The Etheric Body as a Reflexion of the Universe
13 June 1915, Elberfeld
At present we live in the midst of events that arouse every feeling of the human soul in the deepest and most significant way. We live in the midst of events that cause death to pass over the earth very, very frequently, in a comparatively short time, death that has always been looked upon by our spiritual science as a riddle which must be solved. The times in which we live send pain and suffering to many human souls, but let us hope that these times also bear within them forces for the unfolding of man's future development. Many things are born out of pain and suffering, and in these fateful days spiritual-scientific thoughts in particular are well suited to awaken in us forces of confidence and of hope. Let me therefore unfold a few thoughts before your souls. Although not directly, they are nevertheless, indirectly connected with feelings that come to the surface in these stormy and sorrowful times.
What we can see and feel in the manifold events of the present time, is the fact that many people abandon the physical plane, at a comparatively early age of their earthly life. What characterizes the events of the present, is that they call away many young lives from the physical plane.
We know that when a human being passes through the portal of death, he must leave his physical body to the elements of the earth. When he passes through the portal of death, he is, to begin with, still united with his etheric body, his astral body and his ego. And we know that after a comparatively short time the etheric body becomes severed from the human being, who then continues along the path which he must tread between death and a new birth; he passes through the after-death experiences with his ego and his astral body and together with those members of his spiritual nature which can only be acquired in the spiritual world. Afterwards, however, as he continues along his path during the time between death and a new birth, also the etheric body becomes severed from the human individuality and goes its own ways.
Now it must be evident to everyone of us that the etheric body of a man who died young must have an entirely different constitution than that of a man who died after having reached, so to speak, a normal age. We know that the ordinary natural science of to-day always speaks of the fact that forces never go lost, but transform themselves. Natural science recognises this truth in regard to the external world of physical life; it admits that forces do not go lost, but merely transform themselves. Spiritual science must teach that this truth should be recognised in regard to the spiritual world.
When an etheric body abandons a human being who has passed through the portal of death at an early age, that etheric body might still have maintained that man's life on the physical plane for many decades. The constitution of an etheric body must be of such a kind as to enable it to provide the life-forces required by a human being until he reaches an advanced age. But when a human being passes through the portal of death in his 25th, 26th or 30th year, the etheric body that abandons him still possesses the forces that might have enabled it to preserve physical life up to the 60th, 70th or 80th year. These forces live in the etheric body; they do not go lost.
Particularly at a time such as the present one, in which so many etheric bodies are entrusted, as it were, to the spiritual worlds, we should contemplate the following problem: What takes place with the etheric bodies of those who have passed through the portal of death in their early youth? — In order to obtain a sound answer to this question, it will be a good thing to become acquainted first of all with the path trodden by man's etheric body, while he is passing through his life between birth and death.
Man's external physical body (we know this, for it is a trivial truth) grows older and older. But this is not the case with the etheric body. It may perhaps be difficult to understand this, but the etheric body does not in any way grow older; the etheric body grows younger and younger, in the same degree in which the physical body grows older, until it reaches, as it were, a certain childlike stage of etheric existence, when the human being passes through the portal of death after having reached a normal age. We should therefore say to ourselves: When we begin our physical life on earth through birth, then our etheric body, that has become united with our physical body, is, comparatively speaking, old, and in the course of our earthly life it grows younger and younger, until it reaches its childhood stage, when we pass through the portal of death. We might also say: When a human being dies in his young years, his etheric body has not grown young enough, but has instead maintained a certain age. What does this really mean? — A concrete example, already known to many of you, but that I must nevertheless repeat here, a real event of recent times, experienced by quite a number of our friends, may throw some light upon this question.
