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The Nature of Sub-Sensible Forces

We come now to the point where we must consider those questions which a student of spiritual science will ask with regard to the question of atomic energy. There are several issues to be examined, all of which quite clearly belong to this topic. To begin with, you may ask — with a certain justification — what I have to say about the nature of so-called nuclear energy. Is it the “third force,” or is it not? As I have stated, we have here a situation in which it is just not possible to give a simple answer. I, personally, am of the conviction that in the nuclear energy of today there is embodied, somewhat prematurely, some small part of the future forces which have been spoken of. We may say it is only the “tip of the iceberg.”

Today, as promised, I would like to consider the process of evolution through densification, which passes from warmth over to the gaseous condition of matter, and from there through the liquid condition to the solid state. If one considers the various stages through which the earth passed in the beginning of its development, one realizes that light first arose out of the densification of warmth— that warmth which is, as we know, not truly physical (although it plays a major role in physics), but is rather purely etheric. One sees then that the transition to a gaseous condition took place through the separation of light and “air.” (Here I use the term “air” to be brief, but when I am speaking of this intermediary state of evolution I do not, of course, refer to it as one of the four classical elements, for these are physical-etheric. However, the etheric and spiritual realms were always understood to be included in the old languages.)

We are concerned here with the description given by Rudolf Steiner of the gradual process of densification which occurred through the repetition of the previous stages of the earth — the repetitions of Saturn, Sun, and Moon, which had to take place before the attainment of the actual condition of the earth itself. At the end of the Moon stage there arose something like a solid condition. When we read the description of this, however, some essential characteristic seems to have been lacking in this condition. If we consider how nature gradually generates harder and tougher substances, as it does, for instance, in the horny matter of the birds' feathers, then we see how nature used the process of polymerization in order to create that same process which we use today for our artificial substances. Yet on the other hand, what really belongs to the earth is the crystal condition, in which matter is not only solid, but also ordered.

Thus the light ether is released when it gives rise to the gaseous condition, the chemical or sound or number ether is released in the next stage of densification, and then the life ether (which is also called meaning ether, and even, though seldom, in the older terminology of Rudolf Steiner, atomic ether) is then freed, to a certain degree, in the last stage of densification of physical matter to the solid condition of the earth. Corresponding to light, we now have electricity, which Rudolf Steiner calls “fallen” or “evil” light ether. We also have magnetism as fallen chemical ether, and then, finally, the third force. (See the diagram in preceding lecture.) And it is here that Rudolf Steiner speaks of Lucifer and Ahriman, and the Asuras.

In order to come to the topic of nuclear energy, which has indeed some connection with the third force (although we must ask what kind of connection), I will now try, for a few minutes, to characterize why I believe it is only the tip of the iceberg which we see today. The life ether was indeed also called the meaning or sense ether (German, “Sinn-aether”). What do we think of when we hear the word “meaning ether?” Probably not nearly enough — myself included! — for it is difficult to grasp what the term “meaning” signifies here. With respect to the chemical ether we had to refer to the numerical laws and to the Harmony of the Spheres. To the meaning ether, however, belongs the general and great harmony of the universe (as Kepler has expressed it). It can help us yet further if we consider a word which was used by the profound translator of many works of Chinese literature, Richard Wilhelm. He has chosen to translate the word “tao,” as used in the “Tao te Ching,” (“Tao” is translated into English as “way.”) with the German word “Sinn” (sense, or meaning). He points out that it had something of the same meaning as did the Greek word “logos” at the turning point of time, the beginning of the Christian era. If you consult a Greek dictionary, you will find a long list of meanings for the term “logos” — word, speech, computation, relationship, reason, etc. The mathematicians of 400 B.C. used the word “logos” when they stated a ratio, as 3:4. And when in the time of Plato it was established that there was no “logos,” or integral proportionality, between the diagonal and the side of a square, that was called an “a-logon,” or something without logos. Translated into Latin, logos became “ratio,” and something without “ratio” (or proportion) was something “irrational.” The discovery of the irrational in the time of Plato consisted in the proof that “irrationality” exists in the world of measure. That gives a faint indication of the paradox inherent in the deepest “sense of the word ‘sense’.”

