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The spiritual problem of modern man is one of those ques- 
tions which belong so intimately to the present in which we 
are living that we cannot judge of them fully. The modern 
man is a newly formed human being , a modern problem is 
a question which has just arisen and whose answer lies in 
the future. In speaking, therefore, of the spiritual problem 
of modern man we can at most state a question — and we 
should perhaps put this statement in different terms if we 
had but the faintest inkling of the answer. The question, 
moreover, seems rather vague ; but the truth is that it has 
to do with something so universal that it exceeds the grasp 
of any single human being. We have reason enough, there- 
fore, to approach such a problem with true moderation and 
with the greatest caution. I am deeply convinced of this, 
and wish it stressed the more because it is just such problems 
which tempt us to use high-sounding words — and because 
I shall myself be forced to say certain things which may 
sound immoderate and incautious 

To begin at once with an example of such apparent lack 
of caution, I must say that the man we call modem, the man 
who is aware of the immediate present, is by no means the 
average man. He is rather the man who stands upon a  peak, 
or at the very edge of the world, the abyss of the future 
before him, above him the heavens, and below him the 
whole of mankind with a history that disappears in primeval 
mists. The modern man — or, let us say again, the man of 
the immediate present — is rarely met with. There are few 
who have up to the name, for they must be conscious to a 
superlative degree Since to be wholly of the present means 
to be fully conscious of one’s existence as a man, it requires 
the most intensive and extensive consciousness, with a 
minimum of unconsciousness. It must be clearly understood 
that the mere fact of living in the present does not make a 
man modem, for in that case everyone at present alive would 
be so. He alone is modern who is fully conscious of the 

The man whom we can with justice call “ modern ” is 
solitary. He is so of necessity and at all times, for every 
step towards a fuller consciousness of the present removes 
him further from his original “ participation mystique ” 
with the mass of men — from submersion m a common 
unconsciousness Every step forward means an act of 
tearing himself loose from that all-embracing, pristine 
unconsciousness which claims the bulk of mankind almost 
entirely. Even in our civilizations the people who form, 
psychologically speaking, the lowest stratum, live almost as 
unconsciously as primitive races Those of the succeeding 
stratum manifest a level of consciousness which corresponds 
to the beginnings of human culture, while those of the 
highest stratum have a consciousness capable of keeping step 
with the life of the last few centuries. Only the man who is 
modern in our meaning of the term really lives in the present ; 
he alone has a present-day consciousness, and he alone finds 
that the ways of life which correspond to earlier levels pall 
upon him The values and strivings of those past worlds 
no longer interest him save from the historical standpoint. 
Thus he has become “ unhistorical ” in the deepest sense and 
has estranged himself from the mass of men who live entirely 
within the bounds of tradition. Indeed, he is completely 
modern only when he has come to the very edge of the world, 
leaving behind him all that has been discarded and outgrown, 
and acknowledging that he stands before a void out of which 
all things may grow. 

These words may be thought to be but empty sound, and 
their meaning reduced to mere banality Nothing is easier 
than to affect a consciousness of the present. As a matter 
of fact, a great horde of worthless people give themselves 
the air of being modern by overlapping the various stages 
of development and the tasks of hfe they represent. They 
appear suddenly by the side of the truly modern man 
as uprooted human beings, bloodsucking ghosts, whose 
emptiness is taken for the unenviable loneliness of the 
modern man and casts discredit upon him He and his 
kind, few m number as they are, are hidden from the un- 
discerning eyes of mass-men by those clouds of ghosts, the 
pseudo-modems. It cannot be helped ; the “ modern ” 
man is questionable and suspect, and has always been so, 
even in the past. 

An honest profession of modernity means voluntarily 
declaring bankruptcy, taking the vows of poverty and 
chastity in a new sense, and — what is still more painful — 
renouncing the halo which history bestows as a mark of its 
sanction. To be " unhistorical ” is the Promethean sin, 
and in this sense modern man lives in sin. A higher level 
of consciousness is like a burden of guilt. But, as I have said, 
only the man who has outgrown the stages of consciousness 
belonging to the past and has amply fulfilled the duties 
appointed for him by his world, can achieve a full conscious- 
ness of the present. To do this he must be sound and pro- 
ficient in the best sense — a man who has achieved as 
much as other people, and even a little more It is these 
qualities which enable him to gain the next highest level 
of consciousness. 

I know that the idea of proficiency is especially repugnant 
to the pseudo-modems, for it reminds them unpleasantly 
of their deceits. This, however, cannot prevent us from 
taking it as our criterion of the modern man. We are even 
forced to do so, for unless he is proficient, the man who claims 
to be modern is nothing but an unscrupulous gambler. He 
must be proficient in the highest degree, for unless he can 
atone by creative ability for his break with tradition, he is 
merely disloyal to the past It is sheer juggling to look 
upon a denial of the past as the same thing as consciousness 
of the present. “ Today ” stands between “ yesterday ” 
and “ tomorrow ”, and forms a link between past and 
future ; it has no other meaning. The present represents 
a process of transition, and that man may account himself 
modern who is conscious of it m this sense. 

Many people call themselves modern — especially the 
pseudo-modems. Therefore the really modern man is often 
to be found among those who call themselves old-fashioned 
He takes this stand for sufficient reasons. On the one hand 
he emphasizes the past in order to hold the scales against 
his break with tradition and that effect of guilt of which I 
have spoken. On the other hand he wishes to avoid being 
taken for a pseudo-modem. 

