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A READER'S JOURNAL
Art As Seen in the Light of Mystery Wisdom, GA#275
8 Lectures in Dornach, Dec-January, 1914/15
Introduction by Marie Steiner
Translated by P. Wehrle and J. Collis
Published by Rudolf Steiner Press/UK in 2010
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2013
Chapter: Spiritual Science
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Art, Science, and Religion had their origins in the Mystery temples and Art was to turn away from its source, but remain relatively unchanged with us today, as revealed in the Introduction.
[page 3, Marie Steiner ] It [Art] is one of the healthiest and most revealing and most direct; it was the last to turn away from its source in the temples of Mystery wisdom and has not been so quickly smothered under rubble as the path of religion by the passion of the church for power or that of science by the rigidity of thought born of the materialistic age. For these three paths once more to find each other, or art, science and religion once more to intermingle — it was for this that Rudolf Steiner worked among us.
Life is what happens when you are making other plans, and Marie Steiner mentions how his work on the Goetheanum and the World War (WWI) forced Steiner to curtail his busy lecture schedule and spend time on the arts as he designed the architecture, the paintings, and the sculpture for his magnificent building. These eight lectures in this book were given in the Carpentry Shop in where the nearby Goetheanum's wooden pieces were shaped and formed. When completed it was a monument to the man, Rudolf Steiner, and a monument to Man.
[page 6, Marie Steiner] The building stood as man, and man as building. The genesis of worlds, the genesis and deeds of human beings, the deeds of the gods were all inscribed in it; they were revealed in the waves of color in the domes, in the organic growth of motifs in columns and architraves, in the luminous creation of the windows. Sculpture and painting passed beyond their own sphere, overcame line and were transformed into movement. Color created form from within by virtue of its own creative soul quality. Music and speech became movement in the newly-blossoming art of eurythmy, and were made visible through the instrument of the human body. The creative forces of speech thus made visible were reflected back to the other forms of art, reviving them and kindling the fire of spiritual creativity. Its innate note of creativity was able to grasp the physical sound that molds the air, filling it with spiritual substance and elevating it to higher spheres. Rudolf Steiner called his building 'the House of Speech'. All forms of art, together with science and Mystery wisdom, had found a home there. The synthesis of art, science, and religion was once more accomplished.
This original wooden building was destroyed by fire on Dec. 31, 1922 and the building of a new Goetheanum was begun almost immediately, this time of concrete, and it stands to this day, a new Parthenon hovering over the Acropolis (high point) of Dornach, Switzerland.
[page 7, Marie Steiner] Like a fortress it stands . . . An abode for spiritual endeavor, it radiates over the landscape, welcoming all who desire to strive for that noblest of treasures, the knowledge of the world and of the human being.
To serious students of Rudolf Steiner, it stands as a place of pilgrimage, where one must go to experience it directly. On my trip in February, 2013, I was one of forty pilgrims from all over the world who came there to experience and participate in sculpture, eurythmy, speech, singing, acting, and even more, in the Schreinerei Hall next to the Carpentry Shop where the lectures in this book were given almost one hundred earlier. In our tour of the Goetheanum, we saw Steiner's 30-foot-tall wood sculpture, Representative of Man, plus the magnificent lines of the columns, architraves, luminous colors of the windows (e.g. the west-facing Michael Window), the line of Druid stones lining the path up to the Main Entrance, and the evanescent colors which seemed to float on the walls, staircases, and murals of the building. The Boiler House was separated from the Main Building, providing heat via underground ducts. It was made of structural concrete in the shape of the stem of a rose, but the rose blossom was truncated, only exhaust from the furnace could be seen escaping from the thorny stem. Steiner asks us to imagine that the rose was taken from the tip of the stem and moved uphill to the nearby Goetheanum site where it has blossomed into the Main Building(1).
Steiner explains the theme of this book is to continue his theme(2) of building a bridge for us from the knowledge of spiritual science to the conception of life our time demands. (page 9) We are all aware of the disruptive influences of modern life, the coffeeshops, which only a few years ago were places of quiet contemplation and earnest schoolwork, have now evolved into noisy telephone booths in this new age of cell phones. People have TV sets blaring away in their homes with no one watching them, often in every room. Most restaurants have TV sets going which distract every diner unless one choose a table facing the wall. Some people brag, "We don't have a single TV in our home." These purists have become like modern Essenes(3), shutting out the luciferic and ahrimanic effects from their lives, but what they have yet to learn is that their abjuration of modern technology is a sign of weakness, not strength.
[page 12] All this withdrawing and protecting oneself from the influences that we necessarily have to encounter, because of world karma, arises out of weakness. Anthroposophy can only strengthen the human being as a whole; it is intended to develop those forces that strengthen and arm us inwardly against these influences. Therefore, within our spiritual movement there can never be any kind of recommendation to cut oneself off from modern life, or to turn spiritual life into a kind of hothouse culture. . . . Our task, however, consists in strengthening our soul life by filling ourselves with the impulses of spiritual science and spiritual research so that we are armed against the onslaughts of modern life, and so that our souls can stand any amount of hammering and knocking and are still capable of finding their way into the divine spiritual realms through the hammering and knocking of the ahrimanic spirits.
The next subject Steiner tackles with dispatch is that of free will: Do we have free will or not? To listen to a philosopher talk about free will would be like listening to a waking person talking about what it's like to be sleepwalking. Why? Because a philosopher who is talking or thinking about the will is awake and during daytime awake-ness the will activity is unconscious, just like a sleepwalker's thinking is unconscious. We think in consciousness, but our will operates mostly out of our consciousness in modern life.
[page 13] All the arguing the philosophers have done about the freedom or lack of freedom of the will is due to this: . . . they have not taken into account that they are investigating the will while they are daytime sleepers and therefore cannot arrive at its true nature, [so] they talk a lot of nonsense about free will and unfree will, indeterminism and determinism. In fact, while we carry on the waking life of daytime, we are only conscious of our will life to a very small degree; it is immersed in the subconscious, in the region that belongs purely to the astral body.
What does modern life mean, exactly? It means the time since the beginning of the fifth post-Atlantean era, the middle of the fifteenth century. Before then humans were working on developing the very intellect processes which our modern scientists now investigate the physical world with abstract logical constructs such as "natural laws"(4). The Scholastic schools of religious orders in the 12th to 15th Centuries worked on these development exercises through such activities as arguing, "How many Angels can fit on the head of a pin?". These very same exercises are derided by our so-called modern scientists who call them "idiotic fantasies" — showing how oblivious they are of the essential part these thought exercises played in the very evolution of consciousness which led to their own livelihood.
[page 13, 14] We know that today's intellectual culture is proud of the achievements of modern life. This pride is expressed something like this: Throughout antiquity and the Middle Ages people were incapable of developing a real observation of nature such as could have led to genuine science; this did not happen until modern times. . . . That was when people broke away from the old way of observing nature and observed it impartially, solely according to its abstract laws. It was through this knowledge of the laws of nature that science came into the position of opening up the possibility of mastering the forces of nature, and mastering them in an unprecedented way, as we so often hear.
