[RSArchive Icon]
Rudolf Steiner Archive Section Name Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib

The Occult Movement in the Nineteenth Century

Rudolf Steiner Archive & e.Lib Document




Highlight Words

The Occult Movement in the Nineteenth Century

Schmidt Number: S-3138

On-line since: 31st March, 2009

LECTURE SIX

If in a broad sense, without going into details, you review what I ventured to put before you in the foregoing lectures, you will realise that the path of development which the spiritual-scientific current of thought was bound to take, imposes definite and earnest responsibilities upon those who feel themselves its sponsors. For you will certainly have realised from our recent studies that when man tries to find his bearings along the right path, great difficulties spring up for him, difficulties of a kind different from those otherwise encountered in life.

Now in life on the physical plane we are in many respects protected from aberrations in one direction or another. Many years ago I drew attention to this protection when, in connection with the problem of the Guardian of the Threshold, I gave certain indications which have been added to in the course of time. [note 1] Even in the early articles now incorporated in the book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. How is it achieved? it was shown how man on the physical plane is protected from deviating too readily in one direction or another in intellectual and moral life. We enter into existence in such a way that certain guiding forces for life are with us during our childhood. We know well that only in later years do we reach the stage of being able to exercise our power of free judgment.

If you observe a child and compare his soul-life with that of a grown-up person you will detect a certain difference. For you can justly say: instead of a kind of dreamlike life which he leads in childhood, the human being begins in later years to exercise his own faculty of free judgment. It is very important to be aware of these variations.

If in thinking of the whole course of human life from birth until death we keep childhood too much in mind, we may perhaps pay insufficient attention to this metamorphosis of the inner life of soul. But it is important to understand it because it is during the period when our power of judgment is not yet fully awake that guiding impulses for later life can be received. For the sake of our power of free judgment we must, as it were, be swathed in dream during the early years of our life in order that certain forces of guidance may find their way into our intellect and into our moral impulses, in order that we shall not prematurely crystallise the forces bestowed upon us for the purposes of our life and which are “breathed” — I will not say “incorporated” — into our being. Thereby we have something for the whole of our life; we direct ourselves throughout life in accordance with the intellectual and moral impulses that have been breathed into our soul.

When we approach concepts of the spiritual worlds, we become in a certain sense freer. It has often been said and must again and again be repeated, that the approach to the spiritual worlds is also a kind of awakening from the ordinary conditions and circumstances of life; again, therefore, this is a variation in the metamorphoses of life similar to the metamorphosis leading from childhood to the capacity of free judgment in later life.

But this means that when we adopt the spiritual-scientific view of life it can very easily happen that the steady direction of life we formerly knew, begins to waver. So that when we begin to grasp the reality of the spiritual worlds, it is a matter of mustering the forces of the whole man within us — because we need the “life-capital” breathed into us during childhood in order rightly to approach the things now to be revealed from the world on yonder side of the Threshold. And I showed you how easy it is, under influences which proceed as a matter of course from the different currents of the time, to go astray in one direction or another. An aberration such as occurs in Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism is due to the fact that the strong impulse of materialism can have an effect upon the souls of men — I say, can have an effect. Just because oriental influences were at work, a deviation was possible in the direction which led to a defamation of the whole nature of the present Moon, and on the other side aberration was possible because it was in the interests of certain persons not to allow the truth of repeated lives on Earth to come into the open. The one who had an interest — in this case it was not Sinnett himself but the one who was behind him — in helping materialism in human life to be, as it were, “ultra-materialised”, introduced into an otherwise true system, teaching such as that concerning the Moon, thereby giving a twist in a particular direction.

Now we know that especially in recent centuries Western civilisation and its American offshoot have been subject to a strongly Christian impulse. I myself have been at pains to show that the significance of Christianity does not depend upon what can actually be understood of it — for a great deal will become intelligible only in the future, and we ourselves are only just beginning to grasp certain facts connected with the Mystery of Golgotha. But the impulses of Christianity are real; they take effect even when men do not yet understand them. In earlier centuries, however, certain cosmic truths were excluded from these impulses. These truths are entirely compatible with Christianity although insight has not succeeded in making this evident. Truths relating to repeated lives on Earth were withdrawn from Christianity, and so a Western culture with an American offshoot arose with a form of Christianity from which the teaching of repeated lives on Earth was excluded.

