Course III - Lecture II
Theosophical Teachings of the Soul.
Part II: Soul and Human Destiny
March 23rd, 1904
The materialistic world view has led the modern thinking to
the absurd assertion that the marvellous tragedy Hamlet is nothing
else than the transformed foodstuffs which the great poet Shakespeare had eaten.
Now, such an assertion could be
understood at first as an ironic, as a humorous one. Nevertheless: somebody
who thinks the view of the soul which has developed within the so-called materialistic
world view through to the end must finally come to this assertion. However,
this view makes nonsense of the materialistic view of the soul. But if it is
true that we have to understand the soul phenomena also as outflows of the mechanical
activity of our brain like we have to understand the processes of a clockwork,
then nothing else is left over to us than to see the causes of the soul phenomena,
the causes of the highest manifestations of the human mind finally in the mechanical
processes in the brain.
The German philosopher Leibniz found
the right answer to this assertion. He said: imagine once that this whole human
brain would be understood, one would know in details how these cells and the
cell surroundings function, one would know all single movements and could register
what takes place in the brain if a thought, a sensation, a feeling takes place
in the human being. Let us assume that this final goal of natural sciences would
be achieved. — Then Leibniz goes on: now imagine this human brain endlessly
extended, so that one can go for a walk calmly in it, can observe calmly which
movements take place. You have a complete machine before yourselves. What do
you see? You see movements, you see spatial processes. But you will not see:
feelings of sympathy or antipathy, feelings of joy and pain, these or those
ideas. No observer of this big cerebral machinery will see what the human being
has to consider as his innermost processes and experiences. A totally different
kind of experience is necessary to observe the experiences of feelings, sensations
and ideas. Human inner experience is necessary to refrain from any spatial consideration
and to immerse ourselves in our soul to get the explanatory reasons from the
soul of that which takes place in it.
I may light up this question still
in another way. I was present once, as two young students discussed this question.
One was right in the middle of the materialistic thinking. He was clear to himself
about the fact that the human being is nothing else than a mechanism that we
have understood the human being if we know how his cerebral functions and his
remaining physical functions work. The other replied: but there is a simple
fact which only needs to be expressed that you realise that here is something
else than a mechanical process. Why does the human being not say: my brain feels,
my brain senses, my brain imagines?
The human being would have to accept
this fact as a distortion of his innermost soul experience. We can never explain
the soul processes like external phenomena using spatial observation. This is
just the typical difference between physical processes and soul processes that
if we see anything taking place in a machine we can say to ourselves that these
or those parts of the machine are in movement, are effective, and because these
are effective, the machine carries out this or that. One cannot argue that we
do not yet know all movements, all performances of our cerebral mechanism. For
this is just the sense of Leibniz’s answer that even if we had understood
this whole mechanism the real soul-life would have been absolutely disregarded.
There is only one thing: to look into our inside, to ask us what do we discover
there if we let our own ego speak? What do we discover if we do not see with
eyes and hear with ears, but if we observe the own soul?
If we have got this standpoint clear
in our mind, we have also to realise that all questions which refer to the soul
and its processes must be treated as academically and impartially as the questions
of natural sciences. No naturalist admits that one can find out anything about
the life of this brain, anything about the form of this brain directly by mere
chemical analysis of a cerebral part. Other methods are necessary for that.
It is necessary to study the shape of any organic member to consider its connection
with the remaining organic world. In a word, we are not able if we keep to mere
chemistry, to mere physics to describe the life processes. Just as little we
are able to recognise the facts of the soul-life if we observe the external
Which are now these facts of soul-life?
The basic fact of soul-life is desire and pain. For what we feel as a desire
and pain, as a joy and listlessness this is our very own soul experience. We
pass objects round ourselves. The objects make their impressions on us. They
say something about their colours and shapes to us, also about their movements;
they say to us what they are in space. But we can take nothing from the objects
themselves if we want to know anything about the processes which take place
in the human being passing these objects. The colour of an object has an effect
on the eye of the one and has an effect on the eye of the other. The desire
or maybe also the pain which one can feel with this colour can be different,
completely different from the desire and pain of the other. What one feels as
a desire may be due to the fact that this colour reminds him of an especially
dear experience that he often felt joy when he saw this colour. Another thinks
of a sad experience if he sees this colour, therefore, he maybe feels pain.
