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The New Spirituality and the Christ Experience of the Twentieth Century

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

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The New Spirituality and the Christ Experience of the Twentieth Century

Schmidt Number: S-4279

On-line since: 15th June, 2020

6th Lecture

The New Spirituality and the Christ Expereience of the Twentieth Century
Lecture 5

30 October, 1920

If an understanding for what one can call the reappearance of Christ is to find its place in the soul in the right way it is necessary to create a preparatory understanding for the course that the Christ-idea, the image people have had of the Christ, has taken in the course of human development. We remember that human development has proceeded from a constitution of soul which we have often called a kind of instinctive perception; a clairvoyance which was dim and dreamlike. And we have, on repeated occasions, characterized the different epochs of human development in such a way that we have placed the corresponding form of this constitution of soul into different times.

Today we will remind ourselves that there were still strong remnants of this old clairvoyant condition of humanity existing at the time of the occurrence of the Mystery of Golgotha. The Mystery of Golgotha is to be understood in the first place as a fact, but as a fact which, in its inner essence, can never be grasped by the intellect which since the middle of the fifteenth century has constituted the soul-life of modern civilization but which was already prepared for in Greek and Roman times. Thus one can say: During the course of Greek and Roman history, when the Mystery of Golgotha was accomplished on the earth, there were still strong remnants of the ancient clairvoyance existing in many people. Other people had already lost this clairvoyance — were already definitely in the beginnings of an intellectual development. This was particularly so in the Romans. And one can therefore say that, in its reality, in its essence, the Mystery of Golgotha was grasped at first only by those who still had a remnant of the old clairvoyance. It could be described — the symbolism too could be indicated — by those who had these remnants. This instinctive clairvoyance was a particular characteristic of the ancient oriental peoples and existed essentially in its last remnants above all in these peoples. And Christ Jesus, too, did, after all, walk on the earth among oriental people.

Thus the Mystery of Golgotha was understood first of all through the remnants of ancient oriental wisdom. And when this Mystery of Golgotha moved towards the West — to the Greeks and the Romans — one could receive what was related by those people who, out of the remains of the old clairvoyance, had understood what had really come to pass on the earth. And in order that there could be a perception through an 'eyewitness' of the soul there arose in St Paul, through a particular enlightenment which came to him at a late period of his life, a clairvoyant state through which he could convince himself of the truth, of the genuine nature, of the Mystery of Golgotha. What St Paul was able to relate out of his conviction — what those who had preserved the remains of an old clairvoyance could bring forward concerning the Mystery of Golgotha out of an ancient oriental wisdom, could be received by people as news — could be clothed in the form of the germinating intellect. Intellect itself, however, was not able to penetrate the Mystery of Golgotha.

The way in which those who still had remains of the old clairvoyance spoke about the Mystery of Golgotha is called Gnosis. And, if I can put it so, the form of speaking about the Mystery of Golgotha in the way that was possible with these remnants of old clairvoyance — this was Christian Gnosis. And the presentation of the Mystery of Golgotha then reached posterity in the way I have described in my book Christianity as mystical Fact. Thus the first understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha was attained through these remains of the old clairvoyance; through the ancient, instinctive oriental perception. One could say that this ancient oriental perception was preserved up to the Mystery of Golgotha to such a degree that a truly human grasp of this Mystery could find a place before the intellect broke in and understanding for the Mystery of Golgotha could no longer be found. Had the Mystery of Golgotha come during the full flowering of the intellect it would, of course, have made no impression on humanity at all.

