Labor And Planning And Product
We might begin by looking at work in a conceptual form. To me one of the significant definitions of work from a spiritual scientific view is that work is an activity which is directed by the ego. This means that a thinker can work, that an artist can work, that an individual digging a ditch can work. Work can be considered to be an activity where the ego is the ship’s captain. Even leisure can become a part of the work scene when the individual as ego can find different modes of expression, of activity, so that his being is filled in the many different ways, or by ever changing work activities. Work in itself can be quite a goal; however, in the domain of work it is necessary to have a continuous flow of changing experiences. I would like to suggest the it is in the changing of work activities that the experience of leisure can be obtained. The individual, once having acquired the sense of ego-activity, is not very satisfied to be passive in terms of that ego activity, and for this individual, the passive ego is not experienced as leisure but as a kind of suffering. From a Rosicrucian point of view work, and the Great Work, has always been the transformation of the physical, the revelation of the spirit in the world. This does not exclude any of the above forms of work, however, it does mean that as a person devotes his life to such activity, his life becomes a path of initiation. An ever changing experience in work, a continuous search for a healthy rhythm is necessary.
If we look at labor we are dealing with an aspect of work, however, which has rather specific connotations and history. Labor is something that doesn’t come into existence until the more modern time. It is a reflection of the unfolding of the economic process. In the economic process we have to speak of nature, capital, and labor as the three domains that have to be spoken to in the transformation of nature to create a product. Just as we can say, product, consumer, and distributor are in the midst of the economic process, we can also say that labor, capital, and nature are the three domains that have to be spoken about in order that there is a product, which can enter into the process of economics. Product assumes the activity of labor, nature, and capital. Those who work with capital are involved in a different aspect of work than those who are active in the transformation of nature into product. The latter are those who labor.
If we look into the history of man, into the development of labor, we see it came to the fore with the commencement of the Industrial Revolution. It is evidence of the appearance of the will, the will as it is expressed in freedom. The will, in work transforming nature, has entered into the social circumstance only within the last 100 years or more. To be true, there is a big cry for freedom. During the French Revolution, we can say that there is a quest for freedom. The unfolding of the will towards freedom began many centuries prior, and, in fact, was a major impulse in the unfolding of the Mysteries. However, actually attaining the freedom of the will does not become possible till about the time of the French Revolution. I am inclined to see the freeing of the will as very much connected with the mysteries, the Mystery of Golgatha, the deeds of Christian Rosenkreutz, and the philosophers to follow. We might consider the French Revolution as the result of a social process that sought freedom, which could incorporate the gradual emergent will, which is usually based in the human metabolic processes. We can say that the threefold human being, with his nerve-sense system, rhythmic system, and metabolic system only becomes evident in the social sphere about the time of the French Revolution, and the Revolution is symptomatic of the failure of mankind to recognize this development.
If we follow the unfolding of the human will, and follow it in the economic process, then we see gradually the development of economics and the development of the, so-called, Industrial Revolution. We see the appearance of industry, of emphasis on product and production, we see the emphasis on the transformation of nature, and we see evidence of the use of mechanical means to transform nature. We might consider that in ancient times nature could be transformed not through machines, not through mechanical devices, or physical method of production, but by the use of psychic forces which could transform nature without the intermediary of a machine. One of the immense revelations from spiritual science is that in the ancient Atlantean times the human soul-spiritual being who was hardly incarnated could actually transform physical objects out of soul activities into the life processes inherent in nature at that time. Man then had a much more direct relation with nature than at present. Currently, intermediary tools, machines, and robots have to be created in order to bring about this transformation of nature into product. The result is the emergence of the will. There is an abstraction of the will from the other soul faculties, namely, feeling and thinking. This will become a bit of an independent entity in civilization. The metabolic processes separated themselves off and unfold under the influence of a mechanical-industrial process.
With the appearance of labor and commodity the threefolding of the human being has gradually come about. The economic process unfolds centuries after human rights began to develop in Roman times, and millennia after the spirit began to become an entity in the human social process.
With the evolution of the metabolic system, so that it could become slightly independent, evolve, and could manifest itself in the world in the form of economy, we have the segregation of the other activities within the human organism and the soul counterpart. That is to say, with the development of the metabolism and metabolic will activity, labor unfolded in a lopsided way. Human rights and spiritual life slowly became subjected to the working of economics. Man becomes an economic being, while the life within the soul has the inkling to seek sustenance for rights (labor revolts) and for spirit (entertainment). As the whole development of culture out of the mysteries brings about a threefolding of man (nerve-sense, rhythmic, and metabolic-limb) and the soul (thinking, feeling and willing) our modern industrial economic life reckons only with economics. The basis was laid in the Mysteries, which gave rise to different races, different cultures, and human classes. There has been an impulse for cultures to develop a certain un-earthliness on the one side, or an earthliness on the other. An un-earthliness was evidenced in the Indian Culture. The Persian Culture wove between the light and dark, creating an interplay between earthly and unearthly. Finally, a culture which begins to penetrate the depths of the earth can be found in the Egyptian Culture. These cultures lay a basis in the makeup and functioning of man. These three cultures can be seen as laying the germ of developing man so that he experiences the world and himself in a progressively differential fashion. Slowly man emerges as a threefold being.