This concrete example is really connected with a child, with the little boy of one of our members. After an evening lecture at Dornach, we were told that the son of our friend Faiss was missing — a little boy of seven. It was soon evident that a terrible accident must have happened, for a large furniture van had arrived in the late afternoon, moving towards the Goetheanum Building. Curiously enough, this furniture van had appeared in a part where perhaps no furniture van had been seen for a long time, or perhaps never at all, and where perhaps no furniture van would ever be seen again. At a certain spot, this large van had overturned; this had happened towards evening. Nothing else had been noticed, but the little boy was missing. When our friends, with the help of other people, began to lift the van between eleven and twelve at night (the owners intended to lift it the following day for it had fallen most awkwardly and was moreover a very heavy van), sparing no effort in doing so, and when they at last succeeded in lifting it, with the help of other people, it appeared that the little boy, Theodor Faiss, had passed by just when the van had collapsed, so that it fell on top of him. This child (he was only seven years old) was an exceptionally lovable child, with exceptionally beautiful qualities.
In order to see this in the light of spiritual science, let me remind you of a logical train of thoughts which I have often advanced in our circles. I have frequently explained to you that a superficial manner of thinking, an untrained manner of thinking, easily mixes up cause and effect; indeed, such confusions in regard to cause and effect are very frequent. I tried to explain this with the aid of an example, which was only meant, as a comparison. Take the following case: You see a man, who is walking along the bank of a river; you see him fall into the river and try to reach him. Where he fell into the river, you see a stone. You then try to draw the man out of the water; he is dead. What would be more natural than to think that he had stumbled over the stone, thus falling into the water and drowning? But this need not be true at all; a physical investigation may show us that his destiny in no way led him to the stone or anything else, but that at the very moment when he reached the stone, he had a stroke, and this stroke was the cause of his felling into the water. If we were not to investigate matters, we would simply say that the cause of his death was the fact that he fell into the river. Yet this would be the exact opposite of the truth.
In the case of things that are connected, with the spiritual world, it is far more difficult to perceive the true relationship of cause and effect. We should therefore say to ourselves: When we have before us [a] case resembling that of the boy who found his death under circumstances that were so extraordinary (other things too occurred that made it appear extraordinary), we should not think — if we consider the whole case from a higher standpoint — that for instance, the following course of events took place: That the furniture van arrived and overturned, and that the child simply happened to be crushed by it, so that the van was the real cause of the child's death. In a similar case, we think correctly and contemplate it from a spiritual-scientific standpoint, if we say instead that the boy's Karma had reached its end and that the van really arrived at that particular spot because the child had to encounter its death. The van therefore merely provided the external conditions that enabled the child to meet its death, as prescribed in its Karma. Trivially speaking, we might say: The child's Higher Self, that wished to pass through the portal of death, gave orders that this situation should arise, it ordered that these events should occur. Of course, those who think in accordance with the mentality of our time, will find that this is quite an insane idea. Spiritual science must however show that many things which are looked upon as insane by the materialistically minded people of the present time, really correspond to the truth.
In this particular case, however, it is significant that the etheric body of a child of seven severed itself from the child's individuality, from that part of its being which then continued along its path in the spiritual world, united with its ego and astral body. Now I do not mean to speak of the further path taken by the individuality of little Theodor Faiss, but I would rather draw your attention to the fact that this etheric body was of such a kind that its life-forces nurtured that boy's physical existence for only seven years; nevertheless it contained forces that might have enabled it to sustain a whole existence between birth and death, feeding it with life-forces. These forces remained in that etheric body and the significant fact is that all those who had any spiritual connection with the Building which we intend to erect at Dornach in the service of spiritual science, know from that day, which is connected with the death of little Theodor Faiss, what has become of his etheric body.
Many things must be achieved in connection with the Building. Let me now say a few things in regard to the inspirations which must now be brought down from the spiritual worlds. Helping forces are needed if everything that must be brought down from the spiritual world is really to come down. Ever since the death of little Theodor Faiss, we can see that our Dornach Building is enveloped by the greatly enlarged etheric body of this child, as if by an aura that reaches very far. Indeed, we may even determine the limits of this enveloping aura. If you contemplate the Dornach Building you will know (and those who have seen it know this) that it is a double cupola building. (A drawing is made). Here is a separate fire-box building, constructed in a special way, according to principles dictated by spiritual science, and here is another building, where the glass windows for the Goetheanum are cut. Casually I might also add that here you may see the so-called “Haus Hansi”, the house in which I live. Now it is strange to see that little Theodor Faiss' aura, enveloping the whole Building, reaches as far as this spot, near the woods; then it goes past the fire-box building and through the very midst of the building where the windows are cut, and finally past Haus Hansi, but without enclosing it. Consequently, when we enter the Goetheanum, we actually enter this etheric aura.
