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The Esoteric Aspect of the Social Question, GA#193
Individual and Society, 4 Lectures, 1919 in Zurich,
ARJ2 Chapter: Spiritual Science
Published by Rudolf Steiner Press/UK in 2000
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2014
The Esoteric Aspect of the Social Question, GA#193
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One cannot read "An Outline of Occult Science" without coming away with an impression of how humankind evolved in synchrony with the cosmos which surrounds us. Humans were there in the beginning of Old Saturn with a warmth body, developed an air body during Old Sun, a water body during Old Moon, and a mineral body during our current Earth stage of evolution. Today our body is made of minerals, filled with water, breathing air, and staying warm so long as we live. We evolved through the plant stage of evolution on Old Sun developing an etheric body, through the animal stage on Old Moon developing an astral body, and have entered the human stage of evolution during this Earth stage coming to possess an Ego, which is the youngest member of our four-part physical-, etheric-, astral-, and Ego-infused human being.
We were there in the beginning, before the Earth existed, and we are here now. Likewise we will exist as human beings when the Earth is no longer here. Our destiny is the Cosmos and we will join with spiritual beings creating a new Cosmos in due time; the same spiritual beings who were present and instrumental in our own creation and evolution, spiritual beings which we have since ancient times referred to generically as gods.
Steiner introduces his first lecture of this book discussing our evolution and adds:
[ page 2] I wanted to show what an impression it must make on anyone to realize that all the generations of the gods, all the forces of the universe are actually engaged in working at the goal of ultimately producing humankind and placing it at the center of its creation.
To be in the center of creation means likewise that creation must be centered in us. If we could look with spiritual eyes inside of ourselves, we would be able to see how the various planets of our cosmos are connected with the various organs in our body. Plus we could watch as our organs react to movement of these planets in the sky and how the stars have written in them our individual destiny at the moment of our birth. This is so because we chose the specific orientation of planets and stars we wished to have at the moment of our birth while we were still in the spiritual world preceding our birth. If this sounds impossible, but intriguing, you may be encountering Rudolf Steiner's writings for the first time, so read on.
[page 2] Precisely because this conception is so true I pointed out how very necessary it is to emphasize the need for human modesty and to tell ourselves over and over again that if we could consciously experience our whole being inwardly in its relation to the world around us and bring this, our whole being, to actual manifestation it would be a microcosmic image of the whole remaining world.
Anyone reading this without first absorbing how we evolved as humans in "An Outline of Occult Science" can be forgiven for having no clue to the reality that each of us has an image of the Cosmos inside of our bodies. In this book Steiner is lecturing to people who already understood this to be the case and could focus on the responsibility each of us has as a human being to the Cosmos which acted as the womb for all of human evolution, acting in deed as our Cosmic Mother.
[page 2, 3] But how much do we know or experience or manifest in action of all that we are as human beings in the highest sense of the word? So whenever we clearly picture to ourselves the idea of what we are as human beings we always waver between arrogance and modesty. We must certainly not surrender to pride, but neither must we become engulfed in modesty. We would be doing just that if we were not to estimate in the highest possible terms the task we human beings have been given through our very position in the universe. Fundamentally speaking we can never think highly enough of what we ought to be. We can never fully appreciate the deep cosmic dimension of the feeling we should have for our responsibility when we look at the way the whole universe is orientated towards us human beings.
A feeling of deep and holy awe should fill each of us, he says, for what we should be and so rarely are as a human being. This is especially true when we greet a baby, a full human being, newly arrived in a new incarnation, full of possibilities and plans for its new life on Earth.
[page 3] In fact we ought often to have the feeling when we encounter an individual human being: There you stand; you bring certain things to expression in this present incarnation; but you pass from one life to another, from one incarnation to another, and this gradual process of development bears the imprint of eternity. We could extend and deepen these feelings in many other directions.
The other thing that evokes a deep feeling in us, after we have begun to understand spiritual science, is this:
[page 4] If we contemplate everything that is active in the world in the way of the elements in earth, water and air, everything that shines down to us from the stars and breathes in the wind, everything that speaks to us from the various kingdoms of nature, if we contemplate all this in the light of anthroposophically based spiritual science we find that in one way or another it is connected with the human being. Everything takes on value for us because we can bring it into a certain relation to the human being.
