Freedom - Immortality - Social Life
II. Anthroposophy Does not Disturb Any Religious Confession
19 October 1917, Basel
If religious feeling and experience wanted to understand its task properly towards the requirements of modern time and faced that with full understanding what anthroposophy intends, the religious feeling and confessing would consider anthroposophy as a welcome confederate just today. However, one does not always make it his business in the present to get to know the properties of those things about which one believes to judge competently. This is true to the greatest extent in particular compared with anthroposophy. One judges what one faces while one labels it from without, often sketches a caricature of that what it concerns in reality. Then one does not judge this reality but the self-made picture, the self-made caricature.
If one delved on anthroposophy, if one envisaged its task towards the riddles and problems of our time, one would become attentive above all to the fact that anthroposophy differs from all other opinions and views that arise about world and human being et cetera, because it is deeply penetrated by the idea of development in the most comprehensive sense.
Human opinions and worldviews feel contented only if they can say to themselves, in certain sense and within certain limits at least, I have thoughts that are true; they are valid in themselves; science, religion, or I have found them; but they are valid in themselves.
That does not apply to anthroposophy. Anthroposophy knows that the thoughts have to come from the spirit of time in every epoch. The spirit of humanity is continually developing. That is why that what appears as opinion in the world in an age must have another form than in another age. While anthroposophy appears to the world today, it knows that after centuries that what it says today it has to say in quite different form for quite different human needs and interests that it cannot aim at “absolute truths” but that it is in living development.
From such conditions a certain attitude results. On it the judgement depends, which anthroposophy must have about other spiritual attempts and currents; its relationship to other spiritual currents, other opinions, other views depends on it. Above all one has to take into consideration that anthroposophy did not originate in such a way as many people mean, and that it is not able to position itself in the network of contemporary opinions and views as one thinks frequently. Since one thinks if one gets to know anything about anthroposophy cursorily, while one has heard a talk about it once or has read a few pages of any book about it, or maybe not even this, but has heard from anybody who knows only very dubiously what anthroposophy intends; one thinks that anthroposophy is a religious confession as other religious confessions are.
In the course of time, one has just developed the sensation: developing ideas about the world is a religious view beside others. Hence, one thinks that anthroposophy is also such a sect, as many sects exist in the world.
I have to stress on the other hand first, just this is distinctive of anthroposophy that it did not appear anyhow in the world beside or in contrast to any faith. It did not appear because of this or that creed on which it has to take a stand, but because the scientific development made it necessary which has a formative influence on the views of the present. Anthroposophy wants to extend and to perfect what natural sciences have brought. One has to consider this starting point. If one gets to know the scientific achievements that go over in the public consciousness and work on its worldview, one has to say, natural sciences have worked and will work their way out even more in the course of time as interpreter of the outer sense-perceptible existence. The laws and methods that they develop are suitable in the most eminent sense to understand the outer existence, but unsuitable if one does not transform them in order to grasp the spiritual. If one wants to grasp the spiritual just with the same scientific severity as one grasps the natural, one has to work into the spiritual world as I have shown it yesterday from the way of thinking and attitude of natural sciences.
There, however, big difficulties tower up for some people. One may say: just by the brilliant progress of natural sciences by which one has also looked into the spiritual border areas it has happened that one has developed a worldview in which, actually, the spirit has no place. This must be like that. Just as the scientific methods are suitable for the natural existence, they must be in such a way that they exclude the spirit from their research fields. If one takes the human being himself into account, one has to say, anatomy, physiology, and biology can study the bodily existence of the human being only if they show that with their methods, with their way of research the spirit is excluded as it were.
However, if one gets involved how natural sciences go forward, then one can continue natural sciences in such a way as I have characterised this yesterday. One finds his way with certain methods that the human soul applies to itself just from the natural existence to the spiritual world. The spiritual world becomes such a reality to the spiritual senses, as the mineral realm and other realms of nature are real to the outer senses. One works the way up to the spiritual.
A difficulty arises there for many people. They say if one speaks of the relationship of natural sciences to anthroposophy in such a way, yes, he is right maybe completely if he speaks about natural sciences; one cannot grasp the spirit with the scientific methods, one cannot know anything of the spirit; there are just borders, there are areas beyond natural sciences about which we can know nothing.
However, just from the yesterday's talk it may have arisen that anthroposophy is not of this opinion. The opposite is the experience of anthroposophy: that one can really penetrate into the spirit, into this unknown land with certain spiritual methods. It is hard for some people to concede that one can still get to know something of an area if one gets involved in certain ideas and research results.
