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.
 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.