Tuesday, October 8, 2019

POWER TO THE VIRTUES - Towards a Threefold World Peace Union of Oases of Humanity Through Social Organics: Preface by the Translator and Publisher

I. World Peace Is Possible!

This updated blog contains a completely revised translation of the book The Virtues - Season of the Soul  on the 12 meditations of the month by the German philosopher/anthroposophist and poet Herbert Witzenmann (1905-1988) as well as the 13 illuminations especially painted by the Dutch artist Jan de Kok for The Virtues (the image above was painted for the title page). The blog was started as a supplement for the exhibition of these paintings of the Virtues in the De Roos (The Rose), Center for Spirituality and Consciousness-raising, in Amsterdam in 2012. 
It was updated in 2013 in connection with the exhibition of the paintings flanked by the Dutch and English texts in the Town Hall of Amsterdam under the title The Virtues - Towards a New Courtesy (see the introduction and text in this blog) and has now been rewritten in connection with the proposed peace project Power to the Virtues - Towards a Threefold World Peace Union of Oases of Humanity through Social Organics. 

The idea thereby is to once a month and beginning on December 21 exhibit and present the corresponding text "Courage Becomes the Power of Sacrifice" and painting of the Virtue of the month  first by the Christmas tree on Dam Square in front of the Royal Palace and then on the 21st day of the next 11 months  the corresponding text and painting on the Stock Market Square (Beursplein) in the heart of Amsterdam. For it was here on September 25 last that a memorial stone in the pavement with the inscription "World Peace is Possible" was unveiled and a booklet with that title presented (in Dutch) to commemorate the fact that from 1991 to 2016 a weekly silent peace vigil on Wednesdays was held here and leaflets handed out to passersby to raise consciousness about the huge multi-billion dollar arms industry enmeshed in an unjust world economy that in order to have to make huge profits and so keep the arms race going does not shy away from ever and again precipitating new armed conflicts and killing fields.  (Update I: The invitation issued to me to attend a Colloquium on the Constitution of the (General) Anthroposophical Society on December 7 in Stuttgart may result in a change of location for the first reading of December 21: instead of the aforementioned Dam Square, it may be on the grounds around the Goetheanum building in view of the carpentry shop Schreinerei (where als Rudolf Steiner's studio was located) and the Herbert Witzenmann Center just opposite the Goetheanum, all depending on whether I return to Amsterdam after the colloquium or head for Dornach instead to prepare there the working group "100 Years Christmas Conference 1923". Update II: This event to call out the new year 2020 to the "Year of the 12 Virtues" did not materialize neither in Amsterdam nor in Dornach, instead the idea took hold to post the 12 Virtues of the month online in English on my FB page and a number of anthroposophical sites such as Anthroposophy and in Dutch on Antroposofiebeweging with short introductions during this Christmastide from December 25/26 to Epiphany on January 6/7, of which as of today, December 28 four have been posted. See also Part II and III of this text below.)

The booklet "World Peace Is Possible!" that was presented to the above participants of the last silent peace vigil contained three updated articles from a Dutch blog entitled "Wereldvredesbond" (World Peace Union) that was created in 2016 in connection with the festivities marking the 500th anniversary of the death of the enigmatic Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch, who as is shown in the blog "The Secrets of the Hieronymus Bosch II" based on a trilogy by Catharina Barker to be a Rosicrucian and even an anthroposophist avant la lettre!

It was at the beginning of this Bosch-500 year that his tryptich "The Garden of Heavenly Joys" (generally but mistakenly called "Garden of Earthly Delights") was adopted as the figurehead of the project "World Peace Union of Oases of Humanity through Social Organics" and first proclaimed as such during a reading on a bitter cold and windy January 27, 2016 on Dam Square in front of the Royal Palace in Amsterdam of two petitions in Dutch and English (the latter called "Social Organics - Turning our Mother Earth into a Garden of Heavenly Joys") to the Dutch and Spanish kings, which can be seen here on YouTube, but which, as could be expected, elicited no more than a polite response that they were received in good order.)

On the subject of what is called in the YouTube video "Social Organics - A New Principle of Civilization", inaugurated by Rudolf Steiner in 1917 as a World Peace proposal from Middle Europe and consequently developed in three further phases in 1917, 1922 and in 1923/24 with the refoundation of the Anthroposophical Society during the Christmas Society  see the article "Rudolf Steiner's Idea of Social Organics - A New Constitutional Principle of Civilization". (That the constitution that Rudolf Steiner gave to this refoundation of the Anthroposophical Society was, according to his own words, the form that the anthroposophical movement needed for its practice on earth, i.e. the New Christianity, prepared in a cult for anthroposophical souls bound for earth in the spiritual world centuries earlier by the archangel Michael and his spiritual cohorts, is developed in the two motions that were submitted to the General Assemblies of the General Anthroposophical Society in 2018 entitled "Trust Over Ruins - On Regaining The Lost Ground On Which To Build In The Future" and 2019 entitled "Towards The Liberation From  The Mixed King At The Goetheanum And The  Re-Establishment Of The Anthroposophical Society". 

And in view of the dismal failure hitherto of the Anthroposophical Society in the last 30 odd years to consciously further and protect this "New Christianity" as its innermost sacred mission, I saw fit to attempt to do so under the banner of a Willehalm Order of Knights of the World (i.s.n.) here in The Netherlands as a supplement to the already existing military Willemsorde of the Sword that is also named after the founder of the original House of Orange in the 9th century, who as one of the last protectors of Celtic Christianity was canonized in 1066 as the patron saint of Christian knights. The meagre results of this enterprise can be seen here.)   

II. The Motto "Power to the Virtues!"

The prime motto of this new peace initiative "Power to the Virtues!", of which some but by no means all of the antecedents have been described in the previous section, is meant to supplement and renew the "battle cry" of my revolutionary generation of the late sixties in Europe "Power the Imagination!" and that in America of "Make Love Not War!" and to take up again the advice given to young people by Rudolf Steiner in 1924 during his course on bio-dynamic agriculture in Germany to start  "Oases of Humanity", spiritual scholing and meditation centers on isolated biodynamically-run farms to safe-guard and protect  the culture of Middle Europa of the likes of Goethe and Novalis (to which now has also been added Hieronymus Bosch , that Middle Europa which he successfully predicted would become a culturally and physically devastated wasteland.  A first attempt to realize this was made by the Swiss poet and president of the General Anthroposophical Society Albert Steffen in 1946 to turn  Switzerland into an Oase of Humanity as a haven voor hapless victims of war and oppression, and 33 years later was given a new impulse  by Herbert Witzenmann in a social scientific conference entitled "Contributions to the World Situation" (Beiträge zur Weltlage) in Arlesheim, Switzerland in which he developed (among other things) the idea of a setting up such interconnected oases of humanity, beginning with a model-oasis,  in order to develop a threefold peace: peace with oneself, peace with one's neighbour and peace with the world (the earth), which would then not only benefit the endangered physical but also the spiritual climate and offer a perspective on a World Peace Union. He motivated this further in many of his writings, such as his essay"The Basic Social Idea of Our Time", incorporated in a blog entitled "Social Organics - Basic Guidelines for a New Earth Trusteeship". Part III of this essay "Biodynamic Agriculture -  Care Communities for Spiritual Life and the Quest for a New Meaning of the Earth" ends as follows: "Finally, let me finish by summarizing my argument. The past meaning of the earth is the formation of human organisms that produce the material state of consciousness and thereby constitute the physiological basis for human freedom. The present meaning of the earth consists in the victory of the past sense of the earth through the just social design of refining and organizational work with a view to creating work and living spaces that enable the maximum development of individual spiritual productivity. Creative justice aims at a mindset that strives towards a life among the dead and a life of the dead among us. The future meaning of the earth consists in giving a new meaning to the earth as the cradle of a free spiritual life. Seeking and finding the meaning of the earth in spiritual communities of philosophically working people is only possible in an attitude of true brotherhood.The basic overarching and all-encompassing common idea is the idea of reincarnation."
The threefold constitution for such oases, meaning also the physical, psychological and spiritual ground on which to build them, he has supplied in his Social-aesthetic Studies for the Spiritualization of the Principle of Civilization: "Charter of Humanity - The Principle of the General Anthroposophical Society as a Basis of Life and Path of Scholing" and "To Create or Administrate - Rudolf Steiner's Social Organics/ A New Principle of Civilization."