A modern day scientist who is speaking using abstract laws is speaking Ahriman's language. Isn't this a good thing? Certainly it's good, but isn't it indeed a skewed way of understanding the world? Yes. Okay, if that's so, what choice do we have? Well, we could expand our view of nature to include both natural and spiritual realities. This is the aim of Rudolf Steiner's spiritual science: to show how to examine the full life of nature both as a natural modern scientist and a spiritual scientist. Steiner is giving us a purchase onto a future science which balance materialistic and spiritual understandings of our human bodies and the cosmos in which we live as body, soul, and spirit.
We break up the natural world into pieces by cutting down forests, mining minerals from the Earth, etc., basically ripping the living fabric of nature apart. Then we artificially put the pieces together using our so-called natural laws. What is going underneath, in the spiritual realities when we do these things? The elemental spirits of the forests and the rocks are upset by this activity. They are cast out of their homes in nature.
[page 15] What is important here is that we cast out of nature the elemental spirits belonging to the sphere of the regular progressive hierarchies who, in fact, are the very spirits who maintain nature. There are elemental spiritual beings in all natural existence. When we plunder nature we squeeze the nature spirits out into the sphere of the spirit. This is what is constantly happing during the first stage. We smash and plunder material nature, thus extricating the nature spirits, driving them out of the sphere allotted them by the Yahveh gods into a realm where they can fly about freely and are no longer bound to their allotted dwelling places.
That is the first stage of modern technology: acquiring raw materials. The second stage is construction: creatively refining and putting these elements together into machines. But we also place spiritual beings into any machine we construct.
[page 16] In constructing it we make a habitation for other spiritual beings, but these spiritual beings that we conjure into our machines are beings belonging to the ahrimanic hierarchy. . . . This means that by living in this technological milieu of modern times we create an ahrimanic setting for everything that goes on in us in a sleeping state, by night or day.
Living in this modern age, we are in effect like a beggar invited to a feast who is gorging himself on all kinds of food, only what we are stuffing ourselves with are ahrimanic spirits. On the other hand, peoples of early times lived so close to nature that they filled themselves with nature spirits and felt the "enlivening effect on their inner life of soul." (Page 17)
We modern day people have lost our connections with the divine spiritual beings, up until now. These are connections we need so earnestly from now on. If you have any doubt about us having lost these connections, ask yourself and answer truthfully, "When was the last time I thanked my Guardian Angel when something good happened to me?" Perhaps you drove downtown and the traffic was unexpectedly clear the whole way, or maybe you decided to forgo a certain trip downtown and you discovered that a huge accident had blocked the bridge for hours. Did you perhaps thank your "lucky stars" for these events? Rightly understood, thanking your "lucky stars" for good fortune is an insult to your Guardian Angel who has followed you around and cared for you for countless lifetimes. Try this next time some good fortune comes your way: Thank your Guardian Angel.
Think of your relationship to your beloved pet, whom you feed, groom, take for walks, pet, and love. How can your adorable pet thank you for your care? It cannot speak your language, but you know it appreciates you because it comes to you when you arrive at home, gives you attention, following you around. What kind of pet would it be that constantly ignores you? A dog that never wags its tail? A cat that never climbs on your lap? All these forms of attention is how your pet thanks you. Now, consider your relationship with your Guardian Angel, who does all the wonderful things you do for your pet: keeps you nourished, out of harm's way, makes sure you are warm and sheltered, brings new friends your way when old ones pass out of your life, and so many other things: How do you thank your Guardian Angel? A simple thought, a smile, an unspoken word of thanks would be enough, but when is the last time you did such a thing? Today? Last week? Last year? Ever? Consider these things next time something good happens to you, and perhaps you'll remember to thank your Guardian Angel. As this becomes more of a habit, you may begin to notice fewer bad things happening to you and more good things happening. This is one small step humans can take to restore a balance in their own lives between the ahrimanic spirits of modern technology and the natural spirituals which surround them mostly out of their awareness, up until now.
[page 17] Only by penetrating into the depths of their own being will they find the connection with divine spiritual beings that they need for their salvation. . . . This connection with the spiritual hierarchies from which we were actually born, in the spirit, this living connection with them, is made difficult to the highest degree by the saturation of the world by modern technology. Human beings are dragged away from their spiritual-cosmic connections, and the forces which they should be developing to maintain their link with the spiritual-soul being of the cosmos are being weakened.
This sounds bad. It sounds like we should cut ourselves off from all technology, but that would be making the same mistake the Essenes did in the time of Christ Jesus. Do you know of any Essenes around today? Clearly their life style was not a robust one because it died away quickly. I read of a dream Buddha had in which everyone became beggars and there was no one left to provide rice for the begging bowls. Skewed life styles are generally dead-ends.
[page 18] It would be the worst possible mistake to conclude from this that we should resist what technology has brought into modern life, that we should protect ourselves from Ahriman by cutting ourselves off from modern life. This would be a kind of spiritual cowardice. The real remedy is not to let the forces of the modern soul weaken and cut themselves off from modern life, but to make the forces of the soul strong so that they cna stand up to modern life. A courageous approach to modern life is necessitated by world karma, and that is why true spiritual science possesses the characteristic of requiring an effort of the soul, a really hard effort.
Want to make a really hard effort of the soul? Try reading Rudolf Steiner's works! After reading and studying about 200 of his books, each new book reveals some mind-boggling concept or two or three that I have never encountered anywhere before, except perhaps a hint in some previous Steiner lecture from years ago. This book is filled with such concepts, spiritual concepts, and there are really difficult to understand unless you have already been applying some of them unconsciously and are prodded by Steiner's words to bring them into conscious understanding.
[page 19] You so often hear people saying, 'These books of modern spiritual science are difficult, they make you exert yourself in order to develop your soul forces and really penetrate into spiritual science.' This is why 'well-meaning' people — and I am saying this in inverted commas — keep on coming to me and saying that they want to smooth out difficult passages for the sake of their fellow students and change what is written in rather a difficult style into something as banal as can be. . . However, it belongs to the essence of spiritual science that it makes demands on soul activity, that you do not accept spiritual-scientific truths lightly, as it were, for it is not just a matter of taking in what spiritual science says about one thing of another, but of how you take it in. You should take it in by dint of effort and soul activity. To make spiritual science your own you must work at it in the sweat of your soul . . . That is the way spiritual science operates, if you will excuse the mechanical expression.
To be a spiritual scientist, you must build up what entrepreneurs call, "Sweat Equity". You must work at it, you must work on your own soul, and that is hard work, indeed.
