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Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

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

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Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

Schmidt Number: S-3090

On-line since: 31st December, 2020

Lecture IV


1st August, 1915

Harmonizing Thinking, Feeling and Willing

My dear friends, yesterday we were able to show how the intellect, all that is connected with the forming of our ideas and concepts, is in a certain way — especially in the case of Western thinking — set free from the inner upstreaming, the inner creating, and activity. We saw how through this fact man comes to the point of merely seeing images of something external in what he receives as concepts and ideas, and how he does not notice that at the same time as he is conceiving and thinking, something is also happening in him himself. An inner becoming is accomplished, an inner happening takes place. And I also referred yesterday to the polar opposite of this, namely, how the impulses of feeling and will are bewitched in the inner being of man, so that when he feels, when he brings his will into activity, he has the consciousness that he is then entirely and solely within himself, that he is concerned only with himself, and that what takes place in the impulses of feeling and will has nothing to do with anything in the outside world, in the cosmos. We believe that in our feelings we only bring to expression our inner life, we believe we are experiencing something which is connected only with this inner nature.

I have pointed out that this originates from the fact that certain spiritual beings of the hierarchy of the Archangeloi, at the time of the separation of the Old Moon from the Sun-evolution, did not take the step of separation, but remained, as it were, with the progressing Sun-evolution. What entered their destiny through their not having made this step of sharing in the Moon existence, they are now going through, in as much as they take part in our earthly existence. They interpenetrate us, interweave in us and shut off our feeling and our willing from the outer cosmic existence. They confine this feeling and willing of ours to our inner nature.

But now there arises through this, as you can readily imagine, a kind of pronounced separation between something in us that wishes to be confined to us ourselves, to live only within us as our impulses of feeling and willing, and something else which pays little heed to what is in us, and which are, far more turns outwards and tries to take a direction towards the external.

If we want to make a sketch of what this denotes we could perhaps say:

If this is the human being drawn schematically, we should first be concerned with our intellectual life (Diagram 1 yellow) which turns to the outer world and wishes to receive it and pays no attention to the fact that here within, it is raying out and continually calling forth our form. On the other hand we have an element of will and feeling here in the interior (violet), they radiate only within us and we are not aware that they now also go out into the cosmos, that they really bear something in them which is just as much derived from the cosmos as is the content of our thoughts.

There is, however, in us human beings a connection between these two centres within us. It is a connecting link (light red) but in ordinary life and existence it remains unknown, does not enter the consciousness. Man, in fact, experiences as his inner world, his feeling-and willing, and as his outer world his thinking, which leads over to perceptions, to the sense impressions. Thus, in ordinary life, the link between these two centres in us does not actually come to our consciousness. As a consequence of this, man can easily acquire the notion that truth is imparted to him from two sides, that he attains truth, or something like truth by observing the outer world through his senses, and then combining the observation with his intellect and so on.

Kant has examined this process of observation of the outer world and of the production of certain spheres of ideation on the basis of those observations. In his researches he found nothing to which one could come if one extended what tries to go out in the cosmos from the one centre. He came to a point where he asserted: ‘Yes, that (Drawing 1, yellow) must certainly go out to a ‘thing in itself,’ but one cannot find it.’ On the other hand he felt how from the inner being of man something thrusts up which lives in willing and feeling. But since the connection remained unknown to him there were two worlds for him; the world of the existing order and the world of the moral order. He only felt one thing to be clear. ‘Here, one does not come to anything at all. The thing in itself is nebulous, is unknown; but that which thrusts up as it were against man gives a certain inner compulsion.’ This Kant called the ‘categorical imperative,’ from which he derived all truths related to the inner nature — as he calls them: all higher truths of belief in contrast to the external truths, which, however, can tell nothing of the actual world.

We must, however, give our chief attention to this: that as a matter of fact, not merely through his own disposition, but because of his whole evolution during the Saturn, Sun, and Moon conditions, man thus shared in the separation which occurred in the Moon-evolution, and has therefore come to this dual partition and must experience it as a natural condition.

Now when we consider these matters still more closely, we come to an important and significant truth which is given us by Spiritual Science, on the ground of what has here been characterised. We can say; this state of our thinking, our intellect and conceptual life, is connected with the former separation of the Moon from the progressing Sun. The way in which we, as human beings, apprehend our thinking and conceiving is connected with the fact that certain Luciferic beings of the hierarchy of the Angels who, through what they had become, did not share in the return of the Moon to the Sun — that those are now living in our intellect, so that something Luciferic lives in our intellect and shuts us off from looking into the inner moving and forming. Thus Lucifer, as it were, dwells in our thinking.