III. The Idea and its Implementation

The idea of this new peace project "Power to the Virtues!" is thus to exhibit and present the Virtues, these "Guardians of human community"  beginning on December 21, 2019 with "Courage becomes Power of Redemption" by the Christmas tree either on the Dam Square in front of the Royal Palace  or in front of the Goetheanum building in Dornach, and from then on January 21 with "Discretion becomes Meditative Power" centered  around the memorial stone "Peace Is Possible" on the square in front  of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, followed on February 21 with "Magnanimity Becomes Love", on March 21 with "Devotion Becomes Power of Sacrifice", on April 21 with "Balance Becomes Progress" etc. until November 21, 2020 with "Control of the Tongue Becomes Feeling For Truth" and thereby to call the year 2020 out to become the Year of the 12 Virtues and in the process attempt to gain the necessary moral and financial support for the idea of setting up a World Peace Union of Oases of Humanity through Social Organics as the New Principle of Civilization. (Update: This idea, as explained in Update II, has been transformed into posting the 12 Virtues during the 13 holy days and 12 holy nights.)

Since obviously this peace initiative should, ideally speaking, be embraced, further developed and ultimately implemented within the framework of the Anthroposophical Society, the next step in this traject shall be to submit it to the coming General Assemblies of the Anthroposophical Society in the Netherlands and to the Society in Dornach (or in advance to their respective Councils) for appraisal as part and parcel of the preparations for the centennial celebration of the Christmas Conference in 2023. 

Those wishing to support it in any way or give constructive criticism  are cordially invited to leave their comments here or contact me at the address or phone numbers listed below,

Robert Jan Kelder,
October  8, last updated on December 28, 2019

Note on the publishing history: The first complete English translation of The Virtues was done by Sophia Walsh, and published by Spicker Books in Dornach, Switzerland towards the end of the previous century (no publication date given, sold-out). The Preface to the first incomplete English translation was written by Herbert Witzenmann on the occasion of the translation done by the American poetess Daisy Aldan (1923-2001) with my assistance, and was published by her Folder Editions, New York in 1975. The present edition is available from the bookstore at the Goetheanum in Dornach or from the Willehalm Institute in Amsterdam.

Willehalm Institute Press Foundation, Kerkstraat 386A, 1017 JB Amsterdam, 
Tel. 0031 (0)20-6944572; 0031 0(6)-23559564; willehalm@gmail.com 


The year is an archetype of growth and decline. Moreover, since its end is followed by a new beginning, it forms in our eyes a circle. The succeeding years proceed through this cycle again and again, whereby the year at the same time becomes an archetype of duration. The sun, as the leader of this heavenly round, is the awakener and life-giver of all things earthly, whose destiny is perpetual metamorphosis. Yet, while the sun bestows its blessings on this transformation and prescribes its laws, it proceeds in our eyes in its self-enclosed course (followed by the earth and the other planets) through the fixed stars of the Zodiac. Once again, metamorphosis and duration compose the harmony of the cosmic symphony.
            To very little else does the human soul feel more intimately related than to this web of transience and permanence, metamorphosis and law. This web constitutes the tapestry of life on which the earthly events occur. Even those without any ideas about the nature of this tapestry are unconsciously affected by the symbol it represents. Much poetry bears witness to this. But the human soul does not merely repeat what occurs in nature, however profoundly she may be moved by it. She feels herself satisfied only when, out of this, she gives rise to something new. 
            The rhythm of the year draws all creatures of nature with it, without their being able to oppose or change it. The human soul too is capable of surrendering herself to the light of summer and the darkness of winter in joy and pain. But she can also experience that the year’s events assume a new form in her innermost being elevating her to a state above and beyond nature. When the soul directs her introspective gaze onto herself, she may notice that the moods of the seasons correspond to twelve attributes of her own being. These attributes, however, do not unfurl as is the case with creatures of nature, without her own activity. There are twelve stages of development in which she can educate herself, and to which she must impel herself. Hence they are not natural tendencies but Virtues. In this sense, the human being may experience its own soul as a bud yearning to unfold. The human soul is, to be sure, even before her self-knowledge and self-trans-formation, graced with an abundance of potentialities, but these become stunted or even change into their opposites when the treasure hidden in the soul is not nurtured and brought to light. For this, the soul requires the guidance and direction of her own spirit. She then senses her spirit as the inner sun which in “The Year of the Soul” awakens her to herself, allowing her to follow her journey through the constellations of the Ideal.
            If this occurs, then a similar unfolding begins in the soul as in nature too as a dying and falling away of the unpurified, similar to the falling leaves when the year draws to an end. For the human spirit too succeeds in radiating its light and warmth only when in dialogue with the soul, it ever better recognizes its task. The path of metamorphosis, which the soul traverses under the direction of the spirit in a lawful sequence (even though inner practice demands repetition), does not return, however, to its starting point. Rather, the soul renders unto herself, becoming ever more vital and perfect, the ideals of the Virtues which the spirit reveals to her and to which she is summoned from within. She describes in her development not an orbit, but an ascending spiral. Or otherwise expressed, the soul bud illumined by the spirit unfurls to blossom, bringing forth a fruit in whose ripening, soul and sprit intimately unite. Insofar as the spirit signifies to the soul the star-script of the Ideal, it makes her into a poetess of her own true being.

The following contemplations on the Virtues (which initially appeared in the Star Calendar, Easter 1969 to Easter 1970, published in Dornach in 1968), are based on brief indications by Rudolf Steiner for meditations which may be practiced in according with the changing year. They begin: “Until January 21: Courage becomes power of redemtion”, and end: “Until December 21: Control of the tongue (speech) becomes feeling of truth”. The time of inner transformation extends from the 21st day of the month to the 21st day of the following month. Since it is a question of transformation and progression, Rudolf Steiner does not enumerate a series of Virtues, but directs us to a path of inner work on ourselves, whereby in developing our potential qualities and blending them into one another, we become creators of our Virtues, architects of our own being.

                                                                                                                                                Herbert Witzenmann
Dornach, August 1974

ON THE ORIGIN OF THE VIRTUES - Introduction by Herbert Witzenmann to "The Virtues - Seasons of the Soul"


After a refreshing sleep we feel replenished in three ways: our eyes are freshened and cleared by light, our heart cleansed and quieted by warmth and our tread invigorated and emboldened by the fullness of creation.


Let us go, before our lips have vexed the early morn, to the garden. Silently, we bend over a blossoming rose. What the flower petals reveal to us in form, color and pious fragrance is true, beautiful and good. For the rose unswervingly follows the laws of nature; it raises the intrinsic image of the plant to jubilant revelation and desiring nothing for itself, offers but unquestioning delight.
            Such harmony puts us to shame and at the same time lifts us up. For it lets us know that even though the natural part of our being must bow in reverence before the nobility of innocence, all that we achieve within ourselves through conscious culture surpasses the weaving of innocence, however sweet and lovely it may be. For to the gift received by the senses we can add the threefold human dower of morality. Let us therefore spur our soul forces to a free, equal and brotherly tourney with the rose.


