The Cleavage cannot be healed by todays civilization.

From The Driving Force of Spiritual Powers in World History, Lecture V by Rudolf Steiner

We must be quite clear that many people — in greater and greater numbers — simply cannot come to terms with life. Some admit this to themselves — they are possibly the best. Others do not admit it, and the world-chaos into which we have fallen is due to their actions.

All the chaos, the disorder that exists today, is the direct consequence of this inner cleavage, this ignorance of the extent to which the moral world has reality. Men prefer to blunt their understanding of the great world-problems since they are unwilling to force themselves to admit where the cleavage actually lies. They prefer to ignore it.

Now the cleavage cannot be healed by what is today called civilization.

It is the event of which I said that it belongs essentially to the 4th century A.D. and it consists in the transference of rulership of the cosmic thoughts from the Spirits of Form to the Spirits of Personality, the Archai or Primal Powers. If we are mindful of the whole import, the cosmic import of this significant event, we may say: it consists in giving men in the course of their evolution what should rightly become theirs in our present Fifth post-Atlantean epoch, the epoch of the evolution of the Consciousness Soul, namely, inner freedom, the possibility for the individual to act from his own inner self. We know, of course, that human evolution on Earth was in essentials a kind of preparation for this very epoch, that the natural foundation had first to be laid down in man, so that within the sphere of what this foundation has enabled him to become, his soul might progress towards freedom. How is this connected with the super-sensible event previously characterized?

If we picture this event in broad outline we can say: on the one side, from our survey of the super-sensible world, we realize that the outstanding spiritual leaders of mankind are the Beings whom we must call Spirits of Personality, Archai, but those Archai who have been vested with rulership of the cosmic thoughts by the Exousiai, the Spirits of Form. These Archai to whom man in his evolution owes the possibility of formulating thoughts through the inner efforts of his own soul, are hampered in their activity by those Beings who, as Exousiai, as Spirits of Form, have remained behind at an earlier stage of evolution; they are Beings who, as Spirits of Form, have not ceded rulership of the cosmic thoughts. And now, in this epoch of the Consciousness Soul in which we have been living since the 15th century A.D., man is confronted with the great choice in some one of his incarnations definitely to decide for freedom or, which is the same thing, to have the possibility of this freedom through turning to the legitimate Archai.

We must be quite clear that many people — in greater and greater numbers — simply cannot come to terms with life. Some admit this to themselves — they are possibly the best. Others do not admit it, and the world-chaos into which we have fallen is due to their actions.

All the chaos, the disorder that exists today, is the direct consequence of this inner cleavage, this ignorance of the extent to which the moral world has reality. Men prefer to blunt their understanding of the great world-problems since they are unwilling to force themselves to admit where the cleavage actually lies. They prefer to ignore it.

Now the cleavage cannot be healed by what is today called civilization. It can be healed only on the basis of a spiritual world-outlook sought by way of Anthroposophy. Man comes to realize the existence of Archai who have now received the task in the cosmos of linking the thoughts of man — which now arise in isolation in the soul — to the world-processes in due arrangement.

In a grand and impressive way man again finds the foundation for the moral world-order. How does he find it? He could not become free if he were incapable of feeling: You unfold your thoughts out of your own individuality; you are yourself the elaborator of your thoughts.

But this at once implies that we have wrested our thoughts away from the cosmos. In ancient times it was like this:

work by spirits of form

If I draw the ocean of cosmic thoughts (yellow) and man diagrammatically (red), then I must indicate what passed into each man as his share of the world of cosmic thoughts. He clung to the world of cosmic thoughts — it came down into him. That this could take place was due to the action of the Spirits of Form.

In the course of evolution this has changed. We have here the ocean of cosmic thoughts (yellow) but the rulership of it has passed to the Archai. If I indicate individual men (below, red), their thoughts are detached; they are no longer connected with the cosmic thoughts. This is inevitable, for man could never be a free being if he did not wrest his world of thoughts away from the cosmos. He must wrest his thoughts away in order to become a free being but then they must be linked again with the cosmos. What is necessary, then, is that the rulership of these thoughts — which is not a direct concern of human life (green) but of the cosmos — should be exercised by the Archai, the Spirits of Personality.

work by spirits of personality on the soul

But now, if we turn to the moral aspect of these thoughts we shall say to ourselves:

When we enter the spiritual world — either through the gate of death or in the Earth's future or whenever it may be — when we enter the spiritual world we shall meet the Spirits of Personality, the Archai. We shall then be able to perceive what it has been possible for them to do with our thoughts which, to begin with, for the sake of our freedom were isolated within ourselves. We shall then recognize our worth and dignity as men from what the Spirits of Personality have been able to do with our thoughts. And cosmic thought turns directly into moral sensibility, moral impulsion.

Moral impulsion can arise anywhere today from Anthroposophy if rightly grasped — only it must be grasped by the whole being of man.

If we grasp this thought, the thought of responsibility to the normally evolving Archai, if we truly grasp our spiritual function in the cosmos, then we shall also find the place that rightly belongs to us in our epoch; we shall be true men of our time. And then we shall look in the right way at what, indeed, is forever around us: not a world of sense alone but also a spiritual world.