For myself, my work on reviewing Steiner's books is the hardest work I do on any books. It reminds of my years in college taking junior and senior level physics courses. Who knew thermodynamics could be so tough? Acoustics, wow, there's another tough subject. Those equations for acoustic wave guides filled entire lines of a page. I wondered for thirty years why no one ever found a practical use for them, up until Bose did with his wonderful desktop clock radios whose speakers can handle any volume level you choose without losing their fidelity of sound. Maxwell's equations were another challenge: four inter-related equations which explain every aspect of radio, television, microwave, and any other electromagnetic transmission ever invented or to be invented. And then quantum mechanics equations which were as short as they were complicated yet only gave statistical answers. So, when I tell you that Steiner's books are tough, believe me they are tougher than any physics course I ever took, and I approach his books with the same steadfastness of purpose as if they were part of my physics curriculum and must sweat my way through to meaning in my mind and understanding in my soul.
In my working through Steiner's works, I am aided greatly by the German language courses I took in college. After taking a couple beginning courses and making A's in them, I decided to move on to German literary courses, such as interpreting and reading aloud Schiller's "Wilhelm Tell" which I did in one course. I read Steiner's words from lectures he gave almost a hundred years ago in German(5). These lectures have been translated into English by the time I read them, most of them by British translators from several decades ago. Two filters stand between the American reader and Steiner: German and British English. If you wish to eliminate the skewing process of a filter, it's best to understand the filter. German uses complicated syntax to the American ear and Steiner writes complicated sentences which translators must somehow convert into English while maintaining his original meaning in German. This creates problems for translators: they must often use equivalent structures in English to the German, which leads to long sentences, or else hazard changing the meaning by making two or more sentences out of one. These are some of the problems I face when writing a review of this difficult material. What I strive to do is to convert these long, complicated sentences into less complicated structures in modern American English, and, while I do so, to add my own personal insights that I have acquired via the soul-sweat-equity route into my reviews.
I often find Steiner talking about processes of which I am already aware from my earlier training, not only in physics, but computer hardware, systems analysis, neurological brain function, psychotherapy, Jungian analysis, and many other fields, and whenever this happens, I must pause until I can understand the connections and decide whether it will help others reading my reviews if I share these connections. Whenever possible I offer links to other reviews of Steiner or other writers from which my readers can probe deeper into how I came to the insight I offer. My reviews of Steiner become like lectures, where I set the stage for some passage from Steiner so that the reader has a chance to open the oyster of the passage and extract a pearl of wisdom for themselves. If you've ever opened a sack of oysters, as I have, you will appreciate the sweat equity involved.
This next passage I read the day after I had watched the movie "Branded" (2012) in which people sleep and dream their way into becoming fat and ugly by an advertising campaign and a man who is awake to the reality is able to see the ahrimanic and luciferic forces flowing out of their bodies.
[page 21, 22] What spiritual science quite specifically has to want at the present time is that human beings do not sleep and dream their way through what world karma is imposing on them. Yet people who wish to know nothing about spiritual science do sleep and dream their way through all the influences even though they know nothing about them.
Notice the verb "has to want" in the first sentence of the above passage. Steiner takes time to explain the importance of his choice of words. He said, in effect, "must want" instead of merely "want." Why?
[page 22] That is a particular way of putting it which comes quite naturally to a person who is speaking out of the spirit of spiritual science, for spiritual science leads as a matter of course to a more impersonal grasp of the truths of spiritual life than other sciences do. Speaking in the manner of the sciences we would say, 'Spiritual science wants something'. But spiritual science says what it 'should or must want'. And I say, "the way I must express myself' and not, 'The way I express myself'.
If his meaning is not clear to you, as it is not to me, I suggest we mutually hold it as an unanswered question for the time being. At least I am able to say "I suggest" — that way of speaking, i.e., using a first-person pronoun, had not yet evolved in pre-Christian times. The "I Am" spoken by God to Moses was one word, not two. Ancient languages had not yet evolved a separate word for "I", a word you , I, and every other person in civilized culture take for granted, so let me pause a moment to explain how it was possible to indicate that one was talking about oneself as the actor in a sentence without using "I": the verb form had a specific ending which indicated this condition. In such languages, the word "I" or "ego" was an invisible part of the action specified by the verb. Sometime after the Mystery of Golgotha the separation of the "I" into a separate word evolved, and at the same time our I or ego became an essential part of what it means to be a full human being.
[page 23] There is something tremendous behind the fact, for instance, that the conception of the ego in the whole evolutionary system of language is quite differently constructed the further back we go, in pre-Christian times, than it is later on when we go forwards from the Mystery of Golgotha. The way people spoke about the 'I' changed, and this can be seen in the configuration of language. When the 'I' becomes part of the word for the verb, as is the case in many languages, it signifies something entirely different from when is it is separated from the verb and spoke as a separate word, and so on.
There is an inspired spirituality in our spoken word which is often not appreciated by modern humans. I wrote about this in a Final Paper I wrote for a Ph D-level course in Education. In the essay I explain the importance of a live lecturer in a classroom, pointing to how the words that the lecturer uses allows him to think the thoughts which fly directly into the students minds. In this next passage Steiner seems to refer to that same process when he talks about spiritual beings flying around the room on "the wings of words" whenever one speaks.(6)
[page 25] Spiritual beings live and are active in human language, and when we form words, elemental spiritual beings pour into these words. When human begins converse together spiritual beings fly about in the room on the wings of words. This is why it so important that we pay attention to certain subtleties of language, and do not simply let uncontrolled feelings get the better of us when we speak.
In a world of increasingly ahrimanic influences we need new forms of art to speak to us today. Art is soul food and the type of soul food which satisfied past centuries will not suffice for us today.
[page 29] Through being placed today by world karma in a setting that functions in an especially ahrimanic way, and through having to make our soul forces strong enough to find our way into spiritual spheres — despite all the hindrances that come to us from ahrimanic spirituality — our souls are in need of different kinds of sustenance than before. For the same reason art must also adopt new paths in all its branches. . . . Art has to speak in a new way to souls today, and our Goetheanum building is meant to be the very first step, really and truly the very first step towards art of this kind, and not anything perfect. it is an attempt to create the kind of art that calls on the soul to be active, along the lines of the whole conception of modern life, a spiritual conception of modern life.
In the full human being, we can find architecture arising out of our physical body, sculpture from our etheric body, painting from our astral body, music from our ego or "I", poetry from our spirit self, and eurythmy from our life spirit. Steiner explains the logic behind these connections on pages 34 to 50, but gives us a concise summary of the first three here.
[page 39] Painting is a form of art which contains the laws of our astral body, just as sculpture contains the laws of our ether body and architecture those of our physical body.
I was particularly interested in how poetry arises from the spirit-self myself.