Now I have shown you how certain occultists made efforts to preserve this view of Christianity — the view which rejected the truth of repeated earthly lives. I spoke of trends in occultism that were connected, for example, with the High Church party. Those concerned were people of knowledge, they were well-informed. It can be said that they knew much more about occultism than did the leading members of the Theosophical Society. But their whole object was to ensure that the teaching of repeated earthly lives should be eliminated even more decisively; hence their denial that man, as I have shown in Occult Science, enters in the course of his earthly evolution into relationship with the other planets of our solar system.

The forces here implanted into the human soul have mainly to do with man's participation in the extra-terrestrial Cosmos; and it was desired from this quarter that men should be left in obscurity about this participation. The object was to divert them from the realisation that the soul is connected, not only with the Earth and its happenings, but also with what is out there in the Cosmos, shining down to us, for example, from the other planets of our solar system.

Now in that they work upon the human being, the impulses proceeding from the other planets of our solar system have the power to wrest the soul, as living soul, away from physical death. That is their essential function, as you can realise from the descriptions of the life between death and a new birth which I have given in various connections and from various points of view.

But if you look back over the evolution of humanity, you will find that precisely in the times when atavistic knowledge, clairvoyant knowledge, was present as an ancient heritage, men directed their gaze to the other celestial bodies of our solar system, and Astrology — which in our day has become such a questionable science — played a part of tremendous importance in those olden times.

Why, we may ask ourselves, has Astrology ceased to play this important part? It is because the gaze of human souls had to be diverted in order that Christianity should have time to take root in earthly existence. Just as the gaze of clairvoyance had to be diverted from the Imaginative world, so too had the gaze to be diverted from the impulses proceeding from the planets of our solar system. All that has remained of Astrology consists of old traditions. I have often spoken of this. In a sense, we may say: the old clairvoyance and also the old vision of the impulses proceeding from the planets of our solar system, were circumscribed. Man was relegated to the physically perceptible world, to the senses by means of which he was to perceive only that which takes place on the Earth. This was in order that the impulses of the Mystery of Golgotha might wax in strength and take root in the souls of men, in the feelings of the believers, so that men might be inwardly deepened.

In ancient times, clairvoyance was, after all, an external faculty. It was not a question of having to acquire it by effort, for it was a heritage. Just as a man today has eyes and ears, so in those times he had the faculty of clairvoyance. But the times are approaching when clairvoyance will increasingly be regained. This made it necessary that in one phase of his existence man should be shut off from the spiritual world and confined to the outer, mineral world, in order that everything may be built up again from within; what was once seen from without must now be built up again from within. I will sketch it for you like this (drawing on the blackboard).

Diagram 7

Picture a man with the old clairvoyant vision. (I will take the eye as representing the clairvoyant gaze, although this is not exclusively a function of the eye.) He directed his gaze to the starry heavens and beheld the different spiritual impulses streaming from there.

Then, in the course of the ages this clairvoyance faded away and man's gaze was restricted to the phenomena of earthly existence. Something else had to arise in place of the earlier clairvoyance, something that can be indicated by saying: What formerly came from without must now go out from within. Man had to learn to project outwards what the Heavens had implanted in him in order that he might again find his links with the phenomena of the Heavens.

Diagram 8

The direction that had now to be followed was exactly the opposite of that of the earlier path. It is an actual fact that human nature is at this present point of time involved in a process of re-organisation. It has passed through the point of deepest darkness — one expression of which was what I called the full flood of materialism in the middle of the nineteenth century. But humanity is emerging from this condition. Describing this in terms of occultism, we may say: In earlier times men did not perceive, did not think with the physical body only, but they perceived and thought with the etheric body. What was perceived with the etheric body was experienced consciously in the astral body as Astrology. But in modern Astronomy everything is a matter of calculation. The etheric body must be revitalised, and this is connected with the new revelation of Christ. When the etheric body is re-vitalised, man finds Christ. But, as you see, it is essential that this vitalising of the etheric body shall take place.