Steiner emphasizes that his spiritual science "enables us to attain a living relationship between ourselves as human beings and the whole rest of the world." (Page 5) This relationship allows us to do things; we do not just talk about the spiritual world, but know that we can communicate directly with the spiritual world. When a person leaves this world and enters the time between death and a new birth, their spirit fills the entire Earth and begins its expansion outward, which means that each of us are within the spirit of the one who has died. If we hold this person in our thoughts, they are able to hear us as we communicate with them and are immediately comforted. If, on the other hand, we imagine they are dead and gone forever and cry out in the pain that we feel, they also experience this and feel distraught because we are not aware that every thought we have about them is communicated directly to them. If all we do is focus on their being gone and feel bad about that, they feel bad for us, we cause them great anguish. So few people understand this in the modern day; one need only attend a funeral to observe how often this kind of visceral anguish is expressed after the lost of a loved, up until now. We would do best to discover the actual power of the spirit; to rejoice at the light shed by our loved one's spirit rather than to curse some darkness we imagine our loved one has left behind.
[Page 5] Spiritual science does not talk endlessly, in a pantheistic way, about spirit underlying everything. In fact spiritual science talks not only about real spirit but aims to speak out of this reality of the spirit, out of the very substance of spirit itself. It strives to speak in such a way that everyone for whom spiritual science is a living experience knows that whenever he thinks thoughts of spirit the spirit itself is present in these thoughts. Anyone who is inspired by the spirit of spiritual science — if I may put it this way — does not want merely to utter thoughts about the spirit but to make way for the spirit itself to speak through his thoughts. Spiritual science is a means to finding the direct presence of the spirit, the active power of the spirit.
Only through his spiritual science, Steiner says, can we develop "feeling for all the creatures and beings outside ourselves, for all that is below us and above us in the hierarchical order of nature and the world of the gods." (Page 7) We must also develop a feeling for where we are in the process of human evolution, to notice that humankind has reached a turning point, especially in Christianity because of the Mystery of Golgotha by which the Christ was present in the Jesus and passed through death so that He might be always with us till the end of the world.
[page 9] An understanding of the meaning of the Mystery of Golgotha is only attainable out of the spiritual foundations humanity can acquire now for the first time in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch.
If you wonder how we could be so lucky to be present at the transition to this new understanding of the Mystery of Golgotha, consider this: Steiner says "All times are times of transition." (Page 10) What is important is not that change is happening, but to discover what is happening, what kind of transition is taking place, how humans are evolving right now.
Steiner likes to eschew content (what is said or written), preferring to deal with process (what is going on right now).
[page 10] You are an adherent of spiritual science in the right way if, instead of believing that the entire substance of Christianity is contained once and for all in the Gospels, you recognize that the Christ is in truth always with us, even unto the end of earth days; not present merely as a dead impulse in which one has to believe, but as a living force which will increasingly come to manifestation.
And that manifestation in our time is Steiner's spiritual science. It deals not with talking about Christ but with saying what "Christ wants to say to human beings today, through the medium of thoughts." (Page 10)
One can only appreciate the importance of our living in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch if one comprehends that the gods achieved all the goals they had for us by the end of the previous epoch, the fourth post-Atlantean epoch. Consider us humans as having graduated from college and having entered now into post-graduate work, where we work, no longer being taught by our professors to achieve their goals for us, but being mentored by our professors as we strive towards our own goals. This is what it means to have entered the consciousness soul age, having gone from the gods' goals driving us to having our own human goals driving us, with the help of the gods, with the help of the great spiritual beings we look up to.
[page 11] This is the right way for human beings to go about things from the age of the consciousness soul onwards. In earlier times human goals were unconscious, instinctive, because the conscious purpose of the gods was living in human beings. Now human goals themselves must become more and more conscious. Then human ideals will have the power to rise up to the gods, so that these human aims can be striven for with divine powers.
If one has not reached the post-graduate stage of one's life, i.e., having moved from employee to consultant, one may be hard put to grasp this analogy, to understand how it sheds light on where we are in our human evolution during this fifth post-Atlantean epoch.
[page 14] At the present time we pay scant attention to the fact that throughout life a constant process of maturing is going on. Inwardly honest people such as Goethe were conscious of this process. Even towards the end of his long life he was still eager to learn, for he knew he had not completed the task of becoming fully human. And in looking back at his youth and his prime he regarded all that happened at that time as a preparation for what he was able to experience in old age. People very seldom think this way nowadays, least of all when taking account of people as social beings. No sooner have we reached the age of twenty, and everyone wants to belong to some corporation or other and — in the popular phrase — exercise their democratic judgment. It never occurs to them that there are things in life worth waiting for, because increasing maturity comes with the years. People do not think that way nowadays. This is one of the things we must learn: that all stages of life, not only the first two or three youthful decades, hold treasures in store for human beings.