We shall regard the Archai as the spiritual Beings to whom man must be responsible if, as a member of humanity, he is to undergo his evolution rightly in the course of earthly time. We shall realize that in the present age what was once the necessary world-order is still opposed by all that has remained from those Spirits of Form who are still intent upon ruling over the cosmic thoughts in the old way. And this is the most important concern of civilization in our time.

 The deeper talks of man today consist in this: through a right attitude to the Archai, the Spirits of Personality, to become truly free so that he may also adopt the right attitude to the Spirits of Form who today are not within their rights when they strive to exercise rulership over the cosmic thoughts as formerly, but were once the legitimate rulers.

On the one hand we shall find what makes life in the world difficult, but we shall also find everywhere ways out of these difficulties. Only we must seek for these ways as free individuals. For if we have no will to achieve a free development of thoughts, what could the Archai possibly make of us?

What is important in our age is that man should have the resolute will to be a free being. In most cases he still does not will it and so has to accommodate himself to the idea. It is still difficult today for a man to wish to be a free being. What would please him most would be to wish what he likes and that the right Spirits would be there to carry out his wishes in an invisible, super-sensible way. Then he would perhaps feel free, feel his dignity as man! We need only wait for one or two incarnations — not such a very long time, until about the year 2800 or 3000 — and then in our next incarnation, when looking back on the earlier one, we should never be able to excuse ourselves if we had confused human freedom with the furtherance of human comfort by indulgent Gods !

Today man does exactly this — he confuses freedom and indulgence of benevolent Gods with his love of ease and his wishes for comfort. There are still many people today who wish that there were benevolent Gods to carry out their wishes without much assistance from themselves. But as I said, we need only wait for the year 2800 or 3000 and in a subsequent incarnation we shall thoroughly despise such an attitude. Today, if we develop a truly moral attitude of mind this must be allied with a certain moral strength, with a genuine desire for freedom — inner freedom in the first place; outer freedom will soon follow in the right form if the will for inner freedom is present. But to this end it is essential to perceive exactly where the unauthorized Spirits of Form are active.

Well, they are active everywhere. I could imagine — the human intellect has such a strongly Luciferic tendency — that there may be people who say: Yes, it would certainly be much more sensible for the divine ordering of the world if these backward Spirits of Form were not causing havoc, indeed if they were not there at all ! I advise individuals who think like this also to consider as sensible people whether they could nourish themselves without at the same time filling their intestines with unpleasant substances. The one process is simply not possible without the other. Similarly it is not possible in the world for the things upon which the greatness and dignity of man depend to exist without their correlates.

Where, then, do we see backward Spirits of Form in action? Today in particular we see them active in the national chauvinisms which have spread over the whole world wherever the thoughts of men arise, not directly from the innermost core of human nature but out of the blood, out of what comes from the instincts.

In this connection there are two attitudes to nationality One is this: a man scorns the normal Archai and simply lends himself to what the backward Spirits of Form achieve through the nationalities. He then grows up simply as a national, boasting in chauvinistic style of what he has become through having been born with national blood in his veins. His speech is a product of his nationality, his thoughts come to him in the language of his nationality, the very form of his thoughts too comes from the particular form of this language. He grows from the soil which the Spirits of Form have made out of the nationalities.

Now suppose there is someone who is willing to fall in with the backward Spirits of Form and is at the same time an extremely ambitious individual, placed by destiny in a special position, then — with an eye to the national chauvinisms — he may compose ‘Fourteen Points‘. He then finds followers who regard Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points as a splendid gift to the world!

Seen truly, what were these Fourteen Points? They were something flung to the world as an inducement to pander to what the backward Spirits of Form were intent upon inculcating into the different nations. The Fourteen Points were directly inspired from that source.

One can speak of all these things on very different levels. Exactly what I am saying today on one level in characterizing the Archai and the Exousiai, I said years ago in order to underline the significance of Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points, because they have lulled the world in a cradle of illusions, have caused untold disaster and chaos.

The Essential Nature of Man

By these means man continually links himself in this threefold way with the things of the world. One should not, for the present, read anything into this fact, but merely take it as it stands.

From this it can be seen that man has three sides to his nature. This and nothing else will, for the present, be indicated here by the three words, body, soul and spirit. Whoever connects any preconceived opinions or even hypotheses with these three words will necessarily misunderstand the following explanations.

By body is here meant that through which the things in the environment of a man reveal themselves to him, as in the above example, the flowers in the meadow.

By the word soul is signified that by which he links the things to his own being, through which he experiences pleasure and displeasure, desire and aversion, joy and sorrow in connection with them.

By spirit is meant what becomes manifest in him when as Goethe expressed it, he looks at things as a “so to speak divine being.” In this sense man consists of body, soul and spirit.

By the laws of the body it is governed by natural necessity. It allows itself also to be governed by the laws that guide it to exact thinking because it voluntarily acknowledges their necessity. Nature subjects man to the laws of changing matter, but he subjects himself to the laws of thought. By this means he makes himself a member of a higher order than the one to which he belongs through his body. This order is the spiritual. The spiritual is as different from the soul as the soul is from the body.

Likewise, we do not have the spirit in view as long as merely those soul experiences are considered that course through anyone who gives himself over entirely to the outer world and his bodily life. This soul life is rather the basis of the spiritual just as the body is the basis of the soul life.