The time will come that people will say: It is pathological for people to even think in terms of spirit and soul

The time will come, and it may not be far off, that people will say: It is pathological for people to even think in terms of spirit and soul. ‘Sound’ people will speak of nothing but the body. It will be considered a sign of illness for anyone to arrive at the idea of any such thing as a spirit or a soul. People who think like that will be considered to be sick and — you can be quite sure of it — a medicine will be found for this. At Constantinople the spirit was made non-existent. The soul will be made non-existent with the aid of a drug. Taking a ‘sound point of view’, people will invent a vaccine to influence the organism as early as possible, preferably as soon as it is born, so that this human body never even gets the idea that there is a soul and a spirit.

The two philosophies of life will be in complete opposition. One movement will need to reflect how concepts and ideas may be developed to meet the reality of soul and spirit. The others, the heirs of modern materialism, will look for the vaccine to make the body ‘healthy’, that is, makes its constitution such that this body no longer talks of such rubbish as soul and spirit, but takes a ‘sound’ view of the forces which live in engines and in chemistry and let planets and suns arise from nebulae in the cosmos. Materialistic physicians will be asked to drive the souls out of humanity.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 177 – Fall of the Spirits of Darkness – Lecture 5 – Dornach, 7th October 1917

Previously posted on May 5, 2014

Where are the earlier Initiates?

Now I come back to the question: Where are the earlier Initiates? For certainly it will be said that they are not to be found. But, my dear friends — I shall have to say something paradoxical here! — if it were possible for a number of human beings to be born today at the age of seventeen or eighteen, so that when they descended from the spiritual world they would in some way or other find and enter seventeen- or eighteen-year-old bodies, or if at least human beings could in some way be spared from going to school (as schools are constituted today), then you would find that those who were once Initiates would be able to appear in the human being of the present day. But just as little as it is possible, under the conditions obtaining on earth today, for an Initiate, when he needs bread, to nourish himself from a piece of ice, just as little is it possible for the wisdom of an older time to manifest directly, in the form that you would expect, in a body that has received education — in the present-day accepted sense of the word — up to his seventeenth or eighteenth year. Nowhere in the world is this possible; at all events, nowhere in the civilised world. We have here to take account of things that lie altogether beyond the outlook of the educated men of modern times.

When, as is the custom today, a child is obliged as early as the sixth or seventh year to learn to read and write, it is torture for the soul that wants to develop and unfold in accordance with its own nature. I can only repeat what I have already told you in my autobiography, that I owe the removal of many hindrances to the circumstance that when I was twelve years old I was still unable to write properly. For the capacity of being able to write, in the way that is demanded today, kills certain qualities in the human being.

It is necessary to say such a thing, paradoxical though it may sound, for it is the truth. There is no help for it — it is a fact. Hence it is that a highly evolved individual can be recognised in his reincarnation only if one looks at manifestations of human nature which are not directly apparent in a man, if he has gone through a modern education, but reveal themselves, so to speak, behind him.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 235 – Karmic Relationships: Esoteric Studies – Volume I – Lecture XII – Dornach, 23rd March 1923

Previously  posted on May 4, 2014

About mistakes and accomplishments

Let us learn to regard the mistakes of human beings as their own affair and the accomplishments of human beings as something that concerns all of humankind. People’s errors belong to their karma; their deeds concern humanity. Let us learn not to be troubled by people’s mistakes; they themselves must atone for them. Let us rather be thankful for their accomplishments, for the entire evolution of humanity lives from them.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 104a – Reading the Pictures of the Apocalypse: Part 1: Lecture Three – Munich, 8th May 1907

Previously posted on May 3, 2014

It is of no avail to speak of virtue, selflessness or freedom

Those who boast most about their altruism are really the least unselfish of all. Just as those who use the word “truth” in every third sentence usually are the least truthful. It is important to penetrate deeper and deeper into the truths and insights of spiritual science; not to pursuit ideals as: I know I will overcome my I – With such a phrase nothing is gained. Nothing happens, for example when I tell a burning stove: you must be a good stove, you need to make the room warm. – You can stroke the stove and treat him with loving kindness but nothing will happen. That stove will remain cold. Only when the wood is added and lighted will the stove become hot. Similarly, it has no value to preach virtue, selflessness or freedom. The right thing is: give the people fuel; and the right fuel in this instance will be the spiritual truths.

Source (German): Rudolf Steiner – GA 56 – Die Erkenntnis der Seele und des Geistes – Berlin, December 12, 1907 (page 148)

Translated by Nesta Carsten-Krüger

Enjoyment in school

From the change of teeth up to the time of adolescence the child really lives continually in the present, and is interested in what is going on in the world around him. When educating we must constantly keep in mind that children of primary school age want always to live in the present. How does one live in the present? One lives in the present when one enjoys the world around one, not in an animal way, but in a human way. And indeed the child of this age wants also to enjoy the world in the lessons he receives. Therefore from the outset we must make our teaching a thing of enjoyment for the children — not animal enjoyment, but enjoyment of a higher, human kind — not something that calls forth in them antipathy and repulsion.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 293 – The Study of Man: Lecture IX – Stuttgart, August 30, 1919

Previously posted on May 1, 2014