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The Karma of Materialism

Karma of Materialism: Lecture 4

Schmidt Number: S-3395

On-line since: 30th September, 2016

Lecture IV

Berlin,
August 21, 1917

During these last days we have taken leave of a dear friend and loyal collaborator who has left the physical plane, Herman Joachim. He could be seen here in our circle practically every week during the war years. When we contemplate the event of death of someone near to us — filled with sentiments engendered by knowledge which we seek through spiritual science—we may find through this event also our own relation to the spiritual world. We look back on the one hand to the time we were privileged to share with him, but we also look forward into that world which is receiving the soul of the one with whom we were together. We remain united with him, for the bonds that bind us together are spiritual and cannot be severed through the event of physical death.

The name Herman Joachim is like a beacon, throwing its light far and wide, ahead of the one we have lost as far as the physical plane is concerned. It is a name that is very much connected with the development of art in the 19th century; particularly in the sphere of aesthetic interpretation of music. Indeed there is no need for me to explain here what this name stands for in recent cultural achievements. However, if Herman Joachim — who has gone into the spiritual world with all his incomparable and beautiful qualities — had come among us as someone unknown, even then, those whose good fortune it was to know him and share with him their endeavours, would have counted him among the most valuable personalities of their lives. The strength of his personality, the greatness and radiance of his soul would ensure it.

There came to expression in his human relationships with others a cultural artistic quality of a high order, passed on to him from his father. One could say that on the one hand this artistic influence came to expression in everything Herman Joachim thought and did, but it was carried and enhanced by the spirituality of his own will, his own feelings and by his striving for spiritual insight. While his father's great influence held sway in the blood so was there something in Herman Joachim's spiritual makeup which had a beautiful beginning in his life by the fact that Herman Grimm — this distinguished and unique representative of Central European cultural life — held his hand in blessing over him when a child. For Herman Grimm was godfather to Herman Joachim. I was very pleased to learn this as you will understand after the many things I have said, especially in this circle, in appreciation of Herman Grimm's contributions to cultural life in recent times. When a dear friend of his, the unique personality Walter Robert Tornow died, Herman Grimm wrote: “He departs from the society of the living and is received into the society of the dead. One feels one ought to announce to the dead just who it is that joins their ranks.” Herman Grimm did not intend these words to apply only to the one for whom he spoke them. He meant them in the sense that they express a feeling which is present in human beings in general, when someone near departs from the physical into the spiritual world.

When we look back to characteristic experiences which we were privileged to share with someone who has died, then these experiences become windows through which we can follow the further life of a now infinite being. For every human individuality is an infinite being and the experiences we shared can be compared to windows through which we look out on an unlimited landscape. However there are moments in a human life which are of special significance, it is then possible to look deeper into a human individuality. In such moments the secrets of the spiritual world reveal themselves with particular power. It is also in such moments that much of what in ordinary life is the goal of noble, intense striving, is revealed in comprehensive thought pictures permeated with feeling.

I venture to describe a moment of this kind because I consider it symptomatic of Herman Joachim. He had been connected with our movement for years when in Cologne, not long after we had become personally acquainted, we had a conversation. During this conversation it was revealed to me how this man had related his innermost soul to the spiritual powers which live and weave through the cosmos. — Perhaps I can put it in these words: I was able to recognize that he had discovered that there is an important link between responsible human souls and those Divine-spiritual powers whose wisdom governs worlds. In significant moments of his life an individual may come face to face with these powers. In such moments when he puts to himself the question: How do I unite with the world-guiding spiritual powers that are revealed to my inner sight? How can it become possible for me to think of myself as a responsible link in the world's spiritual guidance which, in my innermost self, I know I am meant to be? — Thus it was revealed to me what Herman Joachim consciously felt and experienced with all the deep seriousness of his being in such moments when man's relation to the spiritual world becomes manifest to him.

