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The New Spirituality and the Christ Experience of the Twentieth Century

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



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The New Spirituality and the Christ Experience of the Twentieth Century

Schmidt Number: S-4277

On-line since: 15th June, 2020

5th Lecture

The New Spirituality and the Christ Expereience of the Twentieth Century
Lecture 4

Dornach,
29 October, 1920

The subject about which I shall have to speak today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, and which was already referred to some time ago, [1] is the special way in which, in the first half of the twentieth century, a kind of renewed manifestation of the Christ-Event is to take place. This will need a certain amount of preparation, and today, to begin with, I shall try to characterize again from a certain point of view the spiritual complexion of the civilized world and, from this point of view, draw attention to the challenges that are placed before us with regard to the evolution of humanity — the education of humanity as a whole in the near future-by the facts of this human evolution itself.

We know that a new age in the development of civilized humanity began around the beginning of the fifteenth century. People today no longer form an exact idea of what the constitution of soul was like in the people who lived before this great turning-point of modern history. People do not consider this. But one could easily imagine how different the soul-constitution in Europe must have been which, over large areas, inclined people to undertake the Crusades to Asia, to the Orient; especially when one bears in mind how impossible an event like this, resting as it did on an idealistic spiritual background, has become since the beginning of the fifteenth century. People do not consider the completely different nature of humanity's interests before this historical turning-point, nor the interests which, since that time, have become particularly important. But if, from the many characteristics which can be attributed to this more recent time, one wishes to single out the most significant one, then this must be the increasing ascendancy, the increasing intensity of the human power of intellect.

But in the depths of the human soul there is always another force, whether as a sense of longing or as a more or less clear facet of consciousness. It is the longing for knowledge. Now, when one looks back into former times, even into the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries of European development, it is possible to speak of a definite longing for knowledge in as much as the human being at that time had faculties in his soul which enabled him to achieve a relationship to nature — a relationship to what was revealed in nature as spirit — and thereby also to achieve a relationship to the spirit world itself. Certainly, longing for knowledge has been spoken about a good deal since then; but it is impossible, when one looks completely without prejudice at the development of humanity, to compare the longing for knowledge which holds sway today with the intensity of the longing for knowledge that held sway before the middle of the fifteenth century. Striving for knowledge was an intense affair of the human soul; for knowledge that had an inner glow, an inner warmth, for the human being, and which was also significant for the human being when it came to what moved him to perform his work in the world, and so on. Everything that lived there as a longing for knowledge has become less and less comparable with what has been emerging since the middle of the fifteenth century. And even when we consider the great philosophers of the first half of the nineteenth century, we are presented with ingenious elaborations of the human system of ideas; but only, if I can put it so, artistic elaborations of it. In neither Fichte, nor Schelling, nor Hegel — particularly not in Hegel — do we find a proper idea of what had previously existed as a longing for knowledge.

Then, in the second half of the nineteenth century, the striving for knowledge, even though pursued in isolation as was still the custom, enters more and more into the service of outer life. It enters into the service of technological science and thus also takes on the configuration of this technology. What then is the cause of this? It comes from the fact that it is just in this time that we find the particular development and elaboration of the intellect. This, of course, did not happen all at once. The intellect was gradually prepared for. The last traces of the old clairvoyance had long since become extremely dim. But one can nevertheless say that, to a certain degree, the last effects of the old clairvoyance — though not the old clairvoyance itself — were still present even in the fifteenth century. All human beings, or at least those who strove for knowledge, had some idea of the faculties rising up out of the human soul that are higher than the faculties concerned with daily life. Although in olden times these faculties arose from the soul in a dreamlike way, they were nevertheless faculties different from those of everyday life and it was by means of these other [higher] faculties that people tried to probe to the depths of the world-being — and did, in fact, penetrate to its spirituality. Thus was knowledge attained. People experienced it as knowing when, from the phenomena of nature, from the being of nature, they sensed, they perceived, how spiritual elemental beings worked in the individual phenomena of nature; how the divine spiritual being as a whole worked through the totality of nature. People felt themselves to be in the realm of knowledge when gods spoke through the phenomena of nature; when gods spoke through the appearance and movements of the stars. This is what people understood as knowledge.

