls still living in physical bodies, — this consciousness will gradually grow and become more intensive. It calls for an understanding of spiritually active forces and that we should learn to consider earthly phenomena in the new light which spiritual science alone can shed upon them.

Because spiritual science, my dear friends, should be something that stirs our hearts while our souls advance in knowledge, I want to speak to you of a recent occurrence here in Dornach throwing light upon the path which at the same time leads to many things that have occupied us during these last weeks and that belong to the wider compass of our spiritual-scientific stream of knowledge. I might also choose other cases, but the following are so immediately connected with our Karma that I am again able to speak of them to-day. What I shall tell you now, may then be extended also to other souls inside and outside our spiritual-scientific movement and related to it by destiny and by the way in which death occurred in it.

Last autumn we experienced a deeply moving case here in Dornach, in the surroundings of our Building. Dear friends had moved to Dornach with their children and had settled down as gardeners near the Building. Their eldest child, a boy of seven, spiritually wide-awake and with unique heart-qualities, was a veritable Sun-child. One felt deeply attracted by the child's soul, even if one only met the boy, now and then, for brief moments. When his father had to enlist, to do his duty on the battlefield as a German citizen, the boy of seven stood, I might say, whole-heartedly in the midst of this situation and he made a special effort to replace his father as best as he could by helping his mother with all kinds of small services. He went to town by train and did the shopping quite alone, although he was only seven. One evening he did not come home. There was a lecture that evening. At about ten o'clock a friend came along and told us that the boy was missing. There was no doubt that his disappearance had to be connected with a furniture-van which had overturned. This had happened near the Building, at a place where no van had ever passed before and where no van was likely to pass again for a long time. It had fallen down a small slope and capsized in the adjoining field. The drivers had given up the attempt of lifting it that same evening and had left the van there, after unharnessing the horses, for which they were very anxious. They wanted to lift the heavy van the next day, for they were sure that it would imply a whole day's work. It was now ten p.m. The child's disappearance had to be connected with that furniture-van. All kinds of tools were fetched and everyone able to work helped. In two hours the van was standing. At midnight the boy was discovered under the van — dead.

If we consider the external facts and the whole sequence of events leading up to the circumstance that the boy, who always came home by a way which would have led him past the right side of the furniture-van, on that day choose a path which led him past its left side at the very moment when the van capsized on top of him, if we consider moreover that on the way home he was held up in a friendly way by people, so that he was a quarter of an hour late (he had gone to the so-called Canteen, to fetch something for supper) — if we bear in mind that in this accident it was a question of just a few minutes which caused the boy to be on that spot at the very moment when the van capsized and that no one had noticed the accident (people were standing not far off, and although they had seen the van toppling over, no one had seen the boy) — the external facts as such will appear to us as an outstanding example of how easily we may fall a prey to a logical illusion. I have often spoken to you about this and shown you how easily we may delude ourselves in external life and mix up cause and effect. Once I described to you the following case: In the distance you see a man walking along the bank of a river. Suddenly you see him swaying and falling into the water. Soon after he is drawn out dead. The external circumstances could justify the assumption that he fell into the river and was drowned. And you will remain by this verdict if you do not investigate things further. But in the above case you could change your view simply by drawing in an external aid, although you were strengthened in it by the fact that a stone was found on the spot where the man fell into the water. But on dissecting the corpse it will appear that the man had had a stroke; consequently he had fallen into the river because he was dead; he did not die because he had fallen into the river. Here cause and effect are reversed. People with insight into such things will frequently come across such illusions — particularly in the scientific field.

In regard to the boy's death we must therefore say: The boy's Karma had ordered the van to be there; it was his Karma that had brought it to that spot. It is wrong to think that this was accidental. For in his present incarnation the boy was not to live beyond his seventh year of age. I might say that everything was arranged accordingly. We must get accustomed to see cause and effect differently than is ordinarily the case. When we look clairvoyantly upon the boy's life, upon the life of his soul, we discover a significant fact which moves us deeply, but at the same time it can throw light upon the divine-spiritual mysteries of the universe. Soon after the boy's death, the whole aura of the Dornach Building changed. In telling you this I am relating [to] you something connected with my own experience. When one has to work for the Dornach Building of the Anthroposophical Society, when one has to arrange what should take place within it, then one knows how much one owes to the helping forces that stream into one's soul from such an aura. After the boy's death, his still unused etheric body became united, really united with the aura of the Goetheanum Building. For the etheric body is something that man discards. The individuality consisting of the Ego and of the astral body continues — this is something quite different — but the etheric body put aside at such a tender age contains forces which might have sustained the physical body and physical life for many decades. These forces have gone through the portal of death unused. After a few days they are discarded. These very forces are now active in the aura of the Building and work with it. Consequently we cannot say that the soul of this individuality works in the aura, but only his unused etheric body. Nothing is lost, even in the spiritual world. That no physical forces are ever dispersed is a fact well known to physicists; these forces only undergo a change. Also in the spiritual world we must look for transformed forces; they are the unused etheric forces of men that have died young and these forces rise up to the spiritual world. We approach such things by studying concrete examples. It is for this reason that I am describing them to you. [The description of the other concrete cases is contained in “Rudolf Steiner und unsere Toten”. They are too intimate for publication in the News Sheet.]