[page 40] If we go on to speak about the higher members of the human being, starting with the spirit-self, we can refer to them only as something that is still outside the human being. For, in this fifth post-Atlantean era, we are only just beginning to make this spirit-self one of our inner members. But if we accept it as a gift from a higher sphere and sink it into our ego, if we go down into our ego, like a swimmer into water, taking with us what as yet can only be dimly felt of the spirit-self, then poetry is born.
His description of life-spirit inspired eurythmy is rather droll, as he hints at much more than he reveals about the art form he innovated and introduced into the world of the twentieth century.
[page 41] Eurythmy is indeed something that must make its appearance in human evolution at this time; but there is no call for pride, for at present it can be a mere babbling compared with what it will become in the future.
How did these words do re mi fa so la ever get connected with our musical scale? I held this as an unanswered question for many a year before encountering this passage below (Note: ut becomes do and SJ becomes si.):
[page 46] People felt they were transported to spiritual heights when they raised themselves up from speech to music, which is the image of celestial music. This feeling was expressed in the following words: Ut quent laxis, resonare fibris, mira gestorum, famuli tuorum, solve pollluti, labii reatum, S. J. (Sancte Johanne).
To translate this we would have to say, "So that thy servants may sing with liberated vocal chords the wonders of thy works, pardon the sins of the lips which have become earthly — meaning: which have become capable of speech — 'O Saint John'.
Einstein's theory of energy-mass equivalence (E = mc2) remained a theory for many years before it was eventually used in nuclear power plants to provide us clean energy for daily electrical power. Similarly the knowledge we can gain about spiritual science will take some time before it becomes a part of our living experience. Graduates of and families with children in Waldorf Schools are already getting living experiences of the value of spiritual science. We are living now in the future that Steiner foresaw some 100 years ago.
[page 49, 50] The knowledge gained through spiritual science will become fruitful as soon as it is no longer a theory but a living experience. . . . I want to awaken in you a recognition of the fact that spiritual science is itself an initial impulse that will continue to grow and develop, that we are in a sense called upon to take the very first steps, and that we can have an inkling of what these first steps will lead to, long after we have laid aside our bodies in our present incarnation.
So often something unexpected happens to us which delights us so much that we wish we had thought of it ourselves — ever have that experience? Someone once said it this way, it might have been me, "Life is what happens to us when we are making other plans." This expresses the thought that our plan-making is only the day-time, conscious part of our living experience, like the tip of the iceberg floating open to the view while its deep structure contains much more than what it shows above the water. Perhaps these unexpected delights were after all planned by us, only out of our consciousness.
[page 53] A vast number things take place within us unconsciously; and even a great part of what seems to be done consciously is, in reality, done half or more than half unconsciously. . . . [Humans] do something which proves that in a certain way they unconsciously remember this Saturn existence: they become an architect. Architecture would never have come about if human beings did not now carry within themselves the laws that were imprinted on their physical body during an ancient Saturn evolution.
Thus, a modern architect may ridicule the idea of an Old Saturn stage of cosmic evolution, but her own livelihood depends on her having come through that stage of evolution of her physical body.
[page 54, 55] So when we create or enjoy architecture — where it is a case of genuine art, of course — we really lift ourselves not only out of the present earth existence but also out of the more distant past and place ourselves once more into the period of Saturn evolution.
Another popular adage is "You must lose yourself to find yourself" but this must surely be met with a ton of skepticism. How can one who is lost find oneself? Does that require someone outside of oneself? Well, that is exactly true, if you will recall our earlier advice about Guardian Angels.
[page 58, 59] [Here] comes the experience of the most radical transformation of all, when the soul must decide to undergo what can be expressed with the words, 'Now you must lose yourself for a while, you must thrust yourself away from your self; but you must have faith that while you are losing yourself, while you are thrusting yourself away from yourself, beings reposing in the wide expanses of the divine hierarchies will protect you, will cause you to find yourself again after you have lost yourself.' This is the passage through births and deaths. This has to be undergone among the inner experiences that lead to initiation.
Earlier I had mentioned the curious truncated-rose shape of the Boiler House — the separate building was part of Steiner's concerted effort of design to keep Ahriman out of the Goetheanum. The heat is transferred into the Main Building via underground ducts and a beautiful concrete smokestack rises to the sky from a double domed base where the furnaces are located. If you look closely, you can see some white smoke coming from the tip of the thorny rose stem.
[page 65, 66] You will also see, if you study our ahrimanic chimney along with the whole boiler house, how it is indeed possible to make an architectural structure of what belongs, one might say, to the most blatant elements of ahrimanic civilization in our time. . . . In its entire form our boiler house is not only suited to its specific purpose but also corresponds to the whole relationship of Ahriman to our Goetheanum. . . .
We are not even halfway into the book when Steiner provides us with this masterful summary of his theme for the lecture series.
[page 69] What a superb perspective unfolds before us when we say, 'Life, science, religion and also art can receive impulses of transformation from spiritual science when it is truly understood. In the case of the pictorial and sculptural arts the impulses come from what we learn in spiritual spheres about the past; and in the case of the arts involving music and speech the impulses come from what we are striving for inwardly, in order to be able to approach the future.' This perspective is so immense and so powerful that we cannot bring enough realization to bear on it, in order to make it more intensely clear to ourselves. . . . Not only do I want to appeal to your reason and your understanding with this; I also want to sow it as a seed in your souls and in your hearts.
Lecture 4 took place on New Year's Eve of 1914 and Rudolf Steiner arranged for Marie Steiner to recite for the audience and introduced in this way, "the Norwegian legend of Olaf Åsteson, of whom we are told that at the approach to Christmas he fell into a kind of sleep which lasted for 13 days: the 13 holy days that we have explored in various ways." Olaf during these 13 days of sleep was able to immerse himself as a microcosm into the macrocosm and extract a knowledge which is not available if we equip ourselves only with "a knowledge given us by our sense and an intellect bound by those senses." (Page 70, 71) Because his sleep took place at a time when the Earth receives the least light and warmth from the macrocosm, Olaf could learn the holiest of secrets.
[page 72] This is why the days around Christmas were always kept so sacred, because while his organism was still capable of sharing in the experience of the earth, man could meet the spirit of the earth during the point of time when it was most concentrated.
Olaf's Dream Song fills the pages from 73 to 81 and is too long to include here, but it inspired me to write a poem which I will share below.
[page 94, 95] The human soul has slept long, indeed, but world spirits will approach and call out to it, 'Awaken now, O Olaf Åsteson!' Only we have to prepare ourselves in the right way, so that it doesn't happen that we are faced with the call, 'Awaken now, O Olaf Åsteson!' and have not the ears to hear it. That is why we are engaged in spiritual science, so that we shall have the ears to hear, when the call to be spiritually awake sounds in human evolution.
The name Olaf means "he who was left behind" and we do not want to be left behind, do we? The name Åsteson means Son of Love, something we would each want to be known as, a Son or Daughter of Love. Before we read the poem together, let us hear Rudolf Steiner's benediction at the end of his New Year's Eve lecture.
