1 2 CULTURE
WHAT IS CULTURE? 2.1 Introduction 1
Culture is defined as “intellectual and material cultivation”. That definition is meaningless, since it says nothing about what is the most important, namely the motive. Many different things can be cultivated and with the most varied motives: love and hatred, amicability and hostility. 2
Nietzsche, who believed he was a great philosopher of culture, regarded the realization of a unitary style as a proof of culture. That kind of culture (such as the Chinese, for instance) soon degenerates into refined subtleties. True culture has to do with the development of consciousness. 3
In the esoteric sense, culture means the cultivation of higher consciousness in contradistinction to lower: higher emotional (striving for unity) and higher mental (striving for insight). At the present stage of mankind’s development, the striving for culture should be directed to higher emotional consciousness, emotional attraction, as opposed to lower emotional consciousness, emotional repulsion in all its countless kinds of life expressions.
Esoterically, culture is the first conscious step towards unity, the indivisible unity of all life. 4
There is a fundamental difference between exoteric and esoteric culture. Exoteric culture appears in emotional consciousness; and esoteric culture, in mental consciousness as the world of ideas (mental ideas). Causal ideas explain the causes of effects in the worlds of man and are too high for the first self. 5
Culture presupposes the will to unity and right human relations. Division, schism, sectarianism, isolation, exclusion are hindrances to culture, which in emotional respect implies attraction. To an extent never dreamt of, culture makes it easier for mankind to attain the stage of the saint, for that is the goal of culture. By achieving it we should obtain what people have dreamt of in all ages: the paradisiacal condition, the country of Utopia. 6
True culture is characterized by an all-pervading tendency to unity and freedom. For only in freedom can unity become the unwavering power factor. That lawless freedom without aim which people ignorant of life desire leads to division and chaos, and the reaction upon it follows inevitably: intellectual, political, social dictatorship in a police state that spies on the citizens and supervises them. That unity without freedom to which the life-ignorant aspire leads to the police state, and the reaction upon it is inevitably revolution, when people are able to think for themselves and not just parrot their leaders. Where there is true culture, dictatorship of any kind is impossible. 7
Peace, tolerance, and harmony are conditions of culture, of the acquisition of attraction (admiration, affection, sympathy), of voluntary, strived-for identification with wholeness. 8
One of the signs of the rise of culture is the strengthening of the legal protection of the individual. As a child you had no rights against your parents, as a pupil you had no rights against your teacher, as a conscript you had no rights against all the officers, as a civil servant you had no rights against those above you. All of this has already (albeit slowly in certain respects) undergone a change. Things are moving towards improvement after all. 9
Thus the function of culture is consciousness development. For this purpose culture makes use of various physical products, such as literature, art, and music. 10
It is these external manifestations that people, in their ignorance of life, call “culture”. Of course, not just any literature, art, and music can be called “cultural products”. It can be only if they ennoble emotionality, help people to acquire the qualities and means of expression of attraction. Modern products in these spheres rather have the opposite effect, contribute to aggravating disorientation. How many people realize this?2 11
Not amusements and entertainment, but consciousness development is the meaning of life. Man should try to reach the fifth natural kingdom, not remain in the fourth. The mission of the planetary hierarchy is to see to it that human beings fulfil their function. If they will not do so voluntarily, they will have to put up with being “obliged” to do so. Must they be forced through dictatorship and tyranny? 2.2 Physical, Emotional, and Mental Culture 1
Since “culture” is defined as cultivation, many people seem to think that it has reference to physical things: physical culture, cultivation, agriculture, culture-plants, gravy culture, etc.
Therefore, when using the word “culture” it is probably necessary to specify what kind of culture is intended: physical, emotional, or mental culture. 2 “Spiritual culture”, too, is a cherished expression that is used in various contexts so that everybody has his own interpretation of it, whereas nobody has any idea of what it means. To the esoterician, the “spiritual culture” of our times is the same as emotional culture. Mankind is at the emotional stage and its “cultural products” (literature, art, music, etc.) are entirely within the reality domains of emotional consciousness. 3
Emotional matter is by nature either repulsive or attractive, and its consciousness has the same tendency. Over 90 per cent of the consciousness expressions of mankind are emotional and repulsive. Perhaps it will eventually be understandable that consciousness development for mankind in emotional respect means passing from the repulsive to the attractive tendency.
This would afford us a “spiritual culture” belonging to the higher emotionality. When mankind has reached that far, it will have made a giant stride forward in its consciousness development. 4
Emotional culture can be said to include such expressions of life as belong at the higher emotional stage, the stage of attraction (48:2,3). In philosophical and religious respect they are brought together under the common heading, “stage of the mystic”, since they are not amenable to the control of principle thinking (47:6) and have not yet been brought under the perspective thinking (47:5) of the stage of humanity. What is still lacking in these expressions of life is that feature of universality which is fundamental at the stage of humanity. 5
We shall have to wait for mental culture until at least a dominant minority have acquired perspective thinking, have stopped entangling their consciousness in dogmas of all kinds, and start using thinking in systems of survey the contents of which are made up of ascertained facts put into their correct contexts without conjectures and assumptions (theories and hypotheses). Thinking is free when it thinks new thoughts, not when it is locked up in stereotypes and moves in old tracks. The “thinking” of all mankind is still a habitual thinking and unintelligent parroting. In mental respect, human beings are still robots. Still thinking is prohibited, for everything connected with dogmas is prohibition against thinking. Mankind lives in its illusions and fictions, in veritable Augean stables of idiotisms divorced from reality, hostile to reality. This is true of theology, philosophy, and not least science. Science can at least defend itself saying that it has kept to physical reality and has never claimed to comprehend anything beyond it. The others take their imaginings for reality. 2.3 Individual Culture and Collective Culture 1
There is individual culture and collective culture, a difference that will endure until all mankind has reached the stage of ideality. As long as there are people at different stages of development, there will be individual culture which is superior even to the highest collective culture and which the haters of culture will vainly try to level. Equality in that respect remains both an illusion and a fiction. It is possible to annihilate mankind. However, provisions have been made for the survival of a few people. The Phoenix who burns himself and then is resurrected from the ashes was a symbol of this fact and not, as they have assumed andbelieved, a (meaningless) symbol of immortality. The dictatorship of the proletariat was a new attempt by those at the stage of barbarism at blotting out the difference. They are starting, little by little, to see the idiocy of it. However much you strive to defy the laws of life, you will finally reach the insight of King Fialar who once challenged the gods: “Oh, what is man that he should storm against you? Like stars in space unreachable you smile.” 2
That policy which aims at the annihilation of individuality ends up in barbarism without fail and digs its own grave. Only by promoting individual development will a society be able to reach the stage of culture.