27th June, 1916
GA 169: 4 of 7
WHEN WE look at the world around us as our senses and intellect perceive
it, we have something we may call, metaphorically speaking, a great
cosmic edifice. We form concepts, ideas, and images of what it is like
and what goes on in it. What happens in this cosmic edifice, even down
to the details, affects us so that we develop certain sympathies or
antipathies for this or that, and these then are expressed in our feeling
life. Prompted by our will we do this or that, and thus intervene in
the processes going on in this cosmic edifice.
At first, people think that this building
of the cosmos consists of separate parts, and so they study these parts
and find them made up of still smaller parts, which they then examine,
and so on. Finally, scientists arrive at what they call the smallest
parts, the molecules and atoms. As I told you, nobody has ever seen
these molecules and atoms; they are hypothetical — in a certain
sense the hypothesis of their existence is justified, as long as we
keep in mind that it is only a hypothesis. In short, we are to some
extent justified in thinking that the cosmic building consists of parts
or members, and there is nothing wrong with trying to get a clear picture
of these. However, the people who give rein to their fantasy in thinking
about the atom and who perhaps even talk about the life of the atom,
or have still wilder notions about it — well, they are simply
speaking about the nothing of a nothing, for the atom itself is merely
hypothetical. To build a hypothesis upon other hypotheses is nothing
else but building a house of cards; not even that, for in a house of
cards we have at least the cards, but in speculations about the atom,
we have nothing.
Based on the insights to be gained from spiritual
science, people should admit that if they want to see more of the cosmic
edifice than our senses perceive, they must arrive at a different perspective.
They must come to a way of thinking that is as different from our thinking
in everyday life (which is also that of ordinary science) as our usual,
everyday way of thinking is from dreams. We dream in pictures, and we
can have a whole world in these pictures of ours. Then we wake up and
are no longer confronted with the pictures of our dreams but with realities
that impinge upon us, that push and tug at us, demanding attention.
We know this from life itself, not on the basis of a theory, for no
theory can enable us to distinguish between dreams and so-called everyday
reality. Only our direct experience of life can teach us this.
Now, it is also true that we can wake up
from everyday life experiences, which we may call by analogy “a
dream life,” to a higher reality, the reality of the spirit. And
again, it is only on the basis of life itself that we can distinguish
between this higher spiritual reality and that of everyday life.
Now, what we see when we enter this world
can be described with the following image — of course, one could
use many different analogies to show the relationship between spiritual
reality and ordinary reality, but I want to use a special image for
this today. Let's imagine we are looking at a house built out of bricks.
At first glance, the house appears to be composed of individual bricks.
Of course, in the case of a house we can't go beyond the individual
brick. However, let's assume the house doesn't consist of just ordinary
bricks but of ones that are in turn extraordinarily artful constructions.
Nevertheless, on first seeing the house we would only see the bricks,
without having any idea that each brick in turn is a small work of art,
so to speak. That is what happens in the case of the cosmic edifice.
We need only take one part of this cosmic
edifice, the most complete one, let's say, the human being. Just think,
as a part of this cosmic edifice, the human being seems to us to consist
of parts: head, limbs, sense organs, and so on. We have tried over time
to understand each part in its relation to the spiritual world. Remember,
just recently I told you that the shape of our head can be traced to
our previous earthly incarnation. The rest of our body, on the other
hand, belongs to this incarnation and bears within it the rudiments
of the head for the next life on earth.
I also spoke about the twelve senses and
connected them with the twelve forces corresponding to the twelve signs
of the zodiac. We said that microcosmically we bear within us the macrocosm
with its forces working into us primarily from the twelve signs of the
zodiac. Each of these forces is different: the forces of Aries differ
from those of Taurus, which in turn differ from those of Gemini, and
so on. Similarly, our eyes perceive different things than our ears.
The twelve senses thus correspond to the twelve signs of the zodiac,
but there is more to it than that.
We know that the rudiments of our sense organs
were developed already on old Saturn, then evolved further during the
old Sun and the old Moon periods up to the time of our earth. During
our earth period, we have become self-enclosed beings with completely
developed sense organs. In the Moon, Sun, and Saturn periods, human
beings were much more open to the great cosmos, and the forces of the
twelve signs of the zodiac affected the essential core of the human
being. While the rudiments of our sense organs were being formed, they
were affected by the forces of the zodiac. Thus, when we speak of the
connection between the senses and the signs of the zodiac, we mean more
than a mere correspondence. We seek those forces that have built our
sense organs into us. We do not speak superficially of some vague kind
of correspondence between the ego-sense and Aries or between the other
senses and this or that sign of the zodiac.
We speak about this correspondence because
during the earlier periods of our earthly planet the senses of the human
being were not yet developed to the point of being enclosed in the organism.
It was only through the twelve forces that the sense organs were built
into our organism. We are built up out of the macrocosm, and when we
study our sense organs, we are actually studying world-embracing forces
that have worked in us over millions and millions of years, and have
produced such wonderful parts of the human organism as the eyes and
the ears. It is indeed true that we study these parts for their spiritual
content, just as we would have to study each brick in order to examine
the artistic structure of a house.
I could explain this with yet another image.
Suppose we had some kind of structure artistically built up out of layers
of paper rolls, some of them standing upright, others at an angle —
all of these arranged artistically into some kind of a structure. Now
imagine we had not just rolls of plain paper, but inside each roll a
beautiful picture had been painted. Of course, just looking at the rolled
up paper, we wouldn't see the paintings on the inside of the rolls.
And yet, the paintings are there! And they must have been painted before
the paper rolls were arranged in the artistic structure.
Now suppose it is not we who build up this
artful structure of paper rolls, but the paper rolls have to form it
by themselves. Of course, you can't imagine they could do this by themselves;
nobody can imagine it. But let's suppose because the pictures are painted
on all the paper rolls, the latter now have the power to arrange themselves
in layers. And that gives you a picture of our true cosmic edifice.
