--| On Inborn Tendencies and their Fit to Nature |----- "two souls, alas, are housed within my breast, and each will wrestle for the mastery there. the one has passion's craving crude for love, and hugs a world where sweet the senses rage; the other strongly rises from the gloom to lofty fields of ancient heritage.' (Goethe, Faust I, Scene 2, Lines 1112-1117.) ¤ Indeed, the vast majority of humanity is now confronted by a significant future possibility. We must take seriously the fact that humanity as it evolves through history is a developing organism. Just as puberty and other significant developments occur in individual organisms, so equally epoch-making transitional phases occur in the history of humankind. People still object to the idea of reincarnation on the grounds that we do not remember our past lives. But if we look at the matter realistically, if we consider the evolutionary development of humanity through history as the evolution of a single organism, we should not be surprised at our failure to remember earlier incarnations with our ordinary consciousness. I ask you, what do people actually remember of the ordinary course of life? They remember only what they have thought. One cannot really recall anything that one has not yet thought. Just consider how many events in a day go unobserved. We don't recall them because we haven't thought about them, despite their having taken place in our presence. We can remember only what we have actually given thought to. Now, human evolution in earlier centuries and millennia was not such that people could attain any clarity regarding human nature. "Know thyself" has certainly been experienced as a kind of longing following the onset of Greek thinking, but to know oneself is an injunction that only genuine spiritual insight can satisfy. Only when we use our lives to grasp our own selves in thought-and humanity has only recently become mature enough to do this-will we have prepared ourselves, our memories, to remember past lives in our next incarnation. To prepare ourselves in this way we will need first to think about what we will want to remember. Only those who, as a result of initiation-but not necessarily initiation attained in a Mystery training- have really been able to behold their own selves can look back today on their past earthly lives. Such individuals are by no means rare. However, even as regards purely bodily development, human beings are subject to change-which may be observed by spiritual-scientific means, though not physiologically. In fact, our physical constitution is no longer what it was two thousand years ago, and two thousand years hence it will be different again from what it is today. I have often mentioned this. We are moving toward a future when, if I may put it bluntly, the brain will be differently constructed, externally considered, than it is today. In the future, the brain will have the ability to remember back to previous earthly lives. But those who have not prepared for this by reflecting on the self will possess this ability only mechanically-in the form of what we would call today a kind of "inner nervousness," a sense of something missing. Such people, however, will not find what they are missing, because in the meantime human beings will have progressed to a state of bodily maturity such that they will be able to look back on their past incarnations. But those who have not prepared themselves for this backward view will be unable to look backward in this way. And they will experience the capacity that would have allowed them to do so only as a lack. This is why a proper understanding of humanity's own present powers of transformation includes the fact that anthroposophically oriented spiritual science can bring human beings to self-knowledge. Indeed, today it is already possible to describe the special experience that will persuade people to concern themselves with their earlier incarnations. We live in an era when nuances of feeling that will eventually appear in more and more human beings are already beginning to be experienced by a few individuals. These nuances of feeling are not yet recognized for what they are. Let me describe what they will be like when they eventually emerge. People then will be born into the world with the inner sense: "Insofar as I live with other human beings, consciously or unconsciously I am being educated with them into a certain way of thinking. Thoughts surface in me. I have been born and brought up to think in a certain way. At the same time, however, I look upon what surrounds me, and realize that my thinking and conceiving do not truly fit this outer world." This nuance of feeling is already present today in a few individuals. Such human beings find themselves having to think in a way that seems quite contrary to the voice of outer nature-as if outer nature demanded something quite different. Whenever people have appeared who have revealed that they felt this discrepancy between what they must think and what outer nature says, they have been laughed at. Hegel is a classic example. He expressed certain thoughts about natureŅnot all of them were nonsenseŅand built them into a system. Then some pedestrian philistines came and said, "Well, so those are the ideas you have about nature. But if you just look at this or that natural process you'll see that you are mistaken. Nature does not agree with your ideas." To which Hegel replied, "Then all the worse for nature!" That may seem paradoxical. But there is a solid, if subjective, basis for such feelings. It is fully possible to surrender quite naively to one's inborn way of thinking, telling oneself that where thinking contradicts nature, nature should revise itself accordingly. Of course, such thinkers do eventually become accustomed to what nature teaches. But most people, once they have matured to the point of truly observing nature, fail to notice what amounts to a double soul, or two sets of truths, within them. This can cause con siderable suffering in those who become aware of it, because it introduces an element of discrepancy into their soul lives. What I am describing here is now present in only a few individuals, and even they may not be aware of it. But it is something that will become increasingly prevalent. People will increasingly find that their heads follow an inborn tendency to view nature in a way that is counter to its reality. Then they will mature and gradually also learn to see nature as it actually is. This dilemma calls for a solution. Our souls will experience these divisive feelings above all when they return to life on earth. We will experience an inner surge of thinking and feeling. This surge will be clearly felt. It will cause us to realize that we can sense clearly how the world ought to be, but is not: that it is different. Then we will gradually accustom ourselves to the way it is; we will recognize a second set of laws and be forced to look for an adjustment or balance. But what will that balance be based upon? Let us assume that human beings are born and enter physical existence through birth. They bring with them a way of thinking and feeling that is the outgrowth of their previous earthly lives. During the time they spent away from the earth, outer life changed in certain ways. Hence they sense a discrepancy between their thinking as conditioned by a previous life and the way things have developed on earth while they were absent from it. They then gradually live into the new incarnation, by no means fully conscious of what they might learn from their surroundings. They perceive, or as it were absorb, their surroundings as if through a veil. Only after death can they really digest their experiences, and then once again carry them into their next earth life. As human beings, we will always experience this duality in our soul life. We will always become aware that we have brought something into the world with us at birth compared to which the world into which we are born is always a new experience. As physical human beings we absorb something from this world that our souls cannot immediately digest, something that we will be able to work through again only after death. As human beings today we must live this way of experiencing life fully and intensely, for that is the only way to become aware of the forces pulsing through our existence which otherwise completely escape our attention. We are knit up in these forces, but unless we try to penetrate them consciously, they remain unconscious and tend to make our souls unhealthy. People will become ever more aware of the discrepancy between what comes over with us from a past life and what is currently being prepared for the next one. And because we will become increasingly aware of this duality, a real means of bridging it-some kind of inner mediation-will become essential. The great question of how to accomplish this will become ever more burning. (Rudolf Steiner, *The Mission of the Archangel Michael, Lecture 4, Dornach, November 28, 1919 -- exerpted from: *The Archangel Michael*, pp. 148-151) ¤ --


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