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A Guide to the Spiritual Science of Rudolf Steiner

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A Guide to the Spiritual Science of Rudolf Steiner

Guide to piritual Science: Lecture 1

LECTURE 1.

A 

T the beginning of this introductory course I should like to put a few questions which will involuntarily arise in the mind of anyone who begins to busy himself with Anthroposophy or Spiritual Science.

What is Spiritual Science? Is Spiritual Science a “Science?” What significance has Anthroposophy, or Spiritual Science, in the life of present-day humanity? These are questions which it is right to ask and which I should like to try to answer, before we give ourselves up to the study of it.

First, it is in its essence as old as human striving. To-day it is new only in the form in which it is given to men since the end of the nineteenth century, and in that it is given to the whole of humanity. In earlier times only chosen people received it, i.e., those striving after truth; and the further we go back in the history of the development of man the more are these in the minority; the people willingly let themselves be led, believing on authority. That to-day the spiritual truths, the facts of the spiritual world are told in just this form, this scientific form, is because to-day our whole way of thinking is scientific. We want to have every truth “proved,” and think that a truth can only be a truth when it can be proved logically. But the spiritual investigator must, if he wants to be understood by the scientifically thinking man of to-day, so state his truths that they can be grasped by logical thinking. In earlier times this was different. That man's intellectual powers have developed to what they are now, a glance at science will show us, just that science which deals with the outer sense world which has made such tremendous strides since the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

In one way technical science, through its great inventions like the microscope, telescope, etc., has provided instruments which make it possible to penetrate deeper and deeper into the sense world. But on the other hand, we can clearly see that the human powers of perception have themselves experienced a development. The science of to-day with the results of its investigations goes in every sphere far beyond that which the close consideration of the outer world produces. Let us take as an example the sun, how it rises in the morning, how, during the day it moves over the horizon. It rose and set in the same way thousands of years ago, but the fact that to-day we know more about the course of the sun, about the planets and their relations to each other, lies not only in that to-day we have instruments which let us see more of the outer sense world, but in that the powers of human perception which relate themselves with the outer sense world, have developed themselves in the course of time, and become something different. Let us not forget that we have only had logic since Aristotle. Aristotle who lived 384–322 B.C., is the founder of logic, and since that time we have built up our intellectual powers more and more. Socrates and Plato who lived quite a short time before (Plato was even a contemporary) have quite another way of teaching. They taught their scholars in the form of dialogues, and we find in these dialogues no evidence of that logical sense. The scholars of Socrates took up his thoughts, they searched in themselves to see whether they could find anything in themselves, in their own experiences, through which they could say “Yes” to these ideas, and they raised objections, which obtruded themselves upon them. When the dialogue came to an end the scholars found something in themselves which they had not had before. They had not taken up into themselves an abstract truth, they had experienced something in themselves, had brought about a development in themselves, something had become living in them which they had not had before. We can say that the philosophers before Aristotle did not appeal to the logical understanding, but to that feeling for truth which slumbers in every human soul; it is this they had awakened in the scholars, to this they had appealed. Let us compare it with our present way of teaching. When he faces any truth the modern man trained in logical thinking, does not believe it is a truth unless he can prove it by logic. Modern science prides itself too much on being an objective investigating science. What does that mean? It means that it eliminates all soul forces, that it will employ in its investigations only the forces of the intellect, the human forces of perception, it lays no worth on the other soul forces of man, on feeling and willing. Only the one-sidedly cultivated thinking is esteemed by the scientists, and they neglect and let starve in their students soul forces which are latent in man and which, as the old philosophers have shown us, can be unfolded. That is the chief reason why it is so difficult for the representatives of science and their students to grasp the truths of spiritual science.

When we look back on human development and see how, before the time of Aristotle, soul forces were developed in the schools of wisdom, and how to-day quite other soul forces are being developed, we must say: in man slumber forces which can be awakened and cultivated, and man is capable of development. This knowledge is of tremendous significance, for it shows us the position which man occupies in the cosmos.