But now you must understand that the negative mirror image of a mastery of the world of meaning, of the logos, must appear in our time, and where this negative image appears it is today called “information.” The “Science of Information” can only measure the quantitative aspect of information, and not that which is its true meaning. The Science of Information is indeed based upon an invention of some kind of measurement of meaning; I must not here elaborate on this subject, but it is merely an external measure. (Using an analogy, we could say that if you really want to say something in a telegram, it costs more than if you want to say less. There is really no alternative.) Mankind today knows that there are certain measurable relationships, but their true relationship to a fallen “meaning ether” is still unknown. We can, however, come to know something of the fallen atomic or life ether, from what Steiner generally has to say about the sub-sensible laws which embrace all of these forces. I could go a little further for experts, to point out that certain inspirations which came to physicists in the first 25 years of this century revealed to them — though of course only in part — certain relationships of meaning, such as why the atom has so-and-so many shells, why it is built up (pictorially speaking) of electrons in a regular manner, and why exceptions suddenly occur, etc. But then the question always arises, which physicists admit cannot be answered now, but only asked, how does an electron “know” that certain energy levels are “filled”? This problem, “How does it know?”, indicates that we are unexpectedly driven to a new question of information or meaning, and one can predict — it is an easy prophecy — that certain steps in nuclear physics will only be possible when a new marriage takes place between nuclear physics and Cybernetics. (I use this word “Cybernetics,” which was coined by Norbert Wiener, to refer to all that is now known to the world only by way of the great calculators and data processors.) One could say, therefore, that something of the future mastery of the nature forces is anticipated today through the caricatures made by these electronic automatons. This brings us, then, to another important aspect — that of anticipation or pre-picturing. The developments of the future are already casting their images into our time. We will come back to this.

In the two lectures to which I referred last time, the one from December 1904, and the other from October 1, 1911, the destruction of our civilization was discussed. Just as the Lemurian civilization was destroyed by fire, and the Atlantean by water, ours will be destroyed by these new forces, in the War of All against All. There still remains a question in one passage, however, which I have re-read, as to whether this will occur in the Fifth Age or the Fifth Cultural Epoch. Rudolf Steiner does not always express himself with pedantic clarity. I, however, on my own responsibility, shall state most emphatically: the Atlantean is the Fourth Evolutionary Age, and the Post-Atlantean time with its seven cultural epochs is a Fifth Age. In the passage in question it is stated that we are now, quite early, living in the time of the development of the Intellect. The Fifth Post-Atlantean cultural epoch is surely not just that of the Intellect: it comes only after the development of the Intellectual Soul, and is that of the Consciousness Soul. All these catastrophes will occur in the great Fifth Evolutionary Age, for which our destiny is so clearly being formed through this tremendous development of the Intellect — which shall grow even greater in the future.

It is said, for example, in the lecture “Influences of Lucifer and Ahriman” that “Many diverse things will be discovered from the forces and substances of the world which will serve as nutriments for mankind. What, however, is thus found, will be such that man will instantly recognize how the material world is connected with the organ of the Intellect. Not with that of the spiritual, but with that of the Intellect. Man will learn what he must eat and drink in order to become clever.” Already we have learned of one of these things through Rudolf Steiner — potatoes and the fruits which grow under the surface of the earth. I believe, however, that there are many others. “Man cannot become spiritual through eating and drinking, but he can become clever and cunning thereby. As yet mankind still knows nothing about these things but the time will come when these things will not only be sought after, but they will rather come to pass quite out of themselves through the necessities which will arise in the time to come. And I would like to say: there are already certain secret brotherhoods which are in preparation for this, and will use certain applications of these things in particular ways to prepare the conditions for the incarnation of Ahriman upon earth. And it has to take place! Then mankind will have to recognize during his time upon earth just how much can arise from purely material processes. But men should at the same time comprehend that they should learn to control these spiritual or unspiritual directions which lead to Ahriman. hen we comprehend (that was stated previously in the lecture, and naturally, is valid for all the reasons for and against the nuclear energy of the present) “that all sorts of proposed programmes can be proven valid, but that so also can the reasons against them, then we come to the point when we must say, ‘We have to bring ourselves to such a mood of soul that we do not prove, but experience.’ For that which is experienced is something quite different from that which is merely intellectually proved. In the same way we must say, ‘We need to come more and more to a deeper spiritual-scientific understanding of the Gospels.’“