Noteworthy discoveries can be made if one goes deeply into these matters. The whole feeling that man has an etheric body has disappeared and the feeling that he has only a physical body predominates. But it would be entirely false to believe that this opinion about man having a physical body only, is very old. By no means is it so. If this restriction to the physical body was actually brought about by the full flood of materialism in the nineteenth century, then men must previously have had some inkling of the etheric body which was then suppressed but is now emerging again. I could give you many proofs that previously something was known about the etheric body, the existence of which began gradually to be ignored. I could quote many passages from earlier works, but I will read one from a book published in 1827. On page 208, a remarkable passage occurs. I will read it very slowly so that you may be able to judge how differently these things are written about today under the influence of views that have become wholly materialistic.

“The concept of nourishment is connected erroneously with the mere imbibing of food and drink and their elaboration in the organs of digestion. The organism is nourished, and organic life sustained, not by food and drink, but by the blood (the neutralised earthly and etheric life-principle)” — here the writer shows that he is not speaking of the physical blood but of what underlies the blood as etheric life-principle — “and indeed not until in the plastic membranes the blood has been enhanced and as it were sublimated into the vitalising, formative exhalation (Aura vitalis).”

What does the writer want to express here? He wants to indicate that external nourishment is not the fact of primary importance but that while external nourishment is taking place, extracts stream from the foodstuffs into the blood, so that a process is going on in that which underlies the blood as an etheric life-principle. — This was written in the year 1827. The writer has put brackets round the words “Aura vitalis”. “Plastic” here is a synonym of “imaginative”. I might equally well read the lines thus: “Not until in the imaginative membranes the blood has been enhanced and sublimated as it were into the vitalising, formative exhalation (Aura vitalis)” ... the two last words are in brackets. “Aura vitalis” can only be translated as “etheric body.”

The man who wrote this was Professor of Psychiatric Therapy at the University of Leipzig and Physician at the Hospital of St. George there. He was Johann Christian August Heinroth, of whom I once spoke in connection with Goethe.

Hundreds of such examples could be given and they will indicate to you how utterly different the attitude of mind once was, how the knowledge that was still in evidence by no means such a very long time ago, has degenerated into the materialistic view of the world.

One can say: A stream of knowledge oozes away and the materialistic view of the world rises to the surface, but beneath the stream a sub-stream develops in human nature. The connection with the Cosmos is established again, this time from within. You may still say: Prove to us that there have been people who had an inkling of the fact that whereas, on the one side, knowledge of the activities of the etheric body passed away, on the other, the etheric body was being revitalised again from within.—

Here I will read you a passage from a book published even earlier, from which you can see that there were indeed people who drew attention to a change that would take place in the organisation of humanity in the future. Admittedly, the story is told in a very veiled form, but at all events it is told. The story is about a female character. When I read the passage, most of you will know where it occurs.

We read that there is a soul in the body of a woman who no longer leads the earthly life but the solar life, that in the course of her life she circles around wider and wider spheres — it can therefore be assumed that beings, in so far as they are corporeal, strive towards the centre, and in so far as they are spiritual, towards the periphery. A soul who lives with the Cosmos is here described. [note 2]

Makaria is in our solar system in a relation which we may scarcely dare to express. In spirit, soul, imagination, she keeps within herself; she does not only look, but at the same time she makes a part of it; she sees herself carried away in those heavenly circles, but in a quite special manner. From her childhood she wanders around the sun, and indeed, as is now discovered, in a spiral, withdrawing always more from the centre and circling towards the outer regions.

If we may accept that creatures, so far as they are bodily, strive towards the centre, so far as they are spiritual to the periphery, so does our friend belong to the most spiritual. She appears to be born only to free herself from what is earthly, so as to pierce through to the nearest and most remote spaces of existence. This quality, splendid as it is, was, however, lent to her from her earliest years as a difficult task. She remembers from childhood her innermost self as penetrated by illuminating beings, brightened by a light which even the brightest light of the sun could get no hold on.

She therefore bears sources of light within herself and the external light can “get no hold” on her.

Often she saw two suns, one inward, another in the sky; two moons, of which the outer one, in its size, remained the same in all phases; the inner always diminished more and more.