It is much more comfortable to say, this is an area about which all human beings know nothing — because they themselves know nothing about it. However, this is no proof that one can know nothing of it, although one often concludes this. Hence, it concerns just if anthroposophy argues that one can enter as a human being into the spiritual world — using those methods to which I have yesterday pointed — in which in truth the human being lives with his soul. In this spiritual world, he experiences immortality and freedom, the real impulses of his supersensible existence.
Because during the last centuries and up to now natural sciences follow the transient, just something had to face them that appreciates the same scientificity in the spiritual area. In former times, natural sciences did not yet face the religious confessions that referred the human beings to the spiritual world. Hence, a special spiritual science was not yet necessary. Such natural sciences did not yet exist which could dupe the human beings into regarding the outer sense-perceptible reality as the only one. Only in the time when such a science and with it such a belief could appear, a spiritual science had to come.
This is in the course of development. That is why one can understand the emergence of anthroposophy only properly if one understands its arising from natural sciences. If natural sciences produced a kind of confession only of their own accord in the human beings, they would gradually entice them because of their strictly scientific methods and completely dissuade them from the view that one can penetrate by knowledge into the spiritual world. They would bring along that the human beings believe to the greatest extent: well, one can know everything about the sense-perceptible world; anything else that is beyond the sense-perceptible world is subject to faith that can never lead to any certainty.
Here is the point that is hard to understand for the contemporaries at first because it requires a major effort to subject the soul to those experiences by which it attains spiritual senses to itself beside the physical senses to penetrate into the real spiritual world. It will still last long, until the prejudices disappear which prevail in this respect, until an sufficiently big number of human beings realise that one can really penetrate into the spiritual world as scientifically as into nature.
So that spiritual science can gradually settle down in our cultural life, it is necessary that people unite who intend and feel a need to maintain it. From that desire everything has also originated that comes into being in the Dornach building and its surroundings. However, the union of single persons leads straight away to the wrong opinion: well, there one deals with a sect, there the persons consort who want to support any new faith among themselves. However, associating in this area has another sense than associating in sects. Associating in the anthroposophic area has the sense that anthroposophy cannot be attained by reading a single talk, but that anthroposophy is something on which someone who wants to know it properly has to work gradually.
This takes place also in the schools, in the universities; and if one wants to call an audience in the university a “sect,” one may call an association of those who practise anthroposophy a “sect,” otherwise not. If to certain talks, to certain events only some persons can come who have absorbed other things already in themselves, this seems quite natural; since with any other knowledge it is that way. Anthroposophy wants just to consider the modern institutions. Nothing mysterious forms the basis if human beings come together and carry out events, but only that which they have searched as preparation as you prepare yourself for university lectures, before you can visit them because, otherwise, the visit is useless. Any other view about such a coming together does not apply because it does not get to the heart of the matter.
However, one has to say, an association in this area must have another character in certain respect than an association of students at a college, for example. The cognitions that a college provides refer mostly to the outer life, with the exception of quite small “enclaves;” they refer by the influence of natural sciences to the intellect based on the sensory observation. However, this is directed more to the mere thinking, to a part of the human being, to the head. By no means has anthroposophy opposed the intellectual understanding! — People who consider themselves as capable sometimes judge anthroposophy just with their prejudices and regard anthroposophy as amateurish. However, if these people engaged in it, they would realise that the thinking and the logic that one uses in the outer science must also exist in anthroposophy, but a much subtler, higher logic is necessary to understand its advanced parts really. However, what anthroposophy reveals of the spiritual world because of its research seizes not only the head, not only the thinking, but it seizes the whole human being with his whole soul: feeling, thinking, and willing. However, the human being thereby gets a more intimate relationship to that what is delivered to him as knowledge than possibly the mere university study does.
I would now like to go back — in order to make understood myself completely in this regard — to the fact that anthroposophy is important for the human development as a supplement of natural sciences that it appears in the sense of the spirit of our time that, however, the cognitions that anthroposophy intends as they corresponded to the needs and interests of former times were always there. Nevertheless, one had other views about the development of the suitable knowledge. One has to talk about mysteries, even of secret societies if one looks for the analogous things of former times that correspond to anthroposophy. One performed that in the mysteries in the course of the human development which today anthroposophy does in another form, which corresponds to the present. Those who did such researches in former times initiated procedures by which the higher knowledge of the spiritual world approached the human beings. They took the view that they had to cut themselves off just in a circle of human beings who were very well prepared for such activities. With them one had made sure that they really had that attitude and character which is necessary to receive something that seizes the whole human being and his whole soul. Hence, one has strictly kept secret the knowledge that one cultivated in such mysteries, in such secret societies.