Then follows a discussion to the effect that the literal interpretation and understanding of the Gospels was right in its time, but that that which was right at one time can later give rise to its opposite. We find it is the same in certain things said in the tirades of public speakers. Then we must also think of Cardinal Newman, who stated that he could see no other salvation for Christianity than a new revelation. I shall read another short passage, which you can take as one of the countless warnings which are to be found in the works of Rudolf Steiner, that man — if you will allow me to say it — should not fall prey to gossip about the spirit.

Many men today speak about the Spirit. You, however, who take up spiritual science, should be men who are not enchanted by the gossip about the spirit, but who rather comprehend that there is a difference between mere talk about the spirit, and the description of the spiritual world as is attempted an the ground of Anthroposophy, where the spiritual world is described in that same manner as the physical sense-world is portrayed externally.”

I return to my assertion: nuclear energy has to do with the third force, but it is not the third force itself. Obviously, Anthroposophy is no easy matter. We will come back later to discuss this very fact, that it is in no way something simple. It is possible to find a statement, that in our Fifth Post-Atlantean epoch some force shall appear — electricity: and then the other forces shall appear in the sixth and seventh epochs. The fanatics can now try with their logic to assert that the atomic energy which now threatens us is, therefore, not at all the third force.

That would, of course, be just as foolish as the other possibility which we have previously considered: we have Lucifer = fallen, light = electricity; we have Ahriman = evil, chemical ether = magnetism; and therefore we must have the Asuras = fallen life, ether = nuclear energy. Naturally it would be foolishness to think that! But one must make an effort, and call to mind that Rudolf Steiner in 1909 said only a few things about the Asuras, and thereafter said almost nothing — at the most, I would say, he only mentioned them in passing. For when we discuss these beings we approach a deep mystery which we must come to know — the mystery of evil. Without a knowledge of the mystery of evil we can, in fact, simply not understand enough; and we find ourselves thus in danger of gravely misunderstanding certain isolated passages. Today there are already certain misunderstandings, derived from a detailed yet incomplete quotation from “The Etherization of the Blood;” and these misunderstandings have been spread widely by certain people who have quite a large following, and who depict Steiner to be a proponent of Satanism. A terrible and ill-willed misunderstanding! There is still another aspect which we must consider with regard to the problem of the third force. For even now it is not at all clear in what way the technology of the future, which will in part rest upon the consonance of vibrations, will be connected with this rather coarse technology of nuclear energy. That is simply not yet on the surface. Perhaps we must say we have to be glad it is not yet there.

In the lectures about World-Being and Egohood, Rudolf Steiner gives a picture of the polarity between East and West. There he contrasts two men: a well-known Russian, Tolstoy, and a relatively little-known American inventor, Keely, of whom I spoke in my last lecture. Keely thought he had an engine which operated purely from human forces. Steiner speaks in this lecture of the symbols of Jachim and Boas, and how it is possible for the profound secrets contained in them to be misused by secret brotherhoods. “There is very, very much contained in the old preserved symbols. Our age is called upon to understand these things, to penetrate into them. The contrast which will at one point be experienced between all that which is truly spiritual and that which will approach us when Keely's motor actually becomes reality, from the West, will be a much stronger contrast than exists today between Tolstoy's world view and that which now approaches us from the East. Oh, these things cannot be further spoken of!” So he speaks in this passage. And that is connected with the mystery of evil and the silence which Rudolf Steiner maintained with regard to the Asuras. One senses from this utterance that one simply cannot speak further about this matter. If someone comes and says, “I would like to study quite quickly all that which Rudolf Steiner says about the Asuras,” then one must say to him, “You can do that quickly, indeed, but you will still have nothing. You will only have something when you understand why he was silent about this point.”