This gift drew her interest away from ordinary things, but her excellent parents directed everything towards her culture. All faculties were alive in her, all activities operative, so that she understood how to satisfy all outward relationships, and while her heart, her spirit, was entirely filled with otherworldly visions, her actions and dealings remained always suited to the noblest decorum. As she grew up, everywhere helpful, incessant in great and small services, she wandered like an angel of God upon the earth, while her entire spiritual being moved indeed around the sun of this world, but in continually increasing circles towards what is beyond this world.

The exuberance of this condition was in some measure modified, that it also seemed to her to dawn and to grow dark, while with quenched inner light she strove most loyally to fulfil external duties; with the fresh shining of the inner light she gave herself up to the most blessed tranquility. Yes, she will have observed that some kind of clouds hovered over her from time to time, and for some time obscured for her the look of the heavenly companions — a period which she understood how to make use of continually for the well-being and delight of her surroundings.

So long as she kept her views secret, it required much to support them. What she revealed of them was not recognised, or misinterpreted; therefore in her long life she let it appear outwardly as an illness, and in the family they still always speak of it so; but at last good fortune introduced to her the man whom you see with us, as doctor, mathematician and astronomer equally valuable; a thoroughly noble man who, however, first actually approached her out of curiosity. But when she gained confidence towards him, described by degrees to him her circumstances, joined the present to the past and had brought a connection into the events, he became so fascinated by the phenomenon that he could no more separate himself from her, but day by day endeavoured continually to penetrate more deeply into the secret.

At first, as lie gave it to be understood not obscurely, he considered it to be deception, for she did not deny that from earliest youth she had diligently busied herself about knowledge of the stars and sky, that she had been well instructed in them, and had missed no opportunity of getting a clear idea for herself of the structure of the world by means of machines and books. He did not, therefore, have his say out; it was learnt by heart, the effect of an imagination regulated in a high degree, the influence of the memory was to be conjectured, a co-operation of the power of judgment, but especially of a hidden calculation.

He is a mathematician and therefore obstinate, a clear mind and therefore unbelieving. For a long time he resisted, observed however what she mentioned, exactly, endeavoured to get near to the sequel of different years, kept himself especially to the newest with the opposite position of the lights of heaven and their tasks in accordance, and at last exclaimed: “Now why should not God and Nature be a living ‘Armillarsphere’, an intellectual clockwork movement, so that just as the clocks perform it for us daily and hourly, it would be in the position of itself in a special way to follow the course of the stars!”

But here we dare not proceed further, for the incredible loses its value when we wish to look at it more nearly in detail. We say so much, however: that which served as the basis of the reckonings to be instituted, was as follows. For her, the seeress, our sun appeared in the vision much smaller than she beheld it as such by day; also an unusual position of this high light of heaven in the zodiac gave rise to inferences.

On the other hand, doubts and errors arose because she who looked indicated one and the other star as appearing alike in the zodiac, but of which in the sky one was not aware. They might be the small planets at that time still undiscovered, for from other accounts it could be concluded that she, long since over the, orbit of Mars, drew near to the orbit of Jupiter. Openly, for a long time, she had considered these planets, at what distance it would be difficult to say, with astonishment in their mighty splendour, and looked at the play of its moons around it, but had seen it in the most marvellous manner as waning moon, and indeed, without being turned round, as the waxing moon appears to us. From this it would be concluded that she saw it from the side, and was really on the point of moving outside its orbit, and in the infinite space coming in opposition to Saturn. Thither no imagination follows her, but we hope that such an entelechy does not withdraw itself entirely from our solar system; but if it has arrived at the border of it, it will yearn to be back again, so as to work again in favour of our great grandchildren for earthly life and beneficence.

Here, in a very significant way, the vista is presented to us of how the soul, how the human being, will from within take the path of return to the world of the stars. I have been reading to you the description of Makaria from Goethe's Wilhelm Meister, and he has expressly added that he has not said everything. He indicates that this was an ethereal poem, in the words: “While we now here close this ethereal poetry, hoping for forgiveness, let us turn again to that terrestrial story, of which we have given above a transient indication.”