We can compare the paintings on the rolls with all that happened during
the Saturn, Sun, and Moon periods, and is woven into every individual
part of our cosmic building. These are not dead pictures, but living
forces that build up everything meant to exist on earth. And we draw
out what is artfully hidden in the structure made up of the individual
rolls of the cosmic edifice — which science describes. This is
what confronts us in our outer life. I have given much thought to finding
an analogy corresponding as closely as possible to the facts of the
matter and have come up with this image of the paper rolls with their
living, active pictures. When you think this analogy through, you will
find that when we first look at this structure, we cannot know anything
about the paintings inside the rolls. If the structure is rather artful
and ingenious, we can get an artful and ingenious description of it;
however, it will not contain a word about the paintings inside the rolls.
You see, that's how it is with the conventional
sciences. They describe this artistic structure, while ignoring completely
the paintings on the inside of each roll. Now, you may wonder if a description
of the elaborate structure of the rolls allows us to get an idea and
to really know what is inside each roll as long as the rolls are rolled
up and part of the whole structure? No, it does not! Conventional science
is completely unable to arrive at the idea that the spiritual underlies
our cosmic edifice. Therefore, simply continuing along the lines of
conventional science will not lead to an understanding of spiritual
science; something else must be added, something that has nothing to
do with ordinary science.
Now picture all these layers of rolls; we
can easily describe them and find them interesting and beautiful. Maybe
some rolls are more slanted than others; maybe some are curved, and
so on; all this can be nicely described. But in order to find out that
there is a picture inside each roll, we will have to take out one of
the paper rolls and unroll it. In other words, something special must
be added to the human soul if we are to advance from the ordinary scientific
outlook to that of the science of the spirit. The soul must be taken
hold of by something of a special nature. This is what is so difficult
to understand for our materialist culture. Yet, this must be understood
again as it was in earlier cultural epochs when a spiritual world view
permeated the physical one. In ancient times, people were always aware
that everything they had to know about the spiritual content of the
world was based on the spiritual taking hold of the soul. That is why
people back then spoke not only about science, but also about initiation
and the like.
Another analogy, one taken from the ancient
traditions of spiritual science, will make the matter completely clear
to you if you think it through. In spiritual science we speak of an
“occult reading of the world,” and rightly so. What conventional
science is doing cannot be called “reading the world.” If
you look at what is written on a page of some book or other publication
and you can't read at all, then what is written there will of course
remain completely in comprehensible to you. Still, you could describe
the handwriting; you could describe the lines, loops, and crossbars;
you could tell what the individual letters look like and how they are
combined. It will be a nice description, not unlike the one contemporary
science gives of outer physical reality or the one contemporary history
provides. However, this is not the same as reading.
Obviously, people do not learn to read by
taking a page from a book, without having any idea what it means to
read, and trying to figure out the meaning of the text from the shape
of the letters. Reading is taught in childhood. We learn to read not
by describing the shape of the letters, but because something spiritual
is conveyed to us, and we are mentally and spiritually stimulated to
read. It is the same with everything we call the higher and lower degrees
of initiation. Initiation was not based on teaching souls to describe
what was outside them, but on teaching them to read it, to decipher,
so to speak, the meaning of the world. Thus, it was with good reason
that what is spiritual in the world was called “The Word,”
for the world has to be read if it is to be understood spiritually.
And we do not learn to read by memorizing the shape of the letters but
by receiving spiritual impulses.
That is what I want to make clear through
the presentations in our circles. As you remember the themes running
through our lectures, you will see I have always tried to use images.
Today I am also using them, for it is only through images that one can
lead the way into the spiritual. As soon as images are crammed into
concepts applying only to the physical plane, they no longer contain
what they should. This confuses people because they cannot grasp what
is given in images in such a way that it is a true reality for them.
Right away, they think of the images themselves in completely materialistic
terms. When we look at more primitive cultures, we see that people then
did not have our modem concepts but thought in images and expressed
their reality in them. Even in Asian cultures, which are somewhat atavistic
because they have kept features from earlier times, you find that to
meaningfully express something profound, people always speak in images,
images that definitely have the significance of a reality.
Let us take an example where the image really
has the significance of an immediate reality, of a coarse and rough
reality, so to speak. Europeans frequently find it very hard to understand
Asians who have preserved older, atavistic ideas of reality; they often
have only a very rough understanding of Asians. There is a very beautiful
Asian novella telling the following story.
Once upon a time there was a couple, and they
had a daughter. The daughter grew up and was sent to school in the capital
because she showed special talents. On leaving school, she married a
merchant, an acquaintance of her father. She had a son and died when
the boy was four years old. The day after the mother's funeral, the
child suddenly said: “Mother has gone upstairs to the top floor,
and she must be there now!” And the whole family went upstairs.
Now we must put ourselves into the Asian soul
in order to understand what follows. I am telling you something bordering
closely on reality. Yet if a European were told by a four-year-old that
his mother, who had been buried the day before, was upstairs and if
he were then to go up with a candle to look around, he would of course
find nothing there. The whole thing would be denied. In other words,
we have to try to put ourselves into the Asian mind.
Well, the family went up there with a light
and found the mother actually standing there before a dresser and staring
at it. All the drawers were closed, and the people felt that there had
to be something in the dresser that was troubling her. They emptied
the drawers and took the items that had been in them to the temple to
store them there. In that way those things would be removed from the
world. They believed that now the soul would not return anymore; they
knew it would return only if something was still binding it to this
However, the soul returned anyway! Every evening
when the family looked upstairs, she was there. Finally, the family
went to a wise guardian of the temple; he came, said he must be left
undisturbed, and recited his sutras. And, when the “hour of the
rat” struck — in the Orient, the time between midnight and
two in the morning is called the hour of the rat — there was the
woman again, staring at a certain spot on the dresser. He asked her
if anything was there, and she gave him to understand by a gesture that
there was indeed something. He opened the first drawer but nothing was
in it, the second, nothing, the third, nothing, the fourth and still
nothing. Then it occurred to him to lift up the paper lining of the
drawers, and there between the last layer of paper and the bottom of
the drawer he found a letter. He promised to tell nobody about this
letter and to bum it in the temple. He did so, and the soul never returned
Now this oriental story actually agrees with
reality; it expresses reality. It would be very difficult to present
this matter in European concepts. Besides, the conceptions of modem
Europeans are still too coarse. They think when something is real, then
everybody must be able to see it. Europeans generally allow only for
two things; either everyone sees something, and then it is a reality,
or not everyone sees it, and then it is subjective and not objective.