I have often explained to you that when the etheric body frees itself from the physical body it grows large. Consequently we should not wonder at the large size of this etheric body. It contains mediating forces, and in these we may find certain impressions from the spiritual world, which are needed to create the forms and the artistic structure of our Building. Those who work upon the Building know how much they owe to this etheric aura. And I shall never hesitate to confess that ever since little Theodor's death, the work upon the Building became possible, because the boy's etheric body spreading over the Building supplied the mediating forces that were needed to draw down inspirations from the spiritual world. It would be far easier to hide this fact, or to take on airs as if these mediating forces were not needed. But this is not the essential point; the essential point is to recognise the true facts.
If we consider the facts which I have described to you just now, we can grasp how matters really stand with an etheric body that had to cut itself off from the existence of a human being at a moment when death closed this existence at an early age. It is important to note that the etheric body does not remain, as it were, a mere misty shape, in which the physical body lies embedded. Even the true aspect of the physical body cannot be recognised if we merely describe a mass of muscles, bones, etc. It can only be recognised if we see in it, as it were, a kind of temple, an abode of the Godhead — if we see it standing before us like a microcosm. We recognise what pertains to the physical body only if we realise that its forms are really taken from the whole universe and that in regard to his physical body the human being is a wonderful structure. Those who know the feelings voiced in the first dialogue of my second Mystery Play, “The Souls' Probation”, can have an idea of how the individual human being is placed into his physical existence; all the hierarchies are at work on his physical body, a whole world of divine Beings has the task of placing a human being into his physical existence. If we bear in mind to some extent the observations of clairvoyant knowledge, we fully learn to know the significance of the physical body.
You see, clairvoyant knowledge arises when our soul-spiritual part is lifted out of our physical-corporeal part, so that we are endowed with consciousness and with perceptive forces in the soul-spiritual sphere, outside the body.
From a purely external standpoint, there is really no difference between one who is able to perceive clairvoyantly and one who is asleep, for in both cases the soul-spiritual part is lifted out of the physical-corporeal part. The clairvoyant consciousness is able to perceive outside the physical body, so that it can have an idea of what takes place with the human being when he is asleep.
To facilitate matters, let me draw you a diagram. (A drawing is made.) Now let us assume that this is the physical-corporeal and that the soul-spiritual part of a sleeping human being. When a man is awake, the soul-spiritual part is of course contained in the physical-corporeal part; but let us now imagine a sleeping human being. On the bed lie his physical body and his etheric body; they do not contain his astral body and his ego, as is the case when he is awake. We might say, however: The activity that our astral body and ego carry on within our physical body while we are awake, does not cease completely while we are asleep. To begin with, and seen purely from outside, the sleeping human being lying there on the bed has a lifeless aspect, but to a clairvoyant consciousness the physical and etheric body of the man lying there asleep on the bed do not present a lifeless aspect. The seer must give an entirely different description of a sleeping human being, of this physical and etheric human being, lying there asleep on his bed. A clairvoyant seer must say: The whole day long the sun shone over that region of the earth, where the human beings are now sleeping. Now it is night. (I am speaking of normal conditions; when people are asleep during the night and awake during the day, I am not speaking of the conditions of life in great cities, of metropolitan habits). Darkness envelops that region on which the sun shone the whole day long. And now it is strange to notice the following: The earth, as a living Being, begins to think, and the organs through which the earth thinks are the sleeping human bodies.
The human beings think through their brain, and in the same way the earth thinks through these sleeping human bodies. The earth always perceives by day; it perceives through the fact that the sun shines upon it out of the cosmic spaces. That is the earth's perception. And during the night, the earth works out in thoughts all its perceptions. “The earth thinks”, says the clairvoyant seer; the earth thinks because it makes use of the sleeping human beings. Every sleeping human being becomes, as it were, a brain-molecule of the earth. Our physical body is organised in such a way that it can be used by the earth for it's thinking activity, when we do not use it ourselves.