What we bring at birth into this life on Earth, as forces, are nothing but tendencies to do such and such, as one might bring tendencies into a new job, a wish to accomplish certain life goals as a consciously worked out plan. We have plans for our current life when we enter our mother at birth, life goals which will drive us throughout our life-time on Earth, goals which will lead us to meetings with certain people, to make certain difficult decisions, to become interested in certain occupations or hobbies, etc., often resulting in surprising and delightful outcomes. These are examples of how these forces operate upon us, out of our conscious awareness, appearing as tendencies and sometimes as surprising counter-tendencies when we make some unexpected decision which works out for the good that takes decades for us to discover just how good it was. When we take a new job with expectancies we created in ourselves during our previous job, we do not call those expectations predestination, do we? No, so we should reject those who imagine predestination to be a sledgehammer coercion rather than a tendency that we may accept or reject with our own free will. They're just tendencies to do certain things.
[page 18] . . . we should never allow ourselves to disregard the fact that, as human beings living on this earth, we bring into our earth existence the effects and results of what we experience in the time elapsing between death and a new birth. Each time we return to earthly life we bring with us the consequences of our last spiritual life, of the last time we resided in the purely supersensible world. And we are not looking at our earthly life in its entirety if we do not bear in mind that what we do, and what we experience in the world through coming together with other people, has something about it that results from our life in the spiritual world from which we come at birth, traces of which we bring with us as forces into this world.
Dead is a dead word, an inaccurate, outdated word to describe the full human being, a being of body, soul, and spirit which spans multiple lifetimes, alternating between life in a body on Earth and life in a spirit in the time between death and a new birth. Death is useful and descriptive as the dividing line between life in the material world and life in the spiritual world. As a young adult I saw life as a puzzle with an enigma at each end. In my studies of Steiner, I have come to understand how the enigma at each end is a transition. Death is the transition from the material world into the spiritual world. Birth is the transition from the spiritual world into the material world. What I knew in my time before birth was the reality of the spiritual world and I came into the material world with a desire, a tendency, to discover the reality of the spiritual world while still here in the material world. That tendency first showed up in the puzzle which eventually led me to find its answers in Rudolf Steiner’s works.
With these thoughts as prologue, we are better prepared to understand what Steiner refers to in the next passage as "the whole of humankind".
[page 19] Let us look at the social problem as one that affects the whole of humankind. However, to us the whole of humankind is not only the group of souls who come together socially on earth at a particular time but also the sum of all those souls who at the same time are in the supersensible world, are connected by spiritual ties with earthly human beings and belong to what we can call the whole of the human race. Let us look first of all at what we call in an earthly sense our human spiritual/cultural life.
Biologists and other scientists who study only the material world would have us believe that consciousness, like life itself, is something that arises from humans as a vapor from our material body, like steam rising from the rocks in a sauna. The truth is the opposite; life and consciousness arise in us through the actions of spiritual beings from the very beginning of our Cosmos until now(1). It is not surprising then that all aspects of the social question, religion, arts, laws, and morality should be thought by the same scientists to arise out of our everyday reality. Once again, they have understood the reality of humankind backwards.
[page 20] The working class world view today is namely the following: Everything in the nature of religious conviction and dogma, artistic achievement and legal or moral views, is a superstructure, a kind of spiritual vapor arising out of the only true reality, economic reality. Spiritual life is made into an ideology, into something that is merely in the imagination. To those people, however, who are aware of the foundations from which anthroposophical spiritual science springs, the cultural life in which human beings are embedded is in itself a gift from spiritual beings. They see it not as rising up as clouds out of the depths of economic life but as streaming down from the life of the spiritual hierarchies.
We would do best, when we encounter the social realities, to ask "What is living in it?" Steiner tells us on page 23. The answer we will receive with a serious study of spiritual science is that spiritual beings live in it.
[page 23, 24] If we can become sensitive enough to feel such reverence for the spiritual world surrounding us that we recognize it to be what the spiritual beings themselves are giving us and surrounding us with, then we shall be able to be truly grateful for this gift from the supersensible world which we experience as our earthly spiritual realm of culture.