What now is the essential character of this Luciferic influence? The essential is that we do not perceive what was established in us and developed by the normally progressive divine-spiritual beings but we perceive instead what has been made out of this normal evolution by Lucifer. And what is it for Lucifer himself, that what he should have experienced during the Moon-evolution, but did not, he now carries into the Earth-evolution, and in this evolution experiences for his own part what in that earlier time he did not share? What will be the nature of that which he must undergo during the Earth-evolution? I beg you to pay great attention to this, for it is full of importance, even if difficult. So what does Lucifer want? What do these Luciferic angels that are in our intellect want?

At that time they did not want to take the step of the union of the moon with the sun. Had they done so, they would, as it were, have united conceiving and thinking in the right way with human nature. This they did not do, so now they contribute nothing to it.

Now, however, during Earth-existence, they wish to do what they did not do formerly; they now wish to bind the intellect with the human being; they wish to do during the Earth-evolution what they ought actually to have done during the Moon-evolution. When you consider this earnestly you will understand that something of immense significance follows from it.

Had we not been misled by Luciferic beings in the way referred to, we should not relate thinking to ourselves as we do now, but we should look back to the Moon-evolution and say: ‘Long ages ago our thinking wished to unite with our inner being, wanted to belong to us.’ This we do not say, but instead: ‘We appropriate the thoughts of the world and now receive them within us.’ But that is sheer Luciferic temptation in the sense of the divine spiritual beings we should think: out there is extended the world of the senses as we see it; the moment we now pass over to thinking, we look back to the Old Moon-existence and attribute the whole earthly sense world to it.

The following is what we should experience: If we call that (see diagram) e earthly-perceived-sense world, we should then have the in us, i.e., the earth- contents, and we should not, as we do now, form concepts of the Earth-content, but we should say instead; All that we have in this way as earth-content, we relate to the ancient Moon, — and while we have sense-perceptions and the surroundings of earth appear to the senses there lights up in us the realisation that everything that lives and weaves upon earth, everything that exists and works and grows, appears upon the foundation of the old Moon existence.

There would light up something like a connection with a star apparently belonging to the past, but which was still there, living in our world of thought. We should feel in connection with the past existing in the present, and should see through the Luciferic deceptive picture which consists in this — that Lucifer holds before the shining Moon-existence a curtain, a veil, because at that time he omitted to unite himself with the Sun-existence. And he deceives us and makes us believe that what we ought to look upon as lighting up in us from the Old Moon-existence — that is from the eternally new Moon-existence is our thought-content, which is firmly established in us through our brain and rests within us as earthly men.


So through what has happened we have been shut off from that wonderful and mighty memory of the Old Moon. We do not see continually in the background, shining, as it were, into the nape of our neck, the explanation of all that the senses conjure up before us. We ought to go through the world, our senses turned outwards to sense-existence, and ought to feel as though our neck and the back of our head were shone upon by the ancient Sun and Moon-existence. And this would proffer the explanation of real, living concepts, concepts which are cosmic, and do not work into us from the external earthly objects.

Thus two world-pictures are projected through one another; the Earth-picture and the Moon-Picture. We ought to be able to hold them apart; the one, inasmuch as we turn our senses outwards, the other, inasmuch as we receive the shining from behind, and we ought to prevent their weaving into each other in our intellect. We cannot do this. Lucifer confuses the one with the other. Ideas, concepts, sense impressions, he mixes together, and philosophers have for a long time endeavoured to crack open a beautiful problem, which they call ‘antimony.’

You can refer to Kant: There on the one page you always have proofs brought forward, for instance, that the world is infinite as regards space; on the other page you have just as strict proofs advanced, that the world is not spatially infinite but is limited. For both there are equally conclusive proofs. They must be there, because the one point of view is just as true as the other, only one is the earth -view and the other the moon-view. To one who cannot hold them apart, they become insoluble contradictions, contradictions which cannot be solved in any case with earthly understanding. But we have seen that a still older kind of deviation from the forward course of evolution was that brought about by the spirits from the hierarchy of Archangeloi who live in our impulses of feeling and will. Therefore we can say: Lucifer through his existence shuts us off from the cosmos; he only allows us to feel the impulses of feeling and will which live in our inner nature. If he were not to shut us off like this, then, instead of feeling that will impulses and feeling arise as though from the subconscious inner being, man would be aware of all that shines into him, illumines him from the cosmos through the Sun-evolution. As man ought to be aware in his intellect of the Old Moon behind the ordinary sense-existence, so he ought to see behind his impulses of feeling and willing the radiating cosmic sun arise. In feeling and willing he should see — as the kernel in the fruit-the essence of the Sun shining through.