Just as the earth thinks through the physical body, so it “imagines” (you know what imaginative knowledge is) — it imagines all that is not earthly upon the earth itself, all that belongs to the earth from out the cosmos. The earth imagines this through the etheric body.
We may discern in the sleeping human body parts of the earth's brain, and when the human being is asleep, we may discern in his etheric body the imagination of that part of the universe which belongs, to begin with, to the earth. The etheric body contains, in a play of wonderful pictures, all the forces that must stream into the earth out of the etheric world, so that the earth's events may take place.
As a physical being man belongs to the earth, and just as truly does he belong to the heavens as an etheric being. We can only use our physical body as an organ of thinking, because it is organised for that purpose, because the earth sets it free, as it were, for this purpose, when we are awake. And we can only use our etheric body in such a way that it provides us with life-forces, because the heavens place it at our disposal; when we are awake, and because the heavenly forces of imagination are transformed into life-forces within us, when we are awake.
Thus we cannot speak of our etheric body merely as a misty form, but we should rather speak of it as a microcosmic form reflecting the heavens. When we are born, the etheric body is handed over to us as a specially perfect form. When we are born, our etheric body glistens and shines inwardly, because it is so full of imaginations that come towards it from the great universe. It is a magnificent reflexion of the universe! All that we acquire during our life as culture, knowledge and forces of the will and of feeling, is all drawn out of our etheric body as we grow old in the course of our existence between birth and death. Heaven's cosmic forces give us what they must give us during our life between birth and death, and so we are once more young as etheric beings, when we have lived through a normal life between birth and death, for then we have drawn out of our etheric body everything that could be drawn out of it.
But when an etheric body belonging to a youthful body passes through the portal of death, it still contains a great, great deal of unused heavenly light. That is why it becomes a mediator of the forces which I have described to you. Quite apart from what takes place with the individuality of a human soul such as the one of which we spoke just now, its etheric body almost becomes a heavenly gift, a gift of the spiritual worlds. Such an etheric body can therefore have the inspiring influence that I have described to you.
It would lead us too far to speak of the peculiar Karma of a human soul that is able to make such a sacrifice. This cannot be produced artificially; it must be connected with the whole Karma of the human being that is called upon to make this sacrifice, thus fulfilling something within the process of development of the world that is destined to play a part in the spiritual progress of humanity — and this is the aim of our Building at Dornach, that will house our spiritual-scientific endeavours.
Consider now that we live in a time in which many of these etheric bodies, though they may not be as young as Theodor Faiss, but which are nevertheless etheric bodies coming from youthful human lives, inhabit, as it were, the spiritual atmosphere. Those who crossed the threshold of death on the bloodstained battlefields, pass through this portal of death in a different way than those who pass through it when they die in bed, or as a result of an ordinary accident. In a certain way, they pass through the portal of death so that they reckon with their death, even though this may be more or less unconscious, but in a certain way the astral body reckons with death. We can always say that these deaths are sacrifices. All the etheric bodies, of youthful human beings that thus ascend to the spiritual world contain unused forces. And at present we are facing an epoch in the evolution of humanity in which the souls of men will be able to look up consciously to the spiritual worlds and say to themselves: A time has gone by which sent many, many unused etheric bodies to the spiritual world. These unused etheric bodies contain forces. And from a spiritual-scientific standpoint, we may say even at the present time that these unused etheric bodies contain forces that will be very significant for the evolution of humanity.
When similar things are discussed, it should be emphasized that they cannot apply to every war that was waged in the evolution of humanity upon the earth. What takes place spiritually, what should be contemplated with the aid of spiritual science, is not so easy as natural science thinks. Other wars belonging to the past, require to be spoken of differently. And what I am now explaining to you only applies to the present fateful times.