Every good quality has its bad side, and nothing that is 
good can come into the world without directly producing 
a corresponding evil. This is a painful fact. Now there is 
the danger that consciousness of the present may lead to an 
elation based upon illusion : the illusion, namely, that we 
are the culmination of the history of mankind, the fulfillment 
and the end-product of countless centuries. If we grant 
this, we should understand that it is no more than the proud 
acknowledgement of our destitution we are also the dis- 
appointment of the hopes and expectations of the ages. 
Think of nearly two thousand years of Christian ideals 
followed, instead of by the return of the Messiah and the 
heavenly millennium, by the World War among Christian 
nations and its barbed-wire and poison-gas What a 
catastrophe in heaven and on earth ! 

In the face of such a picture we may well grow humble 
again. It is true that modern man is a culmination, but 
tomorrow he will be surpassed , he is indeed the end- 
product of an age-old development, but he is at the same 
time the worst conceivable disappointment of the hopes of 
humankind. The modern man is aware of this. He has 
seen how beneficent are science, technology and organization, 
but also how catastrophic they can be He has likewise seen 
that well-meaning governments have so thoroughly paved 
the way for peace on the principle “ in time of peace prepare 
for war ”, that Europe has nearly gone to rack and ruin. 
And as for ideals, the Christian church, the brotherhood of 
man, international social democracy and the "solidarity” 
of economic interests have all failed to stand the bap- 
tism of fire — the test of reality. Today, fifteen years 
after the war, we observe once more the same optimism, 
the same organization, the same political aspirations, the 
same phrases and catch-words at work. How can we but 
fear that they will inevitably lead to further catastrophes ? 

Agreements to outlaw war leave us skeptical, even while we 
wish them all possible success. At bottom, behind every 
such palliative measure, there is a gnawing doubt. On the 
whole, I believe I am not exaggerating when I say that 
modern man has suffered an almost fatal shock, psycho- 
logically speaking, and as a result has fallen into profound 

These statements, I believe, make it clear enough that my 
being a physician has coloured my views. A doctor always 
spies out diseases, and I cannot cease to be a doctor But 
it is essential to the physician’s art that he should not dis- 
cover diseases where none exists I will therefore not make 
the assertion that the white races in general, and occidental 
nations in particular, are diseased, or that the Western 
world is on the verge of collapse. I am in no way competent 
to pass such a judgement. 

It is of course only from my own experience with other 
persons and with myself that I draw my knowledge of the 
spiritual problem of modern man I know something of the 
intimate psychic life of many hundreds of educated persons, 
both sick and healthy, coming from every quarter of the 
civilized, white world , and upon this experience I base my 
statements No doubt I can draw only a one-sided picture, 
for the things I have observed are events of psychic life , 
they he within us — on the inner side, if I may use the 
expression. I must point out that this is not always true of 
psychic life , the psyche is not always and everywhere to 
be found on the inner side. It is to be found on the outside 
in whole races or periods of history which take no account 
of psychic life as such As examples we may choose any of 
the ancient cultures, but especially that of Egypt with its 
imposing objectivity and its naive confession of sins that 
have not been committed 1 We can no more feel the 
Pyramids and the Apis tombs of Sakkara to be expressions 
of personal problems or personal emotions, than we can feel 
this of the music of Bach 

Whenever there is established an external form, be it 
ritual or spiritual, by which all the yearnings and hopes of 
the soul are adequately expressed — as for instance in some 
living religion — then we may say that the psyche is outside, 
and no spiritual problem, stnctly speaking, exists In 
consonance with this truth, the development of psychology 
falls entirely within the last decades, although long before 
that man was introspective and intelligent enough to 
recognize the facts that are the subject-matter of psychology. 
The same was the case with technical knowledge The 
Romans were familiar with all the mechanical principles and 
physical facts on the basis of which they could have con- 
structed the steam-engine, but all that came of it was the 
toy made by Hero of Alexandria There was no urgent 
necessity to go further. It was the division of labour and 
specialization in the nineteenth century which gave rise to 
the need to apply all available knowledge So also a 
spiritual need has produced in our time our "discovery” of 
psychology There has never, of course, been a time when 
the psyche did not manifest itself, but formerly it attracted 
no attention — no one noticed it People got along without 
heeding it But today we can no longer get along unless 
we give our best attention to the ways of the psyche. 

It was men of the medical profession who were the first 
to notice this ; for the pnest is concerned only to establish 

1 According to Egyptian tradition, when the dead man meets his judges 
in the underworld, he makes a detailed confession of the crimes he has not 
committed, but leaves unmentioned his actual sins {Trans ) 
an undisturbed functioning of the psyche within a recognized 
system of belief As long as this system gives true expression 
to life, psychology can be nothing but a technical adjuvant 
to healthy living, and the psyche cannot be regarded as a 
problem in itself While man still lives as a herd-being he 
has no “ things of the spirit ” of his own , nor does he need 
any, save the usual belief in the immortality of the soul. 
But as soon as he has outgrown whatever local form of 
religion he was bom to — as soon as this religion can no 
longer embrace his life m all its fulness — then the psyche 
becomes something in its own right which cannot be dealt 
with by the measures of the Church alone It is for this 
reason that we of today have a psychology founded on 
experience, and not upon articles of faith or the postulates 
of any philosophical system. The very fact that we have 
such a psychology is to me symptomatic of a profound 
convulsion of spiritual hfe Disruption in the spiritual life 
of an age shows the same pattern as radical change m an 
individual. As long as all goes well and psychic energy finds 
its application in adequate and well-regulated ways, we are 
disturbed by nothing from within No uncertainty or doubt 
besets us, and we cannot be divided against ourselves But 
no sooner are one or two of the channels of psychic activity 
blocked, than we are reminded of a stream that is dammed 
up. The current flows backward to its source , the inner 
man wants something which the visible man does not want, 
and we are at war with ourselves Only then, in this distress, 
do we discover the psyche , or, more precisely, we come upon 
something which thwarts our will, which is strange and even 
hostile to us, or which is incompatible with our conscious 
standpoint. Freud’s psychoanalytic labours show this 
process m the clearest way. The very first thing he discovered 
was the existence of sexually perverse and criminal fantasies 
which at their face value are wholly incompatible with the 
conscious outlook of a civilized man. A person who was 
activated by them would be nothing less than a mutineer, 
a criminal or a madman 