1. Our thinking, versed as it is in all dialects, leads the silent rose to speak. It can strip its leaves, conceal it again in its seminal state and elicit a blossom in new profusion. But it is always the same countenance, whose facial expressions are read by our living concepts.          It does this reading as Proteus which, capable of all transformations, renders each expression as its own. The mode of this reading is the dissolution of each static state into movement; its purpose is to lead every movement back to its origin, the Word, which utters man in that man utters It. The lightning of our will is lord and master of this magic power. For if we let it strike our mental process of forming representations in order to rouse from its deathly rigor (which clings to that which has become) the stirrings of life (which revolves the status nascendi within themselves), we cease being spectators and become actors in world events. Reality now no longer appears to be a product that we duplicate in our mind, but rather a process in which we are involved. No longer do we mirror the wave in the brittle-ness of our mental representations in which it comes to a halt, but instead follows the movement of the stream of consciousness through which it shapes itself. In this way, we re-enact and admire the creation of the rose. For in us courses the same primal spring as it does in it. Its growth becomes ours, our growth that of the rose. We celebrate the festival of the metamorphosis of all things through the spirit.
This sympathetic adaptability of our insight is guarded by many custodians, though we can easily mistake them, because at first sight they wear masks. Yet we also possess the power of discrimination which can see through their disguises. It recognizes that we are meant to be each other’s guardians. The only requirement for that is mastery over ourselves. This is stronger than the urge to launch our own opinions, like swarms of gnats, against those of others. Nobility of thinking consists after all in providing the ground in which the thinking of another can take root. Concerning another person’s innermost being we learn nothing through our concepts. That reveals itself to us only through his own thoughts; and even more so through their logical sequence, emotional timbre and volitional tension. Thus within our thinking confines, there comes about on a higher level what occurs with the rose when we verify its grace through its dignity, its wrought appearance through its creation. When we envelop the thinking of another human being in our silence, we learn more about the thinker than he can reveal to him. For our selflessness frees the sight that until now was veiled by the mask of the personal. We meet the gaze of an individuality, who is not limited to a single life on earth, but capable of many incarnations. The evolutionary force of this individuality drives from now on the evolution of our own being. In thinking the thoughts of others, we exert a soul strength that surpasses our own thinking will. When the other thinks in us, we do not, as with the rose, through the language of knowledge (which draws its words from the primal language of thinking) add the creative origin to the created appearance. Rather, we turn our silence (which expands all the more significantly, the more stringently it forbids itself any personal interference) into pure space. Within this realm can be revealed how high the self-creation of a human individuality towers above its natural created state. Just as the creative origin of the rose irradiates its appearance, so does the superpersonal of the other human being outshine the personal in him or her.
The superpersonal of which we have grown conscious, becomes our guardian. Because the creativity proceeding from it awakens all that is creative within ourselves. This owes its origin to such awareness, even if we are not conscious of it. Everything truly creative is, after all, a child of renunciation. (There is no genuine creativeness without self-mastery; it is guilt; our passions seek to subjugate us and others.) And only renunciation leads humane thinking in us to humane thinking in those we meet. For the creative power of thinking is renunciation: its nature is boundless surrender. And the renunciation of thinking is creative power: it declares the most unseemly to be a creature of the universe. In this manner, it is the common thread that binds all things.
This renunciation is such a fundamental predisposition in our being and so indissolubly interwoven with it, that it casts its reflection on even the dullest mode of conscious-ness. For even the cruelest of all still follows a trace of his fellow human thinking. Only in this way can he find the scrupulous means to manipulate his victim. Even he must make some room, if only for a single moment, for another’s thinking in place of his own. Indeed, were there no remnant of such willingness, there would be no kind of communication left at all between people.
But we can make it our task to keep silent in full consciousness. This leads us not only to better understand the nature of the person we meet, but also opens him up to a realm that perhaps he had not yet discovered for himself. By esteeming someone higher than he appears in his own everyday state of mind, we awaken him for the ideal of his own individuality. He begins to have a more genuine premonition of himself than his previous self-knowledge had allowed. And that liberating gaze becomes of the greatest benefit for us too. For it exhorts us to be similarly mindful of the best that lives in us. We feel such a gaze resting on us when, instead of being insolent, we perform a thinking exercise in listening.  This attention can be paid to the most unseemly, indeed confused and even antagonistic mode of thinking. For what it reveres is not the thought, but the thinking I. This we respect as always being something of a higher nature. It stirs our sympathy all the more intensely, the more heavily its spiritual nature is burdened by the imperfect matter provided [by the sense-organs of] the earthly body for the sake of self-formation. And particularly then an immortal I will extend its spirit-filled thanks to selflessness for diverting its gaze from its own insufficiency. Assuredly, the confidence in achieving one’s goal, which teaches us that everything imperfect is transient and impels us to continue our striving, can be transmitted to many whose fainthearted-ness is banished by our smile. Such an appeal does not remain unanswered. A human I to whom we pay the greatest respect through reassurance and reticence, responds with the guardianship that creativeness spreads around itself. Many who are but bad wardens of themselves can thus become our guardians. For their influence extends further than their knowledge. By means of such an influence, which is often hidden from themselves, they help us in acquiring the ability to discern creativity in the created. The archetype of this faculty we have become aware of during the human encounter in thinking. It is the eye that senses how in it, another’s eye catches sight of itself. A bodily-bound personality can pass by it, oblivious to this encounter in which its immortal individuality is revealed to us. Indeed, in its everyday state of mind it can confront us as our opponent. The objection that this form of social intercourse is not conventional or customary has no bearing.
            Upon acquiring this conscious awareness, we approach the rose with a new attitude. The creative faculty slumbering in us has been awakened to its task through the spiritual encounter with another human being. Now we have achieved a creative relationship with all beings. For the laws customarily governing them, guarded by higher beings, now form the impact of our own thought fabric. Only in this way do these laws become human. But having once entered into us, their working also necessitates our vigilance.  Only a thought control resisting the will-o’-the-wisp and wishful dreaming, renders us, through the veneration accorded to the divine, capable and worthy of raising the weight of the sensory to the level of the morally human.
            The eyes of the human individuality whose masks dropped before our reverence are the guardians and guides of such striving piousness. This we have also extended to them by enveloping their thinking with our silence. In return they now watch over our reticence, constantly reminding us of that noble humaneness when the language of our thinking leads other beings to speak. This constant presence of the human, however, and not sensoriality is the truth. For truth is something creative and only the creativeness in us that practices and esteems humanity can find access to it. 

2. In a similar way, our will adds the beginning to what has finished, to the sensory the morality of goodness. The meeting of human beings in their volitional acts is the archetype of this morality.
            Our magnanimity can, without concern for thanks or thanklessness, give away the fruits that ripened from it. Our generous trust is able to esteem friendship with the good, because this is trustful generosity. Those encouraging our trust are indeed not mortals who often disappoint us, but the immortal individualities into whose company destiny has led us. They exceed our hopes.  If we invite their freedom to be a guest in our friendship, they will welcome our striving to endow the sensory with meaning.
            This striving stamps formable matter with the progression of the deed. It gives all things a human form. This and not the sensory is the good. In order that sensoriality become good, friendship lets the spiritual gaze continue to radiate, which it awakened in its friend and in return received from him. Friendship’s tried and proven will imparts to the previous blind gift offered by its hand a gaze, illumined by a friend’s gaze. For within that understanding, whose gaze accompanies the gift and rests on the recipient, is present the humanity that integrated it. But it is only the control of the will disciplining deviation and inconstancy that renders us skillful and devout enough to receive such a gift. Thus endowed, and through its veneration shown to all creatures, it can ennoble the unconscious sensoriality to human morality. The longing for redemption, which lies spellbound in all things, needs upon becoming the motive force of our actions such gardening art. Only this makes the life force of creatures humane. The seeds that were otherwise implanted in them and empowered by the highest hands are now entrusted to our care. From now on, we encounter all creatures as heralds of a new mission. But only he who becomes independent of everything that opposes him in his freedom, can take it up. Only he who seeks to make no one independent of him, is himself dependent on no one. Instead, the meeting with another human being in the volitional sphere can awaken the sacrificial in us. This becomes aware of being the bearer of our freedom. It approaches the rose with a new ethos.

