Nothing is worse than not to try to gain an understanding of every kind of human feeling and human sensation and human life

Really nothing is worse during this esoteric progress than not to try to gain an understanding of every kind of human feeling and human sensation and human life. Of course, this does not postulate the principle — this must be emphasised again and again — that we should pass over all the wrong that is done in the world without criticism, for that would be an injustice towards the world; but it postulates something else; whereas before esoteric development we may have felt a certain pleasure in finding fault with some human failing, this pleasure in finding fault with other people entirely ceases in the course of esoteric development.

Who does not know in external life people who like to deliver very pertinent criticisms of other people’s faults? Not that the pertinence of judgment over human faults has to cease, not that under all circumstances, such an act as was committed, let us say, by Erasmus of Rotterdam when he wrote his book, The Praise of Folly, should be condoned; no, it may be quite justifiable to be stern against the wrongs done in the world; but in the case of one who undergoes an esoteric development every word of blame he utters or sets in motion pains him, and prepares more and more pain for him.

And the sorrow at being obliged to find fault is something which can also act as a barometer of the esoteric development. The more we are still able to feel pleasure when we are obliged to find fault or when we find the world ludicrous, the less we are really ready to progress; and we must gradually gain a sort of feeling that there is, developing more and more within us, a life which makes us see these follies and errors in the world with eyes, of which one is critical, and the other filled with tears, one dry and the other wet.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 145 – The Effect of Occult Development Upon the Self and the Sheaths of Man – Lecture V – The Hague, 24th March 1913

Translated by Harry Collison

Previously posted on July 17, 2014

Advertisements

The greatest wisdom is acquired by the quiet endurance of pain and suffering

Knowledge of the connection between the physical and the astral world enables us to have a clear understanding of the world in its inner process of development; things are often connected in quite a different way from what people like to imagine. Many people deplore pain and suffering, but from a higher point of view this is quite unjustified, for if they are overcome and the person is ready for a new incarnation, suffering and pain are the sources of wisdom, prudence and comprehensiveness of vision. Even in writing emanating from the modern, materialistic standpoint, we find it stated that there is something like “crystallised pain” in the face of every thinker. What this materialistically minded author says here has long been known to the occultist, for the greatest wisdom of the world is acquired by the quiet endurance of pain and suffering; this creates wisdom in the next incarnation.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 99 – Theosophy of the Rosicrucian – VI The Law of Destiny – Munich 30th May, 1907

Translated by M. Cotterell & D. S. Osmond

Previously posted on June 27, 2014

Difference between male and female

I should like to remind you of something I have often pointed out with regard to the difference between male and female, pointing out the fact that to some extent the female element — not the single individual woman but rather “womanhood” — has not entirely descended to the physical plane, whereas the man — again not a single individuality, not man in a particular incarnation but “manhood” — has crossed the line and descended lower. As a result true humanity lies between man and woman; and it is for this reason that a human being also changes sex in different incarnations.

But it is already the case that the woman, as such, because of the different formation of her brain and the different way in which she can use it, is able to grasp spiritual ideas with greater facility. By contrast the man because of his external physical corporeality is much better adapted to think himself into materialism, because, if we wish to express the matter crudely, his brain is harder. The female brain is softer, not so stubborn, that is to say in general — I am not referring to individual personalities. In the case of individual personalities there is no need to flatter oneself, for many truly obstinate heads sit on many a female body — to say nothing of the reverse! But on the whole, it is true that it is easier to make use of a female brain if one is to understand something exceptional, as long as the will to do so is also present. It is for this reason that the evangelist [Mark] after the Mystery of Golgotha allows women to appear first.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 139 – The Gospel of St. Mark: Lecture 10 – Basel, September 24, 1912  

Why we do not remember our former incarnations?

People often ask why we do not remember our former incarnations. I have often answered this question, which is like saying that because a four-year-old child cannot do arithmetic, human beings cannot do arithmetic. When the child reaches ten, he or she will be able to multiply with ease. It is the same with the soul. If it cannot remember our former incarnations today, the time will come when it will be able to do so. Then it will possess the same capacity initiates have.

This new development is happening today. There are numerous souls nowadays who are so far advanced that they are close to the moment of remembering their former incarnations, or at least the last one. A number of people are at the threshold of comprehensive memory, embracing life between birth and death as well as previous incarnations. Many people will remember their present incarnation when they are reborn in their next life. It is simply a question of how they remember. The anthroposophical movement is to help and guide people to remember in the right way.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 117 – The Universal Human: Lecture One: Individuality and the Group-Soul – Munich, December 4, 1909

Translated by Gilbert Church