[page 95] If we can bring the microcosm of our experience on this New Year's Eve into connection with the macrocosm of human experience over the whole earth, we shall then have the kind of feelings we ought to experience, sensing as we do the dawning of the great new Cosmic Day in the fifth post-Atlantean era, a day at whose beginning we stand as we experience with dignity the midnight that precedes it.
Awaken Now, O Olaf Åsteson
Why do you, O Skeptical Man,
Apply all your spiritual forces
to denying the reality of the spiritual world?
You will succeed — and fail by doing so.
Why do you, O Materialistic Man,
Apply all your spiritual forces
to understanding the reality of the physical?
You will succeed — and fail by doing so.
Why do you, O Literate Man,
Apply all your spiritual forces
to understanding the words on the physical page?
You will succeed — and fail by doing so.
Why don't you, O Literate Man,
Apply some of your spiritual forces
to understanding the words on the cosmic page?
You will succeed — and never fail by doing so.
Awaken Now, O Son of Love,
You, left behind, so long.
Awaken Now on this Cosmic New Year's Day.
The seed has sprouted
while you slept,
The seed that the Macrocosm without
has sowed into the Microcosm within
Will succeed, and cannot fail in doing so.
Awaken Now, O Son of Love,
You, left behind, until now.
It is fitting that we now allow Steiner to give his New Year's blessing at the beginning of Lecture 5, "Moral Experience of Color and Music".
[page 96, 97] Everything in the world, each event and every act of human conduct, has two sides, which are like polar opposites.
Yesterday it was my task to point out to you that by understanding our spiritual-scientific world outlook through their feelings, human souls should acquire reverence and devotion for the spiritual worlds. The opposite pole to this reverent attitude is energetic work on our inner life, an energetic taking-in-hand of the evolutionary factors of our own soul, making a point of always using our experiences for the purpose of learning something from them and making progress with regard to our inner powers, so that whatever meets us in life and whatever takes place around us, whether it is easy to understand or not, we shall always avoid the danger of losing ourselves. May we always have the chance of keeping hold of ourselves and of finding within ourselves the strength to develop an understanding for what can come to meet us in an often incomprehensible way, and may the kind of reverence for things we were talking about yesterday make such an impact on the development of our souls that we acquire a proper understanding of universal existence; this, my dear friends, is the New Year greeting I wanted to give you today at the start of the year.
In Steiner's Mystery Dramas, he wished to show what it is like for the soul "to expand in the cosmic forces and feel what the spirits of the cosmos are feeling". (Page 101) This was the beginning of all art, he adds. But in our materialistic age, true art was replaced by kitsch, our modern name for what Steiner called "sham art". Kitsch(7) is basically art which creates replicas of true art, sometimes by direct copying, sometimes by making a collage of pieces of true art.
[page 101, 102] The sign of all second-hand art, all sham-art, is that it needs objects to imitate; it does not produce first-hand forms by working directly with the material.
In describing how the soul experiences entering a colored surface, Steiner gives the following experiences for living in each color: Red — Wrath with a need to Pray, Orange — Desire for the Knowledge of the inner essence of things, Yellow — Feeling transported back to our first earthly incarnation, Green — Feeling inwardly healthy and a stimulation of ego forces, Blue — Feeling an approach of divine mercy. Steiner adds, "I have taken the colors that flood the world as a specific example."
With music Steiner describes the way humans will eventually be able to enter the spiritual world through each note, beginning with the prime, which I understand to be the tonic or central note. His descriptions are given for each note, the prime, and the intervals of second, third, fourth and fifth, the dominant.
[page 104] Through the prime, for example, which we experience as absolute and not in reference to previous notes of the scale, we experience danger as we pass from the sense world into the spiritual world.
[page 105] When we climb out of the physical world into the spiritual world through the window of the second, we shall gain the impression of powers in the spiritual world that take pity, as it were, on our weakness and say, 'Well! so you were weak in the physical sense world! If you only climb into the spiritual world through the prime I must dissolve you, suck you up and break you to pieces. But if you enter through the second I will offer you something from the spiritual world and remind of something that is there as well.'
[page 105, 106] If you enter the spiritual world through the third, you will have the feeling of an even greater weakness. . . . People who want to become composers will have to enter especially through the third, for that is where the tonal sequences, the tonal compositions are that will stimulate their artistic creativity.
[page 106] If you penetrate into the spiritual world through the fourth you will experience something strange. Although no new notes appear from any direction, those that have come before, when you were experiencing the third, will live lightly in the soul as memories. You will find that in continuing to live with these note-memories they perpetually take on a fresh coloring; at one time they become as bright and cheerful as can be, at other times they descend to the utmost sadness; now they are as bright as day, now they sink down to the silence of the bright as day, now they sink down to the silence of the grave.
[page 107] The fifth will produce experiences that are more subjective, that work to stimulate and enrich the life of the soul. It is like a wand that conjures up the secrets of the music world over there, out of unfathomable depths.
These are summaries of the various intervals which will have meaning to those with natural music ability who can experience these sounds from within, especially composers of music who know the intervals and their inner effects intimately.
[page 107] Experiences of this kind will come to you when you no longer merely look at the things and phenomena in the world, or merely listen to them, but experience them from within. These are the kind of experience you have to have, particularly through colors and musical sounds, but also through form, in short, altogether through the realm of art, in order to get away from the purely external relationship to things and their functioning — which is characteristic of the materialistic age — and to penetrate into the inner secrets at the heart of things.
Fainting is a short break in consciousness, which materialistic medicine strives to find a cause for, often hospitalizing the person, whether she be a Secretary of State or a Garden Club member. During these gaps in time, something can enter out of the unconscious, and for us humans today, that means the spiritual world, as most of us are only conscious of the material world which surrounds us. Steiner says, "A tremendous amount of spiritual vitality can stream into the human being at such moments, forces that may be good or bad, and capable of either." If you train yourself, you will begin to notice the after-effects of these moments.
[page 111] You will gradually reach the point of becoming so perceptive for living links that you will recognize the moments in which the spirit comes near to each human being. In the future the world will no longer be described as something so undifferentiated as it is nowadays on the basis of material causes; matter will be relegated to its proper place and, at the same time, people will realize that the material phenomenon is not the only thing, for spirit shines through it.
Steiner adds that if we fail to read the significance of such events in our lives, we are basically cosmic illiterates; we are as helpless with reading these spirit signs as a person who can appreciate the artistic nature of the beautiful Arabic script decorating the outside of the Topaki Palace in Istanbul, but cannot understand the meaning of the words themselves.