It is this disposition, which picks up the beat of a friend’s footstep in our own accompanying tread. Walking in step together recounts that the meeting of our will with that of another has become a noble aptitude. For it was this meeting that helped us acquire the ability of discovering and awakening the germ of a future that sacrifices perfection for the sake of a new beginning. This faculty imparts the magic of humanity to our act of giving which is no empty gesture but truly comforting. This awakens in the gift the future lying dormant in it. Many who are but faulty guardians of themselves can become our companions (far beyond the scope of their own intention and insight), preserving us from overlooking the living germ in bygone matters. For the immortal I thanks us for the guardianship that it found in our friendship by preserving us from superficiality. In this way, we learn the patience that even in decay senses the seed of new growth. Should the everyday I that we meet fail, because it ignores its inexhaustible springs, or triumph by scorning them, our hope nevertheless fosters the eventual victory over all weaknesses. We do not relinquish this hope even if it is but our faith, which never thinks small, which senses the resilience submerged under failure or exultation.  And it is just in a such a moment that we receive thanks from an immortal I that spans incarnations, when our faith in its spiritual stature sustains its resolutions over and beyond their slackening. We respect an I that we meet all the more profoundly, the more heavily its bodily incarnation imposes on it a burden, which it is vainly trying to shake off. Then that I is always something to look up to. Therefore we show respect not for the willed but the willing I. For that reason, friendship can be made with the most unpretentious will, indeed with a deviating or even a criminal one. This friendship reaches the highest goal the will can set itself, access to which even enmity cannot bar. Friendship thus expanded into magnanimity renders the volitional disposition receptive for the inner presence of another I. Then every time we turn our will to manipulate (which, however proud it may be of its supposed strength, only reveals its craving for security) into a will to foster and care (which leads our penchant for freedom to look ceaselessly for new adventures in trust), we become aware that the true nature of our will is receptivity. This receptivity gifted with the sight of the inner presence of another I, turns its gaze to new and more significant goals such as we have not glimpsed as yet. In this way, the inner presence of a human individuality becomes of the greatest benefit to us. It is the answer to that other benefit that we confer by refusing to acknowledge failure, instead urging the individuality, towering above the insufficiency of the person, to hold on even in collapse. This probation we escort to that inner field of knowledge and action which, to be sure, a mind fettered by sense impressions tends to ignore. However prepared we are to support action that seeks its aims in the realm of the senses, the probation that we favor belongs to those mysteries which are the hidden wellsprings nurturing the life of human community. On the other hand, the nuts and bolts of public life with which people exhaust themselves boast, despite the semblance, little strength. Rather, our conscious trust opens up in the subconsciousness for those whose volitional acts meet ours a sphere which they often shut off from themselves.
            Without a remnant of such communal feeling and willing (“communal knowledge” was the term of the ancient Greeks for forgiveness), there would be no teamwork among people. For even the pitiless harbor some pity. (The thief and murderer too need a mental picture of our habits and conduct to indicate where their urge and violence can force an entry. And also those seeking revenge want to expose the spot where they can strike us. Therefore they attempt to gauge our state of mind.) The very one who scorns our freedom cannot dispense with a sensitivity (however dulled) for the vulnerability of our motive forces. How otherwise could he make them subject to his coercion or retaliation? The trustfulness that binds all people is so intrinsically predisposed in our nature and interwoven with it that a glimmer of it even falls on crime.
            Therefore we become more and more convinced that only sacrifice leads the willing humanness in us to the willing humanness in the one we meet. The sacrifice of our own will rays back into the sacrificial will which we (perhaps only in secret) have roused. Our sacrificial will springs from a trust that considers, in its depth, the will in a friend to be sacred. For that reason we have adopted that will as our own. This trust, for its part, originates in the blessing proceeding from the individuality of him that we meet. This is the source of all trustfulness in our will, even if we are ignorant of this origin. The secret of confidence building is always more encompassing than the conscious-ness we can attain of it - , no matter whether we attempt to know it or fail to do so. But we receive (knowingly or unknowingly) a gift which (secretly or openly) warns us not to go astray, just as our trust warned its harbinger. His inner presence can be our treasure house. This presence is the gift in exchange for the protection we afforded. To be sure, the vlitional activity of the superpersonal in the one we meet does not become the guardian of our will. It rather requires itself our protection against the failure to recognize its own higher nature. But this gift in return is greater than our gift. Because that which hovers out of reach of the personal will, is in comparison always more fully humane.      

Once again, convention cannot raise its ignorance as an objection, since spiritual encounter excludes not even an adversary who believes that he can avoid community with us. Indeed, the friendships binding people despite their animosity can be greater than those suffering from the sloth of habit. Of course, the everyday consciousness turning outwardly that which is (inwardly rather than public) familiar to us, need also in this case hardly become aware of its inner presence in us – although this is of all his belongings most his own and more than anything else moves us and spurs us on. This inner event (even if it is of no value for believers in mundane success) is by no means less significant than external achievements to which within our power we want no less to contribute.  For the self-conquest of friends, however, for which no outer evidence is valid testimony, we accord space within the certainty of our belief. This does not inquire whether they are already carrying this out: the eternal in them will wrest it from their temporal. Just as the perfection of the rose is surpassed by the sacrificial offering which is its fragrance, so the self-absorption of those we meet by their self-conquest. By believing in this, we experience once more the closeness to another’s individuality which is not only capable of many incarnations, but also of their archetypal unity and inexhaustibility. Our friendship can become aware of its inner presence, otherwise hidden from us by the superstition that success can be calculated. Friendship, though, makes a gift of itself to what the future has in store, that is, to the spiritual stature of every human being (which casts the mortal as its shadow in the present).  Friendship does not seek to know this future, except as it can be divined through the present. But it can sense its formative potential. Therefore, it wants not to live in its own intentions, but in the creativeness granting prudence to the intentions of one’s friend. Friendship is no pact but a promise, recognizing in the unforeseeable of creative life the riches of the world, the pledge of peace in the love of freedom. True friendship only strives to foster the creativeness of a free human being just because it is unpredictable: what is within our power should not serve us but someone else, so that the other may fashion it in accord with his being and thereby fashion himself. Whoever is capable of friendship and knows its magical power to spread the breath of freedom abstains from any calculation concerning people. He knows this to be the death of all true progress, even though it seems to further culture and secure the welfare of all. For the meaning of friendship lies in this higher happening which gives rise to the blossoming of true culture. Through this event, there occurs once more on a higher level what happens with the rose when its chasteness is glorified by its fruitfulness, its perfection by its sacrifice that is transformed into human feeling. It is the dignity of our will that adopts the noble content of another’s intentions without imposing on him anything merely related to oneself. Who, on the other hand, obeys urges which stir up human emotions, encircles other people as with snares (without noticing that they are traps in which he himself gets caught up). In order to become capable of true encounters, however, we simply need to tame our volitional desires and their conniving schemes. As soon as this succeeds, we become aware of the hidden workings between people. For we can exert the resoluteness driving away the mist of deception. After all, it is we ourselves who at first veil the source of health. Granted, in our aspirations to humanize the world, we do not lack a safeguard. This is the secret bond which, while woven by everyone, cannot be appropriated by anyone for himself, but only be received from others. But we fail to recognize this source of healing just as easily as we do that other one intended for our thinking.
            Nevertheless, that most human stirring that we are capable of is working in us. This is the vow we make for the future. For our moral deed achieves what goes beyond creation as it extends to natural man and which would not be manifest without spiritual man. Thus we make ourselves into the founders of something new. We can transform our urges through exertion of thought. Then they become winged shoes lifting our footsteps. Our intentions, on the other hand, as long as they are not led by knowledge, turn to traps that snap shut and do us harm. With a gifting virtue, however, we can ensoul our will by giving it human form through thinking. Our will can pluck a rose and hand it to a learning, loving or suffering soul. But it is always the same faith that boosts the natural to a spiritual blossom and pours out understanding, encouragement and vitality to the recipient. Our will need not lag behind our thinking in the peaceful tourney with the rose.