These colour experiences are the very own experiences of the human being.
These belong only to him. In joy
and in pain, which take place in the inner life, a particular entity of the
human being expresses itself, that entity by which the one differs from the
other, that being in which nobody is the same as the other. Already this should
make it clear to us that it cannot depend on that which goes forward in the
sensory world how desire and pain turn out. But it shows us that in our inside
something answers to impressions of the outside world that is different in every
human being. That means that as many people stand before us as many inside worlds
are before us which we can only understand from their deepest inner nature which
are something particular, something that really exists for itself, compared
with everything that expresses itself in space and time before our eyes and
Desire and pain take place in the
human inner life. Something is connected with them that penetrated the human
breast through all times, since human beings have thought, like a big question,
like a tremendous riddle. The human destiny is connected with this, this human
destiny which the sensitive Greek spirit felt as something superpersonal, like
something that floats above the human being that befalls the human beings like
something that has nothing to do with the individual human being what the individual
human being has deserved, what he has worked and has striven for. With feeble
words, we can outline the view of the Greek people. That is soul which endures
the huge destiny, while it only quashes the human being too often. As different
desire and grief of the human beings are as different are the human destinies,
and these human destinies have nothing to do with that which the human being
as a person works and acquires for himself — as a simple trivial observation
can show it.
What one calls destiny in the proper
sense is something that is beyond the personal merit, beyond the personal guilt.
If we speak of guilt and merit, we select what befalls the human being and what
is independent of his own work. There is the one who is determined by his birth
to live in poverty and misery, maybe not only by the surroundings in which he
was born, but simply by the gift, by the dowry of nature which he received at
his birth. There is the other who appears as a child of luck whom desire and
grief can lead to the highest summit, simply because he is equipped at his birth
with bigger, more excellent talents than another. How destiny and the individual
human life are connected, this is the big anxious question of the thinking human
being through all times. The interrelation of human destiny and human soul has
occupied the poets and the researchers. How does the human destiny look compared
with the individual human soul experience?
We find a complete metaphor of the interrelation of soul and destiny in nature.
We find a metaphor in that which faces us in nature as a type, as a type of
the living beings. A living being is not formed arbitrarily. Any living being
is formed according to its embryo. According to its embryo the lion is a lion,
the frog a frog because the strength of the special figure is in the embryo,
and because the embryo inherits this strength from its ancestors. That is why
the animal is formed as a particular type or genus. These laws of heredity prevail
in the botanical and animal species; they prevail in accordance with the members
they have passed on to them, so that they can be active. A life is determined
by the formation of the organs which have been left to the being. This law of
heredity is the big law which determines the species and genera in the animal
and plant realms and also in the physical human world. This law of species and
genus, this law of heredity and development is the law of fate for the species
and genera. Only as well as the law of heredity works, the single being can
be active. Concerning desire and grief towards his destiny it is quite similar
for the single human being. As well as the animal has inherited the figure of
its species from its ancestors, we find the human being particularly equipped
with dispositions, with characteristics which determine the measure of his desire
and his pain, which measure out his life to him.
As well as the law of species and
genera prevails in the animal realm, destiny controls the individual human being.
If the naturalist asks himself honestly researching according to the law of
development why this animal has a longer or a shorter grasping organ, a more
or less sharp eye, he is not content to consider these phenomena as miracles
but compares this animal with other animals and observes how these organs came
into being by the big iron law of heredity. Also the researcher of the human
being, the soul researcher, has to ask himself if he wants to understand the
individual human life: How is the big law of destiny connected with these individual
human lives, how is it possible that destiny rules the individual life, so that
it has determined this or that measure of desire and grief? — This question
is quite analogous to the question of the naturalist. A quite analogous consideration
clarifies us about the questions which occupy the human beings in this direction.