In Spencer Heath's fine book, Citadel, Market, and Altar, I first encountered the concept of three folds of society which are listed in its title. The Altar was how Heath referred to what Steiner calls above, "Our earthly spiritual realm of culture." Culture is something we experience during our time in a physical body on Earth, but is spiritual in essence. It involves all areas of social interaction not connected with the Citadel (laws) and the Market (economic life).
The second area or Citadel is delineated by Steiner this way:
[page 24] The second area of the social structure is what we could call the administrative rights state, strictly speaking the political life, the area relating to the ordering of juristic relationships between one person and another, of those things in which everybody should be equal before the law. This is the actual life of the state. And fundamentally speaking the life of the state should be nothing else but this. . . . This life, this actual life of the state is the only area within the social organism which has nothing to do with the life before birth or the life after death. This is an area that finds the bearings for all its rulings solely in the world human beings live in between birth and death. The state is true to its own nature only when it does not contain a single element that participates in the supersensible realm, whether in the direction of birth or of death.
The Citadel is the only fold of the threefold social structure which has no connections with the two enigmas: what happens before birth; what happens after death. Curiously, Steiner shows that the Market, the economic fold of society, is connected with the after death enigma. He says, in this next passage, there is a person inside you who makes plans during your time between death and a new birth, plans for your next life prior to your being born, and Steiner calls this person "the more profound human being inside you." (Page 28) This is the same profound person in you who is directly involved during the time between birth and death making economic decisions, decisions which are never quite completed at death and carry over into the spiritual world with us and thence into our next lifetime.
[page 28] Thus specifically those perceptions or impulses we acquire in economic life have a stronger connection to our life after death than people imagine.
Briefly put, if we cannot pay off an incurred obligation before we die, it tops the agenda of that profound person inside us who will arrange for us to balance that obligation in our next lifetime on Earth.
Let us attempt to get the three aspects of the social function down pat. First, the Market and Altar portions. Steiner helps us by pointing out how each human being is a threefold being. As a child we come into this world carrying the ability to see our previous lifetime via a native clairvoyance which disappears before we have formed declarative memory with which to remember it, but vestiges of this childhood reality feeds forward into our adult Altar life and fills us with an attraction to our cultural life of art, religion, learning, etc. During our daily Market interactions with others as adults we create something in ourselves which is etheric and feeds forward into our next lifetime on Earth.
[page 33] It should be of the greatest possible interest and significance to everyone endeavoring to deepen their lives by means of anthroposophical spiritual science to reach the recognition that this threefold ordering of the social organism is based on the very fact that a human being is similarly a threefold being. As a child growing into the physical world we still bear traces of our pre-birth experiences; we have qualities that belong solely to this life between birth and death; and beneath the veil of ordinary physical life, as it were, we are already preparing what will come into its own in the supersensible realm after death. What appears to be the lowest level of life here, the physical handling of the economy — seemingly lower from our earthly point of view than the life of rights — redresses the balance for us by providing the opportunity for us to gain the time to prepare for life after death. In belonging to the realm of art, religion, learning, and all the other areas of spiritual/cultural life, our souls are drawing on the heritage we bring into physical earthly existence through birth. But through the fact of descending, as it were, into the sub-human level in economic life, into the kind of thinking that does not reach up to such high levels, the balance is redressed in that in our deepest inner being we are preparing what will only ascend to the human level after death.
The third aspect is the Citadel, the state function, which only affects us in this lifetime on Earth, with no influences coming from or going out to the supersensible world. Steiner says on page 39, "One branch only of the social organism, the one related to the organization of outer life by the state, is of a purely earthly nature. The two other branches are bound up with supersensible forces in two different directions."
What took me by surprise was an idea that I had not picked up in my previous study of Steiner's threefolding lectures and books, namely, the effect of the Market area, or economic side, of our life which we spiritualize in this lifetime out of our awareness and take with us into the spiritual during our time between death and a new birth.
[page 34] And economic life seems to us to be the lowest of the realms; but it fits this description only because, during our lifetime, it shows us its lowest aspect. It allows us time to develop in our unconscious the spiritual side of economic life which we take with us through death into the supersensible world. This feeling of belonging in brotherliness with other people is the chief thing we have to understand as being the spiritual part of economic life.
