1. Movement is life’s foremost characteristic
It has long been common knowledge to every educated person that everything around us is in movement, is under transformation. Movement is thus life’s foremost characteristic, it is simply its way of revealing itself. In our own organism we can affirm that any limb or any organ that is brought to a standstill or is put out of function for any length of time, will inevitably become unusable, it will wither and eventually die away altogether. But this does not only apply to the individual parts of our organism, it is true also of the organism as a whole. If our organism is not kept in function, which in this case means in work, it will become sickly and moribund. We can see therefore that people who, on the grounds of wealth or princely lineage, have over several generations not needed to do anything at all themselves, but have allowed themselves to be waited on by others, living off the fruits of other people’s labour, do eventually degenerate. These are not the people who gain world records in sport or other achievements. It has therefore for a long time been common knowledge that a family whose generations live a life of idleness, will at a certain point fall victim to this idleness; the family will be made up of individuals who are degenerate and lack power and who in no respect measure up to the young men and women of working families.
2. The physical organism must have appropriate exercise in order to maintain its healthiness
It is therefore life’s intention that all beings that have a physical organism should work in order to keep the organism from being wrecked on the dangerous rocks of degenerateness. The kind of work is not important. There are, these days, inumerable people who are exclusively involved with intellectual work, that is to say, people whose purely physical functions are reduced to a minimum, just as there are untold hundreds of thousands of people whose existence consists of performing simple, monotonous movements at machines or conveyor belts or in offices. For all these people it is the case that large parts of their organisms are not subject to normal usage, and this inevitably gives rise to the bodily degeneration that is in evidence wherever we look. The fact that healthy gymnastics and sport, conducted under normal conditions, plays an enormous part in promoting everyday health is undeniable, but unfortunately much sport that could be of inestimable value for health, is nowadays driven, thanks to coarse speculation in extravagant competing, to the point of being a caricature of itself, a fact which is immediately borne out by a casual glance through the growing amount of sports reporting in the newspapers. This state of affairs will, however, regulate itself as human culture gradually replaces the present-day, avaricious fight for profit. In itself, sport is a means of preserving normal health. These days it has become for many people an end, a profession that is only practised with an eye to making money. This state actually constitutes a desecration of sport, a degeneration that contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction.
3. The living being’s sensory organs are created through the action of Nature
It is therefore quite clear, that it is a vital necessity for every living being to keep itself in function so as to preserve its health in both mind and body. And we can also see how everything is in movement, from the first tender forms of life right up to the civilised human being. We can see how even plants, which are unable to move on the physical plane, are not allowed to stay still but are worked upon by wind and weather. When the grass and the corn blow about in the summer breezes, what we are witnessing is not something haphazard or without purpose. It is in fact the only way the plant being can be woken up and “brought to life” so that it can gain experience of the existence of the physical world. The plant being is affected by light and gradually an organ forms that is sensitive to light, in other words, a rudimentary “eye”. And just as the encounter with light produces the conditions necessary for the initial tenuous birth of the organ of sight, so the encounter with sound produces the conditions necessary for the first “hearing” cells, and so on. This process of being affected is what causes the plant being to reach one day the stage in its evolution of being first an insect-eating plant and after that an actual animal. From here evolution proceeds and culminates for a period of time in the appearance of the terrestrial human being. Evolution, however, does not stand still, and terrestrial human beings in no way express the pinnacle of life or life’s intention with the living being, that is to say, the hidden, directing “something” behind movement. On the contrary, a deeper knowledge of the cosmic structure of the terrestrial human being reveals that the seeds of totally new sensory organs are now so well developed that, to the sufficiently advanced spiritual researcher, it is undeniably clear that a completely new cosmic sphere of life is in the process of being revealed on the continents of the Earth, a sphere of life that completely fulfils the profound dream, which is nourished by millions of people the world over, that a life of mutual peace, spirit and beauty will one day become an inevitable fact.
4. Human beings are creative, idleness is therefore bad for their health and a curse
The thing that especially promotes this evolution, and is in fact absolutely vital to it, is the ongoing maintenance of the organs in function, in work and in movement. This in turn means that the thing that more than anything else promotes health and the joy of being alive is the living being’s ability to create useful and logical things or products that directly increase its zest for life and its joy in existence. Idleness will therefore, owing to its damaging effects on health, eventually become mankind’s greatest curse.
5. The problem of unemployment cannot be resolved through politics, it is a consequence of a change of course in terrestrial human beings’ evolution that is brought about by Nature
Is it not written in the Bible that, “in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” and “if any would not work, neither should he eat”? These words would be true were it not for the fact that evolution demonstrates precisely that there is in the world today an excess of people, a steadily growing group of “unemployed”, for whom there is no work. Here we are faced with what really seems to be an insoluble problem. It appears to be impossible to keep this, what is to hundreds of thousands of people, grim unemployment at bay, except during the terrible periods of war, when untold millions are sent to the front, and more or less all the others are allocated work in the armaments industry. We are faced with the paradoxical fact that whereas there are almost too few people when the world is at war, there are far too many as soon as the bells of peace are rung. Peace brings with it unemployment, and even though the trade unions, welfare payments and the so-called “forced labour” or “ relief work” are of course a great help, they constitute nevertheless only a partially camouflaged “patching up “ of the problem itself. Unemployment has become a problem that absolutely no political party in the world is able to solve. It is quite simply a consequence of a change of course in terrestrial human beings’ evolution or the creation of their culture, and this change of course has been brought about by Nature’s own forces. As long as the politics and forms of government of terrestrial human beings have not been brought into line with this change of course, which is of Nature’s own doing, unemployment will grow and grow until it eventually becomes the very force with which Nature will topple terrestrial human beings’ present attitude to individual ownership and citizenship.
