our study of karmic connections I have hitherto followed the practice
of starting from personalities in more recent times and then going
back to their previous lives on earth. Today, in order to amplify the
actual examples of karmic connections, I propose to go the other way,
starting from certain personalities of the past and following them
into later times, either into some later epoch of history, or right
into the life of the present day. What I want to do is to give you a
picture of certain historic connections, presenting it in such a way
that at every point some light is shed on the workings of karma.
you follow the development of Christianity from its foundation,
tracing the various paths taken by the Christian Impulse on its way
across Europe, you will encounter a different stream of spiritual life
which, although little heed is paid to it today, exercised an
extraordinarily deep influence upon European civilisation under the
surface of external events. It is the stream known as Mohammedanism,
the Mohammedan religion, which, as you know, came into existence
rather more than 500 years after the founding of Christianity,
together with the mode of life associated with it.
see, in the first place, that monotheism in a very strict form was
instituted by Mohammed. It is a religion that looks up, as did
Judaism, to a single Godhead encompassing the universe. “There
is one God and Mohammed is his herald.” — That is what
goes forth from Arabia as a mighty impulse, spreading far into Asia,
passing across Africa and thence into Europe by way of Spain.
who studies the civilisation of our own time will misjudge many
things if he ignores the influences which, having received their
initial impetus from the deed of Mohammed, penetrated into European
civilisation as the result of the Arabian campaigns, although the
actual form of religious feeling with which these influences were
associated did not make its way into Europe.
we consider the form in which Mohammedanism made its appearance, we
find, first and foremost, the uncompromising monotheism, the one,
all-powerful Godhead — a conception of Divinity that is allied
with fatalism. The destiny of man is predetermined; he must submit to
this destiny, or at least recognise his subjection to it. This
attitude is an integral part of the religious life. But this Arabism
— for let us call it so — also brought in its train
something entirely different. The strange thing is that while, on the
one hand, the warlike methods adopted by Arabism created disturbance
and alarm among the peoples, on the other hand it is also remarkable
that for well-nigh a thousand years after the founding of
Mohammedanism, Arabism did very much to promote and further
civilisation. If we look at the period when Charlemagne's influence
in Europe was at its prime, we find over in Asia, at the Court in
Baghdad, much wonderful culture, a truly great and splendid spiritual
life. While Charlemagne was trying to spread an elementary kind of
culture on primitive foundations — he himself only learnt to
write out of sheer necessity — spiritual culture of a very high
order was flourishing over yonder in Asia, in Baghdad. Moreover, this
spiritual culture inspired tremendous respect in the environment of
Charles the Great himself.
the time when Charles the Great was ruling — 768 to 814 are the
dates given — we see over in Baghdad, in the period from 786 to
809, Haroun al Raschid as the figure-head of a civilisation
that had achieved great splendour. We see Haroun al Raschid, whose
praises have so often been sung by poets, at the centre of a wide
circle of activity in the sciences and the arts. He was himself a
highly cultured man whose followers were by no means men of such
primitive attainments as, for example, Einhard, the associate of
Charles the Great. Haroun al Raschid gathered around him men of real
brilliance in the field of science and art. We see him in Asia —
not exactly ruling over culture, but certainly giving the impulse to
it at a very high level.
we see how there emerges within this spiritual culture, of which
Haroun al Raschid was the soul, something that had been spreading in
Asia in a continuous stream since the time of Aristotle. Aristotelian
philosophy and natural science had spread across into Asia and had
there been elaborated by oriental insight, oriental imagination,
oriental vision. Its influence can be traced over the whole of Asia
Minor, almost to the frontier of India, and its effectiveness may be
judged from the fact that a widespread and highly developed system of
medicine, for example, was cultivated at this Court of Haroun al
philosophic thought is applied to what had been founded by Mohammed
with a kind of religious furor; we see this becoming the object of
intense study and being put to splendid application by the scholars,
poets, scientists and physicians living at this Court in Baghdad.
was cultivated there, also geography. Unfortunately, far too little
is heard of this in European history, and the primitive doings at the
Frankish Court of Charles the Great are apt to obscure what was being
achieved over in Asia.