The moment humanity renounced perception of the spiritual in the manifestations of nature, the concept of knowledge itself also fell more or less into a deterioration. And it is this decline of real intensity in the pursuit of knowledge that marks the latest period of human evolution.

What then is needed here? It is that which exists at present only in the small circle of anthroposophically-striving human beings but which must become more and more general. Nature's manifestations spoke to ancient human beings in such a way that they revealed the spirit to them. The spiritual spoke out of every spring, every cloud, every plant. In the way people came to know the manifestations and beings of nature they also came to know the spiritual. This is no longer the case. But the condition of intellectualism is only a transitional condition. For what is the deepest characteristic of this intellect? It is that it is impossible to grasp and know anything at all with the pure intellect. The intellect is not just there for knowing. This is the greatest error to which the human being can give himself: the belief that the intellect is there for gaining knowledge. People will attain to true knowledge again only when they concern themselves with what lies at the basis of spiritual-scientific research; which, at the least, can be given by Imagination. People will only know truly again when they say: In ancient times divine-spiritual beings spoke from the manifestations of nature. For the intellect they are silent. For higher, super-sensible knowledge it will not be the phenomena of nature that will speak directly — for nature, as such, works silently. But beings will speak to the human being — beings who will appeal, to him in Imaginations, will inspire him, with whom he will become united intuitively and whom he will then be able to relate again to the phenomena of nature. Thus one can say: In ancient times the spiritual appeared to the human being through nature. In our transitional condition we have the intellect. Nature remains spiritless. The human being will lift himself up to a condition where he can again truly know; where, indeed, nature will no longer speak to him of divine-spiritual beings but where he will o take hold of the divine-spiritual in supersensible knowledge and will, in turn, be able to relate this to nature.

It was a particular characteristic of oriental spiritual life, of oriental knowledge — which, as we know, lived on as a heritage in occidental civilization — that the orientals, at the time of the blossoming of the knowledge of their culture, perceived a spiritual element in all the manifestations of nature; that the divine-spiritual spoke through nature, whether through the lower elemental beings in individual things and phenomena or in the whole of nature, as the all-encompassing divine-spiritual. Later on there developed in the central regions of the earth that which came under the dialectical-legal spirit. It is out of this that intellectuality was born. Spiritual culture was retained as a heritage from the ancient Orient. And when people still had this last longing to experience something from the Orient — people did experience something of this in the Crusades and brought it back to Europe — and after they had stilled this longing through the Crusades, the Orient became effectively closed off. On the one hand, by what was established by Peter the Great who destroyed the remains of the oriental constitution of soul on the European side and, on the other hand, by the blockade set up by the Turks who, just at the beginning of this age which we call the fifth post-Atlantean epoch, established their rule in Europe. European thought and culture was, as it were, closed off from access to the Orient. But it had to develop further and could only do so under the influence of the dialectical-legal life, under the influence of the economic life arising from the West, and in the decadent continuation of the spiritual life which had been received from the Orient, to which the doors were now closed as I described. The condition was thereby prepared in which we are now living, where it is up to us, out of ourselves, to open the doors again to the spiritual world; to come to a perception of it through Imagination, Inspiration, Intuition.

This is all connected with the fact that, in those ancient times in which the oriental rose to the attainment of wisdom, what was of particular importance were the abilities, the forces, brought by the human being into physical existence through birth. In the time of oriental wisdom, everything — despite the civilization which took its course there and was shone through with wisdom — everything, fundamentally, depended on the blood. But, at the same time, what was in the blood was also spiritually recognized. It was determined by the Mysteries as to who, through his line of blood, was called by destiny to the leadership of the people. There could be no questioning this: whoever was called to the leadership of the people by the Mysteries was brought to this position because his bloodline, his descent, was. the outer sign that this was how it should be. There could be no question of any kind of legal proof as to whether anyone was rightly in this position or not because, against the verdict of the gods, according to which people were allotted their place, there could be no contradiction. Jurisprudence was unknown in the mission here in the world of the senses was given by Orient. One knew theocracy, the 'rule of cosmic order', One's mission here in the world of the senses was given by the spiritual world above. The feeling that said that someone was in the in the right place because the gods had directed his bloodline in such a way that he could be brought to this place was replaced with another in a dialectical-legal dress, on the basis of which one that he could dispute on legal grounds whether someone was entitled to his position, or to do this or that, and so on.