Of love and marriage, as the popular song goes, "you can't have one without the other." It seems that is also true of cleverness and stupidity. Take the famous horse Clever John who could do intricate mathematical equations by typing out the answers with his hoof. Scientist finally discovered that the horse was not mathematically clever at all because if no human who knew the answer to the problem was present, he could not answer it. He would stop tapping when he sensed he had reached the solution from someone in the room. Steiner tells us to be aware that a person we consider stupid will have some deep wisdom hidden from us, that "everything has its other side".
[page 34] For instance, with regard to some things we have to become clever and capable, but we cannot reach this particular measure of capability without unfolding a similar measure of stupidity in another direction. One always requires the other. So even if we meet a person in ordinary life who appears to be stupid, we should never consider him totally stupid without being aware of the fact that in his subconscious there may be deep wisdom hidden away which we cannot see.
You can preach to a stove about its sacred duty to warm the room, but unless you add some wood or coal and kindle it, the stove will just sit there in frozen silence. Much that passes as preaching these days is of the nature of "preaching to the stove." Back in 1968, I found a man, Robert H. Schuller, who was stoking the furnaces and lighting fires in the people he preached to in his book Move Ahead With Possibility Thinking, and on his Hour of Power TV program, which is still reaching millions of people across the Earth every week.
[page 37] This is what the stream of religion has missed out on right up until our times when it only beseeches the stove to be warm and frowns upon engaging in real, reliable knowledge of the spirit.
Religion wants us to believe, but belief without action is empty words. Religion on the whole has not changed much since John the Baptist's time when he cried out, Repent! It is a way which exhorts us to think differently, something which people hate to be told to do, up until now.
[page 37] People must learn to think differently! Precisely in this realm a radical about-turn has to happen. At this moment in time there sounds forth to us once again the counsel of Christ, which was also the message of John the Baptist: Change your way of thinking, for the time of crisis is approaching. People have become used to taking it for granted that the spirit is somewhere around looking after them; their religious preachers kept telling them there is this kind of spiritual world of which, however, they give the minimum description. People do not want to make the least effort to know anything about the spiritual world, but only to have belief in it.
Religion has unfortunately become an ideology, an ideology which is a sickness from which we must recover. When we have measles we must protect our eyes from bright lights so we dim the room. Only when we recover from measles can we see things in bright light once again. In modern times our ideologies have caused the spiritual world to become dim to us — have reduced it to abstract logical constructs which act like welder's goggles to dim our sight. If we remove the dark glasses, we can see these two truths, marked (1) and (2) in the passage below.
[page 38] The spirit world must live in me, my very thoughts must be godlike. I must give this divinity the chance to speak through me. Then spiritual life will no longer be merely an ideology. That is the great sin of modern times, that spiritual life is reduced to the impotence of ideology. Theology today has become ideological for it is not only the working class socialist outlook that is an ideology. It is essential that human beings recover from this ideology. The spiritual world has to become real to them. (1) They have to realize that on the one hand the spiritual world is a real factor living in the one sphere of the social organism in the form of a heritage of the life lived in the spirit world before birth, and that on the other hand (2) a spiritual factor is being prepared while we immerse ourselves in economic life apparently below the human level. As compensation for this immersion, the very capacity is being prepared which, in the life we shall enter when we return through death into the spiritual world, shall lead us, if we experience this properly, to a more human, brotherly knowledge here on earth.
While in our time between death and a new birth, we spin and weave the strands which form our earthly existence in our next life on Earth. The source of our spinning and weaving are the moral deeds performed in this life which come together in our next life.
[page 40] . . . in the whole span of human existence everything fits together with the greatest possible meaning. Furthermore, what we set going here in earthly life between one individual and another, what we do to another human being by bringing him joy or sorrow, enriching this thoughts or impoverishing them, by having various dealings with him — these things prepare our karmic life for our next incarnation.
When I first came to see "life as a puzzle with an enigma at each end", I found in Rudolf Steiner’s writings the key insight to penetrating the two enigmas: we must open the shades which dim our vision, and drag these enigmas into the light of day where we can see both enigmas revealed in their deep simplicity.
This next passage gives the best definition of the word "dead" that I have encountered.
[page 41, 42] For the finest human achievement arising out of our involvement with anthroposophy will be that it teaches us to penetrate the two great mysteries of earthly life, birth and death, creating a bridge between the sense world and the supersensible world, between the so-called living and the so-called dead, so that what is dead becomes as something alive among us, and we can say of the living: The life that was ours in the supersensible realm before birth and will be ours after our death is nothing else but a different form of existence. Things are dead in the sense world in the same sense that the sense world is dead to us when we are living in the supersensible world. The connection between the things of the world is relative. And when we penetrate the two sides of each and every reality then we shall have reached reality itself.