But we are shut off from this through Lucifer. We think that feeling and will are only something within us, we do not realise that they contain within them living sun-forces, sun-forces that are actually within them. If we were to feel these sun-forces, were we really to feel the spirit-light shining within feeling and will; then we should have an insight into the cosmos precisely through this lighting up of the spirit-light of the world. We should have a direct vision of the external through our inner nature. That has been destroyed for us through those Luciferic spirits who have an archangel nature and who did not share in the step of the separation of the Moon from the Sun. It had to be brought to us again through the coming of this cosmic sun-nature into the evolution of mankind. This cosmic Sun-nature came into earthly evolution through the Mystery of Golgotha, that Mystery, the entire reality of which man must first of all accept in himself, must inwardly experience :Not I, but Christ in me.

And proceeding thence, more and more that inwardly shining, shaping force is formed in him. Cosmic light penetrates feeling and willing like the sunlight and unites itself with the intellectual life so that we attain a uniform cosmic picture by learning to allow the Christ-impulse to live, not only in feeling and willing, but to let it flow into the world of our concepts and understanding. Thus, instead of merely looking to Christ Jesus, a whole cosmology is really born for us, a Christened cosmology. We come to learn what the cosmos was before the Mystery of Golgotha, when the Christ was united with the Sun-nature outside the earth realm, and what the cosmos is after the Mystery of Golgotha, when the Christ is now no longer separated from the earthly aura, but lives on further within the aura of the earth. Only through first feeling ourselves to be identified with the Christ-impulse, regarding, as it were, this Christ-impulse as the centre from which, as shown yesterday, we can receive the continuous, the eternal, ever-enduring revelation, — only through this do we press forward increasingly to the possibility of attaining to a concrete Christianity, full of content, which will then be completely one with the content of spiritual science, even as regards cosmology.

Take the whole nerve- let me say -of Christology, — take what a man must really understand to comprehend Christology. Why do so many people not understand it? Why do they connect no right ideas with the Mystery of Golgotha? Because it is asking too much of them to describe as reality something which they are not otherwise accustomed to call real.

A sentence is to be found in a book of Haeckel's which reads something like this: ‘The Immaculate Conception is an impudent mockery of human reason.’ But why of human reason? Well, the next sentence reads: because in all other cases, in the animal and human kingdoms, it is not possible to observe such a birth. That is obviously a logical contradiction in itself.. For one ought to bring forward ground based not on observation but on reason. But just here again we encounter a fact of such a nature that it is incompatible with the ideas which man receives from external reality. All that man otherwise calls ‘real’ is incompatible, with the reality of this fact, with the whole fact of the Mystery of Golgotha.

Thus a man must grasp something that contradicts his ideas of reality. Now to those who approach more closely to Spiritual Science a way should open to ideas which permit an understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha. You see, in ordinary life and also in modern science what one observes with the outer senses is called real, or at least, something that is founded on reality. Real science rests upon what one observes by means of the senses. People endeavour, however, to make use of the senses for other purposes, they try to grasp everything after the manner of sense observation of external things. Biologists try to grasp the living being, the living organism as though it were only a complicated cooperation of purely mechanical forces, a complicated machine, since it is only a complicated machine that they can actually regard as a reality.

What actually lies behind this? What lies behind it is the fact that men call something real, — and indeed nowadays, throughout the whole of their life — which is not real at all, which is not in the least what it is said to be. Consider a corpse. Can you say that this corpse is the man? No, this disintegrating corpse is not the man, it is the form of man which is breaking in pieces. And so it is with the whole of outer nature. People investigate the inanimate, and have no idea that everything which is inanimate has once been alive. Men must find the transition from the concept of ‘inanimate nature’ to the concept of ‘Nature that has died,’ men must really grasp the fact that all inanimate things were once living and have died, that what we can find today as stone and rock was alive during the Moon age and has died, has become lifeless stone through a process such as that passed through by the human corpse.