Herman Joachim had gone through many difficulties. When this endless calamity under which we all suffer broke out [ Note 1 ] it brought him great hardship. He was in Paris where he had lived for years and where he had found his dear life companion. But now his duty obliged him to return to his former profession as a German officer. Nevertheless it was a duty with which he also had a deep inner connection. He had already fulfilled his task as officer on important occasions, doing his duty not only with expertise but with compassion and self-sacrifice. There are many who have grateful memories because they have benefitted from the true humaneness and social friendliness with which he fulfilled his calling. For myself I often remember the conversations we had during these three years of grief and human suffering, conversations in which he revealed himself as a man who was able to follow with far-reaching understanding the events of our time. There was no question of his objective judgement being clouded by thoughts of either hatred or love for the one or the other side. His intelligent assessment made him fully aware of the gravity of the situation facing us all. Nevertheless, because of his trust in the spiritual guidance of the world he was full of hope and confidence.

Herman Joachim belongs to those who accept spiritual science in a completely matter-of-fact way as something self-evident; while at the same time this matter-of-factness protects them from superficial surrender to anything of a spiritualistic nature. Such souls are not easily led astray into what can be the greatest danger: fanciful illusions and the like. After all, such illusions have their roots in a certain self-indulgent egoism. Herman Joachim had no inclination whatever towards egotistical mysticism but all the more towards great ideals, towards powerful, effective ideas of spiritual science.

He was always concerned about what each individual can do in his own situation in life, to make spiritual science effective. As a member of the Freemasons he had looked carefully into the nature of masonic practices and had resolved to do all he could to bring the life of spiritual knowledge into masonic formalism. His high position within Freemasonry enabled him to make his own, to an exceptional degree, all the profound but now formalized and rigidified knowledge accumulated over centuries. Just because of his high position he saw the possibility to bring the life and spiritual power which can only come from spiritual science into this rigidified knowledge. His aim was to enable it to enter rightly into the stream of human culture. Anyone who is aware how hard he worked towards this goal during these difficult years, how he pursued it with earnestness and integrity; anyone who realizes the strength of his will and the volume of his work in this sphere will also know how much the physical plane has lost with Herman Joachim. — I am often reminded in cases like this of someone, regarded as belonging to the intelligentsia, who is recorded as saying: No man is irreplaceable; if one goes, another steps forward to take his place. It is obvious that such an expression reveals a gross ignorance of real life; for real life shows in fact the opposite. The truth is rather that in regard to what a man accomplishes in life no one can be replaced. This truth strikes us all the more in exceptional cases such as the present one. The death of Herman Joachim strongly reminds us of the working of karma in human life. Only an understanding of human karma, the comprehension of the great karmic questions of destiny, enables us to come to terms with the death of someone, at a comparatively early age, leaving behind an important and necessary life task.

I have followed day by day the soul of our dear friend slowly leaving this realm, in which he was to accomplish so much, and entering another realm where we can find him only through the strength of our spirit, a realm from which he will be an even stronger helper than before. During this time of taking leave I was strongly aware of something else; namely, that human beings themselves demand the necessity of karma; demand it with all their inner courage and strength of spirit. It becomes evident to one's inner sight when experiencing a death of this kind. In these circumstances things must often be spoken of which can be spoken of only in our circles, but then, it is also within our spiritual movement, that human beings can find the great strength which reaches beyond death, the strength that encompasses both life and death.

Herman Joachim's soul stands clearly before me. So it stood clearly before me when, out of his own free will, he took on a spiritual task. And it comes vividly before me how he is taking hold of this task now. His death is revealed to me as something he freely chose because, from that other world his soul is able to work more actively and with stronger forces; forces more appropriate to what is necessary. Under these circumstances one may even speak of the death of an individual as a necessity, as a duty, at a quite specific moment. I know that not everyone will find what I am saying a consoling or a strengthening thought; but I also know that there are souls today to whom these thoughts can be a support when they are faced with the kind of difficulties which in our time must be endured with pain and sorrow, difficulties that one comes up against when trying to solve important and necessary tasks, difficulties that arise from the fact that we are in the physical world, incarnated in physical bodies in a materialistic environment. Yet in all our pain and sorrow we may gradually come to value the thought that death, as far as the physical plane is concerned, was chosen by someone in order to be better able to fulfill his task.