3. Our feeling in a similar way transforms conflict into peace.  It adds to sensoriality the morality of beauty.
Our feeling unites our thinking and willing through its inwardness. In this way, it joins its two halves into a rounded whole. This is the work of its tolerance and consistency. If it but sufficiently understands itself, it practices tolerance towards the progressive power of the past and consistency towards the legacy of the past which hampers the future. In this way, our feeling is directed towards the future by what has been and not pressed towards the past by what is coming. It thus becomes a premonition of a world in which the currents of time no longer exclude each other. For in the spirit-filled reality interdependencies are freedoms. The aim of our feeling life is to bring this about, for in its essence it is love. This reconciles and redeems.

Through our feeling we confer eternity on the moment that lets the rose blossom. This immortalizing bliss streams through us when in thinking we not only co-create its growth nor in willing only adorn its sensible blooming with a spiritual blossom. We encompass both when we let ourselves be gladdened by its beauty. The beauty of the rose, as the epitome of past and future, bears witness to its archetype beyond time. This joy makes us beautiful as well. It imbues us with freedom, mirth and peacefulness.
            Once more we may be assured of a safeguard. But this is now neither our guardian nor a gift in return for our guardianship. It is rather the confidentiality of both. What at first hid itself from our thinking behind a mask of the personal and fled from our unpurified will, must now liberate itself from a double hindrance. Only when it simultaneously casts off the cloak of its self-confinement and liberates itself from being shrouded in alien bias, can it unfold its true nature. It therefore behooves us to practice the composure that banishes the darting flicker of our sympathies and antipathies from our soul. These seek to allure others or chase them away and so only delude them into masking or arming themselves. Our composure, however, embraces their individual way of feeling. Thus we achieve that inner calm needed for the most astonishing of all experiences. It is the premonition of the power of faith to move mountains. For upon becoming aware of the I in the meeting of minds, the barriers of the personal crumble and the urging of desires grows silent.
            We ascend to this experience in three soul stages.  Firstly we prepare ourselves in inner quietude for what is to come. Then in loving abstinence we think not our own thoughts but those of the other human being. Finally, we attain the knowledge that in thinking another one’s thoughts what is revealed in the motion of our soul is not our own thinking will, but that of another I. We become aware that although these thoughts extinguish our own I, it lights up itself in us instead. This inner presence is neither a matter of mere thought nor one of will, but a fulfilled presence of essential being.
            The essential being of another I present in us, though would have to feel itself unworthy, were it not to unite with a similar occurrence. In the mutual communication of being, the I that disappeared from the consciousness of its original bearer fills the consciousness of the one it meets, while the I that originally became aware of itself in this consciousness draws over into the other consciousness. Each I can now only from its presence in the encountered person become aware thereof, whereby it assumes the position that it occupied in the previous moment through its self-consciousness. It is the indwelling I, not one’s own. And on this change of scene depends whether other human beings are for us individualities or persons, bearers of immortality or bondslaves of mortality. [One ought not to object here that this is a pure thought construct, remote from anything that is within our power. It is, on the contrary, quite the opposite of any construct, namely testimony of soul-observation, introspection. This has access (as long as it is prepared to acknowledge without quibbling how far its gaze reaches) not only to the presence of another I in its own consciousness (as the self-realization of another I which extinguishes one’s own act of self-realization). It also has access to the presence of its own I in another’s consciousness (as the presence of one’s own thinking conveyed through speech, gaze, gesture and the overall import of the encounter as well as the self-actualization that enlivens this thinking, within another’s consciousness. And over and above this, it has access to the gaze directed to the presence of the other I in its own consciousness from the viewpoint of the presence of its own I in the other consciousness. For this directed gaze acquires its criterion for the preparation, capacity and readiness to adopt another I on the basis of the presence of its own I in the other consciousness. For the capacity to live devotedly and not self-centeredly in another consciousness depends, after all, on that other capacity to devotedly accept another I into oneself. Indeed, it is only to such a disposition of our faculty of observation that we can ascribe any kind of valid judgments on our capacities in general. All our capacities are derived from our capacity for community-building. For capacities are unifying capabilities with the things, tasks and goals they turn to. Their mandate and power is to live in things and beings and to let them live in us. And the measure of these capacities is the degree of reversing inside and outside. The archetype of this unifying capability, however, and consequently of all capabilities is the union in human encounter. This is the origin and aim of all ability.] Only in the essential center of another human being who embraces us in his understanding do we gain the right viewpoint for proffering him our own understanding. The delight in mutual agreement, extending beyond words and thoughts, we owe to this experience. Lifted up by the receptivity of another human being, it looks across to its own being in which it does not find itself but the presence of the other. By contrast, the poverty and misery of misunderstanding attends the fruitless effort to make oneself instead of the other better understood. (Only boundless tolerance can look up to the spiritual stature of another human being. It requires, however, the support of the strictest consistency. Through both we evoke in ourselves that which is most genuine and true, so that therein the best may be revealed in the other person preparing to live in us.)  After the cross-exchange, the original modes of consciousness are restored. Yet they become the starting point of renewed interlocking. This alternation of the one with the other is the pulse beat of our humanity. With its rhythm it raises I and Thou to We. In We, each breathes the other in and out. 

This complementing of the one I through the other forms the archetype of human community. This means that, within the scope of its being, each I manifests itself to the other, now giving, now receiving. We become the guardian for the I which we accept into ourselves; it can only be present in our reverential hearkening. For the I that accepts us in it, on the other hand, we are the ones protected; but only our hearkening reverence can feel worthy of this protective shield. As the bearer of another I at home in us, our mode of experience achieves the character of the universal, it becomes its allegory: for we become aware of the human spirit-being not only in the realm of the personal. On the other hand, the sustained I that indwells in another I’s consciousness achieves the full value of the individual, it becomes its fulfillment: for the human spirit-being testifies by fulfilling a Thou that its worth surpasses the personal.
            This breathing-out of an I in the protection received from another I and its breathing-in of another I in the protection that the inbreathing I affords him (with the specific implications in each case of the individual and universal realm) kindles our feeling, but only in so far as we master in ourselves the prejudices, sympathies and antipathies as well as scheming intentions. For the archetype of humanity can only reveal itself in the exchange of I-fulfillments on a level far above the realm of the narrow personal, loveless self-centered and intentional wrong-willing. Such a mode of experience through its tolerance, consistency and candid belief in the ultimate victory over all divisiveness gives our experience a harmonious balance. This acknowledges with the selfsame reverential equanimity the unfolding of another’s I in its own being as it experiences the unfolding of its own I in the receptivity of another’s I. This experience of interchange-of-being (as the archetype of all capabilities) is the primal experience of those manifold unions which are the work of our loving creative power. They turn us gradually into true inhabitants of the world and give us hope, in defiance of all disappointments, to find friendship with all beings. It is the heart receiving warmth only to bestow it.
            Here flows the source of the beautiful, of the artistic. This is so intrinsically predisposed within our nature and so indissolubly interwoven with it, that its light shines even on its disparagements. Even the Philistine seeks affirmation acknowledging who he is without imposing any conditions. To be sure, he believes the recognition that he needs refers to the inertia in which he feels at ease, not to the self-transformation that senses the anguish of inadequacy. He calls this, convenience, righteousness and authorization. However much he may debase himself by the mode of his aspirations and desire for the debasement of others, his gaze nevertheless follows the swallow which swoops past him. For without the interchange-of-being that imbues community with warmth and that is indeed the only means of transforming a mob into a union of peace lovers, there would be (even if the indication of anything truly communal should evade the notice of those experiencing on a subliminal level) no compatibility, no sense of security among people. The glimmer (even if hardly noticeably) of this compatibility and security is the trace left by the beautiful even in the abhorrent. We can often become aware of the fading or the flashing of this trace – every time we feel ourselves strongest, not in self-admiration and self-commiseration, but in true readiness to help. In such preparedness the giving and receiving of protection meet and interchange as the pulse beat and life breath in whose community an archetypal humanity becomes present.
                        Such willingness to help, which permeates the feeling of those united in spirit, does not deny assistance to even the most inept, the hateful and even mantles the anti-artistic in its compassion.  For its mercy is not directed to the formed but the formative I. This is always something higher. For it requires our concern most urgently, if in one of its incarnations it must take the path along which it undergoes the deprivation that forced it to foreswear beauty. An immortal I thanks us all the more through its hidden grace when our pleasure in the act of formation (which creates a new characterological image from the untapped treasures of its individuality), heartens the impotence that lames its formative power. It thanks and protects us through the exchange of spirit breath. Many artists who are deficient in working on themselves can thereby become our teachers. They help us in developing that most splendid of our faculties. This can discover form spellbound in matter, material spiritualized in form. And this too remains concealed as well for everyday existence, even though it could be its comfort and luster.
            There are no limits set to the interiorization of our feeling life. Upon becoming conscious of the source of this interiorization, it approaches the rose transformed. We sense the creative art spellbound in it. This puts the deformation of our soul (which lags so far behind the perfection of our body) to shame.  Our soul feels that only its transformation into a work of art can justify its continued existence. But it also feels encouraged to begin this work on itself. Only by not slackening in its efforts, can the creation of a beautiful work succeed. There is no art that can be practiced without experience in the art of self-fashioning. But just as little can true self-fashioning reach its goal without experience in the creation of artistic works. Neither can do without the other, because both are one and the same. This art, turning with like skill both inwards and outwards, lets us sense in its works (even if these are not lofty but only truly graceful) the moment as eternal and eternity as being present. (It is that lingering moment to which desire may not succumb and which renunciation may fashion into that shining semblance we call beauty.) Even though the despiser of the beautiful heap their scorn on it to no end, this eternal presence is notwithstanding attained in true art. For in artistic feeling, just because it turns its love to the individual, all division is dissolved. It applies all its skill to minting the intrinsic nature of all beings, so that they can become the mirror and life element of other beings. For every part of a beautiful work encloses the whole to which it belongs, in order to shine it back out of itself. Thus the beautiful vanquishes time, even though it manifests in time. It lets the sensory appear as timelessly spiritual. By virtue of the expunction of time in experiencing the whole, we purify our heart so that it may don the garment woven by beauty for the rose.