we consider all that had developed directly out of Mohammedanism, we
have before us a most remarkable picture. Mohammedanism was founded
in Mecca and carried further in Medina. It spread into the regions of
Damascus, Baghdad and so forth, indeed, over the whole of Asia Minor,
exercising the dominating influence I have described. This is the one
direction in which Mohammedanism spreads — northwards from
Arabia and across Asia Minor. The Arabs continually lay siege to
Constantinople. They knock at the doors of Europe. They want to force
their way across Eastern Europe towards Middle Europe.
the other hand, Arabism spreads across the North of Africa and thence
into Spain. It takes hold of Europe as it were from the other
direction, by way of Spain.
have before us the remarkable spectacle of Europe tending to be
surrounded by Arabism — by a forked stream of Arabic culture.
in its Roman form, spreads upwards from Rome, from the South,
starting from Greece; this impulse is made manifest later on by
Ulfila's translation of the Bible, and so forth. And then, enclosing
this European civilisation as it were with two forked arms, we have
Mohammedanism. Everything that history tells concerning what was done
by Charles the Great to further Christianity must be considered in
the light of the fact that while Charles the Great did much to
promote Christianity in Middle Europe, at the same time there was
flourishing over yonder in Asia that illustrious centre of culture of
which I have spoken, the centre of culture around Haroun al Raschid.
we look at the purely external course of history, what do we find?
Wars are waged all along a line stretching across North Africa to the
Iberian Peninsula; the followers of Arabism come right across Spain
and are beaten back by the representatives of European Christianity,
by Charles Martel, by Charles the Great himself. Then, later, we find
how the greatness of Mohammedanism is overclouded by the Turkish
element which assumes the guise of religion but extinguishes
everything that went with the lofty culture to which Haroun al
Raschid gave the impetus.
two streams gradually die out as a result of the struggle waged
against them by the warlike Christian population of Europe. Towards
the end of the first thousand years, the only real menace in Europe
comes from the Turks, but this has nothing much to do with what we
are here considering. From now onwards no more is to be heard of the
spread of Arabism.
of history in its purely external aspect might lead us to the
conclusion that Arabism had been beaten back by the European peoples.
Battles were fought such as that of Tours and Poitiers, and there
were many others; the Arabs were also defeated from the side of
Constantinople, and it might easily be thought that Arabism had
disappeared from the arena of world-history.
the other hand, when we think deeply about the impulses that were at
work in the sciences, and also in many respects in the field of art
in European culture, we find Arabism still in evidence — but as
if it had secretly poured into Christianity, had been secretly
inculcated into it.
has this come about? You must realise, my dear friends, that in
spiritual life, events do not take the form in which they reveal
themselves in external history. The really significant streams run
their course beneath the surface of ordinary history and in
these streams the individualities of the men who have worked in one
epoch appear again, born into communities speaking an entirely
different language, with altogether different tendencies of thought,
yet working still with the same fundamental impulse. In an earlier
epoch they may have accomplished something splendid, because the
trend of events was with them, while in a later they may have had to
bring it into the world in face of great hindrances and obstructions.
Such individuals are obliged to content themselves with much that
seems trivial in comparison with the mighty achievements of their
earlier lives; but for all that, what they carry over from one epoch
into another is the same in respect of the fundamental trend and
attitude of soul. We do not always recognise what is thus carried
over because we are too prone to imagine that a later earthly life
must resemble an earlier one. There are people who think that a
musician must come again as a musician, a philosopher as a
philosopher, a gardener as a gardener, and so forth. By no means is
it so. The forces that are carried over from one incarnation into
another lie on far deeper levels of the life of soul.
we perceive this, we realise that Arabism did not, in truth, die out.
From the examples of Friedrich Theodor Vischer and of Schubert I was
recently able to show you how the work and achievements of
individualities in an earlier epoch continue, in a later one, in
totally different forms.
most assuredly did not die out; far rather was it that individuals
who were firmly rooted in Arabism lived in European civilisation and
influenced it strongly, in a way that was possible in Europe in that
it is easier to go forward from some historical personality in order
to find him again than to go the reverse way, as in recent lectures —
starting from later incarnations and then going back to earlier ones.