We cannot suppose that this aspect of the unconscious or 
of the hinterland of man’s mind is something totally new 
Probably it has always been there, in every culture Each 
culture gave birth to its destructive opposite, but no culture 
or civilization before our own was ever forced to take these 
psychic undercurrents in deadly earnest. Psychic hfe always 
found expression in a metaphysical system of some sort 
But the conscious, modern man, despite his strenuous and 
dogged efforts to do so, can no longer refrain from acknow- 
ledging the might of psychic forces. This distinguishes our 
time from all others We can no longer deny that the dark 
stirrings of the unconscious are effective powers — that 
psychic forces exist which cannot, for the present at least, 
be fitted in with our rational world-order We have even 
enlarged our study of these forces to a science — one more 
proof of the earnest attention we bring to them Previous 
centuries could throw them aside unnoticed , for us they 
are a shirt of Nessus which we cannot strip off. 

The revolution in our conscious outlook, brought about 
by the catastrophic results of the World War, shows itself 
in our inner life by the shattering of our faith in ourselves 
and our own worth. We used to regard foreigners — the 
other side — as political and moral reprobates ; but the 
modern man is forced to recognize that he is politically and 
morally just like anyone else. Whereas I formerly believed 
it to be my bounden duty to call other persons to order, I 
now admit that I need calling to order myself. I admit this 
the more readily because I realize only too well that I am 
losing my faith m the possibility of a rational organization 
of the world, that old dream of the millennium , in which 
peace and harmony should rule, has grown pale. The modern 
man’s skepticism regarding all such matters has chilled his 
enthusiasm for politics and world-reform , more than that, 
it does not favour any smooth application of psychic energies 
to the outer world Through his skepticism the modern man 
is thrown back upon himself, his energies flow towards 
their source and wash to the surface those psychic contents 
which are at all times there, but he hidden in the silt as long 
as the stream flows smoothly in its course. How totally 
different did the world appear to medieval man ! For him 
the earth was eternally fixed and at rest m the centre of the 
universe, encircled by the course of a sun that solicitously 
bestowed its warmth. Men were all children of God under 
the loving care of the Most High, who prepared them for 
eternal blessedness , and all knew exactly what they should 
do and how they should conduct themselves in order to rise 
from a corruptible world to an incorruptible and joyous 
existence. Such a life no longer seems real to us, even in 
our dreams. Natural science has long ago tom this lovely 
veil to shreds. That age lies as far behind as childhood, 
when one’s own father was unquestionably the handsomest 
and strongest man on earth 

The modern man has lost all the metaphysical certainties 
of his mediaeval brother, and set up in their place the ideals 
of material security, general welfare and humaneness But 
it takes more than an ordinary dose of optimism to make it 
appear that these ideals are still unshaken Material security, 
even, has gone by the board, for the modern man begins 
to see that every step in material “progress” adds just so 
much force to the threat of a more stupendous catastrophe. 
The very picture terrorizes the imagination. What are we 
to imagine when cities today perfect measures of defence 
against poison-gas attacks and practise them m “ dress 
rehearsals ” ? We cannot but suppose that such attacks 
have been planned and provided for — again on the principle 
" in time of peace prepare for war ”, Let man but accumu- 
late his materials of destruction and the devil within him 
will soon be unable to resist putting them to then: fated use. 
It is well known that fire-arms go off of themselves if only 
enough of them are together. 

An intimation of the law that governs blind contingency, 
which Heraclitus called the rule of enantiodromia (conversion 
into the opposite), now steals upon the modern man through 
the by-ways of his mind, chilling him with fear and paralysing 
his faith m the lasting effectiveness of social and political 
measures in the face of these monstrous forces. If he turns 
away from the terrifying prospect of a blind world in which 
building and destroying successively tip the scale, and if he 
then turns his gaze inward upon the recesses of his own mind, 
he will discover a chaos and a darkness there which he would 
gladly ignore. Science has destroyed even the refuge of the 
inner life. What was once a sheltering haven has become a 
place of terror. 

And yet it is almost a relief for us to come upon so much 
evil in the depths of our own minds We are able to believe, 
at least, that we have discovered the root of the evil in 
mankind Even though we are shocked and disillusioned at 
first, we yet feel, because these things are manifestations of 
our own minds, that we hold them more or less in our own 
hands and can therefore correct or at least effectively suppress 
them We like to assume that, if we succeeded in this, we 
should have rooted out some fraction of the evil in the world. 
We like to think that, on the basis of a widespread knowledge 
of the unconscious and its ways, no one could be deceived 
by a statesman who was unaware of his own bad motives ; 
the very newspapers would pull him up “ Please have 
yourself analysed , you are suffering from a repressed 

I have purposely chosen this grotesque example to show 
to what absurdities we are led by the illusion that because 
something is psychic it is under our control It is, however, 
true that much of the evil in the world is due to the fact 
that man in general is hopelessly unconscious, as it is also 
true that with increasing insight we can combat this evil at 
its source in ourselves As science enables us to deal with 
injuries inflicted from without, so it helps us to treat those 
arising from within. 