Now imagine the following: On various occasions we had to emphasize the fact that to-day we do not pursue spiritual science arbitrarily, but that this is connected with the evolutionary process of humanity. It is connected with the progress of humanity that the human beings should gradually become acquainted with spiritual science. We know that every epoch of human evolution has its particular task. You will find this in many of my lectures. And we can realise that man's future salvation, man's welfare in the nearest future, can only flourish if that which spiritual science can reveal, becomes the spiritual property of an ever growing number of human souls.
Consider now — you, who are filled with a heartfelt enthusiasm for spiritual science — consider the difficulties connected with the propagation of spiritual-scientific truths at the present time! Consider the strong opposition that spiritual-scientific truths encounter on the part of people outside. Consider how these truths are slandered, how people look upon them as something insane, distorted and mad, how they consider them to be empty fantasies. Indeed, I might mention striking cases, yet they would all be merely a portion of what everyone can feel, if he is filled with enthusiasm for spiritual science and faces a world, desirous that this world should take up spiritual science ... a world that is so little inclined to take it up!
The spiritual scientist may now say: What the mere earthly forces of humanity are able to attain, seems so weak, so very weak, in comparison to the tasks of spiritual science! But in the near future, the unused etheric bodies of those who had to carry life and soul through the portal of death, on the battlefields where the events of our time are taking place, will be there — and these etheric bodies with their unused forces will be inspiring forces, they will be helping forces in the near future. We only need to look up, but not in an intellectual or theoretic way, we only need to look up to the heavenly etheric bodies of those who in the present fateful times passed through the portal of death in their youth; we only need to direct our souls, as it were, in the mood of prayer towards these etheric bodies ... all those who are filled with enthusiasm for spiritual science only need to direct their souls towards these forces, and they will obtain help from these etheric bodies. Help will come! Those who are genuinely filled with a spiritual-scientific mentality and having a deep life in common with these etheric bodies will find that among the many fruits that will fall into the lap of our earnest time there will also be the one that the souls of men who are filled with enthusiasm for spiritual science will receive the instreaming forces of the youthful etheric bodies that were sacrificed in these terrible times; these forces will flow into them. The souls of those who will live in physical bodies in the near future, and who genuinely feel this, will be filled by the forces of the etheric bodies that were thus sacrificed; their forces will stream into them. And these will be heavenly forces, that is to say, forces pertaining to the spiritual world! Entirely different forces will in future hold sway in the world, so that the world may receive what it should receive: a spiritual-scientific mentality. If we but find the possibility of recognising what is taking place now, if we recognise it in accordance with the explanations given to you just now, this fateful present will acquire a deep, deep significance, also for those who pursue spiritual science.
I already explained to you how wonderful are the imaginative forms contained in man's etheric body! Yet they would present a different aspect, if they had not passed through a human etheric body. We may also apply to this field the saying: “Out of nothing, comes nothing.” Although this is not an absolute truth, it is nevertheless valid for this particular field. The etheric body that man receives through the fact that the human soul enters physical existence through birth, contains a whole collection of forces pertaining to the spiritual world. These forces are gradually used up during physical life. They do not come from nothing, they exist in the spiritual world. They may, of course, also be found in the spiritual world, but it is difficult to discover them directly in the spiritual world; for this we would have to unfold far greater powers. They can be used and they can help us more easily when they have passed through a human being who died young, and in that case they appear together with what they contain through the fact that they passed through that human being. All the forces that lived in the youthful etheric body of little Theodor Faiss would be in the spiritual world even if he had not existed, but without him, it would be a Herculean task to draw them down. Ever since they have become accessible to us through that boy, it is far easier to be inspired by them, so that there is a difference.
Think how important it is for the whole progress of human evolution that in the near future such a great number of etheric bodies with their unused forces will be at the disposal of humanity! Since these forces (I must always call them heavenly forces) have passed through human beings, they have become, as it were, emancipated from the cosmic laws on which they depend. Outside, in the cosmos, these forces that are drawn directly out of the cosmos, cannot possibly be used in an evil way.
