The Polarity between Eternity and Evolution in Human Life
15 September 1918, Dornach
Translated by Paul Breslaw
Those who study the soul-spiritual 1Dr Steiner uses the adjectives geistig-seelisch and seelisch-leiblich on many occasions throughout this lecture. We have chosen to translate them respectively as soul-spiritual and soul-bodily. life of mankind cannot make use of many of the concepts which are commonplace in every-day life and in our current way of thinking. One such idea which cannot be used is that of evolution or development – the idea that one thing, or better said one condition, arises from another. Now I don’t want to be misunderstood, so I should make it quite clear that I do not mean the concept of evolution is useless. Yesterday, for example, we made extensive use of it, when we needed the idea of evolution to speak about how soul-bodily life proceeds between birth and death. But we need quite different concepts if we want to talk about what soul-spiritual life really is.
As you know, our experience of soul-spiritual life within outer sensory reality takes place in thinking, feeling and willing. To understand what is really happening soul-spiritually within the processes of thinking, feeling and willing, we must bear in mind the following: –
If someone feels something and the feeling comes to expression via thinking, or if someone perceives something in the outer world and what is perceived comes to expression via thinking, or if someone does something so that the will is translated into action – in other words whenever someone lives in the soul-spiritual – then this must always be considered as relationships taking place between spiritual beings. Whenever we want to describe the soul-spiritual world within which the human soul exists, then we really can’t avoid speaking about these relationships between spiritual beings.
Suppose that the human being were more of a thinking type, although in reality it is never the case that the activities of thinking, feeling and willing are completely separate. While one is thinking and forming thoughts, the will is at work within the process of thinking, because one actually performs the thinking. And while one is doing something, performing some action, the will is also at work, executing the ‘what-is-wanted’. When we think or contemplate, we do a little more thinking and less willing, and when we act or surrender ourselves to some feeling, we do more willing and less thinking.
But so far everything that I have touched upon is in fact only an outer characteristic of the matter. To grasp the reality of these things we must speak about them quite differently. For example, I might perceive something in the outer world which prompts me to form mental images of it; I don’t do anything, but confine my will to direct my senses towards the outer world so that I can perceive and string thoughts together. I am therefore contemplating, actively perceiving. In reality this means that I shift myself into a spiritual region where ahrimanically inclined beings have the upper hand. Pictorially speaking, in a certain sense I stick my head into a region where ahrimanic beings rule. While on the face of it I say “I am contemplating something”, in reality I should say “I am busy in a spiritual region where certain beings have the upper hand, somewhat subduing other beings, and hold the balance which tends towards the ahrimanic.”
When we describe things this way, at first it all seems rather vague and indefinite, because they take place in the spiritual realm, and our language is made for sensory reality. One can however express them pictorially by removing the human being somewhat from the process and moving it more into the cosmos. For this reason a situation which could be characterised externally by saying “Something stimulates me and I ponder upon it”, would be expressed pictorially by initiation knowledge in something like the following way: –
The human being lives in and orients himself within the cosmos. As I have shown in the last few days, this is like a compass needle that points, cosmically speaking, north-south, its orientation not determined from within, but by the cosmos. This orientation varies so that it can follow the zodiac, alternating amongst Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces. (See Figure). There is also at first a fundamental state, taking this orientation of the zodiac as a basis, in which the human being points upwards according to his head-nature and downwards according to his limb-nature. All this can then be viewed as a kind of balance beam which separates what is above from what is below.
Now what becomes of this human cosmic orientation if we were to look at someone who is neither thinking nor acting – I hope you are not doing this – someone who is casually given over to the feeling of being lulled by life, half asleep and half awake, neither active nor passive? Actually rather a lot happens to him, only he doesn’t notice it. And if we want to picture this condition – as I said, one that I hope you are not in right now – then we would say that the balance beam rested horizontally.
