The Building at Dornach
19 October 1914, Dornach
Continuing our study of the evolution of European Cultures in the Fifth Post-Atlantean epoch, we come to the culture for which I found the following design when I was working out the forms for the columns in our Building. It includes a drop-like motif above (a). The justification for this design can be felt when one studies the Middle-European culture of the Post-Atlantean epoch. I say Middle-European expressly. The reason for this will emerge from the subject-matter itself.
In this Middle-European culture the most varied national elements have for centuries been gathered together, making it impossible to speak of a “national” culture in the same sense as in the case of the cultures of the Southern and Western peoples of Europe.
In considering this Middle-European culture we must bear in mind at the outset that at the present time it is to all appearances composed of the people of two State-organisations. Remember, please, that in these lectures I am not speaking specifically of States but of cultures, and am saying here that the Middle-European culture is composed of two State-organisations — the German Empire and Austria.
In the case of Austria we see immediately that it would be absurd to speak of a national State, for in Austria there is an agglomeration of national cultures of the most varied kinds. This has been brought about by history, and Austrian life really consists in the interplay of these national cultures.
History is also responsible for the fact that the culture of the German Empire appears today in a certain unified form. Let us enquire, to begin with, only into the culture of the German population of Germany, and that of the German population of Austria, which has indeed many connections with that of Germany, geographically too, but on the other hand is geographically separated from it by great mountains. We will think first of the German element in a general sense.
If we ask: What is German? — this question cannot be asked in the same sense as the question: What is French? What is English? What is Italian? This cannot be done, because a member of the German people — if this expression can be used at all — never knows in any particular period under what definition he stands. What he would necessarily express if he were to say: “I am a German”, would quickly change, and in a comparatively short space of time; from age to age he would nave continually to be moairying the concept of “German nationality” (Deutschtum).
It is highly significant that when during Germany's period of distress Johann Gottlieb Fichte gave his famous “Addresses to the German Nation”, in two of these Addresses he struggled to find a concept to express “German-hood” (Deutschheit). It was a struggle to find a concept to express “German-hood”, just as one struggles to find concepts for something one confronts quite objectively — not subjectively, as a people usually confronts the concept of nationality.
There lies in the striving of an inhabitant of Middle Europe a trait that must be described as an “aspiration to become something”, and not as an “aspiration to be something”. To “become” something, not to “be” something — so that in Middle Europe a an who understands his own nature would have to rebel against being classified under some particular concept. He wants to become what he is. What he is to become hovers before him as an ideal. Therefore Goethe's “Faust” characterises the innermost aspiration of Middle Europe in these words:
“Whoe'er aspires unweariedly
Is not beyond redeeming.”
“He only earns his freedom and existence,
Who daily conquers them anew.”
It is being in a state of becoming, being that is never stationary, perpetually aspirins towerds something, beholding in the far distance what it desires to become.
And so it can be said that the work that is so essentially characteristic of the Middle-European nature was necessarily an outcome of human aspiration. This work is Goethe's “Faust”, which in spite of its many perfections has countless imperfections; it is not a work of art finished and complete in itself. “Faust” could be written again in a later epoch and written quite differently, but even so it would still be an expression of the nature of the man of Middle Europe.
If we ponder deeply upon this we shall get the picture of the upward striving Ego in Middle-European humanity serpent-entwined.
Serpent-entwined! This means, striving with the wisdom that is
undetermined, the wisdom that is forming? in process of becoming never
living in any certainty of complete fulfilment. Such is the situation of
the man of Middle Europe.
And then there is Faust's ascent into the spiritual world at the end of Part II. Through Goethe, Faust becomes a Messenger of the gods — if I may put it so. There can be no more graphic expression of this than the “caduceus” — the staff of Mercury.
But in still another way this German element can best be described by saying that its members are “messengers”. The messenger of the Spirit was Mercury. It is only necessary to consider what has happened, and we shall find that to be a bearer of the message of culture lies in the deep foundations of the character of the German people.
