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A READER'S JOURNAL
Old and New Methods of Initiation, GA#210
Translated by Johanna Collis
14 Lectures from Jan thru March 1922
Published by Rudolf Steiner Press/UK in 1991
A Book Review by Bobby Matherne ©2008
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We live in a world which has become increasingly materialistic since the fifteenth century and has experienced a precipitous increase during the past century since Steiner wrote and gave his lectures. With that materialistic view of life, humans have lost their moral compass. What they previously looked up to in the spiritual world and in their religious beliefs has faded away, replaced a belief in materialistic science. A science which contains no moral compass, so far as the average person knows. Read how Steiner described the situation about a century ago, in 1922, in the first lecture:
[page 1] A profound breach now runs through the whole of civilization, a breach which brings much chaos to the world and which people who are fully aware cannot but experience with a sense of tragedy. One expression of this breach is the fact that human beings, when considering human dignity and their worth as human beings, can no longer find any connection with a world to which they look up that world which gives the human soul religious feelings both profound and uplifting namely, the world of moral values.
He describes how humans today look to the world of nature, but that world is "indifferent to moral values" and runs its course whether humans are moral or not. Natural science has explained all of human life as if it sprung from some materialistic origin, a primordial soup, and exists independently of all spiritual inputs or guidance. Thus understood, no scientifically minded person can find in their sensory data and experiments any reason or rationale for morality. Steiner rightly observes that there was no knowledge available during his day capable of showing the necessity of morality or its benefits. The moral compass which came from belief in religious doctrines lapsed into disuse when a belief in the tenets of materialistic science with its amazing technologies began to replace the tenets of religion.
[page 1] Human beings have to look up from the world of nature to the world of moral values. We have to see the content of this moral world as something which ought to be, something which is the ideal. Yet no knowledge which is current today is capable of showing us how moral ideals can flow into the laws of nature and how necessity can be made to serve moral values.
Some forty years after Rudolf Steiner died, a Hungarian physicist by the name of Andrew Joseph Galambos tackled the problem of getting moral values into human beings. To my mind, Galambos filled the knowledge gap which Steiner discussed above. Galambos's landmark lecture series V50, the introduction to his innovative Volitional Science curriculum, shows how moral values become a necessity. He does this by a leap of consciousness in which he provides an operational definition of freedom. No such definition has ever existed before. Rightly understood, Galambos does something with that definition that few thinkers have ever done before: he changes people. It is one thing to change society, bureaucracies controlling society, or other forms of interaction and control by writing, but it is a far more difficult thing to change the people which make up the society, and change them for the better. Turn them into moral people.
Why did Galambos tackle this problem? He came to the USA as an astrophysicist and wanted to help build rockets to power Man to the Moon. He created an innovative design for a rocket motor, showed it to his department head, who promptly submitted it as his own creation and took all credit for it. Like many innovators before him e. g., the Wright Bros and Nikola Tesla Galambos had his ideas taken from him and used by others to profit only themselves. Galambos left the large aerospace corporation and worked on a solution which would prevent such immoral acts as his boss did to him from ever happening again, either to him or other innovators. Only a naive person, which Galambos was not, could believe that such acts could be prevented by passing a law. The laws protect such thieves, even considering them innocent until proven guilty by the aggrieved party in a civil suit not a criminal court.
Try to find a law in the code of the USA which protects people from having their ideas stolen. Copyright laws protect only a given incarnation of an idea. Patent laws require lascivious disclosure of an idea in exchange for the illusion of protection. Consider the utter incapability of a patent protecting someone like Galambos who shares a patentable idea with his boss, only to have it stolen. The boss gets the patent, not Galambos. Fight it in court? The Wright Bros. did that when their official patent's ideas were stolen and used to manufacture and sell aircraft by competitors. They won their suit but lost their chance to actually manufacture aircraft during their pursuit of an elusive justice.
Galambos studied the history of innovators in detail and decided that the only solution was to reform the people, not the laws. He perceived that the laws themselves were the problem, not the solution. The laws were created by people who lacked the knowledge necessary to understand "how necessity can be made to serve moral values." The only solution he saw was to provide that knowledge and create moral people out of immoral people. How do I know that to be a fact? Not by studying other peoples lives, but from my own personal experience. I went into his V50T (T indicates the lectures were on Tape, not live) as an immoral person and came out moral. Not perfect, just moral. I came out with a moral compass which allowed me for the first time in my life to make accurately moral decisions.
My wife, Del, was one of the most moral people I knew at that time, around 1982. After I completed the V50T course I had trouble explaining my decisions to Del. She didn't understand what I was talking about. It was like I had become another person, and she wasn't sure what to make of me. I suggested she take the course herself. After she completed V50T course, we once more understood each other. From my own personal experience, I can point to two people who were reformed by Galambos's thoughts and innovative knowledge. The major reforming that Galambos did with his landmark lectures in Volitional Science is now embodied verbatim in his posthumous book, Sic Itur Ad Astra.
In a curious irony, the two classic books on freedom(1) originate from the materialistic thinker, Andrew Galambos, and the spiritual thinker, Rudolf Steiner. Taken together, Galambos provides a view of how freedom flows from human actions and Steiner gives a view of how freedom flows into human actions from the spiritual world. I can only imagine that their spirits are sharing with delight how their two-pronged approach to freedom is lifting humanity into a morality which is long overdue. This new approach to freedom can only be appreciated one person at a time, which, rightly understood, is the only way freedom as a society can be achieved. Freedom cannot be fought for it can only be built, one person at a time. This is the legacy which Steiner and Galambos leave us. The rest is up to you, dear Reader, to decide if you wish to live in freedom. You will have to tread both the spiritual and materialistic sides of life.
Steiner speaks of these two aspects of life as being led or controlled by the luciferic and ahrimanic forces which act in each of us. One or the other may hold sway for a time, but there is always a swing in the other direction as a balancing occurs, if we wait long enough.
[page 4] Let us start from the point of view of man's physical being. This physical being, which the senses perceive as a unit, is in fact only seemingly so. Actually we are forever in tension between the forces which make us young and those which make us old, between the forces of birth and the forces of death. Not for a single moment throughout our life is only one of these forces present; always both are there.
When we are small, perhaps tiny, children, the youthful, luciferic forces predominate. But even then, deep down, are the ageing forces, the forces which eventually lead to the sclerosis of our body and, in the end, to death. It is necessary for both kinds of force to exist in the human body. Through the luciferic forces there is always a possibility of inclining towards, let me say, the phosphoric side, towards warmth. In the extreme situation of an illness this manifests in a fever, such as a pleuritic condition, a state of inflammation. This inclination towards fever and inflammation is ever-present and is only held in check or in balance by those other forces which want to lead towards solidified, sclerotic, mineral states. The nature of the human being arises from the state of balance between these two polar-opposite forces.
There are two kinds of material in our brain: one consists of neurons and glial cells interwoven and compacted into the structure of the brain. This material is visible and may be called the "hard brain" to distinguish it from the "soft brain", which is basically a clear, colorless fluid which flows in the ventricles of the brain, the cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid area of the brain was deemed to be the seat of perception, memory and other cognitive functions by famous thinkers as recently as Leonardo da Vinci. Modern brain theorists disdain any function of the cerebrospinal fluid and refer to the places where it resides as "essentially holes in the brain.(2)" Clearly modern day materialistic scientists consider all thinking and sensory processing to be done by the "hard brain" and not those "holes in the brain" which I call the "soft brain". Da Vinci was right about the feasibility of heavier-than-air flying machines. He was not able to create one himself with the materials of his time, but he did make some detailed models. Was he perhaps right about the soft brain as an organ of perception, memory, and other cognitive functions? Can we not have a hard brain and soft brain which act together to create that magical process of thinking, sensing, and operating in the world? Is it not better to hold this possibility as an unanswered question? In other words, is it possible that our brain, like the rest of our body, has a phosphoric warmth side in the clear ventricular fluid and a sclerotic cold mineralized side in the visible brain tissue? If Leonardo da Vinci was a "soft brain" thinker and came up with his many innovations and theories using "soft brain" thinking, perhaps our materialistic scientists with all their many useful technologies may be missing something, up until now.