We may balance this thought against the pain which our dear friend, the wife of Herman Joachim, is suffering. We may balance it against the pain we ourselves feel over our dear friend, we may attempt to enoble our pain by thinking of him in the light of a sublime thought such as the one I have just put before you. This thought may not ease or tone down the pain, but its spiritual insight can shine like a sun into the pain and illumine our understanding for the necessity that governs man, the necessity of human destiny. Thus the event of the death of someone near to us can become an experience which brings us into contact with the spiritual world. For if our thoughts about him strengthen our soul's propensity towards the realms in which the departed sojourns then we shall not lose him; we shall remain actively united with him. Furthermore, if we grasp the full implication of the thought that someone who loved his life more than most, nevertheless accepted death because of an iron necessity, then that thought will truly express our spiritual-scientific view of the world. If we honor our friend in this way we shall remain united with him. And his life companion, left here on the physical plane, shall know that we remain united with her in thoughts of the loved one; that we, her friends, remain close to her.

The death of our dear friend Herman Joachim is one of several bereavements suffered within our society during this difficult time, one which was for me especially sad, one I have not yet been able to speak about. The great personal loss and close involvement prevents me from touching on many aspects of this bereavement.

A great many of those present will remember with love a dear and loyal member whom we have also lost from the physical plane in recent months, Olga von Sivers, the sister of Marie Steiner. She was not a personality one would come to know immediately at first encounter; she was a thoroughly modest and unassuming person. But my dear friends, setting aside the pain Marie Steiner and I suffer over this irreplaceable loss I venture to say something else about Olga von Sivers. She belongs to those among us who, from the beginning, went straight to the root of our anthroposophically oriented spiritual science. She took it up with deep understanding and warmth of soul. When Olga von Sivers devoted herself to such matters she did so with her whole being for that was her nature. And she was indeed a human being in the fullest sense as everyone connected with her will know. She strongly rejected everything which nowadays, as a kind of mystical Theosophy, distorts man's inner path and leads spiritual life into wrong channels. She had a keen sense of discernment when it came to distinguishing between those spiritual impulses which belong to our time and advance man's inner progress; and others which arise from quite different impulses. The latter are often disguised as theosophical or other mystical striving. Olga von Sivers is an outstanding example of someone taking hold, in a fundamental way, of the spiritual truths which we in our movement especially strive to attain. Despite her full participation in our work it was not in her nature to neglect or disregard in any way the many and often difficult duties imposed upon her by external life. She absorbed the content of spiritual science from the start with complete understanding and was able to pass it on to others. Whenever this was granted her she undertook the task in exemplary fashion. She knew how to endow the ideas she conveyed to others with the kindness and enormous good will of her nature.

Her work continued also when she was separated from us by the frontiers which today so often and so cruelly come between human beings who are close to one another. But no frontiers prevented her from working for our cause also in regions which are now, in Central Europe, considered to be enemy country. She knew tragic experiences, all the horror of this frightful war in which she carried out truly humanitarian work right up to her last illness. She never thought of herself but was always working for others whom the horrors of war had brought into her care. She carried on this Samaritan work in the noblest sense, permeating all she did with the fruits of what she herself had accomplished within our spiritual movement. Although she is closely related to me I venture to speak with deep feeling about this aspect of Olga von Sivers, who, ever since the founding of our movement was a self-sacrificing member. To Marie Steiner and myself it was a beautiful thought that she should be physically with us once more when better times had replaced our bleak present. But here too iron necessity decided otherwise.

This again is a case when death of someone near can clarify and illumine life if we seek to understand it with spiritual insight. Certainly there are things in our society which are open to criticism, often they are things which the society itself brings to light. But we also see all around us other things which are direct results of the strength that flows through our Anthroposophical Movement, things which belong to our most beautiful, loftiest and significant experiences. Today I venture to speak of examples of this kind.

Many of you will also remember someone who, though she did not belong to this branch, I would nevertheless like to remember today because, together with her sisters she often did appear here and will be known to many of you: our Johanna Arnold who not long ago went from the physical plane into the spiritual world. One of her sisters who was equally a loyal and devoted member of our movement died two years ago.

