A friend recently drew my attention to a section of Christoph Lindenberg’s 1997 biography of Rudolf Steiner. On page 758 of the 2017 English edition we find words written by Rudolf Steiner at the very end of his life on the 28th March 1925. Words overwhelmingly pertinent for our times. In fact, these were likely the last words that he wrote before finally leaving his physical body on the 30th March.
In the course of his 64 years, Rudolf Steiner produced 36 published written works, 9 collections of essays, and gave around 4,000 lectures. The span of his life’s work encompassed many spheres of human life and culture – applications of his spiritual, scientific, philosophical and practical indications have entered as renewal and inspiration into endeavors such as medicine, architecture, agriculture, art and design, artistic performance, gymnastics, education, theology, care for those handicapped, social reform and renewal, bee-keeping, ethical banking, and many other specialist areas. I mention all of this because given the scope of his life’s work, his final words become especially significant. These final words are published as what are known as “The Leading Thoughts”. The numbering pertains to the format of that publication.
183. In the natural scientific age, beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century, the cultural activities of humanity have gradually slipped down not only into the depths of the natural forces but deeper still into a region lying below nature. Technology becomes sub-nature.
184. This makes it necessary for the human being to find a fully experienced spiritual knowledge through which one can raise oneself just as high into the super-natural realms as one is drawn into the sub-natural through technology. One thus creates within oneself the strength needed to not go under.
185. In the past, the conception of nature still bore within it the spirit with which the origins of human evolution are connected. This spirit gradually disappeared from our conception of nature; the purely ahrimanic flowed into it and from there into technological civilisation.
Just over a day after writing these words Rudolf Steiner left his body for good. Page 759 of Lindenberg’s book poignantly describes Steiner’s passing.
It is clear that in traversing our current civilization, we are in a way, walking through the valley of the shadow of death as described by David, the ancient writer and singer of psalms. We are challenged to see what we are walking through for what it is, and thus to engage our humanity in rising to a new level rather than becoming part of a sunken and tragic generation whose very humanity is whittled away.
These writings will continue to offer a view of technology as it really appears to be from the writer’s perspective. For it is in the nature of the beast that we need to keep an understanding and knowledgeable eye on it. Increasingly I will also attempt to offer insight into how we can gain or further develop that “fully experienced spiritual knowledge through which one can raise oneself just as high into the super-natural realms as one is drawn into the sub-natural through technology.” For only thus will that spirit strength arise which is crucial to our times and the times still to come. We are all to a lesser or greater extent drawn into the sub-natural through technology. Through our own freely applied self-determination we must find the possibility of impelling ourselves up those inner steps that lead us to the ever-present realm of the forces of life rather than those of death, – the realm of truth and authenticity rather than lies and illusion.