When we learn to know the individuality of Haroun al Raschid inwardly
in the astral light, as we say, when we have him before us as a
spiritual individuality in the 9th century, bearing in mind what he
was behind the scenes of world-history — and when what he was
had been unfolded on the surface with the brilliance of which I have
told you — then we can follow the course of time and find such
an individuality as Haroun al Raschid passing through death, looking
down from the spiritual world upon what is happening on earth,
looking down, that is to say, upon the outward extermination of
Arabism and, in accordance with his destiny, being involved in the
process. We find such an individuality passing through the spiritual
world and appearing again, not perhaps with the same splendour, but
with a similar trend of soul.
so we see Haroun al Raschid appearing again in the history of
European spiritual life as a personality who is once again of wide
repute, namely, as Lord Bacon of Verulam. I have spoken of
Lord Bacon in many different connections. All the driving power that
was in Haroun al Raschid and was conveyed to those in his
environment, this same impulse was imparted by Lord Bacon in a more
abstract form — for he lived in the age of abstraction —
to the various branches of knowledge. Haroun al Raschid was a
universal spirit in the sense that he united specialists, so to
speak, around him. Lord Bacon — he has of course his Inspirer
behind him, but he is a fit subject to be so inspired — Lord
Bacon is a personality who is also able to exercise a truly universal
with this knowledge of an historic karmic connection we turn to Bacon
and his writings, we recognise why these writings have so little that
is Christian about them and such a strong Arabic timbre. We discover
the genuine Arabist trend in these writings of Lord Bacon. And many
things too in regard to his character, which has been so often
impugned, will be explicable when we see in him the reincarnated
Haroun al Raschid. The life and culture pursued at the Court of
Haroun al Raschid, and justly admired by Charles the Great himself,
become the abstract science of which Lord Bacon was the bearer. But
men bowed before Lord Bacon too. And whoever studies the attitude
adopted by European civilisation in the 8th/9th centuries to Haroun
al Raschid, and then the attitude of European learning to Lord Bacon,
will have the impression: men have turned round, that is all! In the
days of Haroun al Raschid they looked towards the East; then they
turned round in Middle Europe and looked towards the West, to Lord
so what may have disappeared, outwardly speaking, from history, is
carried from age to age by human individualities themselves. Arabism
seems to have disappeared; but it lives on, lives on in its
fundamental trend. And just as the outer aspects of a human life
differ from those of the foregoing life, so do the influences
exercised by such a personality differ from age to age.
your history books, and you will find that the year 711 was of great
significance in the situation between Europe and the Arabism that was
storming across Spain. Tarik, Commander of the Arabs, sets out from
Africa. He comes to the place that received its name from him: Gebel
al Tarik, later called Gibraltar. The battle of Jerez de la Frontera
takes place in the year 711. Arabism makes a strong thrust across
Spain at the beginning of the 8th century. Battles are fought, and
the fortunes of war sway hither and thither between the peoples who
have come down into Spain to join with the old inhabitants, and the
Arabs who are now storming in upon them. Even in those days the
“culture,” as we would say today, of the attacking Arabs,
commanded tremendous respect in Spain. Naturally, the Europeans had
no desire to subject themselves to the Arabs. But the culture the
Arabs brought with them was already in a sense a foreshadowing of
what flourished later in such unexampled brilliance under Haroun al
Raschid. In a man such as Tarik there was the attitude of soul that
in all the storms of war wants to give expression to what is
contained in Arabism. What we see outwardly is the tumult of war. But
along the paths of these wars comes much lofty culture. Even
outwardly a very great deal in the way of art and science was
established in Spain. Many remains of Arabism lived on in the
spiritual life of Europe. Spain itself soon ceased to play a part in
the West of Europe. Nevertheless the fortunes of war swayed to and
fro and the fighting continued from Spain; in men such as Spinoza we
can see how deep is the influence of Arabist culture. Spinoza cannot
be understood unless we see his origin in Arabism.
then this stream flows across to England, but there it runs dry,
comes to an end. We turn over the pages of history, and after the
descriptions of the conflicts between Europe and the Arabs we find,
as we read on further, that Arabism has dried up, externally at any
rate. But under the surface this has not happened; on the contrary,
Arabism spreads abroad in the spiritual life. And along this
undercurrent of history, Tarik bears what he originally bore into
Spain on the fierce wings of war. The aim of the Arabians in their
campaigns was most certainly not that of mere slaughter; no, their
aim was really the spread of Arabism. Their tasks were connected with
culture. And what a Tarik had carried into Spain at the beginning of
the 8th century, he now bears with him through the gate of death,
experiencing how as far as external history is concerned it runs dry
in Western Europe. And he appears again in the 19th century, bringing
Arabism to expression in modern form, as Charles Darwin.