By way of illustration I will quote particular instances connected with Austrian culture. In examining the remarkable, very complicated structure of the Austrian State, we can recognise three filaments of the population. There were once — they have now for the moot part disappeared or are in process of disappearing — the inhabitants of northern Hungary in the Zipser district, certain inhabitants of Siebenbürgen and certain inhabitants of the lower Theiss district, the Banat. Who were these peoples? Thy were peoples who in earlier centuries: migrated from regions more to the West and had brought with them from there their German thinking and their German language. One of these filaments settled south of the Carpathians in northern Hungary. In my youth they were called the “Zipser Germans”. Today they are largely merged in the Magyars, They have entirely surrendered their folk-nature, but it has not entirely disappeared: it lives on in many impulses that are present among the Magyars, but also in the achievements of the industrious people of northern Hungary. They have not clamoured for any especial recognition from ths surrounding people, for they have made no real effort to avoid surrendering their German element to the general nature of their environment.
The inhabitants of Siebenbürgen are Saxons; they are of Rhenish descent. I myself came across them in the year 1887 when I gave a lecture in Hermannstadt. Today they are on the point of being absorbed into the Magyars, like the Zipser Germans. The folk-substance lives on but no claim is made for stress to be laid upon their own national element.
In the southern Theiss region (Banat) the people are pure Swabians who have migraterd. The inhabitants of Württemberg are called Swabians. The seine happened to them as to the people of the Zipser region; they were messengers, in the truest sense, of the element that is now dissipating under the influence of a quite different language. And if one is more closely acquainted with the situation, one knows how necessary it was that these people should be merged in a common Middle-European element, in order that this element might itself thrive.
The same thing could be demonstrated in numbers of other cases. Anyone who wants really to understand and not merely to judge according to stereotyped concepts, will find that such things disclose an overcoming, a suppressing of the nationalistic principle. Everything in Middle Europe is adapted to lift man out of the nationalistic principle and to promote the expression of his own nature as man.
Hence it would be ridiculous to call Faust a German figure, although he could have originated nowhere except in Middle Europe, and in the truest sense the play is to be numbered among the works most truly representative of Middle-European culture.
If these matters are really to be understood, we must bear in mind the many intertwinings that take place in the evolutionary process and disclose themselves when we think, for example, of what was said yesterday: that in French culture there has been a revival of ancient Greek culture. In a certain respect, of course, ancient Greek culture also lives in German art, especially in German poetry and dramatic art. Does not the Greek Iphigenia live again in Goethe's Iphigenia? Did not Goethe write an “Achilleid”, or at any rate a part?
One must always go to the very root of these matters. The Greek element does indeed live in Middle-European culture; but the essential point is how ancient Greek culture, born as it was out of the Intellectual Soul, lives again in the elements of the Intellectual South in French culture. The Greek element does not live in the thinking of the individual Frenchman, in his individuality, but in the way in which the folk-soul takes expression. In the individual Frenchman, indeed, it lives perhaps less consciously than, for example, in its reappearance in Goethe or in Schiller, but it is at work in French culture.
The whole inner impulse of ancient Greek culture lights up in French culture. One can of course refer to some such thing as Voltaire wrote in a letter of the year 1768, where he says: “I have always believed, I still believe and shall continue to believe, that as far as tragedy and comedy are concerned, Athens is surpassed in every respect by Paris. I boldly declare that all Greek tragedies are like the works of tyros compared with the glorious scenes of Corneille and the consummate art of Racine's tragedies.” This sentiment can be compared with what Schiller once wrote to Goethe, saying, in effect: “As you were not born a Greek or an Italian, but in this northern clime, you have had to let an ideal Greece come to birth within you.” — But for all that, one must not suppose that Hellenism appeared in Middle Europe in a form as adequate as that in which it appeared in French culture. In Goethe's “Iphigenia” the yearning for Greek culture can be perceived. Goethe believed that he had acquired a new understanding for art after experiencing it in Italy, yet his “Iphigenia” has something about it that is quite different from anything in a Greek work of art. The essence of the matter is the artistic form in which things are presented. A very great deal could be said on this subject, but in these lectures I am trying merely to give indications. The revival of the Intellectual or Mind soul culture in the French people is shown in their way of living, their modus vivendi.