Now this distinction between subjective and objective applies only to
the physical world but has no meaning in the spiritual world. There
we cannot call anything others do not see subjective but not objective.
Now you may say that such things as told in
that story also exist in Europe. Indeed, they do, but Europeans are
generally glad to say it is only fiction and is not necessarily true.
That is why it is so much easier to speak about the spiritual world
in fiction. Fiction does not lay any claim to truth. People are content
when they do not have to believe what is said in stories and the like.
However, the objection that this is after all only a novella does not
count. Europeans obviously have little understanding of Asians or they
would not say such things. What Europeans call novellas, or art, is
a most superfluous and useless game to Asians and means nothing to them.
They even make fun of our telling stories about things that do not exist.
Asians do not understand this. In what they call works of art, they
tell only about what really exists, albeit in the spiritual world. That
is the profound difference between the European and the Asian world
That Europeans write novellas about things
that do not exist is, according to the Oriental view, a highly superfluous
activity. In their view, all our art is only a rather superfluous and
useless occupation. Clearly, we have to understand the Asian art works
we possess as Imaginations of spiritual reality; otherwise we will never
understand them at all. We Europeans in turn judge Asian stories not
by Asian standards but by our own and call them fanciful and beautiful
fiction, products of the fertile, unbridled Oriental imagination.
People will gradually have to realize that
we have to speak more and more in images. Of course, if we were to speak
in pictures only, we would be going against modem European culture,
so we can't do that. But we can gradually allow ordinary thinking, applicable
only on the physical plane, to turn into thinking about the spiritual
world, and then into pictorial thinking, which develops under the influence
of the spiritual world. Natural scientists also develop a view of the
world, but if they think their view is clear and comprehensible, they
make the same mistake as we would if we claimed we could paint a portrait,
and the subject would then step out of the canvas and walk around the
In my latest book,
I move from the usual logical presentation to a pictorial one.
This has to become our general style of presentation if spiritual
science is really to become a part of Western civilization. A philosophical
treatise about the same matters would cite innumerable logical arguments,
would turn the most elaborate and artificial phrases; yet it would be
virtually dead. It would aim only at understanding the outer layering
of the rolls, not what lives as paintings on the inside of each roll.
These things become meaningful only when we apply them in our lives,
for that is how we learn to understand life. So-called logical proofs
have to be imbued with life before we can understand spiritual science
in a living way.
As you know, some people are musical and others
are not, and there is a very great difference between those who are
musical and those who are not. In terms of the soul a musical person
is quite different from an unmusical one. I do not mean this as a criticism
of unmusical people; it is simply a statement of fact. Those who look
more closely at life may perhaps not go so far as to agree with Shakespeare's
statement, “The man that hath no music in himself ... Is fit for
such treasons, stratagems and spoils ... Let no such man be trusted.”
Though we may not arrive right away at that
conclusion, there is a certain difference in the souls of musical and
Now, you may want to know why there are musical
and unmusical people. If you look for an answer in psychology, which
follows along the lines of the natural sciences, I do not think you
will find much that could cast a light on this question. If psychology
were to explain why one person is musical and another is not, if it
were to deal with such subtleties, then it would finally do some good.
However, there is yet another difference between
human beings. We find people who go through life and are, in a sense,
hardly touched by what goes on around them. Others go through life with
so open a soul that they are deeply affected by what is going on around
them. They feel deep joy over some things and suffer over others; they
feel happiness about some things and sadness about others. There are
those who are dulled to impressions and those who are sensitive and
empathize with all the world. There are people who shortly after entering
a room that is not too crowded have a certain rapport with the others,
because they can feel very quickly what the others feel by way of so-called
imponderables. On the other hand, there are individuals who come into
contact with many people but do not really get to know a single one
of them because they do not have the gift I have just described. They
judge others by what they themselves are, and when these others are
different from them, they really consider them more or less bad people.
Still, there are those who give their time
and attention to others, sharing their experiences. As a rule these
are people who can also empathize with animals, with beetles and sparrows,
who can feel joy with some events and sorrow with others. Notice how
often this happens in life, especially at a certain age; young people
are happy about all kinds of things. They are up one minute and down
the next, while other people call them stupid because, to their minds,
nothing really matters much anyway. So, there exist these two types
of people. Of course, the two qualities are sometimes more and sometimes
less developed; they are not necessarily very pronounced but are still
Now, the spiritual scientist, trying to understand
the world from his point of view, comes to the conclusion that those
people are musical in this life who empathized with everything and moved
easily from joy to sorrow and from sorrow to joy in their previous life.
This was internalized, and that is how the rhythmical flexibility of
the musical soul developed. On the other hand, people who were dulled
in their sensitivity to outer events in the preceding incarnation do
not become musical. Nevertheless, they may have other excellent qualities,
may even have been great world reformers and have influenced world history.
Imagine a person living in Rome at the time
when Michelangelo and Raphael produced their great works and not seeing
anything but immorality in the Rome of that time. Now Rome was indeed
immoral and decadent. But this individual ignored everything that was
not immoral, for instance, the art of Michelangelo and Raphael. Perhaps
he became a very important personality, a reformer who accomplished
great things. What I am telling you is not meant as malicious criticism.
Still, people are unmusical because in the previous incarnation they
did not receive vivid impressions of things that do deeply impress other
Think how transparent life would become and
how well we would be able to understand others if we approached them
with such knowledge. And when we keep in mind that spiritual science
imbues our souls with a longing to perceive in pictures, then all this
should seem to us something desirable.