If we were to grasp this actively, and look upon Nature as a corpse, then we should know that what we call existence is not something that contains existence, but rather something out of which existence has already fled. This is of infinite importance. Men do not realise that they cling to the inanimate, not realising that it is something that has died, and that they are trying to learn to understand the living through what has died.

When men look at the living organism that has not yet died, but lives before their eyes, and reduce it to a mechanism which is only an image of the dead, they are trying to understand and explain the living from the dead. That is the ideal and goal of the whole modern world concepts: to grasp the living out of what has died. Spiritual Science must take pains, always take pains to replace an understanding through the dead by an understanding through the living. The whole trend of modern science must disappear, since its only aim is to grasp the living through that which has died, not merely through the inanimate, the inorganic, but through what has died. This whole science must disappear. In its place must arise an understanding of the world out of the living. And of all the non-living, the inorganic at the present time, it must be realised that in the past it too was a living being. Had we not been luciferically hindered, from perceiving behind the sense impressions what has been characterised as the Moon existence, which stands behind them, — then we should realises there lies the corpse of what still appears to us from the Old. Moon. Just as on seeing a human corpse we remember how the man appeared as he was in life, how he went about and spoke with us, so, on looking at the earth we should look back on what it was when it was still alive during the Old-Moon existence.

It must be the earnest endeavour of Spiritual Science that we should be led out of the dead into the living; that must be an active, true goal although it may be difficult to attain; for all that is contained in our modern science touching a conception of the world is thoroughly foreign and hostile to such an aim. We must not deceive ourselves about this, but be quite clear that the world conception of modern science is absolutely opposed to it.

It will be intensely difficult to gain a living grasp of the cosmos in place of ther dead one. But when we hold living ideas, then we shall no longer be wanting in an understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha. For we shall know that what, in general, is subject to death, is derived from the Moon-existence, but that the Christ is from the Sun-existence. He held back in order to bring to us the Sun-element again. He has nothing to do with all the concepts that are lifeless, but will replace them by living ones. Therefore it is necessary to unite with Him in a living way, not through a dead science. Therefore it is necessary to recognise that only under specially abnormal conditions, could that which cannot die, cannot become dead, enter into the earthly course.

When one studies the special connection which the Christ Being had during the three years with the body of Jesus of Nazareth, one comes to realise that Actually, in the different members which were united through the inter-connection of the two Jesus boys, through the fact that Zarathustra lived in the Nathan Jesus, something entirely special was created (I have already referred to this in other lectures), something which, during those three years made this whole body different from an ordinary human body. An ordinary human body is actually not the same as this body was already — and through the particular kind of union throughout the three years with the Zarathustra-being still- remained different from other earthly bodies. As the earth began to recapitulate the Moon-existence, there remained behind, as I have explained, that essential substance which then appeared in the Luke Jesus, the Nathan Jesus boy; something which had not entered into death, or passed through the illusion of earthly death, which in the course of earthly phenomena was reserved for Christ Jesus, this held back. This was in Christ Jesus, and guided him through these three years and through death, — through the Maya of death, in a different way from other human beings.

This extraordinarily central phenomenon of earthly evolution must, however be understood, must be really grasped, as standing outside everything that is derived solely from the Moon-existence, it must be understood as being inwardly connected with the regularly progressive Sun-existence. Nor, therefore, after the Mystery of Golgotha had been accomplished, could this Christ-Being be dependent on anything which is derived, only from the Moon-existence, derived, that is, from a Moon which had separated from the Sun, when during this separation Luciferic beings had taken part in the splitting off, but not in the reunion.

The Christ-Being remains completely untouched by all that is in the earth through this aberration from Luciferic spirits. He would immediately have been affected by it had He been incorporated in an ordinary human body. Hence He could only appear physically upon earth through these special and abnormal occurrences, not covered by earthly laws. And since this Being had taken possession of an earthly body through the Mystery of Golgotha, He is now upon earth spiritually and not subject to those laws which came into earth-existence through the Moon evolution. These are the laws of Space and Time.