The nature of the soul-constitution, prepared already in Greece but then particularly also in Rome, by which Central Europeans were beginning to use concepts, dialectics, to decide what justice was, was quite unknown and alien to the Orient. I have described this from different aspects. In the Orient it was a matter of fathoming the will of the gods. And there were no dialectics for deciding what the gods willed.

But we are again at a turning-point. It is becoming necessary now for humanity to also take a closer look at this dialectical-legal element. For the economic element, which from the West has conquered the world with the aid of technology, is already completely entangled in the state of affairs that has arisen through the dialectical-legal aspect. The economy was a minor element in the ancient theocratic cultures which were permeated by the divine-spiritual. People did there in the economic life what arose as a matter of course according to the place and rank into which the gods had placed them through the proclamations of the Mysteries. And then the economic life, which began again only primitively, became caught up, as it were, in the threads of the dialectical-legal life. For, at the beginning of the so-called Middle Ages, the Romans above all had no money. Economics based on money was gradually lost and the dialectical-legal culture spread in Europe as a kind of economy based on nature-produce. The early part of the Middle Ages was, basically, short of money; and this brought about all those forms of military service which were necessary because there was no money to pay the troops. The Romans paid their troops with money. In the Middle Ages feudalism developed, and with it a particular type of professional soldiery. All this came about because, tied to the soil under the influence of an economy based on the exchange of nature-produce, a man could no longer take part himself in distant campaigns of war. Thus this dialectical-legal element grew up in a kind of agricultural economy based on barter, and it was only when technology from the West permeated this economic life that the new age arose. The life of this new civilization, which has become so fragile, has arisen in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch entirely as a result of technology. I have already described this in different ways. I have described how, according to the official census, world population at the end of the nineteenth century was 1,400 million but that as much work was being accomplished as though there were 2,000 million. This is because such a phenomenally large amount of work is done by machines. The machine technology with its stupendous transformation of the economic life and the social life has arrived.

What has not yet arrived — because everything is still engulfed in the intellectual life — is precisely what must now carry this machine-technological economy into modern civilization. One experiences the strangest things today with regard to the prospects facing humanity. There are already many people today, particularly among those who pride themselves on being practical, who, for example, go into governmental positions with their practical experience where it then usually evaporates. The little practical experience people have usually evaporates as soon as they take it into a government department. Such `governing practicians', such 'practical men in government' — one has to put it in inverted commas — get the strangest ideas these days. Someone said to me recently: 'yes, the new age has brought us machines, and with them urban life; we must take life back to the land.' As though one could just remove the machine-age from the world! The machine would simply follow us into the country, I said to him. Everything, I said, could be forgotten; spiritual culture could be forgotten, but machines would remain. They would simply be taken out to the land. What has arisen in the cities will transplant itself into the country.

In fact, people become reactionaries in a grand style — when they no longer feel inclined — and this is the characteristic of people generally today: that they have no will — to form ideas concerning true progress. They would prefer to bring back the old conditions of the countryside. They imagine that this can be done. They believe that one can shut out what the centuries have brought. That is nonsense! But people today love this nonsense so tremendously because they are too complacent to grasp the new and prefer to get along with the old. The machine age has arrived. Machines themselves show how much human labour they save. It is simply that 500 million people would have to do the work machines do if their work on the earth were to be done by people.

And all this work by machines began, primarily, in Western civilization. It arose in the West and spread to the Orient very late where it did not establish itself at all in the same way as it did in occidental civilization. But that is a time of transition. And now try and grasp a thought which, however strange it may seem to you, must be taken seriously.

