The Mirror is Not the Face: Why the Intellect Is No Substitute for Spirit

With intel­lec­tu­al inge­nu­ity, proof can be fur­nished in sup­port of the most rad­i­cal­ly oppos­ing theories… 

The intel­lec­tu­al­ism pre­vail­ing among men to-day is not capa­ble of demon­strat­ing the inner poten­tial­i­ties and val­ues of any­thing. It can fur­nish proofs; but what is intel­lec­tu­al­ly proved should not be regard­ed as of real val­ue or effi­ca­cy in life. Men oppose one anoth­er in par­ties because the sound­ness of every par­ty opin­ion — at any rate the main par­ty opin­ions — can be proved with equal jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. Our intel­lect remains at the sur­face-lay­er of under­stand­ing and does not pen­e­trate to the deep­er lay­er where the truth actu­al­ly lies.…

For that it is essen­tial above all to real­ize that wal­low­ing in abstrac­tions, how­ev­er loud the cry for the spir­it, is not yet spir­i­tu­al, not yet spir­it! Vague, abstract chat­ter­ing about the spir­it must nev­er be con­fused with the active search for the con­tent of the spir­i­tu­al world pur­sued in anthro­po­soph­i­cal science.…

Pure­ly intel­lec­tu­al allu­sion to the spir­it leads nowhere.…

The pic­ture pre­sent­ed to you by the mir­ror is you, but it has no real­i­ty at all. It is noth­ing but a reflec­tion. All the intel­li­gence with­in your soul, all the intel­lec­tu­al con­tent, is only a mir­ror-image; it has no reality.…

Man is intel­li­gent only because his body is there. And as lit­tle as you can touch your­self by stretch­ing your hand towards your reflect­ed image, as lit­tle can you lay hold of the spir­it if you turn only to the intel­lec­tu­al — for the spir­it is not there! …

The rea­son why intel­li­gence is so seduc­tive is that it yields a pic­ture, a reflect­ed pic­ture of the spir­it — but not the spir­it itself.…

But if men are able to rouse them­selves to take into their con­scious­ness what we have been study­ing, if they are able so to guide it that human­i­ty can freely con­front the Ahri­man­ic influ­ence, then, when Ahri­man appears, men will acquire, pre­cise­ly through him, the pow­er to real­ize that, although the earth must enter inevitably into its decline, mankind is lift­ed above earth­ly exis­tence through this very fact.

When a man has reached a cer­tain age in phys­i­cal life, his body begins to decline, but if he is sen­si­ble he makes no com­plaint, know­ing that togeth­er with his soul he is approach­ing a life that does not run par­al­lel with this phys­i­cal decline. There lives in mankind some­thing that is not bound up with the already pre­vail­ing decline of the phys­i­cal earth but becomes more and more spir­i­tu­al just because of this phys­i­cal decline.

Let us learn to say frankly: Yes, the earth is in its decline, and human life, too, in respect of its phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion; but just because it is so, let us muster the strength to draw into our civ­i­liza­tion that ele­ment which, spring­ing from mankind itself, will live on while the earth is in decline, as the immor­tal fruit of earth-evolution.

(“The Influ­ences of Lucifer and Ahri­man: Human Respon­si­bil­i­ty for the Earth,” Lec­ture 3, Bern, 4th Novem­ber, 1919)

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