May 23, 2013

Rudolf Steiner On The Modern World's Rejection of The Soul

Below is an excerpt from Lecture One of Rudolf Steiner's 1919 lecture series called, "The Influences of Lucifer and Ahriman."
"What numbers of people there are today who no longer value the spirit for the sake of the spirit or the soul for the sake of the soul! They are out to absorb from cultural life only what is regarded as “useful.” This is a significant and mysterious factor in the life of modern humanity and one that must be lifted into the full light of consciousness. Average citizens, who work assiduously in their offices from morning till evening and then go through the habitual evening routine, will not allow themselves to get mixed up with what they call the “twaddle” to be found in anthroposophy. It seems to them entirely redundant, for they think: that is something one cannot eat! It finally comes to this — although people will not admit it — that in ordinary life nothing in the way of knowledge is considered really useful unless it helps to put food in the mouth!

In this connection people today have succumbed to a strange fallacy. They do not believe that the spirit can be eaten, and yet the very ones who say this, do eat the spirit! Although they may refuse to accept anything spiritual, nevertheless with every morsel that passes through the mouth into the stomach they are devouring the spiritual, but dispatching it along a path other than the path which leads to the real well-being of mankind.

I believe that many Europeans think it is to the credit of their civilization to be able to say: We are not cannibals! But these Europeans and their American affinities are, none the less, devourers of soul and spirit! The soulless devouring of material food leads to the side-tracking of the spirit. It is difficult to say these things today, for in the light of such knowledge just think what would have to be said of a large section of modern culture! To keep people in the state of being devourers of the soul and spirit is one of Ahriman’s impulses in preparation for his incarnation. To the extent to which people can be roused into conducting their affairs not for material ends alone and into regarding a free and independent spiritual life, equally with economic life, as an integral part of the social organism — to that same extent Ahriman’s incarnation will be awaited with an attitude worthy of humanity.
The point to remember is, however, that the people who do most to prepare for the incarnation of Ahriman are those who constantly preach. “All that is required is to read the Gospels word-for-word-nothing more than that!”

Strange to say, in spite of their radical differences, the two parties play into each other’s hands: those whom I called “devourers of soul and spirit” and those who demand the literal, word-for-word reading of the Gospels. Each party plays into the hands of the other, furthering the preparation of Ahriman’s incarnation. For if the outlook of the “devourers of soul and spirit” on the one side and that of professed Christians who refuse to enter into the deeper truths of the Gospels on the other were to hold the day, then Ahriman would be able to make all human beings on the earth his own. A good deal of what is spreading in external Christianity today is a preparation for Ahriman’s incarnation. And in many things which arrogantly claim to represent true belief, we should recognize the preparation for Ahriman’s work."
"You say it's money that we need,
As if we were only mouths to feed,
I know no matter what you say
There are some debts you'll never pay." - Arcade Fire, "Intervention."