Let us, therefore, consider here the mystery of evil. The problem of evil is just that, that it is a mystery. To the extent that I am able to formulate it — I speak on my own responsibility, and not with reference to Rudolf Steiner — there are three steps necessary for our present consideration. The first is hard enough to understand, and many of us will find much there to dwell upon before we really understand it. That is, that after one has made only the very first steps towards understanding the world as an evolution of the spirit, one comes to realize that evil, as we imagine it, does not in fact exist. I could quote such words from Rudolf Steiner, but I would prefer not to: one must not take such things out of their proper context. His words, however, have to do with that first stage of a development which was made possible for man by the “good Gods” — a development in which man, as we know him, is called to freedom. All that goes along with this evolution is good. All that opposes itself to it is — evil. And whenever man sets himself against this development, he is — in this connection — evil! Steiner himself, at one point, called it the “Mystery of the relativity of good and evil.” Anyone who knows Steiner knows that he did not here propose some shallow relativism, definitely not. But one must bring oneself to a certain level of comprehension in order to understand what is meant thereby.

The second step, which is already more difficult to understand, is the realization that the working of evil is inevitable, and also that one cannot possibly avoid having contact with it. We live in a world in which evil is at work, and man cannot always and at all times keep himself pure. Were he to try to do so, he would not, for instance, be able to work in any profession. It is truly impossible to demand the extirpation of evil for it has its own task. Of course, if it is not seen and understood in its proper perspective, it will be misunderstood. And I would not like to be misunderstood on this point either, for today misunderstanding is to be found everywhere. People wait for the opportunity to seize upon a public statement — particularly one made by an Anthroposophist — and then to say: “Look here! They are proponents of evil, in that they claim that it is unavoidable!” No, there is a particular task in the second step: the courage of knowledge, courage to know. Man must be able to make a stand. We find a Passage in the Gospel of St. Mark (Chapter 13), which is very relevant for our time: One must dare to utter the truth, even if one is punished for being a witness thereof. And we read also (St. Mark 13:11) that one should not worry beforehand what one has to say. The truth must now be said: and the truth is, that we live in a civilization in which, through electricity, magnetism, and the beginning of the third Force, the forces of evil will have a hand. Everyone is free to choose to flee from them. (Just as everyone is free to misunderstand Steiner.) But whoever does not choose to flee these forces must free himself from all illusions: it is not possible to eliminate evil, but one can call for the acquisition of a true knowledge of evil.

And now we come to the third step. One always sees that Rudolf Steiner, when he came to the subject of the Asuras and of the evil which is coming upon us, says, “Oh, one cannot speak about that.” Over and again he says, “One cannot speak about the true mystery of evil.” And if he could not, then neither can I. If I say a little about it now, it is only to suggest a direction of where, spiritually, one can discern something of the mystery. Evil is not anonymous; there are always powers which embody evil, beings which also develop themselves thereby. And (this is not a quotation) they have also perhaps made sacrifices in undertaking this task — sacrifices whose magnitude we cannot imagine. And so I have indicated a direction. Any further word would only be misunderstood, as if one would call evil good, would justify it, would want to destroy the earth in order that we can sooner pass over into Future Jupiter, or other absurdities, absolutely criminal absurdities.