Space and Time ... I have already indicated inOccult Science(as you will find in the passages there) that it is difficult to form a picture of the ancient Saturn and Sun conditions, because one must leave out the concepts of space and time. What one pictures as space and time in regard to this ancient existence, is only an analogy, only an image, does not as yet correspond with reality. The concepts of space and time have no reality if applied earlier than the Moon-existence. One cannot use this concept for the previous conditions of evolution. But that which comes through the Christ into the spatial-temporal is likewise not bound up with the laws of space and time. Therefore a genuine Spiritual Science recognises it as the greatest imaginable error to suppose that the Christ, as He is united now with earth-existence, could appear before mankind spatially limited in one single human being. It would be the gravest misapprehension of the Christ to assert that there could be a re-embodiment of Christ at the present day, and that if He perhaps wished to speak in the future to — let us say — a person in Europe and then to someone in America, He would have to take train and steamer and thus travel from Europe to America. That will never happen. He will always be raised above the laws of space and time. And we must conceive of His appearance in the 20th century as being raised above these laws. Never could the Christ, rightly understood, be embodied in a single human beings.

It would therefore be or rather it is a blow in the face of genuine Spiritual Science, wherever it is asserted that there could ever be a human re-embodiment of Christ Jesus. [This had to be especially emphasised in view of the propaganda of ‘The Star in the East.’] But with this, it is also shown that Christology, that which the Christ really is, has nothing to do with any divisions of man and mankind.

We see there, my dear friends, a way open: how the cosmic, the sun-nature comes again into our whole human race, how again the sun-nature, lost through Lucifer, rises in our feeling and willing, how it rises again through the Christ in our feeling and will how from there it can take hold of our intellect. That is the way which all spiritual understanding of the world must take in the future. But for a long time there will be errors and mistaken paths; for — I have often stressed it — only slowly and gradually can the Mystery of Golgotha in its depths find its way into the whole course of humanity's evolution. Only quite slowly and gradually can that come about. And inasmuch as it is gradually accomplished, more and more, it will create an accord between man's, intellectuality and his feeling and willing. That will increasingly fill out the human being with an inner Man, with a second man.

In man as he is without this filling out through the Christ Impulse, the head&'s inner nature, one might say, is hidden. If a man feels his head, he has headache; the inner quality is physically completely veiled as regards the head. Man carries the head about with him in normal life without actually feeling it, he makes use of it for registering external impressions.

The other part of man, which is at the same time the seat of the world of lower desires, this is within us; this to begin with, takes up nothing from outside, lives in itself. And the Jahve-God has concealed in a world of law not entering human consciousness, all that lives down below, as the sum total of man's desire world, so that the Luciferic rumblings or egotism, do not become too great. Through Lucifer we should really only be organised as Earthly men, to use our lower nature — disregarding the intellect -solely and only for ourselves. We should develop not a single altruistic instinct but purely egoistic instincts. There would be in the world no natural foundation for love. The human being would merely use the instincts that live in his lower nature, for manifesting himself in the world, for putting himself into the picture. Hence this lower nature has been rendered dim and dulled by the Jahve Godhead.

The Jahve Godhead himself lives in this lower nature and implants the instinct of love and altruism, but of a kind more or less unconscious for ordinary human life. These instincts and impulses have to become conscious again through the Impulse of the Mystery of Golgotha. But in this whole unconsciousness of the desire world something of a twofold nature lies concealed. In the first place, the connection of the intellect, of the conceptual with the desire world remains in the subconscious. But nevertheless it works upwards, works definitely upwards and it works upwards through the fact that something enters which I have already often explained.

This whole desire world, which is actually an egotistic world belonging only to the human being, can, as it were emancipate itself from the Jahve Godhead living in it. Then it works upward, but — unconsciously and without man's knowledge — it presses through and interpenetrates the conceptual world with its imaginations. Then man becomes clairvoyant, that is to say, he his visions. He experiences as Imaginations all that lives in his desire world. In reality he only experiences his desire world; it shows itself to him as the Imaginative world. But since in this whole desire world of ours only the cosmos lives — though veiled from man — the Imaginations which rise up from his desire world like a mirage conjure up for him a complete cosmos. He can now experience a whole Cosmos, which Consists of nothing but that down below where the fire of the lower desires burns. This fire of the lower instincts then shoots upwards, and now a cosmos arises, here above in the intellectual system. This is essentially the process of self- mediumship. The medium who becomes a medium through his own desires and instincts succumbs to these processes. Such mediums are usually very proud of their Imaginations. They look down with arrogance upon those people who have no Imagination, whereas those in their turn can often very well see that such Imaginations, as are from time to time described as marvellous pictures are nothing more than what boils and bubbles in the instincts and in the digestive processes and loses its way upwards as cosmic images. It rises as a mist into the world of concepts and takes on the form of false cosmic pictures, expressing itself through these.