When we study Voltaire's assessment of the evolutionary history of humanity, he seems to us entirely Greek. Here and there, of course, people have indulged in fantastic notions about ancient Greek culture. but if one known the kind of thing a Greek might have said and then reads a little poem by Voltaire, one can feel what is meant by speaking of the revival of Greek culture. The gist of this little poem is as follows: Full of beauties and of errors, the old Homer has my profoundest respect; he, like every one of his heroes, is garrulous, overdone — yet for all that, sublime.
A Greek, of course, could never have expressed himself about Homer in this way, but about other things, certainly. It is quite typically Greek.
Looking for an expression to use instead of the word “nationality” in the case of Middle-European culture, we find, even from geographical considerations, the words: “Striving after individuality”. And within this striving after individuality we include not the German only, for Middle Europe must be taken to embrace a number of other peoples as well, in all of whom this striving is present in a most marked degree. This striving after individuality is to be found in the Czechs, the Ruthenians, the Slovaks, the Magyars, in spite of all their external differences; and finally it is to be found at the other pole of German culture, in the Poles. In them, the element of individuality is developed to the extreme. Hence the intensely individualistic world-outlook of really great Poles: Tovianski, Slovacki, Mickiewitz. Hence, too, the very essence of Polish philosophy, which emanates entirely from the individual as such. (Whether this philosophy is attractive or the reverse, according to taste, is not the point at all; these things must be looked at objectively.) As for the Polish attitude to religion, the fact that in a given case the one concerned happens to be a Pole can always be ignored. And it is the same in this whole agglomeration of peoples which constitutes Middle European culture; one trait is common to them all a striving after individuality.
Polish Meseianism is only the other pole of this striving; it takes the form more of a philosophical ideal, but it is the same in essence as what comes to expreesion in Goethe's “Faust” as the character of the striving personality, of the single individual.
The following design expresses what is at work in Middle Europe. What comes from above is indicated in this upper, twofold motif; it must be two-fold, because on the one side there is the idealism that is present in Middle Europe and on the other, the sense for the practical. The important thing in the design is not the relative size of the forms but the fact that the one (a) is at the side of the motif and the other (b) arches above the motif. The latter (b) represents what expresses itself in the peculiar, not very strong, kind of tie which the population of Middle Europe has with the soil, in one case more, in another case less marked.
The form at (a) indicates the trait that expresses itself in the thought element of Middle Europe, with its inclination towards philosophical speculation. There was a suggestion of these two motifs, although what they really indicate was but little understood, in a characterisation of the Germans once in in a foreign nation, to this effect: The Germans can till the soil and they can sail in the clouds — (this did not refer to ballooning, but to flights of mind) — but they will never be able to navigate the seas.
This is a strange utterance when one thinks of the German Hanseatic League, but it was actually made. It does, after all, point to two capacities with which the spiritual worlds have endowed the Germans — and these are at the same time Middle-European capacities.
The Ego is that principle in the human soul which has first and foremost to come to terms with itself; consequently there will be a seething and a swirling in this Ego-element. Whatever foreign wars the Germans have waged and will wage, the really characteristic wars are those which Germans have waged against Germans, in order to bring about inner clarification. If one follows the course of the wars fought out inside Germany, one has a faithful picture of what goes on within the enclosed Ego of man himself.
I have pointed out — the thought is to be found in many of my lectures — that the Ego could never have become conscious of itself if it were not kindled anew every morning by the outer world. The Ego wakens into consciousness through being kindled by the outer world; if this did not happen the Ego would be there, certainly, but it would never become a centre of consciousness. Every guiding-line given by Spiritual Science concerning the being of man is confirmed by the external facts.
The configuration assumed by the Middle-European States does not really originate from these States themselves but has been determined from outside. I will speak of Austria first. When I was young, numbers of people there were constantly saying that this agglomeration of peoples which constituted Austria must soon dissolve, that it was ready for dissolution. Those who understood something about world-evolution did not hold this view, because they knew that Austria was not held together from within but from outside. This can be demonstrated in all details by history.
If one were to speak quite objectively of the latest configuration of Middle Europe, of the German Empire; one would have to say: The German has always talked of the ideal of the one united German Empire. But perhaps it would still not be there if the French had not declared war in 1870 and so forced on apace the founding of the German Reich. It was really consolidated frcm outside rather in the way the Ego is kindled each morning by the outside world. Otherwise it might still be a goal to be striven for, an ideal existing, perhaps, only in the minds of the people.