Before Goethe describes Makaria he writes:

But arrived at this point, we cannot resist the temptation of communicating from our archives [note 3] a paper which concerns Makaria, and the special quality which was imparted to her mind. Unfortunately, this composition was written from memory not till a long time after the contents were communicated, and cannot be looked upon as altogether authentic, as in so remarkable a case would be desirable. But however this may be, here already is so much communicated as to arouse reflection and recommend attention as to whether already something similar or approximating to it has been remarked and noted down.

I wanted to call your attention to this passage in Wilhelm Meister's Travels because it will show you that with Spiritual Science we are really meeting the demands of our age. Human nature is changing in such a way that it will bring forth from itself that ancient heritage from the pre-earthly world which it has lost. And men must be aware of what is approaching them — otherwise they will fall into utter confusion. Spiritual Science must establish its place in the cultural life of our time.

But the moment men become attentive to what has been indicated here they inevitably come across the teaching of reincarnation, because they say to themselves that an entelechy from the spiritual world, from the spheres of Jupiter, Saturn, and so on, may well have something to do with the Earth and might return among us. Therefore those occultists who wish the teaching of reincarnation to be suppressed, say that barricades must be erected against the advent of this view of life, and these barricades are erected by diverting men's minds as far as possible from the connection with the celestial bodies of the solar system. So we see that in that quarter there is intense interest in not allowing certain things to come to light. I said yesterday that if interest is present for a biased, one-sided cause, it always finds support. But truth is generally contested and everything possible is done to prevent the truth itself from coming to light. And whether we take the right stand in our spiritual Movement depends upon our being fully conscious that the truth for which we seek will be attacked from many, many sides. Nothing is more essential than that in order to be armed, we shall endeavour to develop clarity of thought in every domain. You must bear in mind that the antagonisms that arise, above all the hostile personalities, are really, for the most part, puppets of the opposing Powers. For we are here in the field of activity of super-sensible Powers. These super-sensible Powers, to which Lucifer and Ahriman belong, naturally work in human life through human souls, which are simply their instruments.

Hence it is necessary to know exactly what is at issue in the one case or the other; but what is far and away the most necessary of all is that the acquisition of the faculty of clear, exact thinking shall never be neglected. You know that life itself has its contradictions, and Hegel built up his whole philosophy on this. It is not a question of avoiding the contradictions in life, for they are there. The essential thing is to recognise and be alert to them.

Ahriman and Lucifer can accomplish something only when a contradiction remains unnoticed, when we have neither the strength nor the will to lay it bare. Whenever we get entangled in a contradiction that we do not recognise as such but simply regard it as a natural part of life, this makes it possible for Lucifer and Ahriman to take possession of our soul.

Let us take a strange contradiction with which we have been just recently confronted here. The circumstances have obliged me to read a passage in a letter from a lady who states that what is wanted is “not the teaching and not the teacher, but the man”. The teaching was therefore taken as a kind of adjunct and the chief value attached to the man. Then came another assertion — the very opposite! The man was completely rejected and it was stated that the teaching must be acknowledged as correct. Just think of it: on the one hand it is asserted that the quest should not be for the teaching or the teacher, but for the man; and on the other: “I hate the man and reject him; he makes promises and does not keep them — but the teaching is good, I accept it.”

To what does this really amount? In effect it amounts to this: For a time I had a certain relationship with an individual; he himself interested me, the teaching only very little. Then I turn from the individual and lay stress on what did not really interest me at all. I now lay the stress upon what I formerly put aside; I did not assimilate the teaching and now say: it is good. I stand for something which I refused to accept, something I cannot possibly have acquired because previously I refused to accept it! — There you have a literal example of the kind of contradictions to be found in the world. Can you possibly imagine that where such contradictions prevail there can be any real, inner connection with our spiritual-scientific Movement? There can obviously be none.