Thus the tidings of the Mystery of Golgotha lived in the accounts of the old clairvoyants and, basically, as you know from my Christianity as Mystical Fact, the Gospels are nothing other than accounts concerning the Mystery of Golgotha gained through clairvoyance. But then there spread out over humanity's development the wave which had already taken root in Greece, as I have described to you, which had its source particularly in Rome and which can be seen as the wave that prepared the later intellectuality but in which this intellectuality already lived. Dialectical-legal thinking spread out and, in turn, led to civic-political thinking. This spread from the South into those northern regions where, as I related yesterday, there was still a nature-based economy. Central European civilization, nourished at first by Rome, took shape primarily in the sign of the intellectual, the dialectical-legal, development of the human soul. In the midst of everything that occurred here people could no longer themselves behold the Mystery in the sense of the old spirituality, but received the accounts, the traditions, and clothed these in the forms of their own soul-constitution. People clothed it more and more in dialectics. Through Rome the Mystery of Golgotha became clothed in dialectics. Out of what was Christian Gnosis, which still relied on vision, there took shape the pure dialectical theology which went hand in hand with the establishing of the European Empire that later became [nation] States. But the first great Empire was actually the secularized ecclesiastical 'Empire of the Church', permeated by Roman judicial forms. Many external facts show how this dialectical-legal, political thinking, in which the old oriental direct perception clothed itself, spread out over Europe.

Charlemagne, for example, was a vassal of the Pope who had bestowed on him his title of Emperor. And when one studies the whole extent of the rulership of Charlemagne, one finds among the forces through which his rulership spread an ecclesiastical-theological influence. It was a kind of theocratic empire that spread there but it was everywhere permeated by dialectical-legal forms. The clergy were the bureaucracy. They held the offices of the State and united in their person the political and ecclesiastical elements. The old spiritual life based on spiritual vision — which, as you know, had abolished the spirit in 869 — this old spiritual life moves over entirely into a political Church-Empire which extends over the greater part of Europe.

You know from history and from what I have related here from the spiritual-scientific point of view how this continuous cross-flow of the Roman ecclesiastical element, and that which tried more or less to free itself from it, produced conflicts, and how these conflicts really form a great part of medieval history. But one must look at the immense difference that exists between the whole social structure of the Middle Ages, which then dissolved into the modern states, and the social structure of the ancient Orient which was entirely permeated by the spirit, by the old instinctive clairvoyance, and all that this brought with it.

From what source did this ancient oriental vision receive its content? It was — one cannot put it differently — 'inborn' (Angeborensein); for the sages of the Mysteries sought as their pupils those who had inborn faculties of such a nature that they were able to come to this instinctive perception. Out of the great mass of people those were chosen in whose blood it lay to have such vision. Thus one simply knew that in the human beings that were sent as children from the spiritual worlds into this physical world came remnants of the experiences in those spiritual worlds. (I am still speaking of the time in which the Mystery of Golgotha approached or was already accomplished.) In one individual these came less; in another, more. With the blood, so to say, echoes from the experiences in the spiritual worlds came in. Those who had the largest number of instinctive memories of experiences before birth or conception were the suitable pupils for the Mysteries. They were able to comprehend and see, or, rather, were able through comprehending vision to recognize the intentions of the gods regarding human beings, for they had experienced this before birth and had an instinctive memory of it in this life on earth. And they were sought out by the wise men of the Mysteries, by the priests, to be placed before humanity as individuals who could bear witness to the will of the spiritual world with regard to the physical world. It was human beings such as these who were the first ones able to speak about the Mystery of Golgotha. One can certainly say that this was a very different way of placing a human being in the social order. He was placed in this social order by the gods themselves through the recognizing of this fact by the Mysteries.

The inborn faculties based on the action of the blood then gave way to the medieval wave. Human beings then had nothing, or they had less and less, of what is brought into the physical world at birth from the spiritual worlds. Certainly the people who counted had nothing of this. Nothing but an instinctive memory remained. So upon what basis could a social structure be founded? What could this be founded on in the dialectical-legal age? It could only be founded on authority — the authority claimed above all by the Popes of Rome. It was this authority that took the place of that which the priests of the ancient Mysteries had beheld and recognized as being sent from the spiritual worlds. In ancient times decisions were made as to what should happen in the social life according to what was brought from the spiritual worlds. This could now only be decided in that certain people — that is the Roman Popes and, by extension, the individual vassal princes of the Popes, the kings and other princes — were ascribed with a certain authority on earth, and ascribed through legal justification, by formal, legal right. Men must now command, since the gods no longer commanded. And who was to command had now to be established through external law.