I have in these days been working on a pamphlet to answer the spiteful attacks on our movement by professor Max Dessoir, and I constantly come across statements to the effect that I know nothing of science and that my supporters have to renounce all thoughts of their own. — Well, a personality like Johanna Arnold is a living proof that such statements coming from this ignorant professor are utter lies. Johanna Arnold's deep devotion to spiritual science contributed to the nobility of her life and also to the nobility with which she died. She is indeed a living proof that the most valuable people are among those who recognize and cultivate spiritual science. Her life brought many trials but it was also a life that developed strength of personality and brought out all the greatness of her soul. During the years in our movement she was a vigorous supporter in her branch and neighbouring circles. She did in fact, together with others, a most valuable work throughout the Rhine region. One of the others was Frau Maud Künstler who also died recently. She too was much appreciated and was also intimately connected with our movement.

Not only in her work within our movement did Johanna Arnold give evidence of her strong vigorous character. At the age of seven she, with great courage, saved her older sister from drowning. Part of her life was spent in England. She gave ample proof that not only is life a great teacher but it can also make a soul strong and powerful. Moreover in her case life revealed to her the divine spiritual for which the human soul longs. Through her inner mobility and strength Johanna Arnold became a benefactress to the Anthroposophists whose leader she was. To us who saw the extent of her commitment to our movement she became a dear friend. During these last years since the beginning of this dreadful war — in her attempt to understand what is happening to mankind — Johanna Arnold would ask me significant questions. She was constantly occupied with the thought as to the real meaning of this most difficult trial of the human race and concerned about what each one of us can do in order to go through it in a positive way. None of the daily occurrences of the war escaped her notice. But she was also able to see them in their wider context, bringing them into relation with mankind's spiritual evolution in general. In her attempt to solve the riddle of mankind she made a close study of Fichte, Schelling, Hegel and Robert Hamerling.

There are indeed many examples in our movement which can show how spiritual science affects man's whole life, his way of working, his inner development. And Johanna Arnold is a living proof, if such is required, that it is a blatant lie to say that individual thought must be renounced in our movement. She was looked up to as an example by those who knew her, not only through her devotion and loyalty to our spiritual-scientific movement but also because she sought through earnest independent thinking, to fathom the secrets of man's existence.—I am personally grateful to all those who so beautifully expressed their appreciation at the funeral of our friend. Her sister who is with us today has witnessed within a short time the death of Johanna Arnold as well as that of another sister; to her we would say that we shall remain united with her in loyal thoughts of those who have gone from her side into the spiritual world. We shall cherish their memory and retain a living connection with them.

These thoughts concerning departed friends, linked as they are with sorrowful experiences, also belong to our studies — using the word here free from all pedantry. We know that for the human soul there is survival and new beginning, but does the same apply to the many hopes and expectations we witness that come to nothing especially in our times? Why is it, we may ask, that even those who have a measure of insight into mankind's evolution nurture unjustified hopes and expectations? The answer is that we must nurture them, for they are forces, effective forces. Any doubt we may have as to whether they will be fulfilled should not prevent us from cherishing them because while we do they act as forces and produce effects whether they are fulfilled or not. We must accept it if, for the time being, they come to nothing. How gladly we set our hopes on many a person when he shows the first signs of warm understanding for the spiritual world. One has such hopes despite the fact that in our materialistic age they are often shattered. In recent lectures I have described deeper reasons as to why such hopes are shattered.

In this connection we must be clear that what we call human courage, which we see today in such abundance in many spheres of external life, is very seldom found in relation to spiritual life. This is why the personalities I spoke of today are really models even in regard to more external aspects of our society and movement. It is dawning on many people today that materialism will not do. But what I have often referred to as man's love of ease prevents them from committing themselves to spiritual science. Yet nothing else can save human civilization from plunging into disaster. There are people who are often quite near the point of crossing the threshold into spiritual science; that they do not is basically due to indolence. It is love of ease that prevents them from making their soul receptive and pliable enough to grasp ideas that quite concretely explain the spiritual world. There are many today who enthuse in general about the mystical unity of worlds, vaguely declaring that science alone does not explain everything; faith must come to its aid. But the courage to penetrate earnestly into the descriptions and explanations of the spiritual world that lies at the foundation of the sense world, that courage is greatly lacking.