The only way to make sense of this hard-brain, soft-brain duality would be to rise above such sterile right-wrong questions as "Which is better: hard-brain or soft-brain thinking?" When you have only one option, you are stuck, when you have two options, you have a dilemma; only when you have three options do you have a real choice. The real choice here would be that we use a combination of hard-brain, soft-brain thinking all the time. Yet, for the time being, soft-brain thinking is out of the question for materialistic scientists, who are primarily hard-brained thinkers. Any scientist who would dare to use soft-brain thinking would derisively be called "soft-headed." It's not that we don't know about soft-brain thinking, but that we disdain it when it appears in ourselves and others, up until now.
[page 5] Real knowledge of the human being can only come about if we rise above the poverty-stricken concepts of positive and negative, the poverty-stricken concepts of polarity as found in inorganic nature, and ascend to the meaningful concepts of luciferic and ahrimanic influences in man.
Want an example of hard-brain thinking? Steiner gives us a fistful of them to consider in many of his lectures, but the primary aspect which pervades all of them is abstract concepts which are cold and dry by their very nature and source, and thus, ahrimanic.
[page 5] Our natural science today is almost totally ahrimanic. As we develop towards ahrimanic soul elements, we discard anything that might fill our concepts and ideas with warmth. We submit only to whatever makes concepts and ideas ice-cold and dry as dust. So we feel especially satisfied in today's scientific thinking when we are ahrimanic, when we handle dry, cold concepts, when we can make every explanation of the world conform to the pattern we have established for inorganic, lifeless nature.
Even when we address moral issues using hard-brain thinking, we go very much astray, becoming rule-bound, duty-bound, and law-bound, all of which removes us from the very morality we seek.
[page 5, 6] Also, when we imbue our soul with moral issues, the ahrimanic influence is found in everything that tends towards what is pedantic, stiff, philistine on the one hand; but also in what tends towards freedom, towards independence, towards everything that strives to extract the fruits of material existence from this material existence and wants to become perfect by filling material existence.
As humans, we are ever subject to veering towards the luciferic or the ahrimanic. Which one is better? That's the wrong question to ask, no matter how smoothly it flows off the tongue. The question is how to balance the two influences in our life, one event at a time, so that we achieve what's best for us in the process.
[page 7] Luciferic forces endow human beings with the possibility of expressing the spirit in the semblance of sense-perceptible existence. It is for this that all art and all beauty are striving. Lucifer is the guardian of beauty and art. So in seeking the right balance between luciferic and ahrimanic influences we may allow art Lucifer in the form of beauty, to work upon this balance. There is no question of saying that human beings must guard against ahrimanic and luciferic influences. What matters is for human beings to find the right attitude towards ahrimanic and luciferic influences, maintaining always a balance between the two. Provided this balance is maintained, luciferic influences may be permitted to shine into life in the form of beauty, in the form of art. Thus something unreal is brought into life as if by magic, something which has been transformed into a semblance of reality by the effort of human beings themselves.
How are we to achieve this balance? Steiner gives us a look back at a luciferic age in history followed by an ahrimanic age and then tells us how we may rightly understand the way the people in these two ages operated to achieve a balance of the luciferic and ahrimanic influences.
[page 10] As regards the life of mankind through history, too, the pictures we form are only real if we are capable of perceiving the working and surging of the luciferic and ahrimanic elements in the different periods of history. Let us look, for instance, at the period of history which starts with Augustine and reaches to the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of modern times, the fifteenth century. Let us look at this period and see how in external life people preferred to allow impulses to work which came from their deepest inner being, out of their emotional life; let us see how people during this period wanted to shape even the external life of society and the state in accordance with what they believed they could discern of the divine impulses within themselves. We feel quite clearly that the luciferic impulse was at work in this period of history.
Now go to more recent times and see how people turn and look outwards towards the mechanical and physical aspects of the world which can only be adequately comprehended in the right way by thinking and by contact with the external world. It is obvious that the ahrimanic element is at work in this period. Yet this must not tempt us to declare the period from Augustine to Galileo to be luciferic and the period from Galileo to the present time to be ahrimanic. This would in turn be an ahrimanic judgement, an intellectualistic interpretation. If we want to make the transition from an intellectualistic to a living interpretation, to a recognition of life as an experience in which we share, of which we are a part, then we shall have to express ourselves differently. We shall have to say: During the period from Augustine to Galileo, human beings had to resist the luciferic element in their striving for balance. And in more recent times human beings have to resist the ahrimanic element in their striving for balance.
How are we to find help in balancing the luciferic and ahrimanic forces in our lives? The answer is simple: Seek Christ. He will provide, to those who ask, the guidance to thread the way on the tightrope between the luciferic and ahrimanic forces. He is the balance pole for our tightrope walk. A tightrope walker is constantly off-balance, a little to the left, a little to the right, but always correcting, using his long pole stretched over both sides of the tightrope to help him regain his balance. Christ provides that kind of balance for us, for every individual on the Earth. Until every individual understands this, true Christianity will not be realized in the world.
[page 13, 14] Christianity is not realized, for fully to understand Christ means: to find man as man within oneself. Christ is no folk god, no god of any race. Christ is not the god of any group of human beings. He is the god of the individual, in so far as the individual is a member of the human race as a whole. Only when we can understand the Christ-being, through all the means available to us, as the God of mankind, only then will Christ come to have what will certainly be the greatest possible social significance for the globe as a whole.
The forces of the West are concepts and the forces of the East are feelings. It is easy to see this dichotomy at play in the two leaders of the USA and Russia. The American president describes concepts and principles behind deploying anti-missile defenses in Poland and the Russian leaders talk about feeling threatened by them. First the forces of the West need sharply defined concepts(3).
[page 15] Any world conception gained out of these forces of the West can only be satisfying if it can be expressed in clearly defined, sharply contoured concepts and ideas. Human beings will need such clear, sharply defined concepts for the future of the earth. They will have to learn to present the highest spiritual content to mankind in terms which are every bit as clearly defined as are the natural and social concepts arising out of the forces of the West.
The Russians and other peoples of the East do not reach for their highest aspirations in concepts, but rather in feeling states. This is difficult for Americans on the whole to understand, and has led to many of the standoffs at an international level over the past century between the two countries.
[page 15] Let us turn now to the forces of the East. Here, what is made clearest to us is the following: If, out of the forces of the East, we want to attempt to describe Christianity, or indeed anything divine and spiritual, in sharp, clearly-defined terms, our efforts will be in vain. Starting with Russia and going eastwards through Asia, the whole of the East brings forth forces in its peoples which are not capable of rising up to spiritual, divine realms in sharply defined concepts. The forces here are suitable for rising up to the spirit out of the depths of feeling.
How do these deep feelings show themselves when we travel to the East and regions bordering the East? Steiner points to the appearance of Madonna images, altars, and first greetings given to the Mother of God when entering a room. In the whole area of Southern Louisiana, such images of the Blessed Mother are found in people's homes, and altars or grottos with Madonna images in them grace many front yards of suburban homes yet today. Somehow the deep feelings of the East have reached into the area surrounding the long-time port city of New Orleans and taken root here. Steiner gives us a way of understanding the presence of these images as an outward show of deep inner feelings.
[page 16] If we remain in the external, sense-perceptible world we have to grasp other means. For instance, we have to describe the feelings which are found as soon as we start going further and further eastwards, even in the regions of central Europe bordering on the East. Look at the living rooms of simple people and see the altar with the Mother of God in the corner. See how the image of the Mother of God is greeted by visitors as they arrive. Everywhere the first greeting is for the Mother of God, and only then are greetings exchanged with the people in the room. This is something that emanates from all the forces of the human being, with the exception of those of abstract ideas.
As I think about my own mother, she was no one to talk in abstract concepts, but was always in touch at the level of feelings, something which took me several decades to come to understand. In the Russian philosopher, Soloviev, Steiner found someone who could write in the ways of the West and yet could find ways to express the feelings of his compatriots as they stood before the Madonna icons.
[page 18] We can today only imagine a person to be capable of speaking in the way Soloviev does if he still has a true experience of what every one of his compatriots does before the icon of the Mother of God. Such a person must stand immersed in his people, a people capable of bringing proof without having to base it on abstract, logical foundations, a people for whom proofs based on mere abstract logic are less important than those which come out of the whole human being.
By bridging the East and the West, Soloviev is a harbinger of the new world which Steiner visions in our own future, one in which no one region of the world dares proclaim that it holds the whole truth of the only right way of life on Earth.
In this next passage Steiner describes for us the pre-Tower of Babel times when all humans spoke the same language. It was a time of unity, but an enormous evolution of consciousness was due to arise in human beings as they grew from the universal "interjection-language" which used mostly gestures and various grunts and single syllable words for communication. This was the language of Neanderthal times, so well described by Jean Auel in her Clan of the Cave Bear series of novels.