There is a fact which speaks so
clearly concerning this question that we have to think through it only in all
directions that we have only to become engrossed completely in it to get an
answer. This fact is not observed in the same style and in the same sense as
the naturalist observes if he studies the relationship of the species and genera.
But not because this fact does not speak clearly, but it is simply because modern
humankind got used to neglecting this fact; it got used to not accepting the
clear evidence of this fact. However, it is not as raw and coarse as the facts
are which speak to our outer senses. But can we hope that the subtle soul-life
clarifies the intimate processes in our own inside as well as the coarse and
remarkable facts of the sensory world? Have we not rather to assume that the
questions which arise in our soul-life are finer, more subtle? It is in such
a way as once Galileo discovered the great pendulum law when the sense dawned
on him watching a swinging lamp in the church, so that this natural law revealed
to him at this moment? He got this success only because he could hold together
the facts correctly. However, the facts also have to inform us about destiny
and soul-life if we correctly get them clear in our mind.
Examine the whole range of the animals.
You find a variety of different species and genera. As a modern naturalist you
explain these species and genera by means of their relationship among each other
and origin from each other. You are satisfied if you have understood that a
higher, more perfect animal has received its character of species because it
is descended from its ancestors whose organs were transformed gradually to the
organs of the animal which stands before us.
What interests you in the animal?
It can never be the question that we are interested in the animal more than
in its character of species. We are completely satisfied if we have described
a lion or another animal species according to the character of its species.
We are completely informed about a lion if we have understood how the lion species
lives and is active generally; then we know that the same applies to the father,
to the son and to the grandson within the lion species. We realise that the
single differences which exist also in the animal realm do not interest to such
an extent that we would have to study any single lion for itself. We realise
that it is decisive for the animal what father, son and grandson have in common
with each other. The researcher is content when he has understood any specimen
of the lion species. This fact must be thought through to the end and be understood
absolutely clearly in its significance. If one compares it with the other fact
that this is completely different with the human beings, then the difference
between the human character and the animal character can be given in few words;
a difference which by no naturalistic researcher can be denied if it is understood
once; a difference, so big and immense, that it spreads light on the real being
of the human soul. This basic fact can be expressed with the words: the human
being has a biography, the animal has no biography.
Indeed, everything exists in nature
only by degrees, and nothing should be argued against this sentence, because
it is clear to us that one can register single characteristics of an animal
and achieve something similar as a life-history. But, nevertheless, the fact
remains that we have a real biography only in the human realm. That means that
we show the same interest which we show for the animal species for the human
individual. While we are not indifferent whether we describe the father, the
son or the grandson of a human being, we call a related group of animals a species
because they have the same characteristics and we have understood them scientifically
if we have understood their creation as a species. We have to express the important
fact: any human being is a species for himself. This is a sentence which does
not make sense to anybody immediately which maybe appears to anybody as something
But even if this sentence cannot
be understood in its whole range immediately, it will appear to anybody who
thinks it through to the end only in that light which I have meant. We have
also overcome the assertion that for the soul researcher only the excellent
individual is a proof that something particular appears in the human being,
while most people would be similar and would basically have the same characteristics
as the animals — only higher developed.
O no, you can distinguish the simple
human being, the savage from the animal realising that he has a life-history
that with his character as a human being his being is not exhausted, that it
concerns that we grasp his single individuality; that it is not indifferent
whether the father, the son or the grandson stands before us. If we want to
proceed scientifically, we have to apply the same rules, the same principles
to the human beings which we apply to the animal with regard to its species.
We would have to look at the single animal, which stands in perfect creation,
in particular form before us, as a miracle if we did not understand it in its
relationship and origin of other beings.