[page 112] Only a person who can read is capable of following a biography, perhaps, or a piece of information that has been set down in these strange signs. A person who cannot read world phenomena is like a cosmic illiterate where these phenomena are concerned. A person who can read, however, reads the ongoing process of the spiritual world in them. It is characteristic of the present materialistic age that materialism has made people illiterate with regard to the cosmos, almost a hundred per cent so. At a time when people are so proud of having reduced the percentage of illiteracy in civilized countries to such a great extent, they are enthusiastically heading towards illiteracy where the cosmos is concerned.
We are like kindergarten students with respect to reading the cosmic script, hovering at the stage of spelling out the words, up until now. Let us resolve to work towards the goal of wiping out cosmic illiteracy from now on.
My thirty-three years of working and thinking as a physicist taught me that only other physicists were interested in talking physics with me, everyone else deeming such talk too cold and dry. This was something I could never understand from within my knowledge of physics. Only by studying myself and what made me truly human was I able to understand this phenomenon, a study which grew by leaps and bounds when I found Rudolf Steiner's writings and lectures. I discovered, among other thing things, that true knowledge of the human being and the world could be warm and wet as well as cold and dry.
[page 115] There are good reasons why external, scientific knowledge has to be like this, but spiritual science is not this kind of knowledge. On the contrary it ought to bring us nearer and nearer to the living abundance and warmth of the outside world and of the universe altogether.
Yes, I thought exactly like Wagner in Goethe's Faust. I expected that if I assimilated science the riddles of nature would be solved, and that I would know how everything is constituted and that I would be perfectly satisfied with what I knew. (Page 155 paraphrase) I had been trained, in effect, to think just like all the other physicists and hard scientists.
[page 115, 116] They imagine how boring life will be in the future when science will have solved all the mysteries and there will no further possibility of wondering about anything, or having any feelings of an unscientific kind. What a terrible desolation would befall mankind; we have every reason to be horrified at the prospect.
In the movie "A. I. Artificial Intelligence" (2001), Steven Spielberg aptly portrays this desolation for us as a cold, gray, dead world of robots who know everything, where the warm, vibrant world of spirit is nowhere to be found. This is the ultimate goal of materialistic scientists, but few acknowledge the long-term track they are embarked upon nor do they recognize the sterile nature of their quest.
With spiritual science, there are no easy answers, but those that do come fill our hearts with vibrant living.
[page 116] To approach external nature with our souls filled with anthroposophy is to find more riddles in nature and not fewer. Everything grows even more puzzling, which broadens instead of impoverishing our life of feeling. You could say that spiritual science makes the world even more mysterious.
From my early training in physics, I drew a lot of diagrams in my notebooks when I first began studying spiritual science, and you can find them peppered across my early reviews. Gradually I began to understand that such diagrams are dead, cold, dry objects and do not represent spiritual knowledge, but only give the appearance of spiritual knowledge.
[page 116, 117] It is quite different when spiritual science tells us, for example, 'When you see the sunrise or hear a piece of music, it must feel to you as though the Elohim were sending their punishing wrath into the world.' Then we become aware of the mysterious living weaving of the Elohim behind the glow of dawn. Yet to know the name of the Elohim and to be able to give them a place in the ninefold diagram we have drawn in our notebook, is not to know anything about the Elohim. But out of the living feeling we can have in looking at the sunrise will come a perception of the movement and life in rich abundance, just as we know that when we look at a human being, any amount of conceptual knowledge about him will not tell us the whole of his nature, nor fathom the universal life within him. Likewise, we become aware that the dawn is revealing something to us of the unfathomable life of the cosmos.
Through years of reading Steiner's works, I struggled to make sense of what he was talking about, and life only seemed to become more enigmatic and mysterious to me. I did not realize that this was an important stage in my own growth of understanding the cosmos. Through my own patience, the living warmth of spiritual science began to filter into my own being, blowing away all vestiges of my earlier dry, cold, diagrammatic way of thinking about it.
[page 117] We just need to be patient until the message of spiritual science becomes a living being within us and forms itself anew, filling us not only with its light but also with its warmth. Then it will take hold of our hearts and our whole being and we shall feel the richer for it, whereas if we take up spiritual science in the same way as ordinary science we are bound to feel the poorer.
In pedagogy, especially the education of our little children, our materialistic thinking age does a major disservice by its view of the classroom as an adult, a teacher, imparting knowledge to children, the students. But this is only viewing the outside appearance of things, namely, maya, a wonderful word which points to the illusion caused by imagining that the projection of living reality we see with our eyes and abstract logical thoughts represents the entire living reality of the world. But inside every human, adult and child, is a living reality which passes from incarnation to incarnation, and teachers who recognize this cross-incarnational reality they share with their students, are best able to share a relationship in which they learn as much from their students as they teach to them. Thus a Teacher, So Also a Learner is how I have described this reality for some forty years, a thought which came to me from Sufi readings long before I found Rudolf Steiner and his spiritual science, so reading these next words now is like hearing cosmic echoes of truths which have blossomed within me over these decades.
It helps to understanding this next passage if we recognize the root of educate is the same as that of ductile: a metal, for example, is ductile if it can be drawn out into a wire, such as copper can be. To educate is to draw or pull something out of a person which is already in the person, whether the person be a small child or an adult.
[page 124] In reality something invisible in the teacher educates something invisible in the pupil. We shall only understand this properly if we focus our attention on what is gradually unfolding in the growing child, as the outcome of previous incarnations.
In a classroom situation the teacher does best to draw out of the child the invisible result of previous incarnations, which neither the teacher nor the pupil is directly aware of, but which, through spiritual science influenced pedagogy,(8) can emerge. The key aspect of such teaching is to fully comprehend this: "When we are teachers our own next incarnation converses with the previous incarnation of the pupil."
[page 125, 126] We only have the right feeling for this if we say to ourselves, 'The very best in me which my spirit can think and my soul can feel, and which is preparing itself to make something of me in the next incarnation, can work on the part of the child that is sculpturing its form out of times long past.' What enables us to educate is something intrinsically musical in us. What we should work upon in the child is something that is doing sculpture in that child. . . . Music is related to everything that is in a process of development and lies in the future, and the realm of sculpture and architecture is related to what lies in the past. A child is the most wonderful example of sculpture we can see. What we need as teachers is a musical mood, which we can have in use in the form of a mood pervaded by the future. . . . For then the teacher will speak, think and feel in such a way that in the course of his lessons, what comes from the past will reach out to the future.
In pedagogy, the bank metaphor of teaching is much disdained, but in everyday classrooms, it is yet very much in evidence in most schools. The bank idea is this: the teacher deposits his own learning into the students' minds, as one might put valuables into a safety deposit box, from which it can be later withdrawn when needed. This is a very luciferic model of teaching and learning — recall that Luciferic took Light from God which he then has proceeded to parcel out to us at his own whim, the Light of knowledge which we do better as full human beings to extract from the world on our own, to sculpt it out of ourselves, a process which never comes as quickly or as cheaply as Lucifer's so-called gifts to us. Teachers who proceed to dole out knowledge to their students are operating as egotistically in the classroom as Lucifer did in the spiritual world.
