Obedient to the origin of my spiritual being I see myself duty bound here to warn most urgently of a type of “philosophical literature” which claims more and more territory for itself and suggestively takes hold of wider and wider circles of seekers, – put in its true light, however, it represents nothing other than a new, curiously rearranged accumulation of the unripe fruits of reading.
Many of the authors of such literary products belong to that curious human kind of the self-appointed who cannot browse through five books without discovering the certainty within them that they are entitled and mature enough to write a sixth book on similar material themselves.
Others have indeed read pretty much everything written by human hand as made up or believed solutions to those questions of the reason and the heart which long for a world in which suffering and death do not lurk, like dreadful ghosts, behind all joys.
Remarkable breadth of reading is often then joined to well-practised speculative thought and a no less significant power of expression. Yet the writer may himself not notice in such cases that he is only writing from the heart that what his inmost wants to be “rid of”, – that his brain dares to make the strangest leaps in thought only so that his head is finally free of the mess of recollections of heaped up and accumulated fruits from all fields of thought and all the gardens of human teaching.
Even knowledge calling for respect in the strictest sense of sober science, cannot protect at all from the same, need-driven self-reassurance which runs all too surely hand in hand with the persuasion: – reality “must” be shaped just like the thought up formulation.
But reality is in all respects independent from the imaginings and thought constructions which the human brain reproduces and creates, and from which it constructs its world.
The fullness of earthly knowledge which thought can acquire and imagination can explain must not lead to the supposition that tools have been won, through the results of thought and explanation, with which reality can be transformed.
Immutable, true to its own law, it mocks every intention to want to give it different form; no human spiritual power can change what true reality is; though even very slight wisdom suffices to indulge in foolish inventions through which man believes he can subordinate reality.
Such foolish inventions are the subject, without exception, in that type of literature to which my words here refer.
These writings and tracts remain relatively harmless if the folly is so evident that even those not taught and not warned can quickly discover it.
But much more misfortune is brought by those books in which a fanatic spirit, well versed in thoughtful presentation, mixes the jelly of his brain’s discoveries with all sorts of fragmented knowledge which are a genuine part of reality.
Faced by such a fragment in the midst of a soft mass the reader feels something solid, – feels with certainty that a true part of reality must correspond to this part of the representation. He therefore dares to make the careless conclusion that the complete wobbling mass is a true witness to reality. –
The next consequence is the fear, through one’s own testing and weighing, of losing a truth. Once in the thrall of such fear, every capacity to exercise criticism, which could have still saved the cleverly baited one from the rod, is paralysed.
There are really many highly respected men and women who once had hoped as honest seekers to find the true picture of reality but then lost their freedom for the whole of their lifetime on earth.
We may here only remind in passing of the waste of national wealth perpetrated in almost all “civilised” countries of the world in order to confuse minds in such a way and to press fear into hearts…
None of the authors of that form of literature meant here appears to pose the question whether he can also answer after his earthly death for what he has taught with such a suggestive voice during his days on earth, and what perhaps he even regards himself as responsible.
For many, such a question will not cause much racking of brains, since in the most hidden part of their thoughts they follow the thesis that with the death of the earthly body all experience ends anyway.
But even there, where the discoverer is at the same time slave to his self-produced mass of imagination, nothing appears to be further than even the slightest doubt about his own right to proclaim.
Unfortunately there is a lack of any awareness of responsibility. It is bitterly painful for me to speak out here and say that also admirable poetic creation is incapable of paralysing the poisonous effects to which the organism of the soul is exposed where pronouncements are made about the last things without any vocation or justification, as though these are matters which can be transformed according to taste and mood…
If need be we can understand perhaps if a pastor of souls serving a faithful community, reliant on its supply of imagination, continues to teach as he was taught that he must teach, despite the fact that his knowledge has long since outgrown such teaching. – But a free creator of language, only tied to his art, may hardly expect the same understanding and – forgiveness, if he uses those ancient sacred concepts and words, which bring mankind closest to God, just to serve the day, when that day, meriting no respect, demands decoration which should misleadingly hide the dull veneer. –
Mankind in this age is truly not yet “degenerate” even if professional faultfinders would wish that to be the case.
Even the hitherto incapability of nations to win respect for each other in any way else than through producing fear of the most dreadful means of destruction – is really “incapability”, not degeneration!
This mankind is still incapable of grasping the significance of its mechanical conquests over the last hundred – even fewer – the last fifty years!(*) (*) This book was first published in 1922.