However, we would have to look at
the single human being as a miracle who is a whole, a species for himself, with
his particular experiences of grief and desire if we put him simply in such
a way as he appears before us. Somebody who leaves the single human being, that
what expresses itself in the biography, without wanting to explain him without
distinguishing him from the other beings who leaves this being unexplained is
just like a believer in miracles. If we stick to evolution, we must say: as
well as in the animal realm the single animal form is related to the species,
we have also to lead back the individual human soul in its particular manifestation
to something differently psychic. As clear as the natural sciences has become,
since they have recognised that life cannot develop from the lifeless but that
every living being comes from germ cells, as it is true that it would be today
a scientific superstition if anybody believed what was believed in the 16th
century that fish, frogs and the like could develop from mud.
It would be that way if anybody
wanted to state that anything psychic does not originate from anything psychic
but from anything soulless. As something living can only originate from something
living, in the sense as the natural sciences accepts it, one has to recognise
that something psychic can originate only from something psychic. As well as
natural sciences regard it as a childish belief that life does not arise from
germ cells but from something lifeless, a true science of the soul has to regard
as an absurdity that something psychic could arise from something mechanical.
This would be the same, as if anybody stated that something psychic can arise
from any agglomeration of mud.
If we base on this, we have to say
to ourselves: somebody who does not want to believe in a miracle in the fields
of soul-life has to put the question to himself concerning every single soul:
where does it come from, where are the causes that it is like it is? We have
to ascend from the soul of a human being to its psychic ancestors as we ascend
from the body of an animal to its bodily ancestors to understand the origin
of its species.
In the last lecture I have called
the summit of Aristotle’s psychology the disaster of the western psychology.
I have shown that Aristotle stood with regard to our physical world completely
on the standpoints of the modern theory of evolution that he lets develop the
beings up to the highest ones in natural way. However, where Aristotle speaks
of the highest soul, he rightly says completely the same as we have explained
now. The soul is inexplicable from mere physical processes. One can never understand
the soul as a mere physical process. Therefore, Aristotle as an honest researcher
and thinker resorts to an explanation which openly admits the miracle of the
single origin of any soul. That is why he appears as an honest thinker, but
as somebody who denies a scientific principle towards the soul. If a human being
has developed so far that its body has taken on a human form, then the creator
works the soul into this human form; this is the only consistent point of view
which one must take if one does not resolve to explain the soul in the same
sense as the modern natural sciences do with the species of the animal realm.
If anybody does not want to search for the psychic ancestor like anybody searches
for the animal ancestor explaining the animal, then one must say that a soul
is created into any single human being. There is only one other way, and this
other way out is only an apparent one. It is the way which Herbert Spencer,
the recently deceased great English philosopher, has shown. He realised —
what we have also said — that it is impossible to leave the single soul-being
for itself, to accept it as a miracle. Hence, he says, we must go back with
regard to this soul-life to the physical ancestors of the concerning human being.
Because he has inherited his psychic qualities from the ancestors as well as
he has inherited the shape of his face, his hands and feet from his physical
ancestors. Thus Herbert Spencer equates the soul development completely with
the bodily development. However, this is only an apparent way out which can
never be harmonised with the facts. What should be explicable from another area
must be derived from the qualities of the other area. Indeed, Goethe says:
From my father I got the stature
And the serious conduct of life,
From mummy I got cheerfulness
And the desire of telling stories.
But nobody wants to state if he
checks the facts impartially that the very own being of the human being, that
the result of his destiny is determined in the same way by his physical ancestors
as his external form and figure is determined by his ancestors, because, otherwise,
the development of the spirit must follow the same laws which the development
of the physical follows. But where could we derive the spiritual qualities of
Newton, Galileo, Kepler, and Goethe from their ancestors? Where from could we
derive the qualities of Schiller? From his father? Indeed, Schiller received
the external figure, belonging to the species, from his father; for the physical
heredity determines the general figure like it determines the physical figure
of the animal. But if we want to explain the real internal qualities of the
single individuality — and it does not need to be Schiller, it can be
any Mr. Miller from this or that place — if we want to explain what takes
place in his deepest soul why he is this particular human being where his biography
results from, then we can never understand this human being studying his origin
from his physical ancestors.
