It is only by descending into the depths of his own inner life that man comes into connection with the divine-spiritual Beings who work for his good, the normally evolving Beings of the spiritual Hierarchies. This coming together with the spiritual Hierarchies for whom we have in truth been spiritually born, this community with them, is rendered very much more difficult for man by the fact that the world is becoming more and more steeped in the milieu created by modern technical science. Man is as it were torn out of the spiritual-cosmic setting, and the forces he must unfold in order to be linked with the spirit-and-soul of the Cosmos are stifled and suppressed within him.
Therefore one who has already taken the first steps on the way to initiation perceives that everything which permeates modern life in the form of machinery and the like presses into the life of the human spirit-and-soul in such a way that a great deal is killed, destroyed. And he becomes aware that this destruction makes it particularly hard for him to develop those inner forces which bring him into connection with the lawful — please do not misunderstand the word — the lawful spiritual Beings of the Hierarchies.
If while in a railway carriage or steamer someone who has taken the first steps towards initiation wants to find his way into the spiritual world in meditation, he naturally makes efforts to develop the power of vision and seership which will bear him thither; but he perceives how the Ahrimanic world fills him with everything that opposes this striving to reach the spiritual world, and the battle then waged is intensely fierce. It is an inner battle, producing in the etheric body an experience of being crushed, hacked to pieces. Naturally, those who have taken no steps on the way to initiation are also involved in this battle, the only difference being that those who have taken these steps are consciously aware of what is happening. Everybody is obliged to undergo the battle; in its effects it is experienced by everybody. There would be no greater fallacy than to say: We must rebel against what technical science has brought to us in modern life, we must protect ourselves from Ahriman, we must withdraw from this modern life.
In a certain respect such an attitude would be an indication of spiritual cowardice. The real remedy lies, not in allowing the forces of the soul to weaken and to withdraw from modern life, but in so strengthening these forces that its pandemonium can be endured. World-karma demands a courageous attitude to modern life, and that is why genuine Spiritual Science calls at the very outset for effort, really strenuous effort on the part of the human soul.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 275 – Technology and Art: Their Bearing on Modern Culture – Dornach, December 28, 1914
Translated by Dorothy Osmond