But if we want to describe a state of mind which I hope you are now in – contemplative, stimulated and absorbing what I’m talking about – then we must picture the balance beam differently. We would say that all the souls sitting here – or at least some of the souls sitting here – are shifted into a region where certain spiritual beings raise one side of the balance beam. In the physical world, when a beam moves because of an imbalance, we say that it drops, but in the spiritual world we say that the beam rises. When someone is in a state of contemplation, he shifts to a different spiritual region, and ahrimanic beings there raise the beam away from Libra and towards Virgo (see ‘blue’ in Figure).
So when someone is contemplating, it means that he takes advantage of his situation as a human being in the entire cosmos, exploiting those forces within which he oscillates, in order to shift into a spiritual region where a condition of balance once again holds sway. You start to contemplate, and while you are actively doing this, your spiritual space – if I can call it that – shifts to a region where a battle takes place, and then subsides. The beings here on the left fight against the beings on the right, and vice versa. But once you have achieved a state of contemplation, the battle is over, and peace is restored. This peace signifies that certain ahrimanically oriented beings have the upper hand, like when a tilted balance beam comes to rest, no longer oscillating because something is pulling at it. That would be the reality corresponding to contemplation, to thinking actively.
In normal sensory existence, what we call thinking is only maya, an illusion. You have to describe cosmically what thinking really is, asking about the person’s whole situation within the cosmos. And the answer you get about the person’s cosmic situation reveals both what certain spiritual beings are doing and what contemplative thinking is. So you see that it is basically an illusion if we describe thinking as we do in normal life, because in reality we find ourselves in a certain region in which thoughts take place in our ‘thinking space’ through the fact that certain ahrimanically inclined beings have tilted the balance beam to one side. That is what really happens.
Consider another event in human soul-spiritual life; we do something, not charging aimlessly around, but acting intentionally, an action filled with thought. How this is described in ordinary life is also a mere illusion, because when we are acting, we again shift into a specific cosmic region. But in this region there are certain luciferically inclined beings who raise the balance beam from its state of rest in the other direction, which we can picture with this arrow (see ‘red’ in Figure). So when we are acting intentionally, really willing our deeds, we are oriented in a region of the cosmos where the balance beam is held by certain luciferic beings. Now the state of rest is gone because we have shifted to a region where these luciferic beings begin to make the balance beam tremble, and we are transported into a kind of battle that takes place in the cosmos. Within our will the luciferic beings begin to fight against the ahrimanic beings, and this volatile situation expresses itself as the rocking of the balance beam. So what is called will in everyday language is also only maya, and is correctly described by saying that when we will something we are in a region where luciferic beings have raised the balance beam. We find exactly the region where the state of rest begins to change into rhythmical movement, and raising the beam takes place without our involvement.
I have mentioned in the first of my mystery dramas – of course in dramatic form – that when we think or feel soul-spiritually, we should not have the idea that this only happens within us, because cosmic forces are also set in motion. This was expressed pictorially in a scene in which Capesius and Strader do something, and at the same time great cosmic events take place. They do not happen in the sensory world but in the super-sensible, so one can only make them perceivable in the sensory world in the way it is done in the drama. All the same, it is quite clearly expressed in the play that human action as we normally describe it, is only a reflection of reality, and when one thinks or wills the slightest thing in one’s soul, significant events happen in the cosmos. We can never think or will something without shifting ourselves into regions where spiritual battles are taking place, or spiritual battles are subsiding, or spiritual battles have already been fought and we move into the outcome of these struggles, and so on.
What I have just described to you is present in the human soul-spiritual being, only it is hidden in the life we lead between birth and death; but it is the truth in the spiritual world. Recently I have spoken in other contexts about how modern man, behaving intellectually as is the custom today, really lives in hallucinations. Basically, the ideas we form about thinking, feeling and willing are hallucinations, and the reality that lies behind them is what we can illustrate pictorially in the way I have just done.
So what we have just described lies behind our soul-spiritual events, and reveals itself to us as a reflection, appearing as thinking, feeling and willing. And as soon as we consider the human being as he really is soul-spiritually, the concept of development, of evolution, becomes inapplicable.