6. When human beings go against natural evolution they experience precisely those painful experiences that promote evolution
At first, claims were made that it was the machines that were to blame for unemployment, and that one should do away with them. But this attitude has long since been abandoned as hopeless, because it goes directly against Nature. What good does it do the ant to make a stand against the waterfall? One can just as well begin to engage in combat with the sky above or demand that the sun should change its course, as begin to oppose the machines that are precisely a product of those previously mentioned new abilities in human beings. To oppose new abilities with the help of which we are able to bring dead, natural forces to work for us, would be just as foolish as it would be for us to begin to destroy our sight and our hearing because we do not want to see or hear the evil that is taking place in the world. No being can go against its own evolution without in so doing experiencing precisely those painful experiences that more than anything else promote this evolution.
7. Evolution serves a higher purpose
The one single cosmic purpose of machines is to make it possible for heavy, material work not to have to be done by people. At first this naturally led to many people the world over becoming unemployed. The relation is quite simple: the better the machines can carry out the work needed for mankind’s existence, the greater the number of superfluous people. If we add to this the fact that the human ability to reproduce is giving rise to the incarnation of untold millions of human beings, the outlook from one point of view looks very grim. The number of unemployed or the sum total of superfluous people will inevitably at some point begin to grow and take on gigantic proportions. The situation will be such that only a constantly dwindling group of people will have access to a real occupation, namely, that group who partly own and partly must out of necessity operate the machines. These people would, if evolution did not serve a higher purpose, be the only ones with any actual power in society.
8. Common interest must take precedence over private interest. Society is already developing in this direction
So what is it that is wrong with the world administration in our time? The thing that is wrong with terrestrial mankind’s administration of the existing valuable resources is that it does not protect these valuable resources so that they benefit common interests; instead it protects them so that they benefit private interests. In this context one must understand private interests as being interests of a purely egoistic nature, that is to say animal nature. This animal nature or animal principle is divine and absolutely vital in the actual animal kingdom, but it is deadly dangerous in a culture in which war and intolerance should be an absolute impossibility. Egoism is therefore the expression of a force that has been, and will still be for some time, absolutely necessary in mankind’s onward development towards lasting peace. Its nature constitutes a living demonstration of how a culture, in which there should be peace, absolutely should not be. We can therefore also see how the development of society, through inheritance tax and progressive tax legislation etc., makes it increasingly impossible to acquire for oneself a private fortune. The state, that is to say, the public, demands a greater and greater share of these transfers and gifts and in fact also even demands a share of the earnings and capital gained through a person’s own hard work. Of course this is unpleasant for those affected and all the more so in a world in which most people still see money and capital as the only form of protection against all and everyone. But if development did not go in this direction, mankind would be led even deeper into the hell of unemployment and dictatorship than is already the case.
9. Evolution leads to the creation of an international world state
I have touched on these serious problems in order to show you briefly the background to the world that will be the result of the sufferings that mankind has lived through in this century. We are very rapidly approaching the time when machines, together with a really very limited number of people, will be able to produce the material things needed by the world community. Whereas this production, especially in the past but also still in our own time, has been under the control of private interests, evolution will inevitably cause the general public, that is to say the majority, to have not only a part to play in the decision making concerning the administration of the world’s valuable resources, but to be at some point completely responsible for it. Evolution will without fail lead to the creation of an international world state, in which an authority appointed by the majority, will make sure that no one will be able to live at the expense of other people, and that no one will lack the work necessary to provide them with a really happy life. As the world community will then own all valuable resources, the concept of “money” will no longer exist. The only resource in this community will be the human ability to create. Through this, every single person’s life will be looked after in such a way that their abilities will be subject to the best development imaginable.
10. All terrestrial human beings will become geniuses in all forms of art, including the art of living. “The kingdom of heaven” will become a reality
So what are all these people going to do? As all the heavier work will long ago have been taken over by machines and fully-automated factories, there is only one thing left for terrestrial human beings to occupy themselves with and that is, to develop their spirit, which in this context means to develop their abilities to write, draw, paint, sing, play music or in other ways give expression to everything dwelling in their soul. Whereas life from the jungle right up to our own time has mainly been a life of struggle against all and everything, the human beings of the future will exclusively concentrate on becoming geniuses in the art of living, the art of thinking. It will slowly dawn on mankind that in reality we all inhabit an enormously rich world and that the cause of our present misery lies exclusively in our own minds. When our mental imperfections have, through the action of life itself, been brought to an end, we will find ourselves inhabiting a world where everyone is of service to everyone else and where the greatest are those who, through their abilities, succeed in spreading the most love, the most beauty and therefore the most blessing around themselves. In this world in which spirit has totally triumphed over matter, there only exists joy and harmony. “The kingdom of heaven” will then have become a reality and the Christmas gospel’s deep, pure message of “goodwill to all men” will then have been accomplished. God will walk once again together with “Adam” and “Eve” in “the Garden of Eden”.
From a lecture by Martinus at the Martinus Institute on Sunday 30 January 1949
Manuscript for the lecture revised by Erik Gerner Larsson
Revision approved by Martinus
First published in Contact Letter no.2/1957
Original Danish title: Den menneskelige arbejdsevne
Translation: Andrew Brown
© Martinus Institut 1981,
May be reproduced stating the copyright and the source of the material.