All these things must be weighed quite objectively, particularly by those who adhere to the principles of Spiritual Science. Only so can one survey, calmly and dispassionately, what is taking place in the fifth Post-Atlantean epoch of culture. I can give guiding-lines only, for the subject could obviously not be exhausted in fifty lectures. And every lecture would present further proof of the truth of what can only very briefly be indicated here.
So we may say that the spiritual scientist can acquire a picture of European culture in which he perceives the interworking of Sentient Soul, Intellectual Soul or Mind Soul, Consciousness Soul and Ego. And through this knowledge a lofty ideal can stand before us that of being able to play our part in bringing it about that in place of the present chaos, harmony shall arise in the individual human soul.
This is possible, but only possible if every single individual presses on toward objectivity. The individual man stands at a higher level than the nation. in our time these things are obscured in many ways. It is necessary to say these things, once at any rate. It is my spiritual duty to say them, and only because it is my spiritual duty do I say them at the present time.
We are living in an age when perception of what constitutes the harmony between the soul-members represented by the several peoples, and also of everything that is taking place around us, seems to be more clouded than ever before. In so saying I do not lay the main stress upon what is happening on the battlefields — for that must be judged in the light of other necessities — but upon the judgments now current among the peoples. They all seem to be at utter variance with what ought to be.
I have already spoken here about a symptomatic experience I have had in connection with my last book (“Die Rätsel der Philosopnie”). I had written up to page 206, and then the war broke out. What follows after this point — the brief outline of Anthroposophy — was written actually during the war. I tried to give an objective picture of the philosophy
of Boutroux and of Bergson. I do not believe that anyone could fail to realise the complete objectivity of what I said, even though only a brief space could ba allotted to the subject. It was necessary to call attention to the fact that Bergeon's philosophy is not original and in a certain way is lightly formulated. From pages 199-204, the views of Boutroux and Bergson were set forth without comment, and then on page 204, I said: “Out of easily formulated, easily attainable thoughts, Bergson presents an idea of evolution which, as the outcome of very profound thinking, W. H. Preuss had already presented in his book “Geist und Stoff” (“Spirit and Matter”) in 1882. Then, on pages 205-69 the philosophy of the lonely thinker Preuss is dealt with. It would naturally have been Bergeon's duty to make himself conversant with the ideas of Preuse. I say expressly, it would have been his duty to know something about the philosophy of Preues, for a philosopher ought to be aware of the ideas of his contemporaries if he proposes to write. Please bear in mind that I said, it would have been his duty to know this philosophy — for I may very possibly be accused of having said that Bergson intentionally kept silent about Preuss. I said no such thing and the passage quoted above stands there for all the world to see.
Now suppose that everything the different peoples have said about each other during these last weeks had not been said — in that case the above reference to Bergson would have been considered an objective statement. But now it will in all probability not be so regarded. Naturally, I shall not at any other time be able to speak differently about this matter. Those who stand on the ground of Spiritual Seience must remain objective. At the present time, things that ought to be clearly perceived are clouded over; but when a sufficiently large number of people have taken Spiritual Science to their hearts and are really steeped in it there will emerge out of this obscurity the ideal arising from the truths of Spiritual Science.
What we know of these truths — it is only a question of being steeped in them deeply enough — enables us to develop the right feeling for them. Let those who want to feel the true relationship between the different cultures, read what is contained in the forms of our columns and architraves, let them contemplate the curves and forme, and they will understand the spiritual relationships between the several nations. Not a single motif is accidental. When you look at a motif, when you see how it passes over from the third pillar to the fifth, you have there an expression of the relationship between the peoples corresponding to the two columns. From these architraves you can envisage the inner configuration of the soul-life of the peoples.
You enter the Building by the West door, and as you move towards the East you can feel what makes man truly man, in that he gathers into his soul what is good and admirable in each of the particular cultures — and then, as we hope, it will all sound together in harmony in the second, smaller part of the Building under the small cupola. Those who open their hearts to the Building will find the way out of tie prevailing obscurity; those who do not, will be swept along in it.