In that way we gain an imaginative relationship with all beings. For imagination lives its creative power in beings and lets this power live in itself. The archetype of this imagination is the interchange-of-being in human encounter. This experiential interchange accords the Thou no less than the I a higher stature through their union in the We. It is the tandem art which through self-fashioning achieves the honor of uplifting the stature of other beings and which through uplifting the stature of other beings achieves the honor of self-fashioning. This is the winged pair of imaginative fantasy. For her, each being becomes a metaphor for the created world surrounding her. For her, it becomes at the same time the seed of a world in waiting totally saturated by its ownness. Thus imaginative fantasy experiences itself through its creations in a We. In this manner, the truth of a content is transformed into the higher truth of form, and the goodness of a deed into the more gentle goodness of the shining semblance which is beauty.
            Humility and enthusiasm become the architects of this art of invention, if and when human beings call on them through the mutual act of giving and receiving protection to be their aspirational forces. This perennial fruit-bearing art and not the sensory is the beautiful.  For this is humble in bowing down to all beings, and is proud for its enthusiasm in raising all beings above themselves. And only through humility and enthusiasm does the will become clear and thinking vigorous for a new day.
            Thinking and willing, past and future, protection and protectiveness intertwine in the experiential exchange of feeling. The will is the hammer, thinking the anvil. But it is foremost the feeling that breathes life into the form to be forged that awakens it to life. This is the life that, in the spirit of community, vanquishes death brought on by isolation. The interchange-of-being in human encounter is the archetype of morality whose essence is beauty.


In the noble tourney with the rose our thinking, feeling and willing may succeed in adding a threefold moral aspect to its outer appearance. This continuation of natural creation is the silence, inwardness and sacrifice of spiritual man. Human community is the school of life for this high vocation. For if we did not think in ourselves, at least as a gentle resonance but continuously the thoughts of other human beings, did not sense others in us and ourselves in them and also did not make the volitional impulse of others our own, there would only be war of all against all. The three fundamental standards of morality however are, because in them alone the worthiness and dignity of our soul powers are revealed, at the same time the fundamentals of humanity. Our thinking can admire the creation of the rose by co-creating it. By thinking the thoughts of other human beings we provide our work with cognitional clarity. Our feeling can love the beauty of the rose by saying, “I am Thou, Thou art I”. By virtue of the interchange-of-being in human encounter we kindle our love of beauty. Our volitional nature can ally itself with the goodness of the rose by trusting in world renewal. The adoption of this other will in our will is the sacrificial wellspring that steels this knowledge-based trust with spiritual courage. From this spring flows the vow to devote the highest love to freedom (that of others as well as one’s own). The eyes, hearts and hands with whom we come in contact in human encounter are the guardians and admonishers of this threefold striving. They set our thinking aglow with the fiery will and illumine our actions with the light of thought. They endow our feeling, which unites both, with intimacy. Yet these three require still further support.  Tolerance, consistency and trusting faith confer on the united efforts of our forces the gift of harmony. Now they can manifest as much composure as sense of purpose. Upon having advanced that far, the other forces evoked by the work on ourselves that move and stabilize the world, enter the sphere of our attributes and attainments. Sober and careful consideration brings our resolutions in line with our capacities. And what we then will eventuate through our deeds will be steadied and encouraged by the submission to what destiny concedes.


1. The meaning of happiness lies in the fact that we can raise the sensory in a threefold manner to morality and thereby imprint humanity on the sensory in a threefold degree. The colors of this happiness are the seasons of the soul that we call Virtues. Through them, maturity becomes rejuvenation of the soul, youthful freshness turns into temperance.

2. The Virtues condense the treasures gathered for us by the past into seeds and expand the creative power lying dormant in us towards the invention of the future. They are the great transformers.

3. They are entrenched in humanity through which we can firmly hold our ground against upheaval, and at the same time they are strides of progress that rushes the course of the world ahead in order to follow its spiritual guidance. They grant us faith, love and hope.

4. They are cheerful, for they counteract the weight of our bodily nature which wants to prejudice our thinking. They are earnest, for they are conscience watching over our constancy. They give us strength and wisdom.

5. Since in their manifold diversity they are nonetheless unanimous, they are capable of supplementing everything of a fragmentary nature. Since their light is revealed in many colors, they expose the incom-pleteness of every view considering itself to be holistic. Thus they administer a fortifying remedy for every one of our weaknesses. They heal despair by turning it into humility and arrogance by turning it into enthusiasm.

6. They place their trust in the ultimate victory of freedom in all human hearts. Indeed, to this victory they themselves owe their origin. And they break any fetter that seeks to chain their moral love for the deed to mundane success. That is why they are the guardians of human community.

7. We catch sight of them when the dispositions of our soul, purified by the spirit, wander through the stations of world orientation as the planets do inside the zodiac. For by virtue of renunciation and unyieldingness we provide our motive forces with that concord and confidence that in their aspirations need not regard themselves wholly unworthy of the harmony and balance ensouling the heavenly bodies with movement and order. For none of the members of the spirit-filled solar system and a healthy soul organism retains its achievements for itself. Rather, each contributes its share in mutual support for the whole to which it belongs, so that it may continually gather new efficacy.


The Virtues, which can only exert their influence in man, surpass nature. Out of nature they give rise to culture, thereby evolving what remained unfinished in natural creation. As such the Virtues become our most glorious helpers. In their grace and dignity they appear in our eyes as lovely and lofty beings. They resemble the muses because they render the world poetic. But they do not demonstrate their artistry solely through adding morality to the sensorial. It is just as much within their power to extend morality into the sensoriality. In this way, they become ennoblers of our body by increasing its sentient power. The aim of this ennoblement is to remold our consciousness, which initially raises a barrier between us and the world, into an organ that reconnects us with the spirit of things. Yet the sphere of influence of the Virtues extends even further. It embraces all the circumstances and concerns of our life. For the Virtues aspire to give our life a form corresponding to the true, the beautiful and the good.
            It is in our soul life, however, that the Virtues exert their most secret and at the same time most apparent influence. As fundaments of old-age mirth and sources of youthful earnestness, the inner seasons impart our soul life (through contraction and expansion, steadfastness and progress, cheerfulness and earnestness, humility and enthusiasm, love and zeal for freedom, purification and world orientation) not only multiplicity of character-logical coloring, but also homogeneity of its psychic limb structure. The latter develops its uplifting power not from the diversity of the seasons, but from their union. For no one of the Virtues excludes the others; on the contrary, each calls on the support of the other. The archetype of evolutionary growth, which is simultaneously root, blossom, fruit and seed, transforms its upward striving into upright posture. Thus it becomes human dignity. Therefore, the soul roses can also blossom at Christmastide.