One can realise even today that good reasons existed to protect this higher knowledge against profanation by the public. There were good reasons. More in view of the today's development of spiritual science I would like to indicate something of these reasons.
If you get from the sense-perceptible world to the spiritual one, as I have described it yesterday, you have to cross a certain border area. One may very well use a term that many people used who understood something of such things: one has to cross the threshold of the spiritual world. This expression means something. It is not an only pictorial term. It means something, as far as the science of the spiritual — if it really approaches the human being and the human being combines with it — brings images, ideas and views with it which are completely different from the images, ideas, and views which one has in the outer sensory world. One can already say: someone who is habitually eager to accept the truth of the outer sensory world only will discover that truths of the spiritual world sound paradoxical at first; they are so different from the truths of the sensory world that they could seem maybe crazy, fantastic. This comes from the fact that one completely goes astray if one believes, the spiritual world which forms the basis of our sensory one is only a kind of continuation of this sensory world; it only seems somewhat more nebulous, somewhat subtler and thinner than the sensory world. No, you have already to familiarise yourself with the fact that you must experience something new, incredible, paradox as truth if you want to engage in the real spiritual world.
Hence, this engagement in the real spiritual world is not only something astonishing, but it often evokes feelings of fright in the human being, in particular if he stands at the threshold of the spiritual world. They are like fear, like shyness that always exists if the human being if he enters into an unknown area. Since for someone who has done his experiences only in the sensory world the spiritual world is an unknown area. Hence, it happens that at the threshold of the spiritual world two things may flow into each other: on one side that is which you have still to acknowledge as truth concerning the sensory world that you have to acknowledge as consecutive facts, as lawful course of facts. Then, however, something confronts us from the other side of the world, from the spiritual side, something that is subject to other laws, that proceeds quite different that makes a paradoxical impression. This can intertwine at first. However, thereby the thinking comes into a situation, which puts high claims to the human mind, to a healthy power of judgement of the whole state of all circumstances. One must be well prepared if one wants to distinguish illusion from spiritual reality within the border area.
Someone who studies the books really which I have mentioned yesterday will realise that the given method to penetrate into the spiritual world is designed in such a way that the human being does not impair the health of his senses, of his mind, and reason, on the contrary it furthers it. Any intrusion in the spiritual world that is managed mystically or with hypnosis is the opposite of that what a healthy spiritual research intends.
However, this does not prevent that malevolent people come repeatedly and state that the spiritual-scientific method hypnotises the human beings, persuade them of all kinds of things. Nothing can contribute so decidedly to save the human being from any hypnotic influence and suggestion as the true spiritual-scientific methods do which make the human being free. One works in the spiritual-scientific method with the following principle: I have pointed in my book The Riddle of Man to the fact that one can say: as well as the human being awakes from sleep where he has only a quite vague consciousness; he can wake from the usual consciousness to the spiritual beholding. It is like an awakening in a spiritual world what you attain with the spiritual-scientific method. However, as the usual day life can be never healthy unless one makes preparations so that the sleep is healthy, the entry into the spiritual world cannot be healthy unless one can develop a healthy everyday life based on reality, on worldly wisdom unless one has disciplined himself, so that one is a human being who copes with reality.
The awakening to the beholding can occur only from a healthy day life. Spiritual science has to expel all preparations in the usual life by which the human being becomes estranged to this life may it be by prejudices, by wrong asceticism, or by wrong turning away from life. Just the proper existence in the practical life is the best preparation to enter into the spiritual world.
However, if one has acquired a healthy sense for the outer reality if one has developed, — to put it another way — a healthy mind and power of judgement, you can distinguish illusion and reality in the border areas of the sensory and spiritual worlds, where the threshold is between both worlds. Hence, one has himself strictly convinced in former times whether the human beings who associated with the mysteries were really prepared to stand the stronger fight that the common sense had to lead off in the border area. Since someone who does not have common sense is misled by the apparently paradox phenomena. He soon leaves the whole matter as one drops an ember if one has burnt himself, and he feels disappointed and becomes more and more an opponent of any spiritual pursuit. These ancient societies wanted to be sure of their people.