Last winter I spoke about Hermann Bahr, about his path of knowledge. His latest books, “Expressionism” and the novel “Ascension,” suggested that he was at the point of becoming conscious of the spiritual world. There is no doubt that despite his vacillations and changes of direction he was at last striving towards the spirit. But his very latest writing which he has just sent me is very curious. Its title is “Reason and Knowledge” [ Note 2 ] and it deals with the way modern humanity, in contrast to former times, relies more on reason when seeking spiritual insight, when trying to understand the World Order. Hermann Bahr begins by asking what reason has achieved. In the 18th Century, striving to develop reason was synonymous with so-called enlightenment which also played a decisive role in the 19th Century. He begins by saying that: “Before the war the West imagined that its peoples shared a feeling of community. They were cosmopolitans or else ‘good’ Europeans. There was the glittering world of millionaires, there were the dilettante and the aesthetes and also the international set, the uprooted vagabonds, spending their lives in sleeping cars and in grand hotels by the sea. And there were the proud communities of scientists and artists. Furthermore we had people's rights, we had humanitarianism. Internationally we shared the fruits of industry, commerce, money, thoughts, taste, morals and humour. All the nations in the West had aims and goals in common. They even thought they had also a means in common by which to attain these shared goals: the means of human reason! The hope was that, through united effort and human reason, mankind would attain what was perhaps beyond the reach of single individuals: ultimate truth. We have been robbed of all this by the war; it has all vanished.”

Thus Hermann Bahr, looking at the state of the world, concludes that modern man places a one-sided emphasis on reason. He recalls an interesting episode in Goethe's life. In Bohemia Goethe observed a strangely shaped mountain, the Kammerbühl and he concluded that the mountain must be of volcanic origin. He was convinced it had been formed in an ancient volcanic eruption. But others did not share his view; they presumed the mountain had originated through sedimentation which had been driven upwards by the force of water. Goethe was unable to convince these people that his assumption was the right one. He felt an inner impulse which convinced him that the mountain was of volcanic origin. The others were equally certain it had come about through sedimentation. This argument suggested to Hermann Bahr that impulses, quite different from reason, influence man's judgments; he saw them as impulses at work behind reason. Hermann Bahr concedes that not everyone is a Goethe; nevertheless, it seems to him that while people think they are following reason they are in fact determined by impulses. Earlier, in the Middle Ages, people were exhorted to have faith, to base their thoughts about the world on faith. But faith has become a mere phrase, it has lost its influence except in aspects of life in which science plays no role. Thus to Hermann Bahr man seems to be determined by his impulses. He asks: What kind of impulses are at work in modern man? He goes on to enumerate some impulses and emotions which delude people into believing they are following solely their reason. He says that Americans for example have a particularly strong impulse towards pragmatism. They want what is useful and practical, hence the famous pragmatism of William James. However Hermann Bahr now asks: What has come of this urge toward the useful? He is of the opinion that: “there are two main urges in Western man.” He then points to the much quoted expression that in the Middle Ages science was the handmaid of Theology; looking at modern culture he concludes that reason is certainly not the handmaid to Theology, rather has it become the handmaid of Greed. He then goes into still deeper problems; the individual, he says, cannot exist by himself, he must live in a community. This community is the State in which the individual has his place. This observation inevitably leads Hermann Bahr to ask if, here again, are not emotions the determining factors within the various States? At this point he attempts to link a spiritual element to the individual human soul. This spiritual element he tries to find first in Goethe and Kant; and he finally comes to the following thought: We see inner impulses at work in our lower life, impulses which draw reason along with them. It is therefore not reason which proves to us whether something is true or untrue. We judge things according to our inner impulses, according to what we want them to be. Thus Goethe wanted the Kammerbühl to be of volcanic origin while his opponents wanted it produced by sedimentation. Hermann Bahr came to the conclusion that there must be impulses in man other than those which stem from the lower nature. This thought brings him to the idea of Genius. What is done by a genius is also done out of impulse, but not a lower one. A genius is someone who is influenced by an element of a cosmic nature. However, the word genius almost makes Hermann Bahr split hairs. He consults Grimm's dictionary to get to the bottom of what the word Genius means; he familiarizes himself with what Goethe, Schiller, the Romantics and others, meant by it. He comes to see that the word genius cannot be applied indiscriminately. For example, if it is used to denote the highest impulse in the pursuit of knowledge then all professors would claim to be geniuses and there would be as many of them to venerate as there were professors. Hermann Bahr had no wish for that, so he looks for another way out. He comes to the conclusion that Goethe was quite right in applying the word genius only to a few special individuals. If applicable only to a few then it cannot be considered as an impulse for scientific endeavour. In short Hermann Bahr reaches a point where he senses that the soul of man has a connection with the spiritual world. He says: “You may tear me to pieces but I cannot explain the logical connection between the impact on the human soul of the hymn: ‘Veni Creator Spiritus’ (‘Come Holy Ghost’) and the meaning of genius in the Goethean sense. The connection is there and is sublime, powerful and real, yet I cannot explain it.”