Thus arose the medieval principle of authority and one can say that into this principle was also incorporated the whole perception of the Mystery of Golgotha which one only received as an account. At most one could clothe it in symbols, in which, however, one only had images. A symbol of this kind is the mass with the sacred Last Supper and all that the Christian could experience in the Church. In the Last Supper he had directly present, according to his comprehension, the entry of the Christ-force into the world. The fact that this Christ-force was able to stream into the physical world for the believers was subject to the authority which in turn proceeded from the ordinations of the Roman Church.

But what was developing here as the dialectical-legal Roman element also bore in its bosom, as it were, its other side. It bore the continuous protest against authority. For when everything is based on authority, as was the case in the Middle Ages, then there also already comes to expression in the human being that which is to come in the future: inner protest against authority. This inner protest against authority came to light through the most diverse historical phenomena, through such people as Wyclif, [1] Hus [2] and so on, who set themselves against the bare principle of authority, who wished to comprehend Christ out of their inner being — for which, however, the time had not yet come. In fact, one could only give onself up to the illusion that one grasped Christ out of one's own inner being.

Those men who still made their appearance as mystics in the Middle Ages also spoke of the Christ, but they did not yet have the Christ-experience. But they did have the old accounts concerning the Christ. And this rebellion against authority became stronger and stronger and because of this the urge to fortify this authority also naturally became stronger and stronger. And the strongest exercise of power to fortify this authority — to put, in a sense, everything that proceeds from the Mystery of Golgotha only on a basis of authority and permanently so — came from Jesuitism. Jesuitism has nothing more of the Christ. Jesuitism already contains in itself a complete rebellion against the original understanding of Christ. The first understanding occurred in Gnosis with the remains of the oriental clairvoyance. Jesuitism took up only the intellectual-dialectic element and rejected the Christ-principle. It did not develop a Christology but a fighting doctrine for Jesus: a Jesuology. Even though Jesus was seen as one reaching beyond all human beings, that which led to the Mystery of Golgotha through Jesuitism was nevertheless to be something founded purely on authority.

Thus was prepared the situation which then came about, with its culmination in the nineteenth century, in which the Christ-impulse as something spiritual was completely lost — in which theology, in wishing to be a modern theology, wanted to speak only of the man Jesus. But as this whole development took its course it gave rise to many difficult conditions. Take the fact that the existing accounts concerning the Mystery of Golgotha were taken up by the Roman principle into a purely juristic dialectics; that they were taken up through external symbolism which could be explained. It was then impossible to let these accounts, as they existed, come into the hands of the faithful. Thus the strict forbiddance for those of the Roman faith to read the Bible.

This was the most important fact right into the later Middle Ages; that the faithful were forbidden to read the Bible. It was considered by the priesthood and the leading Catholic circles that it would be the most frightful thing if the Gospels were to become known among the broad mass of the faithful. For the Gospels originate out of a completely different constitution of soul. The Gospels can only be understood through a spiritual constitution of soul. A dialectical soul-constitution can make nothing of them. It was therefore impossible for those times, in which the intellect and dialectics were prepared, to allow the masses access to the Gospels. The Church fought furiously against the Gospels becoming known and regarded those who went against the prohibition of reading them as the most flagrant heretics; like, for example, the Waldenses and Albigenses. These claimed the right to teach themselves about the Mystery of Golgotha through the Gospels. The Church opposed this because it knew full well that the way the Church itself presented the Mystery of Golgotha was irreconcilable with a common knowledge of the Gospels. For the Gospel in its true form actually consists of four Gospels which contradict one another. They knew that if they gave out the Gospels to the great mass of the faithful, the faithful would straightaway be confronted with contradictory accounts which, with the dawning intellectuality, they could only grasp as something to be understood as one understands things of the physical plane. After all, with an event on the physical plane one cannot understand why it ought to be described in four different ways. For an event that has to be understood by higher forces one is concerned with how it looks from this or that view, since it must always be seen from different sides. I have often said that this holds true even for dreams. People can dream the same thing; that is to say the same thing can take place within them but the pictures that are formed can differ in the most manifold ways. Thus for someone who stands in a spiritual relation to the Mystery of Golgotha the contradictions are of no significance.