[page 126] If the teacher is egoistic and only tries to make the child an imitation of himself, then the teaching is purely luciferic. Education becomes luciferic when we try as far as possible to turn the pupil into a poor imitation of our own opinions and feelings, and are only happy if we tell the pupil something today and he repeats it word for word tomorrow. That is a purely luciferic kind of education.
Parents who insist on their offspring becoming imitations of themselves, e. g., doctors who insist on their children going to medical school, or lawyers, to law school are luciferic parents who often produce offspring who are unhappy in their profession, requiring that they leave the profession which their parents chose for them for a profession they choose for themselves as an adult. This luciferic child-rearing process is fodder for many movies about dramatic mid-life career changes as well as tragedies in which the adult is unable to cope with his parentally-chosen profession. It seems strange that the very adults, who would abhor the idea of choosing a lifelong mate for their growing child, would have no qualms whatsoever about choosing a lifelong career for the same child. Were my parents remiss because they didn't have a career lined up for me? No, I don't think so. The more I think about my own career path, the only thing which makes sense is that this unique path I took was the result of my having chosen my parents carefully before I was born so that I would be not subject to such luciferic upbringing. To paraphrase Steiner slightly, "The best thing we can achieve, as teachers or parents, is to be able to face perfectly calmly the thought of the child becoming as different from us as possible." (Page 127)
[page 127, 131] External science requires uniformity, but spiritual science gives manifoldness and variety, the kind of variety that belongs to life itself. Thus, spiritual science will have to bring transformation into the furthest reaches of life. . . . Spiritual science must become a magic draught of youth and not just a theory.
Now let us talk about headless horseman of Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. But first let me ask you, "Would you hard-boil an egg and then place the egg under a hen and expect it to hatch into a live chick?" Steiner tells us that would be as a silly a thing to do as for us to set out to solve the mystery of the cosmos using the hardboiled techniques of modern science. We cannot do this, nor can we determine whether science is helpful or harmful by asking, 'Is science right about this or what?' (Page 134)
[page 134] Attaching so much importance to the question of whether what science says is right or not is the very attitude we have to get away from. We must reach the point of seeing that this is not the main thing when it comes to solving the riddles of life.
It is like putting the horse before the carriage and claiming that the horse is deciding the direction to pull the man who is seated in the carriage. It is right that the horse is ahead of the man, but ahead of the carriage does not necessarily mean the horse guides the carriage. Science, in its materialistic view of things, often completely misses the invisible aspect of guidance which can link things, as we can see in the simplistic example of the horse and the man. Science can give reasons of why a man's breath may be visible, describing how tiny water droplets condense out of one's warm breath in the presence of cold air, but science would strenuously protest if we claim that one's morality is discernible in the patterns of one's visible breath.
[page 137, 138] But it has significance for someone who follows up the phenomena of life through initiation science, for he sees in the patterns of the breath the exact traces of the moral or immoral conduct of the person. . . . Certainly more delicate qualities can only be detected in more delicate parts of the etheric and astral aura. But the human being's moral and immoral tendencies in the ordinary sense of the words are actually visible in the etheric-astral content of the vaporous breath. The physical part of it dissolves. But what is incorporated in it does not dissolve, for it contains a demonic being which, in the case of vaporous breath, has a physical, an etheric, and an astral part, only the physical is not earthy, just watery. Something with extremely differentiated forms can be seen in this exhaled breath.
The physical traces of demonic presence may sound a little far out, but I have personally heard a report which confirms such a trace. It was a blister which appeared on the sole of the left foot of a patient on his death bed who went from being nasty to everyone for a couple of years earlier to be being very congenial for the three weeks until his death after being given the Last Rites by a Catholic priest, even though he protested vigorously against it. His daughter who insisted on the priest continuing his blessing — even having her father restrained during it — reported that a blister had appeared under his foot that had not been there the previous day when she washed him. Apparently the priest had performed an exorcism without realizing it. If the demons can lead a physical mark in a foot when leaving a body, they should be able to leave an impression in the vaporous breath exhaled by a person they inhabit.
Rudolf Steiner knew from his spiritual research that our breath today contains the germinal seed of beings who will become human during the Jupiter stage of evolution, just as we humans today received our germinal seed from the Angelic hierarchies who had reached their human stage of existence during our Saturn, Sun, and Moon stages of evolution. When we exhale today, what we exhale affects the germination of future Jupiter beings, and if we are immoral the demonic breaths we exhale will create beings of demonic forms, headless beings! Creatures looking ever so much as Irving's Headless Horseman which roamed the area called Sleepy Hollow. If we are unconscious of the effect of our immoral deeds on future evolution, we reside in a metaphoric Sleepy Hollow which will unleash future headless monsters. Steiner says about these demonic beings:
[page 140] The other beings, the demons created out of immoral actions, also have an astral body, an etheric body and a physical body, at the watery stage, of course, but they do not have the basis for developing an ego. They are born headless, as it were. Instead of taking up the basis for progressing along a regular evolutionary path to the Jupiter existence, they reject this basis. By doing so they condemn themselves to the fate of dropping out of evolution.
This might seem to be a good thing if these headless beings drop out of evolution, but they do not disappear, but instead join the rest of the luciferic beings who follow on Lucifer's own dropping out of evolution. They become parasites or demons which can easily seize upon a human baby in utero and share its existence prior to its birth.
[page 140, 141] Some of these beings, if they are strong enough, can continue to accompany the human being after birth, as seen in the phenomena of some children who are possessed.
What is brought about by the criminal demons attached as parasites to unborn children is the cause of a deterioration in the succession of the generations; it gnaws at human beings, making them less able to develop than they would be if these demons did not exist. There are various reasons for the decline of families, tribes, peoples and nations, but one if them is the existence of these criminal demon parasites during the period mentioned.
The circumstances of one's birth can clearly have an effect of whether these lazy parasites can remain attached to a baby after its birth. As now only the date and time of a birth is recorded, but few other details of who was present in the room, the house, the surrounding area, etc, are recorded. My wife, Del, was born on the day Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Georgia, an event which happened about five or six hundred miles away from her birth in New Orleans. When her mother awoke to receive her new baby in her arms, she asked the nurse, "Are they ringing the bells for my daughter?" Church bells were originally installed in church when people were still able to see spiritual realities and they could see that demons would rush away from anywhere near the ringing bells. This led them to require bell towers for their church and the bells to be rung whenever a service was ready to begin or simply rung on the hour to chase away demons from the church who might decide to stop over.(9) Having known Del intimately for almost 4 decades, I can attest that she does not have an immoral bone in her body, i. e., no attached demonic spirit). For me, at times when I am uncertain about a given action, she helps me to tune up my own moral compass.