Of course, if everything were limited to concepts
and if spiritual science were to dissect everyone and investigate what
the person was like in previous incarnations, then people would do well
to be on their guard against spiritual science. No one would venture
forth among people anymore if they would analyze like this. However,
this would happen only if we worked with crude concepts. If we stay
with pictures, the latter lay hold of our feelings, and we arrive at
an emotional understanding of others, which we do not need to transform
into concepts. We turn it into concepts only when we express it as a
general truth. It is quite all right to talk about the flexibility of
the soul in a preceding incarnation and musicality in a later one, as
I have done, but it would be in poor taste if I were to approach a person
who is musical and describe what he or she was like in the previous
incarnation based on this talent. These truths are derived from individual
details, but the point is not to apply them to details. This must be
understood in the deepest sense.
Most people may understand truths like these,
but when we go a bit further, then what is meant to enlighten humanity
can easily lead to nonsense. For example, we often speak about reincarnation
in general terms, and at one time, I talked to one of our branch groups
about the relationship between reincarnation and self-knowledge, a theme
that deserves some attention. I said it would be good to try to apply
certain concepts we acquire from spiritual science to our efforts to
understand ourselves. I explained that at the beginning of our life
karma often brings us into contact with people who were connected with
us at about the middle of our previous life, when we were in our thirties.
In other words, we are not right away with the people we were with at
the corresponding time in our earlier incarnation. This is how I have
explained various rules of reincarnation; you can also find in my lectures
how reincarnation can be applied to self-knowledge. Well, what did all
this lead to in those days? It turned out that shortly thereafter a
number of people founded a sort of “Club of the Reincarnated.”
Yes, indeed, there was a clique that explained who each member had been
in the preceding incarnation or even in all previous lives. Of course
they had all been exceedingly eminent figures in human history, that
goes without saying, and they had all been connected in their earlier
That was a nuisance for a long time. Naturally
this is all terrible because it violates what I have emphasized, namely,
that if you are to know anything about your previous incarnation, in
our era you will not understand it from within yourself. Rather, your
attention will be drawn to it through some outer event or through another
person. In our time it is generally false when somebody looks within
and then claims to have been this or that person. If we are to know
anything, it will be told to us from outside.
Those who founded the “Club of the Reincarnated”
would have had to wait a long time before being told about their previous
incarnations. Yet they had all been important personalities, the most
important in human history! When the thing became known, and those people
were asked why they had done all this, they answered that they did it
because I had said in a lecture one should cultivate self-knowledge
in the light of reincarnation. Since then they had all been busy thinking
about who they had been in previous lives and how they had been connected
with each other.
In such a case we sin against the reverence
we should have for the great spiritual truths. This reverence consists
in staying appropriately with the image, with the metaphor; only when
it is really necessary should the picture be left behind, and should
we go beyond the metaphor. In spiritual science we have to develop reverence
and to realize that this sophistry, this putting things into the concept,
is always a bad thing. It is always bad to think about spiritual matters
in the same way we think about things on the physical plane. Indeed,
when we acquire this reverence, we also develop certain moral qualities,
which cannot unfold if we don't carry all this in our soul in the right
way. Accordingly, spiritual science will also lead to a moral uplifting
of our modem culture.
Now we Europeans say — and rightly so
— that because we can see the Christ Mystery in our spiritual
life, we have an advantage over other cultures, for example, over the
Asian or oriental ones. What those cultures know about the spiritual
does not include the Christ Being. The Japanese, Chinese, Hindus, Persians,
do not include the Christ Being in their thinking about the spiritual
interrelationships in the world. We are therefore right in calling the
Asian world view atavistic, a relic of an earlier age. Though those
people may have an exceedingly lofty understanding of the world, as,
for instance, in the Vedanta philosophy, their inability to understand
the Christ Mystery makes their world view an atavistic one. To be able
to penetrate deeply into certain connections is not necessarily a sign
of great spiritual heights.
For example, I used to know a man who was
among us for a long time and even belonged to the “Club of the
Reincarnated,” and he propounded excellent theories about certain
conditions of life on Atlantis. Continuing along the lines of my book
on Atlantis, this person came to very interesting conclusions that were
true. Yet, he was so loosely connected to our movement that he left
it when external reasons made it convenient for him to do so. Under
certain conditions, it takes only a particular formation of the etheric
body to see into supersensible regions. However, if spiritual science
is to flow in a living way into our culture, it has to take hold of
the whole person so that he or she can grow close to its deepest impulses.
And then spiritual science will create what our culture, which is developing
more and more into a materialistic one, is lacking.
Thus, we are right in saying we have the advantage
of the Christ Mystery over the Asian cultures. But what do Asians say
about this? Now, I am not telling you something I just made up; I am
telling you what the more reasonable Asians really say. They agree we
have the advantage of the Christ Mystery over them. They say, “That
is something we do not have, and that's why you Europeans think you
are on a higher stage of cultural development. However, you also say,
‘By their fruits ye shall know them,’ and your religion
tells you to love one another. But when we look at how you live, it
does not seem as though you are doing that. You send missionaries to
us in Asia who tell us all kinds of great things; however, when we come
to Europe, we find people do not at all live as they should if all we've
been told were true.” Well, that's what the Asians say.
Now just think whether they are so entirely
wrong. At a religious convention where people from all religions were
to speak, this case was discussed, and the Asian representatives said
what I have just told you. They said, “You send us missionaries,
which is very nice. However, you have had Christianity for two thousand
years now, and we cannot see that it has advanced your moral development
so much beyond ours.”
There are good reasons for this, my dear friends.
You see, Asians live much more in the group-soul and much less as individuals.
Morals are in a sense innate to them, inborn through the group-soul.
Europeans, precisely because they are developing their I, must leave
the group-soul behind and must be left to their own resources. That
is why egoism inevitably had to appear. It goes hand in hand with individualism.
People will only gradually be able to come together again by understanding
Christianity in a higher sense.