However, there is one thing that Herman Bahr does want to explain; namely, that relying merely on reason does not help; reason as such, he says, does not lead man to truth. He rejects what in the age of enlightenment had been seen as the supremacy of reason, had been seen as reason's ability to explain everything observed and investigated. He wants to dethrone reason for in his view it has become subservient to external trade and technology and it simply follows man's impulses.

One thing these inner impulses of man do demonstrate is how a man like Hermann Bahr is able to reach the portal of spiritual science and then, because of lack of initiative to get to grips with spiritual science he holds back. He remains at the point of view that reason on its own is helpless, faith must step in to guide it. Thus the impulses that are to guide man must come, not from his lower nature but from God. He must receive them through faith. Knowledge must be guided by faith, reason alone can attain nothing. Hermann Bahr makes great effort to find confirmation of this idea. For example he makes an interesting reference to Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi who in a letter once expressed the perceptive idea that when it comes to the human soul's ability to grasp truth it is as if it were capable of elasticity, of expansion. This is a very ingenious idea of Jacobi's. I expressed the same thing somewhat differently in my Philosophy of Freedom where I spoke of an organism of thought, wherein one thought grows out of the preceding one. Whenever one arrives at the "elasticity" of man's inner nature, thinking continues, through its own power, the line of thought. When this happens one is experiencing the power of the spirit in one's own soul. Both Jacobi and Hermann Bahr point to the fact that something of a spiritual nature lives and acts in the human soul. What is so remarkable about Hermann Bahr is that he attempts to find in man the higher, the divine man, by demonstrating that reason is subservient to faith. In so doing he denies validity to the very impulse, i.e., reason that governs modern scientific endeavour.

One impulse Hermann Bahr does not discover: the Christ impulse which lives, or at least can live, in modern man. He points to Christ in only one place — two other places where he mentions Christ have no significance — and what he says there does not come from him but is a quotation from Pascal. It comes from Cascali “Pensus” when he says that “we human beings only know ourselves through Jesus Christ; that we know life and death only through Jesus Christ; through ourselves alone we know nothing either of our life or our death; nothing of either God or ourselves.” — Here Pascal is pointing to an impulse that comes from within man yet does not stem from himself; i.e. the Christ impulse. To understand it a sense of history is needed, for it has only been on earth since the Mystery of Golgotha.

Thus Hermann Bahr gets no further than Harnack and others. He comes as far as the idea of a universal God who speaks through nature, but not to a living understanding of Christ. This, once more, is an example of someone who is striving for truth yet cannot find the Christ and is unaware that he does not find Him. Hermann Bahr is at pains to show that throughout the evolution of the world man's striving is in evidence. He says beautiful things about Greek and Roman culture and even about Mohammed. The only thing he leaves out is the Mystery of Golgotha. He speaks of Christianity only in a reference to St. Augustine. But no amount of preoccupation with reason and the like can lead to Christ; it can lead only to a universal God. Christ, the God who descended from cosmic heights into earthly life, lives in us as truly as our own highest being lives in us. As Pascal indicated, we can attain knowledge of life and death; of God and ourselves only through being permeated by Christ. This truth can be recognized and understood only through spiritual science.