In an answer to a question at the end of Lecture 2, Steiner explained what life might be like in a threefold society, giving as an example that "One result will be that people will not hesitate to send their children to the independent school . . . they will want to send them, because they will be interested in such a school." We can see today, some ninety-five years after he spoke these words, that such independent schools, Waldorf Schools and Charter Schools, have become popular places where parents can send their children for care-full teaching instead of abandoning them to the care-less teaching of the so-called free schools which are actually very expensive tax-supported schools. People who send their children to independent schools are willing to pay twice for their children's welfare, once through tuition and once through taxes.
The kind of threefolding that Steiner suggests will replace the unsound coercive state, the so-called government which does not deserve the name government, when it completely collapses under its own weight of stupidity, cupidity, and inflexibility. Such a collapse is shown graphically in the movie, Idiocracy.
[page 43] This kind of relationship there is between one person and another, this kind of interest in things, this conscious participation in life, will be there as a matter of course in an independent organism that is on its way to becoming sound.
To understand how this "matter of course" will come about, one need only read the course of Volitional Science(2) called V50 to appreciate the mindset which, once adopted, will make the moral profitable and profitability moral. When that happens the organism we call society will be on its way to being cured of its ever-present malaise and on its way to becoming sound. A threefolding of society will be the natural result of this eventuality.
People who understand how threefolding can come about are crucial to its eventual implementation. It does not require that everyone understand the principles; after all, people fly without understanding how airplanes work, drive without understanding how internal combustion works, use the Internet without understanding how a URL link gives immediate information on your computer or cell phone from some computer halfway around the world. Similarly, when a natural society is formed, no one will have to understand its principals to become a moral person; it will be obviously in their self-interest, both on Earth and in their time between death and a new birth.
To make bread, one only needs a small amount of yeast in proportion to the amount of flour. Similarly those who understand threefolding are to the rest of humanity as yeast is to the flour in a loaf of bread.
[page 44] We can grasp things more profoundly than is possible among the general public. In a sense we can regard ourselves as a kind of leaven — if I may use the biblical term — and everyone from his own particular situation can endeavor to contribute something from out of a much more deeply motivated feeling towards what our time so urgently needs.
When I began reading Rudolf Steiner books, I had no idea that these small books were designed to be read by people already knowledgeable of his basic works. After ten such books, I was aware that what he said was important, but had little clue as to meanings of his words in many places. When the Internet started up the first question I asked to the world in general was "What should I be reading of Rudolf Steiner?" and the answers were "An Outline of Occult Science" and a handful of his other books which lay out the basis of his spiritual science. So, I would like to share Steiner's own thoughts about reading books along with other people, even though you don't know who the other people are.
[page 46] When I read a book I am also drawn out of my individual egoistic self, for I am not the only person receiving the thoughts of the author; even if the book is read only by some people and not by everybody I am absorbing the same thoughts as a number of other people, which means I have become part of a company of readers who share the same soul content. It is an important characteristic of the life of the mind that this part of our life arises in freedom out of the individual resolve of each single person, yet it draws people together and forms communities out of what they have in common.
A young person accepts and often grows to hate the place and time into which they were born. You hear them say things like, "If only I could have born elsewhere", and placing bumper stickers on their autos saying things like, "I'd rather be skiing" — basically living anywhere else and doing anything but what they're doing with anyone but the people they're doing it with. Only with maturity and spiritual scientific study can one begin to understand how the place and time into which one was born is the best possible choice and and understand that one’s profound other self chose that time, that small town, those two parents, and those people of the community to be born into.
[page 48] According to our level of maturity before birth we go through a whole range of supersensible experiences before we are drawn again into earthly life through birth. And the forces we receive at this point guide us to the very place on earth which will enable us to experience those communities of earthly spiritual life I have been speaking about.
Steiner explained earlier that the Citadel or state should be not be concerned with nor interfere with the other two folds of economics (Market) and culture (Altar). One needs to be reminded that there are no state ruling bodies extant in the world which practice such admirable restraint, up until now. All of which means that each such state is ruled by the "Unlawful Prince" of this world. What does this term mean?
