Arnhem, 19 November 2019
On that evening, I gave a lecture entitled: Europe between East and West. On that evening, I poured out my heart in a way, still completely ignorant of what awaited us in 2020. Because the call I made there is now more urgent than ever, I am publishing it in a number of episodes. This is the first part.
The first question I asked myself preparing for this evening was: Who is Europe? Then you reach Greek mythology, where Europe is described as a very beautiful girl in Phoenicia - that is more or less where we know Lebanon - that girl was playing with her friends by the beach, by the sea and along came Zeus, the great supreme god, who was seized by lust at the sight of this beautiful girl, and he changed himself into the shape of a white bull and joined in the game. The girl Europe who was playing with the bull had no idea what she was getting herself into. She climbed on the bull's back, and the bull kidnapped Europa to Crete.
There we see an interesting movement, from Phoenicia to Crete. In Crete, she had three children, one of whom was the future king Minos.
The king who ruled there was also very charmed by Europa, and Zeus, of course, had now returned to his jealous wife Hera, so the king of Crete took Europa as his wife and took the children that Europa already had - three children - into his court, and later he was succeeded by Minos. He was actually the founder, as he is seen, of Minoan Greek culturein fact, the first flowering of the great Greek culture.
I find that a very moving story. If you are European - and we are - then you have a connection with Europa, and she suddenly appears as a beautiful daughter of Phoenicia who is brought to Crete by Zeus and who then, as it were, helps to shape the basis of European culture.
The beautiful thing is that the name Europa - if you understand it in Greek - of course contains the word 'eu' and also 'ops', eye, so the good or the good-looking. But in ancient Greek it was something like Erebu here and that means look at the Occident.
That is very peculiar because in the Middle East, of course, the gaze was directed to the Morn, where the sun rose. And when they looked at the sunset, they had no other idea than something that was fairly close because that was all they had. And so, what we now call Europe was called the Occident. Now when you think of the West, you tend to think of the Far West and when you think of the East, you tend to think of the Far East. But in this context of the development of Europe, you actually see the movement from the Middle East via Greece to Europe and you can experience that, you can, if you consider such a movement, even if it is a mythological one, you can develop an experience of it.
Combined with Rudolf Steiner's spiritual science, we then of course have a very special view of the post-Atlantic period in which we live. If we also try to experience this geographically in a movement - that the remaining Atlantic culture, insofar as it is not new, can be experienced in China; that then the oldest Post-Atlantic culture is the Indian; then the Persian; then the Egyptian - you feel where you are going - and then from the Egyptian-Chaldean to Europe; and then in the future to expand more to the east of Europe and then finally in the seventh Post-Atlantic age to stretch all the way to America.
The fifth Post-Atlantic culture - ours - is predominantly in Middle Europe.
What is the task of this fifth Post-Atlantic culture?
That, of course, is the question.
Rudolf Steiner suffered very much from the First World War and then, when that war was over, he searched for an opportunity to shape the culture of Middle Europe in such a way that it could be fruitful for the development of the consciousness soul and also be fruitful for the reception of the future appearance of Christ in the etherworld. Of course, we all know that Rudolf Steiner brought about the threefold order of the social organism and in 'Kernpunkte der sozialen Frage', that booklet - it is not very thick, but it is not effortless to read either - at the end we find an appeal to the German cultural world and especially in the first part of it - after which he goes on to describe the threefold order of the social organism - but the actual appeal does reflect very clearly how he saw it, that in middle Europe it was the task to bring about the development of the consciousness soul, how that had to be given. 'To the German people and to the world of culture. Certainly composed for infinite ages, the German people believed that their empire-building, founded half a century ago, would remain. In August 1914, it believed that the war catastrophe it was facing would, at its onset, prove this building, this Reich building, invincible. Today it can only look at the ruins. Self-reflection must come to such an experience. For this, experience has shown the opinion of half a century and especially the prevailing thoughts of the war years to be a tragic error. And where do the causes of this tragic error lie? This question should bring self-reflection into the soul of the members of the German people. Whether the strength for such self-reflection is present determines the life possibility of the German people. The future of the German people depends on whether they can seriously ask themselves the question: How did I get into this mess? If it asks this question today, the knowledge will emerge that it founded an empire half a century ago, but that it failed to give this empire a task stemming from the essence of the German people. The empire was established, and in the early days of its existence, people were engaged in ordering the inner life possibilities according to the demands of old traditions and new needs from year to year. Later on, one proceeded to establish and enlarge the power structure that has its foundation in material forces. And with this were associated measures relating to the social demands which arose in the new age and which showed what was necessary, but which lacked the great purpose which would have shown itself in the knowledge of the forces of development to which the new humanity must turn. And so, the Reich was set in the world context without an essential purpose which would have justified its existence.'
This is what Rudolf Steiner then later - or perhaps he also said it before - expressed in lectures, time and again, that the German people - and by this, he did not mean so much this Reich building but Middle Europe in a broader sense, that this Europe actually only has a right to exist when it does not seek the forces only in the outer material prosperity and economic life, but when it knows that the first task for Middle Europe is the development of the self, which belongs to the consciousness of the soul and is therefore the development of the consciousness soul. So, actually in that movement, which you can then experience from the previous culture period up to the fifth one, you could include that, in the experience, that in our culture period it is about developing the consciousness soul, but developing it in such a way that the consciousness of the soul is established, or brought about, and that, in order to give this task its full meaning, we should understand that for this we need the resurrection of Christ in the ether world - and not only that we are aware of this, but that we also have an aspiration to seek this beholding of Christ in the ether world, possibly to reach it if we are given it, and to communicate it in culture as much as we can. Rudolf Steiner then, in the time of the social threefold order and in the course before that, during the First World War, transferred a great deal of knowledge, insight, about the opposing powers and about the question: what does this consciousness soul that wants to develop through Christian will strive for, and what forces strive against this development?
To be continued
Europe between East and West by Mieke Mosmuller