The rapid and world-wide growth of a “ psychological ” 
interest over the last two decades shows unmistakably that 
modern man has to some extent turned his attention from 
material things to his own subjective processes. Should we 
call this mere curiosity ? At any rate, art has a way of 
anticipating future changes m man’s fundamental outlook, 
and expressionist art has taken this subjective turn well in 
advance of the more general change 

This " psychological ” interest of the present time shows 
that man expects something from psychic life which he has 
not received from the outer world something which our 
religions, doubtless, ought to contain, but no longer do 
contain — at least for the modern man The various forms of 
religion no longer appear to the modern man to come from 
within — to be expressions of his own psychic life ; for him 
they are to be classed with the things of the outer world. 

He is vouchsafed no revelation of a spirit that is not of this 
world ; but he tries on a number of religions and convictions 
as if they were Sunday attire, only to lay them aside again 
like worn-out clothes. 

Yet he is somehow fascinated by the almost pathological 
manifestations of the unconscious mind. We must admit 
the fact, however difficult it is for us to understand that 
something which previous ages have discarded should 
suddenly command our attention. That there is a general 
interest in these matters is a truth which cannot be denied, 
their offence to good taste notwithstanding. I am not 
thinking merely of the interest taken in psychology as a 
science, or of the still narrower mterest in the psychoanalysis 
of Freud, but of the widespread interest m all sorts of psychic 
phenomena as manifested m the growth of spiritualism, 
astrology, theosophy, and so forth. The world has seen 
nothing like it since the end of the seventeenth century. 
We can compare it only to the flowering of Gnostic thought 
in the first and second centuries after Christ. The spiritual 
currents of the present have, in fact, a deep affinity with 
Gnosticism. There is even a Gnostic church in France 
today, and I know of two schools in Germany which openly 
declare themselves Gnostic. The modern movement which 
is numerically most impressive is undoubtedly Theosophy, 
together with its continental sister, Anthroposophy ; these 
are pure Gnosticism in a Hindu dress. Compared with these 
movements the interest in scientific psychology is negligible. 
What is striking about Gnostic systems is that they are 
based exclusively upon the manifestations of the unconscious, 
and that their moral teachings do not baulk at the shadow- 
side of life. Even in the form of its European revival, the 
Hindu Kundalini-Yoga shows this clearly. And as every 
person informed on the subject of occultism will testify, the 
statement holds true in this field as well. 

The passionate interest in these movements arises un- 
doubtedly from psychic energy which can no longer be 
invested in obsolete forms of religion. For this reason such 
movements have a truly religious character, even when they 
pretend to be scientific It changes nothing when Rudolf 
Steiner calls his Anthroposophy " spiritual science ”, or 
Mrs. Eddy discovers a “ Christian Science These attempts 
at concealment merely show that religion has grown suspect 
— almost as suspect as politics and world-reform. 

I do not believe that I am going too far when I say that 
modern man, in contrast to his nineteenth-century brother, 
turns his attention to the psyche with very great expecta- 
tions ; and that he does so without reference to any tradi- 
tional creed, but rather in the Gnostic sense of religious 
experience We should be wrong m seeing mere caricature 
or masquerade when the movements already mentioned try 
to give themselves scientific airs , their domg so is rather an 
indication that they are actually pursuing “ science ” or 
knowledge instead of the faith which is the essence of Western 
religions. The modern man abhors dogmatic postulates 
taken on faith and the religions based upon them He holds 
them valid only in so far as their knowledge-content seems 
to accord with his own experience of the deeps of psychic 
life He wants to know — to experience for himself Dean 
Inge of St. Paul’s has called attention to a movement in the 
Anglican Church with similar objectives. 

The age of discovery has only just come to a close in our 
day when no part of the earth remains unexplored , it 
began when men would no longer believe that the Hyper- 
boreans inhabited the land of eternal sunshine, but wanted 
to find out and to see with their own eyes what existed 
beyond the boundaries of the known world. Our age is 
apparently bent on discovering what exists in the psyche 
outside of consciousness. The question asked in every 
spiritualistic circle is : What happens when the medium 
has lost consciousness ? Every Theosophist asks : What 
shall I experience at higher levels of consciousness ? The 
question which every astrologer puts is this : What are the 
effective forces and determinants of my fate beyond the 
reach of my conscious intention ? And every psychoanalyst 
wants to know : What are the unconscious drives behind 
the neurosis ? 