[page 18, 19] Mankind came forth out of a unity. If we go back into the obscure, remote antiquity of human evolution we come to an archetypal wisdom which was still instinctive and which, because of this, still filled the whole human being. Throughout the whole of the earth people communicated with one another, not yet by means of the logical content of language but externally, by means of the then still existing inner capacity to communicate in gestures, of which today we no longer have the faintest idea. People communicated with one another by means of something which today, if at all, remains only in those remnants of the treasure-house of language which we call interjections. Naturally, if you exclaim: Whew! or sigh: Oh! you will be understood world over. This kind of understanding resembles the communication that took place at the time of instinctive archetypal wisdom.
In English, our suffix for "like" is "ish". Thus, Engl-ish means like the Engle people. "Ish" can also be seen to mean "I-ish" or I-like. What does it mean to be I-like? Steiner says it simply, "The 'I' in the human being is what strives in its totality to become like the universe. 'I' is like, is similar to, everything; microcosm compared with macrocosm." Our "I" has the goal of leading us to become like the universe. This is not a cheap etymological trick of words, but the sign of a deep truth which must be sought and fleshed out by each human being, in this or some future lifetime.
My favorite past-time while writing is to seek the deep meanings of the words I encounter. This morning I stumbled upon "chary" and though I knew what it meant, I looked it up to be sure: wary, prudent, cautious. I noted that it had its roots in an Old English word meaning care, sorrow. When we say to someone, "take care" we are in effect urging them to be "chary". With this short bit of etymology, I have made the word my own by seeking out its living roots. Steiner discusses the appropriate use of etymology in this next passage:
[page 19] I brought this up merely to show one of the facets of what we must do to enter into language in search of a far more alive content than exists nowadays in the languages of the world. We must strive not to take words merely as words but to seek out their living roots. We must learn to understand that two people can say the same thing and yet mean something quite different, depending on the way of life from which it stems. We shall need such a deepening of our feelings in order to enter into the kind of global working together which will be necessary if mankind is to set out once more on the upward path.
Christ is known in spiritual science circles as the great "I" or "I Am" which we are to strive to become more like. In this next passage we can read where Steiner is exhorting us to become "Christ-I-sh" or "Christish". We must ever recognize that Christ became Man and gave his life to teach us this most important lesson: that we are to strive ever to become more like the universe, like Himself.
[page 20] It is not enough to address Christ as: Lord, Lord! Christ must become something which fills the whole human being. This can only happen if we support our understanding with something which comes to meet us when we look towards the archetypal wisdom of the world and remind ourselves that that wisdom made mankind into a totality. It was, though, a totality in which all individuality was lost. But evolution progressed. Human beings became ever more individualized. They felt more and more that they were approaching the point at which each one feels separated from all the others, for that alone guarantees the experience of freedom. So something had to be poured out into human evolution which might once more bring unity to the whole earth. This was the Christ-being. The Christ-being will only be fully understood when we gain from it a feeling for the impulse to bring about a social unity of human beings over the whole earth. Or looked at the other way round: Only the Christ-being, fully understood, can lead to a right social impulse throughout the world.
In Lecture Three, Steiner gives us the history of the evolution of human consciousness in ten short pages, as it evolved in the first "hard" human being symbolized by Adam. This consciousness flowed through four earlier cultural epochs until it reached ours, the Fifth-Post Atlantean epoch in the 15th century. The Indian epoch brought a deep spirituality whose remnants can be still found in the sub-continent of India and its peoples today. The Persian epoch moved toward the physical world and began the building of large structures as the spiritual aspects moved more inward to be worshiped as Ormuzd and Ahriman, the light and dark spiritual beings of the Sun. In the Egypto-Chaldean epoch, the spiritual beings seen by the ancient Indians in the heavens at night were tracked as the movement of stars and planets across the heavens in their astrology. When the Greek age began, they focused their knowledge upon the Earth, a -sophy of Gaia or a geosophy. With the advent of our fifth cultural epoch, this geosophy evolved into geology, becoming thus a more abstract and conceptual based knowledge of the Earth.
Here we are at the beginning of the second third of the fifth cultural epoch, and we find all around us a plethora of "-logies" replacing the "-sophies" of previous epochs(4). What is the different between an "-logy" and a "sophy"? Steiner tells us that a "-logy" is an abstract idea which emerges when we combine logical concepts of the world. A "-sophy" on the other hand represents a direct knowledge this distinction is clear in his descriptions of geosophy and geology in this lecture.
[page 28] By entering into the fifth post-Atlantean period and standing full within it, human beings were thrown back upon themselves. They now made manifest what came out of themselves, '-logy', the lore, the knowledge out of themselves. Thus knowledge of the universe becomes a world of abstractions, of logical concepts, of abstract ideas. Human beings have lived in this world of abstract ideas since the fifteenth century. And with this world of abstract ideas, which they summarize in the laws of nature, they now seek to grasp out of themselves what was revealed to human beings of earlier times. It is quite justified that this age no longer brings forth any religiously creative natures, for the Mystery of Golgotha falls in the fourth post-Atlantean period, and this Mystery of Golgotha is the final synthesis of religious life. It leads to a religion that ought to be the conclusion of earthly religious streams and strivings. With regard to religion, all subsequent ages can really only point back to this Mystery of Golgotha.
Is there hope for humans? Can they fly on the wings of their "-logies" or will they crash and burn like Icarus? Yes, Steiner gives us hope, but his vision is not one that would meet the approval of our scientists with their "-logies" built of abstract phantoms. Scientists today can be reckoned as the King paraded the streets of his Kingdom in his new clothes. He is proud of his new garments, but those who, with the eyes of a child, can see through the camouflage of descriptive words will find that in fact the King is naked. But all is not lost, this fabric of words and abstract thoughts will allow humans to ascend to spiritual worlds again, but this time carrying with them their new tools of logic and conceptual thinking. We humans will arrive where we were ages ago, and we will be completely different, having completed an important phase of our journey into the spirit.
[page 28, 29] In this way we conjure up before our eyes the course of human evolution with regard to spiritual streams and spiritual endeavours. In this way we can see how it has come about that we stand today in the midst of something that is, basically, no longer connected with the world about us but has come out of the human being, something in which the human being is productive and must become ever more productive. By further developing all these abstract things human beings will ascend once more through Imaginations to a kind of geosophy and cosmosophy. Through Inspiration they will deepen cosmosophy and ascend to a true philosophy, and through Intuition they will deepen philosophy until they can move towards a truly religious view of the world which will once more be able to unite with knowledge.
Obviously we are in the early stages of developing Imaginations, Inspiration, and Intuition, and the scientists with their hollow "-ologies" will be the last to recognize and validate the progress being made. Were they forced to examine the works of Rudolf Steiner on this issue, their results would be akin to giving someone a book to read and having them return to you an analysis of the ink spread across the pages of the book. Yes, they may have done a masterful job of ink-analysis, but what about the content of the words which were formed by the ink in the book?
[page 29] When the representatives of current recognized knowledge hear what we have to say about the spiritual world, the understanding they bring to bear on what we say is of a kind that it can only be called a non-understanding. For it can be compared with the following: Suppose I were to write a sentence on this piece of paper, and suppose someone were to try to understand what I had written down by analysing the ink in which it is written. When our contemporaries write about Anthroposophy it is like somebody analysing the ink of a letter he has received. Again and again we have this impression. It is a picture very close to us, considering that we took our departure from a description of how, for human beings, in early post-Atlantean times even the starry constellations and starry movements were no more than a written expression for what they experienced as the spiritual population of the universe.
To end Lecture Three, Steiner gives us these two synopses of the East and the West where they are right now.
[page 30] Because the eastern world still echoes of its primeval times it is unsuited to receiving new impulses. . . . . But at the same time there is in the west an elemental strength capable of unfolding new impulses for development.
What is a full human being? Anthroposophy purports to be a science of the "full human being", so it would behoove us to know what Steiner considers to be a full human being.
[page 33] Human beings would not be able to achieve their true nature during the course of evolution if they did not themselves have to work for and win the strength with which to approach the spiritual world. If unearned grace alone were to allow them to step over the threshold, then perhaps they would be lofty spiritual beings, but they would not be human beings in the true sense of the word. They would not be beings who win their way towards their own value. For to be a true human being in the universe means to be the instigator of one's own worth.