But the effect of this duality of human nature can appear in yet another way. For let us suppose that a second man meets the first man, a second who is naturally, as human being so constituted that his inner nature of willing and feeling hides the cosmos, and his intellectuality hides his own inner self. (Diagram II. Man) (Pg. 17)

Now let us suppose that such a second man, by means of various processes of which we have still to speak, came to the point of having more or less consciousness. Thus here would be man #1 and man # 2 (Pg 17) had reached a consciousness of this relation (Diagram II, Light red).

Now let us suppose that this man (II) was not disposed to employ all that came to him through such a consciousness in the pure sense of a universal and Christianized spiritual science, but that he had his own particular aims in the world. Let us suppose that this man belonged to a region which had framed a special world-concept in the course of historical development, and he had grown up within this region with such a world conception; and let us suppose that he had special, egoistic grounds to impose it upon the world quite intensively. The true occultist as we know has no other desire than to make valid that which can benefit all men; he has no lust of domination; but let us suppose that such a man II had a desire of power, and wished to make the world-conception of a limited territory dominate in other territories. Now if he simply goes ahead and represents in his own way the world concept that he wished to make dominant the following will happen: Some will believe him others will not believe him. Those who are of different opinion will not believe him, will repulse him- we know from experience how European missionaries are often repulsed by other races if they say things that these people do not understand or have no intention of understanding — another way. Since this whole process is a conscious one, he has the power of working upon another person e.g., upon Man #1 (Diagram Pg 2) and if he does not work merely through his intellect, but through his whole personality, he can act upon the intellect of the other.

Now if the other man is so organized that he has mediumistic tendencies — i.e., can receive something in an abnormal way — and so simply accepts it as truth because it is advanced by the second then there streams from the second into the first man the world concept held by the second, and the first allows it to pass through his unspoiled intellect if then the former appears before mankind, what is now presented comes out in quite a different way. People would notice in the case of man # 2 that acts purely on his own behalf in the world, and he has the power of clothing in an intellectual system what arises out of his inner being, for what he gives out is his own position. The ego of man #1 has not got it as its own possession but takes it from the other as something objective and advocates it with his intellect in such a way — since it is not his own personally — as to give it a more universal character. It seems to come from the unspoiled intellect of man #1 as if it were a universal truth. Here you have the facts as to how, from a certain grey or black direction, one-sided information is carried into the world. The particular one-sided grey or black spiritual-scientists do not bring it to the world by standing up and presenting their views, but they pour them into a mediumistic person. This person takes them over, passes them on and lets them work upon other people through their intellect. Hence such grey or black spiritual scientists often remain in the background as Mahatmas, and those who stand before the world speak of the Mahatma standing behind them, and what they proclaim is given out as a communication of the Mahatma.

This phenomenon leads up to much that has happened in a terribly psychologically-tragic way, one night call it, in the case of poor H.P. Blavatsky, who in the most eminent sense of the word, was a mediumistic personality. Her intellect was, however, never adequate to examine what was passed over to her by people who were not always honourable, but who could work precisely through Madame-Blavatsky. These persons concocted things which were not always irreproachable; in an egoistic sense and through the mediumistic intellect of Blavatsky they made this into something which then worked on people in a suggestive way. To those, however, who wish to take their stand honourably on the ground of spiritual science, quite definite rules and regulations of conduct are inseparable from it.

You see, from all that has now been expounded, that under all circumstances, when it is a question of spreading spiritual science, one sentence must hold good. It is obvious that anything coming from some kind of mediumism is interesting and significant, for it comes, of course, out of another world, but it must never be taken just as it stands. Otherwise it will fare with humanity as it did in the whole development of spiritism in the second half of the 19th century.