But the people at the dawn of the Middle Ages did not stand in a spiritual relation; they stood in the sign of dialectics right into the lowest classes of the people. And for dialectics one could not simply give out a fourfold mutually contradictory account of the Mystery of Golgotha. And when Protestantism emerged and the Church could no longer maintain the prohibition of the Bible, there arose that discrepancy in European life which then led to the modern theology of the nineteenth century which finally erased from the Gospels everything that was contradictory. And what the Gospels have now become is, in the end, really just a well-picked carcass. The most meagre that has appeared, the most plucked, are the things which the famous Schmiedel [3] has discovered. He considers the only genuine places in the Gospels are those where someone is not praised, where something disapproving is said, and dismisses everything else. And thus there arose the descriptions of Jesus of the theologians of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century, who only wanted to describe Jesus the man and believed that with that they could still remain within Christianity. An intellectual-dialectical age could only remain within Christianity by prohibiting the Gospels. With the Gospels a dialectical-legal age could only have the effect of gradually eliminating the figure of Christ completely.

Modern humanity has actually developed under this untruth. This humanity has absolutely no inkling that, fundamentally, it lives under the principle of authority but continually denies that this is so. There is hardly a stronger stamp of the belief in authority than exists among those who accept modern official science as the standard for the world. Just look how easily people are satisfied when they are told somewhere that something has been 'scientifically proven'. They know nothing more about this proof than that it has been stated by someone who has been to grammar school and university, has become a lecturer or professor and has therefore been appointed again by authority. This is how this is promulgated. And then what gets out among people in this way is supposed to be true science. Just try sometime to hold in mind for yourself everything that people accept nowadays as being true, proven science. In the last analysis it rests upon nothing other than a pure principle of authority, on absolute faith in authority — it is only that people delude themselves about this. This is the belief in authority that has replaced the other way of ordering the social structure which was derived from the Orient.

And one must grasp what hatred developed within those circles who had no understanding at all for the Mystery of Golgotha, who had only tradition continued through authority, and were terrified of the Gospels becoming generally known among the masses. One must grasp the hatred that became ever stronger and stronger and especially in Jesuitism was developed into a complete system — a hatred for Gnosis. And even today we still see how theologians get hot under the collar whenever there is any talk of Gnosis! We have to understand this on the basis of the development of European humanity. One must, for example, understand the development of the universities. How have the universities developed? One should look at history from the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries. They developed out of the Church. The monastery schools have become universities. Everything that was taught had to have the stamp of approval from Rome and only what had received this stamp was to be believed. The thought that it had to be approved by Rome was gradually lost but the thought that it had to be approved by something remained. And thus there remained the principle of authority even in those who no longer believed in Roman authority. And this continuation of the Roman authority-principle, but without a belief in Rome itself, is the mentality of our universities today. It is also the mentality in Protestant countries. The Catholic Church only fights on for its authority, with the exclusion of everything spiritual; it calumniates everything that goes beyond its dialectical-legal mode of thinking, calumniates everything which resists being fitted into the social authority principle. One must only understand how deeply this has penetrated into the soul-constitution of those human beings living at the dawn of our modern civilization. In this way the majority lost the power to face the truth for themselves and in the last resort this has produced the great confusion; the frightful chaos in which we are now living.