Now if we look at labor as it is today, we see how essential division is. An individual who works for himself, does everything for himself does not become a laborer. He who is a laborer is the individual who works within the economic process transforming nature into a product. Capital is involved in this process and often the capital is furnished from a source independent of labor. Nature is a given and capital is furnished. Labor becomes active to transform nature, if capital is furnished, the physical circumstances are made possible. Typical of labor is that the activities in production are divided, each laborer is but a small part of a much larger whole. The individual laborer, if not careful, becomes as narrow as the part of the product created. There comes a loss of perspective and there is a loss of sense, for what the individual is working. This is the case with the laborer today. The fulfillment of the feelings, rights, and spiritual life of the so-called laborer today has not been accomplished. Entertainment, diversion, drugs, and perversions all are present in the current social circumstance to furnish the laborer with that which he is missing, the sense of a place in the whole and a deep sense of human worth in the world.
As already indicated, it is possible to consider that labor is connected with metabolism, and with human will. It is a province of tremendous depth, and is a domain where tremendous secrets of existence lie. Labor participates in the depth and secrets of existence, touching the profoundest domains of existence without preparation or insight. There is not the capacity, the wherewithal, to raise these depths into the soul where feeling can take hold of this content. In order for something of the depths of metabolism, for the depth of labor experience, for the depth of economic processes of transformation of nature to be experiences, a kind of initiation process has to occur. For this a real spiritual science needs to be introduced into the world of economics and labor for the sake and well being of those who actually practice in the depths of existence.
One way to assist the individual laborer to bring the individual to such depths, is for the individual to practice oversight, to practice a vision, and to practice perspective. This can be done in the planning of work that leads over into labor. By planning not only for oneself but for others as well, a sense of relatedness can be practiced. The person that has to work in a small specific area, if planning for others, can be assisted in gaining a perspective, so that what comes to him out of his depth can be placed in a more conscious fashion in the context of the whole. By this means the individual can feel more fulfilled, can fulfill the responsibility of labor, and at the same time work in relationship to the whole. The process of planning is practiced by a good many here at the Fellowship Community. It is something that might be well to develop much more carefully, with the sense of the depth and breadth, which one is trying to touch in the planning process. Planning brings conscious intent to meet the depth and sleep of will in labor.
If we look where the planning comes from, we might consider moral intuitive practices. Consideration of the moral and the idea are needed in planning, as well as the unconscious instinct of the laborer. Moral intuition training in a purely spiritual domain is needed. Needed are the real ideas, the real insights into the activities of labor, and the products to be carried into the world as a whole. Of course, speaking in this way, it can sound like someone sitting on cloud nine, but such ideals can be practiced day by day by those who labor, who try to see that labor is done , and at the same time plan so that a wholeness and perspective can be attained.
Those who have tried to ascend to the heights, to commune with the spiritual world, have tried to seek the impulses for planning with the greatest perspectives and the greatest heights. Once accomplished the next is to bring something from the domain of the spiritual into the sphere of the will, into the sphere of economics and labor. This takes many years. Rudolf Steiner is a good example. He was able to attain to a vision of the threefolding of the human being (a lofty perspective). It took him thirty years before he could begin to find a means to articulate this vision into a practical form. This is a path he traversed from 1886, when he first spoke of the spiritual communion of man, until 1918, when he brought the indications for the threefolding of the social organism. That a spiritual revelation could be transformed, to become the basis for social process, is Rudolf Steiner’s crowning accomplishment. The trinity of the social organism was pointed to in the French Revolution. The threefolding of the human organization is a totally new revelation, is a totally new unveiling of man received by Rudolf Steiner out of the heights. This he had to bring to his fellow man. We might consider that in his working very intimately with the individuality of Christian Rosenkreutz he could further the threefolding of the social organism first spoken to out of Rosicrucianism, as fraternity, equality, and liberty.
A very last and final concern with labor is to indicate that the human metabolic-will system is articulated into the earth force system, particularly in the sphere of electricity and magnetism. We can say that electricity and magnetism is actually sun wisdom that has fallen into the earth, is articulated into everything that is of the earth. Electricity and magnetism as fallen wisdom permeates everything. Whatever is created has accompanying it elements that are carved out of this uniform electrical system. With this we not only send objects and products into the world, but also a fragment of this totality, of this fallen wisdom, a universal element that is like electricity. This is very important to consider, so that we don’t think that we only send the observable object out into the world. We also send fragments of this fallen wisdom as well. We work with these sub-nature forces, parts of which we combine with the created object. You recall we took up the whole problem of electricity. We noted that we are embedded in it. It plays a major role in our life. We are completely surrounded by it. We can send these forces with our object but we might consider that in the act of transforming nature into product we might transform and liberate that which is of sub-nature. With this we might send moral impulses into existence and not fragments of sub-nature forces which often bear the nature of electricity. In this regard some thought should be given to the effort that we make to deal with the physical objects. We try to penetrate these objects, these motors, these electrical systems, so that something of a human process surrounds us, and not only the endless fields of electricity and magnetism. Slowly individuals are becoming aware of the magnitude of the problems of electrical fields. It is a tremendous problem and there are those who are trying to work at this. Rudolf Steiner has indicated that for the future, out of labor, out of the metabolic system, will arise the need to transform the apparent lowly for new social and moral impulses. It can be our challenge to try to take this into consideration . We work not only into a small circumstance here on the earth but we work in relation to the whole. We will need the insights of the highest initiates in order that we as human beings can try to transform nature into product, and a product which is morally imbued.