we shall find a light shed upon something that seems to come like a
bolt from the blue — we find a light shed upon it when we
follow what has here been carried over from an earlier into a later
time, appearing in an entirely different form.
may at first seem like a paradox, but the paradox will disappear the
more deeply we look into the concrete facts. Read Darwin's writings
again with perception sharpened by what has been said and you will
feel: Darwin writes about things which Tarik might have been able to
see on his way to Europe! — In such details you will perceive
how the one life reaches over into the next.
from times of hoary antiquity, especially in Asia Minor, astronomy
had been the subject of profound study — astronomy, that is to
say, in an astrological form. This must not, of course, in any way be
identified with the quackery perpetuated in the modern age as
astrology. We must realise the deep insight into the spiritual
structure of the universe possessed by men in those times; this
insight was particularly marked among the Arabians in the period when
they were Mohammedans, continuing the dynasty founded by Mohammed.
Astrological astronomy in its ancient form was cultivated with great
intensity among them.
the Residence of the dynasty was transferred from Damascus to
Baghdad, we find Mamun ruling there in the 9th century. During
the reign of Mamun — all such rulers were successors of the
Prophet — astrology was cultivated in the form in which it
afterwards passed over into Europe, contained in tracts and treatises
of every variety which were only later discovered. They came over to
Europe in the wake of the Crusades but had suffered terribly from
erroneous and clumsy revision. For all that, however, this astronomy
was great and sublime. And when we search among those who are not
named in history, but who were around Mamun in Baghdad in the period
from 813 to 833, cultivating this astrological-astronomical
knowledge, we find a brilliant personality in whom Mamun placed deep
confidence. His name is not given in history, but that is of no
account. He was a personality most highly respected, to whom appeal
was always made when it was a question of reading the portents of the
stars. Many measures connected with the external social life were
formulated in accordance with what such celebrities as the learned
scholar at the Court of Caliph Mamun were able to read in the stars.
if we follow the line along which the soul of this learned man at the
Court of Mamun in Baghdad developed, we are led to the modern
astronomer Laplace. Thus one of the personalities who lived at
the Court of the Caliph Mamun appears again as Laplace.
great impulses — those of less importance, too, which I need
not now enumerate — that still flowed from this two-branched
stream into Europe, even after the outer process had come to a halt,
show us how Arabism lived on spiritually, how this two-pronged fork
around Europe continued its grip.
will remember, my dear friends, that Mohammed himself founded the
centre of Mohammedanism, Medina, which later on became the seat of
residence of his successors; this seat of residence was subsequently
transferred to Damascus. Then, from Damascus across to Asia Minor and
to the very portal of Europe, Constantinople, the generals of
Mohammed's successors storm forward, again on the wings of war,
bearing culture that has been fructified by the religion and the
religious life founded by Mohammed, but is permeated also with the
Aristotelianism which in the wake of the campaigns of
Alexander the Great was carried over from Greece, from Macedonia,
indeed from many centres of culture, to Asia.
here, too, something very remarkable happens. Arabism is flooded,
swamped, by the Turkish element. The Crusaders find rudimentary
relics only, not the fruits of an all-prevailing culture. All this
was eliminated by the Turks. What was carried by way of Africa and
Spain to the West lives on and develops in the tranquil flow, so to
speak, of civilisation and culture; points of contact are again and
again to be found.
unnamed scholar at the Court of Mamun, Haroun al Raschid himself,
Tarik — all these souls were able to link what they bore within
them with what was actually present in the world. For when the soul
has passed through the gate of death, a certain force of attraction
to the regions which were the scene of previous activity always
remains; even when through other impulses of destiny there may have
been changes, nevertheless the influence continues. It works on,
maybe in the form of longing or the like. But because Arabism
promotes belief in strict determinism, when the opportunity offered
for continuing in a spiritual way what, at the beginning, was
deliberately propagated by warlike means, it also became possible to
carry these spiritual streams especially into France and England.