Let us now consider the following: All those who pass through the portal of death as a result of the war, or through some other accident, would not yield such a great number of etheric bodies, had the war not broken out. Of course, all these forces also exist in the cosmos, but they could not be employed by the human beings on earth, for it would be too difficult to use them. Another reason why they could not be employed is that they would be entirely used up in the life of men who die at a normal age. This is a very significant fact, it is most important that these heavenly forces should have passed through human bodies, for this renders them, as it were, free from the ordinary course of development. Yet this very freedom also makes it possible that these forces be used for other purposes than the salvation of humanity.
These forces could be used in different ways. Let us take for granted that human life develops in the light of freedom. Let us then assume that Ahriman succeeds in darkening human thought and reason to such an extent as to induce him to reject spiritual science. The etheric bodies would then still be there, but no souls would be there, filled with enthusiasm for spiritual science and able to place these forces at the service of the earth's progress. Lucifer and Ahriman would in that case be able to exercise their influence and they would make use of these etheric forces, either by leading them into the world built up by Lucifer, or into that built up by Ahriman.
Consider the tremendous importance of this fact! It means, that it will depend on man, as it were, how these forces, bestowed upon the world through death-sacrifices, will be embodied in the evolutionary process of the earth. They serve the evolutionary process of the world through the fact that they can inspire us with what spiritual science has kindled. If materialism were to take hold of every mind, or if nationalism were to spread out exclusively in the form of passion, then Lucifer and Ahriman would be able to use these forces for their own end and in that case these forces would be unable to further the progress of the earth. If we consider these connections, then the deep significance which spiritual science has for the human development on earth rises up before us. And only then shall we be able to say: In order that these forces, sacrificed through death, may be rightly used for the progress of human development, it is necessary that the new spirit, which is the outcome of spiritual science, should take hold of those human beings who are capable of grasping it. If we consider spiritual science in connection with the spiritual process of evolution, which comes to the fore so clearly in these fateful days, then we realise that spiritual science is something tremendously great and sacred. The new spirit which can be acquired through spiritual science thus becomes something that may be compared with the mood of prayer and it may be comprised in the words:
O cosmic spirit, let us be completely filled with the spirit that grows out of spiritual science; so that we may not fail to wrest from Ahriman and Lucifer that which can be of help to the earth, for its salvation and its progress!
Our Building is intended to be a symbol of the soul-attitude that humanity should adopt through spiritual science; for that reason, it is built in such a way that its forms are an artistic expression of what spiritual science is able to give us.
I would be obliged to speak of many things were I to explain to you all that is contained in the details of this Building. But you will learn to know them when you shall see the Building in the course of time and participate in what takes place within it.
To-day I will just mention one thing connected with the explanations which I gave just now. There will be a plastic group in a significant place of our Building, where it turns to the East. This plastic group in particular expresses something that should completely fill our consciousness at the present time. Apart from the details that will be added to the group, we may say that it consists of three chief figures. Three Beings express themselves in this plastic group. In this sculpture we shall see a kind of rock with a projecting part, and in this projection there will be a cave. The central figure of the group will stand upon the projecting rock. It is quite indifferent what name we give to this central figure, but we may see in it the representative of man on earth, man's representative in the highest meaning of the word. And if we see the ideal of humanity in that human being who for three years bore within him the Christ, then we may also see the Christ in this central figure of our plastic group. Yet we should not simply face the statue with the thought: “That is meant to be the Christ”, for this would be wrong. Instead, we should experience everything in an artistic way, that is to say, we should not interpret things symbolically from outside, but everything should result from what the forms themselves reveal.
Above, you may see a second shape. This Being has a head resembling (I can only say, resembling) a human head. It is really formed in such a way that it has a strongly developed skull and particularly a strongly developed forehead. Whereas in man these parts are relatively rigid, everything in that Being is extremely mobile. That is to say, everything is an expression of the soul. Just as we can move our hands and fingers, but not the upper parts of our head, so this Being can move everything up there. And the sculptural work expresses that everything up there is mobile. In this Being, the lower part of the physiognomy recedes in a marked way. One might say that the mighty skull dominates the face, that recedes. (I can only discuss a few details, for every line of this sculpture is significant). It is characteristic that the ear of this Being is connected with that part which has, in the case of man, deteriorated and become his larynx. The lobe of the larynx grows upwards and forms the lower part of the ear, whereas the upper part of the ear is formed by the forehead. On the other side, we can see two protuberances that remind us of birds' wings, and in between there is a form that, as a whole resembles a transformed human countenance. The wings, larynx and ear are one form. We may therefore say that this Being lives with its wings in the harmony of the spheres; it swings through the spaces, through the waves of the harmony of the spheres, and this becomes localised in the ear. (In man, all this has deteriorated). Through the fact that the Representative of Mankind raises His left hand, the wings of that Being break against the rock. You may now guess that this falling shape with the broken wings is meant to be Lucifer.