But there is one further thing which is quite clear from the work of Rudolf Steiner. Where evil appears, fear prevails; and that, to be sure, is the work of Ahriman. However, as long as we can only use the fear which people have of future catastrophes to motivate them against nuclear energy, we are not yet really clear about the true nature of evil.

Let us be quite clear, dear friends, that that which concerns the opponents of nuclear energy is indeed a matter of utmost seriousness. The more one is concerned about the number of existing atomic weapons, about the possibility of new weapons being made from the waste products of the reactors, and so on — the more one looks to these things, the more one is driven to absolutely frightening conclusions. Our attention is riveted upon these possibilities here in the so-called free Western countries. (We know well, of course, that we are not one hundred percent free. We know how the money is manipulated, by anonymous capital, etc., but ...) Here in Europe, as part of the free Western world, with public opinion as it is, one is still allowed to say that our freedom of speech is actually due to the so-called Western “atomic umbrella.” There is internationally a great fear of an atomic war as has never before occurred on earth, and the present-day balance of power — the “balance of terror” — presents only a semblance of peace. An Eastern visitor in Bonn has said that the danger of an atomic war is so great, that he must urge great caution concerning neutron weapons. Of course he said nothing about his own country's many military divisions, or of how his country's superiority in conventional weapons has to lead — I do not justify this, please — but, according to the so-called military logic, must lead to a further increase in the number of nuclear armaments in the West. Man is capable of that — of saying one thing and doing another. Politicians of the East and of the West do that in equal measure. And one can also say that through the intellect alone the matter will not so easily be resolved, for one can offer good reasons for both sides. The advocates of nuclear energy say we must now cultivate nuclear energy, for otherwise we shall very soon lose our ability to compete, the rate of employment will decrease, etc. These are reasons which underlie the policies which men in industry make, out of a feeling of their responsibility. And some of those who are against the reactors, yet are not able to make clear to themselves the consequences of this standpoint, would perhaps be the first of the followers of the anti-reactor movement who would fall away from it if the unemployment rate were to rise.

I must, however, also say something which is not often mentioned in the literature of the opponents of atomic energy, because they are concerned exclusively with the grave implications of the increase of this life-threatening energy. They speak quite justifiably of its “deadly seriousness.” However, another deadly serious matter not often mentioned is that we already live in the Third World War! Only Anthroposophists can really understand that fully, since only they are able to assess what effects fearful thoughts have. True spiritual progress is concerned that man comes to see through these effects and develops trust in the power of the human spirit and consciousness. Thus, when I say that the Third World War is in progress, I mean that it is taking place not in the physical world, but rather in the sphere of thought. A few years ago I wrote an essay for “Das Goetheanum,” and later a more detailed version of it for the “Technische Rundschau”. This was shortly after certain knowledge about the possibilities of a new missile warhead had become public. Since then, to be sure, “strategic weapons” have become a matter of everyday conversation, but men know too little. — They do not know of the billions of dollars used, not only for the production of weapons, but also for the making and testing of prototypes. Nor do they know of the army of scientists who are hard at work developing a missile which outside the earth's atmosphere divides itself into many independent nuclear heads which are directed to various pre-programmed targets. Thus much damage could be done in a “first strike,” before the other side has time to defend itself. Then another army of specialists on the same side is working just as intensively on the construction of possible defense missiles. These are weapons known today to every American: The MIRV's — Multiple headed Independent Re-entry Vehicles. These are the topic of the Strategic Arms Limitations Talks (SALT). These strategic armaments — a euphemism — are the field where thoughts and counter-thoughts are developed by the Americans; where thoughts and counter-thoughts are developed by the Russians, with an intensity which only leads to the further construction of prototypes and of factories for their production.

This also has to do with the fact that when a Russian spy satellite recently crashed over Canada, the world press gave neither it, nor the world espionage systems which were implied, scarcely any mention, because the men who write the newspapers know very well that modern man is aware of these things going on. This war is a war where man finds himself in battle with the thoughts and presumed thoughts of his opponent, according to the formula, “I know, that you know, that I know ... etc.” You laugh — yes, it is an old joke, but it is also something really dreadful, which man is not at all always equal to, and in fact, turns away from.