Why do pathological killers exist? They seem bent on killing everyone in the range of their weapons. By what process do they arrive at such thoughts and goals? Psychiatrists talk about brain chemistry and structure going awry, but this seems to be a plausible cover story for what they really don't know. What if someone enters the spiritual world without adequate preparation in other words, without having won their way through hard work to love creation and come to an understanding and appreciation of how the world has arrived at its present condition, not by acts of random natural events, but acts of love how might someone like that feel upon awaking in the morning?
[page 37] In order to enter well prepared into the spiritual world we must first have thoroughly understood the meaning of earthly life. Otherwise on waking up every morning we would return to the world of sense perceptions filled with a terrible hate for this world and with an urge to destroy it. Simply out of the necessity of human existence we would wake up full of hate and anger if we spent the time between going to sleep and waking up in a state of consciousness such as that.
To pathological killers, life began at birth and ends at death, so there is no hope for their brutish and imperfect life but to end it as soon as possible and sometimes to take as many people with them as possible. The very idea that one could be an infinite being living through multiple lifetimes of which this is only the current one never occurs to such a person. Our very language does not even have a word which describes an immortality which precedes birth, an "unbornness", as Steiner points out. Clearly, our language is a work-in-progress and, in my opinion, such a word is necessary. Without it we human beings will be unable to understand the physical and the spiritual world. The concepts of karma lying instinctively behind that word will help any who might inadvertently slip into the spiritual world. It will help them to return without being full of anger and hate, an event which seems to be happening with increasing frequency around the world.
[page 41, 42] Even our language shows that we only have a half knowledge about the eternity of man. We speak only about immortality, 'undyingness'. What we need in addition is a word denoting 'unbornness'. Only when we can grasp both will we finally understand the eternity of the human being. Right down into language, human beings of our time have abjured their links with the spiritual world. These links must be found once more. If they cannot be found it will be totally impossible to carry on living in a proper way, and today's culture and civilization could fall into absolute decline.
We will languish with our language if we do not infuse it and ourselves with the living spirit from which we have cut ourselves off, up until now. Want an example of how we have cut ourselves off from the spirit? Look no further than at your school children. Do they come home from school enervated? Do they abhor going to school each morning? Do they delight in snow days which give them a respite from the hated classroom? If your answers are all yes, they are typical school kids, except for those of the Steiner-designed Waldorf School system. This system has created an entire no-tire school system, and back in the time Steiner was giving this lecture, they were not praised for this accomplishment, but derided for not taking fatigue into account!!! This would be humorous if it were not such a serious subject. Our school children deserve a system which keeps them energized not enervated, excited and not bored, loving school time not detesting it. Don't you think so?
Steiner is writing here of the very first school he founded in Stuttgart for the children of the people who worked at the Waldorf-Astoria Cigarette Factory.
[page 42] In Stuttgart we have founded the Waldorf school and Waldorf education. All sorts of things are said about this. Recently somebody said: Why does Waldorf education take so little account of fatigue in the children? Fatigue ought to be carefully studied nowadays. In so-called experimental psychology it is pointed out with pride how children tire after repeating unconnected words or following lessons about a sequence of subjects. And then it is said: Waldorf education is not up to date because it does not take the fatigue of the children into account. Why is this? The Waldorf school does not speak much about fatigue. But it does speak about how children ought to be tended and educated after the change of teeth, namely by basing the education mainly on the rhythmic system which means that the artistic element is cultivated, since this is what stimulates the rhythmic system. Abstract writing comes later, and abstract reading later still. Demands are made, not of the head but of the artistic realm. But those who work with children only at those things which make demands on the head will, of course, have to reckon with fatigue. When, however, we make claims on the rhythmic system, on the artistic element, then we are justified in asking: Does our heart tire throughout life? It has to go on beating, and we have to go on breathing. So Waldorf education need not concern itself too much with fatigue because it aims to educate children in a way which tires them very little.
We know that if we observe the complete cycle of a pendulum, that halfway in the cycle, the pendulum begins to swings the other way. In the middle of the swing of seven Post-Atlantean cultural epochs, Man had fallen into materialism so far that they were in danger losing their very souls upon death. A deed, a great Deed, was required by a great Spiritual Being to redeem humanity from the deed of Lucifer which caused the fall into materialism. No human being was capable of saving humanity, not even a great prophet or spiritual leader, because no matter how great they were still human. It required a being of the order of Lucifer or higher to redeem, to rescue Man from his precipitous fall. That great being was the Christ who arrived on Earth and entered the man Jesus of Nazareth during his baptism in the Jordan.
[page 44] Looking at the span of human evolution, let us turn to that event without which the whole of human and earth evolution would have no meaning: the Mystery of Golgotha. In this Mystery of Golgotha something divine entered into the conditions of the earth by means of an earthly body. Christ entered the body of Jesus of Nazareth in order from then on to work with the earth. The earth would have perished, would have decayed in the world order, if a new fructification had not been brought about by the entering-in of the Christ. You know also that in the distant past an instinctive knowledge, a primeval wisdom, existed, of which only remnants remained in western civilization at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha. Enough remained, however, to make it possible for the Mystery of Golgotha to be at least instinctively comprehended for four centuries. In the early centuries of Christianity the understanding of the supersensible significance of the Mystery of Golgotha was such that the leading Christian teachers knew about the entering-in of Christ, the Sun Spirit, into the human being, Jesus of Nazareth.
Who today has a living awareness of what it means to ask whether the human being Jesus of Nazareth bore two natures, a human one and a divine one, or only one? Yet in the early Christian centuries this was a vital question, a question which had a bearing on life. There was a vivid awareness of how, coming from the cosmos, the Christ Spirit had united with Jesus; two natures in one personality; God in man.
Keep the swing of the pendulum in mind as we look at the change humankind underwent from considering Man as a being of body, soul, and spirit to a being simply of body and soul. This change took place during the midpoint of the fourth Post-Atlantean cultural epoch, during the fourth century AD, when the forces of the spirit began to be replaced by forces of the intellect. Until that time all humans still had a direct comprehension of the spiritual nature of all humans, and especially that of the Christ spirit which had united with Jesus of Nazareth during his baptism in the Jordan. After the fourth century, intellectual discussion began supplanting the fading direct perception, leading up to the ninth century, during which a Council of the Church declared Man to be merely a being of body and soul. After that declaration, the first crucifixes with Christ Jesus upon them began to appear in churches.(5)
[page 44, 45] You have often heard that the fourth post-Atlantean period lasted from 747 before the Mystery of Golgotha to about 1413 after the Mystery of Golgotha. In the first third of the fifteenth century intellectualism proper began. Now, we look at physical forces, we calculate, we study physics, but we no longer know that spiritual forces are at work out there, that the spirit which was known in earlier times really exists out there. Look at this fourth post-Atlantean, period lasting from 747 BC until 1413 AD. If you halve this period you come to a point that lies in the fourth century AD, the point when the wisdom which still contained a spiritual comprehension of the Mystery of Golgotha finally faded away. From then on, intellectual discussion was all that took place. And finally, as the fifteenth century approached, the human intellect became the sole ruler of human civilization. Because of this, anything that represented a living connection between the human being and the Christ was drawn more and more into merely materialistic human thinking. In the most advanced theology in the nineteenth century the Christ was entirely lost, and the most enlightened view was taken to be that of Christ as nothing more than the "man of Nazareth". If we can really feel this in all its gravity, we cannot but develop a yearning to find the Christ Being once again. And this yearning to find Christ once more is what the anthroposophical world view wants to satisfy with regard to the major global questions.
With the physicists of the world predicting a heat death due to global warming or a nova explosion of the Sun, the Earth seems doomed to be obliterated. What is the point of being good and moral? This is a big question of our time and one that deserves a big answer. Scientists who put their faith in the abstract logic of their theories and equations, which work so well in the physical world, will be the very ones doomed to perish, satisfying their deadly self-fulfilling prophecy. None of the tenets of physics allows anything to survive when the Earth perishes.
[page 48] This fatalistic world view is based, in the final analysis, on faith in the imperishability of material forces. But anyone trying to topple this dogma is considered mad. If this dogma were true, there would be no escape for moral ideals; they would simply be a picture of something that human beings have thought up and figured out. There would be no escape for these ideals if spiritual research could not find the means to give back to people a supersensible content for their consciousness. This is relevant today. And in this relevant matter we are living at an important turning-point of evolution.
