The rediscovery of the soul
To overcome the current crisis, we must understand that we are far more than the prevailing lateralist worldview tries to make us out to be.
by Waltraud Lang
[This article published on April 13, 2021 is translated from the German on the Internet, Die Wiederentdeckung der Seele | Rubikon.news.]
The Corona crisis relentlessly reveals the cold, empathy-less materialism of this age. Its hallmark is above all a progressive mechanization that degrades and weakens the human being. While rigid attachment to everything earthly leads to inevitable decadence, looking at the totality of our spiritual, mental and earthly existence opens up the possibility of giving our lives a higher meaning, goals and moral foundations. The prerequisite for recovery would lie in the strengthening of individual consciousness, in a reorientation that recognizes the spirit and soul again.
"Materialism is a sign of spiritual decadence, an erosion of the inner being" (1).
This sentence, uttered by Rudolf Steiner at a lecture in Berlin on October 10, 1907, is probably as relevant today as it was then.
Contemporary events with COVID-19 reveal not only the almost complete victory of materialism, but also its cruelty and hardening. A bloated power apparatus with arrogant hubris overrides basic rights, freedom and self-determination of the people. Authoritative constraints and regulations with their diffuse, undifferentiated numbers game, suggestions, manipulations and lies have taken the scepter, while scientific, medically based studies and statements are ignored and defamed. Open dialogue and logic have been removed from the scene to make way for the new creed of politics, which declares the health of the body as the supreme goal and does not tolerate any doubt or contradiction.
Neither the existence of a wise immune system nor the importance of a healthy, relational and joyful soul find attention among the powerful. Man is reduced - reduced to the body, to matter. Thereby the view on the tortured psyche of children and adults, on the existential fears and hardships, on the worldwide collateral damage with thousands of dead, starving and poverty-stricken people is largely avoided.
Man is more than matter
The realization that man is composed of spirit, soul and body was banned by the Fourth Council of Constantinople in 869. The doctrine of trichotomy, the tripartite differentiation of the human being, was condemned. Since then one speaks of soul and body of the human being, the spirit was denied to him. If one nevertheless recognized the trichotomy, one was considered a heretic in the Middle Ages.
The descent into matter, the decline of values, the disinterest in soul-spiritual development, in the mission and meaning of life took their course with the darkening of the higher spirit individuality.
But again and again forces and currents appear on the earthly plan, which oppose this developmental decline and materialism and are carried by the certainty that man is more than only matter and the spirit cannot be eliminated.
Individualized man versus uniform man
It seems as if mankind stands with the present time phenomenon at a meaningful crossroad: On the one side the path points to the upward development, to the independent, individual human being, who directs life with own thought power, self-determination, freedom and the responsibility connected with it into an aesthetic guidance, who strives for being human in its perfect and noblest form. The other way leads to the downward development into the group-like, herd-like, in which the human being loses himself in the collective, passive and obedient, becomes formless and is absorbed as a unitary human being in the controllable mass.
It is certainly important for the ascending development and for a wise cultural power that the external influences must be confronted with a stable, active inside. The philosophers of spirit, like Rudolf Steiner and Heinz Grill (2), describe this with a productive activity, which begins with an objective formation of view, a real observation and leads with the lively examination of a phenomenon or current events as well as a logical thinking to an independent cognition, which includes spirit, soul and body of the human being.
This eventually leads to a lively constructive thinking into the future for a better, aesthetic and socially friendly culture and also maintains the student's mental and physical health. He develops an inner stability, an inner powerful substance, even a significant immune strengthening in this intellectual work and research, and at the same time he is empathically connected with the outside world.
"The mental uprightness, independent of the traumatic situation, freely chosen and not influenced by pressures from outside, would be the remedy" (3).
Stepping out of the fear-laden, burdening sphere of the present, straightening up and transcending one's own state of mind in order to enable a free view, is a real challenge in the current events, because the viral infection may well take a severe course, even lead to death. The fear of growing foreign domination or of the collapse of the economy with unemployment and poverty is also quite justified. But the courage to stand upright widens and gives the necessary overview for reality.
If man would not process the external events independently and grasp them mentally, if he would bow to all imposed constraints and dogmas uncritically and hand over the thinking to an authority and thus accept its infallibility conceit, then he would go through the world inwardly desolate and empty of meaning, joyless, a living dead.
We have high achievements of natural science, technology and medicine, we explore the earth, the seas and the universe, and the results are admirable. But almost completely lost is the awareness of the soul-spiritual dimensions.
What the present time needs most urgently is spiritual science, concrete ways for the development of consciousness and knowledge of spirit, soul and matter, a study of free spirituality, of becoming oneself.
However, these are still fought against most fiercely, because a self-thinking, conscious and self-responsible person does not bend to the foreign determination. And so the hardened materialism shows itself in its worst kind, by defaming these consciousness-promoting movements and their founders, reviling them, trying to destroy them with projections, lies and verbal stone pelting. Since the funeral pyre has become unfashionable, one resorts to character assassination, and unfortunately there are again and again unserious journalists without a sense of honor who allow themselves to be baited for such machinations, as well as people who apparently feed these campaigns empty of meaning and filled with hatred. The subtle, the intangible is reviled.
How apt are the words of Friedrich Schiller: "The world loves to blacken the radiant and to drag the sublime into the dust". And further he writes: "But fear not! There are still beautiful hearts that glow for the high, the glorious" (4).
Contemporary history is currently writing a very dark chapter, in which the spirit is completely excluded, the continuous fear propaganda creates new dependencies and the sole salvation is prophesied through a questionable vaccination. However, it is up to each individual to create the next chapter of life and to face the developmental challenges.
Thus I turn resolutely to the high, glorious, as Schiller names it, the individual position and standing of the individual human being, who with the help and stimulation of the valuable heritage of our philosophers, such as Fichte and Hegel, of our brilliant poets and thinkers, such as Goethe and Schiller, also of the uplifting works of artists and musicians, such as Richard Wagner and Beethoven, and above all the high thought of the spiritual philosophers, who takes over the independent leadership of life, who through active, logical thinking not only builds up health, but also produces uplifting spiritual impulses for social life in the future.
To integrate the ideal, that which is to become in the future, into life, to seek and recognize the spiritual again, that is what these people have exemplified to us, and that lifts us out of materialism.