One of my challenges in life is learning to accept things which happen to me calmly. I developed a tool to assist me with this goal which I call EAT-O-TWIST. It is an easily pronounced acronym which states a basic rule of equanimity, Everything Allways Turns Out The Way It's Supposed To, where supposing is something you did prior to the event happening; it could be a thought, a desire, a dislike, a hatred, or even perhaps a deed in a previous lifetime. Said quickly when some thought arises which might upset one's equanimity, EAT-O-TWIST can help restore one's balance. It works better the more often you apply it and use it in your life. In meditation exercises in spiritual science, maintaining our consciousness is important and the key to success is "leading a calm and composed life and accepting the things of the world calmly." (Page 143) We can learn to understand the concept of karma, so we recognize when some untoward event happens to us, it is an event which we have planned to occur during this lifetime for the purpose of dealing with some earlier or future event by which we will balance our karma. Yes, it's hard for me not to get furious when some small mishap occurs to me, but I have learned to respond to my fury by immediately searching for some plausible meaning in the event. First I search my own thoughts and desires for an EAT-O-TWIST connection, namely, something I have wished for or against happening — for X or against X supposing are equally productive in achieving X, given a long enough time. I have added a process for eliminating immediately thoughts of any X that I do not want to have. I use a process I learned from Jonathan Parker decades ago: I immediately visualize X and place a red circle with a red slash across it and say CANCEL! That is effective at keeping negative thoughts out of my mind. Another auxiliary method I apply at the same time is to avoid as many news broadcasts as possible. I read the newspaper which allows me time to cancel any negative thoughts I pick up during reading. With news broadcasts via radio and TV, the next news item can start before you've canceled the first one.
[page 144] People are not all inclined at first to take the idea of karma really seriously. If they have even a small mishap that hurts them, or anything at all happens to them, they sometimes get furious, but at any rate they antipathy towards it. We encounter what we call our destiny with sympathy or antipathy. In ordinary life this has to be so; here it is essential that we feel sympathy towards some of the occurrences of destiny and antipathy towards others. To us, destiny is something that comes to meet us from the outside.
Or is it? EAT-O-TWIST says that is likely not the case. It may come from deep supposing inside us, i. e., destiny happening as a result of karmic events. As I mentioned several times earlier in this review, "Life is what happens when we're making other plans." If we are making plans and some unintended event happens as a result of our plans or happens to cancel our plans, we can get angry. Or we can simply say EAT-O-TWIST!, knowing that what happened was more important than what you planned because your conscious plans had no fore-knowledge of the karmic requirements which would intercede to modify your plans in this unexpected way. This is a case of a previous life-time's deep-supposing, of whose karmic connections you were not consciously aware of , but your Guardian Angel, who witnesses all events in all your lifetimes, was aware of those karmic connections and chose to intercede. Rightly understood, saying EAT-O-TWIST with equanimity is a way of saying "Thank You" to your Guardian Angel.
Steiner reminds us that when someone offends us, it is we who are hidden inside the offender, and therefore it is us hitting us.
[page 144] . . . we must always keep a corner within us where we admit to ourselves, 'Even when someone offends me it is me offending myself; when someone hits me it me hitting myself, when unpleasant blows of destiny hit me, I myself am dealing myself these blows.' We forget that we are not only within our skin but also in our destiny; we forget we are within all the so-called chance happenings of our destiny.
When we are hit by these "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune", we should strive to unite with our destiny, saying each time, 'Through suffering this blow of destiny, that is, through meeting myself in this blow of destiny, I am making myself stronger, more vigorous and robust.' (Page 145 paraphrase) I'd like to add that, contrary to many pessimists about Earth, I consider that we are robust humans on a robust planet. Understanding and doing all these things may seem very difficult, a serious business. But it will not always be so serious. We are like actors in the first read-through of a complicated script, so we must take it very, very, seriously. But after many live performances our jobs will become more easy and more fun.
[page 149] Times will certainly come when people will be able to be more light-hearted with regard to spiritual science. But now, right at the beginning, we must get used to taking things very, very seriously.
Steiner began these lectures by calling attention to the immediately previous series of lectures he had given in Dornach and Basel ending on December 27, 1914. He begins his first lecture in this series on December 28, 1914 and promises to "give a few more indications on this theme" — meaning on the theme of "building a bridge from the knowledge of spiritual science to the kind of conception of life which our time demands" (page 9), or as the subtitle says, "How One Brings the Reality of Being into the World of Ideas". Has he built such a bridge for us? Indeed he has, it is a bridge such as Olaf Åsteson strode over in his 13 Holy Nights adventure: (page 77)
So I went on the wintry way
And saw on my right hand:
Like unto paradise it was,
Light shining far and wide.
The moon shone bright
And all the paths led far away.
The wintry way translates in Scandinavian languages to Vintergaten which is their snowy phrase for what we call the Milky Way, our own galaxy which stretches across the night sky, and which according to an ancient belief leads to Paradise, the realm of the blessed, the spiritual world. With Steiner in these two sets of lectures, we have crossed the bridge into the spiritual and especially in this current book learned how to see art in the light of the spiritual world.
The Immediate Precursor of these Lectures can be found here:
Inner Reading and Inner Hearing
& How One Brings the Reality of Being into the World of Ideas, GA#156
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------
Footnote 1.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Thanks to Bradford Riley for sharing this metaphor of the truncated rose nature of the Heating Plant with me.
Footnote 2.Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
The lectures in this book followed immediately upon the last lecture of Inner Reading and Inner Hearing. These two books are best read in conjunction with each other.
Footnote 3.Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
See The Fifth Gospel for a description of how the Essenes in Jesus's time avoided Lucifer and Ahriman.
Footnote 4.Return to text directly before Footnote 4.
Rightly understood, the natural laws of modern science are not of Nature, but of dead analytical constructs in the mind of Man.
Footnote 5.Return to text directly before Footnote 5.
Of his 300 plus books in print, a great majority are transcripts of his lectures. Only a handful are books that he wrote and these are best read early in one's study of Steiner.
Footnote 6.Return to text directly before Footnote 6.
This reminds me of a poem that I was inspired to write on this subject called "On the Wings of Words" in my review of Towards Imagination, a series of Steiner lectures in 1916.
For a detailed discussion of kitsch, see my Essay, Art is the Process of Destruction.
Return to text directly before Footnote 7.
Footnote 8.Return to text directly before Footnote 8.
Such as can be found in Rudolf Steiner Schools and Waldorf Schools around the world today.
For a similar reason, gargoyles were added to medieval churches to keep demons away because people noticed that demons flying up to a church, if they saw a gargoyle (which looks like a demon), they would figure that church already had a demon parasite attached to and they would fly elsewhere. Gargoyles have become passé, but bells are still ringing and keeping away demons. Return to text directly before Footnote 9.
The Immediate Precursor of these Lectures can be found here:
Inner Reading and Inner Hearing & How One Brings the Reality of Being into the World of Ideas, GA#156
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