Let us suppose the human being in ancient times had before him a cloud, or perhaps a river, or all kinds of vegetation and so on. He did not see in these the dead nature seen by the human being of today — he saw spiritual elemental beings, up to the divine-spiritual beings of the higher Hierarchies. He saw all this, as it were, through nature. But nature no longer speaks of these divine-spiritual beings. We have to grasp them as spiritual reality beyond nature and then relate them again back to nature. The period of transition came. Man created machines as an addition to nature. These he regards for the time being quite abstractly. He works with them in an entirely abstract way. He has his mathematics, geometry, mechanics. With these he constructs his machines and regards them altogether in the abstract. But he will very soon make a certain discovery. Strange though it may still seem to the human being of the present that such a discovery will be made, people will nevertheless discover that (in this mechanistic element which they have incorporated into the economic life) those spirits are again working which in earlier times were perceived by the human being in nature. In his technical machines of the economic sphere the human being will perceive that, although he constructed and made them, they nevertheless gradually take on a life of their own — a life certainly which he can still deny because they manifest themselves to begin with only in the economic sphere. But he will notice more and more in what he himself creates that it gains a life of its own and that, despite the fact that he brought it forth from the intellect, the intellect itself can no longer comprehend it. Perhaps people today can barely form a clear idea of this, but it will be so nevertheless. People will discover, in fact, how the objects of their industry (Wirtschaft) become the bearers of demons.

Let us look at it from another side. Out of the naked intellect, out of the most desolate intellect, there has arisen the Lenin-Trotsky system that is trying to build an economic life in Russia. Despite Lunacharsky, [2] these people are not interested in the spiritual life. For them the spiritual life must be an ideology arising from the economic life. It can hardly be said that there is a very strong dialectical-legal element in the Trotsky-Leninist system — everything is to be geared towards the economic. The desire is, in a certain sense, to embody the intellect in the economic life. If one could do this for a time — this initial experiment will not work, but let us suppose that it were possible — the economic life would grow over peoples' heads. It would bring forth everywhere destructive, demonic forces out of itself. It would not work because the intellect would not be able to cope with all the economic demands that would surge up! Just as the human being in ancient times beheld nature and the manifestations of nature and saw in them demonic beings; so, too, must the human being of present times learn to see demonic beings in what he himself produces in the economic life. For the time being these demons, which human beings have not diverted into machines, are still in human beings themselves and manifest as the destructive beings (die zerstarenden) in social revolutions. These destructive social revolutions are nothing other than the result of not recognizing the demonic element in our economic life. Elemental spirits (elementarische Geistigkeit) must be looked for in the economic life just as in ancient times elemental beings (elementarische Geistigkeit) were sought in nature. And the purely intellectual life is only an intermediary stage which has no significance at all for nature or for what man produces, but only for human beings themselves.

Human beings have developed the intellect so that they can become free. They have to develop a faculty that has absolutely nothing to do with nature or with machines but only with the human being himself. When the human being develops faculties that stand in a relationship to nature, he is not free. If he tries to flee into the economic life he is also not free because the machines only overwhelm him. But when he develops faculties that have nothing to do with either knowledge or practical life, like pure intelligence, he can appropriate freedom to himself in the course of cultural development. It is precisely through a faculty like the intellect, which does not stand in a relationship to the world, that freedom can arise. But in order that the human being does not tear away from nature, in order that he can again work into nature, Imagination must be added to this intellect; everything must be added to it which supersensible research is seeking to find.

There is something else involved here. I related how, for the ancient oriental, the relationships of the blood line were of very particular importance, for the wise men of the Mysteries were guided by these as though by signs from the gods when they placed the human being into his appropriate [social] position. And all these things reach over then like after-effects, like ghosts, into later times. Then came the dialectical-legal element. The official stamp became the most important thing. The diploma, examination results or, rather, what was on the piece of paper that was the examination certificate — this became the important thing. Whereas in ancient theocratic times blood was the decisive factor, it was now the piece of paper. Those times drew near for which many things are characteristic. A lawyer once said to me during a discussion I had with him: The fact that you were born, that you exist, is not what matters!' This did not interest him. It was the birth certificate or the christening certificate that had to exist; that was the important thing. The paper substitute! So the dialectical-legal arose. This, at the same time, is also the expression for the unreal (das Scheinhafte) in relation to the world, for the unreal element of the intellect. But precisely in the human being himself there could develop, as the counterpart of this maya element (Scheinhafte) in the world, what gave the human being freedom.