Such associations have continued their work up to now; there are still ones. Anthroposophy does not belong to them; anthroposophy reckons that today on a much bigger scale than it was the case in former times, everything that approaches the human being must be subject to the public. We hear with a certain right that even the secret diplomacy has to be replaced by a public one. The spirit of time tends to public. However, just with this spirit of time anthroposophy lives. Only in this respect which I have mentioned before — because certain preparations are necessary if one wants to understand something later — only from such conditions something still has the appearance of the old institutions, but it strives to position itself completely in the public. Since anthroposophy can only become an element of the modern cultural life — what has to happen — if anthroposophy positions itself in the public.
However, not only this is a peculiarity of anthroposophy what I have just indicated, but this internal soul experience which enables you to behold in the spiritual world as you look with the physical senses in the physical world. This requires that you can generally behave to concepts, views, and mental pictures somewhat different from you behave toward the outer reality. In this area, natural sciences have also created concepts that are useless as such in spiritual science. They are useless because the spiritual researcher realises the following very soon: a concept, an idea, a mental picture is real, as soon as one approaches the spiritual facts and beings, is nothing but an image, a photo which one gets in the physical world, we say of a tree. If one takes a photo of a tree from one side and a photo from another side, a photo from the third side — these pictures look different. However, they all are of the one and same tree. Only because one takes these photos from different sides one can receive a complete idea of reality. However, one does not like that today. One likes limited concepts. One wants to adhere to them. Spiritual science cannot do this. Spiritual science describes a matter from most different sides; it describes it once from one side and knows that it gives an one-sided picture only; then it describes it from a second side, from a third side, from a third viewpoint.
Indeed, what astonishes even more is the following. If one really wants to become a spiritual scientist, one has to be completely penetrated by the sentence that Goethe formed: between two contrary opinions, the problem is right in the middle. One must know not only — if one wants to know the truth of a spiritual being or a spiritual fact — what militates for it, but also what speaks against it.
The listeners who have frequently heard talks by me know that it is my habit from the spiritual-scientific attitude to not only say what militates for, but also what militates against a matter. In particular, I have the habit of doing this always if I hold talks about more intimate talks on higher fields of anthroposophy. That is why someone who peruses my writings not only discovers with which arguments one can found certain spiritual facts, spiritual beings, but also with which arguments one can disprove the things. Only thereby, one receives truthful experience.
However, this has led just in this anthroposophic area to strange things that one can experience, actually, only in this area today. Just from within the ranks of the followers, persons have appeared who did not search work in spiritual-scientific respect but personal interests. They have seceded; they became adversaries. They needed only to copy what one can read in my writings what I have said in my talks, and then they could easily disprove anthroposophy. Indeed, one does not need to invent own disproofs, one needs only to copy the disproofs!
However, what I have just indicated is a peculiarity of anthroposophic research: to light up the things from the most different sides. Thereby only one acquires the necessary inner discipline if one does not want to live only in abstractions, but wants to unite with spiritual realities. Someone who only knows the outer nature and natural sciences has no idea of this inner discipline. For he thinks, he may be able to transfer certain concepts, certain mental pictures that one obtains from the outer nature, simply to the spiritual area; since he regards them as generally valid. However, one is not able to do this.
I would like to clarify this with the following. Indeed, the paradoxical concepts immediately begin with it. I think, for example, of a lecture which at the beginning of this century Professor Dewar (James D., 1842-1923) held in London. Professor Dewar attempted in a similar way, as the geologists do concerning the beginning of the earth, to form ideas of the possible end of the earth from physics, from chemistry. These ideas are exceptionally brilliant. If one pursues how the earth cools off gradually, and with it the conditions of the single substances change on earth, one gets to certain insights which are valid within the border of observation. Then one extends them and asks: how will all that be after millions of years? — One can be a rather witty physicist or chemist and imagine, it is so cold that, actually, no human being can live with his current constitution; even so, one calculates, how then, we say, for example, the milk looks like. Then the milk will be solid, it cannot be liquid and will have another colour. One can find certain materials, as for example proteins with which one coats the walls, so that they shine, so that one can read newspapers. The professor has derived all that from physics and chemistry as a nice idea.
Nevertheless, someone who has trained himself with spiritual-scientific methods must deny himself such ideas with inner soul discipline; he cannot get to them. Since how does one attain them, actually?
I just get now to what is paradoxical compared with the usual mental pictures: if one observes how the vital functions of a child change from the seventh, eighth years on, you get a suitable picture. Then you can continue calculating how the organs must look in 150 years. This is exactly the same method after which Professor Dewar calculated the final state of the earth.