Our age wishes to have actual experiences in psychic life. 
It wants to experience for itself, and not to make assumptions 
based on the experience of other ages. Yet this does not 
preclude its trying anything m a hypothetical way — for 
instance, the recognized religions and the genuine sciences. 
The European of yesterday will feel a slight shudder run down 
his spine when he gazes at all deeply into these delvings 
Not only does he consider the subject of this research all too 
obscure and uncanny, but even the methods employed seem 
to him a shocking misuse of man’s finest intellectual attain- 
ments. What can we expect an astronomer to say when he 
is told that at least a thousand horoscopes are drawn today 
to one three hundred years ago ? What will the educator 
and the advocate of philosophical enlightenment say to the 
fact that the world has not been freed of one single super- 
stition since Greek antiquity ? Freud himself, the founder 
of psychoanalysis, has thrown a glaring light upon the dirt, 
darkness and evil of the psychic hinterland, and has presented 
these things as so much refuse and slag , he has thus taken 
the utmost pains to discourage people from seeking anything 
behind them. He did not succeed, and his warning has even 
brought about the very thing he wished to prevent • it has 
awakened in many people an admiration for all this filth. 
We are tempted to call this sheer perversity , and we could 
hardly explain it save on the ground that it is not a love of 
dirt, but the fascination of the psyche, which draws these 

There can be no doubt that from the beginning of the 
nineteenth century — from the memorable years of the French 
Revolution onwards — man has given a more and more 
prominent place to the psyche, his increasing attentiveness 
to it being the measure of its growing attraction for him. 
The enthronement of the Goddess of Reason in Notre Dame 
seems to have been a symbolic gesture of great significance 
to the Western world — rather like the hewing down of 
Wotan’s oak by the Christian missionaries For then, as at 
the Revolution, no avenging bolt from heaven struck the 
blasphemer down. 

It is certainly more than an amusing coincidence that just 
at that time a Frenchman, Anquetil du Perron, was living 
m India, and, in the early eighteen-hundreds, brought back 
with him a translation of the Oupnek’hat — a collection of 
fifty Upanishads — which gave the Western world its first 
deep insight into the baffling mind of the East To the 
historian this is mere chance without any factors of cause 
and effect But in view of my medical experience I cannot 
take it as accident. It seems to me rather to satisfy a 
psychological law whose validity m personal life, at least, is 
complete. For every piece of conscious life that loses its 
importance and value — so runs the law — there arises a 
compensation in the unconscious. We may see in this an 
analogy to the conservation of energy in the physical world. 
for our psychic processes have a quantitative aspect also. 
No psychic value can disappear without being replaced by 
another of equivalent intensity. This is a rule which finds 
its pragmatic sanction in the daily practice of the psycho- 
therapist ; it is repeatedly verified and never fails. Now the 
doctor in me refuses point blank to consider the life of a 
people as something that does not conform to psychological 
law. A people, in the doctor’s eyes, presents only a some- 
what more complex picture of psychic life than the individual 
Moreover, taking it the other way round, has not a poet 
spoken of the “ nations ” of his soul ? And quite correctly, 
as it seems to me, for in one of its aspects the psyche is not 
individual, but is derived from the nation, from collectivity, 
or from humanity even. In some way or other we are part 
of an all-embracing psychic life, of a single " greatest ” man, 
to quote Swedenborg. 

And so we can draw a parallel just as m me, a single 
human being, the darkness calls forth the helpful light, so 
does it also in the psychic life of a people In the crowds 
that poured into Notre Dame, bent on destruction, dark and 
nameless forces were at work that swept the individual off 
his feet ; these forces worked also upon Anquetil du Perron, 
and provoked an answer which has come down in history. 
For he brought the Eastern mind to the West, and its 
influence upon us we cannot as yet measure. Let us beware 
of underestimating it 1 So far, indeed, there is httle of it 
to be seen in Europe on the intellectual surface • some 
orientalists, one or two Buddhist enthusiasts, and a few 
sombre celebrities like Madame Blavatsky and Annie Besant 
These manifestations make us think of tiny, scattered 
islands in the ocean of mankind ; in reality they are like 
the peaks of submarine mountain-ranges of considerable 
size The Philistine believed until recently that astrology 
had been disposed of long since, and was something that 
could be safely laughed at. But today, rising out of the 
social deeps, it knocks at the doors of the universities from 
which it was banished some three hundred years ago. The 
same is true of the thought of the East ; it takes root in the 
lower social levels and slowly grows to the surface Where 
did the five or six million Swiss francs for the Anthroposophist 
temple at Domach come from? Certainly not from one 
individual. Unfortunately there are no statistics to tell us 
the exact number of avowed Theosophists today, not to 
mention the unavowed But we can be sure that there are 
several millions of them To this number we must add a 
few million Spiritualists of Christian or Theosophic leanings 
Great innovations never come from above ; they come 
invariably from below , just as trees never grow from the 
sky downward, but upward from the earth, however true 
it is that their seeds have fallen from above The upheaval 
of our world and the upheaval m consciousness is one and 
the same. Everything becomes relative and therefore 
doubtful. And while man, hesitant and questioning, con- 
templates a world that is distracted with treaties of peace 
and pacts of friendship, democracy and dictatorship, 
capitalism and Bolshevism, his spirit yearns for an answer 
that will allay the turmoil of doubt and uncertainty. And 
it is just people of the lower social levels who follow the 
unconscious forces of the psyche ; it is the much-derided, 
silent folk of the land — those who are less infected with 
academic prejudices than great celebrities are wont to be. 
All these people, looked at from above, present mostly a 
dreary or laughable comedy ; and yet they are as im- 
pressively simple as those Galileans who were once called 
blessed. Is it not touching to see the refuse of man’s psyche 
gathered together m compendia a foot thick ? We find 
recorded in Anthropophyteia with scrupulous care the 
merest babblings, the most absurd actions and the wildest 
fantasies, while men like Havelock Ellis and Freud have 
dealt with the like matters m serious treatises which have 
been accorded all scientific honours Their reading public 
is scattered over the breadth of the civilized, white world. 
How are we to explain this zeal, this almost fanatical worship 
of repellent things ? In this way • the repellent things 
belong to the psyche, they are of the substance of the psyche 
and therefore as precious as fragments of manuscript salvaged 
from ancient ruins Even the secret and noisome things of 
the inner life are valuable to modern man because they 
serve his purpose. But what purpose ? 