As we go towards the East, this next motif links on to the last (see pages 1 and 11). It is evident that this new form has arisen out of the foregoing Staff of Mercury! whereas in the latter the serpent-motif spreads horjzonally into the world, here the main motif points upwards and forks downwards, receiving what comes from above like a blossum opening downwards.
In this, which is the Jupiter motif as the former was the Mercury motif, the East of Europe is expressed. With its tapering slenderness this motif suggests folded hands stretching upwards to what comes from above, and gliding by their side that with which earthly man has to connect himself as it comes down from above like a flower.
It is not at all easy for the European to understand this motif and what lies behind it, because it is connected much more with the future than with the present. On account of the character of modern language it is extremely difficult to find words to characterise what lies behind this motif. For once spoken, the words would immediately have to signify something different, if they were to be really expressive. One cannot speak of the Russian element in the same way as one can speak of the English, French and Italian elements. We have already seen that we cannot speak of a “national” element in the case of Middle-European culture in the same sense as in the case of the cultures of Western Europe; still less can we speak of the Russian element in this sense. For does Russia present a picture similar to that presented by the English, French or Italian peoples? Most, certainly it does not! There is something in the Russian nature that is like a transformation of Western Europe, but a transformation into something totally different.
In the West of Europe we see national cultures whose fundamental character can be discerned by deepening our knowledge of the culture actually existing there. In the German nature we find a state of incompleteness, a striving after something that is not present, but is there as an ideal only. But this striving after the ideal lives in the blood, in the astral body and the etheric body of the man of Middle Europe. Looking over to the East we see a magnificently finished philosophy of religion, a culture that is eminently a religious culture. But can it be called “Russian”? It would be absurd to call it Russian, even though the Russians themselves do so, for it is the culture that came over to them from ancient Byzantium; it is a continuation of what originated there.
Naturally, what lives in the Sentient Soul comes from the Sentient Soul; what lives in the Intellectual Soul comes from the Intellectual Soul; what lives in the Consciousness Soul comes from the Consciousness Soul; and what lives in the Ego, even though it is in flow, in a perpetual state of becoming, proceeds from the Ego. But what comes from the Spirit Self is something that descends out of the Spirit into the Sentient Soul, the Intellectual Soul and the Consciousness Soul.
The Spirit Self comes down from above towards Sentient Soul, Intellectual Soul, Consciousness Soul and Ego. This Spirit Self must announce itself through the fact that something foreign hovers down, as it were, upon the national culture. So we see that, fundamentally, everything it has hitherto experienced as its culture is foreign to tbe Russian soul, and has been foreign over since the time when the Greco-Byzantine culture was received, up to the external institutions that were imported from outside by Peter the Great. So we see bow through the Spirit Self there daecends the force which strives down to the soul-forces; but the Spirit Self will be able to give effect to its true force, its true character, only in the future. The Russian soul has, however, to make preparation for the reception of the Spirit Self.
Quite obviously what has reached the Russian soul from foreign elements is not the Spirit Self that will come in the future. But just as the Byzantine influence, Eastern Christianity, Western culture, have descended upon Russian souls, so, one day, the Spirit Self will descend. At the present time there is nothing more than preparation for it, nothing more than an inclination towards receiving it.
Examples can be given to illustrate everything for which Spiritual Science gives guiding-lines. Here is an example lying close at hand. — I have often spoken of the greatness of the philosopher Solovieff. His greatness was first revealed to me through spiritual observation, for I know that he is even greater, has effected even greater things, since his death in 1900 than he had effected before his death.
But let us consider the facts; you can convince yourselves from Solovieff's own writings. Many of them have been translated. There are the translations by Nina Hoffmann, by Keuchel, and now the excellent translation by Frau von Vacano, “Die geistigen Grundlagen des Lebens”.
If a man of Middle Europe steeps himself in the works of Solovieff, he can have a remarkable experience — especially since the latest translation has become available. It is extraordinarily interesting. One who is really conversant with Western and Middle-European philosophy will ask himself at first: Is there anything new in Solovieff? If we compare Solovieff with Western philosophy, we shall find not a single new thought as far as the actual text is concerned; there is nothing, absolutely nothing, not even in a turn of phrase, that could not equally well have been written in the West. And yet there is something altogether different.