However, if one applies it to the human being, one notices: he does no longer live in 150 years! One does not consider that that is not applicable to the human being, that the earth is dead before the state enters which one calculates from physics. One could also calculate from the changes from the seventh until the ninth years how the child was 180 years ago — but it was not there! The geologists calculate how the earth looked millions of years ago. However, at that time the earth did not yet exist.
This sounds paradoxical, and one has as a spiritual researcher to bring in concepts that sound paradoxical. Nevertheless, what one gets to know spiritual-scientifically is just something that can give soul discipline. To settle in the spiritual, just a soul discipline is necessary which can also deny itself certain concepts, which does not calculate after the same pattern which one would follow if one said, the human being who faces me existed 200 years ago. — The calculation would completely be after the same pattern.
I know very well how paradoxical this is what I say with it. However, if one does not point to such paradoxes, one draws attention to that which upsets some people so much. If one crosses the threshold of the spiritual world, one cannot enough emphasise how much the common sense must be active. However, if one appropriates such a soul discipline, one can unite with reality this way; then this becomes an achievement of the whole soul; it becomes a disposition, a basic character of the soul.
Then, however, the soul can judge how its view relates to other worldviews. Then it will understand how its worldview relates to other viewpoints. Then one can pursue which other currents of thinking, feeling and experiencing are there to criticise not only but to settle in them. Such a behaviour extends to all historical and contemporary developments concerning the human cultural life.
Only if one takes the attitude from the deepest impulses of anthroposophy, one can judge the relation of spiritual science to the religious confessions. Anthroposophy attempts to understand these religious confessions above all. It attempts to settle down into them not with critical mind, but in such a way, that one takes them, as they are to understand their right to exist. Hence, anthroposophy succeeds in making a fair judgement of the past spiritual currents in quite different sense than other directions of thought often do.
Let us take the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas or the philosophy of Aristotle at first. Someone who is today a philosopher or scientist after the pattern of the common concepts says: well, Aristotle is an old obsolete philosopher; the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas is a thing of the Middle Ages. — Anthroposophy knows that something special must arise from the conditions and impulses of the spirit of our times; it does not want to take over what in former epochs was the right thing. However, it understands that out of the conditions of those epochs what only those epochs could offer. It understands their nature; it knows that the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas was basically a servant of Christianity at that time that it could arise from the spirit of that time. You have to familiarise yourself with what cannot arise only from the spirit of our time. Anthroposophy does not regard the engagement in Thomism as an only historical study, as something that one can get only from it. This is very important. Since this does not produce that washed out tolerance, but it produces that understanding tolerance which looks at that what developed once not as something obsolete, but appreciates it at its place, appreciates it also in its developing reality. Some things have to develop in nature, in the spiritual life as annual plants develop from which again annual plants originate. However, other plants develop further from one year into the other forming wood, for example; they are perennial plants.
In the spiritual culture, it is likewise. Something must go on in the spiritual culture, must be taken up in later times by those who want to feel united with the whole development of humanity. You can also get an idea of the relationship of anthroposophy and the religious confessions that believe, but only because of a misunderstanding, that anthroposophy opposes them as another religion.
No, that is not true. Anthroposophy knows very well that it can never become a religion because it knows that just as little, as one can become a child at the age of 60 years again, just as little the modern humanity will be able to form religions of its own accord. New religions do no longer originate. Hence, anthroposophy is appropriate just to figure out the absolute value of the confessions. Anthroposophy would badly get along with itself if it believed to be able to found a new confession. However, the religions originated because human beings should receive impressions of the spiritual world. They keep their value and can be understood just with anthroposophy that also works its way to the spiritual world.
Hence, properly understood, religion and anthroposophy can meet each other. Anthroposophy works its way from the human being, developing human forces, to that spiritual area in which the religion puts its revelations.
May one be, actually, so little religious that one can believe, one has received the religion as truth from divine heights and one does fear for it if the human being strives now after working his way to the truth of the spiritual world with the forces that he received from God, as the religions believe? Is it not religious from the start if one knows that one has revelations of truth in the religion that one is not afraid that this truth will comply with that truth which the human being finds with his forces given by spirit?
One should consider that seriously if one wants to judge the relationship of religion and anthroposophy. In former times, the human being was not minded in such a way that he needed one way more into the spiritual world beside the religious way. As the human being of the Middle Ages did not need the Copernican worldview, he did not need anthroposophy. Today he needs it because humanity is developing. Nevertheless, that which certain forces, existing only in certain epochs, gave once to humanity keeps its value.