[page 50] Only through spiritual science can you find its meaning. The unlawful prince of this world rules whenever an authority which should be concerned only with the ordering of earthly affairs claims the right not only to govern spiritual/cultural life, but, as we shall see later, economic life as well. The lawful prince of this world is at work when the realm of the state includes only those things which arise solely on the basis of those forces that appertain to human life between birth and death . . . , the second branch of the social organism. [RJM: the Citadel]
To understand the three spheres of activity called Citadel, Market, and Altar vis à vis our time on Earth and our time between death and birth, I created a simple diagram to illustrate how each sphere interacts with us during these times. Refer to this diagram as you read this summary by Steiner:
[page 53] Thus we have distinguished the three social spheres in the light of spiritual science: spiritual/cultural life pointing back to [RJM: arising from] the supersensible realm before birth; political life as such, bound up with the influences affecting us between birth and death; and economic life proper pointing forward to what we shall experience when we have passed through the gate of death.
Steiner says that "to be an atheist means to have a kind of illness."(3) (Page 59) But, unlike other wags who bake up brilliant bon mots and leave them sitting alone on a window sill to dry up in public view, he gives us a background to explain his statement.
[page 59] If you have developed normally in a thoroughly healthy way you will not be an atheist, because it is ridiculous to believe that the healthy human organism could possibly not have a divine origin. A feeling for 'ex deo nascimur' is something that a healthy human being takes for granted in the course of social life. If he does not recognize I am born out of the divine then he must have some defect that comes to expression in his becoming an atheist. The recognition, however, brings us to a generalized conception of the divine which is not the Christ, although modern pastors, through an intrinsic lie, call this the Christ.
It takes several pages for Steiner to explain this point, but for us living since the advent of the twentieth-century, Christ has been revealing Himself to us in a new and very personal way, one in which we must test our thoughts against others' thoughts.
[page 61] We shall find him only by testing our thoughts against other peoples', by extending our interest through a genuine tolerance for every part of human nature, and telling ourselves: I am born a prejudiced person, but if I am reborn from out of everyone else's thoughts with a comprehensive social feeling in my own thoughts, I shall find the Christ impulse within me. If I stop thinking that I myself am the sole source of everything I think, but recognize myself right into my innermost soul as a part of humanity, then I have found one of the paths to the Christ. This is the path which today must be called the way to the Christ through thinking.
If you wish to warm people's hearts, it will not do to exhort their heart's furnace to provide heat, you must light the coal in the furnace of their hearts by actively working on developing the idealism within your own heart's furnace, by drawing on what Paul said, "Not I but the Christ in me." That is how idealism can be acquired.
[page 64, 65] Make it your aim that people experience a rebirth of idealism, that besides instinctive idealism they have an idealism which they have actively worked for and which lasts for life, then you will set human love alight in people's souls. For to the extent that you develop idealism in your self you will get beyond egoism to a self-supporting concern for others.
To develop this idealism, you need to marshal your thinking and will into service, in effect, following a twofold path to the Christ. Rightly understood this twofold path will lead you to a sense of responsibility which will make you ask yourself:
[page 65] Can I justify what I am doing or thinking not merely with reference to my immediate circumstances and environment but in the light of my responsibility towards the supersensible, spiritual world? Can I justify it, now that I know that everything I do here on earth will be inscribed in an akashic record of everlasting significance, whose influence will work on and on? Oh! It makes a tremendously strong impression on one, this supersensible responsibility towards all things! If one is in the twofold path to the Christ, this feeling of responsibility works like a constant reminder, as though a being stood behind one looking over one's shoulder telling one all time: You are not responsible only in the eyes of the world; you are also responsible to divine spiritual realms for all that you think and do.
All of which makes me wonder, what if Jane Austen had lived into the twentieth century long enough to become aware of Steiner's words and deeds. Might she not have written a book entitled, instead of Sense and Sensibility, one titled, Sense and Spirituality? A novel in which respectable people who look at outer sense reality as being part of a whole which includes spiritual realities, one which everyone would admit to reading not just once, but many times, because the author represents civilization(4). It is not civilization as we know it today, but one that we can earnestly work towards in freedom and light.