But now there develops, out of what is signified in paper — which in earlier times was signified in the blood — out of what is signified in the letter-patent of nobility or similar documents, something that is already showing itself today and which will — continue if things go on as now. And they will continue! Descent by blood will no longer be of importance. The letter-patent of nobility and similar papers will have no more importance. At most, only what a man manages to salvage of what he possesses from the past will count. To ask 'why' was not possible when the gods still determined an individual's place in the world. In the dialectical-legal age it was possible to dispute this 'why'. Now all discussion ceases, for only the factual is left, the actuality of what an individual has salvaged. The moment people lose faith in the paper-regime there will be no more discussions. The things an individual has saved for himself will simply be taken away. There is no other way to bring humanity forward, now that nature no longer reveals the spiritual, than to turn to the spiritual itself and, on the other hand, to find in the economic element what people in earlier times found in nature.

This, however, can only be found through association. What a human being alone can no longer find can be found by an association which will again develop a kind of group-soul, taking in hand what the individual at present cannot decide alone. In the Middle Ages, in the age of the intellect, it was the individual that ruled in economics. In the future it will be the association. And people must stand together in an association. And then, when it is recognized that a spiritual element has to be kept in check in the economic life, something will be able to arise which can replace the blood-line and the patent. For, the economic life would grow above the human being's head if he did not show himself equal to it, if he did not bring a spiritual insight with him to guide it. No one would associate with someone who did not bring qualities that made him effective in the economic life and which qualified him really to control the spirits which assert themselves in the economic life. An entirely new spirit will arise. And why will this be so?

In the ancient times, in which people judged according to the blood, what had taken place before birth or before conception was of importance for human beings, for this is what they brought into the physical world through the blood. And when existence before birth had been forgotten a recognition of the life before birth still lived on in the recognition of the blood-line. And then came the dialectical-legal element. The human being was only recognized in relation to what he was as a physical being. Now the other element comes in — an economic life that is growing demonic. And the human being must also now be recognized again in his inmost soul-and-spirit being. And just as one will see the demonic element in economic life, so one will also have to begin to see that which the human being bears through repeated lives on earth. One will have to be aware of what a human being brings when he enters this life. This will have to be taken care of in the spiritual limb of the social organism.

When one judges according to the blood, one really does not need a pedagogy; one only needs a knowledge of the symbols through which the gods express where it is a human being is to be placed. As long as one judges in a purely dialectical-legal way one only needs an abstract pedagogy which speaks of the human child in a generalized way. But when a human being is to be placed in an associative life in such a way that he is fit and capable one has to take account of the following. One must realize that the first seven years in which the human being develops the physical body, are not significant for what he will be able to do later in the social life -— he must only be made fit and capable in a general way valid for all human beings. In the years between seven and fourteen, in which the etheric body is developed, the human being must first of all be recognized. What has to be recognized is what then emerges as the astral body at the age of fourteen or fifteen and which comes into consideration when the real soul-and-spiritual core of the human being is to bring him to the place he is meant to be. Here the educational factor becomes a specifically social one. It is a matter here of gaining a true understanding of the child one is educating so that one can see that a certain quality in the child is good for this, and another quality is good for that. But this does not show itself clearly until after the child leaves primary school and it will belong to an artistic pedagogy and didactics to be able to discern that one child is suited for this and another is suited for that. It is according to this that those decisions will be made that are the challenge in Towards Social Renewal for the circulation of capital; that is to say the means of production. A completely new spiritual concept must arise which, on the one hand, is capable of perceiving the economic life in its inner spiritual vitality and, on the other, can perceive what role must be played by cultural life; how cultural life must give economic life its configuration. This can only happen if the cultural life is independent, when nothing is forced upon it by the economic life. It is when one inwardly grasps the whole course of humanity's evolution that one recognizes how this evolution requires the threefolding of the social organism.