Below in the cave, we can see another shape. Its wings do not resemble birds' wings, but those of a bat. Its body is like that of a dragon, or of a worm, and its head again reminds us of a human head. Whereas in Lucifer's forehead everything is powerfully developed, the forehead of this second Being recedes and is quite undeveloped. Instead, the lower parts, towards the jaw, are strongly developed. This Being is enwrapped in gold; it is the gold contained in the earth. The gold of the earth takes on the shape of strong fetters that chain this shape to the cave. It writhes under the influence of Christ's hand pointing downward, the hand of the Representative of Mankind. The shape in the cave is Ahriman; it is Ahriman fettered by the gold of the earth.
The above explanations can really give you, as it were, an idea of the whole. Yet this idea merely indicates the essential point. The essential point that we must bear in mind is that we should never imitate the mistake of the old theosophists, who always work with symbols; the essential point which we must bear in mind is that everything in spiritual science that tends towards human feeling should be transformed into something artistic. We should therefore not say: that these sculptures express “this or that”, but they should reveal to us, through what they are artistically and through what we can see in them, the relation of man, or of Christ, to Lucifer and Ahriman. For that reason, it is impossible to express this with the artistic means of the past. Every movement of the fingers and of the hands, the way in which the hands are shaped, are significant, for they must express something significant. At first we may think that Christ raises His left hand and sends out forces with the intention of breaking Lucifer's wings and of causing him to fall. We might also think that the right hand of Christ pointing downwards sends out forces that fetter Ahriman. Yet it would be quite wrong to think so.
In order to explain the significant fact contained in this, let me remind you of one of the greatest works of art that have so far been produced, of Michelangelo's Last Judgment, in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. There we see Christ sending the righteous men to heaven and the sinful ones to hell. We see Christ sending one part of mankind to a good world and the other part to an evil world. The Christ that is portrayed on Michelangelo's picture is not the Christ whose true nature we must, from now onwards, learn to know through spiritual science. The true Christ never condemns in wrath, nor does he mete out praise in ordinary love. His influence goes out of him simply because he is there; Lucifer's wings do not get broken, but it is Lucifer himself who breaks them, as a result of what takes place within his soul through the fact that he is in the proximity of Christ. And Ahriman fetters himself, as a result of what takes place within his soul, through the fact that he is in the proximity of Christ. When Christ raises his left hand and points downwards with his right hand, he only expresses purest compassion with the world. Lucifer, there above, cannot bear this, he cannot bear the proximity of Christ's hand. And what he thus experiences within him induces him to break his wings. It is not Christ who breaks them, it is Lucifer himself who breaks his own wings.
Michelangelo was not as yet able to portray the real Christ. Christ is such a significant Being and it is so difficult to understand Him, that this understanding can only be reached in the course of time. Only in [the] future shall we be able to grasp the Christ Who induces the other beings to condemn or to redeem themselves, simply through the fact that He is there. The Christ on Michelangelo's painting still has Luciferic and Ahrimanic traits, for he sends the sinners to hell in wrath and leads the righteous to heaven, so that his passions are active. But in our sculpture, Christ is mute impersonal, and the Beings that approach Him must judge themselves.
You may therefore see that man's position in the world that contains the Luciferic and the Ahrimanic forces will be significantly expressed in our Building. You will see in it the artistic expression of Beings that can only be found in the spiritual world. Naturalism in art and everything towards which art has striven in recent times as a result of materialism which took hold of man, must be overcome by the art which we cultivate here. Even in the sphere of art, something entirely new must enter the world through spiritual science, something that is able to overcome even the greatest artistic achievement — the Christ, portrayed in Michelangelo's Last Judgment.