Much has prevented those who have thought
about Christianity, even the best of them, from truly understanding
the consequences of the Mystery of Golgotha. Granted, it is certainly
very “profound” to say we must experience the Christ in
our own inner being. You see, there is what I would like to call a symbolical
theosophy. As you know, I have always spoken out against this theosophy
that wants to explain everything as symbols. It explains even the resurrection
of Christ as merely an inner experience even though in reality it is
a historical event. Christ really did rise again in the world, but many
a theosophist finds it easier to deal with the matter by claiming it
is merely an inner process. As you know, this was the special skill
of the late Franz Hartmann; in every lecture he repeatedly explained
theosophy to his audience by saying that one has to understand oneself
inwardly, to comprehend God in oneself, and so on.
Now if you understand the Gospels properly,
you will not find any grounds for the idea that the Gospels advocate
people should experience the Christ only inwardly. There are theosophical
symbolists who reinterpret various passages, but in reality everything in
the Gospels confirms the truth of the great word, “Where two or
three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of
them.” The Christ is a social phenomenon. The Christ passed through
the Mystery of Golgotha as a reality, and He is here as a reality,
belonging not to the individual but to the common life of all people.
What He does is what is important. These things can often be better
understood in pictures than in abstract concepts.
Just recently we went to see a friend on leave
from the front lines of the battlefield, where he has since returned.
This friend was kind enough to get us a taxicab, and when he returned
with it and pulled up, he told us he had had a conversation with the
driver. This driver was an altogether peculiar man, for when we had
arrived and were about to get out, he opened the door and after he had
been paid, he gave us two little pamphlets called “Peace Messenger.”
He was making propaganda for the spiritual world while working his job!
Then our friend told us that this driver had told him the essential
thing is for people to find the Christ, everything depends on the Christ.
In other words, our friend had picked out a cab at the taxi-stand and
gotten into a conversation with the driver, who told him the world will
advance only when people find the Christ, whom they have not yet found.
Well, the cab driver added a few other things
and said, “You see, with Christ it's like this. Just think, I
am a very respectable man, an exemplary man, and I have children who
are all good for nothing. But am I any less respectable and exemplary
a man because I have children who are no good? They all know me, or
think they know me, but they are still good-for-nothings. That's how
I think of the Christ. He belongs to us all, He is the person we all
look to but that does not mean everybody necessarily really understands
This cab driver has created a marvelous picture
of the special life of Christ, of His isolated life! He has discovered
that Christ is living among us, living with us, belonging to us all
and not to any one individual. He saw his sons who were all no good
as the individuals, who were good for nothing and would have to struggle
before reaching an understanding. If this cab driver had wanted to express
this extraordinarily significant idea in philosophical terms, nothing
would have come of it. But his picture reflects wonderfully what we
are trying to understand. Of course, such a picture is not quite sufficient;
an individual may understand it, but you will not influence our culture
with it. I just wanted to show you that even the simplest soul can light
on a true picture. This is how things should really flow into pictures.
I have tried to achieve this particularly in the style of my latest
book, which deals with non-theosophical matters. However, in its presentation
this book is “theosophical,” if we want to use that expression.
It is important to understand our teachings
more and more between the lines, so to speak, if we want to grasp correctly
that they have to become life, the life of each one of us. And what
weighs so heavily upon one's soul is just this awful difficulty of integrating
these things into life.
You see, if these things are important to
you, and particularly if you really know our rationalist culture, you
will realize that what pulsates through spiritual science has to live
in all branches of culture. It must influence thinking, feeling, and
willing, only then will it fulfill its mission. To feel connected with
our cause really takes quite some inner strength. It is a pity that
it takes such an infinitely long time for people to feel thoroughly
connected with the impulses of spiritual science. In the meantime, we
can see people passing by and ignoring precisely what they should be
Now let me tell you about another case. There
was a very learned gentleman who used to be a member of our Society;
in fact, he was tremendously learned, but his erudition did not satisfy
him. He was profoundly unhappy in spite of all his learning, which included
a knowledge of oriental languages and the culture of the Near East.
Now this man came and asked for advice. In such a case my advice will
necessarily have to show that through an understanding of spiritual
science the spirit can enter into a science such as oriental philosophy.
So I indicated that he should permeate all this scholarly material with
what he had received from spiritual science. However, for him the two
things merely continued to exist side by side. On the one hand, he pursued
his oriental studies as this is done in the universities; on the other
hand, he pursued spiritual science. The two never came together for
him; he could not permeate the one with the other.
Now just think how fruitful it would be if
someone who knows so much — and this man did indeed know a tremendous
amount — were to take his science and learning and imbue it with
theosophy! He wouldn't even have to let it be known that he thinks theosophically
if he feared people might look askance at him for that. Still, he could
then present all this in his university lectures. That man could very
well have penetrated the culture on the Euphrates and the Tigris and
the one a bit further west — he was particularly at home in Egyptology
— with spiritual science and could have accomplished something
remarkable. In any case, he could have achieved something more fruitful
than the popularizing stuff produced by our common writers. Recently
a piece by such a popular writer appeared in a widely read daily paper.
The fellow had written an article on the discovery of a sphinx-like
figure during construction for the Baghdad railway — well, even
if his name is Arthur Bonus, he is still definitely not a “good
This article is absolutely terrible!
The ideal we have in mind, my dear friends,
is to let our thinking be carried by what spiritual science gives us. And
it should be the same in life too, in our everyday life with each other.
Spiritual science can be carried into everything. If we did not intend
this, did not have this ideal, then spiritual science would not be able
to bear fruit. The challenge to make it fruitful meets us everywhere.
Just think, there are excellent historians
who write about the history of England at the time of James I, let's say.
Then there are excellent
historians who write books about the life of Francisco Suarez, the Jesuit.
As you know, I have to be careful what I say when I speak about Jesuitism.
That is, I must not say too much that is positive — or at least
what can be misunderstood
as positive. Nevertheless, it is true that most people know about this
Suarez only that in one of his writings he is supposed to have explicitly
preached regicide. But this is not true. In general, people often know
things that are untrue but don't as often and as thoroughly know things
that are true.