But at the same time we are now living,in an age in which a faculty of vision, of supersensible perception, is again being prepared. It is the wish of spiritual science to prepare for this faculty which humanity must take hold of again. Not the old instinctive vision, but a supersensible perception founded on full consciousness. Theology professors and others fight against this perception; they confuse it with the old Gnostic visionary gift and say all sorts of things they do not understand themselves against this modern faculty. But this new vision is rising up as a necessity which must take hold of humanity. And it is into this faculty of vision that a true comprehension of the Mystery of Golgotha can shine again.

Thus, the course of man's image of Christ is as follows. The Mystery of Golgotha takes place at a time in which remnants of the old clairvoyance still exist. Human beings can still just about understand it. They set down this understanding in the Gospels. Christianity moves westwards and it taken up by Rome in the dialectical spirit. It is understood less and less. People talk in words about the Mystery of Golgotha; in words that are merely words so that the faithful are also quite content when they are in church and the priest speaks words in a language they do not understand. For it is not a matter for them of understanding but a matter, at most, of living in the general atmosphere which is directed to the Mystery of Golgotha. And the real connection of human beings with the Mystery of Golgotha is lost. It is lost more and more. At a certain point in the Middle Ages people begin to debate the significance of the symbol in which the continuous communication of the Mystery of Golgotha had clothed itself. People begin to debate, for example, the significance of the Last Supper. But as soon as people begin to debate something it means they no longer understand it. What lives in the evolution of humanity lives as experience; as long as people have the experience they do not dispute it. When the conflict over the nature of the Last Supper arose in the Middle Ages the very last traces of understanding for the Last Supper were gone — the play of dialectics had already taken possession of it. And so the modern life of humanity unfolded until the prohibition of the Bible could no longer hold. In theory, all Catholics are still forbidden to read it. Theoretically they are allowed to read only that extract that is prepared as if the Gospels were a unity. Even today it is strictly forbidden for Catholics to occupy themselves with the four Gospels because, of course, the moment one goes into the four gospels with the modern spirit, where they are read in the same way one reads an account of the physical plane, they fragment into shreds. It is irresponsible when people who are fully aware of this and who have also experienced how in the course of the nineteenth century, under the philologizing of theology, the Gospels have been destroyed — when these people have the cheek, it cannot be called anything else, to say that Anthroposophy explains the Gospels in an arbitrary way, that it reads all sorts of things into them. These people know that the connection with the Mystery of Golgotha is lost if the Gospels are not understood in a spiritual sense. One experiences people getting up onto the platform and again and again gabbling from a Catholic or Protestant point of view about how Anthroposophy puts things into the Gospels although they know perfectly well that if no spiritual comprehension is given to the Gospels they must radically destroy the Christian constitution of soul. If people would only pay more attention to how the majority of those who utter such nonsense about Anthroposophy are really only concerned with keeping their office in the most comfortable way, in the way they learnt in their youth — if people knew that in these theologians there is living not the slightest feeling for truth but only fear of losing their comfortable way of comprehending things — then we would get much further in rejecting the sort of Frolinmeyers [4] and similar people who no longer possess the slightest spark of any sense of truth.

What is to be saved today is the Mystery of Golgotha itself. And preparation must be made so that this Mystery of Golgotha may shine forth again to human imagination. For it cannot shine forth to the intellect. The intellect can only dissolve it. The intellect can either only wipe it from the world with its art of philology or preserve it by a tyrannical authority in the Jesuitical sense which does not strive for truth but only for a comfortable life. For those, however, who strive for truth the path today leads towards Imagination; that is to conscious perception of the spiritual world. And the important thing is that, from the vantage point of this conscious perception of the spiritual world, One should be in the position to comprehend once again the whole being of humanity. Above all, it is essential that all human education and instruction be given from this point of view.