Study a lion and describe the father
or grandfather of this lion instead of this: you will be completely satisfied
scientifically. If you describe, however, a human being, you must describe his
very own life. The biographies of the grandfather or father are completely different
from his own. As different as the species of the animal realm are as different
are the biographies of the single human beings.
Somebody who thinks through these
thoughts completely can never regard the spiritual development as analogous
to the physical one. We have rather to accept if we want to explain the spiritual
development that we must ascend in the same way to the spiritual ancestors as
we ascend to the explanation of the physical nature of the physical ancestors.
The physical forefather cannot be the spiritual forefather at the same time.
The development of the soul is totally different from the developmental course
of the physical. If I want to explain a soul, I have to search for its origin
somewhere else than in the physical organism. It must have been there already
once; it must have a soul forefather like the animal species has a physical
forefather. Thus we get the ideas which the deeper soul researchers of all times
have accepted as theirs and which look at the being of the soul scientifically,
in the true sense of the word. Who penetrates with any urge of research into
this being of the soul — you can see it, for example, in the transparent
discussion of Lessing’s The Education of the Human Race —
comes to the assumption that any soul must be traced back to another soul. Thus
we come to the developmental law of the soul; we come to the law of reincarnation.
As well as in the animal realm species
after species incarnates itself and a transformation of the species takes place,
a transformation of the soul takes place in the human being. Nothing else than
this thought must be connected with the spiritual-scientific teaching of reincarnation.
It is no fantastic thought, it is a thought which is crystal clear and arises
inevitably from the preconditions of nature. As inevitable as the thought of
the reincarnation of the species is, the transformation of the species in the
animal realm, the thought of the reincarnation of the individuality is. We have
the reincarnation of the animal; we have the reincarnation of the individuality
on the level of humankind. If, however, this is the case, then our view of the
single personal human soul — which stands with its private life of desire
and pain usually inexplicably before us — extends beyond its soul predecessor
and from that to previous predecessors. As well as we understand a species if
we trace it back to its ancestors, we understand the soul if we trace back it
as a reincarnating individuality. What prevails apparently as an inexplicable
destiny in me what is apparently unprepared in my birth, this is not to be considered
as a miracle as something that arose from nothing; this is an effect as everything
is an effect in the world, but an effect of the soul processes in my psychic
We cannot occupy ourselves in detail
here how the incarnations take place. Here should be shown simply in scientifically
analogous way how the thought of the theosophical science of the soul is absolutely
compatible, yes, in spiritual area exactly the same is as the modern theory
of evolution in the animal realm. Just the naturalist should ascend from his
teaching of physical reincarnation to this teaching of the reincarnation of
the soul. The Buddhist to whom this teaching of soul reincarnation is as important
as to us the scientific theory of evolution does not know the mysterious development,
the mysterious course of destiny in the individual life in the sense as the
West knows it. He says to himself: what I experience is an effect of the soul-life
from which my soul-life has developed; I have to accept it as an effect. What
I myself carry out today is a cause and does not remain without effect. My soul
embodies itself again and again, and that will determine the destiny of this
soul, it forms a whole with this soul. Thus destiny and soul-being are connected
with each other like in a string of pearls. As on the string of pearls of destiny
the single levels of the development of the human soul-life, of the whole human
life are lined up. What is inexplicable in a human life becomes explicable if
we accept it not as a miracle in itself, but if we look at it in its reappearing
However, considering the soul development
this way, we get beyond the disaster of Aristotle's soul doctrine. Who does
not profess himself to the theory of evolution must profess himself to the creation
which takes place at every single birth of a human being. He must assume a particular
miracle of creation at any birth. The scientific doctrine of creation is a belief
in miracles, is superstition. Still in the 18th century, one said that there
are as many species side by side as have been created originally. There are
also in the field of psychology only these two ways: the miraculous act of creation
at the origin of a human being, or development of the soul. The first one is
impossible. But, nevertheless, there are honest researchers who cannot decide
to join the standpoint of soul development. If an honest researcher cannot decide
to do that, he will also profess himself to the creation of any single human
being even today. This is thought not scientifically but honestly. Those who
want to think scientifically and are able to look at the soul-life scientifically
come by themselves from the standpoint of modern research to this teaching of
soul reincarnation like the modern philosopher Baumann in Göttingen. These
will be the two ways which we must pursue in clear thinking: either soul creation
as a miracle in any case, or soul development according to scientific thinking
and return of the soul.