Now, excellent books about this Suarez are
available nowadays; most of them are written by Jesuits. You can read
these books about Suarez, the successor of Ignatius of Loyola, and understand
That does not mean that you will become, or have been, a Jesuit, nor that
you have to put up with people drawing such conclusions. The facts are
clear, and when we connect them, we can answer one of biggest questions
of modem history. These two individuals, James I and Francisco Suarez,
the Jesuit philosopher, are complete opposites. At the time of James I,
a very ahrimanic new development was inaugurated. Another development
began with Suarez that was very luciferic. Their combined influence, and
particularly their fights against each other, shaped much of what lives
and weaves in the present age.
Here we come to mysterious connections. I
don't want to blame anyone with what I am going to say now. For example,
we find that a great deal of what these days is called historical materialism
or Marxism, the Social Democratic outlook, can be traced directly to
Suarez. Now please do not take this to mean that I am saying the Social
Democrats are Jesuits. Nevertheless, there are in a certain sense good
reasons for connecting the Social Democrats with the Jesuits. By the
same token, many members of the opposing party, that is, those who oppose
social democracy, can be traced back directly to what was inaugurated
by James I.
With this, I have indicated something that
lives in many people's thoughts. Particularly in occult communities
you find two main streams, and from these flows something that is not
occult. These two main streams produce two typical, contrasting figures:
James I of England, in whom an extraordinary initiate-soul lived, and
Now, if you read the biography of Suarez,
you will not understand it at all if you have not really grasped spiritual
science. Suarez was one of those people who are at first bad students
and don't learn anything. According to the contemporary materialist
view, such people are hopeless cases and not good for anything. However,
one can easily prove that many great geniuses did not learn anything
when they were in school. Well, Suarez was also one of the bad students,
and even in college he was not yet what one might call a bright man.
Then all of a sudden he changed, and every biography of him describes
this sudden awakening. The gift of brilliance suddenly awakened in him,
and he wrote extraordinarily interesting books, which are, unfortunately,
not widely known. This happened all of a sudden, kindled by some of
the things I told you about in my lectures on the spiritual exercises
of the Jesuits, which Suarez also practiced. Through these he awakened
something in himself that enabled him to develop special mental and
Thus, the biography of Suarez proves —
as it can also be proved in the case of James I — that he turned
around, so to speak, and came from the unspiritual into the spiritual.
This soul, which later achieved outstanding accomplishments, was born
at a certain moment. Its development did not proceed in a straight line,
but took place in a sudden jolt, produced either by karma or by an influence
on the person in question that can be compared to how we learn to read
in elementary school: not by describing the shape of the letters, but
by receiving an impulse through which we learn to understand the letters.
Here, you see again how spiritual science
can guide us in understanding these historical connections, and then
we can see life quite differently. If you take in spiritual science
in a living way, then your attitude to life really changes, an you can
think of other things to do than what you have been doing. It is hard
to imagine that a person who takes in spiritual science in a living
way could come up with the strange idea, for example, that he or she
is Mary Magdalene reincarnated. This would not occur to such a person;
instead he or she would focus on other contents of the soul.
It is hard to have to watch how slowly the
development in the direction I indicated proceeds. People really take
Spiritual science far too much as merely a theory or as simply something
to be enjoyed. However, it must be studied in a living way. Now that
we are together before parting or some time at the beginning of summer,
when we will h ave to return to Dornach, I would like to discuss briefly
a few important points we must consider in this regard.
You see, my dear friends, if things had turned
out as many people adhering to older traditions had expected at the
time when we first established spiritual science here fourteen years
ago, we would have become a sect. For all the ideas brought over from
England were headed toward the formation of a sect. And many people
felt very comfortable being completely secluded in their small circles.
Then they could call the other people outside their circles fools. There
was very little control over this. However, this kind of thing had to
Spiritual science has to reckon with our whole
culture. We have always considered this culture, and we have emphasized
particularly in public lectures what one can get into European heads
these days — regardless of how many objections were raised. Now
I don't want to criticize — that would be silly — but still,
we have to understand that our movement really must not become a sect
and must not even have any characteristics of a sectarian movement if
it is to fulfill its task. We can accomplish much if we take the general
culture into account. People outside our movement for the most part
write nonsense about it — if they write about it at all. You may
say this does not matter in a deeper sense. On the contrary, it matters
very much! That is why we have to defend ourselves and do what we can
to stop it. We have to do everything possible so that eventually people
will not write nonsense but something better.
However, in a spiritual sense it is even more
harmful when what was intended only for members of our immediate circle
is brought in the wrong way before the public so that our lecture cycles
are now sold in second-hand bookshops. Granted, we may not be able to
prevent this. Still it happens again and again, not only that our lecture
cycles can be bought in second-hand bookshops but other equally detrimental
things as well. For instance, somebody just recently told me about a
person he had worked with for a long time. He said that person did not
write anything on his own initiative but belongs to a somewhat dubious
clique, which has complete control over him. He himself only sits down
and goes ahead with his writing. Now this person has written many brochures
about our spiritual science and even big books. In those you find not
only quotations from my printed and published works, but also long passages
from the cycles. In other words, it is not just that one can buy these
cycles in second-hand bookshops, but, in fact, anyone wanting to write
a stupid book these days is able to get hold of them. Such people then
buy two or three cycles and copy passages that sound completely absurd
when taken out of context, and then they can make a book out of all
These are the problems that result from our
having to face the public while at the same time being a Society. However,
we have to understand this problem if we want to overcome it. As I said,
I do not want to criticize, for that would be totally useless; instead,
I want to describe the problem. I want to show you where the difficulties
lie, and we just have to watch for them. In the immediate future even
more abominable things will be done against our Society than we have
had to endure up to now. We won't be able to change that in the twinkling
of an eye. Still, we must not ignore both the encouraging, pleasant
elements and the annoying ones in the way the world judges our movement
as though we were trying to become totally unmusical in the next incarnation.