We know that until the age of seven, until the change of teeth, the child lives in imitation. Imitation is, in fact, nothing less than a continuation of what, in a completely different form, was present in the spirit world before birth or conception. There, in the spiritual world, one being merges into another and this is then expressed in the child's imitation of the people around it, as an echo of its spiritual experiences. Then, from the seventh Year, from the change of teeth up to puberty, comes the child's need for authority. What still lives in childish imitation lived in a certain way in the whole human nature during the ancient oriental culture. Those who worked out of the Mysteries worked with such a powerful force that other human beings followed them, as the child follows the grown-ups in its environment. Then came the principle of authority. And now the human being is growing out of this principle and is growing into that principle which begins to show itself after puberty — although of course in a personal, individual way, different from the way it is in the development of humanity as a whole. Today the human being is approaching the time when it will be necessary to develop in himself something which cannot be developed of itself. The child comes into the world as an imitator. In the ancient oriental social life it also came into the world as an imitator. But what lived in the child as the principle of imitation remained active even into the time of authority: the time of discerning judgements, remained active with regard to social affairs and everything that was encompassed as the religious life. The authority-principle in the ancient Orient applied only to the immediate environment. The greater affairs of life remained in the form of child-like experience.

These larger affairs of life then came into the times of the Middle Ages. The authority-principle prevailed and now, for the first time, a withdrawl from the authority-principle asserted itself — the principle of individual judgement arose. All that was developed for the affairs of the religious life, the artistic life -for human life in general that goes over and beyond the immediate elementary affairs of nature — could be found in the child, who brought it with him into the physical world from the spiritual worlds through the blood. When the authority principle still held sway, one only needed to build upon something which, with a certain necessity, developed out of the still quite unconscious etheric body. Today, when the principle of independent judgment is appearing, there arises an enormous new responsibility for pedagogy and didactics. There arises the fact that one must look in the growing child towards what will emerge. When a child reaches the age of fifteen the astral body is born in him. There is born in him that which carries into the world — now not unconsciously but in a more and more conscious way- the experiences of the spiritual world.

The time is approaching when in all our education and training we must look to what emerges from the child when he is in the fourteenth, fifteenth years of life. This was not of such great importance in all earlier times for it is connected with what lives independently in the human being which he does not bring with him through birth and which he cannot receive through authority but must really draw out of himself. And in order that he may draw it out of himself rightly we must take care that the child has the right upbringing and education up to the fourteenth, fifteenth years so that in those years he can then develop the astral body in the right way. Education and training take on a completely new significance in our modern time and, in fact, there should be no more teaching without insight into the relation of the human being to the spiritual world. That is the battle that is arising.

The sense of 'I' which pressed to the surface of human consciousness in the idealistic philosophy of Central Europe asserted itself, as it were, out of still instinctive depths. In Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, however, this sense of 'I' dealt only with what man experiences between birth and death and had nothing to do with what is the super-physical human being. I said yesterday that the Mid-European was cut off by Turkey and by the influence of Peter the Great from anything oriental. But what continued to hover before the Mid-European as a revelation still lived on as an inheritance. This was really only understood out of the clairvoyance of the ancient Orient but still had its echoes in Asiatic Russia, the Russia not yet Europeanized.