Freud has prefixed to his Interpretation of Dreams the 
citation : Flectere si nequeo super os Acheronta movebo — “ If I 
cannot bend the gods on high, I will at least set Acheron in 
uproar ”. But to what purpose ? 

The gods whom we are called to dethrone are the idolized 
values of our conscious world It is well known that it was 
the love-scandals of the ancient deities which contributed 
most to their discredit ; and now history is repeating itself 
People are laying bare the dubious foundations of our 
belauded virtues and incomparable ideals, and are calling 
out to us in triumph : “ There are your man-made gods, 
mere snares and delusions tainted with human baseness — 
whited sepulchres full of dead men’s bones and of all un- 
cleanness ”. We recognize a familiar strain, and the Gospel 
words, which we never could make our own, now come to 
life again. 

I am deeply convinced that these are not vague analogies. 

There are too many persons to whom Freudian psychology 
is dearer than the Gospels, and to whom the Russian Terror 
means more than civic virtue. And yet all these people are 
our brothers, and in each of us there is at least one voice 
which seconds them — for in the end there is a psychic hfe 
which embraces us all 

The unexpected result of this spiritual change is that an 
uglier face is put upon the world It becomes so ugly that 
no one can love it any longer — we cannot even love ourselves 
— and m the end there is nothing in the outer world to draw 
us away from the reality of the hfe within. Here, no doubt, 
we have the true significance of this spiritual change. After 
all, what does Theosophy, with its doctrines of karma and 
reincarnation, seek to teach except that this world of 
appearance is but a temporary health-resort for the morally 
unperfected 7 It depreciates the present-day world no less 
radically than does the modern outlook, but with the help 
of a different technique ; it does not vilify our world, but 
grants it only a relative meaning in that it promises other 
and higher worlds The result is in either case the 

I grant that all these ideas are extremely “ unacademic ”, 
the truth being that they touch modern man on the side 
where he is least conscious. Is it again a mere coincidence 
that modern thought has had to come to terms with Einstein’s 
relativity theory and with ideas about the structure of the 
atom which lead us away from determinism and visual 
representation ? Even physics volatilizes our material 
world. It is no wonder, then, in my opinion, if the modern 
man falls back upon the reality of psychic life and expects 
from it that certainty which the world denies him 

But spiritually the Western world is in a precarious 
situation — and the danger is greater the more we blind 
ourselves to the merciless truth with illusions about our 
beauty of soul. The Occidental bums incense to himself, 
and his own countenance is veiled from him in the smoke. 
But how do we strike men of another colour ? What do 
China and India think of us ? What feelings do we arouse 
in the black man ? And what is the opinion of all those 
whom we deprive of their lands and exterminate with rum 
and venereal disease ? 

I have a Red Indian friend who is the governor of a pueblo. 
When we were once speaking confidentially about the white 
man, he said to me : " We don’t understand the whites , 

they are always wanting something — always restless — 
always looking for something. What is it ? We don’t 
know. We can’t understand them. They have such sharp 
noses, such thin, cruel lips, such lines in their faces. We 
think they are all crazy.” 

My friend had recognized, without being able to name it, 
the Aryan bird of prey with his insatiable lust to lord it in 
every land — even those that concern him not at all. And 
he had also noted that megalomania of ours which leads us 
to suppose, among other things, that Christianity is the only 
truth, and the white Christ the only Redeemer. After 
setting the whole East in turmoil with our science and 
technology, and exacting tribute from it, we send our 
missionaries even to China. The stamping out of polygamy 
by the African missions has given rise to prostitution on 
such a scale that in Uganda alone twenty thousand pounds 
sterling is spent yearly on preventatives of venereal infection, 
not to speak of the moral consequences, which have been of 
the worst. And the good European pays his missionaries 
for these edifying achievements ! No need to mention also 
the story of suffering in Polynesia and the blessings of the 
opium trade. 

That is how the European looks when he is extricated 
from the cloud of his own moral incense No wonder that 
to unearth buried fragments of psychic life we have first to 
dram a miasmal swamp. Only a great idealist like Freud 
could devote a lifetime to the unclean work This is the 
beginning of our psychology. For us acquaintance with the 
realities of psychic life could start only at this end, with all 
that repels us and that we do not wish to see. 

But if the psyche consisted for us only of evil and worthless 
things, no power m the world could induce a normal man to 
pretend to find it attractive. This is why people who see in 
Theosophy nothing but regrettable intellectual superficiality, 
and in Freudian psychology nothing but sensationalism, 
prophesy an early and inglorious end for these movements. 
They overlook the fact that they derive their force from the 
fascination of psychic life No doubt the passionate interest 
that is aroused by them may find other expressions ; but it 
will certainly show itself m these forms until they are replaced 
by something better. Superstition and perversity are after 
all one and the same. They are transitional or embryonic 
stages from which new and nper forms will emerge. 

Whether from the intellectual, the moral or the aesthetic 
viewpoint, the undercurrents of the psychic life of the West 
present an uninviting picture We have built a monumental 
world round about us, and have slaved for it with unequalled 
energy. But it is so imposing only because we have spent 
upon the outside all that is imposing in our natures — and 
what we find when we look within must necessarily be as 
it is, shabby and insufficient. 