You see, the essential thing is not only to absorb thoughts and ideas concerning the spiritual worlds, but we should learn a certain way of living and penetrate into it. As human beings of the 5th post-Atlantean epoch of culture we should envisage the 6th and 7th epochs. It is essential to bridge the abyss separating the living from the so-called dead; it is essential that mankind should become more and more united, not only when men are incarnated in a physical body, but also when they take on forms of existence through which they have to pass between death and a new birth. Spiritual science exists not only for the purpose of bringing new possibilities to mankind, but in the life which awaits the earth for the remainder of its post-Atlantean development spiritual science is a first, I might say, stammering, attempt: all that spiritual science is now able to give, is really a stammering, when compared with everything that future human races will experience through spiritual science.

With this description, attempting to convey through the heart's forces certain ideas on the conditions of life and death, I want to point out to you an element of spiritual science which considers life itself, so that an understanding which is not that of the head may rise up within you, the understanding of the heart. This we should seek in a living way through spiritual-scientific immersion, for this kind of understanding is the task of the 5th post-Atlantean epoch of culture. It will be followed by the 6th and 7th epochs. But we fully grasp all that the Central-European civilisation must uphold, when we feel that the civilisation of Central Europe above all, is intimately connected with the goals that must be reached during the 5th epoch of culture. This may lead to something which I have mentioned at the beginning of to-day's lecture: to a deepened insight into things which lie concealed within our times so heavily fraught with destiny.

In the East, a soul-life is preparing which will be very significant in the future. In this connection, read what I have explained in the lectures I once gave at Christiania on the mission of the Folk-souls. The soul-character of the inhabitants of Eastern Europe is fundamentally different from that of Central Europe, not to mention that of the distant Orient. It is fundamentally different. All that spiritual science means to us should enable us to have an open spiritual eye for such things. We have often heard the legend that the Russian-Slav populations called in the Varangians and said to them: “We have a fine country, but no order. Come and make order for tip, Arrange a kind of government for us.” This, tale, born out of feeling and relating to the origins of Russian history, is a legend without any historical background, for these events have never occurred. In reality, the Varangians went out as conquerors and were never invited by the Russians! Yet these legends in history have a meaning far deeper than any historical reality behind them, — they have a prophetic meaning, a truly prophetic meaning, for they indicate something that has not yet occurred, but that will occur in the future. What will unfold in the East, will have to unfold in such a way that the capacities, of the Easterners will be used to absorb what has been developed in the civilisation of the West and to elaborate it further, so that the gifts existing in the East may be fructified by what has been produced in the West. This will one day be the task of the Eastern populations. We may, as it were, briefly characterize the nature of, the Russians of Eastern Europe by saying: If we consider the Russians, not that hypocritical community which now governs it, but the people, we must realise that the Russian soul contains a whole store of gifts; it is, so to speak, gifted in every direction, but just when it unfolds its mission within the development of the world and of mankind it will appear that within it lives something which may be called talent without any productive force. These talents will grow and increase more and more. But what preeminently characterizes the Central-European, the spiritual forces that pervade his gifts and the mood of “Constantly striving”, of living, as it were, intimately united with the Spirit of his nation, the striving to grasp what he produces — a striving that appears so, sublimely in Fichte's philosophy, where he speaks of the Ego that must constantly create itself in order to understand itself (indeed, future epochs will grasp the greatness of Fichte's philosophy!): — these very qualities which characterize Central Europe are the very opposite of what exists in Russia, in the East of Europe. The Russian souls are absolutely receptive; their greatest gift consists in absorbing things, but if anyone says that they are productive, this is an illusion. They are called upon to develop gifts which have no productive force. This idea is difficult in itself, because such things have never existed in human development, yet they must gradually unfold. In future the East will call out to the West: We have a beautiful country, but no order, (disorder will increase), come and make order. — Central Europe is called upon to bring to the East the productiveness of the Spirit. And what is happening now is an unreasonable rebellion against things which must take place in [the] future. People try to tread down things which must be reached, for in future they will say: Come to us and bring us order! In the history of mankind's development we find that what we most long for and strive after, is the very thing we reject most strongly.