This turning point shows itself in those yearning to find Christ once more as we move upward once more towards the spiritual world, but bringing our knowledge of the material world we fought so hard to acquire since the fifteenth century.
In Lecture Six, Steiner spends a lot of time talking about the prince of the Earth (Ahriman) and the prince of the Sun (Christ) which was how these two great spirits were known by initiates in the Mystery Schools long before the time of Jesus. Undergoing initiation required the pupil to receive a drink which induced forgetfulness. The effect of this drink was to switch the pupil from a hard-brain thinking mode into a soft-brain thinking mode. One can achieve this same effect today by doing the spiritual science exercises outlined by Rudolf Steiner in two books, Knowledge of Higher Worlds and the second part of Occult Science.
[page 59, italics added ] But the forgetting was not the essential point. Negative things are never the essential point. The positive thing achieved was that the pupil's thinking became more mobile and more intense. At the same time it became less clear. It became dreamy because the effect was achieved by influencing the physical organism. The effect of the draught of forgetfulness on the physical organism it can be exactly described was that the brain, if I may put it this way, became more fluid than it is in everyday life. Because the brain was made more fluid, because the pupil began to think more with his cerebral fluid than with the solid parts of the brain, his thoughts became more mobile and more intense.
Steiner clearly states that perception of the spiritual realities (higher worlds) requires one to train oneself to think with his soft-brain, those "holes in the head" ignored by materialistic neurologists which contain the valuable cerebrospinal fluid by which one's thoughts can "become more mobile and more intense" and which one can use to achieve supersensible perception.
These pupils also required the administration of a shock in addition to the drink, a shock which paralyzed them into stillness for a time. The more I read of the ancient procedure for initiation, the more I see elements of the things which Don Juan Matus did to his pupils as Carlos Castaneda as documented in his books(6). In the ancient past, the pupils of these Mystery Schools had their bodies made rigid and their brains "softened" so that the elements of soul and spirit could enter.
[page 61] The rigidity of the muscles was brought about by the effect of the shock. As a result, the element of spirit and soul was not absorbed by the rest of the organism apart from the brain but was freed. So now the spirit and soul element was in the brain because the brain had been softened by the draught of forgetfulness, while the rest of the organism was at the same time prevented from absorbing it. Thus the element of spirit and soul came to be perceived. From two sides came the possibility of perceiving the element of spirit and soul. In ordinary life the human being was incapable of perceiving it because the brain, with which everything else was perceived, was unable to take it in; it could not enter the brain. Neither could it be perceived from the rest of the organism, the will and so on, for the rest of the organism had absorbed it. But now the pupil's brain was softened of course, only for the moment at which knowledge was to enter. So his element of spirit and soul rushed into his brain. Meanwhile, the rest of his body became rigid so that it could not absorb the spirit and soul element. There the pupil stood, with his softened brain on the one side and a rigidified organic system on the other, as though encased in a capsule. There he stood in his spirit and his soul which had been given to him from two sides.
And when the soul and spirit elements entered the pupils' brain they were thenceforth known as Christians, and this during a time before Christ appeared on the Earth in the flesh of Jesus. The best evidence of these pre-Jesus Christians can be found in the writings of the early church fathers such as St. Justin Martyr.
[page 61, 62] The early fathers of the church were certainly aware of this. But today people are not told about it, or it is even denied. But the early church fathers knew that human beings had been made Christians through the Mysteries. There are passages in the writings of the early church fathers which state that Heraclitus and Socrates, though they lived before the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, were Christians, even though they were called atheists in their own time. I have often quoted from such passages in the writings of the early church fathers.
Those today who study ancient documents or use ancient processes are taking dangerous risks because they may be using procedures on themselves which were appropriate during the ancient times for people of that time, but are inappropriate and life-threatening to those of our time.
[page 62] Today, our aspiration is not to withdraw the body but to draw out the spirit, by strengthening and enhancing our forces of spirit and soul. The opposite of what used to take place must happen now; now the spirit must be drawn out. No changes must be allowed to take place in the physical, bodily aspect. Since the fifteenth century the human being has been organized in such a way that changes in the physical body, of the kind that were customary in those of Mystery pupils, would denote a condition of sickness. It would be a pathological condition, which must not be allowed to come about in normal development.
Let us read Steiner's summary of soft-brain thinking in which we move our thinking into the fluid cavities of the brain in order to create more intense and mobile thinking than is possible in the rigid neuronal networks which provide our hard-brain thinking.
[page 66] Yesterday I described how in the ancient Mysteries the bodily nature of man was treated so that it became able to free its soul nature in both directions. I said that the two main aspects of this in the ancient Mysteries were, on the one hand, the draught of forgetfulness, and, on the other hand, the occasioning of states of anxiety, fear, shock. The draught of forgetfulness, I said, wiped from memory everything pertaining to ordinary earthly life. But this negative effect was not the main point. The main point was that during the process of coming to Mystery knowledge the brain was actually made physically softer, as a result of which the spiritual element which is usually held off was no longer held off by the brain but allowed through, so that the pupil became aware of his soul and spirit element and knew that this had been in him even before birth, or rather, even before conception.
Dr. Jeanette Norden, the neuroscientist mentioned earlier in a footnote, by her very specialized training, was taught to think with her hard-brain structures. No wonder she disdains the cavities holding cerebral fluid, calling them mere holes in the brain and therefore of no use.
What about the paralyzing aspect of the Mystery initiation? Again the negation of movement must have some positive effect which is essential. When we are not paralyzed, a mere act of will is enough to cause our arm to lift, or our fingers to tap along a series of keys as I am doing now as I type these words. But if we are paralyzed, we will find the presence of our will sharpened in the absence of any motion being called forth when we will it.
[page 66, 67] The other aspect was the shock which caused the organism to become rigid. When the organism grows rigid it no longer absorbs the soul and spirit element in the way it usually does with regard to its expression in the will. On the one hand the rigid bodily organism withdraws from the element of soul and spirit, and on the other hand the element of soul and spirit becomes perceptible to the pupil. Through the softening of the brain the thought aspect of the soul became perceptible to the pupil of the ancient Mysteries, and through the rigidifying of the rest of the organism the will aspect became perceptible. In this way, initiation gave the pupil a perception, a picture of the element of soul and spirit within him. But this picture was dreamlike in character. For what was it that was freed on the one hand towards the thought aspect, and on the other hand towards the will aspect? It was that part which descends from realms of spirit and soul to unite with the physical, bodily nature of man. Only by taking possession of the body can it become capable of making use of the senses and of the intellect. It needs the body for these things. Without the use of the body these things remain dreamlike, they remain dull, twilit. So by receiving his detached soul and spirit element as a result of the processes described, the pupil received something dreamlike, which, however, also contained a thought element.
If you add thought to dreams, you have added consciousness and that was the essential thing which pupils learned to do through initiation: to experience the spiritual world as each of us do in dreams, but to remain conscious of their experiences. This is the essence of the exercises which Steiner gives us to learn to enter the spiritual world consciously. We must learn to think without our body.
[page 70] We know these exercises from Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and from the second part of Occult Science. Thus will they gradually make their soul and spirit element so independent that it no longer needs the body.
So let us understand one another: When we think in ordinary life today, our element of soul and spirit does participate. Above all it takes in the sense perceptions. But it would be incapable by itself of developing the thoughts which are developed today. So the body comes along and relieves us of the effort of thinking. In ordinary life we think with our body, our body is our thinking apparatus. If we pursue the exercises described in the books mentioned, our soul will be strengthened to such an extent that it would no longer need the body for thinking but would itself be able to think. This is, basically, the first step on the path towards higher knowledge; it is the first step when the soul and spirit element begins to dismiss the body as the organ that does the thinking so far as higher knowledge is concerned. And it cannot be stressed often enough that a person who ascends to higher knowledge that is, to Imagination must remain at his own side with his ordinary good sense, keeping a watch on himself and being his own critic. In other words, he must remain the same person he always is in ordinary life. But out of the first person that second one develops, capable now of thinking without the help of the body, instead of with it.
During birth the soul and spirit dies from the point of view of the spiritual world. Birth and death are mirror images of each other as regards the body versus the soul and spirit. When one dies the other is born and vice versa. Once one fully grasps the significance of this fact of human existence, one's mourning of a so-called lost one becomes a recognition of an important passage for their soul and spirit which are born once more from the perspective of the spiritual world.