For example, it would be complete nonsense to say that the human being becomes reasonable at a certain age, prior to which he is given over to a raging will, and that the one develops from the other. In spiritual regions nothing develops in this way; we can only say of the child that he thinks, feels and wills differently from an old man; that the child is shifted into a different spiritual region where the battles between the various beings take place in other ways. In spiritual regions, development, as we described it yesterday, does not take place. There we understand the past as a picture of battles, of relationships, of the changing circumstances of the spiritual beings that we look for behind the higher hierarchies. When we speak about the present there is a different picture of the interplay of the hierarchies, and there is yet another picture when we talk about the future. As we regard the past, present and future, so accordingly do we see different pictures in the relationships between the various beings of the hierarchies. And it would be absurd to suggest that the picture of the future battles develops out the picture of the past battles. These things belonging to the region of the spirit are in a certain relationship of juxtaposition, not one after the other. For this reason we cannot speak of development, only of spiritual perspective, as I have already told you in respect of other matters. What we can say is that when we consider the human being as a soul-spiritual being, then it makes no sense to speak of him first as a child who goes through the change of teeth, then puberty, and so on. So what appears as evolution, as development, in the region of the soul-bodily, cannot be spoken of as evolution when it is to do with the soul-spiritual. Instead it should be understood as transition from one picture to another within the changing relationships of the beings of the higher hierarchies.
If you fail to bring into consideration the connections between what I explained yesterday and today then you will never really understand the relationship between the temporal and the eternal.
I have already explained how the human being, as a soul-bodily being, is placed in temporal development in such a way that he needs to become an old man before he can first begin to understand what happened to him as a child. This has everything to do with the concept of evolution. But as a soul-spiritual being, we must recognize that the human being is not placed within evolution, that the concept of time as we know it in outer sensory life is totally inapplicable there, and that we make a mistake when we speak of the human soul-spiritual being and bring time into the sphere of the higher hierarchies. There, everything is eternal and things do not happen in time, only in perspectives within which we see battles and changing relationships. The concept of time is inapplicable to the changing relationships in the higher hierarchies, and if we do use it, then we are only using it to make an illustration of the essential being of these hierarchies. Hence you can follow in my Outline of Occult Science how carefully I suggest that what appears to be temporal must be presented in picture form. For example, where I speak about the stages of Old Saturn and Old Sun, I draw attention very clearly to the fact that the concept of time is only used pictorially to describe what preceded the Old Sun period and even into the first half of the Old Sun period itself. You can check all this in Occult Science where these apparently minor details in my book about spiritual science are of tremendous importance, because precisely in these details lies the basis for an understanding of the difference between what is temporal transitoriness and what endures eternally.
If you think about what I have just said, then you will see that yesterday I tried to describe the being of man purely in time. The concept of time played a really major role there, because it depends on time whether someone has gained a certain understanding by living through to old age, or not if he is still in childhood. Yesterday when we described what forms the basis of the soul-bodily being of mankind in the light of the spirit, it was based firmly on the concept of time. Today I have described what forms the basis of the soul-spiritual being which can only be portrayed by describing it in the sphere of eternity, in which – and this is rather difficult – the concept of time is completely inapplicable.
In this respect our being is indeed split in two, and insofar as we do develop through our lives, we do so on the one hand, by waiting calmly and patiently until we are mature enough in soul and body to understand something, while on the other hand we remain without development in the sphere of eternity, where to a certain extent we gaze simultaneously at our childhood in one region, and at our dotage in another. Here on earth, mankind lives in such a way that what happens in the sphere of eternity rays down into what happens in the temporal sphere, and vice versa, both being mixed up with each other.
The task of initiation wisdom is to separate what is mixed up, because only by being held apart can it be understood. Initiation wisdom has always called what is in the sphere of eternity – Above, and what is in the sphere of transitoriness – Below. But as the human being lives here on earth, he views a mixture of Above and Below, and can never come to an understanding of his own being when he sees it mixed up in this way. He can only understand himself when he understands how to separate what is mixed up.