The greatest misfortune that could befall us is that Russia, the East, should win in this process. It would be the greatest misfortune, not only for Central Europe, but, for Russia itself — the very greatest misfortune from an inner standpoint, because this victory would have to be reverted. Its effects could not remain. We are thus facing a tragic moment in the history of mankind's development, when the East will rebel against something which in future it will long for with all its might. For it would be doomed to decay if it refused to be fructified by the spiritual life of the peoples living on its western boundary. In the further course of civilisation the West must produce a living spiritual life, not only in the form of idealism, but a 1iving spiritual life. It will be like a spiritual sun moving from West to East, in the opposite direction of the sun's ordinary course. And in the external world the Russians will more and more realise how little they are able to do through their own forces and that they must really set themselves into the whole process of human development; also that they would commit the greatest sin by laying hands on the civilisation of the West, of the peoples of western Europe. Indeed, we may see strange, foreboding flashes of light! Did not something rise up in the East which would have been impossible in the West, the so-called, “Barefooted” world-conception, This is a kind of philosophy going out from the Barefooted Brothers, which quickly spread and took hold of many circles, although a few years ago it did not exist at all. The conception of the Barefooted! It is a conception adopted by men who make a philosophy out of their own absolute lack of faith in man, and humanity, who think that man is nothing but a poor wretch wandering about between birth and death, wandering in terror — hint pain, so that the words, freedom, brotherliness, compassion, pity, love, are empty phrases. Their only wisdom consists in roaming through the world as barefooted pilgrims who look upon the whole civilisation as a great illusion — the whole foul civilisation of western Europe, to use the words of these barefooted pilgrims — who only see the World in the ragged clothes, the stuffy room and the wide road — the world through which man roams when he has reached world-conception of the Barefooted Brothers. Indeed, it affects us, strangely when a poet gives to this “barefooted” conception in significant words spoken by one of his characters, it must affect us strangely, inasmuch as our Central-European world-conception always makes us strive to discover something which may kindle for mankind the light of the future. How does it affect us when a poet lets, one of his characters utter words that appear to sum up the world-conception and the philosophy of the Barefooted Brothers?

“Indeed, what can man mean to you? — He takes you by the scruff of the neck, he squashes you like a flea with his finger-nail! Pity him if you can! Show him how foolish you are! In return for your pity he will torture you, wind your intestines round his hand, tear every vein out of your body, an inch an hour. You fool ... pity? Pray God that they may whip you pitilessly, and there's an end to it! Pity? ... Fie!”

Gorki, of whom you will already have heard many things, comments these, words with: “Cruel, but true”, by rendering not only the world-conception of a poet in a poet's words, but his own world-conception, resulting from his own observation of the world. This is the conception of a Barefooted Brother, and it may be discussed like, any other world-conception. Yet it is one that has lost the possibility of transcending itself, of reaching something greater than itself and of sending light into life; before it can fulfill its mission in the evolution of mankind, it will have to wait until it is fructified by the light. At present, however, it is rebelling against the very things it should accomplish. Many empty words have been uttered in the world, but one of the most tragic experiences I can relate is connected with the phrases uttered by the different political parties at the war-assembly of the Russian Duma in August 1914; they surpass everything in emptiness! Such empty words can only be uttered when every living productive force of the soul is exhausted. The East is really standing upon the threshold of things to come, and it is now unfolding forces which are opposed to, those which will one day be the source of its greatness. And we in Central Europe must say to ourselves: In spite of all, the East is waiting; for the spiritual wisdom which must rise up from Central Europe.

My dear friends, try to transform into feeling what I have indicated in words fraught with heavy feelings. I have shown you what spiritual science may become if we intensify feeling and penetrate with it into spiritual science, in order to grasp the true necessity, indeed the historical necessity of a spiritual-scientific world-conception. We shall then be pervaded by thoughts filled with understanding, that rise up from our souls into the world's spaces, thoughts that will meet the forces which will soon send down their influences from the spiritual worlds, when peace will once more reign over the earthly spheres.

To-day I have shown you the influence of the etheric bodies which sever themselves from the human souls before their forces have been used up, of etheric bodies that might still have worked for many years and decades within physical bodies here on earth, and on behalf of physical life. We cannot help thinking of the many unused parts of etheric bodies rising up to the spiritual world, in addition to all other influences rising up from the individualities of men passing through the portal of death on the battlefields. These etheric bodies will form a great complex of forces, of spiritual forces, that will cooperate from spiritual regions in the formation of a spiritual world-conception which will gradually take hold of mankind. But in order that the forces proceeding from the unused etheric bodies may send flown their influence from spiritual spheres, they mum be net by the thoughts of human beings on earth, by thoughts filled with understanding for the secret working of the spiritual world which is interwoven with the forces of these unused etheric, bodies. This should be a real encouragement inducing us to fill ourselves with the great truths of spiritual science. For they will stimulate within us thoughts which will go on working in other people. The burdensome, fateful content of the life now unfolding within and around us will be followed by days of peace, when the truths which we have implanted into our souls through spiritual science will rise up before us and meet the forces gathered by the etheric forces of those who have passed through the portal of death upon the battlefields of present-day events, forces which stream down to the earth. And the result; will be something which I want to recapitulate in a few words, a result that reveals itself to spiritual, scientific research. If the fruits of spiritual science can be rightly included in the development of the times, the result will be something I want to express in the following words:

Aus dem Mut der Kämpfer,
Aus dem Blut der Schlachten,
Aus dem Leid Verlass'ner,
Aus des Volkes Opfertaten,
Wird erwachsen Geistesfrucht —
Lenken Seelen geistbewußt
Ihren Sinn ins Geisterreich.

(From the courage of the, fighters,
From the blood of the battles,
From the grief of the abandoned,
From the nation's deeds of sacrifice,
Shall spring forth a fruit of the Spirit,
If souls, spirit-consciously
Direct their mind and soul towards the Spirit-realm.)




Last Modified: 17-Oct-2018
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