[page 72] When a human being descends from the world of spirit and soul to physical incarnation, his element of soul and spirit, in a way, dies from the point of view of the soul and spirit world. When a human being is conceived and prepares to be born he dies as regards the spiritual world. And when he dies here in the physical world and goes through the portal of death he is born in the spiritual world. These concepts are relative. We die in respect of the spiritual world when we are born. And when we die in respect of the physical world we are born in the spirit. Death in the physical world signifies spiritual birth, birth in the physical world signifies spiritual death.
The invisible man of science fiction, rightly understood, would have to be blind. If his retina is invisible to the passage of light then light would pass undeterred by the retina and therefore such a man could not see anything no trapped light would reach his brain. Similarly, the brain traps the spirit and soul during human gestation as the retina traps light during sight. This explains why the fetus is nearly all brain: it is shaped like a satellite dish antenna which is designed to capture arriving signals, only the brain of the embryo captures the arriving soul and spirit of the human being to be. These essential elements of the human being arrive and are captured first in the brain, but gradually fill the remainder of the body as it grows out.
[page 72] The element of spirit and soul descends from the spirit and soul world. It arrives, you might say, in a cul-de-sac; it can go no further and is forced to equip itself with physical matter . But the physical matter actually only works in the way I have described from the brain, but not from the rest of the organism. As regards the rest of the organism the spirit and soul element does indeed travel onwards, having recovered through not being allowed to pass by the brain, through finding resistance and support in the brain. It is able, after all, to come to meet itself throughout the rest of the organism, especially the system of limbs and metabolism.
[page 73, 74] As we grow up from childhood our spirit and soul element keeps making an appearance. At the moment of conception, and all through the embryonic stage in the mother's womb, the element of spirit and soul descending from the spiritual world is absorbed into matter. But because it finds a support it recovers again. Because of the shape of the embryo, at first that of the head, the element of spirit and soul finds a support. Then the rest of the organism begins to grow, and once again the element of spirit and soul oozes through [the rest of the body].
Steiner reveals to us that our overweening concern about life after death in our time reflects our lack of concern over what we brought with us from our previous lifetimes. This lack of concern is due to our inability in modern times to directly perceive our previous lifetimes as the ancients were able to. This leads directly to a modern day lack of understanding of karma and destiny.
[page 92] Human beings used to have a strong feeling of what they had been before they descended into earthly life. This was strongly developed in primeval times. But hope of a life after death was less strongly developed in primeval times. This was something that was taken for granted. Today we are chiefly interested in what we might experience after we die. In primeval times, thousands of years ago, people were more concerned about their life prior to descending to the earth.
In the pre-Mystery of Golgotha times, there were two streams of human evolution with their distinctive modes of operation. One was among the ancient Greeks and the other among the peoples of the Old Testament. The Greeks had an understanding of destiny and a direct knowledge of nature as perception rather than our present descriptive knowledge of the external effects of nature.
[page 93] The ancient Greeks felt that they stood in life permeated with destiny, just as natural things stand permeated with the laws of nature. Destiny descended on human beings within this Greek outlook like a force of nature. This feeling was characteristic of all heathen cultures, but it was particularly marked among the Greeks. The heathen world saw spirit in all of nature. There was no specific knowledge of nature in the sense of the natural science we have today, but there was an all-embracing knowledge of nature. Where people saw nature, they spoke of the spirit. This was a science of nature which was, at the same time, a science of the spirit. The heathen peoples were less interested in the inner being of man. They looked on man from the outside as a being of nature. They could do this because they saw all the other natural things as being filled with a soul element too. They did not think of trees, plants, or clouds as soulless objects. So they could look at human beings from outside in a similar way and yet not think of them as being soulless. Filling all nature with soul in this way, the ancient heathen was able to regard human beings as natural creatures.
On the other hand, the second stream of human evolution among the peoples of the Old Testament knew nothing of nature as we or the ancient Greeks did. Instead they followed an invisible god who ruled the moral order of the world, and to emphasize the god's invisible nature, no images were allowed to be made and even the one name of this god was not allowed to spoken or written. Even today, in a curious atavism, some descendants of these people will omit the letter o to spell God: G-d.
[page 93] The Old Testament knew only a moral world order, and Jahve is the ruler of this moral world order; only what Jahve wills takes place. So in the world of the Old Testament the view arose as a matter of course that one must not make images of the soul and spirit element. The heathen world could never have come to such a view, for it saw images of the spirit in every tree and every plant. In the world of the Old Testament no images were seen, for everywhere the invisible, imageless spirit ruled.
In an amazing insight, Steiner sees that the image-less form of a worship in the Old Testament peoples corresponds to a science in which the material world is presumed to be spirit-less. Rightly understood, science as we know it today, with all its technological breakthroughs and insights, is atavistic when it takes a hard line against the presence of spirit in the material world. Said another way, Old Testament people would likely be right at home with our materialistic sciences today because our sciences have yet to become Christian.
[page 93, 94] In many ways modern materialistic science contains an echo of the Old Testament, of the imageless Old Testament. Materialistic science strives for a clear distinction between the material element in which no trace of spirit is left, and the spiritual element which is supposed to live in the moral sphere only, and of which no image may be made, or which we may not be allowed to see in the earthly realm.
This particular characteristic which is prevalent in today's materialistic form of science is, actually, an Old Testament impulse which has come over to our time. Science has not yet become Christian. The science of materialism is fundamentally an Old Testament science. One of the main tasks as civilization progresses will be to overcome both streams and resolve them in a higher synthesis. We must understand that both the heathen stream and the Jewish stream are one-sided and that, in the way they still exercise an influence today, they need to be overcome.
Not only is our science today an atavism, also much of our art. Here we are two thousand year after Christ Jesus, and we have not yet fully assimilated what it means to be a Christian. As a crude saying would put it, "We are talking the talk, but not walking the walk."
[page 94] Science will have to raise itself up to the spirit. Art, which contains much that is heathen, has made various attempts to become Christian but most of these attempts have fallen into luciferic and heathen ways. Art will have to lead to a Christian element. What we have today is but an echo of the heathen and the Old Testament elements. Our consciousness is not yet fully Christian.
In many of his works, Steiner talks about elemental spirits which pervade our existence, such as dwarves, undines, sylphs, and salamanders. One might ask, "If these exist, why do I not see them?" These elementals have disappeared from our view because we live only in our thoughts, up until now. Exactly at the time humankind moved into living only in their dead, abstract thoughts, their view of the elementals and other spiritual beings, as well as one previous lifetimes, faded away from human view. Now science, with its thought-based epistemology, claims that these do not exist and, in fact, never existed. The former claim "do not exist" is an understandable deduction from scientific principles (since scientists with their hard-brain thinking cannot perceive these spirits), but the latter claim "never existed" violates all principles of logical thinking. To say that these never existed is unsupportable by any evidence and is in fact the very kind of illusory statement that science itself so derides when someone it disagrees with makes a spurious and unsupportable claim. That science gets so upset when an unsupportable claim is made is an indication of the process of projection at work. The thing we most hate and deride in others is what we are doing ourselves, out of our awareness!
In our head and thinking system we bear the living memory of our former life on Earth, whereas in our breast and rhythmic system we bear the memory of our life between death and rebirth in this lifetime, and in our limbs and metabolism, we bear our present life on Earth. (Paraphrased from pages 97 to 99) As a living human being today you bump into thoughts in your brain from your previous lifetime as you might clothes on a wall as you move along a darkened room.
[page 97] In our head we bear the living memory of our former earthly life. And this is what makes us feel ourselves to be an ego, a living ego, for this living ego does not exist within us. Within us are only dead thoughts. But these dead thoughts live in a house which can only be understood pictorially; it is an image arising out of the metamorphosis of our organism of limbs and metabolism from our former earthly life.
[page 97, 98] The more living element that comes over from the life of spirit and soul, when we descend into a new earthly life, takes up its dwelling from the start not in our head, but in our rhythmical organism. Everything that surrounded us between death and this new birth and now plays into life all this dwells in our rhythmical organism. In our head all we have is an image out of our former earthly life, filled with dead thoughts. In our rhythmical, breast organism lives something much more alive. Here there is an echo of everything our soul experienced while it was moving about freely in the world of spirit and soul between death and this new birth. In our breathing and in our blood circulation something vibrates forces that belong to the time between death and birth.