It is also not capable of mastering the aforementioned conquests really as a possession but is rather “possessed” by what it has managed to conquer…
Once this spectral condition has been overcome, the capability of discovering those primeval spiritual teachings awaiting discovery behind all the technical inventions of modern times will begin. –
But even today an open mind could take on board the lesson learnt from areas of technical conquests that mere knowledge of the handbook theses of mechanics is in no way sufficient to perceive reality here. Reality must firstly be recognised before the calculating engineer can go about his work, if his efforts are to achieve success.
Only when he knows how to carefully adapt to an inalterable reality will the machines he has invented be of use.
Thus every invention made by all too active imagination is completely useless for representing those things which must today remain inaccessible to the for us only known and familiair animal senses.
Here too one must first know reality before being certain that one’s representation will not leave souls in the labyrinth of wildest confusion.
There are, however, at any time among all the millions of people of the different races only a few men born, who are prepared in such a way that reality can reveal itself to them and they can bear its sight.
The word of the ancients: – “Whoever sees God must die!” – has, for almost all men, its deep justification; even the tiny group of the genuinely prepared ones must yield to this sentence even if it is to experience its truth in just a weakened form…
I am indeed, like any other earthly man, so little the maker of these circumstances, but I can only testify to them, standing in their midst.
The fact that human imagination can “imagine” everything also in a different way does not in the slightest change the fact that reality stays as it is and obeys only its own inherent law.
If I give warning here of teachers who have not been called, I hope, with human sympathy, that hardly anyone even suspects what he is abandoning as a toy to his thoughts.
True knowledge of the consequences, not even to be dissolved for millennia, would certainly stop even the most unscrupulous literary soldier of fortune from circulating the discoveries of his imaginative powers as if they were the true picture of reality…
This true picture of reality is still to be found in myths and sagas, in legends and in many teachings of ancient religions, though it may be today whitewashed or blackened by candles to the extent that effort and care must be given even to recognise it passably.
Much still awaits those discoverers with skilful hands who can make visible once more what is today almost unrecognisable. For the founders of the ancient exalted cults knew that “whoever sees God must die”. They therefore created true pictures of reality for all who hoped to find their living God in themselves, where he can not be “seen”, – but felt in every atom of the soul, in every cell of the body: dispensing blessing, power and illumination. –
Also the great Man of love, the hero of Golgotha had “seen” God, as one prepared for this in his own time, – and as he knew that he could communicate to his people the perception of this reality known to him only in true pictures, he taught almost always in pictures and parables.
At times he sought to go beyond picture and parable through words which his disciples had scarcely expected.
“This is a hard saying, – who can hear it!?”
Thus was a very “hard” saying given to them when the Master taught them with mathematical precision:
“The Kingdom of God is in you!”
They had “imagined” it otherwise. –
No less difficult was it for them to follow him when he said:
“I and the Father are one! Whoever sees me, sees the Father!”
“The Father is greater than I!”
Such sayings come almost fearfully near to reality with the result that they had to appear most dubious to “those of little faith”, particularly as they could still not yet know how beautifully Christian “theology” would be able to interpret such sentences.
If one wishes to comprehend the sentences for oneself, then one must very consciously forget such interpretations. –
But much more important than that self-imposed aim: to interpret what still remains today of the exalted Master’s real words, is the adjustment of one’s own complete earthly life to the “Kingdom of Heaven” in ourselves!
And even if no other saying of the great Man of Love were preserved, the indication would alone suffice that the true Kingdom of Heaven is only to be found for each earthly man in himself, – just as he can experience it, just as his strength can grasp it. –
Let all desire for pedantry keep a respectful distance at this point!
We are talking about the Kingdom of Heaven, – about the kingdom of the worlds of essential, eternal spirit, – not about a pious feeling supposedly aimed at pleasing God! –
And only in ourselves are the heavens open to us which are to become our eternal home. – –
In us is the entrance to all spiritual regions because our own spirituality is imbued by all of them.
Yet in yourself you will only be admitted into that “heaven” which corresponds to your own conscious capacity, which can only, through deeds and works in circumstances appropriate to you, create classification and rank!
As soon as your earthly body is of no more use to you, you will have to be satisfied with that “heaven” with which your behaviour to yourself and your fellowmen allows you to be unified. Only in time spans, that cannot be understood in earthly terms, can you be changed in such a way that a higher region of the essential spirit worlds can be grasped by you.
You shall not dedicate your powers, your might and your cares to only yourself in this earthly life; but also not just to others!
Here too you must take account of merciless laws…
The nearer you can come to that harmony required of you by spiritual law, the more you will gain in permanence.
May you also succeed in keeping your spiritual “debit and credit” in order, in the way the good business man within the world of earthly values expects of himself; then you will certainly never have to regret the work of your days on earth!