So you can appreciate why the point of view that ordinary life provides makes it impossible to grasp in normal consciousness how things are the way I described them yesterday and today. Someone basing things on normal consciousness might say: “Yesterday, you outlined something about mankind that we can’t see, that isn’t reality at all, because people don’t develop the way you described; there are many people who are quite mature in their youth”, and so on. But this is an objection based on a deception, since reality is as I described it, and people today slip into dualism because they do not see what is Below as mobile and fluid in the way I presented it yesterday. The normal view is to look at a person as he stands before us, while the initiate considers the course of events that take place between birth and death and sees the human being in flux, taking the rigidity of what is Below and bringing it into flowing movement.
On the other hand, when an initiate considers the fluidity of thinking, feeling and willing, he brings this movement to a halt, and what is bound to the physical body apparently happening in time, he views in the sphere of eternity, the region of spiritual juxtaposition.
People strive towards initiation wisdom, and openly admit that the perceivable environment is maya, a great deception, an illusion. But when it gets serious, then they don’t accept it, and would rather describe the region Above with the same idea of maya that they use for the region Below. One should make beautiful schematic drawings based on the ideas of maya, and move about the spiritual world with them, up or down, above or below consciousness. People say to me: “Yes, but you’re not describing things so that I can understand”. But behind this lies “You challenge me with ideas and thoughts that are different from the ones in maya; you challenge me to come to grips with ideas which are in the sphere of reality.”
As another objection, someone might say: “Yes, but in the end, what concerns me in all this is what happens here below! If we just use the concept of time seriously in relation to human development, or we gaze out from life into the sphere of eternity, then one can get by quite well, thank you very much”. You could say this if you remained in maya, and if you formed concepts from what is all mixed up; and yes, you can survive, you can of course continue to live albeit asleep by remaining only in the sphere of eternity.
But here my first point is this. If you form concepts like these, which are sharp and which can stand up to modern scholarship, then you can just about live with them, but really only just live. What you cannot do with concepts like these is die. Nobody can die with concepts like these. And as soon as one touches upon this mystery, the full import of spiritual scientific knowledge begins to dawn on one, because concepts which are formed without initiation knowledge lead after death into an unlawful ahrimanic region. And if you spurn forming concepts like those in initiation wisdom, then after death you will not arrive in the region of humanity to which you are really predestined.
In former times higher spiritual beings taught those people with an atavistic clairvoyant predisposition the concepts of initiation in supersensible ways. In those days, and essentially up until the year 333 after the Mystery of Golgotha, there was a kind of supersensible instruction available to people, which made them not only fit for life, but also fit for death. However, since that time the human being has had to prepare his soul, through his own effort here on earth, with concepts so that he can cross the threshold of death in the right way.
For initiation wisdom there is nothing more frivolous than the comment: “Well, we can wait until we enter the region after death, then we’ll see what’s there”. The answer to this is: “Whoever waits, sins against life”, because you would be utterly terrified if, per impossibile, an initiate showed you what deformed creatures you would be if, throughout your life between death and rebirth, you had had the same attitude and said: “I’ll wait until I’m born on earth to see what kind of being is clothed with flesh and blood”. There, higher beings take care of you, and because of their benevolent influence, you cannot avoid preparing for yourself those forces which before your birth protect you from becoming a misbegotten creature. And those beings that teach us say: “This spiritual life between death and new birth is not merely here for our region, it is also here in order for the region Below to be lawfully prepared so that finely formed people can come into being there, and not mis¬begotten creatures.”
Likewise life here on earth is not simply for the earth, but is here so that a person can die in the correct human way. And by adopting concepts from the higher region the human being can prepare his lower nature for this so that he does not enter an inappropriate ahrimanic region. There are of course appropriate ahrimanic regions, but those that are not in accordance with one’s humanity would be inappropriate.