It is important to be aware of contradictions such as these, for if we fail to notice such phenomena among us we shall never find the right path to knowledge of the spiritual world. Needless to say, many things may escape us, but we must have the will to take note of such contradictions. On the other side, however, it must be remembered that contradictions of this kind are used with the intent of shaking the truth to its foundations. Suppose, for example, someone were to say: a man is giving teaching but he himself is full of contradictions, even of immoral tendencies, indeed he is dominated by the power of evil; but the teaching itself is good — that is certainly to be admitted. Very well — but if it is part and parcel of the teaching that the one who represents it and the Movement connected with it establishes the relationship between himself and the others precisely through the teaching, wishing to be nothing more than the bearer of the teaching — then such an attitude demands him to be something else! All kinds of demands are made upon the man, and although at bottom the teaching is rejected, it is said: the teaching is good, but for all that the man is evil! In this way, someone who feels utterly incapable of grasping the teaching can work against it through those who believe in it. This is the best way for a person to undermine teaching which he cannot disprove, for as I indicated yesterday, it is then delivered into the hands of the Luciferic and Ahrimanic Powers.

It has been said so often that our teaching must not be mere theory, but actual life. If it is made into mere theory, it is killed, delivered into the hands of Ahriman, the God of Death. That is the best method for ensuring that what is taught is given over to Ahriman and thus exterminated from the world; moreover, it is a method very similar to that employed by certain individualities who were standing behind Mr. Sinnett, for example. They inspired him to take a certain direction in order to steer him into fallacy which culminated in the true facts being violated. The Moon, which as physical Moon is an agent for paralysing the Eighth Sphere, is declared to be the Eighth Sphere itself. The reality concerning the Eighth Sphere is obscured, effaced. And later on H. P. Blavatsky corrects this by alleging that Jahve has created the lower sphere of man's life only, the sphere of his senses — whereas the truth is that Jahve has created a counteracting agent for the Eighth Sphere. This method therefore consists in spreading over some matter a fog whereby it is presented in a false light. If you examine these things carefully, you will see that what has happened among us is essentially of the same pattern, only on a smaller scale. It is an attempt to shed calumny on the truth that would fain come into the world. Someone feels incapable of refuting the teaching and so levels imputations against the one who has to present it. This of course shows that such a person is unable to grasp the essence of the teaching.

This is a problem well worth the notice of people of standing and sincerity among us, for these things must be viewed from a higher vantage-point. I am quoting these examples because they are near at hand and because they show us whither our attention should be directed. In our Movement the strongest possible emphasis must be laid — and this has been done ever since I have been connected with it—upon a right attitude being adopted towards atavistic clairvoyance, so that there may be no delusions about it. An example of what has been invented in order to distort what we do or desire to do, is that it has been said: One can see that this is a Movement which applies itself to the cultivation of clairvoyance — and then efforts have been made to imply that everyone in the Movement is urged to develop clairvoyance. This kind of thing spreads a fog over the Movement. The truth is reversed — although it is a fact that clairvoyance must be developed — but a good means is furnished for provoking hatred against the Movement.

Again, it is said: A Movement that comes into being in the modern age ought not to cultivate the old, atavistic clairvoyance, but that is precisely what this particular Movement is doing. — On the subject of cultivating atavistic clairvoyance the Movement says exactly the same, but here the direction of the arrow is turned round and the Movement is censured. This is happening, for example, in our immediate vicinity, where in sermons and addresses it is alleged that those who have gathered here in Dornach are urged, above all by me, to develop clairvoyance, and it is imputed at the same time that this is pathological, atavistic clairvoyance.

Needless to say, the one who voices these things has no inkling of what he is really saying; he is only a puppet. But we ourselves must look more deeply into the connections, realising that we are living at a time when such impulses will assert themselves strongly against us. And it would be particularly grotesque if our teaching itself were to he used as a weapon for confuting us. Even this has already happened. In one of the antagonistic criticisms published during recent weeks, an attack was formulated by using quotations from the Mystery Plays and from the book Occult Science. So the Powers that do not want the truth to come to light are everywhere at work.

About the truth itself we need have no anxiety. ... Truth makes its way in the world by laying emphasis only on what is positive.

But the moment statements that simply do not remotely come near the truth go out into the world, we must be armed and know how to judge them. We must not adopt the stand merely of studying what is to be found in the literature; we must translate into very life the life-principle contained in our teaching. That is to say, we must judge life according to the principles of our teaching; we must not think about one or another attack from outside as we should be bound to think if we had accepted our teaching merely as a theory. The need for polemics does not begin until we are attacked. But then we must realise that ours is a teaching very easily distorted into its opposite and that we have therefore to watch over and protect it. Especially must we be on guard against all one-sidedness.

