Almost daily, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions on various scales are occurring somewhere or other on our planet. Since the end of February Chile has suffered repeated earthquakes. Since mid-April Nepal has been hit twice with particular violence. Alongside the usual, more or less materialistic explanations following the first earthquake in Nepal, on 25 April, to which many thousands fell victim, one unusual voice was heard. In the Italian newspaper La Repubblica on 27 April the Indian writer Anita Nair wrote: “By ravaging the planet in an egoistic fashion and by showing an attitude of complete indifference to the environment, we have contributed to all these catastrophes.” And also: “It seems to me that the people of Nepal are paying the price of human greed.” A great thought about the joint responsibility of all human beings for what goes on on our planet! Such a thought is not only rational, it carries a force – through spiritual scientific insights into the interior of the earth and its relationship to what goes on in the human soul – which can remedy not only the material damage, as far as is possible – but which can also teach us to pay close attention to the soul-spiritual causes of such catastrophes. “The Earth does not belong to us”, Nair writes at the end of her article, “and we cannot simply do what we want with it.” (…) It is a matter of a collective guilt (…) We must find the remedy for this guilt.” A hundred years have already passed, but hardly any use has been made of the remedy. Its names are “inner development” and “spiritual knowledge of the relationship between mankind and the Earth”.
Other kinds of elemental catastrophe occurred 80 years ago, as was mentioned in last month’s editorial: on 14 April 1935, on the day of the exclusions from the G.A.S., almost the whole of the USA was hit by a vast dust storm, later referred to as “Black Sunday”, and Ludwig Polzer-Hoditz, who had sought to stop the exclusions in Dornach, experienced a “spiritual storm” in his sleep that night. The other noteworthy event around that time was the unexpected death of D.N. Dunlop on 30 May 1935, and that same day, 50,000 people fell victim to an earthquake in Pakistan. (The 80th anniversary of Dunlop’s death was commemorated at an event in London at the end of May).
The words which Rudolf Steiner put into the mouth of the Spirit of the Elements, a character in the fourth scene of his first Mystery drama The Portal of Initiation, in regard to people’s materialistic attitudes, apply both to the more natural and to the spiritual elemental catastrophes:
“…the consequences of your labour / unchain the powers of storm / in the ultimate depths of the world”. Only when more and more people take the concrete unity of the world and the human soul really seriously, can the two kinds of catastrophe gradually be avoided.
Material aid is of course first required in physical catastrophes; those of the second kind call for reflection on causal spiritual intentions. But both kinds of catastrophe will continue until we learn to seek out their deeper soul-spiritual causes.