From this science of soul development
a bright light is thrown on the big question which has occupied modern philosophy
and the modern way of thinking in particular, the question of the value of life.
This question was negatively answered, as you know, by the newer philosophers,
by Schopenhauer, Eduard von Hartmann and similar philosophers. A value has been
denied life simply because life offers more listlessness than desire. If really
life within the single personality was exhausted between birth and death, the
question of the value of life would be justified, in so far as one would have
to estimate this value of life according to desire and listlessness. These philosophers
simply say that experience teaches us in every single case that listlessness
outbalances desire by far that life is painful and grievous. Already for this
reason, Schopenhauer assumes, we have to profess ourselves to this pessimistic
view. We take desire for granted, as something which is due to us. Who does
not consider — and Schopenhauer is right — desire as a matter of
course for us? Where is no slight cause which the human being feels as pain,
while he takes any desire for granted more or less?
Hence, it is natural, the pessimists
say, that the human beings do not feel the desire as intensely as they feel
the reduction of desire as pain and listlessness. The pessimists take stock
of the desire of life that way and state that this shows that listlessness controls
life far stronger than desire. Without question, if one wants to solve this
riddle within the single human life, one gets to no other solution. For somebody
who has an overview of a human life in its personal details says to himself:
if the amount of listlessness by which this life has been concerned is ever
so insignificant, it exists as something that has been held in front of this
human being as it were. Try once to draw up this balance sheet of desire when
a person has died. If one draws up it, one assesses the desire value of life
as negative according to Hartmann. If life ends, it ends with a negative value.
However, then this single life seems to be absolutely inexplicable.
Something different results if we
look at the result of the single life as a cause for the following life if we
consider it as that which can be reproduced onto another level of existence.
Then that which appears as pain, listlessness in one life looks like something
favourable in the next life. Why? Simply because the sensation of listlessness,
which we experienced in this single life, is not the only decisive factor but
also the effect of this listlessness. If I feel listlessness today, then this
listlessness gives my life a negative sign.
This listlessness can be most valuable
for me tomorrow. Because I have felt listlessness or pains with any experience
today, I learn for tomorrow. I can learn to avoid this listlessness or pain
at a similar occasion. I can learn to regard this listlessness, this pain as
a lesson to make the performances more perfect tomorrow which prepared listlessness
to me. Hardships appear to us from this point of view in a certain connection
that has a far-reaching significance. Assume that a child learns walking. It
falls perpetually and hurts itself, it causes pain to itself. Nevertheless,
it would be wrong if a mother surrounded her child with nothing but India rubber
bales, so that it would have no pain if it fell. Then the child would never
learn walking. Pain is the lesson. It prepares us to a higher level of development.
We learn only because the life of the single human being is not merged in nothing
but desire but prepares pain and listlessness out of imperfect performances.
If life ends with a surplus of listlessness, it ends at the same time with a
cause which has an effect for the next life. We get to a higher level of the
next life because of the listlessness of this life.
Our view is widened that way if
we look at the life of the human being beyond birth and death. The balance of
desire and listlessness is necessary to learn something from the single life
and carry it to another life. If we did not experience pain, we would get on
like a child that cannot learn walking if one spares it pain. Hence, we regard
the listlessness balance of the pessimist as a developmental factor. Like an
engine it drives the development forward. Then the sentence comes back into
favour, gets a higher sense: pain is a developmental factor.