Alas, very few people want this or at least are not aware that they want this, up until now. As Steiner says on page 69, "Real spiritual life, one that relies not merely on faith or on ancient tradition, but on the direct spiritual findings of the present, is something very, very few people want today." But this kind of civilization which takes the sense world and the spiritual world equally into account is a boon to earnestly be wished for. It will lead us to the day when one can say without fear of contradiction that, "A rose is a blooming hair of the Earth!" (Page 71)
People like things and dislike other things, do they not? Often they have no clue as to the source of these sympathies and antipathies, but that doesn't stop them from coming up with some handy explanation if asked for one. Why is this so? Because these sympathies and antipathies extend into and from the spiritual world, and few people understand this. In the threefold path of Altar which we embark upon, we find a cure for the antipathies we brought into this life from the spiritual world at birth. In the threefold path of Market which includes all our economic transactions with other people in this life we create a source of sympathies which we will carry with us into the spiritual world in our time between death and a new birth. (Page 77)
People for the most part today are like Nasruddin in the famous Sufi story who is looking for his key under the street light in front of his house. After a friend tires of helping him search to no avail, he asks him, "Nasruddin, exactly where did you last see those keys in your hands?" Nasruddin replies, "In the house." His friend, astonished, asks, "Why then are we looking out here for them?" To which Nasruddin says, "Because there is more light out here." For centuries people have searched for the key to an optimal society out there under the street light of public opinion and have never come close to finding it. Why? Because the key is inside, in the area of the spiritual world which we carry between lifetimes with us into this life on Earth, but which we have rarely examined for ourselves, content to take the words of preachers who exhort us to warm ourselves without telling us we have do hard work to find coal and light it before we will get the warmth we seek.
[page 77, 78] But over the past few centuries nobody has spoken about the aspects of outer physical existence that manifest in spiritual/cultural life, the life of the state and economic life. People have gone on churning out old traditions, but they still do not understand them. They have lost the habit of taking a direct way, through an active soul life, into the land of the spirit, in search of the light that is able to illumine physical reality without which our physical reality cannot be properly understood.
One pet peeve of mine is people who do not properly understand capitalism, mistaking its misuse and misapplication for true capitalism. Steiner, born before Galambos came up with a definition of capitalism of which Steiner would have approved and adopted, can be forgiven for his reference to "soulless capitalism" as if it were the only kind possible, having no idea of the possibility for creating a soulful capitalism which can rescue lost souls from dead machines, creating a living new reality for them from now on.
[page 80] In their inner being human beings have become lonely, and most lonely of all are the ones who have been torn from life and are connected with nothing but barren machines, with the factory on the one hand and soulless capitalism on the other.
The ideal of soulful capitalism is a possibility, given the innovations and technology created by Andrew Galambos, but which few anthroposophists have studied and comprehended, up until now.
As we close this review, let's take a look at how most people refer to spirit as a content instead of a living process which imbues us in everything we do, as if one must look outside for spirit, like Nasruddin's key, instead of inside of our very being and actions.
[page 87, 88] [We must] . . . try more than anything else to find the spirit in a way that will make us strong enough also to penetrate into outer material reality. Then people will really stop using the word spirit, spirit, spirit in every sentence and show instead, by the way they regard things, that they bring spirit into their observation. The essential thing today is that we look at things in the light of the spirit, and not only talk about spirit.
Repent! Think again, to paraphrase John the Baptist. The time is at hand for us to begin looking inside where the real answers to our social questions can be found. If we renew our thinking, we will perceive with new eyes the threefold nature of the human being and how a natural society must develop with the same three folds, as independent entities, Citadel, Market, and Altar, the first affecting only life between birth and death and the other two deeply connected with the spiritual realities in our time between death and a new birth. The Citadel as a materialistic organization is ill-equipped to understand or deal appropriately with non-material realities; rather, it is a coercive body in which groups of individuals must decide upon and enforce policies which affect the rest of the society. Rightly understood, the Citadel cannot coercively decide on dealing with the Market and Altar, both which involve spiritual realities which can only be handled by individual human beings acting volitionally as they balance and create their own destinies in this time between birth and death.
---------------------------- Footnotes -----------------------------------------
Footnote 1.Return to prose directly before Footnote 1.
Artificial Intelligence researchers strive to create human intelligence inside a computer and call it consciousness, but they will only achieve the counterfeit of human intelligence and consciousness, no matter how long they try. The Sufis have a saying, "Counterfeit gold exists only because there is real gold."
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Footnote 3.Return to prose directly before Footnote 3.
On page 87, Steiner includes this marvelous statement by Ludwig Anzengruber, an Austrian writer, "As truly as there is a God in heaven I am an atheist."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Return to prose directly before Footnote 4.
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