However, in this respect there is a complete contrast of anthroposophy and the modern scientific current: The latter owes its brilliant results, its value just to the fact that its methods are not suited to lead into the spiritual world. Anthroposophy could not get to such errors because quite different forces lead to anthroposophy and because it would regard any attempt to found a religion as not contemporary. It would be as if a man wanted to do the same as a child does. That what the child does has not to be less worth than what the man does. Anthroposophy knows that the time of forming religions is over. Hence, it will use just its forces to understand the religions, to lead the human being deeper and deeper into the understanding of the religions.
One has to say, as the soul strives after the spiritual world anthroposophically with its own cognitive forces not only of the head but also of the whole soul, the religions did not strive. They strove in such a way that one may say: while anthroposophy takes the human being as starting point and works its way to the spiritual world, the religions took that as starting point what they had received like by gracious revelation. However, this fulfils the human soul different from that what is created with his own forces. Anthroposophy is a science. That, however, which works there as religious truth seizes the soul different from a cognitive truth as anthroposophy must be. One cannot change anthroposophy immediately into a religion. However, from the properly understood anthroposophy a real religious need will also originate. Since the soul is not uniform, but multifarious. The human soul needs different ways to reach its goals. It needs not only the way of knowledge to the spiritual world but also the way of the warm religious feeling.
One thing was always strange. I have received many letters here from Switzerland that always had a fundamental note. In these letters, you may read the following: I can understand quite well what you intend with spiritual science, I can also understand that it is entitled to enter the spiritual world this way — not everybody writes in such a way, however, there are those who write this — but I miss that it leads so intimately into the Christian experiences as — and then the writers bring in this or that sectarian direction.
Yes, one wants to express a lack of spiritual science, of anthroposophy, in such a way. In my view, this lack is always a particular advantage. Since one demands something from anthroposophy that it just does not at all want to be by its whole nature. However, it wants also to concede the same right to the other side. They hold something against you if you still keep a way open to them. This is something peculiar.
Today some priests resent if one keeps a way open to them on which anthroposophy does not at all want to walk. There refutations appear, for example: you say something else about Christ than we do — anthroposophy says nothing else; it tells it only more explicitly — hence, you are not on the right track; we have to disprove you.
Yes, however, if the matter were in such a way that one just says that what he does not say, and lets him say what he can know what is on his way. He attacks you just because you want to accept him. On one side, he resents that anthroposophy does not solve his task because I leave it to him. If one said anything else, it would also be taken amiss. Thus the paradoxical appears that someone refutes you with that what he would have just to feel as benefit. Because anthroposophy does not want to interfere with the very own thing of the confessions because it gives them the right to work at their place of their own accord, therefore, it just says something else that is not said at this place. Anthroposophy does that in order to show the authorisation of the confessions. One demands from it, it should take over the task of the religion. In this area, a whole sum of clear mental pictures would have to replace unclear ideas.
One may say, a start has been made with the excellent book which Ricarda Huch (1864-1947. German author) has written about Luther's Faith (1916). Beside some other excellent things one gets an idea of this quite different colouring of the sentimental way that the religious confession takes. The way of the religious truth speaks from every page of this book. However, today deeper truths are trivialised as a rule because everybody believes, he does not need much to get involved with the depths of this or that matter, he is already perfect. Ricarda Huch has passed an appropriate remark concerning the way how Nietzsche's followers have originated everywhere some years ago because they believed to have the makings in themselves to be such men as they were described here and there. They do not want to work their way up, but they want above all to be on par with a superman if one describes a superman. Thus, one saw numerous “supermen” walking around who did not even have the anlage of a respectable guinea pig, they walked around as “blond beasts” in the sense of Nietzsche.
Anthroposophy is a way into the spiritual world, as the present demands it, which supports the religious confessions, the religious experience. One also judges the outer course of history too cursorily. One thinks, one has to familiarise wide sections of the population with the religion again, which does not have that influence as in former times. One believes to do the religion a favour if one fights against the putative opponents. If one goes into the deeper reasons, why, for example, — as it was stated in 1873 — only one third of the French population was religious in the ecclesiastical sense if one took the matter seriously, you would say to yourself: not from these superficial reasons, but from deep soul impulses an indifference has arisen not only towards the single religions, but also towards the spiritual reality generally. A materialist age has approached.