I am aware that in saying this I somewhat anticipate the 
actual growth of consciousness. There is as yet no general 
insight into these facts of psychic life. Westerners are only 
on the way to a recognition of these facts, and for quite 
understandable reasons they struggle violently against it. 
Of course Spengler’s pessimism has exerted some influence, 
but this has been safely confined to academic circles. As 
for psychological insight, it always trespasses upon personal 
hfe, and therefore meets with personal resistances and 
denials I am far from considering these resistances meaning- 
less ; on the contrary I see in them a healthy reaction to 
something which threatens destruction Whenever relativism 
is taken as a fundamental and final principle it has a 
destructive effect When, therefore, I call attention to the 
dismal undercurrents of the psyche, it is not in order to sound 
a pessimistic note ; I wish rather to emphasize the fact that 
the unconscious has a strong attraction not only for the sick, 
but for healthy, constructive minds as well — and this in 
spite of its alarming aspect. The psychic depths are nature, 
and nature is creative life. It is true that nature tears down 
what she has herself built up — yet she builds it once again. 
Whatever values m the visible world are destroyed by 
modern relativism, the psyche will produce their equivalents. 
At first we cannot see beyond the path that leads downward 
to dark and hateful things — but no light or beauty will 
ever come from the man who cannot bear this sight. Light 
is always born of darkness, and the sun never yet stood still 
in heaven to satisfy man’s longing or to still his fears. Does 
not the example of Anquetil du Perron show us how psychic 
life survives its own eclipse ? China hardly believes that 
European science and technology are preparing her ruin. 
Why should we believe that we must be destroyed by the 
secret, spiritual influence of the East ? 

But I forget that we do not yet realize that while we are 
turning upside down the material world of the East with our 
technical proficiency, the East with its psychic proficiency 
is throwing our spiritual world into confusion We have 
never yet hit upon the thought that while we are overpower- 
ing the Orient from without, it may be fastening its hold 
upon us from within Such an idea strikes us as almost 
insane, because we have eyes only for gross material connec- 
tions, and fail to see that we must lay the blame for the 
intellectual confusion of our middle class at the doors of 
Max Muller, Oldenberg, Neumann, Deussen, Wilhelm and 
others like them What does the example of the Roman 
Empire teach us ? After the conquest of Asia Minor, Rome 
became Asiatic , even Europe was infected by Asia, and 
remains so today Out of Cilicia came the Mithraic cult — 
the religion of the Roman army — and it spread from Egypt 
to fog-bound Britain Need I point to the Asiatic origin of 
Christianity ? 

We have not yet clearly grasped the fact that Western 
Theosophy is an amateurish imitation of the East We are 
just taking up astrology again, and that to the Oriental is 
his daily bread. Our studies of sexual hfe, originating in 
Vienna and in England, are matched or surpassed by Hindu 
teachings on this subject. Oriental texts ten centuries old 
introduce us to philosophical relativism, while the idea of 
indetermination, newly broached in the West, furnishes the 
very basis of Chinese science. Richard Wilhelm has even 
shown me that certain complicated processes discovered by 
analytical psychology are recognizably described in ancient 
Chinese texts. Psychoanalysis itself and the lines of 
thought to which it gives rise — surely a distinctly Western 
development — are only a beginner's attempt compared to 
what is an immemorial art in the East. It should be 
mentioned that the parallels between psychoanalysis and 
yoga have already been traced by Oskar A. H. Schmitz. 

The Theosophists have an amusing idea that certain 
Mahatmas, seated somewhere in the Himalayas or Tibet, 
inspire or direct every mind in the world. So strong, m fact, 
can be the influence of the Eastern belief in magic upon 
Europeans of a sound mind, that some of them have assured 
me that I am unwittingly inspired by the Mahatmas with 
every good thing I say, my own inspirations being of no 
account whatever This myth of the Mahatmas, widely 
circulated and firmly believed in the West, far from being 
nonsense, is — like every myth — an important psychological 
truth. It seems to be quite true that the East is at the bottom 
of the spiritual change we are passing through today. Only 
this East is not a Tibetan monastery full of Mahatmas, but 
in a sense lies within us. It is from the depths of our own 
psychic life that new spiritual forms will arise , they will 
be expressions of psychic forces which may help to subdue 
the boundless lust for prey of Aryan man. We shall perhaps 
come to know something of that circumscription of life which 
has grown in the East into a dubious quietism ; also some- 
thing of that stability which human existence acquires when 
the claims of the spirit become as imperative as the necessities 
of social life. Yet in this age of Americanization we are 
still far from anything of the sort, and it seems to me that 
we are only at the threshold of a new spiritual epoch. I 
do not wish to pass myself off as a prophet, but I cannot 
outline the spiritual problem of modern man without giving 
emphasis to the yearning for rest that arises in a period of 
unrest, or to the longing for security that is bred of in- 
security. It is from need and distress that new forms of 
life take their rise, and not from mere wishes or from the 
requirements of our ideals. 

To me, the crux of the spiritual problem of today is to be 
found in the fascination which psychic life exerts upon 
modern man. If we are pessimists, we shall call it a sign of 
decadence ; if we are optimistically inclined, we shall see 
in it the promise of a far-reaching spiritual change in the 
Western world. At all events, it is a significant manifesta- 
tion. It is the more noteworthy because it shows itself in 
broad sections of every people ; and it is the more important 
because it is a matter of those imponderable psychic forces 
which transform human life m ways that are unforeseen and 
— as history shows — unforeseeable These are the forces, 
still invisible to many persons today, which are at the bottom 
of the present “ psychological ” interest. When the attrac- 
tive power of psychic life is so strong that man is neither 
repelled nor dismayed by what he is sure to find, then it has 
nothing of sickliness or perversion about it. 