We understand the single life as
an effect, as a result of the preceding causes that way. If we understand it
as an effect, we understand the levels of perfection existing side by side among
the human beings as we understand the levels of perfection existing side by
side among the animal species. It does not seem miraculous to us according to
the theory of evolution that the perfect lion lives beside the imperfect amoeba,
and we understand this imperfect formation on account of the theory of evolution.
We also understand the developmental level of the soul from the highest genius
to the undeveloped level of the savage on account of the law of soul development.
What is a genius to us? It is a
higher developmental level, a higher level of perfection of the soul-being which
lives in the savage on a lower level. As well as the higher animal species differ
from the lower animals in the physical realm, the soul of the genius differs
from the soul of the savage in the psychic realm. This explains to us that basically
the ingenious talent is nothing radically different from the usual human talent,
but it is only a later level of development.
Let us compare the psychology of
Franz Brentano. It emphasises that the genius does not differ
basically from the developmental level of the imperfect soul, but only by degrees.
Have a look at a genius like Mozart. He showed already as a boy a talent which
seems quite strange. He wrote down a complete mass — which he heard once
and which he could never have heard before because one was not allowed to write
down it — immediately after he had heard it. What an achievement of memory
that this soul of Mozart encompasses a big range of ideas with one look which
the imperfect soul cannot encompass, but it can only get them bit by bit. It
is only the particular development of that soul capacity which connects and
links the ideas. This soul capacity can be so small that it is not possible
to have an overview of five to six ideas for some time. But the human being
can improve his power of imagination, extend his overlooking. If now we see
the genius appearing with outstanding dispositions which can be attained, however,
gradually by exercise, we should not consider the genius as a miracle. We have
to look at it as an effect. Because the genius is already born with these qualities,
we have to search for the cause in a preceding developmental level of his soul,
in a preceding life.
You get an explanation of brilliant
dispositions only that way. You can understand any degree of soul development.
You can pursue the human being from the highest ingenious talents down to the
saddest phenomena of human life which we call madness. One has to ignore the
scientific point of view here; one has to point to these people only from the
standpoint of the soul researcher. We know that there are deformed, crippled
people. If we expand these concepts from the scientific field to the field of
psychology, we come to the abnormal phenomena of the soul-life. You can recognise
clearly that the soul-life has temporal connections like the physical life outside
has spatial ones. Those who state that such thoughts are contradictory to the
scientific facts have not completely worked through the whole range neither
of the scientific thoughts nor of this psychology. They have not developed their
capacity of observation so far that they have learnt to use the methods of psychology
as the scientists use the methods of the external natural sciences. If anybody
states that the teachings we have reported here appear fantastically, then we
are allowed to put the question: what do those say who laid the bases of these
natural sciences? They must have recognised the range of the scientific thoughts,
just as those who investigate a country directly know it more exactly than those
who have got a report or a description only. The naturalist who finds out the
scientific bases from the depths of his research is more justified than anybody
who comes afterwards and wants to persuade us that the soul researchers speak
about soul-beings and spirit-beings existing apart.
I give still some examples how the
basic naturalists thought about the researchers of soul and mind. One states
again and again that such a psychology as it was shown now is contradictory
to the principle of energy conservation. This is the great principle which controls
all physical phenomena. This means that in nature no energy originates, but
any energy is transformed to energy, and that we can measure the amount of energy
by the energy which is its cause. If we convert heat into vapour in the steam
boiler, we have the cause and effect before ourselves, and we measure the effect
in the measure of the cause. Now the adversaries of our psychology say: this
principle is contradictory to the presupposition that particular soul processes
happen inside. Measure the external impressions which a human being receives,
measure what takes place in him, measure what takes place in the brain, and
one is not able to state: there is a soul-force. However, then this force would
be born out of nothing and this is contradictory to the basic principle of energy
transformation. Julius Robert Mayer is the discoverer of this
basic law of energy conservation about which one says that it is contradictory
to our psychology. Listen to the discoverer of this principle, one of the greatest
naturalists and thinkers of all times.
