It is not enough for us merely to introduce ideas such as those of reincarnation and karma — the question is, in what way we introduce them. If they become merely an incentive to egoism, then they do not raise our civilised life, they only serve to sink it lower. There is another way again in which reincarnation and karma become unethical — anti-ethical — ideas. Many people say: “I must be good, so that I may have a fortunate incarnation next time.” To act from such a motive, to be virtuous in order that one may have as pleasant a time as possible in the next incarnation — this is not simple egoism, but double egoism. Yet this double egoism is what many people did actually get out of the ideas of reincarnation and karma. Our civilisation possesses so little of any altruistic or religious impulse, that it is incapable of conceiving even such ideas as those of reincarnation and karma in the sense that would make them a stimulus to altruistic, not to egoistic actions and sentiments.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 191 – Cosmogony, Freedom, Altruism – Lecture 4 – Dornach, October 10, 1919
Previously posted on April 6, 2014
We shall not easily find our way into the innermost nature of karmic connections if we do not pay attention — with the eye of the soul, of course — to the particular mannerisms of an individual. Believe me, for the study of karma it is just as important to be interested in a gesture of the hand as in some great spiritual talent. It is just as important to be able to observe — from the spiritual side (astral body and ego) — how a man sits down on a chair as to observe, let us say, how he discharges his moral obligations. If a man is given to frowning, to knitting his brow, this may be just as important as whether he is virtuous or the reverse.
Much that in ordinary life seems to be quite insignificant is of very great importance when we begin to consider destiny and observe how it weaves its web from life to life; while many a thing in this or the other human being that appears to us particularly important becomes of negligible significance,
Generally speaking, it is not, as you know, very easy to pay real attention to bodily peculiarities. They are there and we must learn to observe them naturally without wounding our fellow-men — as we certainly shall do if we observe merely for observation’s sake. That must never be. Everything must arise entirely of itself. When, however, we have trained our powers of attention and perception, individual peculiarities do show themselves in every human being, peculiarities which may be accounted trifling but are of paramount importance in connection with the study of karma. A really penetrating observation of human beings in respect of their karmic connections is possible only when we can discern these significant peculiarities.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 235 – Karmic Relationships, Volume I: Lecture IX – Dornach, 15th March 1924
Previously posted on April 3, 2014
Many people think that they’re working for the good of mankind from morn till eve, but this is questionable. A clairvoyant can see that efforts coming from materialistic thinking have the wrong effect, and it may lie in some people’s karma that they should wait until they can do certain things. Then a higher being can whisper such a task in his ear, so that it’s not induced by outer circumstances.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 266 – From the Contents of Esoteric Classes – Stuttgart, 9th August 1908
Previously posted on April 2, 2014