[page 99] What you experience in your breast organism is the memory of your life between death and a new birth. And what you experience in your limbs and metabolism this belongs to your present life on earth. You only experience your ego in your thoughts because your organism of limbs and metabolism works up into your thoughts. But it is a deceptive experience. For your ego is not, in fact, contained in your thoughts. It is as little in your thoughts as you are actually behind the mirror when you see yourself reflected in it. Your ego is not in your thought life at all. Because your thought life shapes itself in accordance with your head, the memory of your former earthly life is in your thought life. In your head you have the human being your were in your former life. In your breast you have the human being who lived between death and this new birth. And in your organism of limbs and metabolism, especially in the tips of your fingers and toes, you have the human being now living on the earth. Only because you also experience your fingers and toes in your brain do your thoughts give you an awareness of this ego in your earthly life.
Philo of Alexandria, Steiner tells us, at the time when Christ Jesus walked the Earth, interpreted all of the Old Testament as allegories, useful stories for humankind, but nothing more. Philo's method of dead thoughts through abstract thinking infuses all scientific thinking yet today. This kind of dead thinking made the riddle of life and death even more enigmatic for scientists. Lucky for us the answer to this riddle is Christ Jesus who passed through the Mystery of Golgotha bearing the divine being within Him. He provides us today a living answer which snuffs out any dead-thinking answers.
[page 100] The Mystery of Golgotha is the all-embracing living protest against this [dead thinking]. Thoughts can never solve the riddle of the universe because the solution of this riddle is something living. The human being in all his wholeness is the solution to the riddle of the universe. Sun, stars, clouds, rivers, mountains, and all the creatures of the different kingdoms of nature, are external manifestations which pose an immense question. There stands the human being and, in the wholeness of his being, he is the answer.
In the Gospels we read of a lot of humans who did not recognize Christ when He walked the Earth, but the demons surely recognized Him instantly and they rebelled against him. The demons knew their rule was nearing an end, but they found hope in the heathen consciousness of some humans who sought them out in the old way, even while Christianity was providing a new way of finding spirituality in human life. Even Goethe missed the point during his struggles to understand human life in his magnificent opus, Faust. Goethe failed to come to grips with the Mystery of Golgotha, something which Steiner, with all his esteem for Goethe, must admit that the great dramatist lacked.
[page 110] This is not intended to belittle the Faust drama. But it has to be said that Goethe, who wrestled in the deepest sense of the word to depict how the spiritual world should be found in earthly life, did not, in fact, succeed in discovering a way of depicting this finding of spirituality in earthly life. To do so, he would have had to come to a full comprehension of the meaning of the Mystery of Golgotha. He would have had to understand how the Christ-being came from the expanses of the cosmos and descended into the human being, Jesus of Nazareth, and how he united himself with the earth, so that ever since then, when seeking the spirit which ebbs and flows in the stormy deeds of man, one ought to find the Christ-impulse in earthly life.
In Lectures Eleven through Fourteen, Steiner raises issues about living thinking and dead thinking, namely, how people moved from having a direct knowledge of living reality to having only intellectual descriptions of that living reality, and how few people even noticed the transition as it took place. When Steiner discusses Faust in the next passage, I am reminded of my own path to knowledge. I began as an intellectual thinker who held my feelings and others' feelings to be illusions instead of a living reality. It was only through following Faust's path to knowledge, that I came eventually to understand the error of my ways. The more fields I studied, and deeper I looked, the more I felt dissatisfied with what I discovered and the more mysterious living reality became for me. I could explain reality, but I could not understand it in any deeply satisfying way.
[page 126] As you know, Faust turns away from this intellectualism and, in his own way, towards the practice of magic. Let us be clear about what is meant in this case. What he has gone through by way of 'Philosophy and Jurisprudence, Medicine and even, alas, Theology,' is what anyone can go through by studying the intellectualized sciences. It leaves a feeling of dissatisfaction. It leaves behind this feeling of dissatisfaction because anything abstract and abstraction is the language of these sciences makes demands only on a part of the human being, the head part, while all the rest is left out of account.
The mood or spirit of Faust, according to Steiner, can be found in literature, superbly portrayed in the person of the great Dane, Hamlet, of Shakespeare's play. Hamlet has deeply imbibed the intellectualism of Wittenberg, where Professor Faust might have taught.
[page 129] Hamlet can indeed be seen as a genuine pupil of Faust. It is not a question of the historical aspect of Faust as depicted by Goethe. The whole action of the drama shows that although the cultural attitudes are those of the eighteenth century, nevertheless Goethe's endeavour was to place Faust in an earlier age. But from a certain point of view it is definitely possible to say: Hamlet, who has studied at Wittenberg and has brought home with him a certain mood of spirit Hamlet as depicted by Shakespeare, can be seen in the context of world spiritual history as a pupil of Faust. It may even be true to say that Hamlet is a far more genuine pupil of Faust than are the students depicted in Goethe's drama.
Shakespeare portrayed in both Macbeth and Hamlet the appearance of ghost images to his characters. Were these real or not, objective or subjective? Certainly Hamlet considered the ghost of his father to be an objective being and acted on the ghost's exhortations to him.
[page 130] The question as to whether one is subjective and the other objective becomes irrelevant as soon as we recognize the objectivity of the inner world of man and the subjectivity of the external world. In Hamlet and also, say, in Macbeth, Shakespeare maintains a living suspension between the two. So we see that Shakespeare's dramas are drawn from the transition between the fourth and fifth post-Atlantean periods.
Hamlet is the riddle-maker of Shakespeare's time he asks the important questions of an age tethered between the two cultural periods when everything objective in the spiritual world will be moving into the subjective by the new materialism which is springing up. "To be or not to be, that is the question" for the spiritual world, the riddle laid down by Hamlet. Will the spiritual world continue to exist as an objective reality or will it fall into the diffuse non-reality of a subjective existence in the minds of humans from now on? "To die . . to sleep, perchance to dream" elaborates the riddle. Is dying a form of sleeping? Is it what we do during our dreaming? Do we directly experience the spiritual world which may become the only semblance of the spiritual world's reality remaining in centuries to come?
[page 132] So, spanning the centuries and yet connected in spirit, we see that Shakespeare depicts the student and Goethe the professor. Goethe depicted the professor simply because a few more centuries had passed and it was therefore necessary in his time to go further back to the source of what it was all about. Something lived in the consciousness of human beings, something that made the outstanding spirits say: I must bring to expression this state of transition that exists in human evolution.
In Shakespeare, Lessing, and Goethe we find an ambivalence about the objective nature of the spiritual world, but within a century of Shakespeare came a French author who had no such ambivalence, Voltaire. It was he who championed the cause of intellectualism and frigidly submerged the spiritual world into the subjective pallor of dead thoughts.
[page 134] So it is extremely interesting to find that Shakespeare has been so deeply grasped by Lessing and by Goethe and that they really followed on from Shakespeare in seeking what they wanted to find through their mood of spiritual revolt. Yet where intellectualism has become particularly deeply entrenched, for instance in Voltaire, it mounts a most virulent attack on Shakespeare. We know that Voltaire called Shakespeare a wild drunkard. All these things have to be taken into account.
Remember when we discussed soft-brain and hard-brain thinking earlier in this review? The soft-brain thinking is the direct experience of the spiritual realities which flows into the "holes in the brain", the cavities which contain the cerebrospinal fluids. It is in these fluid-filled cavities that the spiritual world enters our brain and from which we think in new ways far beyond the ability of our hard-wired, neuron-based hard brain. In Goethe, we find soft-brain thinking and in Voltaire we find hard-brain thinking. Hard-brain thinkers utilize the neuron-based brain matter and create cold, abstract thoughts and dead concepts. Soft-brain or hard-brain thinking Which is better? Rightly understood, we need both soft-brain thinking and hard-brain thinking in our time. Rudolf Steiner is the best example I know of someone who combines soft-brain thinking and hard-brain thinking in his life and work.
As I examine my "limitation eraser" which I created years ago(7), I find that I had created a hard-brain tool which when applied has beneficial soft-brain effects. What is the limitation eraser? It is the adding of the curious phrase ", up until now" to end of a sentence expressing a limitation. If you apply it correctly by pausing at the comma and taking a deep breath before saying "up until now" right before the period of the sentence, amazing results can be achieved. Namely this: the limitation which had you completely in its thrall, lets you go. You sense a relief and release that will allow all sorts of creative and helpful thoughts to arise in you immediately or over time. Apply the limitation eraser and set yourself free from your limitations. Allow yourself to use your limitations as launching pads into new ideas and deeds. Any hard-brain thinker will scoff at such a plan of action and likely will not even attempt it, having decided in advance that his time would be wasted on such a folly. In the same amount of time he could have applied the limitation eraser by saying, "I'm sure my time would be wasted on such a folly, up until now." By doing so, he would have likely felt a distinct change in his feeling state about the efficacy of the limitation eraser and proceeded from there to applying it in other more important areas of his life.