Goethe did pave the way to spiritual science. But when Hermann Bahr — in order to justify why he finally turned to faith — tries to explain the value of all kinds of statements by Goethe, all he says is: “It will not be necessary for me to testify that I acknowledge the teaching of the Vatican and the views of Goethe and Kant.” Here we see the influence of an external power which at present clearly indicates its intention to increase that power. Yet people remain deaf and blind to the signs of the times; they let what can explain the signs of the times pass them by. Hermann Bahr in his own way is well able to read these signs. He knows of the many things that induce modern man to say things like: “It will not be necessary for me to testify that I acknowledge the teachings of the Vatican and the views of Goethe and Kant.” It is a supreme example of how indolence can make a man come to a standstill in his endeavour. I love Hermann Bahr and have no wish to say anything against him. I only want to indicate what in such a characteristic way can influence a talented and significant personality of our time.

It is easy enough to blame reason, much can be said against it. It can be accused of not leading man to truth. However, blaming reason simply shows that the matter has not been thought through. Sufficient exploration will reveal that it is only when reason is permeated by Ahriman that it leads away from truth. Similarly if faith is permeated by Lucifer it also leads away from truth. Faith is in danger of being saturated with Lucifer, reason with Ahriman. But neither faith nor reason as such lead to untruth or error. In the religious sense they are gifts of God to man. When they follow their rightful path they will lead to truth, never to either error or untruth. Deeper insight reveals how Ahriman comes to insinuate himself into reason and bring about confusion. This knowledge can be obtained however, only by penetrating into the actual spiritual world. To do this requires one to make the effort to grasp the ideas, the descriptions which depict the spiritual world. If man persists in living in arid abstractions he sins against reason and remains ignorant of the fact that through the development of reason in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch man's ‘I’ is to enter the consciousness soul. People talk about man's relation to the spirit like the blind talk about colors. However, no matter how much the ignorant accuse one of contradictions — when speaking from the point of view of spiritual science — it is essential, as already explained, to stand by the results obtained when the spirit is investigated by spiritual means. One has a personal responsibility for the spirit.

This is the kind of responsibility I was able to speak about earlier in connection with special personalities whose example illustrates man's greatness when he feels responsible, not only for his actions, but also for his thoughts and feelings. By contrast you here have someone with no feeling of responsibility; without trying to discover what the present needs, he links onto influences in man's evolution which belong in the past. Consequently Hermann Bahr can say: “If anyone is interested in the path that led me to God, he may refer to my publication ‘Taking Stock’ and ‘Expressionism’ but I must ask the reader not to generalize my personal experiences; they have helped me but may not necessarily help others” and “Should the reader come upon any passage which deviates from the fundamental issue I must ask him to balance it against my good intentions. Any unfortunate ambiguous phrase caused by negligence is against my will and to my regret.” In other words if one simply accepts whatever decree that goes out from the Vatican there is no need to be personally responsible for one's actions.

It may be a good thing when someone openly and sincerely makes such a confession. However what it implies could not be further from the attitude of anthroposophically orientated spiritual science. What Hermann Bahr is confessing actually expresses a fundamental condition demanded by that spiritual stream which is again trying to assert itself. A condition one could sum up by saying: “The authority of the Vatican decrees what the world in general should believe and profess. And I concede from the start that what as a single individual I hold dear, my belief, my view of things are not the concern of the world in general. I may add my voice but only to the extent it finds approval with the Vatican.”

I do not know to what extent it is still fashionable to make confessions of this kind. What I do know is that spiritual science must rest on its own independent research and take full responsibility for that research. It must also accept disillusions and shattered hopes no matter how often they occur, also when they are, as in the case of Hermann Bahr, completely unexpected.

 

Notes:

1. The first World War

2. “Vernunft and Wissenschaft”



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