Along the great highroads of the world everything seems 
desolate and outworn Instinctively the modern man leaves 
the trodden ways to explore the by-paths and lanes, just as 
the man of the Graeco-Roman world cast off his defunct 
Olympian gods and turned to the mystery-cults of Asia. 
The force within us that impels us to the search, turning 
outward, annexes Eastern Theosophy and magic ; but it 
also turns inward and leads us to give our thoughtful atten- 
tion to the unconscious psyche. It inspires in us the self- 
same scepticism and relentlessness with which a Buddha 
swept aside his two million gods that he might come to the 
pristine experience which alone is convincing. 

And now we must ask a final question. Is what I have said 
of the modern man really true, or is it perhaps the result of 
an optical illusion ? There can be no doubt whatever that 
the facts I have cited are wholly irrelevant contingencies in 
the eyes of many millions of Westerners, and seem only 
regrettable errors to a large number of educated persons. 
But I may ask . What did a cultivated Roman think of 
Christianity when he saw it spreading among the people of 
the lowest classes ? The biblical God is still a living person 
in the Western world — as living as Allah beyond the 
Mediterranean. One kind of believer holds the other an 
ignoble heretic, to be pitied and tolerated if he cannot be 
changed What is more, a clever European is convinced 
that religion and such things are good enough for the masses 
and for women, but are of little weight compared to 
economic and political affairs 

So I am refuted all along the line, like a man who predicts 
a thunderstorm when there is not a cloud in the sky Perhaps 
it is a storm beneath the horizon that he senses — and it may 
never reach us But what is significant in psychic life is 
always below the horizon of consciousness, and when we 
speak of the spiritual problem of modern man we are dealing 
with things that are barely visible — with the most intimate 
and fragile things — with flowers that open only in the night 
In daylight everything is clear and tangible ; but the night 
lasts as long as the day, and we live m the night-time also. 
There are persons who have bad dreams which even spoil 
their days for them. And the day’s life is for many people 
such a bad dream that they long for the night when the 
spirit awakes. I even believe that there are nowadays a 
great many such people, and this is why I maintain that the 
spiritual problem of modern man is much as I have presented 
it. I must plead guilty, indeed, to the charge of one-sided- 
ness, for I have not mentioned the modern spirit of commit- 
ment to a practical world about which everyone has much to 
say because it lies in such full view We find it in the ideal 
of internationalism or supernationalism which is embodied 
in the League of Nations and the like , and we find it also 
in sport and, very expressively, in the cinema and in jazz 

These are certainly characteristic symptoms of our time , 
they show unmistakably how the ideal of humanism is made 
to embrace the body also Sport represents an exceptional 
valuation of the human body, as does also modern dancing 
The cinema, on the other hand, like the detective story, 
makes it possible to experience without danger all the 
excitement, passion and desirousness which must be re- 
pressed in a humanitarian ordering of hfe It is not difficult 
to see how these symptoms are connected with the psychic 
situation. The attractive power of the psyche brings about 
a new self-estimation — a re-estimation of the basic facts of 
human nature We can hardly be surprised if this leads to 
the rediscovery of the body after its long depreciation in the 
name of the spirit We are even tempted to speak of the 
body’s revenge upon the spirit. When Keyserling sarcasti- 
cally singles out the chauffeur as the culture-hero of our time, 
he has struck, as he often does, close to the mark. The 
body lays claim to equal recognition ; like the psyche, it 
also exerts a fascination If we are still caught by the old 
idea of an antithesis between mind and matter, the present 
state of affairs means an unbearable contradiction ; it may 
even divide us against ourselves But if we can reconcile 
ourselves with the mysterious truth that spirit is the living 
body seen from within, and the body the outer manifestation 
of the living spirit — the two being really one — then we can 
understand why it is that the attempt to transcend the 
present level of consciousness must give its due to the body. 
We shall also see that belief in the body cannot tolerate an 
outlook that denies the body in the name of the spirit. These 
claims of physical and psychic life are so pressing compared 
to similar claims in the past, that we may be tempted to see 
in this a sign of decadence Yet it may also signify a 
rejuvenation, for as Holderlin says : 

Danger itself 

Fosters the rescuing power . 1 

What we actually see is that the Western world strikes up 
a still more rapid tempo — the American tempo — the very 
opposite of quietism and resigned aloofness An enormous 
tension arises between the opposite poles of outer and inner 
life, between objective and subjective reality. Perhaps it is 
a final race between ageing Europe and young America , 
jjerhaps it is a desperate or a wholesome effort of conscious 
man to cheat the laws of nature of their hidden might and 
to wrest a yet greater, more heroic victory from the sleep of 
the nations. This is a question which history will answer. 

In coming to a close after so many bold assertions, I 
would like to return to the promise made at the outset to 
be mindful of the need for moderation and caution Indeed, 
I do not forget that my voice is but one voice, my experience 
a mere drop in the sea, my knowledge no greater than the 
visual field in a microscope, my mind’s eye a mirror that 
reflects a small comer of the world, and my ideas— a 
subjective confession. 

1 Wo Gefahr tst, 

Wichst das Retlsnde auck. (Holderlin ) 

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