How might the limitation eraser help you in your life? I don't know, but that very question, if held by you as an unanswered question(8), will lead you to discover new and interesting aspects of your life, especially if you are a hard-head, hard-brain thinker, up until now. Clearly holding an unanswered question is another soft-brain technique which can benefit a hard-brain thinker in the modern world.
These tools describe how to improve one's soul mood, something that few hard-brain thinkers know how to do. Mostly hard-brain thinkers seem intent on destroying any beneficial soul-mood the moment one creeps up, as if such a mood were an obstacle to getting their real work done, up until now.
[page 138] What will become of the human being when he has to find inner satisfaction of soul from intellectual life alone, living exclusively in abstract thoughts? For obviously the soul's mood as a whole must arise from the impression made on it because it is forced to contemplate, with the help of abstract thoughts alone, all that is most dear to it, and all that is most important for it.
How could a hard-brain thinker ever decipher any useful meaning or even make sense of these words of Goethe's in Faust?[page 144]
The lofty might
Of Science, still
From all men deeply hidden!
Who takes no thought,
To him 'tis brought,
'Tis given unsought, unbidden!
Goethe says that by not thinking, we can achieve the might of science. Clearly he is referring to avoiding hard-brain thinking, so that the soft-brain might receive the impulses of the spiritual world which would bring us not science, but the "might of science." What kinds of things can we do which involve "not thinking"? Meditation is one of those things. Anyone who does zazen knows how to sit without hard-brain thinking. In his book The Work of the Angels in Man's Astral Body, Steiner reveals that angels need to work on the astral body of humans while one is conscious. Unless we consciously spend time "not thinking", we will receive what we should receive consciously, but it will arrive out of our consciousness with attendant bad effects.
The hard-brain Professor of Neurology views soft-brain thinking as Nothing because she is convinced that no thinking can occur in mere "holes in the brain." And yet, we can say to her in the words of Faust, "In this, thy Nothing, may I find my All." (Page 148) These words appear in Faust, Part Two as Steiner describes it below:
[page 148] So now Goethe leads us in sublime fashion through the experiences depicted in Part Two. We see how the strong inner being of man asserts itself: "In this, thy Nothing, may I find my All!" We need only think of words such as these with which a strong and healthy human nature confronts the one who corrupts.
One who corrupts seems to refer to the hard-brain thinking scientist who seems to offer us everything, but in essence offers us nothing but dry, abstract, dead concepts devoid of all life. It is not thinking, per se, that Steiner is suggesting we avoid, but a skewed hard-brain thinking which locks forever out of our reach the spiritual realities we can achieve by soft-brain thinking which opens us to receiving flowing Imagination from the spiritual world.
[page 150] We cannot simply decide to stop thinking, for thinking is a power which came with the fifth post-Atlantean period, and it is a power which must be practised. But it must be developed in a direction which was actually begun by Goethe in his fairy-tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. It must be practised in such a way that it leads to Imagination. We must understand that the power of the intellect chases away the spirit, but if the power of the intellect itself can be developed to become the faculty of Imagination, then we can approach the spirit once more. This is what we can learn by considering in a living way what has taken place in the field we have been discussing.
We must stop asking hard-brains questions because they come solely from the intellect and the spiritual flees from the intellect. Parzival makes that clear to us. Here is Steiner's description of the story.
[page 156] . . . this comes towards us in Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival. You all know the story. You know how crucial it was for the whole of Parzival's development that he first of all received instruction from a kind of teacher as to how he was to go through the world without asking too many questions. As a representative of that older world order which still saw human beings as having direct intercourse with the spiritual world, Gurnemanz says to Parzival: Do not ask questions, for questioning comes from the intellect, and the spiritual world flees from the intellect; if you want to approach the spiritual world you must not ask questions.
But we have progressed since the time of the Parzival story and yet most people are still asking intellectual or hard-brain questions and receiving only dead answers. There are indeed questions to be formulated in our time and these must be held in abeyance in our consciousness as unanswered soft-brain questions, in order for us to receive living answers. An unanswered questions gestates in the brain as a fetus does in the womb, and exactly as a fetus acts as a dish satellite receiver for the soul/spirit, an unanswered question receives its answer in due course from the spiritual world. Here's how Steiner words it:
[page 157] In those times it was right not to ask questions, for that would have driven away the spirits! But in the age of the intellect the spiritual world has to be rediscovered through the intellect and not by damping down the processes of thought. The opposite must now come into play; questions must be asked. As early as Parzival we find a portrayal of the great change which brings it about in the fifth post-Atlantean period that the longing for the spiritual world now has to be born out of the human being in the form of questions to be formulated.
When we formulate our questions, we do best not to answer them right away, but to hold them as unanswered until the answer arrives in its own good time.
This next passage, Steiner discusses the process one must go through in reading truly innovative books such as his Occult Science. I read that book, and noted a similar process that I went through when reading other innovative classics such as Ludwig Mises's Human Action and Alfred Korzybski's Science and Sanity I could only read a handful of pages by day and then would have to absorb what I had read overnight before continuing on the next set of pages. Reading these books, like reading Occult Science require some active reading on my part to grasp the meanings in the books.
[page 172] Without developing any great inner activity it is possible to absorb everything written today in a book about botany or zoology. But it is not possible to absorb what I have described, for instance, in my book Occult Science, without inner energy and activity such as that needed also for ordinary healthy common sense. Everything in this book can be understood, and those who maintain that it is incomprehensible are simply unwilling to think actively; they want to absorb it as passively as they absorb a film in the cinema. In the cinema there is certainly no need to think very much, and it is in this manner that people today want to absorb everything.
With the advent of television, this manner of absorbing without thinking has become even more prevalent in our time than a hundred years ago in Steiners time. The three important processes of receiving information from the spiritual world for humans are Imagination, Inspiration, and Intuition. A long course or series of lectures could be given on these three processes, and how to achieve them, but in a short few paragraphs Steiner explains why these they are important for all humans in our time.
[page 176] We must pay attention to the fact that human beings can find in Anthroposophy a meaningful content for their lives if they turn with their healthy common sense to what can be won through Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition. By opening themselves to what can be discovered, for example, through Imagination, they can recapture that inner vitality which will make them receptive to medicines. Or, it may be that they will also become free personalities who are not prone to succumb to all sorts of public suggestions.
By entering in a living way into the truths revealed by Inspiration, they can gain a sure sense for what is true or false. And they can become skilful in putting this sure sense into practice in the social sphere. For instance, how few people today are able to listen properly! They are incapable of listening, for they react immediately with their own opinion. This capacity to listen to other human beings can be developed most beautifully by entering in a living way into the truths given by Inspiration.
And by entering in a living way into the truths given by Intuition, human beings can develop to a high degree something else which they need in their lives: a certain capacity to let go of their own selves, a kind of selflessness. Entering in a living way into the truths given by Imagination, Inspiration and Intuition, this gives human beings a meaningful content for their lives.
Can't we just read a book to get this meaningful content, some might ask. The answer is simply, No. It requires work. Work to assimilate the content, and work to develop the processes which accompany the content. With content only, one can be smart in knowledge, but, lacking the processes, dumb in deed. It requires work to develop a living appreciation of the spiritual world and to become a full human being. This is the aim of Steiner's anthroposophy and it is one worthy of any human being. Especially for one who wishes to do more than just shout, Here! during one's time on Earth.
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Footnote 2. Quote is from Dr. Jeanette Norden, neuroscientist, Professor Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University during her lectures, "Understanding the Brain" published by The Teaching Co.Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
Footnote 3. Galambos's definition of freedom is a sharply defined concept which is particularly satisfying to Western thought, and will become more so as it is widely comprehended. See Sic Itur Ad Astra.Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
Footnote 4. One might wonder about the word "philosophy" does it deserve the suffix "sophy" today? Steiner says it clearly, "Philosophy was retained but given an abstract nature which in reality ought to be called philology, had this term not already been taken to denote something even more atrocious than anything one might like to include in philosophy." (Page 27)Return to text directly before Footnote 4.
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Footnote 8. Learn more about the power of an unanswered question here: http://www.doyletics.com/mrules.htm#mrn25
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