For the feeling life of our soul forces, a life unrestricted by time, sleep is more than just a gift of nature. It is no longer solely the most precious gift that we receive, but we also offer it our felicity yielded by freedom. For through victory over the lower part of our being, the soul forces of thinking and willing combine in us to pose spiritually justified questions. With these we humbly approach our guardians. We await the answers which sound as long as our outer senses are closed. The resonance of our hearing brings about that sensoriality and morality become a single entity. Then our steps are led by wisdom and fortified by goodness, our heart also healed by spiritual intimacy as well as set aglow by beauty, and our eyes also cleared by sacrificial courage and truth. The sounding forth of our questions which accompanies us through the night beyond the morn endows our awakening with the most beautiful assurance, even though this may long require the support of our body. This foretells the spreading, at long last, of those wings destined to bestir themselves in flight, once our spirit has overcome all lack of freedom.[1] 

[1] This introduction, together with the following reflections on the Virtues, was based on indications which we owe to Rudolf Steiner; more precise references will be found under “Sources and Notes” in the appendices of this book.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

ON COMMUNION WITH THE VIRTUES Epilogue to the Virtues - Seasons of the Soul

1. The introductory remarks "On the Origin of the Virtues', as well as the reflections on their nature [meant here are the 12 meditative texts on the moods of the months available here] require an explanation. For the gravest doubts must necessarily be levelled against both. It could rightly be objected that the state of human affairs all over the world by no means deserves to be called virtuous nor indeed even worthy of human dignity. Furthermore that there has hardly ever been a time when hypocrisy and self-delusion hid such mendacity, so much fear, hate and cruelty under their smokescreen, indeed that a deluded humanity is hastening to its own destruction across an abyss of lurking dangers on the thin ice of cliché, convention and routine, and that in view of the impending decline of all basic convictions and overall circumstances one would be judging the present draft of a quixotic image of humanity much too leniently by deeming it a mere playful eccentricity to be passed over with a shrug of the shoulders. For the more that the forces reserved for realizing the things that could and should be done on earth are diverted towards marvelling at noble pies in the skies, the more their readiness to cope with the pressing daily demands are weakened. Therefore it must be considered nothing short of reprehensible to rob the steps to the nearest necessities of their sure footing by the dizziness caused by gazing up to such sublime aims. For where could it lead to by demanding that only the noblest effort is sufficient, when our world lacks even the most modest form of reliance and when unconditional understanding and unintentional helpfulness have given way (often under the cloak of humanitarianism) to wide-spread scheming and random use of coercion? To demand everything is to achieve nothing, whereas inwardly and outwardly great things could be accomplished in the end, provided the most urgent possible changes and advances are given the right priority. More important than big words is a renewal of the basic rules of goodwill and common decency.

2. This objection must be sustained, insofar as it is a warning not to forget, engrossed in the admiration of an ideal, the gap separating it from reality. At the same time, the reflections offered here are not in the least concerned with presenting a vague image far removed from reality, on the contrary. It is perhaps not altogether irrelevant to point this out with the following explanations.
            “Man is a “thinking being” (Rudolf Steiner). This is already evident from the fact that he is capable of determining who he is and that his feeling of self is only satisfied when he becomes the expression of this self-determination. This we are, however, only capable of doing through our concepts and ideas. If we do not act based on the knowledge that they provide, we cannot ascribe to ourselves the determining factor that we follow. Then either the forces prevail in us arising from heredity, or the forces from a local or social environment, or authorities to whom we consciously or unconsciously submit.
To be a thinking being, however, means to be a threefold being. Firstly, through our thinking we confront the world as a single being, since we seek and find something within our thoughts which it initially does not offer us. Secondly, through our thinking we connect the contents of our observations with each other and with ourselves and by doing so attain a “total existence in the universe” (Rudolf Steiner). And thirdly, through our thinking we unite the two poles of our being, the individual and the universal, with one another. We breathe ourselves out into our universal being and draw out of it the life-breath of our individual existence which we breathe in. In this way, we let the interplay between expansion and contraction become the content of our being. This finds in rhythmical alternation itself in the world, in the latter’s cognitional content and the world in itself, in its own thinking. The liquid springing from a well in the form of a compressed jet expands further and further only to return then through condensation to its place of origin.
This fact is the origin of the Virtues, as has already been described from another point of view in the introduction. For human encounters are by no means only of the kinds occurring between ego-centric I-nesses. On the contrary, in such an encounter, the universal humanity always towers over the individual humanity of our own being and of the one we meet. Only through such towering-above-ourselves are we truly individualities. In view of this, the practice of soul observation, introspection gains a vantage point for an understanding of the laws governing human evolution. For human development proceeds in alternation between bodily-determined manifestations and pure spiritual forms of being. This development appears thus as a succession of repeated earthly lives of a human spirit entity, and as the states in a spiritual world devoted to assimilating past earthly experiences as well as preparing future ones. This pendulum swinging between, on the one hand, incarnation in a bodily determined mode of being in an environment from which we distinguish ourselves, and on the other hand, detaching ourselves from a bodily determined mode of existence by an act of knowledge providing us (qualitatively) a total, holistic existence. This process is continually repeated in our waking consciousness. For over and again we draw our individual consciousness out of our universal existence, to constantly return it (within the scope our cognition which, as long as we remain awake, never ceases) to our universal consciousness. This occurrence is accessible to our soul observation at any time. It can therefore direct our thinking gaze from the everyday experience of the lesser body-spirit-rhythm to the archetype of the greater rhythmicity of our being, which manifests as the succession of bodily-bound and bodily-free states of our spirit-being.
The connection of the universal with the individual, apparent to soul observation as the basis of our being, is therefore an inner event differentiated in two directions. Depending on the observational viewpoint, it can be regarded as either the origin of the Virtues or the law of evolution of the human individuality. For in both it is the same thing that is observed. As has been described in the introduction: The human Virtues unfurl through the open and hidden relationships connecting people. In these relationships the varied situations through which the personal and the impersonal interplay within the individual and among human beings meeting each other.
These relationships assume characteristic forms according to whether the main role is played by our thinking, our feeling or our willing. The unity and the diversity of the Virtues share therefore the same origin as our whole being. The Virtues are the words of dialogue between the earthly and the heavenly realm within individuals and amongst human beings. They are therefore heralding the idea of repeated earthly lives of the human spirit. Their annunciation is at the same time the substantiation of their teaching through their own intrinsic nature.