Nevertheless, if there are any people in the world who must be aware of what kind of world we live in, then they are the Anthroposophists — they must realize that the Third World War is in progress, and is taking place in the sphere of thoughts. However, active in it also is that which Anthroposophists are doing spiritually. Decades ago, Rudolf Steiner gave an old Anthroposophist, Kurt Walther, the task of reading the daily newspaper and of thinking purely and correctly all that was incorrect in it. There we have an example of an assignment in which we, as active readers of the newspaper, can develop spiritual thoughts. We can learn to understand clearly what stands as a background behind matters, and not be content with the more surface explanations offered.

Rudolf Steiner says in so many instances that one must not shun technological progress. For example, in Penmaenmawr, Rudolf Steiner was asked, “What do you think about typewriters, wireless telegraphs, and all these other devices?” He answered by saying how important it is that these things come, because they challenge us to learn to master them. One cannot simply forbid them, or develop a modern “Essene-ism,” in which one turns away from these disastrous things. I have nothing against the parents who want to provide their children with good nutrition, and go to a health food store to buy something — and then they rush to the telephone for ordering it and have no idea what happens when they make a call! (But when they order it on the telephone it is clear that they have no idea at all what the effects of that are!) See how inconsistent we are! Who among us is capable of picturing to himself just how the telephone connection is produced every time he uses the telephone? It does not necessarily matter that the picture be technically perfect in all its fine details: what matters is that man always makes it clear to himself: “You are using things which have the intention of not being penetrable.” We should not underestimate what we as Anthroposophists can do with inner activity — that is, with spiritual thinking. We shall not, however, so easily be accepted with these thoughts in the face of men who have more short-sighted and materialistic reasons for trying to set the people in movement. It is necessary that they do, because environmental protection has to balance the power of industry.

Now I come to a very important point, which will bring us to our conclusion. What should I do if a reactor is built somewhere near me? In any case, you must not simply say: “Because I am an Anthroposophist, I am absolutely against it!” Please, do not say that! That is short-sighted! We then achieve absolutely nothing in the sphere of thoughts, where the war is. We must painfully examine the pro's and con's. We must question, for example, whether the arguments used against the power plants are based on pure motives, or whether they are only something egotistical. There are people who would be quite happy if there were a reactor built in Switzerland — only not in Kaiseraugst (a site near Dornach). With these people I would have nothing to do: theirs is the sentiment expressed in the terrible folk saying, which begs, “Holy St. Florian, spare my house — burn the house of my neighbor!”

There are, an the other hand, also those people whom we really ought to take in complete earnestness, people who take great pains to go through all the relevant literature, and discover that the safety regulations are only too often not well enough thought out. They thus force the responsible technicians to greater and greater precautions. And I say: It is the civic duty of myself and of every single person to become informed about the issues, and then to decide out of his own knowledge. Someone who is active in the Anti-Atom movement performs an important service for each one of us. He compels the industry to greater precautions.

In any case, one must at the same time be quite aware when the issue oversteps the bounds of reason — for example, when illusory, well-meant and seemingly spiritual things are said, such as: “We must save the planet Earth!” Good heavens! We want to save the planet Earth? Do we really believe (and now, please try to understand me rightly, lest it be said that the Goetheanum is advocating a catastrophe!) — do we really believe that these catastrophes might not occur (through passive prevention) in face of the fact that Rudolf Steiner has said they shall come if the active understanding of man as a threefold being is not taken up? If the theory of the heart as a pump is not overcome, there will be social catastrophes; if the theory of sensory and motor nerves is further propagated, as it is today, there will be further social catastrophes. Yes, do you believe that we can save the world with friendly slogans, in which we can only stand against something?