Laplace, Darwin, Bacon, and many other spirits of like nature were
led forward in this direction.
everything had been, as it were, damped down. In the East, Arabism
was able to knock only feebly at the door of Europe; it could make no
real progress there. And those who passed through the gate of death
after having worked in this region felt repulsed, experienced a sense
of inability to go forward. The work they had performed on earth was
destroyed, and the consequence of this between death and rebirth was
a kind of paralysis of the life of soul. — We come now to
something of extraordinary interest.
after the time of the Prophet, the Residence is transferred from
Medina to Damascus. From there the generals of the successors of the
Prophet go forth with their armies but are again and again beaten
back; the success achieved in the West is not achieved here. And
then, very soon, we see a successor of the Prophet, Muavija by name,
ruling in Damascus. His attitude and constitution of soul proceed on
the one side from the monotheism of Arabism, but also from the
determinism which grew steadily into fatalism. But already at that
time., although in a more inward, mystical way, the Aristotelianism
that had been carried over to Asia was taking effect. Muavija, who
sent his generals on the one side as far as Constantinople and on the
other made attempts — without any success to speak of —
in the direction of Africa, this Muavija was at the same time a
thoughtful man; but a man who did not accomplish anything very much,
either outwardly or in the spiritual life.
rules not long after Mohammed. He thus stands entirely within
Mohammedanism, within the religious life of Arabism. He is a genuine
representative of Mohammedanism at that time, but one of those who
are growing away from its hide-bound form and entering into that mode
of thought which then, discarding the religious form, appears in the
sciences and fine arts of the West.
is a representative spirit in the first century after Mohammed, but
one whose thinking is no longer patterned in absolute conformity with
that of Mohammed; he draws his impulse from Mohammed, but only his
impulse. He has not yet discarded the religious core of
Mohammedanism, but has already led it over into the sphere of
thought, of logic. And above all he is one of those who are ardently
intent upon pressing on into Europe, upon forcing their way to the
West. If you follow the campaigns and observe the forces that were
put into operation under Muavija, you will realise that this
eagerness to push forward towards the West was combined with
tremendous driving power, but this was already blunted, was already
losing its edge.
such a spirit later passes through the gate of death and lives on,
the driving force also persists, and if we follow the path further we
get this striking impression. — During the life between death
and a new birth, much that remained as longing is elaborated into
world-encompassing plans for a later life, but world-encompassing
plans that assume no very concrete form for the very reason that the
force behind them was blunted.
I confess that I am always having to ask myself: Shall I or shall I
not speak openly? But after all it is useless to speak of these
matters merely in abstractions, and so one must lay aside reserve and
speak of things that are there in concrete cases. Let the world think
as it will: certain inner, spiritual necessities exist in connection
with the spread of Anthroposophy. One lends oneself to the impulse
that arises from these spiritual necessities, pursuing no outward
“opportunism.” Opportunism has, in sooth, wrought harm
enough to the Anthroposophical Society; in the future there must be
no more of it. And even if things have a paradoxical effect, they
will henceforward be said straight out.
we follow this Muavija, one of the earliest successors of the
Prophet, as he passes along the undercurrent and then appears again,
we find Woodrow Wilson.
a shattering way the present links itself with the past. A bond is
suddenly there between present and past. And if we observe how on the
sea of historical happenings there surges up as it were the wave of
Muavija, and again the wave of Woodrow Wilson, we perceive how the
undercurrent flows on through the sea below and appears again —
it is the same current.
believe that history becomes intelligible only when we see how what
really happens has been carried over from one epoch into another.
Think of the abstraction, the rigid abstraction, of the Fourteen
Points. Needless to say, the research did not take its start from the
Fourteen Points — but now that the whole setting lies before
you, look at the configuration of soul that comes to expression in
these Fourteen Points and ask yourselves whether it could have taken
root with such strength anywhere else than in a follower of Mohammed.
the fatalism that had already assumed such dimensions in Muavija and
transfer it into the age of modern abstraction. Feel the similarity
with Mohammedan sayings: “Allah has revealed it”; “Allah
will bring it to pass as the one and only salvation.” And then
try to understand the real gist of many a word spoken by the promoter
of the Fourteen Points. — With no great stretch of imagination
you will find an almost literal conformity.
when we are observing human beings, we can also speak of a
reincarnation of ideas. And then for the first time insight is
possible into the growth and unfolding of history.