That is the first point. The second point is this. If you disregard the sphere of eternity, you can just about survive as an individual person – although in reality nobody can live in isolation – but you would not be able to live within the human social order which is led and directed by beings of the higher hierarchies. When you enter into even the most trivial relationship with another person – and our whole life consists of inter-personal relationships – and if what streams into this relationship does not flow from a consciousness of what lies in the spiritual sphere of eternity, then you ruin social integrity, and you contribute to catastrophic manifestations of destruction on the planet. In addition, any social or political point of view that does not stem from the spirit, will also work in this destructive way. Only a point of view that reckons with the sphere of eternity, that is alive to what is becoming, can be effective in political, social, and especially in inter-personal life. This is the great serious truth which must increasingly confront humanity through initiation wisdom. And the signs of the times confirm this, that those days up to 333AD are long past, when higher beings supersensibly taught a humanity that did not need to participate consciously, because it could be educated mostly in sleep or in dimmed consciousness. But today people can only receive what they need so much by experiencing it person to person within humanity itself. People must simply put aside that arrogance which lets them say they can always form their own opinions. In the sphere of transitoriness we should recognise that the old have something to say to the young which only the old can tell them. If we understand this, then why should we not also understand that there is an initiation wisdom which we take in inter-personally? This is a kind of leaven of the social life which must develop in the future, so that at any moment – we are speaking of the sphere of time here – if someone cannot recognise what he needs, then he will receive it from others.
Yesterday I told you that our individual development in time makes it unnecessary for us to accept things merely by believing in authority; instead when we form an idea we can have it as a kind of conviction that flows from one’s own inner being. I have emphasized in a number of my books that belief in authority has no place in spiritual science. But it also needs to be clearly understood by all who are really grounded in spiritual science that someone cannot be initiated at any time of life simply by blowing his own trumpet and following his own convictions as is the fashion today. If that were the case people could draw up all manner of programmes that they believed in, that could rule the world, but which could never deliver the kind of wisdom that really flows into the life and workings of the world which increasingly need initiation knowledge.
In past times initiation was a kind of thinking that was given to humanity. But in the future people must use their own willpower to turn towards what comes into the world through initiation, even though this counters many subconscious desires. It is very difficult for people to find the right way to summon up the required degree of seriousness to engage with everything that I have been talking about.
It is becoming really hard to tell modern human beings how much goodwill they must have, because they often think that this goodwill is actually rather heartless. Whoever correctly penetrates the meaning of spiritual science knows that as we move towards the future, there is no alternative to the study of initiation wisdom for forming the soul substance that enables us to pass through the gate of death in the right manner, and which also allows us to stand properly within the social life of humanity. One can live into this, but then comes the contradictory thought: “Here’s someone in whose life there are people whom he loves for one reason or another, but they do not want to know anything about this great requirement of our time to turn towards the spiritual life. When he wishes that these people should also attain salvation, it seems to him heartless if the whole truth is spelled out”.
But whoever really has goodwill towards these things knows that it is not goodwill at all to close one’s eyes and say: “Oh well, although they don’t want to know anything about the spiritual life, they can attain salvation anyway”. Instead one should say: “Every effort should be made to bring the spiritual life to the earth”. It is not about giving in to the thought which is so closely connected with our own wishes for dealing with those who don’t want to know anything about spiritual life. Rather we should positively strive towards dedicating ourselves with goodwill to the spiritual life, attempting to bring it into the world so that people can be – if I might use the expression – brought to blessedness.
Behind what is often called a loving attitude, lies hidden not only superficiality, but also a misjudgment of the whole situation. Today if someone speaks out of initiation wisdom, he does so not to teach people theoretical knowledge, but with a warm heart, out of love of humanity, because he knows how much the signs of the times indicate that the next great task is to bring spiritual life to the soul, and to incorporate it into human life so that the spirit draws near to the soul. But it is also necessary to courageously face up to the challenge of humanity’s development in time. The views from Above and from Below which must be brought into the open today and clearly understood, if at all possible also need to be incorporated in the human soul.