But if you search for this difference in the philosophy itself, in what has been written, reading it as you read an ordinary book, you will not discover what is different. For what is different is something that is not contained in the sentences themselves. It is not in them, and yet it is there. What is contained within and behind the sentences will eventually be found by the sensitive soul, despite the conviction, after reading the book, that it contains nothing that differs from West European philosophy. What is contained in Solovieff's works is a certain nuance of feeling which may seem to the man of Middle Europe like a sultry atmosphere. Sometimes one feels as though one were in an oven, particularly when great and far-reaching questions are involved. If you follow a sentence closely, you will discover that nothing of exactly the same kind emerges as it does in the case of a West European philosopher. There is a certain tone of feeling which resounds as if it were unending expectant; this tone of feeling has a mystical character; certainly, it is still a sultry mysticism which may even contain an element of danger for the man of Western Europe if he allows himself to be affected by it.
But if one knows what lies in the substrata of the human soul — and it is necessary to know this — and really gets to the root of this element of sultriness, then it is certainly not dangerous. I believe that unless anyone has knowledge of the undertones of the life of soul, the essence of the difference in Solovieff's works will escape him and he will simply be convinced that he is reading a philosopher belonging to Western Europe. It is a very strange phenomenon, a phenomenon which clearly shows that what must come out of the East has not yet been uttered, above all has not yet been put into words.
We can recognise the characteristic traits of the European cultures from another angle by considering, for example, the following. — Something of the very essence of French culture, the Intellectual Soul culture, is contained in a certain saying of Voltaire. It will certainly be discerned by anyone who is able to perceive realities from symptoms. The saying, “If God did not exist, he would have to be invented”, is rightly attributed to Voltaire. This presupposes — otherwise the utterance would have no sense that God would have to be believed in; for he would hardly be invented for amusement.
Such a saying could be formulated only by a mind working entirely out of the Intellectual Soul, the Mind Soul, and having confidence in what arises from it — even in the matter of invention; for this belongs to the sphere of the Intellectual Soul.
Now let us take a Russian: Bakunin. He formulated the saying differently — and that is very remarkable. He says, “If God existed, he would have to be abolished.” He discovers that he cannot tolerate the existence of God if he is to claim validity for his own soul. — And another saying of Bakunin is very characteristic: “God is — and man is a slave” — the one alternative. The other is: “Man is free — therefore there is no God.” He cannot conceive a way out of the circle and decides to choose between the two alternatives. He chooses the second: “Man is free — therefore there is no God.”
This is a picture of the contrast between culture in Western and in Eastern Europe. West-European culture can still reconcile the idea of the free man with the idea of God. But in East-European culture there may be no God who coerces me, otherwise I am not free, I am a slave.
One feels the whole cleft between Sentient Soul, Intellectual Soul, Consciousness Soul and Ego on the one side and the Spirit Self, which is present now, as it were, in counterpart, and is only preparing, its true being. We feel the whole cleft in what confronts us from the East, and we feel the lack of kinship of the East with the West when we perceive what effect representative personalities of the East make upon West-European culture. Who in the West, if he is not already a student of East-European culture, could understand what the Devil says to Ivan Karamazov? Who could reallyunderstand what Gorki calls “gruesome, yet veritable truth”? — “Yes, well, what is the truth? Man is the truth! What does it mean — Man? You are not it, nor am I it, and they are not it. — No! But you, I, they, old Luke, Napoleon, Mahomet all of us together are it! That is something quite tremendous! That is something wherein all beginnings are lodged, and all endings. — All in man, all for man. Man alone exists; all else is the work of his hands and of his brain. Man! Simply colossal! The very sound is exalted! MM — A — N! One should respect man! Not take pity on him — not degrade him by pitying him — but respect him!”
And how does one who has been an actor speak about his relationship to the public? And how the convict? — “I have always despised those people who are too much concerned with satiety. Man himself is the main thing! Man stands at a higher level than the satisfied stomach!”