And I now hear: “What are you saying? Are you a defeatist, who says, ‘The catastrophes shall inevitably come! — Well, then, I shall think no more about it! Anyway, I shall cook my soup with bio-dynamic vegetables’?” No, that is not what I mean! The insight into a certain trend towards catastrophe does not release one from the painful process of striving after knowledge. One cannot afford not to expose oneself to all these painful, controversial issues. One must, however, come to feel the sharp contrast between all the pro's and con's, and then ask oneself, “Where, then, are the true spiritual arguments?” They are there, for example, where work for a new medicine is being done. Perhaps it might be necessary at some paint to fight against a bad law. There one must use political means. That is, of course, not a task of the Anthroposophical movement, but many of us can feel ourselves called to such work. Yet we must know that we do that in the right spirit only when we work in free self-responsibility, not waiting for a central directive or slogan. Rudolf Steiner often said that there is no “we,” in the conventional sense, for Anthroposophists. That, however, with which we are faced at times, is the expectation from some quarters that we raise our voices collectively — as the Society — just because our voices have been heard, occasionally. There are some people who will not be satisfied with less than that. This stems, however, from what we could call a “we-mindedness”— and this is a temptation.

What I have to say against that, however, is just as uncomfortable as what Rudolf Steiner said with respect to the increasing trend towards the specialization of production, which has since given rise to the assembly-line factories. In the 1916 lecture entitled “The Karma of Human Vocation” he said (and I paraphrase): It is a world necessity, for only thereby will man arrive at the selflessness necessary in our time. One must renounce having the satisfaction which a shoemaker could once have when he could make the whole shoe himself. He then said something to the effect that Anthroposophy is no easy matter. Anthroposophy does not tell us, “This is terrible: we must run away and turn the wheel of history backwards.” It says rather, “This is necessary.” — It is the assembly line industries that are involved in this whole trend leading us toward further catastrophes.

When we understand something about the inevitability of certain catastrophes, we must also consider that there is a spiritual law of repetition. Through our Anthroposophical studies, we should be quite familiar with that, for we have long heard of the Saturn repetition, Sun repetition, and so on. We find over and over again that this is a law which is valid also in microcosmic events. Allow me to paint a spiritual image which I have found, though not in these exact words, given by Rudolf Steiner: There is a law of Anticipation, or Pre-Imaging. Future events always project their images before them. The true final catastrophe, which is spoken of in the cycle about the Apocalypse, will always project its image ahead of itself — for example, in the transition between one great cycle of time, the Fourth Post-Atlantean epoch, and the fifth, between the sixth epoch and the seventh. Rudolf Steiner has also spoken of certain catastrophes at the end of this century. Mankind is tempted to fall into a “turn-of-the-millennium panic,” and to feel, “Yes, the way things are accelerating, the world will be destroyed at the end of this century.” It is, however, only the pre-image, in conformity with the law of the foreshadowing. If that is so, we must consider that humanity has already in the past survived several terrible catastrophes. And if they come in our time also, we must not feel that we, with our inadequate means, absolutely must undo them, prevent them — for the true issue at hand is that we must not neglect our duty. If we take ourselves, as a movement, in earnest spiritually, then we must take that seed and cultivate it in earnest. We must take seriously what the artists at the Goetheanum do, and carry it as something of a seed, perhaps even when its external nature is, seemingly, being destroyed.

It is most important that we consider the growth of the Waldorf School movement in this light, for here souls can have a first contact with another kind of education, which places the being of man in the center. And it is the same with agriculture, with medicine, with all the branches of a spiritual movement. We are called upon to have confidence in the spiritual effectiveness of what we do. Because one becomes tired of fighting against the seemingly endless opposition, there is the temptation of always fighting what appears to be a losing battle, to feel “All is lost.” There are ever so many attempts which have failed in the history of the Anthroposophical movement. Yet if one chooses only to cite such examples, it only turns one away from — what? From the true tasks!

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