Thus, because we have been closed off from the Orient in more recent times by the Petrinism of Peter the Great on the one hand and Turkey on the other, we therefore need an independent spiritual life; a spiritual life that really recognizes the spiritual world in a new form and not in the way in which, in ancient times, nature spoke to man. One will then be able to relate this spiritual life back to nature. But once one has found it, one will also be able to develop this spiritual life in such a way in the human being that it becomes the content of his skills; that he will be able through this spiritual life to satisfy, in associative cooperation, an economic life that becomes more and more dynamic. Such thoughts as these really must exist in an anthroposophically-oriented spiritual science. For this reason such a spiritual science can only be born from a knowledge of the course of human evolution.

The first thing is to steer towards a real knowledge of the spirit. Talk of the spirit in general terms — in empty, abstract words in the way that is accepted practice today among official philosophers and in other circles and which has become generally popular — is of no use for the future. The spiritual world is not the same as the physical world. Thus it is not possible to gain a perception of the spiritual world by abstracting from the physical but only by direct spiritual investigation. These perceptions naturally then appear as something completely different from what the human being can know when he knows only the physical world. People who, out of complacency, wish only to know of the physical world call it fantastic to talk about Old Moon, Old Sun and Old Saturn. They find that, when one speaks about these former embodiments of the earth, it strikes no chord in them. Things are described there of which they do not have the foggiest notion. The fact is of course that they have no notion of them because they do not want to know about the spiritual world. Things are related to them about the spiritual world and they say: But it doesn't concur with anything we already know. But that is the whole point: worlds are found that do not concur with what one knows already. This is the way, is it not, that, for example, Arthur Drews, the philosophy professor, judges spiritual science. It does not concur with what he has already imagined. Indeed, when the railway from Berlin to Potsdam was to be built, the post master of Berlin [3] said: And now I'm supposed to send trains to Potsdam! I already send four post coaches a week and no one travels in them. If people really want to throw their money out of the window why don't they do it directly! Of course, the railways looked different from the post-coaches of the 1830s of the honest post-master of Berlin. But, of course, the descriptions of the spiritual world also look different from what nests in heads like Arthur Drews'. He, however, is only characteristic of many others. He is even one of the better ones, strange as it may seem. Not because he is good, but because the others are worse.

It was first of all necessary to show how, on a strict scientific basis, one can truly penetrate into the spiritual worlds. This is what, in the first place, our lecture course this autumn has been striving towards. And even if this is only at its beginnings, it has at least been shown how, in certain areas of the sciences, knowledge can be raised to a knowledge of the spiritual as such and how this spiritual element can in turn permeate what is gained by sense-knowledge.

But what can thus be gained in the field of knowledge and what will be achieved in contrast to the accepted knowledge in the schools — for it is in this area that fine beginnings are apparent — would remain incomplete. One could in fact already show how psychology, and, indeed, even mathematics, point towards spiritual realms. But it would only be something incomplete and therefore unable to aid our declining civilization if a truly elemental and intensive will does not arise from the area of practical economic life. It is necessary that old usages, old habits, be truly dropped and that everyday life be permeated with spirituality. It must come about as a flower of the Anthroposophical Movement that, with the help of the mood of soul that can arise out of spiritual science, a perceptive understanding of practical life is brought to bear — especially of the practical economic life — and that it may be shown how the downfall can be averted if a consciousness of creating something alive is carried into this economic life.