If life is looked at as it is today – in a prejudiced and illusionary way – then one is not speaking about the whole of life but only about a tiny part of it. I tested this in the following way. I know the various biographies of Goethe, which provide information about many of the things that Goethe did, what he was motivated by, considered, and thought about, between his birth and his death. But as soon as Goethe’s soul passed through the gate of death, what is described in these biographies with their illusionary point of view, has not the slightest significance for the region which the soul enters after death, and constitutes another mixing up of the sphere of eternity with the sphere of transitoriness. It is indeed transitory when, through a new birth, the human being again steps into existence,
Everything that is recorded about life between birth and death in an illusionary biography based on an illusionary world view is of no use for the sphere which one enters through the gate of death. What matters is only the question: “How has the soul spoken to the cosmos?” Whatever somebody said to his neighbour, even if it was the most beautiful thing on earth, if it did not flow from spiritual knowledge, then it was not spoken to the cosmos.
However, what Goethe lived through was spoken to the cosmos, when one considers his life described in seven-year periods. How Goethe changed from one seven year period to the next! How remarkable was that great change in his life which happened at the end of a seven-year period when he went to Italy, or at least decided to go there! Whatever happens from one seven-year period to the next, beneath the sphere which forms normal biographies, this is what speaks to the cosmos; and something can be done with this once the human soul has passed through the gate of death. What Goethe said that was influenced by beings of the sphere of eternity, described as I have been doing today, this too has a connection to the sphere that one enters after death. Picture to yourselves Goethe’s life from the point of view of yesterday’s consideration of successive seven-year periods – what he felt when he wrote maxims above particular chapters of his works, such as “What youth desires, age receives in abundance”. Looking at Goethe’s life from the point of view of transitoriness, of evolution, if you run across words like these used as a motto above that one chapter, and you meet these words with knowledge of spiritual science, then to a certain extent you will have encountered the eternal Goethe. And if again with a spiritual scientific attitude, you come across something that Goethe said, resounding with what flows from the sphere of eternity where the hierarchies have their interplay, there too is the eternal Goethe. By accepting initiation wisdom, the task that accrues to humanity from now onwards is to get to know not just what is temporal in the world but also what is eternal; this can only be learned by turning to spiritual science. What in former times was freely offered, must be seen by modern humanity in the light of what approaches us from modern initiation wisdom.
Within the Catholic church today there is something that acts like a red rag to a certain kind of being. When the type of Catholic, who these days might often consider himself to be true-blue, chooses some world-view to twit, it is the doctrine of emanation. Any interpretation of the universe based on emanation is condemned – perhaps for himself personally a little less so – but certainly for those faithful little lambs to whom he is speaking or writing. All that’s needed is to be able to attach the description ‘emanating’ to any philosophy! According to dyed-in-the-wool Catholics, the doctrine of emanation is opposed to creationism, the philosophy of creation out of nothing. So here we have, in a kind of dualistic way, on one side the philosophy of emanation acting like a red rag, and on the other side creationism, the philosophy of creation from nothing. Creationism is accepted and the philosophy of emanation is rejected.
Now the doctrine of emanation became known in Western culture indirectly through the Gnosis. However, the manner in which it became known in the West – the underlying literature has been largely destroyed – means that the doctrine of emanation has become distorted, because within Catholicism only its distortion is known, which gives rise to great misunderstanding. Because what one knows as the doctrine of emanation – the outcome of one eon from another, where the less perfect always stems from the more perfect, which is usually described exoterically as the Gnosis – is in fact already a distortion. It points back to a completely different world view, particularly to ancient times when it was possible for spiritual teachers to instruct mankind directly out of the supersensible. The doctrine of emanation – although a corruption – points back to a wisdom that in its old form referred to the sphere of eternity, to what is Above. As such, one can to a certain extent defend emanation, not in the corrupt form that we know, but in the form where only a perspective within time is described and not from the point of view of true evolution. But if it cannot speak about real evolution, then neither can it speak about creation from nothing, because that too is a kind of evolution, albeit an extreme case. The idea that something stems from something else – as we have discussed today – is inappropriate for describing the sphere of eternity which consists of interrelationships between spiritual beings.