Now anthroposophy knows the following of the course of development of humanity. While any developmental current proceeds, another proceeds unnoticed in the depths of consciousness. For example, while the tendency of materialism and denial of spirit prevailed, the need to find the way into the spiritual world developed in the unconscious depths of the souls. Thus, a human being could be with his head an atheist like David Friedrich Strauss (1808-1872 theologian and philosopher); and develop his soul forces which can be developed, however, only on a direct path of knowledge, just on the anthroposophic way, if one finds it. Then, however, one finds the connection with the religious confession again on this detour, while one leaves the religious confession if one sticks only to the brilliant progress of natural sciences.
How have those scientific directions positioned themselves that have developed only under the influence of natural sciences to the religious development? Quite different from anthroposophy. Anthroposophy attempts to understand the religious confessions. Because religious confessions speak of the spirit and anthroposophy knows spiritual facts and spiritual beings as its research results, it encounters the religious confessions.
Other directions speak different. I want to bring in the example of the psychologist Ebbinghaus (Hermann E., 1850-1909, German psychologist); he investigates with his scientific mind, with his power of judgement how religion came into being. He says, the human beings of former times did not yet have the enlightened thinking of the present, they noticed that they are exposed to dangers in the outer world, to heavy showers, thunderstorms and the like; there they imagined that hostile powers are there. Out of their fear, they imagined demoniacal spiritual beings. Then from necessity, they have invented the gods who should help them.
Such things sound rather nice, and that human being who is accustomed to the popular ideas of today understands these things easily. However, one takes a very wrong idea as starting point if one says repeatedly, the child of nature is inclined as any child to personify, to ensoul an edge of a table; if it stumbles against it, and it bashes the edge. It does not at all ensoul the edge of a table, but it does not yet know the difference of something dead and something living, and from an internal desire it bashes the dead; it does not at all ensoul anything. The child of nature does also not at all ensoul anything, but it follows its desires; and it is right that it always tries to explain that what faces it hostilely or harmfully anyhow by invention of a demon. I do not believe, if a naughty boy is a threat to a savage anyhow, that the savage invents a demon with which he defends himself against the boy, but he bashes him.
These things seem to be paradoxical again. Only spiritual science can judge it properly. Spiritual science knows how to interpret the facts properly that the child, actually, is not yet minded religiously, just as little as the savage is minded this way. One regards the religion as something childish. However, just the child is not minded religiously, but it must be educated to religion first. Thus, the human being has been educated in the course of human evolution.
A quotation by Ebbinghaus is in such a way that he says first, fear and hardship are the mothers of religion. — Then he says: “The churches fill and the pilgrimages increase in times of war and disastrous epidemics.”
I would like to know whether the churches also fill with those who are materialistically minded from the start at epidemics and war times. Nevertheless, they fill with those only who have a religious disposition anyway. However, this does not originate from fear and hardship, this originates because the human being experiences the spiritual in his soul. In ancient times, he experienced that more instinctively. Today he can experience it more consciously. Because the human being has gradually developed to the experience of the spiritual, he realises an image of the spiritual in the sense-perceptible.
If you want to call the connection that the human soul has with the environment if it faces the spirit with spiritual organs, but if you want to call it only with an analogon, you may say, it is a kind of sympathy. You know sympathy in the moral sense; it is a kind of love. The connection with the spiritual world can be compared with the feeling of love. Thus, anthroposophy may say, even if primitive religions originated from hardship and troubles, they were filled with spiritual contents, with concepts and ideas of the spiritual world because the human being lives in it. Perfect religions, above all that religion which is the synthesis, the union of the other religions have not developed from fear and hardship; it has developed from that what one can call spiritualised love, coalescing with the spiritual world. Not fear and hardship but love produces the perfect religions.
Hence, you may say, those who have materialist-scientific mental pictures only misjudge the whole relationship of religion and cognitive truth. One is allowed to repeat repeatedly: if one stands firmly on the ground of a religious truth, one can assume — if the human being approaches the spiritual world from another side — that understanding, even support is possible. Thus, one will experience more and more — even if people do not want to admit this today — that, while by the impulses of the scientific worldview the religions feel weak, their value for humanity is acknowledged if the human being can approach the spirit spiritual-scientifically. The representatives of religion should be just friends of anthroposophy.