You see, those who think purely egoistically
— as I said, this is not meant as criticism, but merely as description
think that spiritual science has more to say about certain relationships
in nature than ordinary science. Thus, people turn to me for medical
advice even though I have emphasized repeatedly that I am only a teacher
or cultivator of spiritual science, and not a physician. Of course,
people may want some friendly advice and to refuse that would be absurd.
If people come for friendly advice, why should it be denied them even
if it concerns matters of natural science? However, after everything
that has happened, I have to request that nobody seeks my advice on
medical matters who is not in the care of a physician. People who think
selfishly do not consider that such things are not permissible nowadays
and that they bring us into conflict with the world around us, and that
is detrimental to our spiritual science. We have to make an effort to
improve things; we have to advocate everywhere that there should be
more than just the officially authorized medicine, which is based on
pure materialism. We can certainly do this, but we must not just selfishly
think of what is good for us individually if this could interfere with
what our movement must be.
Spiritual science can give advice, and it
would be absurd if it didn't. It would be pathetic indeed if one could
not give some advice to a person suffering from this or that ailment.
However, it is a great risk to give advice when the following happens
— and I am telling you a true story here. Someone was ill in a
town where I had just previously said that I definitely do not want
people to turn to me in case of illness. I had said so publicly and
officially. Now, someone became ill and was admitted into a sanitarium,
where he remained for some time. A long-standing member of ours who
had always been connected with the most intimate aspects of our cause
wrote to this sanitarium, explaining that the patient in question could
now be discharged because Dr. Steiner gave such and such advice. The
member wrote this to the physician, who replied that this just goes
to show we don't mean it when we claim theosophy wants to be nothing
but theosophy and does not want to meddle in other people's business.
Yes, indeed, my dear friends, we have to pay
attention to such things. If we ignore them, it will not be for the
good of the movement. Of course, this is only one case, but variations
of this are happening again and again. This leads to a peculiar feature
of our movement, about which I have to speak now. What I am referring
to is that the new good side of our movement comes to light less rapidly
than other new developments that have also never before been there.
They prove that our movement is indeed something new; however, these
are peculiar novelties.
For example, let us suppose this or that were
written in my published books. If no cycles were getting into the wrong
hands, people outside our movement would refute what is in my books.
Well, let them do it, but then they would present their opinion. It
would never occur to people out there who do not belong to our Society
to copy sentences from my books to prove I am a “bad guy.”
No one would do this; instead people out there would present their own
opinions. What happens in our Society, however, is that someone accepts
our teaching — swallows it hook, line, and sinker, as the saying
goes — but then refutes me with my own teaching. You can see an
example of this in an as yet unpublished exposition.
As you may remember, in an earlier edition of
Riddles of Philosophy
— the book then was called
Views of Life and World in the Nineteenth Century
— I explained
that Leverrier discovered the planet Neptune merely on the basis of
his calculations about Uranus, before Neptune had been seen.
Neptune was first seen at the Berlin observatory, but its existence
was already known earlier simply because of calculations. I referred
to this example to show that something may follow from calculations,
that we can know of a fact merely on the basis of our thinking.
Well, just recently someone wrote that he
has applied this very obvious and convincing idea, but in a different
field. He claims to have found that something is wrong in our movement,
that there are disruptions and interferences like the ones Leverrier
found in observing the planet Uranus. If Uranus does not move the way
it should according to calculations based on the general laws of gravity,
then obviously something is interfering. Similarly, according to this
individual, something supposedly interferes with our movement. So he
propounds the hypothesis that there is something disruptive here, interfering
with everything. And then, in the same way Leverrier discovered Neptune,
this individual discovered that the evil interferences in our movement
are in me. As the astronomers in the observatory here turned their telescope
to the place where Neptune was said to be, so this person focused his
spiritual telescope on me and found the evil there.
This is a special case; the methods I have
given are all applied to my character and I am refuted with myself.
In this man's circle a letter was written recently — not by him
but by others from his circle — saying that I have no right to
complain about this refutation because I myself had always said spiritual
science was the common property of everyone and that it would be wrong
to think spiritual science originated with the spiritual investigator.
Well now, when things get this confused, there can be no simple, clear
explanation for them. This, indeed, is something new arising in our
Society. Outside, where the old still holds good, others are refuted
by means of what the critics themselves think. But within our Society
people do not take their own thoughts, but what they read in the lecture
cycles and use it against me.
For example, in the letter I mentioned you
can find many quotations from my book
An Outline Of Occult Science
you'll find exhortations to read this or that for yourself so you'll
see I am actually an evil, bad guy. Now, the letter does not claim what
I say is bad. On the contrary, because it is good, it can be used as
evidence. This is something entirely new arising in our midst, a novelty
based on the theory that our teaching can be accepted and then used
to slander the one who is trying to popularize it. That is indeed something
This may be a particularly blatant case; still,
on a smaller scale such things occur very frequently. If we so much
as say anything about such things, then we get threats! Recently a letter
informed us that articles and pamphlets, whose titles constitute a direct
threat, would soon appear in shop windows and newspapers. As I said,
if we dare make a sound, this is what happens. This is a novelty, something
new in our movement, and we must pay attention to it.
We can see difficulties cropping up before
they have fully emerged, so to speak, for we can predict what will happen.
Tell me, should we really never talk about such a case as the one I
have mentioned; should we always keep quiet about it? That is certainly
possible. However, since the members themselves are not trying to discover
such things, nobody in our circles would ever find out. Therefore, we
must speak about it. But what happens when we speak about it? Pretty
soon you will probably read in another letter — of course, this
is just a hypothesis for now that I have been speaking about a private
letter before a large number of members. And this is simply because
there are certainly people here who will immediately report somewhere
or other what I have said tonight. That is happening all the time. Not
talking about these things is no good, but talking about them only encourages
what is repeatedly being done. We can predict the outcome.
I do not want to criticize; I only want to
point out that in a movement where spiritual science lives, that is,
where occult things pulsate, difficulties do indeed arise, and we must
pay attention to them. If we ignore them, they will continue and get
worse. Yes, we have to be prepared for the attacks to get more and more
trenchant. If we were a small sect, this would not be the case. But
our movement had to become just what it has become, and so that's the
way it is.