3. Even if one were willing to concede all this, one could reasonably respond by saying that these deliberations might well point to an immeasurable treasure, but that this lies in a hidden chamber of our soul to which we have no access, having long ago lost the key that opens the door that stores it. The need for such a key to the soul region housing the Virtues corresponds to the necessity of preparing the human soul state, conditioned as it is by the influences of our time, for communion with the Virtues.
            The possibility for such a preparation we owe to Rudolf Steiner. Since it introduces the Rondo of the Virtues and is therefore an inseparable part of it, this preparation is given here in the words of his basic book Occult Science: An Outline (in the sense of a “key”):
“We visualize a plant as it grows roots in the earth, as leaf by leaf sprouts forth, as its blossom unfolds, and now we think of a human being beside this plant. We make the thought alive in the soul of how he has characteristics and faculties which, when compared with those of the plant, may be considered more perfect than the latter. We contemplate how, according to his feelings and his will, he is able to move about to and fro, while the plant is rooted in the earth. Furthermore, we say that the human being is indeed more perfect than the plant, but the former also shows peculiarities that are not to be found in the plant. Just because of their nonexistence in the plant, the latter may appear to me in a certain sense more perfect than the human being, who is filled with desire and passion and follows them in his conduct. I may speak of his being led astray by his desires and passions. I see that the plant follows the pure laws of growth from leaf to leaf, that it opens its blossom passionlessly to the chaste rays of the sun. Furthermore, I may say to myself that the human being has a greater perfection than the plant, but has purchased this perfection at the price of permitting instincts, desires, and passions to enter into his nature besides the forces of the plant, which appear pure to us. I now visualize how the green sap flows through the plant and that it is an expression of the pure, passionless laws of growth. I then visualize how the red blood flows through the human veins and how it is the expression of the instincts, desires, and passions.
All this I permit to arise in my soul as vivid thought. Then I visualize further how the human being is capable of evolution; how he may purify and cleanse his instincts and passions through his higher soul powers. I visualize how, as a result of this, something base in these instincts and desires is destroyed and how they are reborn on a higher level. Then the blood may be conceived of as the expression of the purified and cleansed instincts and passions. In my thoughts, I look now, for example, at the rose and say: ‘In the red rose petal I see the color of the green plant sap transformed into red, and the red rose, like the green leaf, follows the pure, innocent laws of growth. The red of the rose may now become the symbol of blood as the expression of purified instincts and passions that have stripped off all base aspects, and in their purity resemble the forces active in the red rose. I now not merely seek to imbue my intellect with such thoughts but to bring them to life in my feelings. I may be blessed by thinking of the purity and innocence of the growing plant; I can induce in myself the feeling of how certain higher perfections must be purchased through the acquirement of instincts and desires. This can then transform the previously felt feeling of bliss into a grave feeling; and then a feeling of liberating joy may stir in me upon surrendering myself to the thought of the red blood which, like the red sap of the rose, may become the bearer of inwardly pure experiences. Important thereby is that we do not confront the thoughts which serve to construct such a symbolic visualization without feeling. After having pondered on such thoughts and feelings for a while, we should transform them into the following symbolic visualization. We visualize a black cross. Let this symbolize the destroyed base elements of instincts and passions, and at the center, where the arms of the cross intersect, let us visualize seven radiant red roses arranged in a circle. Let these roses symbolize the purified blood as the expression of cleansed passions and instincts.

4. The clarifications briefly given here, to be sure, could have been presented first to forestall objections. It is however not the main purpose of this book to simply impart the views of the author, but to stimulate inner movements through the medium of what is developed, the re-enactment of which renders the Virtue Educational Project of Soul Observation tangible by way of example. Therefore these clarifications were properly placed here as an epilogue.
            If this reflection clearly assesses what it beheld, however, it can then become aware that the cultivation of the seasons of the soul, the contemporary renewal of which we owe to Rudolf Steiner, can give hope to the greatest longing of present-day humanity. Yet most people hide this yearning from themselves.  It nevertheless plagues all souls and drives them, as long as they do not raise what lies buried at the root of their discontent to consciousness, to escapism in drugs and outbursts of violence.
            If the attempt is now made to clothe the deepest yearning of the soul of present-day humanity in words, then many will not want to recognize themselves in this pronouncement and perhaps even reject it with scorn. But that only shows the fear of changing their mode of existence and way of life demanded of them by their innermost aspirations, which prevent them from exercising a form of self-knowledge, which may present us with a glorious promise of hope while imposing on us the strictest self-denial.
            Three experiences, to which numerous of a similar kind could be added, can provide us with a better understanding of ourselves.
            The first: While walking on a woodland path to reach our destination (it could also be a street, but then the experiences, although not less stimulating, are more difficult to grasp), our surroundings move for our perception at an equal pace with our movements. The borders of the path, the trees and bushes are enlivened; new far and distant views emerge constantly before our eyes. The landscape speaks with us, we tender it our feeling which it heightens or subdues, and we pose it our questions which it answers in the language of its scenery. It appears to us as if the same life permeates us and everything around is. For as soon as we take only one step, all things join in the beat of our stride. We feel that we belong to one all-living being which is akin to our soul and that longs for the dialogue with our spirit to indicate its destination.
The second: When afternoon’s saturated sun-gold hovers over the objects in space, then there approaches us between the gloamings of past and future the lasting present like a superhuman guest. No greater festival exists. The full substance of reality, making our heartbeat in deprivation and delight, is spread out all around us.
The third: When we throw a stone and observe its flight path, when our subsequent attention moves forward in a vehicle in space, when we lets ourselves be carried by a bird through the azure, when we hear what links the words together which are spoken to us, when we feel the creative life which permeates the shifting shape of the plant from seed to blossom streaming also through us, when we sense the invisible connections leading visible people together and driving them apart, when we rediscover in events nearing us as destiny our own thoughts as the formative forces of all perceptible guises -, then we become aware (more or less dimly) that no perceptible entity (however imperceptible the shades of distinction may be) passes over into the other. What is perceptible for the senses belongs to the past. The transitions from one perceptible thing to another we can only ever think. We draw them from the realm of imperishable ideas down into the realm of decay. For transitions, advances, indeed all alterations and relations, inasmuch as they are happening and not arrested stages, are of a conceptual nature. Concepts, however, identify themselves in their imperishability through the fact that they are not determined by anything else (also not through us), but solely through themselves. Were that not so, they would be inconceivable and hence unsuitable for furthering our comprehension.
Experiences of this kind tell us that with our total being we do not live in a dead world, but in a living one, not in an alien world, but in a homeland, not in a wasteland, but in one enriched by a hidden wealth of being. They tell us that it is our own experiential poverty which deludes us into believing that the world lacks soul-spiritual essence. And they also tell us that we only need to come to our senses and pull ourselves together in order to become aware (even if in an altered form) of such experiences comparable to the mythical awareness of the ancient Greeks.
This is (however strange it may sound at first) the deepest longing of today’s human beings, even though they may be largely unaware of it. They long to escape the terrifying specter of a mechanized and bureaucratically governed world and find a home again in the kind of world populated with spiritual beings. The origin of all things in creation, their eternity in beauty and their future in humanity, which are the secret sentinels of human relationships evoke, to the degree that we become aware of them, the essential presence of the Virtues. These bring a new wealth of spiritual beings into our world. To be sure, these life-filled soul-spiritual riches cannot be bestowed on our existence without our conscious participation, as was still the case in Greek times. It requires the fully cognizant, artistically fashioning and socially active deed of human beings to bring about that event for which all (mostly without knowing it) are yearning, although in vain as long as they do not bring their own activity to meet it. The Virtues, however, can populate our world once more with spiritual life and receive in their company the archetype of the human being. From this supreme humanity, buried deep within us and exalted high above us, the light of spiritual life can radiate as the suffusion of the wasteland with that kinship and trustfulness for which all thirst. The Virtues cannot banish the might of demons all at once, but in between the terror of their dreadful realm, they can let a new realm arise. This is by no means merely a refuge for self-centered yearning, but on the contrary the source of that transforming force which gradually elevates even the anti-human to humanness.

5. The Virtues are as gentle as they are strict. They exert no coercion, yet they give us the power to make the strictest demands on ourselves. The inexorability of the judgment which with their assistance we pass on ourselves is their greatest gift. For we owe our freedom to it.
            A perhaps even greater power, however, proceeds from their gentleness. They fill us with it when we encounter other human beings. It reduces to silence in us all passing of judgment, as it does all condonement of inadequacy and unworthiness. It projects before our gaze an image of future human community summoning up all our powers of enthusiastic endeavor. In such a community, love will be all the greater, the greater the transgression, and no other requital will be exercised than increased readiness to help. In the light of the Virtues, every shortcoming in another person can only seem as one’s own failure and will simply spur our attempts to put boundless affection and healing actions in its stead.
            The Virtues invite the nature of true humanity to join in their Rondo dance and so reveal itself in our life as the inexhaustible fountainhead of conciliation and redemption.