They will become friends. Since the conflict between religion and science does not originate from certain religious conditions. This conflict originated from the fact that strictly speaking the representatives of the religious confessions once represented science at the same time. You need not go far back and you will find, the representatives of religion were at the same time those who taught the worldly sciences. They were connected with these worldly sciences. Only in the course of time, natural sciences emancipated themselves from religion. This emancipation contributes to the spiritual world process.
Only because of the human nature, the understanding of such things lags behind. As recently as in 1822, the Catholic Church abolished the decrees that had condemned the teachings of Copernicus and Galilei. Maybe it needs centuries that a decree, an opinion is abolished which forbids to the Catholics to believe in repeated lives on earth. However, this abolition will come. Since human religious experience will not come into conflicts with the repeated lives on earth, just as little as with the Copernican worldview.
On this occasion, I have repeatedly to remind of that priest (Laurenz Müllner, 1848-1911) who was at the same time a university professor. He said in a lecture on Galilei, a properly understood religion will not rebel against scientific progress, but on the contrary, the religious truth will feel supported, that it can say to itself, if astronomy points to the stars and discovers their laws, then it happens also out of the magnificence and power of the divine being. Copernicus did not undermine the religion, but he contributed with his activity to the revelation of the divine being. — These words of a priest are quite different from those, which oppose that what must just appear in the history of humanity.
I have already pointed out how strange it is that one demands that one should accept, for example, not only that about Christ Jesus as Christianity what the one or the other representative of this or that denomination says, but one should say nothing else. One cannot reproach anthroposophy that it disturbs any religious confession. Nevertheless, it has to recognise something of that most important incision of the earth evolution that is significant for the whole universe. It still can say things about the Christ impulse which are quite different from that which was said up to now. One holds against it that it wants to contribute even more to the understanding of Christianity than the official representatives contribute.
Do realise only once how little one is up to the tasks of time if one does not want to understand that anthroposophy never disturbs the truthful religious confession, but deepens it. Then, however, one needs an attitude as Bishop Ireland (John I., 1838-1918) has expressed it with the words: religion needs new forms and viewpoints to keep in step with the modern time. We need apostles of thought and action.
Yes, there are also within the religious confessions those who feel the signs of time. Then they even demand that another way is coming up to meet them. Since they understand that if humanity loses the interest in the spirit, also the interest in religion gets lost. However, if humanity gets again interest in the spiritual as it corresponds to its today's development, then one will properly understood the religious confessions again. Hence, one can always experience, while often by the unilaterally qualified natural sciences the human beings have been dissuaded from the religious experience, they are led again if the mind is filled with anthroposophy.
If one wanted to understand the way seriously how anthroposophy understands the work of the spirit in the confessions how it understands that from these conditions this confession, from those conditions another confession has originated how it can judge the value of the single confessions, one would never want to combat anthroposophy just from this side.
Today one likes stopping at abstractions. One says, anthroposophy wants to search the core in all religions; it equates, actually, all religions. That does not hold true, but it investigates how a religion developed from another. It tries to understand how that confession which wants to content all human beings in one spirit how the synthesis of the different confessions is which are distributed to the single peoples. It speaks like Frobenius (Leo Viktor F., 1873-1938, ethnographer) of ethnic religions and of the religion of humanity.
The relationship of the religious life to anthroposophy can become clear only if one realises how anthroposophy wakes the human being for the spiritual world and how he can thereby feel that again what he can experience in the religious community.
Not with details, I wanted to explain the relationship of anthroposophy and the religious confessions but from the whole spirit of the anthroposophic worldview. I wanted to show that for that who knows anthroposophy there can be no talk that anthroposophy disturbs any religious experience. In this respect, one has also to consider what I have already said yesterday: I would like best to call that worldview which has arisen to me as anthroposophy from the healthy Goethean ideas, I would like best to call it Goetheanism, and I would like best to call the Dornach building Goetheanum.
Everything that one can find on the ground of anthroposophy induces you to say to yourself, I continue only what this unique spirit has put into the human evolution. He stopped in many respects at the elementary mental pictures. But one is not a supporter of Goetheanism in the right sense if one looks historically or externally biographically at that what Goethe himself wrote; but you are Goetheanist if you can project your thoughts vividly in this worldview and develop it further.
Goethe was a Goetheanist up to 1832 here in the physical world. Today he would express himself quite different from that time. However, if anything is healthy, certain basic impulses remain which also carry over a worldview from one epoch to the other. If that blossoms anew what was there as seed, then it points to this solidarity of the entire human development that it takes up certain basic impulses. Thus, I would like to close with the known confession of Goethe.