Much of what comes from outside is understandable
although many attacks ostensibly from the outside actually can be proven
to have originated within our circles. Just today we have learned that
in Dornach we practice eurythmy, which supposedly consists in dancing
to the point of reaching a trance, as the dervishes do, and so on. We
were told this news was reported by members. Members have reported that
we dance until we reach a state of trance! In reality this was told
to one of our members by people totally unconnected with us, but these
people said they had heard it from members whose names they mentioned.
These difficulties come up because we have
united spiritual science and the Society, and we must examine them carefully.
If we ignore them, we cannot progress properly and we risk the dissolution
of our Society and its total annihilation. True, all this does not harm
spiritual science as such, but it does harm what spiritual science is
also trying to be. It is harmful when people come and tell me that much
of what they read about spiritual science interested them, but then
they sat at a table in a boarding house and heard a lady prattle on
about theosophy and say all kinds of things, and, of course, they feel
they cannot join a Society where such a lot of rubbish is talked that's
supposed to be theosophy. Now, this is not an isolated case; this happens
again and again in one way or another.
Speaking about these things at the end of
a serious talk may be misunderstood. However, it is absolutely necessary,
my dear friends, that you know about them and pay attention to them.
Our Society must be the carrier and helper of spiritual science; however,
it can easily develop in such a way that it works against what spiritual
science is to bring to world evolution. Naturally, in the individual
case it is easy to understand that much of this damage could not be
prevented. Yet we can be sure that the damage will look quite different
if we pay attention to it and if we ourselves try to keep to a certain
line, a certain direction, so to speak. Sometimes it is indeed extremely
difficult, but also necessary, to take a hard line in a certain direction.
Then novelties like the ones I just described will be rightly judged.
It does not happen anywhere else that a person is refuted with his own
works, for the idea of accepting a person's teaching in order to refute
him with them is in itself absurd and foolish. Of course, if someone
talks nonsense, you can use his nonsense against him, but that is not
the point here. Rather, the new twist here is that the teaching is accepted
and the person is refuted on the basis of his teaching.
On a smaller scale, things like that are very
widespread. And they are not far removed from another evil I will also
speak about before coming to a close. Indeed, it happens nowhere else
as often as in our movement that somebody does something one can condemn,
in fact, has to condemn. Then people take sides. For example, somebody
may say something against the leading personalities in our Society,
or against long-standing members, or against the Vorstand,
as we unfortunately have to call it. Yet, even if the allegations are
completely unfounded and perhaps only made up, clearly revealing the
accuser's underlying motivation, you will rarely find that people try
to discover whether the unfortunate Vorstand is right. Instead, people
immediately take sides with the person who is wrong.
In fact, that is the rule here: people take
sides with those who are wrong, and write letters asking the victims
of the attack to do something to preserve the friendship, to straighten
things out again — after all, one must show love. When somebody
commits an unkind deed against another, people do not write to the one
who did the deed. Instead, they write to the one who suffered it that
he should show some kindness and that it would be very unloving not
to do something to set things right again. It never occurs to them to
ask this of the one who is wrong. Such peculiar things happen in our
Of certain other things we will not even speak;
nevertheless, there may of course come a time when we have to speak
about them too. Today, we wanted to talk about a serious topic since
we are living in a serious time and our movement is to influence it
in a serious way. Still, we absolutely had to point out these peculiar
things. You must pay attention to them, for things are indeed happening
that you will find hard to believe if you hear about them. Nevertheless,
we constantly have to deal with such things, and nobody should misunderstand
that I had to speak about them; instead you should all reflect on them
It is our intention not to have as long a
break between lectures as we had in the past. We may be able to meet
again in fall; however, it is better not to promise anything specific
in this time of uncertainties and obstacles. And so I ask you to use
the picture I have tried to paint in this winter of our souls and to
let your souls dwell on it during this summer. Bring to life in your
souls, in a kind of meditation, what we have talked about and reflect
on the basic requirements for the integration of our spiritual science
into the general culture.
And so let us now part, my dear friends, in the
realization that we can do much to help integrate what we take seriously
into our times if we are all really committed to it. People now sacrifice
much more than ever before in such numbers and in so short a time. We
are living in a hard time, a time of suffering. May the hardships and
sufferings also be a summons to us. No matter how difficult it may be
to incorporate the spiritual into human evolution, it has to happen.
However much or however little we can do as individuals, let us do it!
Let us try to understand the right way to do our part so that what cannot
come about of itself but has to be done through people will result.
Of course, there will also be help from the spiritual world. Thus, let
us remain united in thoughts like this even when we will be apart for
a while. People who are united in spirit are always together. Neither
space nor time can separate them, and particularly not a more or less
short span of time. Let us remain united in thoughts that try again
to penetrate a little bit what I have said here in these days to your
We must take in the full weight of the significance
of the truths connected with the Mystery of Golgotha. Let us realize
that in order to understand this or that we have to be in the solitude
of our souls and return there again and again. But let us also understand
that we belong to humanity and that the One Who went through the Mystery
of Golgotha brought something from spiritual heights to the earth for
all human beings, for the working together of all people. And let us
remember that He said: “When two or three are gathered together
in My Name, there am I in their midst.”
Through all we experience in solitude we can
prepare ourselves for what the Christ is destined to be to the world
through us. But Christ is in our midst only if we try to carry into
the world what we strive for in solitude, and we can do that only if
we understand the conditions for carrying it into the world. Let us
look at these conditions! Let us open our eyes, and, above all, let
us have the courage to admit that things are as they are and must be
dealt with accordingly.
When I speak here about Christ, I do so knowing
that He is helping because He is an actively living being. We can feel
His presence among us; He will help us! But we have to learn His language,
and His language today is that of spiritual science. That is the way
it is for the present. And we have to find the courage to represent
and support this spiritual science as much as we can among ourselves
and before others.
This summer, let us reflect upon this and
let us meditate on it until we meet again.