Today we encounter all kinds of demands which rise up from the depths of humanity, but we do not really understand the nature of these demands. For what connection is there between these society sermons, delivered in more or less beautiful rooms, about the goodness of man, about — well, let us say — about loving all men without distinction of race, nationality, etc., even color — what connection is there between these sermons and what occurs externally, what we take part in and further when we clip our coupons and have our dividends paid to us by the banks, which in that way provide for the external life? Indeed, in so doing we use entirely different principles from those of which we speak in our rooms as the principles of good men. For example, we found Theosophical Societies in which we speak emphatically of the brotherhood of all men, but in what we say there is not the slightest impulsive force to control in any way what also occurs through us when we clip our coupons; for when we clip coupons we set in motion a whole series of political-economic events. Our life is completely divided into these two separate streams.
Thus, it may occur — I will give you, not a classroom illustration, but an example from life — it may occur — it even has occurred — that a lady seeks me out and says: “Do you know, somebody came here and demanded a contribution from me, which would then be used to aid people who drink alcohol. As a Theosophist I cannot do that, can I?” That is what the lady said, and I could only reply: “You see, you live from your investments; that being the case, do you know how many breweries are established and maintained with your money?” Concerning what is really involved here the important point is not that on the one hand we preach to the sensuous gratification of our souls, and on the other conduct ourselves according to the inevitable demands of the life-routine that has developed through the last three or four centuries. And few people are particularly inclined to go into this fundamental problem of the present time. Why is this? It is because this dualism between the external life and our so-called spiritual strivings has really invaded life, and it has become very strong in the last three or four centuries. Most people today when speaking of the spirit mean something entirely abstract, foreign to the world, not something which has the power to lay hold of daily life.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 194 – The Mysteries of Light, of Space, and of the Earth: Lecture I: The Dualism in the Life of the Present Time – Dornach, December 12, 1919
Translated by Frances E. Dawson
Previously posted on February 11, 2015