For example, undertones could be heard in connection with certain things that have been said here and there — undertones coming from an attitude that very easily runs to opposite extremes. And then it is easy to be refuted. You will remember that it was necessary to say a great deal on the subject of illusions about particular incarnations. If this were carried to the extreme of laughing all such matters to scorn, our opponents might well say: “These people teach something. But let one of them touch the very fringe of it and they at once proceed to ridicule him!”

We have no ground for rejecting clairvoyant experiences — obviously not. Our only duty is to get to the bottom of such experiences when they are being used to bolster up the aims of personal vanity, or certainly when the outer course of events proves these experiences to have been incorrect. We must not, to use a trivial expression, pour away the child with the bath-water. Our Society must certainly not transform itself into a body of scientific theory. There too you can see that this danger may easily arise.

An essay sent to us during the last few days is astutely written, for there is no more plausible way of attacking our Movement than by saying: “Those people behave as if they rejected all connection between the world of the senses and the spiritual world!” This is actually stated in the essay. In an appendix, strangely enough, the question is raised : “Why should not the Mother of God also reincarnate?” — Of course, one can ask, why should she not reincarnate? There is no reason why it cannot be so. But of this you may be sure: the exoteric life of this Mother of God in such a reincarnation would not be in the form in which it is claimed to have taken place!

Truly, in these matters it is a question of something that I have been emphasising for many years and found it necessary to include in my fundamental philosophical work. If you read other philosophies you will find in their theories and forms of expression, also in still earlier writings, much that appears again in my The Philosophy of Freedom. But one thing is contained in it which, at least in the way it is there expressed and interwoven as an ethical principle, a moral impulse, is entirely original. — For the first time, “moral tact” is introduced as something that cannot be grasped through the mere power of judgment, but only through the whole mind and life of feelings, so that when something has to be handled delicately one shall not immediately fall into extremes and try to sweep away one error by means of another. That is “moral tact”. I have tried to define it as clearly as possible in the Philosophy of Freedom. It is truly necessary to emphasise at the present time that — because here we have to do with a very tricky matter — we must avoid the danger of falling into the other extreme.

I indicated various dangers yesterday but have felt it necessary to add something today, in order to emphasise that we must not fall into the other extreme. The whole of our activity, the whole nature of our Movement, must be based upon making the spiritual world a reality, upon feeling and experiencing our own life as connected with the spiritual world.

But if we hold this principle sacred, we must tactfully refuse to allow directly personal affairs, the subjective-personal life, to be drawn in. This again does not imply that we should never try to discover whether we ourselves are the reincarnation of someone. But simply to look from one personality in search of the other is of no account. It is the easy-going way. But the right way is to endeavour to reach the point where we begin to discover certain secrets of our own life. Then we shall certainly make progress. In this connection we are standing at a point of great significance, namely that we must pay heed to the saying: do not pour the child away with the bath water!

At the same time we must work with all intensity to prevent what would be utterly disastrous to an occult Movement, namely, a gradual lapse into haziness and lack of clarity. There are certain things which need to be treated with a certain harshness. That is another matter. But we must always be mindful of the ground on which we stand — the ground of an earnest and worthy spiritual Movement.

These are some of the points of view which can help us to realise the conditions that are essential to the life of our Movement. When it is said that outer reality is maya, then this maya too must be thoroughly studied. Nor must we keep emphasising the theoretical saying, “outer reality is maya”, and then act as if the outer reality itself is of supreme importance when we encounter it concretely in the world.

 


Notes:

Note 1.  See inter alia, Macrocosm and Microcosm, lecture 4. (Rudolf Steiner Press, 1968).

Note 2.  The translation of the passage is by R. O. Moon, M.A., M.D.(Oxon.), from Vol. II of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister. Published by G. T. Foulis & Co., London.

Note 3.  (Goethe means “spiritual” archives.)





Last Modified: 15-Feb-2019
The Rudolf Steiner Archive is maintained by:
The e.Librarian: elibrarian@elib.com
[Spacing]