It is permissible to say this, if we emphasize on the other hand something that we should not forget: that in spite of everything, our Building is but a first, primitive beginning. Everything in this Building is still imperfect and elementary, it is merely a beginning, yet it is the beginning of an entirely new impulse. We should of course bear in mind that everything is imperfect, yet at the same time we should not fail to notice in this the new impulse that will enter human life.
Consider how easy it is to ignore a gift of cosmic life consisting of the unused forces pertaining to the etheric bodies of human beings! Consider how these unused forces of the human etheric bodies can fall a prey to Lucifer and Ahriman, if we do not find the possibility of including them in the evolution of the earth, for the welfare of the earth!
Here we touch upon a great mystery, connected with the evolution of humanity upon the earth. It is the mystery of the connection existing between the Christ-impulse and the impulses of Lucifer and Ahriman. This connection of the Christ-impulse with the Lucifer-impulse and with the Ahriman-impulse will be grasped more and more clearly in the near future.
Luciferic and Ahrimanic forces surge through the world, but owing to the fact that man is conscious of Christ, owing to his Christ-consciousness, he is like a sailor who must steer his boat through the storms called up by Lucifer and Ahriman. He can steer his boat through that ocean, whose living substance consists of Lucifer and of Ahriman; he can do this in spite of everything, because he sits in his Christ-boat.
The true reason why we come together in our Group-meetings is not that of learning in a theoretical way one or the other truth which spiritual science can reveal, but the true reason why we assemble is that everything that lives in our souls should be filled with the spirit that can flow out of spiritual science. The essential point is not WHAT we think, but HOW we think, feel and will. The smallest or the greatest things in the evolution of the earth may rise up before our soul's eye, yet everything shows us how necessary it is for the human beings of the future to become acquainted above all with the significance of the triad, Christ, Lucifer and Ahriman. Michelangelo was unable to grasp this, and in the times that have gone by men were unable to see how these three Beings stand within the world. The true nature of Christ will only be grasped in the right way if we can see Him in relation to the forces which are active in the same way in which the North and the South poles are active: in relation to the forces of Lucifer and of Ahriman.
Many things connected with these thoughts will be discussed in the next few days for those who can remain. To-day I wished to bring before your souls thoughts that render the spiritual-scientific attitude so important even in regard to the significant things that will in the near future appear in the spiritual world to those who can discern the spiritual behind the physical events.
O how earnestly one would like to entreat the guardian spirits and the guardian divinities, of the earth and of humanity to give man strength, so that the things needed for the welfare of mankind may take place!
There above, will be the unused etheric forces of those human beings who passed through death in their youth. But here on earth there must be human hearts and human souls who look up to these forces so that they can be included in the right direction of human evolution. It is not only essential that these forces should exist up there, for they can fall a prey to Lucifer and Ahriman, but it is essential above all that here below physical bodies should be inhabited by human souls that send up their reverent thoughts to these sacrificed etheric bodies. On this circumstance will depend the way in which these forces will stream into the evolution of humanity, these forces that arose on the battlefields streaming with blood, where sacrifices are made and suffering is borne.
This indicates more or less what spiritual science is able to contribute to the future development of humanity, if a certain number of people really takes in that which can only be recognised through spiritual science.
Before I close this lecture, let me once more address to your souls a few pragmatic words that express what the present time, so fraught with destiny, is able to give us:
From the courage of the fighters
From the blood of the battles,
From the suffering of the abandoned,
From the nation's sacrifices,
Shall grow forth a spirit-fruit,
If souls will lead, in spirit-consciousness,
Their mind and heart into the spirit-realm.
Original German Text:
Aus dem Mut der Kämpfer,
Aus dem Blut der Schlachten,
Aus dem Leid Verlassener,
Aus des Volkes Opfertaten —
Wird erwachsen Geistesfrucht,
Lenken Seelen giestbewusst
Ihren Sinn ins Geisterreich.