In 1842, in the age of natural science,
he discovered the most important physical law of the 19th century. Those who
are materialistic naturalists — you can see that in their books, say and
want to lead us to believe that all investigation of soul and spirit would be
removed by this law. We hear these naturalists speaking in such a way that somebody
who still adheres to internal psychology, which does not understand natural
sciences, which express themselves in the principle of energy conservation.
Julius Robert Mayer, however, says: if superficial heads which regard themselves
as geniuses want to accept nothing higher, then one cannot accuse such arrogance
to science nor it is to its benefit.
The discoverer of this principle
says this. Ask yourselves whether the second-rate scientists have a right to
call up his principle against that which he himself recognised.
Another basic researcher of our
modern natural sciences who laid the basis of the world of living beings on
account of his geologic investigations of the transformations of the earth layers
and prepared Darwin is Lyell, the great English geologist.
With regard to geology he expressed as the first the sentence that we do not
operate scientifically if we assume miraculous disasters in nature if we assume
that revolutions have taken place in former periods which should not be explicable
still today by external strength. This researcher Lyell whom the materialistic
natural science refers to says the following: wherever we research, we find
a creative intelligence, providence, power and wisdom everywhere.
Materialistic researchers say to
us that since the law of the so-called vital force is overcome, since one is
able to produce substances in the laboratory from which one believed that they
can originate only in the living human being, since then one has the right to
say that in the chemical laboratory the same happens what happens in nature.
Jons Jacob Berzelius friendly with Friederich Wöhler
says: the knowledge of nature is the basis of research. Those who do not keep
to it expose themselves to delusive influence. — Wilhelm Preyer wrote
about the phenomenon of death. He refused flatly that death cannot be understood
as an end of the individuality incarnated in the body that the death of the
human being cannot be understood in such a way even in the lower world. Preyer
says that only the body dies, however, matter, energy, movement and life do
These are sayings of real, basic
naturalists, not of philosophical dilettantes who believe to be able to deny
the soul phenomena on account of natural sciences — I do not want to say
that — but to be allowed to explain them as nothing but functions of purely
inorganic processes. If we see that just those who rendered outstanding services
originally to the research of the physical development do not see any contradiction
of this physical development to a soul development inside, then we must be in
harmony with them. A saying of Hamerling applies to everybody who denies the
internal soul development: somebody who searches for the soul appears to him
like a dog which snaps at his own tail and cannot reach it. — This is
a science of the soul in the spiritual-scientific sense, in the modern scientific
sense, indeed, not applying the scientific method in a stereotyped way but spiritually.
Then the law of destiny appears to us as a big law of development. As well as
the genus is active in the animal development and appears like a wave, which
is churned up by the passing development, the single human life appears like
a wave in the churning sea and the subsequent lives appear like single waves
of the human destiny.
In the next talk we consider the
reasons of these waves understanding the nature of human destiny out of its
eternal being. Today, I have shown that those who consider destiny as the great
law of development, consider it as active, as churning up waves, and that every
single wave is an image of the human being. Everybody who became engrossed in
this matter considered the developing soul-life that way. Therefore, Goethe
compares the single soul with a wave which is churned up again and again, and
that the wind is the propelling destiny which churns up these waves from the
water. That is why he compares the soul with the play of waves and the destiny
with the wind, out of theosophical knowledge, because Goethe agreed in the deepest
sense with this science of the soul. He compared wind and waves, soul and destiny
using the nice words:
Wind is the wave’s
Wind mixes from bottom
You are just like the water!
You are just like the wind!
Brentano (1838–1917), German philosopher and psychologist
Robert Mayer (1814–1878), German physician and physicist
Lyell (1797–1875), British geologist
Jakob Berzelius (1779–1848), Swedish chemist
Wöhler (1800–1882), German chemist, he was the first to synthesise
an organic chemical (urea) from an inorganic substance and disproved the
view thereby that organic substances only originate in living beings with
the help of a vital force.