The whole development of the movement in the second half of the 19th century was really undertaken from a certain side in order to test men and ascertain how ripe they were to recognize not only the material sense world which men perceive with their senses lives around them, but also a spiritual world; for the modern material world concept of the 19th century had, under Ahrimanic suggestion, brought wide-spread belief in the sense word as the only existence. Already in the middle of the 19th century, it was a great question among occultists as to whether they should oppose this whole spiritistic movement. It was decided at the time not to not to oppose it, for it was assumed — though this was short-sighted — that when men saw how all sorts of things came from the spiritual world through the medium, they would most certainly bethink themselves that there were actually things and forces in the world which worked from one to another in a spiritual way. Instead of this the whole spiritistic movement plunged into a very egoistic materialistic channel. The majority of mediums everywhere said that they were in contact with this or that deceased person. They brought to light all sorts of things inasmuch as they said: this or that soul who died here or there communicated one thing or another through the medium. To be sure they brought to light very many things. But in far the greater number of cases a colossal error lay at the root of their claims. For if we imagine here the medium as Man 1, we have to imagine the experimenter or hypnotizer, i.e., the one who arranged everything, as Man 2.

GA162, Lecture 4, Diagram 1

Now in every man whilst he is alive here, all that is his dead part is already in him. But that reverberates below; during the waking day life it reverberates below in the sense perceptions. The dead part of man rumbles below in the sense perceptions. Now imagine the following: The medium is there, the experimenter also is there; he passes over to the medium or to whatever else may be manifesting in the arrangements, that which is actually pulsating in his own sense impressions, and often in his lower instincts and will reappear one day when he himself dies. Truths may be contained in all this, but one must understand the whole nature of what arises; one must not listen to the medium when he asserts that what comes to him by revelation is a communication from the departed.

The people who did not immediately offer resistance to spiritism, said to themselves: what it is will soon be evident. They wanted to know whether the working upon the medium of the living, of what lives in the embodied person, was really furthered. The mediums completely misunderstood this, always believing that they stood in connection with the departed. So we see how mediumism certainly formed a connection with the other world, though a deceptive one. Lucifer is not somehow driven away from the path of normality to mediumism but he is drawn in still more, the deception becomes still greater. What is in the inner being is not set free and distributed in the cosmos, but what is within spreads out like a mist in the conceptual world and becomes an imaginative world. What is in man's inner being can proceed from himself or rise up within him through the influence of another person.

But out of this will follow an infinitely significant and important law for the spread of spiritually scientific truth and for work in the stream of spiritual science. One should take care that all direct belief in a man's authority must be the less, the more this person shows marks and traces of mediumship. The more such a person comes and says; ‘I have received this or that as an impression somewhere or other,’ yet is not fully conscious of this and cannot furnish proof, all the less is there authority in his mediumship.

Therefore when H.P. Blavatsky brought certain teachings into the world, one had of necessity to say: This personality shows strong evidences of mediumship, and so it is impossible to credit her with authority, or at least only in a very slight degree. Authority must dwindle in proportion as the person shows traces of mediumship.

In the same way, it is an axiom, so to speak, in the spreading of the truths of spiritual science, that in this spreading there must never be any kind of appeal, when the truths are made public, to unnamed Masters or Mahatmas. No matter how many unnamed Beings and personalities stand behind such a movement, that which has significance as proceeding from such Beings is only significant for the one who directly confronts them; it is his affair whether he believes in them or not, and whether he can prove that they are worthy of trust. But it can never be his business when he is making public statements to claim that he has had it from unnamed Masters or Mahatmas, (in a small circle, if someone simply says... ‘This or that was said to me and I believe it,’ that is different, those are things that pass from one personality to another). The moment, however, that it becomes a question of presenting a teaching to the world, then the one who represents it must himself accept the responsibility for it. And only he who makes it clear though the type of man he is, that he does not appeal to unreal or unknown Mahatmas when he wishes to substantiate what he is propagating but who rather makes it intelligible and obvious that he, as personality, standing there on the physical plane, takes complete responsibility for his teaching, only he is living up to his full duty. And one who cannot do this, can refer to someone to be found by name on the physical plane, or who, if he is dead, can be found among the dead by historical paths.

It is therefore most important for the transmission of teachings that the one who communicates them with his own personality, as he stands there in the physical world, should accept full responsibility for the teachings, and must not appeal to unknown Masters. And those who spread the teachings further, may also only appeal to living personalities, who as physical persons are prepared to take full responsibility for their teachings. This gives a sure and certain way for dissemination of the teaching to a wider circle, but gate and door are barred against all persons unnamed and to all hints and allusions. Whoever asserts that he has received this or that from here or there, from unknown masters or from the dead (through which one can so regale oneself on one's own arrogance) against him is door and gate locked. For in spreading spiritual science the question is to know the path taken by the threads of confidence which lead to its original sources.