It will be very difficult for the West to understand such things, for they give expression to the mystical suffering of the East; they let the cleft be felt between what is yet to come in the East and what lives in the West and in Middle Europe.
This immense cleft indicates to us that what is there in the East today is not the real East at all. I should have a great deal to say on the subject but can only indicate these things. This East is something of which the East itself still knows little, something concerning which it only dimly senses what it will become in the future
We understand well that it must be difficult for this East of the future to find, the bridge leading to its own true nature, to find itself, for we are confronted by no less a phenomenon than that the East still lives in feeling, still in something that is unutterable; it is seeking for a form of utterance. It seeks it in the East, seeks it in the West. The East was greatly enriched by what the Byzantine element brought to it but when the East gives expression to this, it no longer belongs to the East's own being; it is foreign to the East's own being.
But one thing leads above all clefts, namely, what we know as the true Science of the Spirit. And if what is now going on in West and Middle Europe can show us that without Spiritual Science the further course of evolution must lead ad absurdum, the East shows us that progress is utterly impossible unless understanding is reached through Spiritual Science.
Through Spiritual Science men will find and understand one another — in such a way that not only will their theoretical problems be answered, but the sufferings of culture will also be healed.
Even more than elsewhere there will be opportunity for the East to feel the events of today as a hard testing. For what must needs be felt there in particular strength will be in complete opposition to every impulse, in the East that willed this war. And still more than in the West and still more than in Central Europe does it hold good for the East, that self-identification with the active motives of this war is a denial of its own true being. Everything in the East that has led to this war will have to disappear if the sun of salvation is to rise over the East.
Our Building should become part of our very hearts, my dear friends, for it expresses everything that I try to say about it in sketchy words. More deeply than by any words you can understand what I have now said when you have a right feeling for the Building, when you feel that everything is contained there — in every curve, in every motif.
Our Building should be something that can be called “A Dome of Mutual Understanding among European Humanity”, So it is perhaps in a particular sense — I must say this, for it is my duty to say it — also a contribution towards what is to be found in the preface to my book “Theosophy”, namely, that Spiritual Science is something that our age rejects in the intellect and on the other side longs for in the soul, and of which it is in dire need.
When we contemplate the events of today we can say that Anthroposophy is something from which European humanity in the present epoch is as remote as it ought to be near, is something that it should long for with every fibre of its being. For if Spiritual Science penetrates our hearts in a way that could at the moment only be indicated in interpreting the forms of the columns and architraves, then the souls of European humanity will stand in the right relationship to each other.
If Anthroposophy — and for our immediate present this is still more important — if Anthroposophy fulfils its task in the human soul in having a clarifying effect in the thoughts of men, bringing real clarity into them, permeating and rectifying them, then a very great deal will have been achieved for the immediate future. For as well as the fact that men's hearts are not rightly related to each other in our materialistic age, the karma of which we are experiencing, men's thought, too have gone astray. Men do not want to understand each other; but not only that; they have perhaps never lied about each other to such a colossal extent as they do in our time! That is still worse than what is happening out there on the battlefields, because its effect lasts longer and because it works up even into the spiritual worlds. But at bottom it is sheer slovenliness of thought that has brought us to the pass we have already reached. Therefore Anthroposophy is today the most urgent of all necessities in the evolution of humanity!
Already one can ask the question: Are people today still capable of thinking? And further: Do not people feel that they must first have knowledge of the actual facts about which they want to think and speak?
I raise these two questions today because, as I have said, it is my duty to do so. What is at work in Middle Europe was called “Bernhardism” by the American ex-President Roosevelt. I will not discuss what the ex-President has said but will point to something that is not usually noticed. Fundamentally, this book which I have in my hand and is the one alluded to by Roosevelt, is a very serious book: “Germany and the Next War”, by Friedrich Bernhardi, written in 1912. The author was one who knew a great deal about this impending war from an external, exoteric, point of view, and for this reason the book is extraordinarily instructive. But what kind of thinking do we find in a book that in its own way is honest and sincere? Here is a chapter entitled: “The Right to make War”. Naturally, if one talks of a right to make a war, one must take a standpoint determined by a community of people, not by individuals; in other words, one speaks out of the consciousness of the Luciferic and Ahrimanic spirits. Here is a passage which from the standpoint of the author is well meant, full of good intention. The attempt is made to explain that as long as there are separate nations, these nations have a right to make war on each other. The passage continues: “The individual can perform no nobler moral action than to sacrifice his own existence to the cause which he serves, or even to the conception of the value of ideals to personal morality... Similarly, nations and States can achieve no loftier consummation than to stake their whole power on upholding their independence, their honour, and their reputation.”