However, if we turn again to the sphere of transitoriness, then we can indeed speak about evolution, even about this extreme case, which basically has been implicit in much of what I have been speaking about these past few days. For when we say that present-day ideals are the seed of the future, and that present-day realities are the fruit of the past, isn’t that a continuous coming into being from what does not exist in the world? Rightly understood, this leads us to true, uncorrupted, creationism. The demand that goes out to humanity today is this: To understand in the correct light what was meant by the doctrine of emanation, and to apply it to the soul- spiritual world; and to rightly understand what is meant by true, uncorrupted, creationism, applying it, not to the creator, but to the created, to the soul-bodily. The salvation and resolution of this philosophy lies not in the nebulous confusion of dualism, but in recognising the duality and seeing through it, and by viewing correctly the spheres of eternity and of transitoriness, and being able to separate them. Then we will be able to say that in beholding reality as it exists before us, we see both a reflection and at the same time an effect; a reflection because it belongs to the sphere of transitoriness and is ruled by evolution, and an effect because it belongs to the sphere of eternity and is ruled by what we acquire when we comprehend the soul-spiritual life as described today. It is not correct to say that creationism is right and emanation is wrong, nor that emanation is right and creationism wrong, but that both are necessary factors for a true understanding of the totality of life. Overcoming dualism cannot be brought about theoretically, only by life itself. If you seek a resolution of what is Above with what is Below, of the sphere of transitoriness with the sphere of eternity, and look for it theoretically in concepts, thoughts, and ideas, then you will never manage it, you will arrive at a confused philosophy, because you would be seeking with the intellect what should really be sought in life itself.
In life one can look for the truth only when one knows that one has to set one’s gaze both in the sphere of eternity, to recognise there what does not otherwise appear in outer reality, and then to consider all human and other beings in the sphere of transitoriness, in a way that actually contradicts outer reality. Armed with both of these, when one comes upon something real, it begins to flow as one experiences reality as alive, as living seeing, arising from the combination of effect in the sphere of eternity and reflection in the sphere of transitoriness. This is the way to grasp reality, if one does not want to hold a theoretical worldview that only lives in concepts and ideas. One can grasp it if one is willing to adopt two worldviews, one for the realm of the soul-spiritual and the other for the realm of the soul-bodily, and in the living interplay of the two, not in a theory, one will have something that nourishes and stimulates life. Only in this way can we escape from dualism.
This is the challenge that faces humanity today. It has nothing to do with founders of religions appearing and teaching humanity about spiritualism; nor does it depend on founders of learned sects appearing and teaching humanity about materialism. But it does depend on us viewing matter as the material of evolution, that spirit is not matter and should be understood spiritually in the sphere of eternity, and that reality should be viewed as both of these. What must flow into a future world view is matter illuminated by the spirit, and the spirit substantiated by matter. It does not depend on philosophers appearing who offer mankind definitions of truth, or who offer definitions that in theory create a so-called monadic consistency, as the academics teach. But it does depend on recognising the duality between truth and knowledge, and actively looking for the relationship between these two in life itself, leading to a living epistemology, not a theoretical one.
It is not truth or knowledge, but truth and knowledge – knowledge borne by the significance of truth, itself illuminated by the light of knowledge – recognising the human being himself as a duality in the world who, in his life and in his becoming, can only surmount what as duality must be surmounted. The future task of humanity is not Kantianism which believes that appearances in the outer world are not the ‘thing-in-itself’, but should be to achieve truth and knowledge in the intellectual sphere too; and that means recognising that what surrounds us is indeed maya; but it is maya because of the way we are placed in the world, and as long as we appear this way, we are a duality. We create maya by our being placed in this way, and we overcome it, not in some idea or theory, but in life itself by bringing our own selves to life.
This is of course contained in my booklet Truth and Knowledge. It also appears in my book The Philosophy of Freedom, which in a few days’ time will appear in a new edition that you can get here. I have made some additions to it, not altering the original text, but considerably enlarging many of the notes.
In conclusion therefore, what is important is to understand the signs of the times, and from them to nurture the spiritual life in the various areas of human endeavour.