Let us consider the kingdoms of nature around us: mineral, plant and animal. The so-called lifeless mineral consists of materials and forces out of which it is formed. The plant possesses powers of growth and propagation, so pointing to powers of up-springing life. The animal has feeling in addition to the power to grow and propagate. So we see in the kingdoms of nature an ascending development. But these three kingdoms of nature possess a common mark; they are bounded in their species, they develop according to their kind. With animals much can certainly be attained through training, but if we want to reach something of real significance in this sphere we must direct ourselves to the race, the species. But in man there lie hidden soul spiritual forces which can be awakened and cultivated. If we then compare this man with the kingdoms of nature, we find a continuous development which in man is not limited. We can also say that the development of the natural kingdoms finds its completion in the species man. But in the single example, in the “I,” man begins a new, a soul-spiritual development. These soul-spiritual forces which are our thinking, feeling and willing, do not develop of themselves like the forces of race. The senses; for example, develop themselves gradually in the growing child, as it were of themselves. The soul-spiritual forces, on the other hand, must be developed through an inner activity, they are entrusted to us, as talents of which we are to make use. The Godhead has produced man as “I” being, as the crown of creation, has “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,” the “I.” Like a seed of corn this “I” rests in man and waits until it is awakened.

The awakening of this ego-consciousness of the whole of mankind happened about the time of Aristotle, or about 300 years before the mystery of Golgotha took place. The Christ-love and Christ-strength stands by the awakening of mankind's “I,” at its side, and promises to remain with him to the end of the earthly days — promises him strength and protection for his development in the far-distant future. Now we have seen how the development of the ego man took place, how, especially in the last centuries, this development has been absolutely one-sided. The reasoning powers only have been systematically developed, i.e., the intellect; the forces of the soul have been left unheeded. This one-sided development conceals a great danger in itself for the whole of humanity. We are not only thinking, perceiving, but also acting beings, and in our actions the whole man should have a say. In the whole man the feeling and willing forces are connected throughout. Man must naturally develop his intellect, his thinking powers. If he neglected his thinking and gave himself up one-sidedly to his feelings, he would become a fanatic, or a fantastic being, or his lower impulses, his desires and passions would gain the rulership over his ego. But if he develops one-sidedly his thinking forces and neglects his feeling forces he becomes an ice-cold or a dried-up thinker. In both cases he becomes egotistical and his will impulses flow out as egoism. Before this great danger we stand to-day. We are indeed already on the best way to fall into a purely one-sided intellectual development such as must lead ultimately to the war of all against all. We already see the fruits of this development everywhere in the world. Spiritual Science will, in this critical time, bring us to the consciousness that we are “I” beings, that we are capable of development, and that we ourselves must take in hand our further development, that we must lead forward the work of nature if we do not want the germ laid in us to die. There is no standing still for man: standing still means going backward.

If we consider a man who neglects his thinking, feeling and willing forces we see how the brute instincts lying in him gain the mastery over his ego, how he sinks into the state of the brute. We are the crown of creation because we are gifted with an ego, and with it we bear a spiritual strength, a divine spark in us. We must not misuse the spiritual strength by allowing thinking powers only to exist. This spiritual strength, this divine spark, will be the fighter in us, the struggler against the evil which is also in us. Spiritual Science calls us to the work to which we, as men gifted with an ego, are called — to the work on ourselves, and it shows us the way. Formerly, only the most advanced men were capable of going this way. To-day the reasoning power of the whole of humanity has so far developed that it is high time to unfold along with this the feeling and willing forces also. That is why Spiritual Science to-day calls so loudly to the whole of humanity, “Know thou thyself, O man,” that is: Know, O man, thine “I” as divine spiritual being and let it draw thee on to the good, let it become ruler over thy lower nature. Know, O man, thy soul powers, thinking, feeling and willing, and this trinity lying within thee will be developed to the spirit, for the spirit, — the thinking, through the truths of Spiritual Science, in the spirit of truth to wisdom; the feeling Christ filled, to true love; and the willing to deed illuminated by wisdom and warmed by love.




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