The first part of the passage is correct, but the thought behind it as a whole is absurd; States cannot adopt a selfless standpoint, because with them totally different conditions prevail. We must be clear in our minds about this. Imagine yourselves in the shoes of an Austrian statesman after the events which culminated in the assassination of a Serb at Serajevo. — Can one speak there in the sense of the foregoing passage? Most certainly not! A statesman is obliged to act as the egoism of the State demands. And so quite correct utterances are made today while the thought behind them is utterly false. This is only one example. The spiritual-scientific attitude here will he illuminating in the truest sense of the word, if only there are a sufficient number of people to represent it. These are not trivial matters; they are matters of vast significance. For they have all combined into what has now led to this terrible outbreak of war. I say this, becausel I know it. I say it because at the same time I can truly say — so far as anything of this nature can be said in the sense in which an occultist means it — that I have suffered and am still suffering enough from the events of these last weeks. I have gone through enough shattering experiences beginning with the Serajevo assassination and including much else. Never before have I myself seen anything as astounding, nor have I heard from occultists of anything as astounding, as what followed upon the assassination at Serajevo. A soul was there lifted into the spiritual worlds who produced an effect entirely differerst from that produced by any other soul; this soul became, as it were, a cosmic soul, forming a cosmic centre of force around which all the prevailing elements of fear gathered, All the existing elements of fear gravitated towards this soul — and lo! in the spiritual world exactly the opposite effect was produced than had been produced in the physical world. In the physical world, fear held back the war; in the spiritual world it was an element that hastened on the war, hastened it rapidly. To have such experiences for the first time is one of the most shattering moments that can occur in occult observation. If at some time or other, what has happened in the last eight or ten weeks is objectively surveyed, it will be possible, even by following the outer events, to recognise something that is like a mirror-image of what was happening in the spiritual.
It is the task of Anthroposophy, today more than ever, to learn objectivity from the evente of the time — true objectivity, which is so remote from the attitude prevailing today. I tried to bring out this point by asking two questions: “Are people today still capable of thinking?” and “Do people try, do they accustom themselves to look for the real facts when they want to think or speak?” Do they really do this?
Wherever we look — when men and whole nations are lying about each other on such a colossal scale — everywhere it is evident that the feeling of duty to put facts to the test, to go into the real facts, is lacking, even in high places.
This duty to test facts must be deeply engraved in the hearts of anthroposophists. We must learn to realise that among people who are to be taken. seriously, things must no longer happen as they are happening today, so universally.
As anthroposophists we must realise that these things need to be kept firmly in minds for otherwise we shall not emerge from this chaos in cultural life. With strict earnestness we must adhere to our basic principle: “Wisdom is only in the Truth”. Our whole Building is an interpretation of this principle. We must learn to read our Building — that is the important thing. When it is rightly read, an attitude of earnestness, of conscientiousness, of longing for truth, will grow in our hearts in connection with cultural and spiritaal life.
If our friends permeate themselves with the conviction that the truth rests upon the foundation of the facts of evolution, then their activities will bring blessing everywhere, no matter to which nation they belong. But if they themselves adopt a one-sidedly nationalistic standpoint, they will certainly not be able to do what is right in the anthroposophical sense.
The reason why Blavatsky's Theosophy went astray was that from the outset the interests of one portion of humanity — not the English, but the Indian — were placed above the interests of mankind as a whole. And it is true in the deepest sense that only that leads to genuine occult truth which at all times places the interests of humanity as a whole above those of a portion of humanity — but does so earnestly, with the most earnest, deepest feelings. Occult truth is clouded over the very moment the interests of one part of humanity are made to override the interests of the whole. Difficult as this may be at a time like our own, nevertheless it must be striven for by those who in the true sense of the word call themselves anthroposophists.