Hence, it was wrong when, in the so-called Theosophical Society one began to found certain society procedures on the utterances of unknown Mahatmas. That ought never to have been done. For anything that takes place and is propagated on the physical plane, a physical personality is answerable, as much as when teachings are circulated. He who spreads the teachings of another, has equally to show that he appeals, not to some unknown powers or impulses found along mediumistic paths, but to historical or living personalities. This means that he appeals to those who show the whole method of entry of spiritual truth into the physical world, who moreover, take full responsibility for their teachings and also show through their conduct that they take that responsibility. That is it above all! It is this latter above all!

These are two very important rules. The first is that we must possess the feeling that authority vanishes, if mediumism arises in the communication of the statements of personalities, and the second is that responsibility is never laid upon beings who are introduced to the world as unknown. One can, of course, speak of such unknown beings, but one must not appeal to them as authorities. That is a very different matter.

I only wished to place these indications before you today, since it is important to have the right feeling as to how the whole spirit and nature of the strivings of spiritual science should live in us. We must stand within this movement in the right way, otherwise the spiritual science movement will be immeasurably injured by being mixed up with unclear, mediumistic things, with appeals and references to all sorts of Mahatmas and beings who stand behind it. Everything that those standing in the movement so much enjoy shrouding in the magic breath of mystery (although it really proceeds from sense-instincts) — all this must be gradually ejected, otherwise we shall really not make progress in the sphere of spiritual science.

If every impact of a disordered gastric juice with the walls of the stomach causes an impetus that arises as a mist into the intellect and manifests there in the form of an Angel-Imagination, and the person in question then tells his fellow-men about this angel, that can of course make a very fine story!  But what is instigated through this sort of thing only causes injury to the spiritual-scientific movement, endless injury. For the important part about these things is that they not only cause injury through what is said, but also through what they are — for they are, in fact, realities. The moment that one puts a false garment on them, one makes them appear before the world in a false form.

Obviously no one would make a special impression if he were to say: ‘I have had something going wrong in the stomach. The action of my gastric juices upon the stomach walls has appeared to me as an Angel.’ Anyone speaking thus would make no particular impression on his fellow-men; if, however, he were to leave out the first part, he would make a strong impression. It is extraordinarily important for people to have a thorough knowledge that this can happen. Naturally one cannot distinguish straight away between a true Imagination and a false one; but neither is it necessary to bring one's Imaginations immediately to people's notice. All that must be taken thoroughly into account. It is necessary, really earnestly necessary, to consider how the spreading of the spiritual science outlook can best take place in the world. We have had, up to now the instrument of the Society, no doubt too, in the future of our Anthroposophical Society we shall have it. But we must really so conceive of this Anthroposophical Society — or speaking more loosely — of our standing within the movement of Spiritual Science, that we shall consider in what way it is an instrument for something that is to take place spiritually in the whole earthly evolution.

You see, my dear friends, it happens all too often that one may become a member of the Anthroposophical Society, and yet carry into that Society all the various habits, inclinations, sympathies and antipathies that one had before becoming a member, and continue to exercise them. It is necessary to think this over. I have therefore today made the subject of our studies something that closely concerns us and that is real — and that is: how it is possible for imposters to appear who want to make propaganda for some one-sided world concept and make use of a mediumistic personality in order to introduce this one-sided world concept to the world. Just as the one who appeared in the place of the Master Kut-Humi stood there as an imposter and implanted a one-sided world concept in Blavatsky, so also was it possible for people not to see that behind her stood a grey magician who was in the pay of a narrowly circumscribed human society, and wished to promulgate a definite human world conception.

This is something very, very real, and shows us how keenly we must be on the watch when it is a matter of fostering and cultivating this sublime treasure of spiritual science, so necessary to mankind. One must strive for honesty — really into the inmost fibres of feeling; naturally faults may arise — but one must strive for the purest integrity. One must not, through laziness, be quickly satisfied that one can believe in anyone who gives one something of value, but must test every step, prove whatever comes to light. That is absolutely essential. It is a reality, not a mere theory, that steams into mankind in this spiritual science. Human evolution receives something actual and real through what steams into mankind through the world concept of Spiritual Science.

We must therefore become conscious that we must take a different stand on earth from that otherwise taken when we do not ally ourselves to such a Spiritual-Science stream.

Last Modified: 02-Feb-2021
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