Every day one should keep an ever-watchful eye on the so blatantly visible signs of our declining economic life. This old economic life cannot be galvanized. For just as today no one should be proud of what he gains from ordinary science — for that would definitely lead humanity into the future prophesied by Oswald Spengler — so, too, no one should be proud of what he can gain from the old economic life by way of abilities that correspond to this old form. Today no one can be proud of being a physicist, a mathematician, a biologist in the usual sense. But also no one can be proud of being a merchant, an industrialist in the old sense. But this 'old sense' is the only thing we have today. Nowhere today do we see anything arising like a true association. What is really needed, as a kind of second event of this Goetheanum, is to have something on the lines of this lecture-course, which could provide something tangible out of the realm of practical life itself, and which could stand side by side with the sciences. We will not get any further with what is contained in just one stream but only when this other side of human striving also has its place.

This today is still the characteristic feature of our present human evolution: on the one side the traditional bearers of the old spiritual life who calumniate and slander one when, working out of the modern scientific approach, one tries to achieve a spiritualization. They already do this today quite consciously because they have no interest in the progress of human development and because, for the time being, they only think to hold back this evolution of humanity. Sometimes they do so in a truly grotesque manner, like that strange academic [4] who recently spoke in Zurich about Anthroposophy and went to such extremes that even his colleagues were shocked; so that, as it seems, this attack against Anthroposophy has actually acted as mild propaganda for it. These representatives of a redundant spiritual life persist, however, and will do so far more, for they will dose ranks with formidable slanders. Here one sees what one is up against, arising in the form of slanders and so on, in regard to untruth.

On the other side one can notice another strong resistance; which, however, occurs in the unconscious. And this is a painful experience. In this area one can definitely speak of an inner opposition, sometimes quite unintentional, against what must lie in the direction of spiritual-scientific endeavour. It will be a matter of having to learn, particularly in this area, to identify with the aims that spiritual science can set here. For to judge, in the subjective way that has been usual up to now, what must be willed from spiritual science, would be to do the same as the priests and others in other areas do when they declare spiritual science a heresy. This is what makes difficulties for our Anthroposophical Movement — the fact that precisely in this area a kind of inner opposition is clearly noticeable. One can say that it is particularly in this area that what sheds light in such a strange way on certain accusations which come from many sides, shows itself most clearly. They say: 'In this Anthroposophical Society everyone only repeats what one man has said. But in reality they do not repeat at all; everyone just says what he thinks so that the one man can approve it.' We have experienced this many times, have we not? A person talks frequently about what he may want, saying that I said so, even though from me he actually heard the exact opposite. Now this is the real rule of blind faith in authority. A strange faith in authority! This has been evident in many cases. But it would be particularly damaging if this strange kind of opposition — there has actually always been more opposition than faith in authority and, therefore, an indictment of faith in authority is really unjust — it would be far more fatal if what I refer to here as inner opposition were, particularly in the sphere of practical life, to take on wider dimensions. For then the opponents of anthroposophical striving would, as long as they could, of course say: `Aha, a sectarian, fantastic movement which cannot be practical.' Of course it cannot be practical if people do not engage themselves in it; just as, after all, no matter how good one is at sewing, one cannot sew without a needle.

With this I only wished to draw attention to something that needs watching. It is by no means intended as a criticism or as a reference to the past but is something necessary for the future. Nevertheless, I would of course not have referred to it if I did not see all sorts of smoke-clouds rising. But I am really only pointing out what has, as it were, to be a challenge to really cooperate on all sides and not to shelter behind reactionary practices and, behind the bulwark of these reactionary practices, destroy Anthroposophy even though one is perhaps trying to help it. So I am not referring to something that has already happened but to something that is necessary for the future. It is necessary to think about these things.

With these comments I shall have to let it rest for today. Tomorrow and the following day we shall have to link up this prelude which, as you will see, is in fact an introduction to a study of the Christ-experience in the twentieth century.

Notes:

1. See Das Ereignis der Christus-Erscheinung in der atherischen Welt (The Event of the Reappearance of Christ in the Etheric World), sixteen lectures given in different cities in 1910, (GA 118). Return

2. Anatol Vasilevich Lunacharsky (1875–1933), Russian writer and politician. From 1917 he was the Commisar for the education of the masses. Return

3. Karl Ferdinand Friedrich von Nagler (1770–1846). Return

4. It has not been possible to establish who this was. Return




Last Modified: 17-Oct-2020
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