Revelation is still alive today in Asia although in a completely decadent form. A sense for revelation is there still. The intellectual, the purely dialectical element, belongs to the West and is only developed today for the economic life. The Mid-European element was always hemmed in between these two — the Western intellectualism, still entirely restricted to the earthly economic, human reason that wishes to occupy itself only with external experience, and the oriental revelation. And the clouds gathered ever more threateningly since only a kind of rhythmic balance existed between revelation and reason. What the great Scholastics of the Middle Ages had sought to hold apart — a rational grasp of the outer sense-world and supersensible revelation — collided increasingly into one another as the modern age arose. And we see this mutual interlocking particularly in the first half of the nineteenth century when the idealistic philosophy of Central Europe was born. We see then how the Western element expands in the second half of the nineteenth century; how, to a certain degree, the whole of Europe, even up to Russia, is Anglicized, and how the crushed condition, the devastated state, of Central Europe is an external sign of a deep inner process which humanity today is unwilling to grasp. Everything that is hemmed in between West and East is razed to the ground, is dashed to pieces, and does not know what to do. It lives in upheavals; talks of all sorts of things by which, somehow or other, progress can be made — but talks, however, nothing but nullities. This is expressed right into small details. There is an utter inability to cope with economics under the old conditions. What do people do? They either squeeze out of the old what is still left by a dreadful tightening of taxation or they fill what is lacking by printing worthless notes; millions of bank-notes a week. And though it is perhaps only a symbol, there nevertheless stands before the soul of individual people the following: a decadent clinging to revelation in the East, the nullity of the Centre and the rationality of the West, still bogged down in economics. And yet they talk as if of a future perspective — as though the Centre were simply not there — of the great conflict that lies ahead between Japan and America.

People, of course, picture this purely physically. This also signifies something of immense profundity. And when the decadent element existing in the East and that which is as yet unborn in the West clash together through ignoring the Centre — then the sense of 'I' which came to expression in the Centre is submerged in that chaos that arises through the crushing from East to West. Contemplation of the 'I' vanished with the idealistic philosophy of Central Europe. It has ceased to exist since the middle of the nineteenth century. And what people tried to create as political structure out of the upheavals — that, too, lies on the ground today. Impossible political structures spring up like that of Czechoslovakia which, quite certainly, in the long run cannot live and cannot die. These impossible structures can only spring up through the fact that peace is made by the people of the West who have no idea what the conditions for life are in the Centre. In Zurich people listen to someone or other who comes from Paris and holds forth to them brilliantly, as one says, on the unity of the Slovak and the Czech elements. The listeners are astounded at what such a professor makes known about the predestination of Czechoslovakia, because they have no idea of the conditions for life in the East and because they do not know that what is brought into being there is only the squeezing element, the crushing together of East and West. People still cover their eyes so as not to see what the external symptoms are saying. You won't believe how, even here in Central Europe, scenes take place — though at the present time still very much towards the East — where remnants of the troops who carried the war on their shoulders appear here and there. They are now officers although there is no justification for this under present conditions. They make innocent women dance naked before them and then thrust bayonets into their bellies. Such scenes actually take place at the command of people who, incidentally, fought bravely in the war.

Before all these things the deluded men of the West, who conclude a peace of which they understand nothing, cover up their eyes. They do not see how, in what is actually going on, significant things proclaim themselves. And, for the most part, people go on with life as though nothing were happening in the world at all. And thus, one could say, things are driven into the very narrowest corner of the consciousness. That which once brought forth such idealistic heights — such ideas as one finds in Goethe, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel — in reality no longer exists in public life. And when it tries to assert itself, as here in the Goetheanum, it is slandered. Trumped-up slanderous stuff crops up everywhere; people cite it as something which they pretend to understand and must pass judgment on. Something is developing into nullity which a century ago was still radiant spirit-life. And above this the clouds are rolling together from the East and the West.

And what is the meaning of this that must come to expression In the most frightful way in coming decades? What is its Meaning? On the one hand it is the challenge to stand firm on the ground that would give birth to the new life of the spirit. On the other hand it is the sign in the heavens of that which has been spoken about among us for some time: the approach of the Christ in the form in which He must be seen from the twentieth century onwards. For, before the middle of this century has passed, the Christ must be seen. But before that, all that remains of the old must be driven into nullity, the clouds must gather. The human being must find his full freedom out of nullity and the new perception must be born out of this nullity. The human being must find his whole strength out of the nothingness. It is but the desire of spiritual science to prepare him for it. This is something of which one may not say that it desires to, but that it must desire to!


1. John Wyclif (c. 1324–84). Return

2. John Huss (1369–1415). Return

3. Note is numbered in text but not given in notes section. Return

4. Note is numbered in text but not given in notes section. Return

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